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In all his lif, unto no manere wight;
He was a veray parfit gentil knight.
But, for to tellen you of his araie, -
His hors was good, but he ne was not gaie.
Of fustián he weréd a gipon?
Alle besmatred? with his habergeon,
For he was late ycome fro his viage,
And wenté for to don“ his pilgrimage.
With him ther was his sone, a yongé Squier,
A lover, and a lusty bacheler;
With lockés crull as they were laide in presse.
Of twenty yere of age he was, I gesse.
Of his statúre he was of even lengthe;
And wonderly deliver, and grete of strengthe,
And he hadde be, somtime, in chevachie
In Flaundres, in Artois, and in Picardie,
And borne him wel, as of so litel space,
In hope to standen in his ladies grace.
Embrouded was hè, as it were a mede
All full of freshé fourés, white and rede.
Singing he was, or floyting all the day:
He was as freshe as is the moneth of May.
Short was his goune, with slevés long and wide.
Wel coude he sitte on hors, and fayré ride,
He coudé songés make, and wel endite;
Juste and eke dance; and wel pourtraie and write:
So hote he loved, that by nightertale
He slep no more than doth the nightingale:
Curteis he was, lowly and servisable;
And carf before his fader at the table.
A Yeman hadde he; and servantes no mo
At that time; for him luste to ridé so;
And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene;
A shefe of peacock arwes bright and kene
Under his belt he bare ful thriftily;"0.
Wel coude he dresse his takel yemanly:
His arwes droupéd not with fetheres lowe,
And in his hand he bare a mighty bowe.
A not-hed" hadde he with a broun visage:
Of wood-craft coude he wel alle the usage.
Upon his arme, he bare a gaie bracer;!
And by his side, a swerd and a bokeler;
And on that other side, a gaie daggére,
Harneiséd wel, and sharpe as point of spere :
A Cristofre on his brest of silver shene. 13
An horne he bare, the baudrik was of grene.
A forster was he, sothely, 14 as I gesse.
Ther was also a Nonne, a Prioresse,
That of hire smiling was full simple and coy;
Hire gretest óthe n'as15 but by Seint Eloy;
And she was clepéd16 Madame Eglentine.
Ful wel she sange the service devine,
Entuned in hire nose ful swetély;
And Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisly,"7
After the scole of Stratford atté Bowe,
For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.
At meté was she wele ytaughte withalle;
She lette no morsel from her lippés falle,
Ne wette hire fingres in hire saucé depe.
Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe,
Thatté no drope ne fell upon hire brest,
In curtesie was sette ful moche hire lest. 18
Hire over-lippé wipéd she so clene,
That in hire cuppé was no ferthing!9 sene
Of gresé, whan she dronken hadde hire draught.
Ful semély after hire mete she raught.20
And sikerly21 she was of grete disport,
And ful plesánt, and amiable of port,
And peinéd22 hire to contrefeten23 chere
Of court, and ben estatelich of manére,
And to ben holden digne24 of reverence.
But for to speken of hire consciénce, She was so charitable and so pitous, She wolde wepe if that she saw a mous Caughte in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde. Of smalé houndés hadde she, that she fedde With rosted flesh, and milk, and wastel brede. But sore wept she if on of hem were dede, Or if men smote it with a yerdé25 smerte:26 And all was conscience and tendre herte.
Ful semély hire wimple ypinchéd was ; Hire nose tretis ;27 hire eyen grey as glas; Hire mouth ful smale, and thereto soft and red;
But sikerly she hadde a fayre forehéd. 13 shining
15 was not. 16 called. 17 neatly.
18 her pleasure. 19 smallest spot.
21 of a truth. took pains.
24 worthy: 26 smartly, adv.
23 to imitate.
It was almost a spanné brode I trowe;
For hardily she was not undergrowe.2
Ful fetise29 was hire cloke, as I was ware.
Of smale corall aboute hire arm she bare
A pair of bedés, gauded all with grene;
And thereon heng a broche of gold ful shene,
On whiche was first ywriten a crounéd A,
And after, Amor vincit omnia.
Another Nonne also with hire hadde she,
That was hire chapelléine, and preestés thre.
