Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ne

Ne Narcissus the fayre of yore agon,

Conteke with blody knif, and sharp manace: Ne yet the folie of king Salomon,

All full of chirking was that sory place. yet the grete strengthe of Hercules,

The sleer of himself yet saw I there, Th' enchantment of Medea and Circes,

His herte-blood hath bathed all his here: Ne of Turnus the hardy fiers corage,

The naile ydriven in the shode on hight, The riche Cresus caitis in servage.

The colde deth, with mouth gaping upright, Thus may ye seen, that wisdom ne richesse, Amiddes of the temple sate mischance, Beaute ne sleighte, strengthe ne hardinesse, With discomfort and sory countenance. Ne may with Venus holden champartie,

Yet saw I woodnesse laughing in his rage. For as hire liste the world may she gie.

Armed complaint, outhees, and fiers outrage; Lo, all these folk so caught were in hire las The carraine in the bush, with throte ycorven, 151 they for wo ful often said Alas.

A thousand slain, and not of qualme ystorven ; Sufficeth here ensamples on or two,

The tirant, with the prey by force yraft; And yet I coude reken a thousand mo.

The toun destroied, ther was nothing last. The statue of Venus glorious for to see,

Yet saw I brent the shippes hoppesteres, Was naked fleeting in the large see.

The hunte ystrangled with the wilde beres: And fro the navel doun all covered was

The sow freting the child right in the cradel; With waves grene, and bright as any glas.. The coke yscalled, for all his long ladel. A citole in hire right hond hadde she,

Nought was foryete by th' infortune of Marte And on hire hed, ful semely for to see,

The carter overridden with his carte; A rose gerlond fresh, and wel smelling,

Under the wheel ful low he lay adoun. Above hire hed hire doves fleckering.

Ther were also of Martes division, Before hire stood hire sone Cupido,

Th’armerer, and the bowyer, and the smith, Upon his shoulders winges had he two;

That forgeth sharpe swerdes on his stith.
And blind he was, as it is often sene;

And all above depeinted in a tour
A bow he bare and arwes bright and kene. Saw I conquest, sitting in gret honour.

Why shulde I not as wel eke tell you all With thilke sharp swerd over his hed
The purtreiture, that was upon the wall

Yhanging by a subtil twined thred.
Within the temple of mighty Mars the rede? Depeinted was the slaughter of Julius,
All peinted was the wall in length and brede Of gret Nero, and of Antonius:
Like to the estres of the grisly place,

All be that thilke time they were unborne,
That highte the gret temple of Mars in Trace, Yet was hir deth depeinted therbeforne,
In thilke colde and frosty region,

By manacing of Mars, right by figure, Ther as Mars hath his sovereine mansion.

So was it shewed in that purtreiture First on the wall was peinted a forest,

As is depeinted in the cercles above, In which ther wonneth neyther man ne best,

Who shal be slaine or elles ded for love. With knotty knarry barrein trees old

Sufficeth on ensample in stories olde, Of stubbes sharp and hidous to behold;

I may not reken hem alle, though I wolde. In which ther ran a romble and a swough,

The statue of Mars upon a carte stood As though a storme shuld bresten every bough:

Armed, and loked grim as he were wood, And dounward from an hill under a bent,

And over his hed ther shinen two figures
Ther stood the temple of Mars armipotent,

Of sterres, that ben eleped in scriptures,
Wrought all of burned stele, of which th' entree That on Puella, that other Rubeus.
Was longe and streite, and gastly for to see. This god of armes was arraied thus :
And therout came a rage and swiche a vise, A wolf ther stood beforne him at his fete
That it made all the gates for to rise.

With eyen red, and of a man he ete:
The northern light in at the dore słone,

With subtil pensil peinted was this storie, For window on the wall ne was ther none,

In redouting of Mars and of his glorie. Thurgh which men mighten any light discerne. Now to the temple of Diane the chaste The dore was all of athamant eterne,

As shortly as I can I wol me haste, Yclenched overthwart and endelong

To tellen you of the descriptioun, With yren tough, and for to make it strong, Depeinted by the walles up and doun, Every piler the temple to sustene

Of hunting and of shamefast chastitee. Was tonne-gret, of yren bright and shene.

