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1 “Squier, com neer, if it youre wille be,
2 And sey somwhat of love, for certes ye
3 Konnen theron as muche as any man.”
4 “Nay, sire,” quod he, “but I wol seye as I kan
5 With hertly wyl, for I wol nat rebelle
6 Agayn youre lust; a tale wol I telle.
7 Have me excused if I speke amys;
8 My wyl is good, and lo, my tale is this.”

The Tale

9 At Sarray, in the land of Tartarye,
10 Ther dwelte a kyng that werreyed Russye,
11 Thurgh which ther dyde many a doughty man.
12 This noble kyng was cleped Cambyuskan,
13 Which in his tyme was of so greet renoun
14 That ther was nowher in no regioun
15 So excellent a lord in alle thyng:
16 Hym lakked noght that longeth to a kyng.
17 As of the secte of which that he was born
18 He kepte his lay, to which that he was sworn;
19 And therto he was hardy, wys, and riche,
20 And pitous and just, alwey yliche;
21 Sooth of his word, benigne, and honurable;
22 Of his corage as any centre stable;
23 Yong, fressh, and strong, in armes desirous
24 As any bacheler of al his hous.
25 A fair persone he was and fortunat,
26 And kept alwey so wel roial estat
27 That ther was nowher swich another man.
28 This noble kyng, this Tartre Cambyuskan,
29 Hadde two sones on Elpheta his wyf,
30 Of whiche the eldeste highte Algarsyf;
31 That oother sone was cleped Cambalo.
32 A doghter hadde this worthy kyng also,
33 That yongest was, and highte Canacee.
34 But for to telle yow al hir beautee,
35 It lyth nat in my tonge, n’ yn my konnyng;
36 I dar nat undertake so heigh a thyng.
37 Myn Englissh eek is insufficient.
38 It moste been a rethor excellent
39 That koude his colours longynge for that art,
40 If he sholde hire discryven every part.
41 I am noon swich, I moot speke as I kan.
42 And so bifel that whan this Cambyuskan
43 Hath twenty wynter born his diademe,
44 As he was wont fro yeer to yeer, I deme,
45 He leet the feeste of his nativitee
46 Doon cryen thurghout Sarray his citee,
47 The laste Idus of March, after the yeer.
48 Phebus the sonne ful joly was and cleer,
49 For he was neigh his exaltacioun
50 In Martes face and in his mansioun
51 In Aries, the colerik hoote signe.
52 Ful lusty was the weder and benigne,
53 For which the foweles, agayn the sonne sheene,
54 What for the sesoun and the yonge grene,
55 Ful loude songen hire affecciouns.
56 Hem semed han geten hem protecciouns
57 Agayn the swerd of wynter, keene and coold.
58 This Cambyuskan, of which I have yow toold,
59 In roial vestiment sit on his deys,
60 With diademe, ful heighe in his paleys,
61 And halt his feeste so solempne and so ryche
62 That in this world ne was ther noon it lyche;
63 Of which if I shal tellen al th’ array,
64 Thanne wolde it occupie a someres day,
65 And eek it nedeth nat for to devyse
66 At every cours the ordre of hire servyse.
67 I wol nat tellen of hir strange sewes,
68 Ne of hir swannes, ne of hire heronsewes.
69 Eek in that lond, as tellen knyghtes olde,
70 Ther is som mete that is ful deynte holde
71 That in this lond men recche of it but smal;
72 Ther nys no man that may reporten al.
73 I wol nat taryen yow, for it is pryme
74 And for it is no fruyt but los of tyme;
75 Unto my firste I wole have my recours.
76 And so bifel that after the thridde cours,
77 Whil that this kyng sit thus in his nobleye,
78 Herknynge his mynstralles hir thynges pleye
79 Biforn hym at the bord deliciously,
80 In at the halle dore al sodeynly
81 Ther cam a knyght upon a steede of bras,
82 And in his hand a brood mirour of glas.
83 Upon his thombe he hadde of gold a ryng,
84 And by his syde a naked swerd hangyng;
85 And up he rideth to the heighe bord.
86 In al the halle ne was ther spoken a word
87 For merveille of this knyght; hym to biholde
88 Ful bisily they wayten, yonge and olde.
89 This strange knyght, that cam thus sodeynly,
90 Al armed, save his heed, ful richely,
91 Saleweth kyng and queene and lordes alle,
92 By ordre, as they seten in the halle,
93 With so heigh reverence and obeisaunce,
94 As wel in speche as in contenaunce,
95 That Gawayn, with his olde curteisye,
96 Though he were comen ayeyn out of Fairye,
97 Ne koude hym nat amende with a word.
98 And after this, biforn the heighe bord,
99 He with a manly voys seide his message,
100 After the forme used in his langage,
101 Withouten vice of silable or of lettre;
102 And for his tale sholde seme the bettre,
103 Accordant to his wordes was his cheere,
104 As techeth art of speche hem that it leere.
105 Al be that I kan nat sowne his stile,
106 Ne kan nat clymben over so heigh a style,
107 Yet seye I this, as to commune entente:
108 Thus muche amounteth al that evere he mente,
109 If it so be that I have it in mynde.
110 He seyde, “The kyng of Arabe and of Inde,
