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Tho vois of the peple touched to the Heven, Ful oft a day lian thilke Thebanes two So loude crieden they with mery steven;
Togeder met, and wrought eche other wo: “God save swiche a lord that is so good,
Unborsed hath eche other of hem twey. He wilneth no destruction of blood.”
Ther n'as no tigre in the vale of Galaphey, Up gon the trompes and the melodie,
Whan that hire whelpe is stole, whan it is lite, And to the listes rit the compagnie
So cruel on the hunt, as is Arcite By ordinance, thurghout the cite large,
For jalous herte upon this Palamon: Hanged with cloth of gold, and not with sarge.
Ne in Belmarie ther n'is so fell leon, Ful like a lord this noble duk gan ride,
That hunted is, or for his hunger wood, And these two Thebans upon eyther side:
Ne of his prey desireth so the blood, And after rode the quene and Emelie,
As Palamon to sleen his foo Arcite. And after that another compagnie
The jalous strokes on hir helmes bite; Of on and other, after his degree.
Out renneth blood on both bir sides rede. And thus they passen thurghout the citec,
Somtime an ende ther is of every dede. And to the listes comen they be time:
For er the Sonne unto the reste went, It n'as not of the day yet fully prime.
The stronge king Emetrius gan hent Whan set was Theseus ful rich and hie,
This Palamon, as he fought with Arcite, Ipolita the quene, and Emelie,
And made his swerd depe in his flesh to bite. And other ladies in degrees aboute,
And by the force of twenty is he take Unto the sethes preseth all the route.
Unyolden, and ydrawen to the stake. And westward, thurgh the gates under Mart, And in the rescous of this Palamon Arcite, and eke the hundred of his part,
The strong king Licurge is borne adoun: With baner red, is entred right anon;
And king Emetrius for all his strengthe And in the selve moment Palamon
Is borne out of his sadel a swerdes lengthe,
So bitte him Palamon or he were take:
His hardy herte might bim helpen naught,
He moste abiden, whan that he was caught, Ther n'ere swiche compagnies never twey.
By force, and eke by composition. For ther was non so wise that coude sey,
Who sorweth now but woful Palamon? That any hadde of other avantage
That moste no more gon again to fight. Of worthinesse, ne of estat, ne age,
And whan that Theseus had seen that night, So even were they chosen for to gesse.
Unto the folk that foughten thus eche oil, And in two renges fayre they hem dresse.
He cried, “ Ho! no more, for it is don. Whan that hir names red were everich on,
I wol be trewe juge, and not partie. That in hir nombre gile were ther non,
Arcite of Thebes shal have Emelie, Tho were the gates shette, and cried was loude: That by his fortune hath hire fayre ywonne.” “Do now your devoir, yonge knightes proude." Anon ther is a noise of peple begonne
The heraudes left hir priking up and doun. For joye of this, so loud and high withall, Now ringen trompes loud and clarioun.
It semed that the listes shulden fall. Ther is no more to say, but est and west
What can now fayre Venus don above? In gon the speres sadly in the rest;
What saith she now? what doth this quene of love?
But wepeth so, for wanting of hire will,
She sayde: “I am ashamed douteless."
Saturnus sayde: Daughter, hold thy pecs. Up springen speres twenty foot on lighte;
Mars hath his will, his knight hath all his bone, Out gon the swerdes as the silver brighte.
And by min hed thou shalt ben esed sone."
The trompoures with the loude minstralcie,
This fierce Arcite hath of his helme ydon,
And on a courser for to shew his face And he him hurtleth with his hors adoun.
He priketh endelong the large place, He thurgh the body is hurt, and sith ytake
Loking upward upon this Emelie; Maugre his hed, and brought unto the stake, And she again him cast a friendlich eye, As forword was, right ther he must abide.
(For women, as to speken in commune, Another lad is on that other side.
They folwen all the favour of fortune) And somtime doth hem Theseus to rest,
And was all his in chere, as his in herte. llem to refresh, and drinken if hem lest.
