The Wyf of Bath Prologue
1 Experience, though noon auctoritee
2 Were in this world, is right ynogh for me
3 To speke of wo that is in mariage;
4 For, lordynges, sith I twelve yeer was of age,
5 Thonked be God that is eterne on lyve,
6 Housbondes at chirche dore I have had fyve, --
7 If I so ofte myghte have ywedded bee, --
8 And alle were worthy men in hir degree.
9 But me was toold, certeyn, nat longe agoon is,
10 That sith that crist ne wente nevere but onis
11 To weddyng, in the cane of galilee,
12 That by the same ensample taughte he me
13 That I ne sholde wedded be but ones.
14 Herkne eek, lo, which a sharp word for the nones,
15 Biside a welle, jhesus, God and man,
16 Spak in repreeve of the samaritan:
17 Thou hast yhad fyve housbondes, -- quod he,
18 -- And that ilke man that now hath thee
19 Is noght thyn housbonde, -- thus seyde he certeyn.
20 What that he mente therby, I kan nat seyn;
21 But that I axe, why that the fifthe man
22 Was noon housbonde to the samaritan?
23 How manye myghte she have in mariage?
24 Yet herde I nevere tellen in myn age
25 Upon this nombre diffinicioun.
26 Men may devyne and glosen, up and doun,
27 But wel I woot, expres, withoute lye,
28 God bad us for to wexe and multiplye;
29 That gentil text kan I wel understonde.
30 Eek wel I woot, he seyde myn housbonde
31 Sholde lete fader and mooder, and take to me.
32 But of no nombre mencion made he,
33 Of bigamye, or of octogamye;
34 Why sholde men thanne speke of it vileynye?
35 Lo, heere the wise kyng, daun salomon;
36 I trowe he hadde wyves mo than oon.
37 As wolde God it were leveful unto me
38 To be refresshed half so ofte as he!
The Pardoner's Tale
534 O wombe! o bely! o stynkyng cod,
535 Fulfilled of dong and of corrupcioun!
536 At either ende of thee foul is the soun.
537 How greet labour and cost is thee to fynde!
538 Thise cookes, how they stampe, and streyne, and grynde,
539 And turnen substaunce into accident,
540 To fulfille al thy likerous talent!
541 Out of the harde bones knokke they
542 The mary, for they caste noght awey
543 That may go thurgh the golet softe and swoote.
544 Of spicerie of leef, and bark, and roote
545 Shal been his sauce ymaked by delit,
546 To make hym yet a newer appetit.
547 But, certes, he that haunteth swiche delices
548 Is deed, whil that he lyveth in tho vices.
549 a lecherous thyng is wyn, and dronkenesse
550 Is ful of stryvyng and of wrecchednesse.
551 O dronke man, disfigured is thy face,
552 Sour is thy breeth, foul artow to embrace,
553 And thurgh thy dronke nose semeth the soun
554 As though thou seydest as sampsoun, sampsoun!
555 And yet, God woot, sampsoun drank nevere no wyn.
556 Thou fallest as it were a styked swyn;
557 Thy tonge is lost, and al thyn honeste cure;
558 For dronkenesse is verray sepulture
559 Of mannes wit and his discrecioun.
560 In whom that drynke hath dominacioun
561 He kan no conseil kepe, it is no drede.
562 Now kepe yow fro the white and fro the rede,
563 And namely fro the white wyn of lepe,
564 That is to selle in fysshstrete or in chepe.
565 This wyn of spaigne crepeth subtilly
566 In othere wynes, growynge faste by,
567 Of which ther ryseth swich fumositee
568 That whan a man hath dronken draughtes thre,
569 And weneth that he be at hoom in chepe,
570 He is in spaigne, right at the toune of lepe, --
571 Nat at the rochele, ne at burdeux toun;
572 And thanne wol he seye sampsoun, sampsoun!
The Knight's Tale
2597 Tho were the gates shet, and cried was loude:
2598 Do now youre devoir, yonge knyghtes proude!
2599 The heraudes lefte hir prikyng up and doun;
2600 Now ryngen trompes loude and clarioun.
2601 Ther is namoore to seyn, but west and est