Nought may the woful spirit in mine heart Declare one point of all my sorrows' smart To you my lady, that I love most, But I bequeath the service of my ghost To you aboven
every creature, Since that my life ne may no longer dure.
Alas the woe! alas the painés strong, That I for you have suffered, and so long! Alas the death! alas mine Emily! Alas departing of our company! Alas mine heartés queen! alas my wife ! Mine heartés lady, ender of my life! What is this world ?—what asken men to have? Now with his love, now in his coldé graveAlone-withouten any company. Farewell my sweet-farewell mine Emily! And softé take me in your armés tway For love of God, and hearkeneth what I say.
I have here with my cousin Palamon Had strife and rancour many a day agone For love of you, and for my jealousy; And Jupiter so wis30 my soulé gie, 31 To speaken of a servant properly, With allé circumstances truély; That is to say, truth, honour, and knighthead, Wisdom, humbless, estate, and high kindred, Freedom, and all that 'longeth to that art, So Jupiter have of
my As in this world right now ne know I none So worthy to be loved as Palamon,
That serveth you, and will do all his life;
And if that ever ye shall be a wife,
Forget not Palamon, the gentle man.
And with that word his speeché fail began;
For from his feet up to his breast was come
The cold of death that had him overnome ;32
And yet, moreover, in his armés two,
The vital strength is lost and all ago ;33
Only the intellect, withouten more,
That dwelléd in his hearté sick and sore,
'Gan faillen when the hearté felté death;
Duskéd his eyen two, and fail'd his breath:
But on his lady yet cast he his eye;
His lasté word was, “ Mercy, Emily!”
DEPARTURE OF CUSTANCE. Custance is banished from her husband, Alla king of Northumberland, in consequence of the treachery of the king's mother. Her behaviour, while embark. ing at sea in a rudderless ship, is thus described.
Weepen both young and old in all that place
When that the king this cursed letter sent:
And Custance with a deadly palé face
The fourthé day toward the ship she went;
But nathéless34 she tak’th in good intent
The will of Christ, and kneeling on the strond,
She saidé, “ Lord, aye welcome be thy sond. 35
He that me kepté from the falsé blame,
While I was in the land amongés you,
He can me keep from harm and eke from shamo
In the salt sea, although I see not how:
As strong as ever he was, he is yet now:
In him trust I, and in his mother dear,
That is to me my sail and eke my steer."36
Her little child lay weeping in her arm;
And kneeling piteously, to him she said-
Peace, little son, I will do thee no harm :"
With that her kerchief off her head she braid, 37
And over his little eyen she it laid,
And in her arm she lulleth it full fast,
And into th’ heaven her eyen up she cast.
“Mother, quod she, and maiden bright, Mary!
Soth is, that through womannés eggement, 38
Mankind was lorn, 39 and damnéd aye to die,
For which thy child was on a cross yrent:
Thy blissful eyen saw all his torment;
Then is there no comparison between
Thy woe and any woe man may sustain.
Thou saw'st thy child yslain before thine eyen,
And yet now liveth my little child parfay:41
Now, lady bright! to whom all woful crien,
Thou glory of womanhood, thou fairé May!
Thou haven of refúte,42 bright star of day!
Rue43 on my child, that of thy gentleness
Ruest on every rueful in distress.
O little child, alas! what is thy guilt,
That never wroughtest sin as yet, pardíe!
Why will thine hardé father have thee spilt ?44
O mercy, dearé Constable? (quod she)
As let my little child dwell here with thee;
And if thou dar’st not saven him from blame,
So kiss him onés in his father's name.
Therewith she looketh backward to the land,
And saidé, “Farewell, husband rutheless !"45
And up she rose, and walketh down the strand
Toward the ship; her followeth all the press :*
And ever she prayeth her child to hold his peace,
And tak’th her leave; and with a holy intent
She blesseth her; and into the ship she went.
Victáilléd was the ship, it is no drede, 47
Abundantly for her a full long space;
And other necessaries that should need
She had enow, heriéd48 be Goddés grace:
For wind and weather, Almighty God purchase, 49
And bring her home : I can no better say,
But in the sea she driveth forth her way.
41 by my faith.
39 undone. 42 refuge. 45 pitiless. 48 praised.
43 have pity.