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How that we baren us that ilke night,
Whan we were in that hostelrie alight.
And after wol I telle of our viage,
And all the remenant of our pilgrimage.
But, firste, I praie you of your curtesie
That ye nearette it not my vilanie,
Though that I plainly speke in this matere,
To tellen you hir wordes and hir chere,
Ne though I speke hir wordes proprely:
For this ye knowen also wel as I,
Who so shall telle a Tale after a man
He moste reherse as neigh as ever he can,
Everich word, if it be in his charge,
All speke he never so rudely and so large;
Orelles he moste tellen his Tale untrewe,
Or feinen thinges, or finden wordes newe:
He may not spare although he were his brother;
He moste as wel sayn o word as an other.
Crist spake himself ful brode in holy writ,
And wel ye wote no vilanie is it:
Eke Plato sayeth, who so can him rede,
The wordes moste ben cosin to the dede.
Also I praie you to forgive it me,
All have I not sette folk in hir degree,
Here in this Tale, as that they shulden stonde.
My wit is short, ye may well understonde.
Gretchere made our Hoste us everich on,
And to the souper sette he us anon;
And served us with vitaille of the beste.
Strong was the win, and wel to drinke us leste.
A semely man our Hoste was, with alle,
For to han ben a marshal in an halle.
A large man he was, with eyen stepe;
A fairer burgeis is ther non in Chepe:
Bold of his speche, and wise, and wel ytaught,
And of manhood him lacked righte naught.
Eke therto, was he right a mery man,
And after souper plaien he began,
And spake of mirthe amonges other thinges,
Whan that we hadden made our rekeninges,
And saide thus; “now Lordinges, trewely
Ye ben to me welcome right hertily.—
For by my trouthe, if that I shal not lie,
I saw not this yere swiche a compagnie
At ones in this herberwe, as is now.
Fain wolde I do you mirthe, and I wiste how;-
And of a mirthe I am right now bethought
To don you ese, and it shal coste you nought.
Yegon to Canterbury; God you spede,
The blissful martyr quite you your mede;
And wel I wot as ye gon by the way,
Ye shapen you to talken and to play:
For trewely comfort ne mirthe is non,
To riden by the way dombe as the ston;
And therfore wolde I maken you disport,
As I said erst, and don you some comfort.
And if you liketh alle, by an assent,
Now for to standen at my jugement;
And for to werchen as I shal you say
To-morwe, whan ye riden on the way,
Now, by my faders soule that is ded,
But ye be mery, smiteth of my hed:
Hold up your hondes withouten more speche.”
Our conseil was not longe for to seche:
Us thought it was not worth to make it wise,
And granted him withouten more avise,
And bad him say his verdit as him leste. [beste;
“Lordinges,” (quod he) “now herkeneth for the
But take it nat, I pray you, in disdain:
This is the point, to speke it plat and plain,
That eche of you, to shorten with youre way,
In this viage shal tellen Tales tway;
To Canterbury ward, I mene it so,
And homeward he shal tellen other two;
Of aventures that whilom han befalle.
And which of you that bereth him beste of alle,
That is to sayn, that telleth in this cas
Tales of best sentence and most solas,
Shal have a souper at youre aller cost
Here in this place sitting by this post,
Whan that ye comen agen from Canterbury
And for to maken you the more mery,
I wol my selven gladly with you ride,
Right at min owen cost, and be your gide.
And who that wol my jugement withsay
Shall pay for alle we spenden by the way.
And if ye vouchesauf that it be so,
Telle me, anon, withouten wordes mo,
And I wol erly shapen me therfore.”
This thing was granted, and our othes swore
With ful glad herte, and praiden him also,
That he wold vouchesauf for to don so,
And that he wolde ben our governour,
And of our Tales juge and reportour,
And sette a souper at a certain pris;
And we wol ruled ben at his devise,
In highe and lowe: and thus by an assent
We ben accorded to his jugement.
And therupon, the win was fette anon:
We dronken, and to reste wenten eche on,
Withouten any lenger tarying.