2602 In goon the speres ful sadly in arrest;
2603 In gooth the sharpe spore into the syde.
2604 Ther seen men who kan juste and who kan ryde;
2605 Ther shyveren shaftes upon sheeldes thikke;
2606 He feeleth thurgh the herte-spoon the prikke.
2607 Up spryngen speres twenty foot on highte;
2608 Out goon the swerdes as the silver brighte;
2609 The helmes they tohewen and toshrede;
2610 Out brest the blood with stierne stremes rede;
2611 With myghty maces the bones they tobreste.
2612 He thurgh the thikkeste of the throng gan threste;
2613 Ther stomblen steedes stronge, and doun gooth al;
2614 He rolleth under foot as dooth a bal;
2615 He foyneth on his feet with his tronchoun,
2616 And he hym hurtleth with hors adoun;
2617 He thurgh the body is hurt and sither take,
2618 Maugree his heed, and broght unto the stake:
2619 As forward was, right there he moste abyde.
The Knight's Tale cont'd
2743 Swelleth the brest of arcite, and the soore
2744 Encreesseth at his herte moore and moore.
2745 The clothered blood, for any lechecraft,
2746 Corrupteth, and is in his bouk ylaft,
2747 That neither veyne-blood, ne ventusynge,
2748 Ne drynke of herbes may ben his helpynge.
2749 The vertu expulsif, or animal,
2750 Fro thilke vertu cleped natural
2751 Ne may the venym voyden ne expelle.
2752 The pipes of his longes gonne to swelle,
2753 And every lacerte in his brest adoun
2754 Is shent with venym and corrupcioun.
2755 Hym gayneth neither, for to gete his lif,
2756 Vomyt upward, ne dounward laxatif.
2757 Al is tobrosten thilke regioun;
2758 Nature hath now no dominacioun.
2759 And certeinly, ther nature wol nat wirche,
2760 Fare wel phisik! go ber the man to chirche!
2761 This al and som, that arcita moot dye;
2762 For which he sendeth after emelye,
2763 And palamon, that was his cosyn deere.
2764 Thanne seyde he thus, as ye shal after heere:
2765 Naught may the woful spirit in myn herte
2766 Declare o point of alle my sorwes smerte
2767 To yow, my lady, that I love moost;
2768 But I biquethe the servyce of my goost
2769 To yow aboven every creature,
2770 Syn that my lyf may no lenger dure.
2771 Allas, the wo! allas, the peynes stronge,
2772 That I for yow have suffred, and so longe!
2773 Allas, the deeth! allas, myn emelye!
2774 Allas, departynge of oure compaignye!
2775 Allas, myn hertes queene! allas, my wyf!
2776 Myn hertes lady, endere of my lyf!
2777 What is this world? what asketh men to have?
2778 Now with his love, now in his colde grave
2779 Allone, withouten any compaignye.
2780 Fare wel, my sweete foo, myn emelye!
695 And seyde thus: what man artow? quod he;
696 Thou lookest as thou woldest fynde an hare,
697 For evere upon the ground I se thee stare.
698 Approche neer, and looke up murily.
699 Now war yow, sires, and lat this man have place!
700 He in the waast is shape as wel as I;
701 This were a popet in an arm t' enbrace
702 For any womman, smal and fair of face.
703 He semeth elvyssh by his contenaunce,
704 For unto no wight dooth he daliaunce.
705 Sey now somwhat, syn oother folk han sayd;
706 Telle us a tale of myrthe, and that anon.
707 Hooste, quod I, ne beth nat yvele apayd,
708 For oother tale certes kan I noon,
709 But of a rym I lerned longe agoon.
710 Ye, that is good, quod he; now shul we heere
711 Som deyntee thyng, me thynketh by his cheere.
712 Listeth, lordes, in good entent,
713 And I wol telle verrayment
714 Of myrthe and of solas;
715 Al of a knyght was fair and gent
716 In bataille and in tourneyment,
717 His name was sire thopas.
718 Yborn he was in fer contree,
719 In flaundres, al biyonde the see,
720 At poperyng, in the place.