Ther saw I how woful Calistope, Ther saw I first the derke imagining

Whan that Diane agreved was with here, Of felonie, aud alle the compassing:

Was turned from a woman til a bere, The cruel ire, red as any glede,

And after was she made the lodesterre: The pikepurse, and eke the pale drede;

Thus was it peinted, I can say no ferre;
The smiler with the knifunder the cloke,

Hire sone is eke a sterre as men may see.
The shepen brenning with the blake smoke; Ther saw I Dane yturned til a tree,
The treson of the mordring in the bedde,

I mene not hire the goddesse Diane,
The open werre, with woundes all bebledde ; But Peneus daughter, which that highte Dane

Ther saw I Atteon an hart ymaked,
For

vengeance that he saw Diane all naked
I saw how that his houndes have lim caught,
And freten him, for that they knew him naught.
Yet peinted was a litel forthermore,
Ilow Athalante hunted the wilde bore,
And Meleagre, and many another mo,
For which Diane wroughte hem care and wo.
Ther saw I many another wonder storie,
The which me liste not drawen to memorie.

This goddesse on an hart ful heye sete,
With smale houndes all about hire fete,
And undernethe hire feet she hadde a mone,
Wexing it was, and shulde wanen sone.
In gaudy grene hire statue clothed was,
With bow in hond, and arwes in a cas.
Hire eyen caste she ful low adoun,
Ther Pluto hath his derke regioun,
A woman travailling was hire beforne,
But for hire childe so long was unborno
Ful pitously Lucina gan she call,
And sayed; “ Helpe, for thou mayst beste of all.”
Wel coude he peinten lifly that it wrought,
With many a florein he the hewes bought.

Now ben these listes made, and Theseus
That at his grete cost arraied thus
The temples, and the theatre everidel,
Whan it was don, him liked wonder wel.
But stint I wol of Theseus a lite,
And speke of Palamon and of Arcite.

The day approcheth of hir returning,
That everich shuld an lundred knightes bring,
The bataille to darreine, as I you told;
And til Athenes, bir covenant for to hold,
llath everich of hem brought an hundred knightes,
Wel armed for the werre at alle rightes.
And sikerly ther trowed many a man,
That never, sithen that the world began,
As for to speke of knighthood of hir hond,
As fer as God hath maked see and lond,
N'as, of so fewe, so noble a compagnie.
For every wight that loved chevalrie,
And wold, his thankes, han a passant name,
Hath praied, that he might ben of that game,
And wel was him, that therto chosen was.
For if ther fell to-morwe swiche a cas,
Ye knowen wel, that every lusty knight,
That loveth par amour, and hath his might,
Were it in Englelond, or elleswher,
They wold, hir thankes, willen to be ther,
To fight for a lady, a! benedicite,
It were a lusty sighte for to se.

And right so ferden they with Palamon.
With him ther wenten knightes many on.
Som wel ben armed in an habergeon,
And in a brest plate, and in a gipon;
And som wol have a pair of plates large;
And som wol have a Pruce shield, or a targe;
Some wol ben armed on his legges wele,
And have an axe, and som a mace of stele.
Ther n'is no newe guise, that it n'as old.
Armed they weren, as I have you told,

Everich after his opinion.

There maist thou se coming with Palamon
Licurge himself, the grete king of Trace:
Blake was his berd, and manly was his face.
The cercles of his eyen in his hed
They gloweden betwixen yelwe and red,
And like a griffon loked he about.
With kemped heres on his browes stouts
His limmes gret, his braunes hard and stronge,
His shouldres brode, his armes round and longe.
And as the guise was in his contree,
Ful highe upon a char of gold stood he,
With four white bolles in the trais.
Instede of cote-armure on his harnais,
With nayles yelwe, and bright as any gold,
He hadde a beres skin, cole-blake for old.
His longe here was kempt behind his bak,
As any ravenes fether it shone for blake.
A wreth of gold arm-gret, of huge weight,
Upon his hed sate full of stones bright,
Of fine rubins and of diamants.
About his char ther wenten white alauns,
Twenty and mo, as gret as any stere,
To hunten at the leon or the dere,
And folwed him, with mosel fast ybound,
Colered with gold, and torettes filed round.
An hundred lordes had he in his route
Armed ful wel, with hertes sterne and stoute.

