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That he ne wol nat suffre it heled1 be;
Though it abyde a yeer, or two, or three,
Mordre wol out, this2 my conclusioun.
And right anoon, ministres of that toun
Han hent the carter, and so sore him pyned3,
And eek the hostiler so sore engyned1,
That thay biknewe5 hir wikkednesse anoon,
And were an-hanged by the nekke-boon.
'Here may men seen that dremes been to
And certes, in the same book I rede,
Right in the nexte chapitre after this,
(I gabbes nat, so have I Ioye or blis,)
Two men that wolde han passed over see,
For certeyn cause, in-to a fer contree,
If that the wind ne hadde been contrarie,
That made hem in a citee for to tarie,
That stood ful mery upon an haven-syde.
But on a day, agayn the even-tyde,
Noot23 I nat why, ne what mischaunce it
But casuelly25 the shippes botme rente,
And ship and man under the water wente
In sighte of othere shippes it byside,
That with hem seyled at the same tyde.
And therfor, faire Pertelote so dere,
By swiche ensamples olde maistow26 lere27,
That no man sholde been to recchelees28
Of dremes, for I sey thee, doutelees,
That many a dreem ful sore is for to drede.
'Lo, in the lyf of seint Kenelm, I rede, 290
That was Kenulphus sone, the noble king
Of Mercenrike29, how Kenelm mette a thing;
A lyte30 er he was mordred, on a day,
His mordre in his avisioun31 he say32.
250 His norice33 him expouned every del
That I wol lette13 for to do my thinges16.
I sette not a straw by thy dreminges,
For swevenes been but vanitees and Iapes17.
Men dreme al-day18 of owles or of apes,
And eek of many a mase19 therwithal;
Men dreme of thing that nevere was ne shal.
But sith20 I see that thou welt heer abyde,
And thus for-sleuthen21 wilfully thy tyde,
God wot it reweth22 me; and have good day.'
And thus he took his leve, and wente his way.
But er that he hadde halfe his cours v-seyled,
His swevene, and bad him for to kepe him wel
For34 traisoun; but he nas but seven yeer
Reed eek of Ioseph, and ther shul ye see 310
Wher40 dremes ben somtyme (I sey nat alle)
Warning of thinges that shul after falle.
Loke of Egipt the king, daun11 Pharao,
His bakere and his boteler42 also,
Wher40 they ne felte noon effect in dremes.
Who so wol seken actes43 of sondry remes44
May rede of dremes many a wonder thing.
'Lo Cresus, which that was of Lyde45 king,
Mette he nat that he sat upon a tree,
Which signified he sholde anhanged be? 320
Lo heer Andromacha, Ectores wyf,
That day that Ector sholde lese46 his lyf,
She dremed on the same night biforn,
How that the lyf of Ector sholde be lorn47,
If thilke day he wente in-to bataille;
She warned him, but it mighte nat availle;
He wente for to fighte natheles,
But he was slayn anoon1 of2 Achilles.
But thilke tale is al to long to telle,
And eek it is ny3 day, I may nat dwelle.
Shortly I seye, as for conclusioun,
That I shal han of this avisioun
Adversitee; and I seye forther-more,
That I ne telle of laxatyves no store1,
For they ben venimous5, I woot it wel;
I hem defye, I love hem nevere a del.
That it was pryme12, and crew with blisful stevene13.
The sonne,' he sayde, 'is clomben up on hevene
Fourty degrees and oon, and more, y-wis.
330 Madame Pertelote, my worldes blis,
Herkneth thise blisful briddes14 how they singe,
And see the fresshe floures how they springe;
Ful is myn hert of revel and solas.'
But sodeinly him fil a sorweful cas15;
For evere the latter ende of Ioye is wo.
God woot that worldly Ioye is sone ago16;
'Now let us speke of mirthe, and stinte al | And if a rethor17 coude faire endyte18,
Madame Pertelote, so have I bliss,
Of o thing God hath sent me large grace;
For whan I see the beautee of your face,
Ye ben so scarlet-reed about youre yën,
It maketh al my drede for to dyen;
For, also siker7 as In principio,
Mulier est hominis confusios;
Madame, the sentence of this Latin is-
Womman is mannes Ioye and al his blis;
I am so ful of Ioye and of solas
That I defye bothe sweven and dreem.'
And with that word he fley9 doun fro
For it was day, and eek his hennes alle;
And with a chuk he gan hem for to calle,
For he had founde a corn, lay in the yerd.
Roial he was, he was namore aferd;
He in a chronique saufly19 mighte it write,
As for a sovereyn notabilitee20.
