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Medieval and Classical Library

The Parliament of Fowles
by Geoffrey Chaucer

Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #3

The following text is based on that published in THE COMPLETE WORKS OF GEOFFREY CHAUCER, ed. W.W. Skeat (Oxford, 1900). This text 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.

Here begynyth the Parlement of Foulys 

               THE PROEM

1    The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne,
2    Thassay so hard, so sharp the conquering,
3    The dredful Ioy, that alwey slit so yerne,
4    Al this mene I by love, that my feling
5    Astonyeth with his wonderful worching
6    So sore y-wis, that whan I on him thinke,
7    Nat wot I wel wher that I wake or winke.

8    For al be that I knowe nat love in dede,
9    Ne wot how that he quyteth folk hir hyre,
10   Yet happeth me ful ofte in bokes rede
11   Of his miracles, and his cruel yre;
12   Ther rede I wel he wol be lord and syre,
13   I dar not seyn, his strokes been so sore,
14   But God save swich a lord! I can no more. 

15   Of usage, what for luste what for lore,
16   On bokes rede I ofte, as I yow tolde.
17   But wherfor that I speke al this? not yore
18   Agon, hit happed me for to beholde
19   Upon a boke, was write with lettres olde;
20   And ther-upon, a certeyn thing to lerne,
21   The longe day ful faste I radde and yerne.

22   For out of olde feldes, as men seith,
23   Cometh al this newe corn fro yeer to yere;
24   And out of olde bokes, in good feith,
25   Cometh al this newe science that men lere.
26   But now to purpos as of this matere --
27   To rede forth hit gan me so delyte,
28   That al the day me thoughte but a lyte. 

29   This book of which I make of mencioun,
30   Entitled was al thus, as I shal telle,
31   `Tullius of the dreme of Scipioun.';
32   Chapitres seven hit hadde, of hevene and helle,
33   And erthe, and soules that therinnr dwelle,
34   Of whiche, as shortly as I can hit trete,
35   Of his sentence I wol you seyn the grete.

36   First telleth hit, whan Scipion was come
37   In Afrik, how he mette Massinisse,
38   That him for Ioye in armes hath y nome.
39   Than telleth hit hir speche and al the blisse
40   That was betwix hem, til the day gan misse;
41   And how his auncestre, African so dere,
42   Gan in his slepe that night to him appere.

43   Than telleth hit that, fro a sterry place,
44   How African hath him Cartage shewed,
45   And warned him before of al his grace,
46   And seyde him, what man, lered other lewed,
47   That loveth comun profit, wel y-thewed,
48   He shal unto a blisful place wende,
49   Ther as Ioye is that last withouten ende.

50   Than asked he, if folk that heer be dede
51   Have lyf and dwelling in another place;
52   And African seyde, `ye, withoute drede,'
53   And that our present worldes lyves space
54   Nis but a maner deth, what wey we trace,
55   And rightful folk shal go, after they dye,
56   To heven; and shewed him the galaxye.

57   Than shewed he him the litel erthe, that heer is,
58   At regard of the hevenes quantite;
59   And after shewed he him the nyne speres,
60   And after that the melodye herde he
61   That cometh of thilke speres thryes three,
62   That welle is of musyk and melodye
63   In this world heer, and cause of armonye.

64   Than bad he him, sin erthe was so lyte,
65   And ful of torment and of harde grace,
66   That he ne shulde him in the world delyte.
67   Than tolde he him, in certeyn yeres space,
68   That every sterre shulde come into his place
69   Ther hit was first; and al shulde out of minde
70   That in this worlde is don of al mankinde.

71   Than prayde him Scipioun to telle him al
72   The wey to come un-to that hevene blisse;
73   And he seyde, `know thy-self first immortal,
74   And loke ay besily thou werke and wisse
75   To comun profit, and thou shalt nat misse
76   To comen swiftly to that place dere,
77   That ful of blisse is and of soules clere.