THE SQUIERES TALE. (A Fragment.) At Sarra, in the land of Tartarie, Ther dwelt a king that werreied Russie, Thurgh which ther died many a doughty man. This noble king was cleped Cambuscan,— Which in his time was of so gret renoun, That ther n'as no wher in no regioun So excellent a lord in alle thing: Him lacked nought that longeth to a king, As of the secte of which that he was borne, He kept his lay to which he was ysworne; And, therto, he was hardy, wise and riche: And pitous, and just; and alway yliche, Trewe of his word, benigne and honourable; Of his corage, as any centre, stable; Yong, fresh, and strong; in armes desirous, As any bacheler of all his hous. A faire person he was, and fortunate, And kept alway so wel real estat, That ther n'as no wher swiche another man.
This noble king, this Tartre Cambuscan,
Hadde two sones by Elfeta his wif-
Of which the eldest sone highte Algarsif,
That other was yeleped Camballo.
A daughter had this worthy king also,
That yongest was, and highte Canace:
But for to tellen you all hire beautee
It lith not in my tonge ne in my conning;
I dare not undertake so high a thing:
Min English, eke, is unsufficient;
It muste ben a rethor excellent,
That coude his colours longing for that art,
If he shuld hire descriven ony part:
I am non swiche; I mote speke as I can.
And so befell, that whan this Cambuscan
Hath twenty winter borne his diademe,
As he was wont froyere to yere, I deme,
He let the feste of his nativitee
Don crien thurghout Sarra his citee,
The lastides of March after the yere.
Phoebus the sonne ful jolif was and clere,
For he was nigh his exaltation
In Martes face, and in his mansion
In Aries, the colerike hote signe:
And lusty was the wether and benigne;
For which the foules, again the sonne shene,
What for the seson and the yonge grene,
Ful loude songen hir affections:
Hem semed han getten hem protections
Again the swerd of winter kene and cold.
This Cambuscan, of which I have you told,
In real vestiments, sit on his deis
With diademe, ful high in his paleis;
And holte his feste so solempne and so riche
That in this world ne was ther non it liche;—
Of which if I shall tellen all the array,
Than wold it occupie a somers day;
And, eke, it nedeth not for to devise
At every cours the order of hir service:
I wol not tellen of hir strange sewes,
Ne of hir swannes, ne hir heronsewes.
Eke, in that lond, as tellen knightes old,
Ther is som mete that is ful deintee hold,
That in this lond men recche of it ful smal:
Ther n'is no man that may reporten al.
I wol not tarien you, for it is prime,
And for it is no fruit, but losse of time:
Unto my purpos I wol have recours.
And so befell, that after the thridde cours,
While that this king sit thus in his nobley,
Herking his minstralles hir thinges pley
Beforne him at his bord deliciously,
In at the halle dore, al sodenly,
Ther came a knight upon a stede of bras,
And in his hond a brod mirrour of glas;
Upon his thombe he had of gold a ring;
And by his side a naked swerd hanging.
And up he rideth to the highe bord.
In all the halle, ne was ther spoke a word
For mervaille of this knight; him to behold
Ful besily they waiten, yong and old.
This strange knight that come thus sodenly
Al armed, save his hed, ful richely,
Salueth king and quene, and lordes alle,
By order as they saten in the halle—
With so high reverence and observance,
As wel in speche as in his contenance,
That Gawain with his olde curtesie
Though he were come agen out of Fairie,
Ne coude him not amenden with a word.
And, after this, beforn the highe bord,
He with a manly vois sayd his message,
After the forme used in his langage,
Withouten vice of sillable or of letter.
And for his tale shulde seme the better,
Accordant to his wordes was his chere,
As techeth art of speche hem that it lere:
Al be it that I cannot soune his stile,
Ne cannot climben over so high a stile,
Yet say I this, as to comun entent,
Thus much amounteth al that ever he ment,
If it so be that I have it in mind; -
He sayd: “The King of Arabie and of Inde,
My liege Lord! on this solempne-day,
Salueth you as he best can and may,
And sendeth you, in honour of your feste,
By me, that am al redy at your heste,
This stede of bras, that esily and wel
Can in the space of a day naturel,
(This is to sayn, in four and twenty houres.)
