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Medieval and Classical Library

Book of the Duchesse
by Geoffrey Chaucer

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #1

The following text is based on that published in THE COMPLETE WORKS OF GEOFFREY CHAUCER, ed. W.W. Skeat (Oxford, 1899). This work is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN.

This electronic edition was edited, proofed, and prepared by Douglas B. Killings (DeTroyes@AOL.COM), September 1994, based upon a previous e-text of unknown origin. Additional assistance provided by Diane M. Brendan.

               THE PROEM

1      I have gret wonder, be this lighte,
2      How that I live, for day ne nighte
3      I may nat slepe wel nigh noght,
4      I have so many an ydel thoght
5      Purely for defaute of slepe
6      That, by my trouthe, I take no kepe
7      Of no-thing, how hit cometh or goth,
8      Ne me nis no-thing leef nor loth.
9      Al is y-liche good to me --
10     Ioye or sorowe, wherso hyt be --
11     For I have feling in no-thinge,
12     But, as it were, a mased thing,
13     Alway in point to falle a-doun;
14     For sorwful imaginacioun
15     Is alway hoolly in my minde.
16       And wel ye wite, agaynes kynde
17     Hit were to liven in this wyse;
18     For nature wolde nat suffyse
19     To noon erthely creature
20     Not longe tyme to endure
21     Withoute slepe, and been in sorwe;
22     And I ne may, ne night ne morwe,
23     Slepe; and thus melancolye
24     And dreed I have for to dye,
25     Defaute of slepe and hevinesse
26     Hath sleyn my spirit of quiknesse,
27     That I have lost al lustihede.
28     Suche fantasies ben in myn hede
29     So I not what is best to do.
30       But men myght axe me, why soo
31     I may not slepe, and what me is?
32     But natheles, who aske this
33     Leseth his asking trewely.
34     My-selven can not telle why
35     The sooth; but trewely, as I gesse,
36     I holde hit be a siknesse
37     That I have suffred this eight yere,
38     And yet my bote is never the nere;
39     For ther is phisicien but oon,
40     That may me hele; but that is doon.
41     Passe we over until eft;
42     That wil not be, moot nede be left;
43     Our first matere is good to kepe.
44       So whan I saw I might not slepe,
45     Til now late, this other night,
46     Upon my bedde I sat upright
47     And bad oon reche me a book,
48     A romaunce, and he hit me took
49     To rede and dryve the night away;
50     For me thoghte it better play
51     Then playen either at chesse or tables.
52       And in this boke were writen fables
53     That clerkes hadde, in olde tyme,
54     And other poets, put in ryme
55     To rede, and for to be in minde
56     Whyl men loved the lawe of kinde.
57     This book ne spak but of such thinges,
58     Of quenes lyves, and of kinges,
59     And many othere thinges smale.
60     Amonge al this I fond a tale
61     That me thoughte a wonder thing.
62       This was the tale: There was a king
63     That hight Seys, and hadde a wyf,
64     The beste that mighte bere lyf;
65     And this quene hight Alcyone.
66     So hit befel, therafter sone,
67     This king wolde wenden over see.
68     To tellen shortly, whan that he
69     Was in the see, thus in this wyse,
70     Soche a tempest gan to ryse
71     That brak hir mast, and made it falle,
72     And clefte her ship, and dreinte hem alle,
73     That never was founden, as it telles,
74     Bord ne man, ne nothing elles.
75     Right thus this king Seys loste his lyf.
76       Now for to speken of his wife: --
77     This lady, that was left at home,
78     Hath wonder, that the king ne come
79     Hoom, for hit was a longe terme.
80     Anon her herte gan to erme;
81     And for that hir thoughte evermo
82     Hit was not wel he dwelte so,
83     She longed so after the king
84     That certes, hit were a pitous thing
85     To telle hir hertely sorwful lyf
86     That hadde, alas! this noble wyfe;
87     For him she loved alderbest.
88     Anon she sente bothe eest and west
89     To seke him, but they founde nought.
90       `Alas!' quoth she, `that I was wrought!
91     And wher my lord, my love, be deed?
92     Certes, I nil never ete breed,
93     I make a-vowe to my god here,
94     But I mowe of my lord here!'
95     Such sorwe this lady to her took
96     That trewely I, which made this book,
97     Had swich pite and swich rowthe
98     To rede hir sorwe, that, by my trowthe,
99     I ferde the worse al the morwe
100    After, to thenken on her sorwe.
101      So whan she coude here no word
102    That no man mighte fynde hir lord,
103    Ful ofte she swouned, and saide `Alas!'
104    For sorwe ful nigh wood she was,
105    Ne she coude no reed but oon;
106    But doun on knees she sat anoon,
107    And weep, that pite was to here.
108      `A!  mercy!  swete lady dere!'
109    Quod she to Iuno, hir goddesse;
110    `Help me out of this distresse,
111    And yeve me grace my lord to see
112    Sone, or wite wher-so he be,
113    Or how he fareth, or in what wyse,
114    And I shal make you sacrifyse,
115    And hoolly youres become I shal
116    With good wil, body, herte, and al;
117    And but thou wilt this, lady swete,
118    Send me grace to slepe, and mete
119    In my slepe som certeyn sweven,
120    Wher-through that I may knowen even
121    Whether my lord be quik or deed.'
122    With that word she heng doun the heed,
123    And fil a-swown as cold as ston;
124    Hir women caught her up anon,
125    And broghten hir in bed al naked,
126    And she, forweped and forwaked,
127    Was wery, and thus the dede sleep
128    Fil on hir, or she toke keep,
129    Through Iuno, that had herd hir bone,
130    That made hir to slepe sone;
131    For as she prayde, so was don,
132    In dede; for Iuno, right anon,
133    Called thus her messagere
134    To do her erande, and he com nere.
135    Whan he was come, she bad him thus:
136    `Go bet,' quod Iuno, `to Morpheus,
137    Thou knowest hym wel, the god of sleep;
138    Now understond wel, and tak keep.
139    Sey thus on my halfe, that he
140    Go faste into the grete see,
141    And bid him that, on alle thing,
142    He take up Seys body the king,
143    That lyth ful pale and no-thing rody.
144    Bid him crepe into the body,
145    Aud do it goon to Alcyone
146    The quene, ther she lyth alone,
147    And shewe hir shortly, hit is no nay,
148    How hit was dreynt this other day;
149    And do the body speke so
150    Right as hit was wont to do,
151    The whyles that hit was on lyve.
152    Go now faste, and hy thee blyve!'
153      This messager took leve and wente
154    Upon his wey, and never ne stente
155    Til he com to the derke valeye
156    That stant bytwene roches tweye,
157    Ther never yet grew corn ne gras,
158    Ne tree, ne nothing that ought was,
159    Beste, ne man, ne nothing elles,
160    Save ther were a fewe welles
161    Came renning fro the cliffes adoun,
162    That made a deedly sleping soun,
163    And ronnen doun right by a cave
164    That was under a rokke y-grave
165    Amid the valey, wonder depe.
166    Ther thise goddes laye and slepe,
167    Morpheus, and Eclympasteyre,
168    That was the god of slepes heyre,
169    That slepe and did non other werk.
170      This cave was also as derk
171    As helle pit over-al aboute;
172    They had good leyser for to route
173    To envye, who might slepe beste;
174    Some henge hir chin upon hir breste
175    And slepe upright, hir heed y-hed,
176    And some laye naked in hir bed,
177    And slepe whyles the dayes laste.
178      This messager come flying faste,
179    And cryed, `O ho! awake anon!'
180    Hit was for noght; ther herde him non.
181    `Awak!' quod he, `who is, lyth there?'