78   But brekers of the lawe, soth to seyne,
79   And lecherous folk, after that they be dede,
80   Shul alwey whirle aboute therthe in peyne,
81   Til many a world be passed, out of drede,
82   And than, for-yeven alle hir wikked dede,
83   Than shul they come unto that blisful place,
84   To which to comen god thee sende his grace!' --

85   The day gan failen, and the derke night,
86   That reveth bestes from her besinesse,
87   Berafte me my book for lakke of light,
88   And to my bedde I gan me for to dresse,
89   Fulfild of thought and besy hevinesse;
90   For bothe I hadde thing which that I nolde,
91   And eek I ne hadde that thing that I wolde.

92   But fynally my spirit, at the laste,
93   For-wery of my labour al the day,
94   Took rest, that made me to slepe faste,
95   And in my slepe I mette, as I lay,
96   How African, right in the selfe aray
97   That Scipioun him saw before that tyde,
98   Was comen and stood right at my bedes syde.

99   The wery hunter, slepinge in his bed,
100  To wode ayein his minde goth anoon;
101  The Iuge dremeth how his plees ben sped;
102  The carter dremeth how his cartes goon;
103  The riche, of gold; the knight fight with his foon;
104  The seke met he drinketh of the tonne;
105  The lover met he hath his lady wonne.

106  Can I nat seyn if that the cause were
107  For I had red of African beforn,
108  That made me to mete that he stood there;
109  But thus seyde he, `thou hast thee so wel born
110  In loking of myn olde book to-torn,
111  Of which Macrobie roghte nat a lyte,
112  That somdel of thy labour wolde I quyte!' --

113  Citherea! thou blisful lady swete,
114  That with thy fyr-brand dauntest whom thee lest,
115  And madest me this sweven for to mete,
116  Be thou my help in this, for thou mayst best;
117  As wisly as I saw thee north-north-west,
118  When I began my sweven for to wryte,
119  So yif me might to ryme and endyte!


               THE STORY

120  This forseid African me hente anoon,
121  And forth with him unto a gate broghte
122  Right of a parke, walled of grene stoon;
123  And over the gate, with lettres large y-wroghte,
124  Ther weren vers y-writen, as me thoghte,
125  On eyther halfe, of ful gret difference,
126  Of which I shal yow sey the pleyn sentence.

127  `Thorgh me men goon in-to that blisful place
128  Of hertes hele and dedly woundes cure;
129  Thorgh me men goon unto the welle of Grace,
130  Ther grene and lusty May shal ever endure;
131  This is the wey to al good aventure;
132  Be glad, thou reder, and thy sorwe of-caste,
133  Al open am I; passe in, and hy the faste!'

134  `Thorgh me men goon,' than spak that other syde,
135  `Unto the mortal strokes of the spere,
136  Of which Disdayn and Daunger is the gyde,
137  Ther tre shal never fruyt ne leves bere.
138  This streem yow ledeth to the sorwful were,
139  Ther as the fish in prison is al drye;
140  Theschewing is only the remedye.'

141  Thise vers of gold and blak y-writen were,
142  Of whiche I gan a stounde to beholde,
143  For with that oon encresed ay my fere,
144  And with that other gan myn herte bolde;
145  That oon me hette, that other did me colde,
146  No wit had I, for errour, for to chese
147  To entre or flee, or me to save or lese.

148  Right as, betwixen adamauntes two
149  Of even might, a pece of iren y-set,
150  That hath no might to meve to ne fro --
151  For what that on may hale, that other let --
152  Ferde I; that niste whether me was bet,
153  To entre or leve, til African my gyde
154  Me hente, and shoof in at the gates wyde,

155  And seyde,`hit stondeth writen in thy face,
156  Thyn errour, though thou telle it not to me;
157  But dred the nat to come in-to this place,
158  For this wryting is no-thing ment by thee,
159  Ne by noon, but he Loves servant be;
160  For thou of love hast lost thy tast, I gesse,
161  As seek man hath of swete and bitternesse.

162  But natheles, al-though that thou be dulle,
163  Yit that thou canst not do, yit mayst thou see;
164  For many a man that may not stonde a pulle,
165  Yit lyketh him at the wrastling for to be,
166  And demeth yit wher he do bet or he;
167  And if thou haddest cunning for tendyte,
168  I shal thee shewen mater of to wryte.'

169  With that my hond in his he took anoon,
170  Of which I comfort caughte, and went in faste;
171  But, lord! so I was glad and wel begoon!
172  For over-al, wher that I myn eyen caste,
173  Were trees clad with leves that ay shal laste,
174  Eche in his kinde, of colour fresh and grene
175  As emeraude, that Ioye was to sene.