Out of the ground a fury infernal sterte,
From Pluto sent, at requeste of Saturno,
That neyther veine-blood, ne ventousing, For which his hors for fere gan to turne,
Ne drinke of herbes may ben his helping. And lepte aside, and foundred as he lepe :
The vertue expulsif, or animal, And er that Arcile may take any kepe,
Fro thilke vertue cleped natural, He pight him on the pomel of his hed,
Ne may the venime voiden, ne expell. That in the place he lay as he were ded,
The pipes of his longes gan to swell, His brest to-brosten with his sadel bow.
And every lacerte in his brest adoun As blake he lay as any cole or crow,
Is shent with venime and corruptioun. So was the blood yronnen in his face.
Him gaineth neyther, for to get his lif, Anon he was yborne out of the place
Vomit upward, ne dounward laxatif; With herte sore, to Theseus paleis.
All is to-brosten thilke region ; Tho was he corven out of his harneis,
Nature hath now no domination And in a bed ybrought ful fayre and blive, And certainly ther nature wol not werche, For be was yet in memorie, and live,
Farewel physike: go bere the man to cherche, And alway crying after Emelie.
This is all and som, that Arcite moste dic. Duk Theseus, with all his compagnic,
For which he sendeth after Emelie, I ormen home to Athenes his citee,
And Palamon, that was his cosin dere. With alle blisse and gret solempnite.
Than sayd he thus, as ye shuln after here. Al be it that this aventure was falle,
“Nought may the woful spirit in myn herte He n'olde not discomforten hem alle.
Declare o point of all my sorwes smerte Men sayden eke, that Arcite shal not die,
To you, my lady, that I love most; He shal ben heled of his maladie.
But I bequethe the service of my gost And of another thing they were as fayn,
To you aboven every creature, That of hem alle was ther non yslain,
Sin that my lif ne may no lenger dure. Al were they sore yhurt, and namely on,
“ Alas the wo! alas the peines stronge, That with a spere was thirled his brest bone. That I for you have suffered, and so longe! To other woundes, and to broken armes,
Alas the deth ! alas min Emelie !
Alas min hertes quene! alas my wif!
What is this world? what axen men to have? Comforteth and honoureth every man,
Now with his love, now in his colde grave And made revel all the longe night,
Alone withouten any compagnie. Unto the strange lordes, as was right.
Farewel my swete, farewel min Emelie, Ne ther n'as holden no discomforting,
And softe take me in your armes twey, But as at justes or a tourneying;
For love of God, and herkeneth what I sey. For sothly ther n'as no discomfiture,
“I have here with my cosin Palamon For falling n'is not but an aventure.
Had strif and rancour many a day agon Ne to be lad by force unto a stake
For love of you, and for my jalousie. Layoiden, and with twenty knightes take,
And Jupiter so wis my soule gie, Operon all alone, withouten mo,
To speken of a servant proprely, And haried forth by armes, foot, and too,
With alle circumstances trewely, And eke his stede driven forth with staves, That is to sayn, trouth, honour, and knighthede, With footmen, bothe yemen and eke knaves, Wisdom, humblesse, estat, and high kinrede, It was aretted him no vilanie:
Fredom, and all that longeth to that art, Ther may no man clepen it cowardie.
So Jupiter have of my soule part, For which anon duk Theseus let crie,
As in this world right now ne know I non, To stenten alle rancour and envie,
So worthy to be loved as Palamon, The gree as wel of o side as of other,
That serveth you, and wol don all his lif: And eyther side ylike, as others brother:
And if that ever ye shall ben a wif, And yave hem giftes after hir degree,
Foryete not Palamon the gentil man.” And belde a feste fully dayes three:
And with that word his speche faille began. Ari conveyed the kinges worthily
For from his feet up to his brest was come
The cold of deth, that had him overnome.
Only the intellect, withouten more,
That dwelled in his herte sike and sore, Svelleth the brest of Arcite, and the sore
Gan feillen, whan the herte felte deth; Facteseth at his herte more and more.
Dusked his eyen two, and failled his breth. The clotpred blood, for any leche-craft,
But on his ladie yet cast he his eye; Corturipeth, and is in his bouke ylast,
His laste word was; “ Mercy, Emelie !"