Wher so you list, in drought or elles shoures,
Beren your body into every place,
To which your herte willeth for to pace,
Withouten wenme of you, thurgh foule or faire;
Or if you list to fleen as high in the aire
As doth an egle, whan him list to sore,
This same stede shal bere you evermore,
Withouten harme, till ye be ther you lest,
(Though that ye slepen on his back or rest.)
And turne again with writhing of a pin.
He that it wrought, he coude many a gin ;
He waited many a constellation
Or he had don this operation,
And knew ful many a sele and many a bond.
“This mirrour, eke, that I have in min hond,
Hath swiche a might, that men may in it see
Whan ther shall falle any adversitee
Unto your regne, or to yourself also ;
And, openly, who is your frend or so.
And, over all this, if any lady bright
Hath set hire herte on any maner wight,
If he be false she shal his treson see,
His newe love, and all his subtiltee,
So openly, that ther shal nothing hide.
“Wherfore, again this lusty somer tide,
This mirrour and this ring, that ye may se,
He hath sent to my lady Canace,
Your excellente doughter that is here.
“The vertue of this ring, if ye wol here,
Is this, that if hire list it for to were
Upon hire thomb, or in hire purse it bere,
Ther is no foule that fleeth under heven
That she ne shal wel understond his steven,
And know his mening openly and plaine,
And answere him in his langage again :
And every gras that groweth upon rote She shal eke know; and whom it wol do bote, Al be his woundes never so depe and wide. “This naked swerd, that hangeth by my side, Swiche vertue hath, that what man that it smite Thurghout his armure it wolkerve and bite, Were it as thick as is a braunched oke; And what man that is wounded with the stroke Shal never be hole, til that you list of grace To stroken him with the platte in thiike place Ther he is hurt; this is as much to sain, Yemoten, with the platte swerd, again Stroken him in the wound, and it wol close. This is the veray soth withouten glose: It failleth not while it is in your hold.” And whan this knight hath thus his tale told, He rideth out of halle, and doun he light. His stede, which that shone as sonne bright, Stant in the court as stille as any ston. This knight is to his chambre ladde, anon, And is unarmed, and to the meteysette. Thise presents ben, ful richelich yfette, This is to sain, the swerd and the mirrour; And borne, anon, into the highe tour With certain officers ordained therfore; And unto Canace the ring is bore Solempnely, ther she sat at the table. But, sikerly, withouten any fable, The hors of bras, that may not be remued; It stant as it were to the ground yglued: Ther may no man out of the place it drive For non engine, of windas or polive; And cause why, for they con not the craft, And therfore in the place they han it last Til that the knight hath taught hem the manere To voiden him, as ye shul after here. Gret was the prees that swarmed to and fro To gauren on this hors that stondeth so; For it so high was, and so brod and long, So wel proportioned for to be strong, Right as it were a stede of Lumbardie; Therwith so horsly, and so quik of eye, As it a gentil Poileis courser were; For certes fro his tayl unto his ere Nature ne art ne coud him not amend In no degree, as all the peple wend. But evermore hir moste wonder was How that it coude gon, and was of bras; It was of Faerie, as the peple semed. Diverse folk diversely han demed; As many heds, as many wittes ben. They murmured as doth a swarme of been, And maden skilles after hir fantasies, Rehersing of the olde poetries. And sayd it was ylike the Pegasee, The hors that hadde winges for to flee; Or, elles, it was the Grekes hors Sinon, That broughte Troye to destruction, As men moun in thise olde gestes rede. “Myn herte.” quod on, “is evermore in drede; I trow some men of armes ben therin, That shapen hem this citee for to win:
It were right good that al swiche thing were know.” Another rowned to his felaw low, And sayd: “He lieth, for it is rather like An apparence ymade by some magike, As jogelours plaien at thise festes grete.” Of sondry doutes thus they jangle and trete, As lewed peple demen comunly Of thinges, that ben made more subtilly, Than they can in hirlewednesse comprehende, They demen gladly to the badder ende. And som of hem wondred on the mirrour That born was up in to the maister tour, How men mighte in it swiche thinges see. Another answerd and sayd: “It might wel be Naturelly by compositions Of angles, and of slie reflections;” And sayd, that in Rome was swiche on. They speke of Alhazen and Vitellon, And Aristotle; that writen, in hir lives, Of queinte mirrours and of prospectives, As knowen they that han hir bookes herd. And other folk han wondred on the swerd That wolde percenthurghout everything, And fell in speche of Telephus the king, And of Achilles for his queinte spere, For he coude with it bothe hele and dere, Right in swiche wise as men may with the swerd Of which, right now, ye have yourselven herd. They speken of sondry harding of metall, And speken of medicines therwithall, And how and whan it shuld yharded be, Which is unknow algates unto me. Tho, speken they of Canacees ring, And saiden all, that swiche a wonder thing Of craft of ringes herd they never nonSave that he Moises, and King Salomon, Hadden a name of conning in swiche art. Thus sain the peple, and drawen hem apart. But, matheles, som saiden that it was Wonder to maken of ferne ashen glas, And yet is glas nought like ashen of ferne,— But for they han yknowen it so, ferne, Therforth ceseth hirjangling and hir wonder. As sore wondren som on cause of thunder, On ebbe and floud, on gossomer and on mist, And on all thing, til that the cause is wist. Thus janglen they, and demen and devise, Til that the king gan fro his bord arise. Phoebus hath left the angle meridional, And yet ascending was the beste real, The gentil Leon, with his Aldrian, Whan that this Tartre king, this Cambuscan, Rose from his bord, ther as he sat ful hie: Beforne him goth the loude minstralcie, Til he come to his chambre of parements, Ther as they sounden divers instruments, That it is like an heven for to here. Now dauncen lusty Venus children dere; For in the Fish hir lady set ful hie, And loketh on hem with a frendly eye This noble king is set upon his trone; This straunge knight is set to him, ful some,
And on the daunce he goth with Canace.
Here is the revell and the jolitee,
That is not able a dull man to devise:
He must han knowen Love and his service,
And ben a festlich man, as fresh as May,
That shulde you devisen swiche array.
Who coude tellen you the forme of daunces
So uncouth, and so freshe contenaunces,
Swiche subtil lokings and dissimulings,
For dred of jalous mennes apperceivings?
No man but Launcelot, and he is ded:
Therfore I passe over all this lustyhed;
I say no more, but in this jolinesse
I lete hem, til men to the souper hem dresse.
The steward bit the spices for to hie,
And eke the win, in all this melodie;
The ushers and the squierie ben gon;
The spices and the win is come anon:
They ete and drinke, and whan this had an end
Unto the temple, as reson was, they wend:
The service don, they soupen all by day.
What nedeth you rehersen hir array :
Eche man wot wel that at a kinges feste
Is plentee, to the most and to the lest,
And deintees mothan ben in my knowing.
At after souper goth this noble king
To seen the hors of bras, with all a route
Of lordes and of ladies him aboute.
Swiche wondring was ther on this hors of bras,
That sin the gret assege of Troye was,
Ther as men wondred on an hors also,
Ne was ther swiche a wondring, as was, tho.
But, finally, the king asketh the knight
The vertue of this courser, and the might,
And praied him to tell his governaunce.
This hors, anon, gan for to trip and daunce,
Whan that the knight laid hond upon his rein;
And said, “Sire! ther n'is no more to sain,
But whan you list to riden any where,
Ye moten trill a pin, stant in his ere,
Which I shal tellen you betwixt us two,
Ye moten nempne him to what place also
Or to what contree, that you list to ride.