176  The bilder ook, and eek the hardy asshe;
177  The piler elm, the cofre unto careyne;
178  The boxtree piper; holm to whippes lasshe;
179  The sayling firr; the cipres, deth to pleyne;
180  The sheter ew, the asp for shaftes pleyne;
181  The olyve of pees, and eek the drunken vyne,
182  The victor palm, the laurer to devyne.

183  A gardyn saw I, ful of blosmy bowes,
184  Upon a river, in a grene mede,
185  Ther as swetnesse evermore y-now is,
186  With floures whyte, blewe, yelowe, and rede;
187  And colde welle-stremes, no-thing dede,
188  That swommen ful of smale fisshes lighte,
189  With finnes rede and scales silver-brighte.

190  On every bough the briddes herde I singe,
191  With voys of aungel in hir armonye,
192  Som besyed hem hir briddes forth to bringe;
193  The litel conyes to hir pley gunne hye.
194  And further al aboute I gan espye
195  The dredful roo, the buk, the hert and hinde,
196  Squerels, and bestes smale of gentil kinde.

197  Of instruments of strenges in acord
198  Herde I so pleye a ravisshing swetnesse,
199  That god, that maker is of al and lord,
200  Ne herde never better, as I gesse;
201  Therwith a wind, unnethe hit might be lesse,
202  Made in the leves grene a noise softe
203  Acordaunt to the foules songe on-lofte.

204  The air of that place so attempre was
205  That never was grevaunce of hoot ne cold;
206  Ther wex eek every holsum spyce and gras,
207  Ne no man may ther wexe seek ne old;
208  Yet was ther Ioye more a thousand fold
209  Then man can telle; ne never wolde it nighte,
210  But ay cleer day to any mannes sighte.

211  Under a tree, besyde a welle, I say
212  Cupyde our lord his arwes forge and fyle;
213  And at his fete his bowe al redy lay,
214  And wel his doghter tempred al this whyle
215  The hedes in the welle, and with hir wyle
216  She couched hem after as they shulde serve,
217  Some for to slee, and some to wounde and kerve.

218  Tho was I war of Plesaunce anon-right,
219  And of Aray, and Lust, and Curtesye,
220  And of the Craft that can and hath the might
221  To doon by force a wight to do folye --
222  Disfigurat was she, I nil not lye;
223  And by him-self, under an oke, I gesse,
224  Saw I Delyt, that stood with Gentilnesse.

225  I saw Beautee, withouten any atyr,
226  And Youthe, ful of game and Iolyte,
227  Fool-hardinesse, Flatery, and Desyr,
228  Messagerye, and Mede, and other three --
229  Hir names shul noght here be told for me --
230  And upon pilers grete of Iasper longe
231  I saw a temple of bras y-founded stronge.

232  Aboute the temple daunceden alway
233  Wommen y-nowe, of whiche some ther were
234  Faire of hem-self, and somme of hem were gay;
235  In kirtels, al disshevele, wente they there --
236  That was hir office alway, yeer by yere --
237  And on the temple, of doves whyte and faire
238  Saw I sittinge many a hunderede paire.

239  Before the temple-dore ful soberly
240  Dame Pees sat, with a curteyn in hir hond:
241  And hir besyde, wonder discretly,
242  Dame Pacience sitting ther I fond
243  With face pale, upon an hille of sond;
244  And alder-next, within and eek with-oute,
245  Behest and Art, and of hir folke a route.

246  Within the temple, of syghes hote as fyr
247  I herde a swogh that gan aboute renne;
248  Which syghes were engendred with desyr,
249  That maden every auter for to brenne
250  Of newe flaume; and wel aspyed I thenne
251  That al the cause of sorwes that they drye
252  Com of the bitter goddesse Ialousye.

253  The god Priapus saw I, as I wente,
254  Within the temple, in soverayn place stonde,
255  In swich aray as whan the asse him shente
256  With crye by night, and with ceptre in honde;
257  Ful besily men gunne assaye and fonde
258  Upon his hede to sette, of sondry hewe,
259  Garlondes ful of fresshe floures newe.