182    And blew his horn right in hir ere,
183    And cryed `awaketh!' wonder hye.
184    This god of slepe, with his oon ye
185    Cast up, axed, `who clepeth there?'
186    `Hit am I,' quod this messagere;
187    `Iuno bad thou shuldest goon' --
188    And tolde him what he shulde doon
189    As I have told yow here-tofore;
190    Hit is no need reherse hit more;
191    And wente his wey, whan he had sayd.
192      Anon this god of slepe a-brayd
193    Out of his slepe, and gan to goon,
194    And did as he had bede him doon;
195    Took up the dreynte body sone,
196    And bar hit forth to Alcyone,
197    His wif the quene, ther-as she lay,
198    Right even a quarter before day,
199    And stood right at hir beddes fete,
200    And called hir, right as she hete,
201    By name, and sayde, `my swete wyf,
202    Awak!  let be your sorwful lyf!
203    For in your sorwe there lyth no reed;
204    For certes, swete, I nam but deed;
205    Ye shul me never on lyve y-see.
206    But good swete herte, look that ye
207    Bury my body, at whiche a tyde
208    Ye mowe hit finde the see besyde;
209    And far-wel, swete, my worldes blisse!
210    I praye god your sorwe lisse;
211    To litel whyl our blisse lasteth!'
212      With that hir eyen up she casteth,
213    And saw noght; `A!' quod she, `for sorwe!'
214    And deyed within the thridde morwe.
215    But what she sayde more in that swow
216    I may not telle yow as now,
217    Hit were to longe for to dwelle;
218    My first matere I wil yow telle,
219    Wherfor I have told this thing
220    Of Alcione and Seys the king.
221      For thus moche dar I saye wel,
222    I had be dolven everydel,
223    And deed, right through defaute of sleep,
224    If I nad red and taken keep
225    Of this tale next before:
226    And I wol telle yow wherfore:
227    For I ne might, for bote ne bale,
228    Slepe, or I had red this tale
229    Of this dreynte Seys the king,
230    And of the goddes of sleping.
231    Whan I had red this tale wel
232    And over-loked hit everydel,
233    Me thoughte wonder if hit were so;
234    For I had never herd speke, or tho,
235    Of no goddes that coude make
236    Men for to slepe, ne for to wake;
237    For I ne knew never god but oon.
238    And in my game I sayde anoon --
239    And yet me list right evel to pleye --
240    `Rather then that I shulde deye
241    Through defaute of sleping thus,
242    I wolde yive thilke Morpheus,
243    Or his goddesse, dame Iuno,
244    Or som wight elles, I ne roghte who --
245    To make me slepe and have som reste --
246    I wil yive him the alder-beste
247    Yift that ever he aboode his lyve,
248    And here on warde, right now, as blyve;
249    If he wol make me slepe a lyte,
250    Of downe of pure dowves whyte
251    I wil yive him a fether-bed,
252    Rayed with golde, and right wel cled
253    In fyn blak satin doutremere,
254    And many a pilow, and every bere
255    Of clothe of Reynes, to slepe softe;
256    Him thar not nede to turnen ofte.
257    And I wol yive him al that falles
258    To a chambre; and al his halles
259    I wol do peynte with pure golde,
260    And tapite hem ful many folde
261    Of oo sute; this shal he have,
262    Yf I wiste wher were his cave,
263    If he can make me slepe sone,
264    As did the goddesse Alcione.
265    And thus this ilke god, Morpheus,
266    May winne of me mo fees thus
267    Than ever he wan; and to Iuno,
268    That is his goddesse, I shal so do,
269    I trow that she shal holde her payd.'
270      I hadde unneth that word y-sayd
271    Right thus as I have told hit yow,
272    That sodeynly, I niste how,
273    Swich a lust anoon me took
274    To slepe, that right upon my book
275    I fil aslepe, and therwith even
276    Me mette so inly swete a sweven,
277    So wonderful, that never yit
278    I trowe no man hadde the wit
279    To conne wel my sweven rede;
280    No, not Ioseph, withoute drede,
281    Of Egipte, he that redde so
282    The kinges meting Pharao,
283    No more than coude the leste of us;
284    Ne nat scarsly Macrobeus,
285    (He that wroot al thavisioun
286    That he mette, Kyng Scipioun,
287    The noble man, the Affrican --
288    Swiche marvayles fortuned than)
289    I trowe, a-rede my dremes even.
290    Lo, thus hit was, this was my sweven.


               THE DREAM