721 His fader was a man ful free,
722 And lord he was of that contree,
723 As it was goddes grace.
724 Sire thopas wax a doghty swayn;
725 Whit was his face as payndemayn,
726 His lippes rede as rose;
727 His rode is lyk scarlet in grayn,
728 And I yow telle in good certayn,
729 He hadde a semely nose.
730 His heer, his berd was lyk saffroun,
731 That to his girdel raughte adoun;
732 His shoon of cordewane.
733 Of brugges were his hosen broun,
734 His robe was of syklatoun,
735 That coste many a jane.
736 He koude hunte at wilde deer,
737 And ride an haukyng for river
738 With grey goshauk on honde;
739 Therto he was a good archeer;
740 Of wrastlyng was ther noon his peer,
741 Ther any ram shal stonde.
742 Ful many a mayde, bright in bour,
743 They moorne for hym paramour,
744 Whan hem were bet to slepe;
745 But he was chaast and no lechour,
746 And sweete as is the brembul flour
747 That bereth the rede hepe.
748 And so bifel upon a day,
749 For sothe, as I yow telle may,
750 Sire thopas wolde out ride.
751 He worth upon his steede gray,
752 And in his hand a launcegay,
753 A long swerd by his side.
754 He priketh thurgh a fair forest,
755 Therinne is many a wilde best,
756 Ye, bothe bukke and hare;
757 And as he priketh north and est,
758 I telle it yow, hym hadde almest
759 Bitid a sory care.
760 Ther spryngen herbes grete and smale,
761 The lycorys and the cetewale,
762 And many a clowe-gylofre;
763 And notemuge to putte in ale,
764 Wheither it be moyste or stale,
765 Or for to leye in cofre.
766 The briddes synge, it is no nay,
767 The sparhauk and the papejay,
768 That joye it was to heere;
769 The thrustelock made eek his lay,
770 The wodedowve upon the spray
771 She sang ful loude and cleere.
772 Sire thopas fil in love-longynge,
773 Al whan he herde the thrustel synge,
774 And pryked as he were wood.
775 His faire steede in his prikynge
776 So swatte that men myghte him wrynge;
777 His sydes were al blood.
Legend of Good Women
And with that word, a compas enviroun, They setten hem ful softly adoun. First sat the god of love, and sith his quene With the whyte coroun, clad in grene; And sithen al the remenant by and by, As they were of estaat, ful curteisly; Ne nat a word was spoken in the place The mountance of a furlong-wey of space.
I kneling by this flour, in good entente Abood, to knowen what this peple mente, 310 As stille as any stoon; til at the laste, This god of love on me his eyen caste, And seyde, "who kneleth ther?" and I answerde Unto his asking, whan that I hit herde, And seyde, "sir, hit am I"; and com him neer, And salued him. Quod he, "what dostow heer So nigh myn owne flour, so boldely? For it were better worthy, trewely, A worm to neghen neer my flour than thou." "And why, sir," quod I, "and hit lyke yow?" 320 "For thou," quod he, "art ther-to nothing able. Hit is my relik, digne and delytable, And thou my fo, and al my folk werreyest, And of myn olde servaunts thou misseyest, And hindrest hem, with thy translacioun, And lettest folk from hir devocioun To serve me, and holdest hit folye To serve Love. Thou mayest hit nat denye; For in pleyn text, with-outen nede of glose, Thou hast translated the Romaunce of the Rose, 330 That is an heresye ageyns my lawe, And makest wyse folk fro me withdrawe. And of Criseyde thou hast seyd as thee liste, That maketh men to wommen lasse triste, That ben as trewe as ever was any steel. Of thyn answere avyse thee right weel; For, thogh that thou reneyed hast my lay, As other wrecches han doon many a day, By seynt Venus, that my moder is, If that thou live, thou shalt repenten this 340 So cruelly, that hit shal wel be sene!"