260  And in a privee corner, in disporte,
261  Fond I Venus and hir porter Richesse,
262  That was ful noble and hauteyn of hir porte;
263  Derk was that place, but afterward lightnesse
264  I saw a lyte, unnethe hit might be lesse,
265  And on a bed of golde she lay to reste,
266  Til that the hote sonne gan to weste.

267  Hir gilte heres with a golden threde
268  Y-bounden were, untressed as she lay,
269  And naked fro the breste unto the hede
270  Men might hir see; and, sothly for to say,
271  The remenant wel kevered to my pay
272  Right with a subtil kerchef of Valence,
273  Ther was no thikker cloth of no defence.

274  The place yaf a thousand savours swote,
275  And Bachus, god of wyn, sat hir besyde,
276  And Ceres next, that doth of hunger bote;
277  And, as I seide, amiddes lay Cipryde,
278  To whom on knees two yonge folkes cryde
279  To ben hir help; but thus I leet hir lye,
280  And ferther in the temple I gan espye

281  That, in dispyte of Diane the chaste,
282  Ful many a bowe y-broke heng on the wal
283  Of maydens, suche as gunne hir tymes waste
284  In hir servyse; and peynted over al
285  Of many a story, of which I touche shal
286  A fewe, as of Calixte and Athalaunte,
287  And many a mayde, of which the name I wante;

288  Semyramus, Candace, and Ercules,
289  Biblis, Dido, Thisbe, and Piramus,
290  Tristram, Isoude, Paris, and Achilles,
291  Eleyne, Cleopatre, and Troilus,
292  Silla, and eek the moder of Romulus --
293  Alle these were peynted on that other syde,
294  And al hir love, and in what plyte they dyde.

295  Whan I was come ayen unto the place
296  That I of spak, that was so swote and grene,
297  Forth welk I tho, my-selven to solace.
298  Tho was I war wher that ther sat a quene
299  That, as of light the somer-sonne shene
300  Passeth the sterre, right so over mesure
301  She fairer was than any creature.

302  And in a launde, upon an hille of floures,
303  Was set this noble goddesse Nature;
304  Of braunches were hir halles and hir boures,
305  Y-wrought after hir craft and hir mesure;
306  Ne ther nas foul that cometh of engendrure,
307  That they ne were prest in hir presence,
308  To take hir doom and yeve hir audience.

309  For this was on seynt Valentynes day,
310  Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make,
311  Of every kinde, that men thenke may;
312  And that so huge a noyse gan they make,
313  That erthe and see, and tree, and every lake
314  So ful was, that unnethe was ther space
315  For me to stonde, so ful was al the place.

316  And right as Aleyn, in the Pleynt of Kinde,
317  Devyseth Nature of aray and face,
318  In swich aray men mighten hir ther finde.
319  This noble emperesse, ful of grace,
320  Bad every foul to take his owne place,
321  As they were wont alwey fro yeer to yere,
322  Seynt Valentynes day, to stonden there.

323  That is to sey, the foules of ravyne
324  Were hyest set; and than the foules smale,
325  That eten as hem nature wolde enclyne,
326  As worm or thing of whiche I telle no tale;
327  And water-foul sat loweste in the dale;
328  But foul that liveth by seed sat on the grene,
329  And that so fele, that wonder was to sene.

330  There mighte men the royal egle finde,
331  That with his sharpe look perceth the sonne;
332  And other egles of a lower kinde,
333  Of which that clerkes wel devysen conne.
334  Ther was the tyraunt with his fethres donne
335  And greye, I mene the goshauk, that doth pyne
336  To briddes for his outrageous ravyne.

337  The gentil faucoun, that with his feet distreyneth
338  The kinges hond; the hardy sperhauk eke,
339  The quayles foo; the merlion that payneth
340  Him-self ful ofte, the larke for to seke;
341  Ther was the douve, with hir eyen meke;
342  The Ialous swan, ayens his deth that singeth;
343  The oule eek, that of dethe the bode bringeth;

344  The crane the geaunt, with his trompes soune;
345  The theef, the chogh; and eek the Iangling pye;
346  The scorning Iay; the eles foo, heroune;
347  The false lapwing, ful of trecherye;
348  The stare, that the counseyl can bewrye;
349  The tame ruddok; and the coward kyte;
350  The cok, that orloge is of thorpes lyte;