291    Me thoughte thus: -- that hit was May,
292    And in the dawning ther I lay,
293    Me mette thus, in my bed al naked: --
294    I loked forth, for I was waked
295    With smale foules a gret hepe,
296    That had affrayed me out of slepe
297    Through noyse and swetnesse of hir song;
298    And, as me mette, they sate among,
299    Upon my chambre-roof withoute,
300    Upon the tyles, al a-boute,
301    And songen, everich in his wise,
302    The moste solempne servyse
303    By note, that ever man, I trowe,
304    Had herd; for som of hem song lowe,
305    Som hye, and al of oon acorde.
306    To telle shortly, at oo worde,
307    Was never y-herd so swete a steven,
308    But hit had be a thing of heven; --
309    So mery a soun, so swete entunes,
310    That certes, for the toune of Tewnes,
311    I nolde but I had herd hem singe,
312    For al my chambre gan to ringe
313    Through singing of hir armonye.
314    For instrument nor melodye
315    Was nowher herd yet half so swete,
316    Nor of acorde half so mete;
317    For ther was noon of hem that feyned
318    To singe, for ech of hem him peyned
319    To finde out mery crafty notes;
320    They ne spared not hir throtes.
321    And, sooth to seyn, my chambre was
322    Ful wel depeynted, and with glas
323    Were al the windowes wel y-glased,
324    Ful clere, and nat an hole y-crased,
325    That to beholde hit was gret Ioye.
326    For hoolly al the storie of Troye
327    Was in the glasing y-wroght thus,
328    Of Ector and of king Priamus,
329    Of Achilles and king Lamedon,
330    Of Medea and of Iason,
331    Of Paris, Eleyne, and Lavyne.
332    And alle the walles with colours fyne
333    Were peynted, bothe text and glose,
334    Of al the Romaunce of the Rose.
335    My windowes weren shet echon,
336    And through the glas the sunne shon
337    Upon my bed with brighte bemes,
338    With many glade gilden stremes;
339    And eek the welken was so fair,
340    Blew, bright, clere was the air,
341    And ful atempre, for sothe, hit was;
342    For nother cold nor hoot hit nas,
343    Ne in al the welken was a cloude.
344      And as I lay thus, wonder loude
345    Me thoughte I herde an hunte blowe
346    Tassaye his horn, and for to knowe
347    Whether hit were clere or hors of soune.
348      I herde goinge, up and doune,
349    Men, hors, houndes, and other thing;
350    And al men speken of hunting,
351    How they wolde slee the hert with strengthe,
352    And how the hert had, upon lengthe,
353    So moche embosed,I not now what.
354    Anon-right, whan I herde that,
355    How that they wolde on hunting goon,
356    I was right glad, and up anoon;
357    I took my hors, and forth I wente
358    Out of my chambre; I never stente
359    Til I com to the feld withoute.
360    Ther overtook I a gret route
361    Of huntes and eek of foresteres,
362    With many relayes and lymeres,
363    And hyed hem to the forest faste,
364    And I with hem; -- so at the laste
365    I asked oon, ladde a lymere: --
366    `Say, felow, who shal hunten here'
367    Quod I, and he answerde ageyn,
368    `Sir, themperour Octovien,'
369    Quod he, `and is heer faste by.'
370    `A goddes halfe, in good tyme,' quod I,
371    `Go we faste!' and gan to ryde.
372    Whan we came to the forest-syde,
373    Every man dide, right anoon,
374    As to hunting fil to doon.
375    The mayster-hunte anoon, fot-hoot,
376    With a gret horne blew three moot
377    At the uncoupling of his houndes.
378    Within a whyl the hert y-founde is,
379    Y-halowed, and rechased faste
380    Longe tyme; and so at the laste,
381    This hert rused and stal away
382    Fro alle the houndes a prevy way.
383    The houndes had overshote hem alle,
384    And were on a defaute y-falle;
385    Therwith the hunte wonder faste
386    Blew a forloyn at the laste.
387      I was go walked fro my tree,
388    And as I wente, ther cam by me
389    A whelp, that fauned me as I stood,
390    That hadde y-folowed, and coude no good.
391    Hit com and creep to me as lowe,
392    Right as hit hadde me y-knowe,
393    Hild doun his heed and Ioyned his eres,
394    And leyde al smothe doun his heres.
395    I wolde han caught hit, and anoon
396    Hit fledde, and was fro me goon;
397    And I him folwed, and hit forth wente
398    Doun by a floury grene wente
399    Ful thikke of gras, ful softe and swete,
400    With floures fele, faire under fete,
401    And litel used, hit seemed thus;
402    For bothe Flora and Zephirus,
403    They two that make floures growe,
404    Had mad hir dwelling ther, I trowe;
405    For hit was, on to beholde,
406    As thogh the erthe envye wolde
407    To be gayer than the heven,
408    To have mo floures, swiche seven
409    As in the welken sterres be.
410    Hit had forgete the povertee
411    That winter, through his colde morwes,
412    Had mad hit suffren, and his sorwes;
413    Al was forgeten, and that was sene.
414    For al the wode was waxen grene,
415    Swetnesse of dewe had mad it waxe.
416       Hit is no need eek for to axe
417    Wher ther were many grene greves,
418    Or thikke of trees, so ful of leves;
419    And every tree stood by him-selve
420    Fro other wel ten foot or twelve.
421    So grete trees, so huge of strengthe,
422    Of fourty or fifty fadme lengthe,
423    Clene withoute bough or stikke,
424    With croppes brode, and eek as thikke --
425    They were nat an inche a-sonder --
426    That hit was shadwe over-al under;
427    And many an hert and many an hinde
428    Was both before me and bihinde.
429    Of founes, soures, bukkes, does
430    Was ful the wode, and many roes,
431    And many squirelles that sete
432    Ful hye upon the trees, and ete,
433    And in hir maner made festes.
434    Shortly, hit was so ful of bestes,
435    That thogh Argus, the noble countour,
436    Sete to rekene in his countour,
437    And rekened with his figures ten --
438    For by tho figures mowe al ken,
439    If they be crafty, rekene and noumbre,
440    And telle of every thing the noumbre --
441    Yet shulde he fayle to rekene even
442    The wondres, me mette in my sweven.
443      But forth they romed wonder faste
444    Doun the wode; so at the laste
445    I was war of a man in blak,
446    That sat and had y-turned his bak
447    To an oke, an huge tree.
448    `Lord,' thoghte I, `who may that be?
449    What ayleth him to sitten here?'
450    Anoon-right I wente nere;
451    Than fond I sitte even upright
452    A wonder wel-faringe knight --
453    By the maner me thoughte so --
454    Of good mochel, and yong therto,
455    Of the age of four and twenty yeer.
456    Upon his berde but litel heer,
457    And he was clothed al in blakke.
458    I stalked even unto his bakke,
459    And ther I stood as stille as ought,
460    That, sooth to saye, he saw me nought,
461    For-why he heng his heed adoune.
462    And with a deedly sorwful soune
463    He made of ryme ten vers or twelve
464    Of a compleynt to him-selve,
465    The moste pite, the moste rowthe,
466    That ever I herde; for, by my trowthe,
467    Hit was gret wonder that nature
468    Might suffren any creature
469    To have swich sorwe, and be not deed.
470    Ful pitous, pale, and nothing reed,
471    He sayde a lay, a maner song,
472    Withoute note, withoute song,
473    And hit was this; for wel I can
474    Reherse hit; right thus hit began. --
475      `I have of sorwe so grete woon,
476    That Ioye gete I never noon,
477      Now that I see my lady bright,
478      Which I have loved with al my might,
479    Is fro me dedd, and is a-goon.
480    And thus in sorwe lefte me alone.
481      `Allas, o deeth! what ayleth thee,
482    That thou noldest have taken me,
483      `Whan that thou toke my lady swete?