With Arcita, in stories as men find,
The gret Emetrius the king of Inde,
Upon a stede bay, trapped in stele,
Covered with cloth of gold diapred wele,
Came riding like the god of arines Mars.
His cote-arinure was of a cloth of Tars,
Couched with perles, white, and round and grete.
His sadel was of brent gold new ybete ;
A mantelet upon his shouldres hanging
Bret-ful of rubies red, as fire sparkling.
His crispe here like ringes was yronne,
And that was yelwe, and glitered as the Sonne.
His nose was high, his eyen bright citrin,
His lippes round, his colour was sanguin,
A fewe fraknes in his face ysprent,
Betwixen yelwe and blake somdel ymeint,
And as a leon he his loking caste.
Of five and twenty yere his age I caste.
His berd was wel begonnen for to spring;
His vois was as a trompe thondering.
Upon his hed he wered of laurer grene
A gerlond freshe and lusty for to sene.
Upon his hond he bare for his deduit
An egle tame, as any lily whit.
An hundred lordes had he with him there,
All armed save hir hedes in all hire gere,
Ful richely in alle manere thinges.
For trusteth wel, that erles, dukes, kinges,
Were gathered in this noble compagnie,
For love, and for encrease of chevalrie.
About this king ther ran on every part
Ful many a tame leon and leopart.

And in this wise, these lordes all and some
Ben on the Sonday to the citce come

Abouten primo, and in the town alight.

Thy tomple wol I worship everno, This Theseus, this duk, this worthy knight, And on thin auter, wher I ride or go, Whan he had brought hem into his citce,

I wol don sacrifice, and fires bete. And inned hem, everich at his degree,

And if ye wol not so, my lady swete, He festeth hem, and doth so gret labour

Than pray I you, to-morwe with a spere To esen hem, and don hem all honour,

That Arcita me thurgh the herte bere. That yet men wenen that no mannes wit

Than rekke I not, whan I have lost my lif, Of non estat ne coud amenden it.

Though that Arcita win hire to his wif. The minstralcie, the service at the feste,

This is the effecte and ende of my praiere; The grete yeftes to the most and leste,

Yeve me my love, thou blissful lady dere." The riche array of Theseus paleis,

Whan the orison was don of Palamon, Ne who sate first, ne last upon the deis,

His sacrifice he did, and that anon, What ladies fayrest ben or best dancing,

Full pitously, with alle circumstances, Or which of hem can carole best or sing,

All tell I not as now his observances. Ne who most felingly speketh of love;

But at the last the statue of Venus shoke, What haukes sitten on the perche above,

And made a signe, wherby that he toke, What houndes liggen on the floor adoun,

That his praiere accepted was that day. Of all this now make I no mentioun;

For though the signe shewed a delay, But of the effect; that thinketh me the beste ; Yet wist he wel that granted was his bone; Now cometh the point, and herkeneth if you leste. And with glad herte he went him home ful sone. The Sonday night, or day began to spring,

The thridde houre inequal that Palamon Whan Palamon the larke herde sing,

Began to Venus temple for to gon, Although it n'ere not day by loures two,

Up rose the Sonne, and up rose Emelie, Yet sang the larke, and Palamon right tho

And to the temple of Diane gan hie. With holy herte, and with an high corage

Hire maydens, that she thider with hire ladde, He rose, to wenden on his pilgrimage

Ful redily with hem the fire they hadde, Unto the blissful Citherea benigne,

Th'encense, the clothes, and the remenant all I mene Venus, honourable and digne.

That to the sacrifice longen shall, And in bire houre, he walketh forth a pas

The hornes ful of mede, as was the gise, l'nto the listes, ther hire temple was.