His spirit changed house, and wente ther,
“What rekketh me though folk say vilanie Of shrewed Lamech, and his bigamie ? I wot wel Abraham was an holy man, And Jacob eke, as fer as ever I ean, And eche of hem had wives mo than two, And many another holy man also. Wher can ye seen in any maner age That highe God defended mariage By expresse word? I pray you telleth me, Or wher commanded he virginitee?
“I wot as wel as ye, it is no drede, The apostle, whan he spake of maidenhede, He said, that precept therof had he non: Men may conseille a woman to ben on, But conseilling is no commandement; He put it in our owen jugement.
THE WIF OF BATHES PROLOGUE. “Experience, though non auctoritee Were in this world, is right ynough for me To speke of wo that is in mariage: For, lordings, sin I twelf yere was of age, (Thanked be God thrat is eterne on live) Husbondes at chirche dore have I had five, (If I so often might han wedded be) And all were worthy men in hir degree.
“But me was told, not longe time agon is,
" But wel I wot, expresse withouten lie
“Lo here the wise king dan Solomon,
“ Now sires; than wol I tell you forth my tale.
governed hem so wel after my lawe,
“Ye wise wives, that can understond,
“Sire olde Kaynard, is this thin aray! Why is my neigheboures wif so gay:
She is honoured over al wher she goth,
And but thou do to my norice honour,
And to my chamberere within my bour,
And to my faders folk, and myn allies;
Thus sayst thou, olde barel ful of lies.
For his crispe here, shining as gold so fin,
And for he squiereth me both up and doun,
Yet hast thou caught a false suspection :
I wol him nat, though thou were ded to-morwe.
It is my good as wel as thin parde,
What, wenest thou make an idiot of our dame?
Now by that lord that cleped is Seint Jame,
Thou shalt not bothe, though that thou were wood,
Be maister of my body and of my good,
That on thou shalt forgo maugre thin eyen.
I trow thou woldest locke me in thy cheste.
Thou shuldest say, fayr wif, go wher thee leste;
Take your disport; I wol nat leve no tales;
“ • We love no man, that taketh kepe or charge And som for gentillesse and daliance,
Wher that we gon, we wol be at our large.
The wise astrologien dan Ptholomee,
• Of alle men his wisdom is higheste,
That rekketh not who hath the world in hond.' Coveteth every man that she may see;
“ • By this proverbe thou shalt wel understond, For as a spaniel, she wol on him lepe,
Have thou ynough, what thar thee rekke or care
For certes, olde dotard, by your leve,
He is to gret a nigard that wol werne
* * Thus sayst thou, lorel, whan thou gost to bed He shall have never the lesse lighte parde.
Have thou ynough, thee thar not plainen thee.
“« Thou sayst also, if that we make us gay
With clothing and with precious array,
"'Thou sayst, that dropping houses, and eke And yet, with sorwe, thou enforcest thee,
And sayst thise wordes in the apostles name:
• In habit made with chastitee and shame What aileth swiche an old man for to chide ? Ye women shul appareile you,' (quod he) **Thou sayst, we wives wol our vices hide,
• And nat in tressed here, and gay perrie, Til we be fast, and than we wol hem shewe. As perles, ne with gold, ne clothes riche.' Wel may that be a proverbe of a shrewe.
“6 After thy text, ne after thy rubriche
I wol not work as mochel as a gnat.
6 • Thou sayst also, I walke out like a cat; Basins, lavoures, or that men hem bie,
For who so wolde senge the cattes skin,
Than wol the cat wel dwellen in hire in;
And if the cattes skin be sleke and gay,
She wol nat dwellen in hous half a day,
But forth she wol, or any day be dawed,
To shew hire skin, and gon a caterwaned.
This is to say,
if I be gay, sire shrewe,
I wol renne out, my borel for to shewe.
Sire olde fool, what helpeth thee to spien ?
Though thou pray Argus with his hundred eyen
To be my wardecorps, as he can best.
In faithe he shal not kepe me but me lest;
That I was borne, and make me fresh and gay;
say you soth.'
Yet coude I make his berd, so mote I the.
As helpe mo veray God omnipotent,
That they must yeve it up, as for the best, " • Yet prechest thou, and sayst, an hateful wif Or elles had we never ben in rest. Yrekened is for on of thise meschances.
