The canterbury tales, p.67
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.67

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  For feere of which he quook2204 and siked soore.

  2205 This hand that Balthasar so soore agaste2205

  Wroot ‘Mane techel phares’, and namoore.

  In al that land magicien was noon

  That koude expounde what this lettre mente.

  But Daniel expowned it anoon

  2210 And seide, ‘King, God to thy fader lente

  Glorye and honour, regne, tresor, rente2211;

  And he was proud, and nothing God ne dradde2212,

  And therfore God greet wreche2213 upon him sente,

  And him birefte2214 the regne that he hadde.

  2215 ‘He was out cast of mannes compaignye;

  With asses was his habitacioun,

  And eet2217 hey as a beest, in weet and drye,

  Til that he knew2218, by grace and by resoun,

  That God of hevene hath dominacioun

  2220 Over every regne and every creature.

  And thanne hadde God of him compassioun,

  And him restored his regne and his figure2222.

  ‘Eek thow that art his sone art proud also,

  And knowest alle thise thinges verraily,

  2225 And art rebel to God and art his fo.

  Thow drank eek of his vessels boldely –

  Thy wif eke, and thy wenches, sinfully

  Dronke2228 of the same vessels sondry winis –

  And heriest2229 false goddes cursedly;

  2230 Therfore to thee yshapen2230 ful greet pine is.

  ‘This hand was sent fro God, that on the wal

  Wroot “Mane techel phares”, truste me.

  Thy regne is doon; thou weyest noght at al2233.

  Divided is thy regne, and it shal be

  2235 To Medes and to Perses yeven,’ quod he.

  And thilke same night this king was slawe2236,

  And Darius occupieth his degree2237,

  Thogh he therto hadde neither right ne lawe.

  Lordinges, ensample heerby may ye take

  2240 How that in lordshipe is no sikernesse2240.

  For whan Fortune wol a man forsake,

  She bereth awey his regne and his richesse

  And eke hise freendes, bothe moore and lesse2243.

  For what2244 man that hath freendes thurgh Fortune,

  2245 Mishap2245 wol make hem enemys, I gesse;

  This proverbe is ful sooth2246 and ful commune.


  Cenobia, of Palimerye queene,

  As writen Persiens of hir noblesse,

  So worthy was in armes and so keene2249

  2250 That no wight passed hire in hardinesse2250,

  Ne in linage2251, ne oother gentilesse.

  Of kinges blood of Perce is she descended.

  I sey nat that she hadde moost fairnesse,

  But of hir shap2254 she mighte nat been amended.

  2255 From hire childhede, I finde that she fledde

  Office of wommen2256, and to wode she wente,

  And many a wilde hertes blood she shedde

  With arwes brode2258 that she to hem sente;

  She was so swift that she anoon hem hente2259.

  2260 And whan that she was elder, she wolde kille

  Leons, leopardes, and beres, al to-rente2261,

  And in hir armes welde2262 hem at hir wille.

  She dorste wilde beestes dennes seke,

  And rennen in the montaines al the night,

  2265 And slepe under the bussh2265; and she koude eke

  Wrastlen by verray force and verray might2266

  With any yong man, were he never so wight2267;

  Ther mighte nothing in hir armes stonde.

  She kepte2269 hir maidenhede from every wight;

  2270 To no man deigned hire for to be bonde2270.

  But atte laste, hir freendes han hire maried

  To Odenake, a prince of that contree,

  Al were it so that she hem longe taried2273.

  And ye shul understande how that he

  2275 Hadde swiche fantasies2275 as hadde she.

  But nathelees, whan they were knit in-feere2276,

  They lived in joye and in felicitee,

  For ech of hem hadde oother lief2278 and deere.

  Save o thing: that she wolde nevere assente

  2280 By no wey that he sholde by hire lie

  But ones, for it was hir plein entente2281

  To have a child, the world to multiplye.

  And also soone as that she mighte espye2283

  That she was nat with childe with that dede,

  2285 Thanne wolde she suffre him doon his fantasye2285

  Eftsoone, and noght but ones2286, out of drede.

  And if she were with childe at thilke cast2287,

  Namoore sholde he pleyen thilke game2288

  Til fully fourty wikes weren past;

  2290 Thanne wolde she ones suffre2290 him do the same.

  Al were this Odenake wilde or tame,

  He gat namoore of hire, for thus she seide:

  It was to wives lecherye and shame

  In oother cas2294 if that men with hem pleyde.