351  The sparow, Venus sone; the nightingale,
352  That clepeth forth the fresshe leves newe;
353  The swalow, mordrer of the flyes smale
354  That maken hony of floures fresshe of hewe;
355  The wedded turtel, with hir herte trewe;
356  The pecok, with his aungels fethres brighte;
357  The fesaunt, scorner of the cok by nighte;

358  The waker goos; the cukkow ever unkinde;
359  The popiniay, ful of delicasye;
360  The drake, stroyer of his owne kinde;
361  The stork, the wreker of avouterye;
362  The hote cormeraunt of glotonye;
363  The raven wys, the crow with vois of care;
364  The throstel olde; the frosty feldefare.

365  What shulde I seyn? of foules every kinde
366  That in this world han fethres and stature,
367  Men mighten in that place assembled finde
368  Before the noble goddesse Nature,
369  And everich of hem did his besy cure
370  Benignely to chese or for to take,
371  By hir acord, his formel or his make.

372  But to the poynt -- Nature held on hir honde
373  A formel egle, of shap the gentileste
374  That ever she among hir werkes fonde,
375  The moste benigne and the goodlieste;
376  In hir was every vertu at his reste,
377  So ferforth, that Nature hir-self had blisse
378  To loke on hir, and ofte hir bek to kisse.

379  Nature, the vicaire of thalmighty lorde,
380  That hoot, cold, hevy, light, and moist and dreye
381  Hath knit by even noumbre of acorde,
382  In esy vois began to speke and seye,
383  `Foules, tak hede of my sentence, I preye,
384  And, for your ese, in furthering of your nede,
385  As faste as I may speke, I wol me spede.

386  Ye knowe wel how, seynt Valentynes day,
387  By my statut and through my governaunce,
388  Ye come for to chese -- and flee your way --
389  Your makes, as I prik yow with plesaunce.
390  But natheles, my rightful ordenaunce
391  May I not lete, for al this world to winne,
392  That he that most is worthy shal beginne.

393  The tercel egle, as that ye knowen wel,
394  The foul royal above yow in degree,
395  The wyse and worthy, secree, trewe as stel,
396  The which I formed have, as ye may see,
397  In every part as hit best lyketh me,
398  Hit nedeth noght his shap yow to devyse,
399  He shal first chese and speken in his gyse.

400  And after him, by order shul ye chese,
401  After your kinde, everich as yow lyketh,
402  And, as your hap is, shul ye winne or lese;
403  But which of yow that love most entryketh,
404  God sende him hir that sorest for him syketh.'
405  And therwith-al the tercel gan she calle,
406  And seyde, `my sone, the choys is to thee falle.

407  But natheles, in this condicioun
408  Mot be the choys of everich that is here,
409  That she agree to his eleccioun,
410  What-so he be that shulde be hir fere;
411  This is our usage alwey, fro yeer to yere;
412  And who so may at this time have his grace,
413  In blisful tyme he com in-to this place.'

414  With hed enclyned and with ful humble chere
415  This royal tercel spak and taried nought:
416  `Unto my sovereyn lady, and noght my fere,
417  I chese, and chese with wille and herte and thought,
418  The formel on your hond so wel y-wrought,
419  Whos I am al and ever wol hir serve,
420  Do what hir list, to do me live or sterve.

421  Beseching hir of mercy and of grace,
422  As she that is my lady sovereyne;
423  Or let me dye present in this place.
424  For certes, long may I not live in peyne;
425  For in myn herte is corven every veyne;
426  Having reward only to my trouthe,
427  My dere herte, have on my wo som routhe.

428  And if that I to hir be founde untrewe,
429  Disobeysaunt, or wilful negligent,
430  Avauntour, or in proces love a newe,
431  I pray to you this be my Iugement,
432  That with these foules I be al to-rent,
433  That ilke day that ever she me finde
434  To hir untrewe, or in my gilte unkinde.

435  And sin that noon loveth hir so wel as I,
436  Al be she never of love me behette,
437  Than oghte she be myn thourgh hir mercy,
438  For other bond can I noon on hir knette.
439  For never, for no wo, ne shal I lette
440  To serven hir, how fer so that she wende;
441  Sey what yow list, my tale is at an ende.'