Ther lahked nought to don hire sacrifise. And doun he kneleth, and with humble chero Smoking the temple, ful of clothes fayro, And herte core, he sayde as ye shul here.

This Emelie with herte debonaire " Fayrest of fayre, o lady inin Venus,

Hire body wesshe with water of a well. Daughter to Jove, and spouse of Vulcanus,

But how she did hire rite I dare not tell; Thou glader of the mount of Citheron,

But it be any thing in general; For thilke love thou haddest to Adon

And yet it were a game to heren all; Have pitee on my bitter teres smert,

To him that meneth wel it n'cre no charge: And take myn humble prajer at thin herte. But it is good a man to ben at large. - Alas! I pe have no langage to tell

Hire bright here kembed was, untressed all. The effecte, ne the torment of inin Hell;

A coroune of a grene oke cerial Min herte may min harmes not bewrey:

Upon hire hed was set ful fayre and mete.
I am so confuse, that I cannot say.

Two fires on the auter gan she bete,
But mercy, lady bright, that knowest wele And did hire thinges, as men may behold
My thought, and seest what harmes that I felc, In Stace of Thebes, and these bokes old.
Consider all this, and rue upon my sore,

Whan kindled was the fire, with pitous chere As wisly as I shall for evermore

Unto Diane she spake, as ye may here. Emforth my might thy trewe servant be,

“O chaste goddesse of the wodes grene, And holden werre alway with chastite:

To whom both Heven and erthe and see is bene, That make I min avow, so ye me helpe.

Quene of the regne of Pluto, derke and lowe, I kepe nought of armes for to yelpe,

Goddesse of maydens, that min herte hast knowe Ne axe I nat to-morwe to have victorie,

Ful many a yere, and wost what I desire, Ne renoun in this cas, ne vaine glorie

As kepe me fro thy vengeance and thin ire, Of pris of armes, blowen up and doun,

That Atteon aboughte cruelly: But I wold have fully possessioun

Chaste goddesse, wel wotest thou that I
Of Emelie, and die in hire servise;

Desire to ben a mayden all my lif,
Find thou the manere how, and in what wise. Ne never wol I be no love ne wif.
I rekke not, but it may better be,

I am (thou wost) yet of thy compagnie,
To have victorie of hem, or they of me,

A mayde, and love hunting and venerie, So that I have my lady in min armes.

And for to walken in the wodes wilde, For though so be that Mars is god of armes, And not to ben a wif, and be with childe, Your vertue is so grete in lleven above,

Nought wol I knowen compagnie of man. That if you like, I shal wel have my love.

Now help inc, lady, sith ye may and can,

For tho three formes that thou hast in thee. And hast in every regne and every lond
And Palamon, that hath swiche love to me,

Of armes all the bridel in thin hond,
And eke Arcite, that loveth me so sore,

And hem fortunest as thee list devise, This grace I praie thee withouten more;

Accept of me my pitous sacrifise. As sende love and pees betwix hem two:

If so be that my youthe may deserve, And fro me torne away hir hertes so,

And that my might be worthy for to serve That all hir hote love, and hir desire,

Thy godhed, that I may ben on of thine, And all hir besy torment, and hir fire

Than praie I thee to rewe upon my pine, Be queinte, or torned in another place.

For thilke peine, and thilke hote fire, And if so be thou wolt not do me grace,

In which thou whilom brendest for desire Or if my destinee be shapen so,

Whanne that thou usedst the beautee That I shal nedes have on of bem two,

Of fayre yonge Venus, freshe and free, As send me him that most desireth me.

And haddest hire in armes at thy wille: “ Behold, goddesse of clene chastite,

Although thee ones on a time misfille, The bitter teres, that on my chekes fall.

Whan Vulcanus had caught thee in his las, Sin thou art mayde, and keper of us all,

And fond the ligging by his wif, alas! My maydenhed thou kepe and wel conserve, For thilke sorwe that was tho in thin herte, And while I live, a mayde I wol thee serve." Have reuthe as wel upon my peines smerte. The fires brenne upon the auter clere,

“I am yonge and unkonning, as thou wost, While Emelie was thus in hire praiere:

And, as I trow, with love offended most, But sodenly she saw a sighte queinte.