484    That was so fayr, so fresh, so free,
485    So good, that men may wel y-see
486      `Of al goodnesse she had no mete!' --
487    Whan he had mad thus his complaynte,
488    His sorowful herte gan faste faynte,
489    And his spirites wexen dede;
490    The blood was fled, for pure drede,
491    Doun to his herte, to make him warm --
492    For wel hit feled the herte had harm --
493    To wite eek why hit was a-drad,
494    By kinde, and for to make hit glad;
495    For hit is membre principal
496    Of the body; and that made al
497    His hewe chaunge and wexe grene
498    And pale, for no blood was sene
499    In no maner lime of his.
500      Anoon therwith whan I saw this,
501    He ferde thus evel ther he sete,
502    I wente and stood right at his fete,
503    And grette him, but he spak noght,
504    But argued with his owne thoght,
505    And in his witte disputed faste
506    Why and how his lyf might laste;
507    Him thoughte his sorwes were so smerte
508    And lay so colde upon his herte;
509    So, through his sorwe and hevy thoght,
510    Made him that he ne herde me noght;
511    For he had wel nigh lost his minde,
512    Thogh Pan, that men clepe god of kinde,
513    Were for his sorwes never so wrooth.
514      But at the laste, to sayn right sooth,
515    He was war of me, how I stood
516    Before him, and dide of myn hood,
517    And grette him, as I best coude.
518    Debonairly, and no-thing loude,
519    He sayde, `I prey thee, be not wrooth,
520    I herde thee not, to sayn the sooth,
521    Ne I saw thee not, sir, trewely.'
522      `A! goode sir, no fors,' quod I,
523    `I am right sory if I have ought
524    Destroubled yow out of your thought;
525    For-yive me if I have mis-take.'
526      `Yis, thamendes is light to make,'
527    Quod he, `for ther lyth noon ther-to;
528    Ther is no-thing missayd nor do,'
529      Lo! how goodly spak this knight,
530    As it had been another wight;
531    He made it nouther tough ne queynte
532    And I saw that, and gan me aqueynte
533    With him, and fond him so tretable,
534    Right wonder skilful and resonable,
535    As me thoghte, for al his bale.
536    Anoon-right I gan finde a tale
537    To him, to loke wher I might ought
538    Have more knowing of his thought.
539      `Sir,' quod I, `this game is doon;
540    I holde that this hert be goon;
541    Thise huntes conne him nowher see.'
542      `I do no fors therof,' quod he,
543    `My thought is ther-on never a del.'
544      `By our lord,' quod I, `I trow yow wel,
545    Right so me thinketh by your chere.
546    But, sir, oo thing wol ye here?
547    Me thinketh, in gret sorwe I yow see;
548    But certes, good sir, yif that ye
549    Wolde ought discure me your wo,
550    I wolde, as wis god help me so,
551    Amende hit, yif I can or may;
552    Ye mowe preve hit by assay.
553    For, by my trouthe, to make yow hool,
554    I wol do al my power hool;
555    And telleth me of your sorwes smerte,
556    Paraventure hit may ese your herte,
557    That semeth ful seke under your syde.'
558      With that he loked on me asyde,
559    As who sayth, `Nay, that wol not be.'
560    `Graunt mercy, goode frend,' quod he,
561    `I thanke thee that thou woldest so,
562    But hit may never the rather be do,
563    No man may my sorwe glade,
564    That maketh my hewe to falle and fade,
565    And hath myn understonding lorn,
566    That me is wo that I was born!
567    May noght make my sorwes slyde,
568    Nought the remedies of Ovyde;
569    Ne Orpheus, god of melodye,
570    Ne Dedalus, with playes slye;
571    Ne hele me may phisicien,
572    Noght Ypocras, ne Galien;
573    Me is wo that I live houres twelve;
574    But who so wol assaye him-selve
575    Whether his herte can have pite
576    Of any sorwe, lat him see me.
577    I wrecche, that deeth hath mad al naked
578    Of alle blisse that ever was maked,
579    Y-worthe worste of alle wightes,
580    That hate my dayes and my nightes;
581    My lyf, my lustes be me lothe,
582    For al welfare and I be wrothe.
583    The pure deeth is so my fo
584    Thogh I wolde deye, hit wolde not so;
585    For whan I folwe hit, hit wol flee;
586    I wolde have hit, hit nil not me.
587    This is my peyne withoute reed,
588    Alway deinge and be not deed,
589    That Sesiphus, that lyth in helle,
590    May not of more sorwe telle.
591    And who so wiste al, be my trouthe,
592    My sorwe, but he hadde routhe
593    And pite of my sorwes smerte,
594    That man hath a feendly herte.
595    For who so seeth me first on morwe
596    May seyn, he hath y-met with sorwe;
597    For I am sorwe and sorwe is I.
598      `Allas! and I wol telle the why;