442  Right as the fresshe, rede rose newe
443  Ayen the somer-sonne coloured is,
444  Right so for shame al wexen gan the hewe
445  Of this formel, whan she herde al this;
446  She neyther answerde `Wel', ne seyde amis,
447  So sore abasshed was she, til that Nature
448  Seyde, `doghter, drede yow noght, I yow assure.'

449  Another tercel egle spak anoon
450  Of lower kinde, and seyde, `that shal nat be;
451  I love hir bet than ye do, by seynt Iohn,
452  Or atte leste I love hir as wel as ye;
453  And lenger have served hir, in my degree,
454  And if she shulde have loved for long loving,
455  To me allone had been the guerdoninge.

456  I dar eek seye, if she me finde fals,
457  Unkinde, Iangler, or rebel in any wyse,
458  Or Ialous, do me hongen by the hals!
459  And but I bere me in hir servyse
460  As wel as that my wit can me suffyse,
461  From poynt to poynt, hir honour for to save,
462  Tak she my lyf, and al the good I have.'

463  The thridde tercel egle answerde tho,
464  `Now, sirs, ye seen the litel leyser here;
465  For every foul cryeth out to been a-go
466  Forth with his make, or with his lady dere;
467  And eek Nature hir-self ne wol nought here,
468  For tarying here, noght half that I wolde seye;
469  And but I speke, I mot for sorwe deye.

470  Of long servyse avaunte I me no-thing,
471  But as possible is me to dye to-day
472  For wo, as he that hath ben languisshing
473  Thise twenty winter, and wel happen may
474  A man may serven bet and more to pay
475  In half a yere, al-though hit were no more,
476  Than som man doth that hath served ful yore.

477  I ne sey not this by me, for I ne can
478  Do no servyse that may my lady plese;
479  But I dar seyn, I am hir trewest man
480  As to my dome, and feynest wolde hir ese;
481  At shorte wordes, til that deth me sese,
482  I wol ben hires, whether I wake or winke,
483  And trewe in al that herte may bethinke.'

484  Of al my lyf, sin that day I was born,
485  So gentil plee in love or other thing
486  Ne herde never no man me beforn,
487  Who-so that hadde leyser and cunning
488  For to reherse hir chere and hir speking;
489  And from the morwe gan this speche laste
490  Til dounward drow the sonne wonder faste.

491  The noyse of foules for to ben delivered
492  So loude rong, `have doon and let us wende!'
493  That wel wende I the wode had al to-shivered.
494  `Come of!' they cryde, `allas! ye wil us shende!
495  Whan shal your cursed pleding have an ende?
496  How shulde a Iuge eyther party leve,
497  For yee or nay, with-outen any preve?'

498  The goos, the cokkow, and the doke also
499  So cryden, `kek, kek!' `kukkow!' `quek, quek!' hye,
500  That thorgh myn eres the noyse wente tho.
501  The goos seyde, `al this nis not worth a flye!
502  But I can shape hereof a remedye,
503  And I wol sey my verdit faire and swythe
504  For water-foul, who-so be wrooth or blythe.'

505  `And I for worm-foul,' seyde the fool cukkow,
506  `For I wol, of myn owne auctorite,
507  For comune spede, take the charge now,
508  For to delivere us is gret charite.'
509  `Ye may abyde a whyle yet, parde!'
510  Seide the turtel, `if hit be your wille
511  A wight may speke, him were as good be stille.

512  I am a seed-foul, oon the unworthieste,
513  That wot I wel, and litel of kunninge;
514  But bet is that a wightes tonge reste
515  Than entermeten him of such doinge
516  Of which he neyther rede can nor singe.
517  And who-so doth, ful foule himself acloyeth,
518  For office uncommitted ofte anoyeth.'

519  Nature, which that alway had an ere
520  To murmour of the lewednes behinde,
521  With facound voys seide, `hold your tonges there!
522  And I shal sone, I hope, a counseyl finde
523  You to delivere, and fro this noyse unbinde;
524  I Iuge, of every folk men shal oon calle
525  To seyn the verdit for you foules alle.'