Tho spak this lady, clothed al in grene, And seyde, "god, right of your curtesye, Ye moten herknen if he can replye Agayns al this that ye han to him meved; A god ne sholde nat be thus agreved, But of his deitee he shal be stable, And therto gracious and merciable. And if ye nere a god, that knowen al, Than mighte hit be, as I yow tellen shal; 350 This man to you may falsly been accused, Ther as by right him oghte been excused. For in your court is many a losengeour, And many a queynte totelere accusour, That tabouren in your eres many a soun, Right after hir imaginacioun, To have your daliance, and for envye; These been the causes, and I shall nat lye. Envye is lavender of the court alway; For she ne parteth, neither night ne day, 360 Out of the hous of Cesar; thus seith Dante; Who-so that goth, algate she wol nat wante. And eek, paraunter, for this man is nyce, He mighte doon hit, gessing no malyce, But for he useth thinges for to make; Him rekketh noght of what matere he take;
Complaint of Chaucer to His Purse
To yow, my purs, and to non othir wyght
Complayne I, for ye ben my lady dere!
I am so sory, now that ye been lyght;
For certes, but yf ye make me hevy chere,
Me were as leef be leyd upon my bere;
For which unto your mercy thus I crye,
Beth hevy ayeyn, or elles mot I dye!
Now voucheth sauf this day, or hyt be nyght,
That I of yow the blisful soun may here,
Or se your colour lyk the sonne bryght,
That of yelownesse had never pere.
Ye be my lyf, ye be myne hertes stere,
Quene of comfort and of gode companye;
Beth hevy ayeyn, or elles mot I dye!
Now purs, that ben to me my lyves lyght
And saveour, as doun in this worlde here,
Out of this towne helpe me thurgh your myght,
Syn that ye wylle nat ben my tresorere;
For I am shave as nye as any frere.
But yet I prey unto youre curtesye,
Beth heavy ayeyn, or elles mot I dye!
L'envoy de Chaucer
O conqueror of Brutes Albyoun,
Which that by lyne and fre eleccion
Ben verray kyng, this song to you I sende;
And ye, that mowen alle oure harmes amende,
Have mynde upon my supplicacioun.
Balade de bon conseyl.
1 Flee fro the prees, and dwelle with sothfastnesse,
2 Suffyce unto thy good, though hit be smal;
3 For hord hath hate, and climbing tikelnesse,
4 Prees hath envye, and wele blent overal;
5 Savour no more than thee bihove shal;
6 Werk wel thy-self, that other folk canst rede;
7 And trouthe shal delivere, hit is no drede.
8 Tempest thee noght al croked to redresse,
9 In trust of hir that turneth as a bal:
10 Gret reste stant in litel besinesse;
11 And eek be war to sporne ageyn an al;
12 Stryve noght, as doth the crokke with the wal.
13 Daunte thy-self, that dauntest otheres dede;
14 And trouthe shal delivere, hit is no drede.
15 That thee is sent, receyve in buxumnesse,
16 The wrastling for this worlde axeth a fal.
17 Her nis non hoom, her nis but wildernesse:
18 Forth, pilgrim, forth! Forth, beste, out of thy stal!
19 Know thy contree, look up, thank God of al;
20 Hold the hye wey, and lat thy gost thee lede:
21 And trouthe shal delivere, hit is no drede.
22 Therfore, thou vache, leve thyn old wrecchednesse
23 Unto the worlde; leve now to be thral;
24 Crye him mercy, that of his hy goodnesse
25 Made thee of noght, and in especial
26 Draw unto him, and pray in general
27 For thee, and eek for other, hevenlich mede;
28 And trouthe shal delivere, hit is no drede.
Explicit Le bon counseill de G. Chaucer.