599    My song is turned to pleyning,
600    And al my laughter to weping,
601    My glade thoghtes to hevinesse,
602    In travaile is myn ydelnesse
603    And eek my reste; my wele is wo,
604    My goode is harm, and ever-mo
605    In wrathe is turned my pleying,
606    And my delyt in-to sorwing.
607    Myn hele is turned into seeknesse,
608    In drede is al my sikernesse.
609    To derke is turned al my light,
610    My wit is foly, my day is night,
611    My love is hate, my sleep waking,
612    My mirthe and meles is fasting,
613    My countenaunce is nycete,
614    And al abaved wher-so I be,
615    My pees, in pleding and in werre;
616    Allas! how mighte I fare werre?
617      `My boldnesse is turned to shame,
618    For fals Fortune hath pleyd a game
619    Atte ches with me, allas! the whyle!
620    The trayteresse fals and ful of gyle,
621    That al behoteth and no-thing halt,
622    She goth upryght and yet she halt,
623    That baggeth foule and loketh faire,
624    The dispitouse debonaire,
625    That scorneth many a creature!
626    An ydole of fals portraiture
627    Is she, for she wil sone wryen;
628    She is the monstres heed y-wryen,
629    As filth over y-strawed with floures;
630    Hir moste worship and hir flour is
631    To lyen, for that is hir nature;
632    Withoute feyth, lawe, or mesure.
633    She is fals; and ever laughinge
634    With oon eye, and that other wepinge.
635    That is broght up, she set al doun.
636    I lykne hir to the scorpioun,
637    That is a fals, flateringe beste;
638    For with his hede he maketh feste,
639    But al amid his flateringe
640    With his tayle he wol stinge,
641    And envenyme; and so wol she.
642    She is thenvyouse charite
643    That is ay fals, and seemeth wele,
644    So turneth she hir false whele
645    Aboute, for it is no-thing stable,
646    Now by the fyre, now at table;
647    Ful many oon hath she thus y-blent;
648    She is pley of enchauntement,
649    That semeth oon and is not so,
650    The false theef! what hath she do,
651    Trowest thou? By our lord, I wol thee seye.
652    Atte ches with me she gan to pleye;
653    With hir false draughtes divers
654    She stal on me, and took my fers.
655    And whan I saw my fers aweye,
656    Alas! I couthe no lenger playe,
657    But seyde, "Farewel, swete, y-wis,
658    And farwel al that ever ther is!"
659    Therwith Fortune seyde, "Chek here!"
660    And "Mate!" in mid pointe of the chekkere
661    With a poune erraunt, allas!
662    Ful craftier to pley she was
663    Than Athalus, that made the game
664    First of the ches: so was his name.
665    But God wolde I had ones or twyes
666    Y-koud and knowe the Ieupardyes
667    That coude the Grek Pithagores!
668    I shulde have pleyd the bet at ches,
669    And kept my fers the bet therby;
670    And thogh wherto? for trewely,
671    I hold that wish nat worth a stree!
672    Hit had be never the bet for me.
673    For Fortune can so many a wyle,
674    Ther be but fewe can hir begyle,
675    And eek she is the las to blame;
676    My-self I wolde have do the same,
677    Before god, hadde I been as she;
678    She oghte the more excused be.
679    For this I say yet more therto,
680    Hadde I be god and mighte have do
681    My wille, whan she my fers caughte,
682    I wolde have drawe the same draughte.
683    For, also wis god yive me reste,
684    I dar wel swere she took the beste!
685      `But through that draughte I have lorn
686    My blisse; allas! that I was born!
687    For evermore, I trowe trewly,
688    For al my wil, my lust hoolly
689    Is turned; but yet what to done?
690    Be oure lord, hit is to deye sone;
691    For no-thing I ne leve it noght,
692    But live and deye right in this thoght.
693    There nis planete in firmament,
694    Ne in air, ne in erthe, noon element,
695    That they ne yive me a yift echoon
696    Of weping, whan I am aloon.
697    For whan that I avyse me wel,
698    And bethenke me every-del,
699    How that ther lyth in rekening,
700    In my sorwe for no-thing;
701    And how ther leveth no gladnesse
702    May gladde me of my distresse,
703    And how I have lost suffisance,
704    And therto I have no plesance,
705    Than may I say, I have right noght.
706    And whan al this falleth in my thoght,
707    Allas! than am I overcome!
708    For that is doon is not to come!
709    I have more sorowe than Tantale.'
710      And whan I herde him telle this tale
711    Thus pitously, as I yow telle,
712    Unnethe mighte I lenger dwelle,
713    Hit dide myn hert so moche wo.
714      `A! good sir!' quod I, `say not so!
715    Have som pite on your nature
716    That formed yow to creature,
717    Remembre yow of Socrates;
718    For he ne counted nat three strees
719    Of noght that Fortune coude do.`
720      `No,' quod he, `I can not so.'
721      `Why so? good sir! parde!' quod I;
722    `Ne say noght so, for trewely,
723    Thogh ye had lost the ferses twelve,
724    And ye for sorwe mordred your-selve,
725    Ye sholde be dampned in this cas
726    By as good right as Medea was,
727    That slow hir children for Iason;
728    And Phyllis als for Demophon
729    Heng hir-self, so weylaway!
730    For he had broke his terme-day
731    To come to hir. Another rage
732    Had Dydo, quene eek of Cartage,
733    That slow hir-self for Eneas
734    Was fals; a whiche a fool she was!
735    And Ecquo dyed for Narcisus.
736    Nolde nat love hir; and right thus
737    Hath many another foly don.
738    And for Dalida died Sampson,
739    That slow him-self with a pilere.
740    But ther is noon a-lyve here
741    Wolde for a fers make this wo!'
742      `Why so?' quod he; `hit is nat so,
743    Thou woste ful litel what thou menest;
744    I have lost more than thow wenest.'
745    `Lo, sir, how may that be?' quod I;
746    `Good sir, tel me al hoolly
747    In what wyse, how, why, and wherfore
748    That ye have thus your blisse lore,'
749      `Blythly,' quod he, `com sit adoun,
750    I telle thee up condicioun
751    That thou hoolly, with al thy wit,
752    Do thyn entent to herkene hit.'
753    `Yis, sir.' `Swere thy trouthe ther-to.'
754    `Gladly.' `Do than holde her-to!'