“And whan ye come ther as you list abide,
Bid him descend, and trill another pin,
(For therin lieth the effect of all the gin.)
And he wol doun descend and don your will,
And in that place he wol abiden still:
Though al the world had the contrary swore,
He shal not thennes be drawe ne be bore.
Or if you list to bid him thennes gon,
Trille this pin, and he wol vanish anon
Out of the sight of every maner wight,
And come agen, be it day or night,
Whan that you list to clepen him, again,
In swiche a guise as I shal to you sain
Betwixen you and me, and that ful sone.
Ride whan you list, ther n is no more to done.”
Enfourmed whan the king was of the knight,
And hath conceived in his wit aright
The maner and the forme of all this thing,
Ful glad and blith, this noble doughty king
Repaireth to his revel, as beforne,
The bridel is in to the tour yborne,
And kept among his jewels lefe and dere:
The hors vanisht, I n'ot in what manere,
Out of hir sight: ye get no more of me;
But thus I lete, in lust and jolitee,
This Cambuscan his lordes festeying,
Til that wel nigh the day began to spring.
The norice of digestion, the slepe, Gan on hem winke, and bad hem taken kepe That mochel drinke and labour wol have rest, And with a galping mouth hem all he kest And said that it was time to lie adoun, For blood was in his dominatioun: Cherisheth blood, nature's frend, quod he. They thanken him galping, by two, by three; And every wight gan drawe him to his rest, As slepe him bade; they take it for the best. Hir dremes shul not now be told for me; Ful were hir hedes of fumositee, That causeth dreme, of which ther is no charge: They slepen, til that it was prime large, The moste parte, but it were Canace; She was ful mesurable as women be. For of hire father had she taken hire leve To gon to rest, some after it was eve; Hire liste not appalled for to be, Nor on the morwe unfestliche for to see, And slept hire firste slepe and than awoke. For swiche a joy she in her herte toke Both of hire queinte ring, and of hire mirrour. That twenty time she chaunged hire colour; And in hire slepe right for the impression Of hire mirrour she had a vision;– Wherfore, or that the sonnegan up glide, She clepeth upon hire maistresse hire beside, And saide that hire luste for to arise. Thise olde women that ben gladly wise, As is hire maistresse, answerd hire anon; And said: “Madam! whider wol ye gon Thus erly for the folk ben all in rest.” “I wol,” quod she, “arisen (for me lest No longer for to slepe) and walken aboute.” Hire maistresse clepeth women a gret route, And up they risen, wel a ten or twelve; Up riseth freshe Canace hireselve, As rody and bright, as the yonge sonne, That in the Ram is four degrees yronne; No higher was he whan she redy was: And forth she walketh esily a pas, Arrayed after the lusty seson sote Lightely for to playe, and walken on fote, Nought but with five or sixe of hire meinie; And in a trenche forth in the park goth she. The vapour, which that fro the erthe glode, Maketh the sonne to seme rody and brode: But, natheles, it was so faire a sight, That it made all hir hertes for to light, What for the seson and the morwening And for the foules that she herd sing.
For, right anon, she wiste what they ment
Right by hir song, and knew all hir entent.
The knotte why that every tale is tolde
If it be taried til the lust be colde
Of hem, that han it herkened after yore,
The savour passeth, ever lenger the more,
For fulsomnesse of the prolixitee;
And, by that same reson, thinketh me
I shuld unto the knotte condescende,
And maken of hire walking sone an ende.
Amidde a tree for-dry, as white as chalk,
As Canace was playing in hire walk,
Ther sat a faucon over hir hed ful hie,
That with a pitous vois so gan to crie,
That all the wood resouned of hire cryo-
And beten had hireself so pitously
With both hire winges, til the rede blood
Ran endelong the tree ther as she stood;
And, ever in on, alway she cried and shright;
And with hire bek hireselven she so twight;
That ther n’is tigre, ne no cruel best,
That dwelleth other in wood, or in forest,
That n'olde han wept, if that he wepen coude,
For sorwe of hire, she shright alway so loude.