  2295 Two sones by this Odenake hadde she,

  The whiche she kepte in vertu and lettrure2296.

  But now unto oure tale turne we:

  I seye, so worshipful2298 a creature,

  And wis therwith, and large with mesure2299,

  2300 So penible2300 in the werre, and curteis eke,

  Ne moore laboure mighte in werre endure,

  Was noon, thogh al this world men sholde seke.

  Hir riche array ne mighte nat be told,

  As wel in vessel as in hire clothing;

  2305 She was al clad in perree2305 and in gold.

  And eek she lafte noght2306, for noon hunting,

  To have of sondry tonges ful knowing,

  Whan that she leiser hadde; and for to entende2308

  To lerne bookes was al hir liking,

  2310 How she in vertu mighte hir lif despende.

  And shortly of this storye for to trete,

  So doughty2312 was hire housbonde and eek she,

  That they conquered manye regnes grete

  In th’Orient2314, with many a fair citee

  2315 Appertenant2315 unto the magestee

  Of Rome, and with strong hond held hem2316 ful faste.

  Ne nevere mighte hir foomen2317 doon hem flee

  Ay whil that Odenakes dayes laste.

  Hir batailles, whoso list hem for to rede,

  2320 Again2320 Sapor the king and othere mo,

  And how that al this proces fil in dede,

  Why she conquered, and what title had therto,

  And after, of hire meschief and hire wo,

  How that she was biseged and ytake2324 –

  2325 Lat him unto my maister Petrak go,

  That writ2326 inow of this, I undertake.

  Whan Odenake was deed, she mightily2327

  The regnes heeld, and with hire propre2328 hond

  Agains hir foos she faught so cruelly

  2330 That ther nas king ne prince in al that lond

  That he nas glad, if he that grace fond2331

  That she ne wolde upon his lond werreye2332.

  With hire they maden alliance by bond

  To been in pees, and lete hire ride and pleye.

  2335 The emperour of Rome, Claudius,

  Ne him biforn, the Romain Galien,

  Ne dorsten nevere been so corageus2337,

  Ne noon Ermin2338, ne noon Egipcien,

  Ne Surryen2339, ne noon Arabien,

  2340 Withinne the feelde that dorste with hire fighte,

  Lest that she wolde hem with hir handes slen2341,

  Or with hire meinee2342 putten hem to flighte.

  In kinges habit wente hire sones two,

  As heires of hir fadres regnes alle,

  2345 And Hermanno and Thimalao

  Hir names were, as Persiens hem calle.

  But ay Fortune hath in hire hony galle2

  This mighty queene may no while endure2348.

  Fortune out of hir regne made hire falle

  2350 To wrecchednesse and to misaventure.

  Aurelian, whan that the governaunce

  Of Rome cam into hise handes tweye,

  He shoop2353 upon this queene to doon vengeance,

  And with his legions he took his weye

  2355 Toward Cenobie; and shortly for to seye,

  He made hire flee, and atte laste hire hente2356,

  And fettred2357 hire, and eek hire children tweye,

  And wan2358 the land, and hoom to Rome he wente.

  Amonges othere thinges that he wan,

  2360 Hir chaar2360, that was with gold wroght and perree,

  This grete Romain, this Aurelian,

  Hath with him lad2362, for that men sholde it see.

  Biforen his triumphe walketh she,

  With gilte cheines on hire nekke hanginge;

  2365 Crowned was she, as after hire degree,

  And ful of perree charged2366 hir clothinge.

  Allas, Fortune! she that whilom was

  Dredeful to kinges and to emperoures,

  Now gaureth2369 al the peple on hire, allas!

  2370 And she that helmed2370 was in starke stoures,

  And wan by force townes stronge and toures,

  Shal on hire heed now were a vitremite2372;

  And she that bar the ceptre ful of floures

  Shal bere a distaf, hire costes for to quite2374.

  De Petro Rege Ispannie

  2375 O noble, o worthy Petro, glorye of Spaine,

  Whom Fortune heeld so heighe in magestee,

  Wel oghten men thy pitous deeth complaine!