Now every wys man, lat him herkne me;
340 This storie is al-so trewe, I undertake21,
As is the book of Launcelot de Lake22,
That wommen holde in ful gret reverence.
Now wol I torne agayn to my sentence.
A col23-fox, ful of sly iniquitee,
That in the grove hadde woned yeres three,
By heigh imaginacioun forn-cast24,
The same night thurgh-out the hegges25 brast26 350 Into the yerd, ther Chauntecleer the faire
Was wont, and eek his wyves, to repaire; 400 the And in a bed of wortes27 stille he lay,
He loketh as it were a grim leoun;
And on his toos he rometh up and doun, 360
Him deyned10 not to sette his foot to grounde.
He chukketh, whan he hath a corn y-founde,
And to him rennen11 thanne his wyves alle.
Thus roial, as a prince is in his halle,
Leve I this Chauntecleer in his pasture;
And after wol I telle his aventure.
Til it was passed undern28 of the day,
Wayting his tyme on Chauntecleer to falle
As gladly doon thise homicydes alle,
That in awayt liggen29 to mordre men.
O false mordrer, lurking in thy den!
O newe Scariot30, newe Genilon31!
False dissimilour32, O Greek Sinon33,
That broghtest Troye al-outrely34 to sorwe!
O Chaunteclcer, acursed be that morwe,
That thou into that yerd flough fro the bemes!
Thou were ful wel y-warned by thy dremes,
That thilke day was perilous to thee.
But what that God forwot35 mot nedes be,
After the opinioun of certeyn clerkis.
Whan that the month in which the world Witnesse on36 him, that any perfit clerk is,
That in scole is gret altercacioun
That highte March, whan God first maked man, In this matere, and greet disputisoun,
28 about eleven a. m. 29 lie
30 Judas Iscariot
31 The traitor that caused the defeat of Charlemagne and the death of Roland.
33 Designer of the wooden horse by which Troy was entered.
And hath ben of an hundred thousand men.
But I ne can not bulte it to the bren1,
As can the holy doctour Augustyn2,
Or Boece3, or the bishop Bradwardyn1,
Whether that Goddes worthy forwiting
Streyneth me nedely for to doon a thing,
(Nedely clepe I simple necessitee);
Or elles, if free choys be graunted me
To do that same thing, or do it noght,
Though God forwot it, er that it was wroght;
Or if his witing streyneth nevere a del
But by necessitee condicionele.
I wol not han to do of swich matere;
My tale is of a cok, as ye may here,
That took his counseil of his wyf, with sorwe,
To walken in the yerd upon that morwe
That he had met the dreem, that I of tolde.
Wommennes counseils been ful ofte colde7;
Wommannes counseil broghte us first to wo,
And made Adam fro paradys to go,
Ther as he was ful mery, and wel at ese.
But for I noots, to whom it mighte displese,
If I counseil of wommen wolde blame,
Passe over, for I seyde it in my game9.
Rede auctours, wher they trete of swich matere,
And what thay seyn of wommen ye may here.
Thise been the cokkes wordes, and nat myne;
I can noon harme of no womman divyne.
For Phisiologus11 seith sikerly,
How that they singen wel and merily.
And so bifel, that as he caste his yë12,
Among the wortes, on a boterflye,
He was war13 of this fox that lay ful lowe.
No-thing ne liste him thanne for to crowe,
But cryde anon, 'cok, cok,' and up he sterte,
As man that was affrayed in his herte.
For naturelly a beest desyreth flee
Fro his contrarie14, if he may it see,
Though he never erst had seyn it with his yë.
This Chauntecleer, whan he gan him espye15,
necessity (The old
8 know not
Physiologus, or "Natural History of Twelve Animals."
14 opponent, foe
15 to espy
He wolde han fled, but that the fox anon
Seyde, 'Gentil sire, allas! wher wol ye gon?
Be ye affrayed of me that am your freend?
Now certes, I were worse than a feend,
If I to yow wolde harm or vileinye.
I am nat come your counseil for tespye;
But trewely, the cause of my cominge
Was only for to herkne how that ye singe. 470
For trewely ye have as mery a stevene16,
As eny aungel hath, that is in hevene;
Therwith ye han in musik more felinge
Than hadde Boece, or any that can singe.
My lord your fader (God his soule blesse!)
And eek your moder, of hir gentilesse,
Han in myn hous y-been, to my gret ese17;
And certes, sire, ful fayn wolde I yow plese.
But for men speke of singing, I wol saye,
So mote I brouke18 wel myn eyen tweye, 480
Save yow, I herde nevere man so singe,
As dide your fader in the morweninge;
Certes, it was of herte1o, al that he song.