For ther was never yet no man on live,
If that he coude a faucon wel descrive,
That herd of swiche another, of fayrenesse
As wel of plumage as of gentilesse,
Of shape; of all that might yrekened be.
A faucon peregrine semed she
Of fremde londe; and, ever, as she stood,
She swcumed, now and now, for lack of blood,
Til wel neigh is she fallen fro the tree.
This faire kinges daughter Canace,
That on hire finger bare the queintering,
Thurgh which she understood wel everything
That any foule may in his leden sain,
And coude answere him in his leden again,
Hath understonden what this faucon seyd,
And wel neigh, for the routhe, almost she deyd;
And to the tree she goth ful hastily,
And on this faucon loketh pitously,
And held hire lap abrode; for wel she wist
The faucon muste fallen from the twist
Whan that she swouned next, for faute of blood.
A longe while to waiten hire she stode.
Til at the last she spake in this manere
Unto the hauk, as ye shul after here.
* What is the cause if it be for to tell,
That ye ben in this furial peine of hell ?”
Qird Canace unto this hauk above;
* is this for sorwe of deth, or losse of love?
For as I trow, thise be the causes two,
That causen most a gentil herte wo.
Of other harme it nedeth not to speke,
For ye yourself upon yourself awreke,
Which preveth wel that other ire or drede
Moe ben enchesen of your cruel dede,
Son that I se non other wight you chace.
For the love of God, as doth yourselven grace;
Or what may be your helpe? for west ne est,
Ne saw I never, er now, no brid me best,
That ferde with himself so pitously.
Ye sle me with your sorweverally,
I have of you so gret compassioun.
For Goddes love, come fro the tree adoun,
And as I am a kinges daughter trewe
If that I verally the causes knewe
Of your disese, if it lay in my might
I wold amend it, or that it were night,
As wisly help me the gret God of kind.
And herbes shal I, right ynough, yfind,
To helen with your hurtes, hastily.”
Tho shright this faucon yet more pitously
Than ever she did, and fell to ground, anon,
And lithe as woune, as ded as lith a ston,
Til Canace hath in hire lappe hire take
Unto that time she gan of swoune awake;
And after that she out of swoune abraide,
Right, in hire haukes leden, thus she sayde:
“That pitee renneth some in gentil herte,
(Feling his similitude in peinessmerte.)
Is proved alle day, as men may see
As wel by werke as by auctoritee,
For gentil herte kitheth gentilesse.
I se wel that ye have on my distresse
Compassion, my faire Canace!
Of veray womanly benignitee,
That Nature in your principles hath set.
But, for non hope for to fare the bet,
But, for to obey unto your herte free,
And for to maken other yware by me.
As by the whelpe chastised is the leon,
Right for that cause and that conclusion,
While that I have a leiser and a space,
Min harme I wol confessen er I pace.”
And, ever, while that on hire sorwe told,
That other wept, as she to water wold,
Til that the faucon bad hire to be still ;
And, with a sike, right thus she said hire till:
“Ther. I was bred, (alas that ilke day!)
And fostred in a rocke of marble gray,
so tendrely, that nothing ailed me,
I ne wist not what was adversitee,
Til I coud flee ful high under the skie.
“Tho dwelled a tercelet me faste by.
That semed welle of alle gentilesse,
Al were he ful of treson and falsenesse.
It was so wrapped under humble chere,
And under hew of trouth in swiche manere,
Under plesance, and under besy peine,
That no wight coud have wend he coude feine;
So depe in greyn he died his coloures,
Right as a serpent hideth him under floures,
Til he may see his time for to bite;
Right so, this god of loves hypocrite
Doth so his ceremonies and obeisance,
And kepeth in semblaunt alle his observance,
That souneth unto gentillesse of love.
As on a tombe is all the faire above,
And under is the corps, swiche as ye wote,
Swiche was this hypocrite both cold and hote,
And in this wise he served his entent,
That, save the fend, non wiste what he ment;