That ever was ony lives creature: For right anon on of the fires queinte,

For she, that doth me all this wo endure, And quiked again, and after that anon

Ne recceth never, whether I sinke or flete. That other fire was queinte, and all agon:

And wel I wot, or she me mercy hete, And as it queinte, it made a whisteling,

I moste with strengthe win hire in the place : As don these brondes wet in hir brenning.

And wel I wot, withouten helpe or grace And at the brondes ende outran anon

Of thee, he may my strengthe not availle: As it were blody dropes many on:

Than helpe me, lord, to-morwe in my bataille. For which so sure agast was Emelie,

Fore thilke fire that whilom brenned thee, That she was wel neigh mad, and gan to crie,

As wel as that this fire now brenneth me; For she ne wiste what it signified;

And do, that I to-morwe may han victorie. But only for the fere thus she cried,

Min be the travaille, and thin be the glorie. And wept, that it was pittee for to here.

Thy soveraine temple wol I most honouren And therwithall Diane gan appere

Of ony place, and alway most labouren With bowe in hond, right as an hunteresse, In thy plesance and in thy craftes strong. And sayde; “ Doughter, stint thin hevinesse. And in thy temple I wol my baner hong, Among the goddes highe it is affermed,

And all the armes of my compagnie, And by eterne word written and confermed, And evermore, until that day I die, Thou shalt be wedded unto on of tho,

Eterne fire I wol beforne thee finde, That han for thee so mochel care and wo:

And eke to this avow I wol me binde. But unto which of hem I may not tell,

My berd, my here that hangeth long adoun, Farewel, for here I may no longer dwell.

That never yet felt non offensioun The fires which that on min auter brenne,

Of rasour ne of shere, I wol thee yeve, Shal thee declaren er that thou go henne,

And ben thy trewe servant while I live. Thin aventure of love, as in this cas."

Now, lord, have reuthe upon my sorwes sore, And with that word, the arwes in the cas

Yeve me the victorie, I axe thee no more. Of the goddesse clatteren fast and ring,

The praier stint of Arcita the stronge, Aud forth she went, and made a vanishing, The ringes on the temple dore that honge, For which this Emelie astonied was,

And eke the dores clattereden ful faste, And sayde; " What amounteth this, alas!

Of which Arcita somwhat him agaste. I putte me in thy protection,

The fires brent upon the auter bright, Diane, and in thy disposition."

That it gan all the temple for to light; And home she goth anon the nexte way.

A sweete smell anon the ground up yaf, This is the effecte, ther n'is no more to say.

And Arcita anon his hond up haf, The nexte houre of Mars folwing this,

And more encense into the fire he cast, Arcite unto the temple walked is

With other rites mo, and at the last Of fierce Mars, to don his sacrifise

The statue of Mars began his hauberke ring; With all the rites of his payen wise.

And with that soun he herd a murmuring With pitous herte and high devotion,

Ful low and dim, that sayde thus, “ Victorie." Right thus to Mars he sayde his orison.

For which he yaf to Mars lionour and glorie. “O stronge god, that in the regnes cold

And thus with joye, and hope wel to fare, Of Trace honoured art, and lord yhold,

Arcite anon unto his inne is fare,

As fayn as foul is of the brighte Sonne.

The sheldes brighte, testeres, and trappures ; And right anon swiche strif ther is begonne Gold-hewen helmes, hauberkes, cote-armures; For thilke granting, in the Heve above,

Lordes in parementes on hir courseres, Betwixen Venus the goddesse of love,

Knightes of retenue, and eke squieres, And Mars the sterne god armi potent,

Nailing the speres, and helmes bokeling, That Jupiter was besy it to stent:

Gniding of sheldes, with lainers lacing; Til that the pale Saturnus the colde,

Ther as nede is, they weren nothing idel: That knew so many of aventures olde,

The fomy stedes on the golden bridel Fond in his olde experience and art,

Gnawing, and fast the armureres also That he ful sone hath plesed every part.