And for to make his voys the more strong,
He wolde so peyne him20, that with both his
He moste winke21, so loude he wolde cryen,
And stonden on his tiptoon therwithal,
And strecche forth his nekke long and smal.
And eek he was of swich discrecioun,
That ther nas no man in no regioun
That him in song or wisdom mighte passe.
I have weel rad in daun22 Burnel the Asse,
Among his vers, how that ther was a cok,
For that a prestes sone yaf him a knok
Upon his leg, whyl he was yong and nyce23,
He made him for to lese his benefyce24.
But certeyn, ther nis no comparisoun
Bitwix the wisdom and discrecioun
Of your fader, and of his subtiltee.
Now singeth, sire, for seinte charitee,
Let se, conne ye your fader countrefete?'
This Chauntecleer his winges gan to bete,
As man that coude his tresoun nat espye,
So was he ravisshed with his flaterye.
Allas! ye lordes, many a fals flatour25
Is in your courtes, and many a losengeour26,
That plesen yow wel more, by my feith,
Than he that soothfastnesse unto yow seith.
Redeth Ecclesiaste27 of flaterye;
Beth war, ye lordes, of hir trecherye.
24 i. e., by crowing so late that the youth
did not awake in time
27 Ecclesiasticus, xii. 10.
This Chauntecleer stood hye up-on his toos, | Herden thise hennes crye and maken wo, Strecching his nekke, and held his eyen cloos, And out at dores sterten thay anoon, And gan to crowe loude for the nones1; And syen the fox toward the grove goon, And daun Russel2 the foxe sterte up at ones, And bar upon his bak the cok away; And by the gargats hente Chauntecleer, And cryden, 'Out! harrow! and weylaway! 560 And on his bak toward the wode him beer, Ha, ha, the fox!' and after him they ran, For yet ne was ther no man that him sewed5. And eek with staves many another man; O destinee, that mayst nat ben eschewed! Ran Colle our dogge, and Talbot21, and GerAllas, that Chauntecleer fleigh fro the bemes! land21, Allas, his wyf ne roghtes nat of dremes! And on a Friday fil al this meschaunce. O Venus, that art goddesse of plesaunce, Sin that thy servant was this Chauntecleer,
Why woldestow suffre him on thy day to dye?
O Gaufred, dere mayster soverayn7,
That, whan thy worthy king Richard was slayn
With shot, compleynedest his deth so sore,
Why ne hadde I now thy sentences and thy
The Friday for to chide, as diden ye?
And Malkin22, with a distaf in hir hand;
Ran cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges
So were they fered for berking of the dogges
And shouting of the men and wimmen eke,
They ronne so, hem thoughte hir herte breke.
They yelleden as feendes doon in helle;
The dokes cryden as men wolde hem quelle23;
The gees for fere flowen over the trees;
Out of the hyve cam the swarm of bees;
So hidous was the noyse, a! benedicite!24
Certes, he Iakke Straw25, and his meynee26,
531 Ne maden nevere shoutes half so shrille,
Whan that they wolden any Fleming kille,
As thilke day was maad upon the fox.
Of bras thay broghten bemes27 and of box28,
Of horn, of boon, in whiche they blewe and
(For on a Friday soothly slayn was he.)
Than wolde I shewe yow how that I coude
For Chauntecleres drede, and for his peyne.
Certes, swich cry ne lamentacioun
Was nevere of ladies maad, whan Ilioun
Was wonne, and Pirrus10 with his streite11
Whan he hadde hent king Priam by the berd,
And slayn him (as saith us Eneydos)12,
As maden alle the hennes in the clos13,
Whan they had seyn of Chauntecleer the sighte.
But sovereynly14 dame Pertelote shrighte15,
Ful louder than dide Hasdrubales16 wyf,
Whan that hir housbond hadde lost his lyf,
And that the Romayns hadde brend Cartage,
She was so ful of torment and of rage,
That wilfully into the fyr she sterte17,
And brende18 hir-selven with a stedfast herte.
O woful hennes, right so cryden ye,
As, whan that Nero brende the citee
Of Rome, cryden senatoures wyves,
For that hir housbondes losten alle hir lyves;
Withouten gilt 19 this Nero hath hem slayn.
Now wol I torne to my tale agayn:
And therwithal thay shryked and they houped30;
It semed as that hevene sholde falle.
Now, gode men, I pray yow herkneth alle!
Lo, how fortune turneth sodeinly
The hope and pryde eek of hir enemy!
This cok, that lay upon the foxes bak,
In al his drede, un-to the fox he spak,
And seyde, 'sire, if that I were as ye,
Yet sholde I seyn (as wis31 God helpe me),
Turneth agayn, ye proude cherles alle!