  Out of thy land thy brother made thee flee;

  And after, at a sege, by subtiltee2379

  2380 Thow were bitraysed2380 and lad unto his tente,

  Whereas he with his owene hand slow thee,

  Succedinge in thy regne and in thy rente.2382

  The feeld2383 of snow, with th’egle of blak therinne,

  Caught with the limerod2384 coloured as the glede,

  2385 He brew2385 this cursednesse and al this sinne!

  The wikked nest2386 was werkere of this nede –

  Noght Charles Oliver, that took ay hede2387–8

  Of trouthe and honour, but of Armorike

  Geniloun Oliver, corrupt for mede,2389

  2390 Broghte this worthy king in swich a brike.2390

  De Petro Rege de Cipro

  O worthy Petro, king of Cipre, also,

  That Alisaundre wan by heigh maistrye,

  Ful many an hethen wroghtestow ful wo,2393

  Of which thine owene liges2394 hadde envye,

  2395 And for nothing but for thy chivalrye

  They in thy bed han slain thee by the morwe.

  Thus kan Fortune hire wheel governe and gye,2397

  And out of joye bringe men to sorwe.

  De Barnabo de Lumbardia

  Of Melan grete Barnabo Viscounte,

  2400 God of delit2400, and scourge of Lumbardye,

  Why sholde I noght thin infortune2401 acounte,

  Sith in estat2402 thow clombe were so hye?

  Thy brother sone, that was thy double allye,

  For he thy nevew was and sone-in-lawe,

  2405 Withinne his prisoun made thee to die.

  But why, ne how, noot I2406 that thou were slawe.

  De Hugelino Comite de Pize

  Of the Erl Hugelin of Pize the langour2407

  Ther may no tonge telle for pitee.

  But litel out of Pize stant a tour,

  2410 In which tour in prisoun put was he,

  And with him been hise litel children thre;

  The eldest scarsly five yeer was of age.

  Allas, Fortune! It was greet crueltee

  Swiche briddes for to putte in swich a cage!

  2415 Dampned2415 was he to die in that prisoun,

  For Roger, which that bisshop was of Pize,

  Hadde on him maad a fals suggestioun2417,

  Thurgh which the peple gan upon him rise2418,

  And putten him to prisoun in swich wise

  2420 As ye han herd; and mete and drinke he hadde

  So smal, that wel unnethe2421 it may suffise,

  And therwithal it was ful povre and badde.

  And on a day, bifel that in that hour

  Whan that his mete2424 wont was to be broght,

  2425 The gailer shette2425 the dores of the tour.

  He herde it wel, but he spak right noght,

  And in his herte anon ther fil a thoght

  That they for hunger wolde doon him dien2428.

  ‘Allas!’ quod he, ‘allas, that I was wroght!’

  2430 Therwith the teeris fillen2430 from hise eyen.

  His yonge sone, that thre yeer was of age,

  Unto him seide, ‘Fader, why do ye wepe?

  Whanne wol the gailer bringen oure potage2433?

  Is ther no morsel breed2434 that ye do kepe?

  2435 I am so hungry that I may nat slepe.

  Now wolde God that I mighte slepen evere!

  Thanne sholde noght hunger in my wombe crepe;

  Ther is nothing, but breed, that me were levere2438.’

  Thus day by day this child bigan to crye,

  2440 Til in his fadres barm2440 adoun it lay,

  And seide, ‘Farewel, fader, I moot die!’

  And kiste his fader, and deide the same day.

  And whan the woful fader deed it say2443,

  For wo hise armes two he gan to bite,

  2445 And seide, ‘Allas, Fortune, and weilaway!

  Thy false wheel my wo al may I wite2446.’

  Hise children wende2447 that it for hunger was

  That he hise armes gnow2448, and nat for wo,

  And seiden, ‘Fader, do nat so, allas,

  2450 But rather ete the flessh upon us two.

  Oure flessh thow yaf us, taak oure flessh us fro,

  And ete inow2452.’ – Right thus they to him seide.

  And after that, withinne a day or two,

  They leide hem in his lappe adoun and deide.

  2455 Himself, despeired, eek for hunger starf2455.

  Thus ended is this mighty Erl of Pize!

  From heigh estat Fortune awey him carf2457.

  Of this tragedye it oghte inogh suffise;

  Whoso wol heere it in a lenger wise,

  2460 Redeth the grete poete of Itaille

  That highte Dant, for he kan al devise2461

  Fro point to point; nat o word wol he faille2462.


  Althogh that Nero were as vicius

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