With file and hammer priking to and fro; As sooth is sayd, elde hath gret avantage,

Yemen on foot, and communes many on In elde is bothe wisdom and usage:

With shorte staves, thicke as they may gon;
Men may the old out-renne, but not out-rede. Pipes, trompes, nakeres, and clariounes,

Saturne anon, to stenten strife and drede, That in the bataille blowen bloody sounes;
Al be it that it is again his kind,

The paleis ful of peple up and doun,
Of all this strif he gan a remedy find.

Here three, ther ten, holding hir questioun, “My dere doughter Venus, quod Saturne, Devining of these Theban knightes two. “ My cours, that hath so wide for to turne,

Som sayden thus, som sayde it shal be so; Hath more power than wot any man.

Som helden with him with the blacke berd, Min is the drenching in the see so wan,

Som with the balled, som with the thick herd; Min is the prison in the derke cote,

Som saide he loked grim, and wolde fighte: Min is the strangel and hanging by the throte, He hath a sparth of twenty pound of wighte. The murmure, and the cherles rebelling,

Thus was the halle full of devining The groyning, and the prive empoysoning. Long after that the Sonne gan up spring. I do vengeance and pleine correction,

The gret Theseus that of his slepe is waked While I dwell in the sign of the Leon.

Withi minstralcie and noise that was maked, Min is the ruine of the highe halles,

Held yet the chambre of his paleis riche, The falling of the toures and of the walles Til that the Theban knightes bothe yliche Upon the minour, or the carpenter:

Honoured were, and to the paleis fette. I slew Sampson in shaking the piler.

Duk Theseus is at a window sette, Min ben also the maladies colde,

Araied right as he were a god in trone: The derke tresons, and the castes olde:

The peple preseth thiderward ful sone My loking is the fader of pestilence.

Him for to seen, and don high reverence, Now wepe no more, I shal do diligence,

And eke to herken his heste and his sentence.
That Palamon, that is thine owen knight,

An heraud on a scaffold made an O,
Shal have his lady, as thou hast him hight, Till that the noise of the peple was ydo:
Thogh Mars shal help his knight yet natheles. And whan he saw the peple of noise al still,
Betwixen you ther mot sometime be pees:

Thus shewed he the mighty dukes will.
And be ye not of o complexion,

“The lord hath of his high discretion That causeth all day swiche division.

Considered, that it were destruction I am thin ayel, redy at thy will;

To gentil blood, to fighten in the gise Wepe now no more, I shal thy lust fulfill.” Of mortal bataille now in this emprise : Now wol I stenten of the goddes above,

Wherfore to shapen that they shul not die, Of Mars, and of Venus goddesse of love,

He wol his firste purpos modifie. And tellen you as plainly as I can

“No man therfore up peine of losse of lif, The gret effect, for which that I began.

No maner shot, ne pollax, ne short knif
Gret was the feste in Athenes thilke day, Into the listes send, or thider bring.
And eke the lusty seson of that May

Ne short swerd for to stike with point biting
Made every wight to ben in swiche plesance, No man ne draw, ne bere it by his side.
That all that Monday justen they and dance, Ne no man shal unto his felaw ride
And spenden it in Venus highe servise.

But o cours, with a sharpe ygrounden spere:
But by the cause that they shulden rise

Foin if him list on foot, himself to were. Erly a-morwe for to seen the fight,

And he that is at meschief, shal be take, Unto hir reste wenten they at night.

And not slaine, but be brought unto the stake, And on the morwe whan the day gan spring, That shal ben ordeined on eyther side, Of hors and harneis noise and clattering

Thider he shal by force, and ther abide. Ther was in the hostelries all aboute :

And if so fall, the chevetain be take And to the paleis rode ther many a route

On eyther side, or elles sleth his make, Of lordes, upon stedes and palfreis.

No longer shal the tourneying ylast. Ther mayst thou see devising of harneis

God spede you ; goth forth and lay on fast. So uncouth and so riche, and wrought so wele With longe swerd and with mase fighteth your fill. Of goldsmithry, of brouding, and of stele;

Goth now your way; this is the lordes will.”

« PreviousContinue »