755    `I shal right blythly, so god me save,
756    Hoolly, with al the witte I have,
757    Here yow, as wel as I can,'
758      `A goddes half!' quod he, and began: --
759    `Sir,' quod he, `sith first I couthe
760    Have any maner wit fro youthe,
761    Or kyndely understonding
762    To comprehende, in any thing,
763    What love was, in myn owne wit,
764    Dredeles, I have ever yit
765    Be tributary, and yiven rente
766    To love hoolly with goode entente,
767    And through plesaunce become his thral,
768    With good wil, body, herte, and al.
769    Al this I putte in his servage,
770    As to my lorde, and dide homage;
771    And ful devoutly prayde him to,
772    He shulde besette myn herte so,
773    That it plesaunce to him were,
774    And worship to my lady dere.
775      `And this was longe, and many a yeer
776    Or that myn herte was set o-wher,
777    That I did thus, and niste why;
778    I trowe hit cam me kindely.
779    Paraunter I was therto most able
780    As a whyt wal or a table;
781    For hit is redy to cacche and take
782    Al that men wil therin make,
783    Wher-so so men wol portreye or peynte,
784    Be the werkes never so queynte.
785      `And thilke tyme I ferde so
786    I was able to have lerned tho,
787    And to have coud as wel or better,
788    Paraunter, other art or letter.
789    But for love cam first in my thought,
790    Therfore I forgat hit nought.
791    I chees love to my firste craft,
792    Therfor hit is with me y-laft.
793    Forwhy I took hit of so yong age,
794    That malice hadde my corage
795    Nat that tyme turned to no-thing
796    Through to mochel knowleching.
797    For that tyme youthe, my maistresse,
798    Governed me in ydelnesse;
799    For hit was in my firste youthe,
800    And tho ful litel good I couthe,
801    For al my werkes were flittinge,
802    And al my thoghtes varyinge;
803    Al were to me y-liche good,
804    That I knew tho; but thus hit stood.
805      `Hit happed that I cam on a day
806    Into a place, ther I say,
807    Trewly, the fayrest companye
808    Of ladies that ever man with ye
809    Had seen togedres in oo place.
810    Shal I clepe hit hap other grace
811    That broght me ther? nay, but Fortune,
812    That is to lyen ful comune,
813    The false trayteresse, pervers,
814    God wolde I coude clepe hir wers!
815    For now she worcheth me ful wo,
816    And I wol telle sone why so.
817      `Among thise ladies thus echoon,
818    Soth to seyn, I saw ther oon
819    That was lyk noon of al the route;
820    For I dar swere, withoute doute,
821    That as the someres sonne bright
822    Is fairer, clere, and hath more light
823    Than any planete, is in heven,
824    The mone, or the sterres seven,
825    For al the worlde so had she
826    Surmounted hem alle of beaute,
827    Of maner and of comlinesse,
828    Of stature and wel set gladnesse,
829    Of goodlihede so wel beseye --
830    Shortly, what shal I more seye?
831    By god, and by his halwes twelve,
832    It was my swete, right al hir-selve!
833    She had so stedfast countenaunce,
834    So noble port and meyntenaunce.
835    And Love, that had herd my bone,
836    Had espyed me thus sone,
837    That she ful sone, in my thoght,
838    As helpe me god, so was y-caught
839    So sodenly, that I ne took
840    No maner reed but at hir look
841    And at myn herte; for-why hir eyen
842    So gladly, I trow, myn herte seyen,
843    That purely tho myn owne thoght
844    Seyde hit were bet serve hir for noght
845    Than with another to be wel.
846    And hit was sooth, for, everydel,
847    I wil anoon-right telle thee why.
848      I saw hir daunce so comlily,
849    Carole and singe so swetely,
850    Laughe and pleye so womanly,
851    And loke so debonairly,
852    So goodly speke and so frendly,
853    That certes, I trow, that evermore
854    Nas seyn so blisful a tresore.
855    For every heer upon hir hede,
856    Soth to seyn, hit was not rede,
857    Ne nouther yelw, ne broun hit nas;
858    Me thoghte, most lyk gold hit was.
859    And whiche eyen my lady hadde!
860    Debonair, goode, glade, and sadde,
861    Simple, of good mochel, noght to wyde;
862    Therto hir look nas not a-syde,
863    Ne overthwert, but beset so wel,
864    Hit drew and took up, everydel,
865    Alle that on hir gan beholde.
866    Hir eyen semed anoon she wolde
867    Have mercy; fooles wenden so;
868    But hit was never the rather do.
869    Hit nas no countrefeted thing,
870    It was hir owne pure loking,
871    That the goddesse, dame Nature,
872    Had made hem opene by mesure,
873    And close; for, were she never so glad,
874    Hir loking was not foly sprad,
875    Ne wildely, thogh that she pleyde;
876    But ever, me thoght, hir eyen seyde,
877    "By god, my wrathe is al for-yive!"
878      `Therwith hir liste so wel to live,
879    That dulnesse was of hir a-drad.
880    She nas to sobre ne to glad;
881    In alle thinges more mesure
882    Had never, I trowe, creature.
883    But many oon with hir loke she herte,
884    And that sat hir ful lyte at herte,
885    For she knew no-thing of her thoght;
886    But whether she knew, or knew hit noght,
887    Algate she ne roghte of hem a stree!
888    To gete hir love no ner was he
889    That woned at home, than he in Inde;
890    The formest was alway behinde.
891    But goode folk, over al other,
892    She loved as man may do his brother;
893    Of whiche love she was wonder large,
894    In skilful places that bere charge.
895      `Which a visage had she ther-to!
896    Allas! myn herte is wonder wo
897    That I ne can discryven hit!
898    Me lakketh bothe English and wit
899    For to undo hit at the fulle;
900    And eek my spirits be so dulle
901    So greet a thing for to devyse.
902    I have no wit that can suffyse
903    To comprehenden hir beaute;
904    But thus moche dar I seyn, that she
905    Was rody, fresh, and lyvely hewed;
906    And every day hir beaute newed.
907    And negh hir face was alder-best;
908    For certes, Nature had swich lest
909    To make that fair, that trewly she
910    Was hir cheef patron of beautee,
911    And cheef ensample of al hir werke,
912    And moustre; for, be hit never so derke,
913    Me thinketh I see hir ever-mo.
914    And yet more-over, thogh alle tho
915    That ever lived were not a-lyve,
916    They ne sholde have founde to discryve
917    In al hir face a wikked signe;
918    For hit was sad, simple, and benigne.
919      `And which a goodly, softe speche
920    Had that swete, my lyves leche!
921    So frendly, and so wel y-grounded,
922    Up al resoun so wel y-founded,
923    And so tretable to alle gode,
924    That I dar swere by the rode,
925    Of eloquence was never founde
926    So swete a sowninge facounde,
927    Ne trewer tonged, ne scorned lasse,
928    Ne bet coude hele; that, by the masse,
929    I durste swere, thogh the pope hit songe,
930    That ther was never yet through hir tonge
931    Man ne woman gretly harmed;
932    As for hir, ther was al harm hid;
933    Ne lasse flatering in hir worde,
934    That purely, hir simple recorde
935    Was founde as trewe as any bonde,
936    Or trouthe of any mannes honde.
937    Ne chyde she coude never a del,
938    That knoweth al the world ful wel.
939      `But swich a fairnesse of a nekke
940    Had that swete that boon nor brekke
941    Nas ther non sene, that mis-sat.
942    Hit was whyt, smothe, streght, and flat,
943    Withouten hole; and canel-boon,
944    As by seming, had she noon.
945    Hir throte, as I have now memoire,
946    Semed a round tour of yvoire,
947    Of good gretnesse, and noght to grete.
948      `And gode faire Whyte she hete,
949    That was my lady name right.
950    She was bothe fair and bright,
951    She hadde not hir name wrong.
952    Right faire shuldres, and body long
953    She hadde, and armes; every lith
954    Fattish, flesshy, not greet therwith;
955    Right whyte handes, and nayles rede,
956    Rounde brestes; and of good brede
957    Hyr hippes were, a streight flat bake.
958    I knew on hir non other lak
959    That al hir limmes nere sewing,
960    In as fer as I had knowing.
961      `Therto she coude so wel pleye,
962    Whan that hir liste, that I dar seye,
963    That she was lyk to torche bright,
964    That every man may take of light
965    Ynogh, and hit hath never the lesse.
966      `Of maner and of comlinesse
967    Right so ferde my lady dere;
968    For every wight of hir manere
969    Might cacche ynogh, if that he wolde,
970    If he had eyen hir to beholde.
971    For I dar sweren, if that she
972    Had among ten thousand be,
973    She wolde have be, at the leste,
974    A cheef mirour of al the feste,
975    Thogh they had stonden in a rowe,
976    To mennes eyen coude have knowe.
977    For wher-so men had pleyd or waked,
978    Me thoghte the felawship as naked
979    Withouten hir, that saw I ones,
980    As a coroune withoute stones.
981    Trewly she was, to myn ye,
982    The soleyn fenix of Arabye,
983    For ther liveth never but oon;
984    Ne swich as she ne know I noon.
985      `To speke of goodnesse; trewly she
986    Had as moche debonairte
987    As ever had Hester in the bible
988    And more, if more were possible.
989    And, soth to seyne, therwith-al
990    She had a wit so general,
991    So hool enclyned to alle gode,
992    That al hir wit was set, by the rode,
993    Withoute malice, upon gladnesse;
994    Therto I saw never yet a lesse
995    Harmul, than she was in doing.
996    I sey nat that she ne had knowing
997    What harm was; or elles she
998    Had coud no good, so thinketh me.
999      `And trewly, for to speke of trouthe,
1000   But she had had, hit had be routhe.
1001   Therof she had so moche hir del --
1002   And I dar seyn and swere hit wel --
1003   That Trouthe him-self, over al and al,
1004   Had chose his maner principal
1005   In hir, that was his resting-place.
1006   Ther-to she hadde the moste grace,
1007   To have stedfast perseveraunce,
1008   And esy, atempre governaunce,
1009   That ever I knew or wiste yit;
1010   So pure suffraunt was hir wit.
1011   And reson gladly she understood,
1012   Hit folowed wel she coude good.
1013   She used gladly to do wel;
1014   These were hir maners every-del.
1015     `Therwith she loved so wel right,
1016   She wrong do wolde to no wight;
1017   No wight might do hir no shame,
1018   She loved so wel hir owne name.
1019   Hir luste to holde no wight in honde;
1020   Ne, be thou siker, she nolde fonde
1021   To holde no wight in balaunce,
1022   By half word ne by countenaunce,
1023   But-if men wolde upon hir lye;
1024   Ne sende men in-to Walakye,
1025   To Pruyse, and in-to Tartarye,
1026   To Alisaundre, ne in-to Turkye,
1027   And bidde him faste, anoon that he
1028   Go hoodles to the drye see,
1029   And come hoom by the Carrenare;
1030   And seye, "Sir, be now right ware
1031   That I may of yow here seyn
1032   Worship, or that ye come ageyn!'
1033   She ne used no suche knakkes smale.
1034     `But wherfor that I telle my tale?