526  Assented were to this conclusioun
527  The briddes alle; and foules of ravyne
528  Han chosen first, by pleyn eleccioun,
529  The tercelet of the faucon, to diffyne
530  Al hir sentence, and as him list, termyne;
531  And to Nature him gonnen to presente,
532  And she accepteth him with glad entente.

533  The tercelet seide than in this manere:
534  `Ful hard were it to preve hit by resoun
535  Who loveth best this gentil formel here;
536  For everich hath swich replicacioun,
537  That noon by skilles may be broght a-doun;
538  I can not seen that argumentes avayle;
539  Than semeth hit ther moste be batayle.'

540  `Al redy!' quod these egles tercels tho.
541  `Nay, sirs!' quod he, `if that I dorste it seye,
542  Ye doon me wrong, my tale is not y-do!
543  For sirs, ne taketh noght a-gref, I preye,
544  It may noght gon, as ye wolde, in this weye;
545  Oure is the voys that han the charge in honde,
546  And to the Iuges dome ye moten stonde;

547  `And therfor, pees! I seye, as to my wit,
548  Me wolde thinke how that the worthieste
549  Of knighthode, and lengest hath used hit,
550  Moste of estat, of blode the gentileste,
551  Were sittingest for hir, if that hir leste;
552  And of these three she wot hir-self, I trowe,
553  Which that he be, for hit is light to knowe.'

554  The water-foules han her hedes leyd
555  Togeder, and of short avysement,
556  Whan everich had his large golee seyd,
557  They seyden sothly, al by oon assent,
558  How that `the goos, with hir facounde gent,
559  That so desyreth to pronounce our nede,
560  Shal telle our tale,' and preyde `god hir spede.'

561  And for these water-foules tho began
562  The goos to speke, and in hir cakelinge
563  She seyde, `pees! now tak kepe every man,
564  And herkeneth which a reson I shal bringe;
565  My wit is sharp, I love no taryinge;
566  I seye, I rede him, though he were my brother,
567  But she wol love him, lat him love another!'

568  `Lo here! a parfit reson of a goos!'
569  Quod the sperhauk; `never mot she thee!
570  Lo, swich hit is to have a tonge loos!
571  Now parde, fool, yet were hit bet for thee
572  Have holde thy pees, than shewed thy nycete!
573  Hit lyth not in his wit nor in his wille,
574  But sooth is seyd, "a fool can noght be stille."'

575  The laughter aroos of gentil foules alle,
576  And right anoon the seed-foul chosen hadde
577  The turtel trewe, and gunne hir to hem calle,
578  And preyden hir to seye the sothe sadde
579  Of this matere, and asked what she radde;
580  And she answerde, that pleynly hir entente
581  She wolde shewe, and sothly what she mente.

582  `Nay, god forbede a lover shulde chaunge!'
583  The turtle seyde, and wex for shame al reed;
584  `Thogh that his lady ever-more be straunge,
585  Yet let him serve hir ever, til he be deed;
586  For sothe, I preyse noght the gooses reed;
587  For thogh she deyed, I wolde non other make,
588  I wol ben hires, til that the deth me take.'

589  `Wel bourded!' quod the doke, `by my hat!
590  That men shulde alwey loven, causeles,
591  Who can a reson finde or wit in that?
592  Daunceth he mury that is mirtheles?
593  Who shulde recche of that is reccheles?
594  Ye, quek!' yit quod the doke, ful wel and faire,
595  `There been mo sterres, god wot, than a paire!'

596  `Now fy, cherl!' quod the gentil tercelet,
597  `Out of the dunghil com that word ful right,
598  Thou canst noght see which thing is wel be-set:
599  Thou farest by love as oules doon by light,
600  The day hem blent, ful wel they see by night;
601  Thy kind is of so lowe a wrechednesse,
602  That what love is, thou canst nat see ne gesse.'

603  Tho gan the cukkow putte him forth in prees
604  For foul that eteth worm, and seide blyve,
605  `So I,' quod he, `may have my make in pees,
606  I recche not how longe that ye stryve;
607  Lat ech of hem be soleyn al hir lyve,
608  This is my reed, sin they may not acorde;
609  This shorte lesson nedeth noght recorde.'