A verray pestilence up-on yow falle!
Now am I come un-to this wodes syde,
Maugree32 your heed, the cok shal heer abyde;
I wol him ete in feith, and that anon.
The fox answerde, 'In feith, it shal be don, '—
And as he spak that word, al sodeinly
This cok brak from his mouth deliverly33,
And heighe up-on a tree he fleigh anon.
And whan the fox saugh that he was y-gon,
'Allas!' quod he, 'O Chauntecleer, allas!
But, sire, I dide it in no wikke1 entente;
Com doun, and I shal telle yow what I mente.
I shal seye sooth to yow, God help me so.'
'Nay than,' quod he, 'I shrewe2 us bothe two,
And first I shrewe my-self, bothe blood and
If thou bigyle me ofter than ones.
Thou shalt namore, thurgh thy flaterye
Do3 me to singe and winke with myn yë.
For he that winketh, whan he sholde see,
Al wilfully, God lat him never thee!
'Nay,' quod the fox, but God yive
That is so undiscreet of governaunce,
Máydens ben y-kept for jelousye
Ful streyte15, leste they diden somme folye.
This yonge man was cleped Piramus,
And Tesbe highte the maide,-Naso16 seith
And thus by reporte was hir name y-shove17,
That as they wex in age, wex hir love.
And certeyn, as by reson of hir age,
610 Ther myghte have ben betwex hem mariage,
But that hir fadres nold18 it not assente,
And both in love y-like soore they brente19,
him That noon of al hir frendes myghte it lette20.
But prevely21 somtyme yit they mette
By sleight, and spoken somme of hir desire,
That iangleth5 whan he sholde holde his pees.' As wre the glede22 and hotter is the fire;
Lo, swich it is for to be recchelees,
And necligent, and truste on flaterye.
But ye that holden this tale a folye,
As of a fox, or of a cok and hen,
Taketh the moralitee therof, good men.
For seint Paul seith, that al that writen is,
To our doctrynes it is y-write, y-wis.
Taketh the fruyt, and lat the chaf be stille.
Now, gode God, if that it be thy wille,
As seith my lord, so make us alle good men;
And bringe us to his heighe blisse. Amen.
FROM THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN.
THE STORY OF THISBE OF BABYLON, MARTYR
Incipit Legende Tesba Babilon, Martiris
At Babiloyne whilom fil its thus,-
The whiche toun the queene Semyramus9
Leet dichen al about, and walles make10
Ful hye, of harde tiles wel y-bake:
There were dwellynge in this noble toune
Two lordes, which that were of grete renoune,
And woneden11 so neigh upon a grene,
That ther nas but a stoon wal hem betwene,
As ofte in grette tounes is the wone.
And sooth to seyn, that o man had a sone,
Of al that londe oon of the lustieste;
That other had a doghtre, the faireste
That esteward in the worlde
Forbeede a love, and it is ten so woode23.
This wal, which that bitwixe hem bothe stoode,
Was cloven a-two, right fro the toppe adoun,
Of olde tyme, of his foundacioun.
But yit this clyfte was so narwe and lite24
It was nat seene, deere ynogh a myte25;
But what is that that love kannat espye?
Ye lovers two, if that I shal nat lye,
Ye founden first this litel narwe clifte,
And with a soune as softe as any shryfte26,
They leete hir wordes thurgh the clifte pace,
And tolden, while they stoden in the place,
Al hire compleynt of love, and al hire wo,
At every tyme whan they dorste so.
Upon the o syde of the walle stood he,
And on that other syde stood Tesbe,
The swoote soun of other to receyve.
And thus here27 wardeyn wolde they disceyve, 709 And every day this walle they wolde threete28, And wisshe to God that it were doun y-bete. Thus wolde they seyn: 'Allas, thou wikked walle!
The name of everyche13 gan to other sprynge1+,
By wommen that were neyghebores aboute;
For in that contre yit, withouten doute,
Thurgh thyn envye thow us lettest 29 alle!
Why nyltow cleve30, or fallen al a-two?
Or at the leeste, but thow wouldest so31,
Yit woldestow but ones let us meete,
Or ones that we myghte kyssen sweete,
Than were we covered32 of oure cares colde.
But natheles, yit be we to thee holde33,
In as muche as thou suffrest for to goon
Our wordes thurgh thy lyme and eke thy stoon;
16 Ovid (Publias Ovid
ius Naso) in Metamorphoses iv 55, ff., whence this story is taken.
17 their names were brought forward (literally pushed)
18 would not 19 burned
20 prevent 21 secretly 22 cover
23 ten times as passionate