1035   Right on this same, as I have seyd,
1036   Was hoolly al my love leyd;
1037   For certes, she was, that swete wyf,
1038   My suffisaunce, my lust, my lyf,
1039   Myn hap, myn hele, and al my blisse,
1040   My worldes welfare, and my lisse,
1041   And I hires hoolly, everydel.'
1042     `By our lord,' quod I, `I trowe yow wel!
1043   Hardely, your love was wel beset,
1044   I not how ye mighte have do bet.'
1045   `Bet? ne no wight so wel!' quod he.
1046   `I trowe hit, sir,' quod I, `parde!'
1047   `Nay, leve hit wel!' `Sir, so do I;
1048   I leve yow wel, that trewely
1049   Yow thoghte, that she was the beste,
1050   And to beholde the alderfaireste,
1051   Who so had loked hir with your eyen.'
1052     `With myn? Nay, alle that hir seyen
1053   Seyde and sworen hit was so.
1054   And thogh they ne hadde, I wolde tho
1055   Have loved best my lady fre,
1056   Thogh I had had al the beautee
1057   That ever had Alcipyades,
1058   And al the strengthe of Ercules,
1059   And therto had the worthinesse
1060   Of Alisaundre, and al the richesse
1061   That ever was in Babiloyne,
1062   In Cartage, or in Macedoyne,
1063   Or in Rome, or in Ninive;
1064   And therto al-so hardy be
1065   As was Ector, so have I Ioye,
1066   That Achilles slow at Troye --
1067   And therfor was he slayn also
1068   In a temple, for bothe two
1069   Were slayn, he and Antilegius,
1070   And so seyth Dares Frigius,
1071   For love of hir Polixena --
1072   Or ben as wys as Minerva,
1073   I wolde ever, withoute drede,
1074   Have loved hir, for I moste nede!
1075   "Nede!" nay, I gabbe now,
1076   Noght "nede", and I wol telle how,
1077   For of good wille myn herte hit wolde,
1078   And eek to love hir I was holde
1079   As for the fairest and the beste.
1080     `She was as good, so have I reste,
1081   As ever was Penelope of Grece,
1082   Or as the noble wyf Lucrece,
1083   That was the beste -- he telleth thus,
1084   The Romayn Tytus Livius --
1085   She was as good, and no-thing lyke,
1086   Thogh hir stories be autentyke;
1087   Algate she was as trewe as she.
1088     `But wherfor that I telle thee
1089   Whan I first my lady say?
1090   I was right yong, the sooth to sey,
1091   And ful gret need I hadde to lerne;
1092   Whan my herte wolde yerne
1093   To love, it was a greet empryse.
1094   But as my wit coude best suffyse,
1095   After my yonge childly wit,
1096   Withoute drede, I besette hit
1097   To love hir in my beste wise,
1098   To do hir worship and servyse
1099   That I tho coude, be my trouthe,
1100   Withoute feyning outher slouthe;
1101   For wonder fayn I wolde hir see.
1102   So mochel hit amended me,
1103   That, whan I saw hir first a-morwe,
1104   I was warished of al my sorwe
1105   Of al day after, til hit were eve;
1106   Me thoghte no-thing mighte me greve,
1107   Were my sorwes never so smerte.
1108   And yit she sit so in myn herte,
1109   That, by my trouthe, I nolde noghte,
1110   For al this worlde, out of my thoght
1111   Leve my lady; no, trewly!'
1112     `Now, by my trouthe, sir,' quod I,
1113   `Me thinketh ye have such a chaunce
1114   As shrift withoute repentaunce.'
1115     `Repentaunce! nay, fy,' quod he;
1116   `Shulde I now repente me
1117   To love? nay, certes, than were I wel
1118   Wers than was Achitofel,
1119   Or Anthenor, so have I Ioye,
1120   The traytour that betraysed Troye,
1121   Or the false Genelon,
1122   He that purchased the treson
1123   Of Rowland and of Olivere.
1124   Nay, why! I am a-lyve here
1125   I nil foryete hir never-mo.'
1126     `Now, goode sir,' quod I right tho,
1127   `Ye han wel told me her-before.
1128   It is no need reherse hit more
1129   How ye sawe hir first, and where;
1130   But wolde ye telle me the manere,
1131   To hir which was your firste speche --
1132   Therof I wolde yow be-seche --
1133   And how she knewe first your thoght,
1134   Whether ye loved hir or noght,
1135   And telleth me eek what ye have lore;
1136   I herde yow telle her-before.'
1137     `Ye,' seyde he,`thow nost what thou menest;
1138   I have lost more than thou wenest.'
1139     `What los is that, sir?' quod I tho;
1140   `Nil she not love yow? Is hit so?
1141   Or have ye oght y-doon amis,
1142   That she hath left yow? is hit this?
1143   For goddes love, telle me al.'
1144     `Before god,' quod he, `and I shal.