610  `Ye! have the glotoun fild ynogh his paunche,
611  Than are we wel!' seyde the merlioun;
612  `Thou mordrer of the heysugge on the braunche
613  That broghte thee forth, thou rewthelees glotoun!
614  Live thou soleyn, wormes corrupcioun!
615  For no fors is of lakke of thy nature;
616  Go, lewed be thou, whyl the world may dure!'

617  `Now pees,' quod Nature, `I comaunde here;
618  For I have herd al your opinioun,
619  And in effect yet be we never the nere;
620  But fynally, this is my conclusioun,
621  That she hir-self shal han the eleccioun
622  Of whom hir list, who-so be wrooth or blythe,
623  Him that she cheest, he shal hir have as swythe.

624  For sith hit may not here discussed be
625  Who loveth hir best, as seide the tercelet,
626  Than wol I doon hir this favour, that she
627  Shal have right him on whom hir herte is set,
628  And he hir that his herte hath on hir knet.
629  Thus Iuge I, Nature, for I may not lye;
630  To noon estat I have non other ye.

631  But as for counseyl for to chese a make,
632  If hit were reson, certes, than wolde I
633  Counseyle yow the royal tercel take,
634  As seide the tercelet ful skilfully,
635  As for the gentilest and most worthy,
636  Which I have wroght so wel to my plesaunce;
637  That to yow oghte been a suffisaunce.'

638  With dredful vois the formel hir answerde,
639  `My rightful lady, goddesse of Nature,
640  Soth is that I am ever under your yerde,
641  Lyk as is everiche other creature,
642  And moot be youres whyl that my lyf may dure;
643  And therfor graunteth me my firste bone,
644  And myn entente I wol yow sey right sone.'

645  `I graunte it you,' quod she; and right anoon
646  This formel egle spak in this degree,
647  `Almighty quene, unto this yeer be doon
648  I aske respit for to avysen me.
649  And after that to have my choys al free;
650  This al and sum, that I wolde speke and seye;
651  Ye gete no more, al-though ye do me deye.

652  I wol noght serven Venus ne Cupyde
653  For sothe as yet, by no manere wey.'
654  `Now sin it may non other wyse betyde,'
655  Quod tho Nature, `here is no more to sey;
656  Than wolde I that these foules were a-wey
657  Ech with his make, for tarying lenger here' --
658  And seyde hem thus, as ye shul after here.

659  `To you speke I, ye tercelets,' quod Nature,
660  `Beth of good herte and serveth, alle three;
661  A yeer is not so longe to endure,
662  And ech of yow peyne him, in his degree,
663  For to do wel; for, god wot, quit is she
664  Fro yow this yeer; what after so befalle,
665  This entremes is dressed for you alle.'

666  And whan this werk al broght was to an ende,
667  To every foule Nature yaf his make
668  By even acorde, and on hir wey they wende.
669  A! lord! the blisse and Ioye that they make!
670  For ech of hem gan other in winges take,
671  And with hir nekkes ech gan other winde,
672  Thanking alwey the noble goddesse of kinde.

673  But first were chosen foules for to singe,
674  As yeer by yere was alwey hir usaunce
675  To singe a roundel at hir departinge,
676  To do to Nature honour and plesaunce.
677  The note, I trowe, maked was in Fraunce;
678  The wordes wer swich as ye may heer finde,
679  The nexte vers, as I now have in minde.

          Qui bien aime a tard oublie.

680  `Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
681  That hast this wintres weders over-shake,
682  And driven awey the longe nightes blake!

683  `Saynt Valentyn, that art ful hy on-lofte; --
684  Thus singen smale foules for thy sake --
685    Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
686    That hast this wintres weders over-shake.

687  `Wel han they cause for to gladen ofte,
688  Sith ech of hem recovered hath his make;
689  Ful blisful may they singen whan they wake;
690    Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
691    That hast this wintres weders over-shake,
692    And driven away the longe nightes blake.'

693  And with the showting, whan hir song was do,
694  That foules maden at hir flight a-way,
695  I wook, and other bokes took me to
696  To rede upon, and yet I rede alway;
697  In hope, y-wis, to rede so som day
698  That I shal mete som thing for to fare
699  The bet; and thus to rede I nil not spare.

Parliamentum avium in die Sancti Valentini tentum secundum
Galfridum Chaucer. Deo gracias.


End of "Parliament of Fowles"



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