For though he loked as a wood leon, Be ther non other maner resemblances
Yet shuld he faille of his conclusion. That ye may liken your parables to,
“ Than wold I say, “Now, goode lefe, take kepe, But if a sely wif be on of tho?
How mekely loketh Wilkin oure shepe! 6 • Thou likenest eke womans love to Helle, Come ner my spouse, and let me ba thy cheke. To barrein lond, ther water may not dwelle.
Ye shulden be al patient and meke, “ • Thou likenest it also to wilde fire;
And han a swete spiced conscience, The more it brenneth, the more it hath desire Sith ye so preche of Jobes patience. To consume every thing, that brent wol be.
Suffreth alway, sin ye so wel can preche, " • Thou sayest right as wormes shende a tre, And but ye do, certain we shal you teche Right so a wif destroieth hire husbond ;
That it is faire to han a wif in pees. This knowen they that ben to wives bond.'
On of us two moste bowen doutelees: Lordings, right thus, as ye han understond, And, sith a man is more resonable Bare I stifly min old husbondes on hond,
Than woman is, ye mosten ben suffrable. That thus they saiden in hir dronkennesse :
What aileth you to grutchen thus and grone? And all was false, but as I toke witnesse
Is it for ye wold have my queint alone? On Jankin, and upon my nece also.
Why take it all: lo, have it every del. O Lord, the peine I did hem, and the wo,
Peter, I shrew you but ye love it wel. Ful gilteles, by Goddes swete pine ;
For if I wolde sell my belle chose, For as an hors, I coude bite and whine;
I coude walke as freshe as is a rose, I coude plain, and I was in the gilt,
But I wol kepe it for your owen toth. Or elles oftentime I had ben spilt.
Ye be to blame, by God, I Who so first cometh to the mill, first grint;
“Swiche maner wordes hadden wc on hond. I plained first, so was our werre ystint.
Now wol I speken of my fourthe husbond. They were ful glad to excusen hem ful blive
“My fourthe husbonde was a revellour, Of thing, the which they never agilt hir live. This is to sayn, he had a paramour, Of wenches wold I beren hem on hond,
And I was yonge and ful of ragerie, Whan that for sike unnethes might they stond, Stibborne and strong, and joly as a pie. Yet tikeled I his herte for that he
Tho coude I dancen to an harpe smale, . Wend that I had of him so gret chiertee:
And sing ywis as any nightingale, I swore that all my walking out by night
Whan I had dronke a draught of swete wine. Was for to espien wenches that he dight:
Metellius, the foule cherle, the swine, Under that colour had I many a mirth;
That with a staf berast his wif hire lif For all swiche wit is yeven us in our birth;
For she drank wine, though I had ben his wif, Deceite, weping, spinning, God hath yeven
Ne shuld he not have daunted me fro drinke: To woman kind, while that they may liven.
And after wine of Venus most I thinke. And thus of o thing I may avaunten me,
For al so siker as cold engendreth hayl, At th' ende I had the beter in eche degree,
A liherous mouth most han a likerous tayl. By sleight or force, or by som maner thing,
In woman vinolent is no defence, As by continual murmur or grutching,
This knowen lechours by experience.
But, Lord Crist, whan that it remembreth me
It tikleth me about myn herte-rote.
Unto this day it doth myn herte bote, Til he had made his raunson unto me,
That I have had my world as in my time. Than wold 1 soffre him do his nicetec.
But age, alas! that all wol cnvenime, And therfore every man this tale I tell,
Hath me beraft my beautee and my pith: Winne who so may, for all is for to sell :
farewel, the devil go therwith. With empty hond men may no haukes lure, The four is gon, ther n'is no more to tell, For winning wold I all his lust endure,
The bren, as I best may, now moste I sell. And maken me a feined appetit,
But yet to be right mery wol I fond, And yet in bacon had I never delit:
Now forth to tellen of my fourthe husbond, That maked me that ever I wold hem chide.
" I say, I had in herte gret despit, For though the Pope had sitten hem beside, That he of any other had delit; I wold not spare hem at hir owen bord,
But he was quit by God and by Seint Joce: For by my trouthe I quitte hem word for word. I made him of the same wood a croce,