1145   I saye right as I have seyd,
1146   On hir was al my love leyd;
1147   And yet she niste hit never a del
1148   Noght longe tyme, leve hit wel.
1149   For be right siker, I durste noght
1150   For al this worlde telle hir my thoght,
1151   Ne I wolde have wratthed hir, trewely.
1152   For wostow why? she was lady
1153   Of the body; she had the herte,
1154   And who hath that, may not asterte.
1155     `But, for to kepe me fro ydelnesse,
1156   Trewly I did my besinesse
1157   To make songes, as I best coude,
1158   And ofte tyme I song hem loude;
1159   And made songes a gret del,
1160   Al-thogh I coude not make so wel
1161   Songes, ne knowe the art al,
1162   As coude Lamekes sone Tubal,
1163   That fond out first the art of songe;
1164   For, as his brothers hamers ronge
1165   Upon his anvelt up and doun,
1166   Therof he took the firste soun;
1167   But Grekes seyn, Pictagoras,
1168   That he the firste finder was
1169   Of the art; Aurora telleth so,
1170   But therof no fors, of hem two.
1171   Algates songes thus I made
1172   Of my feling, myn herte to glade;
1173   And lo! this was the alther-firste,
1174   I not wher that hit were the werst. --
1175     "Lord, hit maketh myn herte light,
1176   Whan I thenke on that swete wight
1177     That is so semely on to see;
1178     And wisshe to god hit might so be,
1179   That she wolde holde me for hir knight,
1180   My lady, that is so fair and bright!" --
1181     `Now have I told thee, sooth to saye,
1182   My firste song. Upon a daye
1183   I bethoghte me what wo
1184   And sorwe that I suffred tho
1185   For hir, and yet she wiste hit noght,
1186   Ne telle hir durste I nat my thoght.
1187   `Allas!' thoghte I, `I can no reed;
1188   And, but I telle hir, I nam but deed;
1189   And if I telle hir, to seye sooth,
1190   I am a-dred she wol be wrooth;
1191   Allas! what shal I thanne do?"
1192     `In this debat I was so wo,
1193   Me thoghte myn herte braste a-tweyn!
1194   So atte laste, soth to sayn,
1195   I me bethoghte that nature
1196   Ne formed never in creature
1197   So moche beaute, trewely,
1198   And bounte, withouten mercy.
1199     `In hope of that, my tale I tolde,
1200   With sorwe, as that I never sholde;
1201   For nedes, and, maugree my heed,
1202   I moste have told hir or be deed.
1203   I not wel how that I began,
1204   Ful evel rehersen hit I can;
1205   And eek, as helpe me god with-al,
1206   I trowe hit was in the dismal,
1207   That was the ten woundes of Egipte;
1208   For many a word I over-skipte
1209   In my tale, for pure fere
1210   Lest my wordes mis-set were.
1211   With sorweful herte, and woundes dede,
1212   Softe and quaking for pure drede
1213   And shame, and stinting in my tale
1214   For ferde, and myn hewe al pale,
1215   Ful ofte I wex bothe pale and reed;
1216   Bowing to hir, I heng the heed;
1217   I durste nat ones loke hir on,
1218   For wit, manere, and al was gon.
1219   I seyde "mercy!" and no more;
1220   Hit nas no game, hit sat me sore.
1221     `So atte laste, sooth to seyn,
1222   Whan that myn herte was come ageyn,
1223   To telle shortly al my speche,
1224   With hool herte I gan hir beseche
1225   That she wolde be my lady swete;
1226   And swor, and gan hir hertely hete
1227   Ever to be stedfast and trewe,
1228   And love hir alwey freshly newe,
1229   And never other lady have,
1230   And al hir worship for to save
1231   As I best coude; I swor hir this --
1232   "For youres is al that ever ther is
1233   For evermore, myn herte swete!
1234   And never false yow, but I mete,
1235   I nil, as wis god helpe me so!"
1236     `And whan I had my tale y-do,
1237   God wot, she acounted nat a stree
1238   Of al my tale, so thoghte me.
1239   To telle shortly as hit is,
1240   Trewly hir answere, hit was this;
1241   I can not now wel counterfete
1242   Hir wordes, but this was the grete
1243   Of hir answere: she sayde, "nay"
1244   Al-outerly. Allas! that day
1245   The sorwe I suffred, and the wo!
1246   That trewly Cassandra, that so
1247   Bewayled the destruccioun.
1248   Of Troye and of Ilioun,
1249   Had never swich sorwe as I tho.
1250   I durste no more say therto
1251   For pure fere, but stal away;
1252   And thus I lived ful many a day;
1253   That trewely, I hadde no need
1254   Ferther than my beddes heed
1255   Never a day to seche sorwe;
1256   I fond hit redy every morwe,
1257   For-why I loved hir in no gere.
1258     `So hit befel, another yere,
1259   I thoughte ones I wolde fonde
1260   To do hir knowe and understonde
1261   My wo; and she wel understood
1262   That I ne wilned thing but good,
1263   And worship, and to kepe hir name
1264   Over al thing, and drede hir shame,
1265   And was so besy hir to serve; --
1266   And pite were I shulde sterve,
1267   Sith that I wilned noon harm, y-wis.
1268   So whan my lady knew al this,
1269   My lady yaf me al hoolly
1270   The noble yift of hir mercy,
1271   Saving hir worship, by al weyes;
1272   Dredles, I mene noon other weyes.
1273   And therwith she yaf me a ring;
1274   I trowe hit was the firste thing;
1275   But if myn herte was y-waxe
1276   Glad, that is no need to axe!
1277   As helpe me god, I was as blyve,
1278   Reysed, as fro dethe to lyve,
1279   Of alle happes the alder-beste,
1280   The gladdest and the moste at reste.
1281   For trewely, that swete wight,
1282   Whan I had wrong and she the right,
1283   She wolde alwey so goodely
1284   For-yeve me so debonairly.
1285   In alle my youthe, in alle chaunce,
1286   She took me in hir governaunce.
1287     `Therwith she was alway so trewe,
1288   Our Ioye was ever y-liche newe;
1289   Our hertes wern so even a payre,
1290   That never nas that oon contrayre
1291   To that other, for no wo.
1292   For sothe, y-liche they suffred tho
1293   Oo blisse and eek oo sorwe bothe;
1294   Y-liche they were bothe gladde and wrothe;
1295   Al was us oon, withoute were.
1296   And thus we lived ful many a yere
1297   So wel, I can nat telle how.'
1298     `Sir,' quod I, `where is she now?'
1299   `Now!' quod he, and stinte anoon.
1300     Therwith he wex as deed as stoon,
1301   And seyde, `allas! that I was bore,
1302   That was the los, that her-before
1303   I tolde thee, that I had lorn.
1304   Bethenk how I seyde her-beforn,
1305   "Thou wost ful litel what thou menest;
1306   I have lost more than thou wenest" --
1307   God wot, allas! right that was she!'
1308     `Allas! sir, how? what may that be?'
1309   `She is deed!' `Nay!' `Yis, by my trouthe!'
1310   `Is that your los? By god, hit is routhe!'
1311     And with that worde, right anoon,
1312   They gan to strake forth; al was doon,
1313   For that tyme, the hert-hunting.
1314     With that, me thoghte, that this king
1315   Gan quikly hoomward for to ryde
1316   Unto a place ther besyde,
1317   Which was from us but a lyte,
1318   A long castel with walles whyte,
1319   Be seynt Iohan! on a riche hil,
1320   As me mette; but thus it fil.
1321     Right thus me mette, as I yow telle,
1322   That in the castel was a belle,
1323   As hit had smiten houres twelve. --

1324     Therwith I awook my-selve,
1325   And fond me lying in my bed;
1326   And the book that I had red,
1327   Of Alcyone and Seys the king,
1328   And of the goddes of sleping,
1329   I fond it in myn honde ful even.
1330     Thoghte I, `this is so queynt a sweven,
1331   That I wol, be processe of tyme,
1332   Fonde to putte this sweven in ryme
1333   As I can best'; and that anoon. --
1334   This was my sweven; now hit is doon.

Explicit the Boke of the Duchesse.


End of "The Book of the Duchess"