111 My lige lord, on this solempne day
112 Saleweth yow, as he best kan and may,
113 And sendeth yow, in honour of youre feeste,
114 By me, that am al redy at youre heeste,
115 This steede of bras, that esily and weel
116 Kan in the space of o day natureel —
117 This is to seyn, in foure and twenty houres —
118 Wher-so yow lyst, in droghte or elles shoures,
119 Beren youre body into every place
120 To which youre herte wilneth for to pace,
121 Withouten wem of yow, thurgh foul or fair;
122 Or, if yow lyst to fleen as hye in the air
123 As dooth an egle whan hym list to soore,
124 This same steede shal bere yow evere moore,
125 Withouten harm, til ye be ther yow leste,
126 Though that ye slepen on his bak or reste,
127 And turne ayeyn with writhyng of a pyn.
128 He that it wroghte koude ful many a gyn.
129 He wayted many a constellacion
130 Er he had doon this operacion,
131 And knew ful many a seel and many a bond.
132 “This mirour eek, that I have in myn hond,
133 Hath swich a myght that men may in it see
134 Whan ther shal fallen any adversitee
135 Unto youre regne or to youreself also,
136 And openly who is youre freend or foo.
137 ” And over al this, if any lady bright
138 Hath set hire herte on any maner wight,
139 If he be fals, she shal his tresoun see,
140 His newe love, and al his subtiltee,
141 So openly that ther shal no thyng hyde.
142 Wherfore, ageyn this lusty someres tyde,
143 This mirour and this ryng, that ye may see,
144 He hath sent to my lady Canacee,
145 Youre excellente doghter that is heere.
146 “The vertu of the ryng, if ye wol heere,
147 Is this: that if hire lust it for to were
148 Upon hir thombe or in hir purs it bere,
149 Ther is no fowel that fleeth under the hevene
150 That she ne shal wel understonde his stevene,
151 And knowe his menyng openly and pleyn,
152 And answere hym in his langage ageyn;
153 And every gras that groweth upon roote
154 She shal eek knowe, and whom it wol do boote,
155 Al be his woundes never so depe and wyde.
156 “This naked swerd, that hangeth by my syde,
157 Swich vertu hath that what man so ye smyte
158 Thurghout his armure it wole kerve and byte,
159 Were it as thikke as is a branched ook;
160 And what man that is wounded with the strook
161 Shal never be hool til that yow list, of grace,
162 To stroke hym with the plat in thilke place
163 Ther he is hurt; this is as muche to seyn,
164 Ye moote with the platte swerd ageyn
165 Stroke hym in the wounde, and it wol close.
166 This is a verray sooth, withouten glose;
167 It failleth nat whils it is in youre hoold.”
168 And whan this knyght hath thus his tale toold,
169 He rideth out of halle and doun he lighte.
170 His steede, which that shoon as sonne brighte,
171 Stant in the court, stille as any stoon.
172 This knyght is to his chambre lad anoon,
173 And is unarmed, and to mete yset.
174 The presentes been ful roially yfet —
175 This is to seyn, the swerd and the mirour —
176 And born anon into the heighe tour
177 With certeine officers ordeyned therfore;
178 And unto Canacee this ryng is bore
179 Solempnely, ther she sit at the table.
180 But sikerly, withouten any fable,
181 The hors of bras, that may nat be remewed,
182 It stant as it were to the ground yglewed.
183 Ther may no man out of the place it dryve
184 For noon engyn of wyndas or polyve;
185 And cause why? For they kan nat the craft.
186 And therfore in the place they han it laft
187 Til that the knyght hath taught hem the manere
188 To voyden hym, as ye shal after heere.
189 Greet was the prees that swarmeth to and fro
190 To gauren on this hors that stondeth so,
191 For it so heigh was, and so brood and long,
192 So wel proporcioned for to been strong,
193 Right as it were a steede of Lumbardye;
194 Therwith so horsly, and so quyk of ye,
195 As it a gentil Poilleys courser were.
196 For certes, fro his tayl unto his ere
197 Nature ne art ne koude hym nat amende
198 In no degree, as al the people wende.
199 But everemoore hir mooste wonder was
200 How that it koude gon, and was of bras;
201 It was a fairye, as the peple semed.
202 Diverse folk diversely they demed;
203 As many heddes, as manye wittes ther been.
204 They murmureden as dooth a swarm of been,
205 And maden skiles after hir fantasies,
206 Rehersynge of thise olde poetries,
207 And seyden it was lyk the Pegasee,
208 The hors that hadde wynges for to flee;
209 Or elles it was the Grekes hors Synon,
210 That broghte Troie to destruccion,
211 As men in thise olde geestes rede.
212 “Myn herte,” quod oon, “is everemoore in drede;
213 I trowe som men of armes been therinne,
214 That shapen hem this citee for to wynne.
215 It were right good that al swich thyng were knowe.”
216 Another rowned to his felawe lowe,
217 And seyde, “He lyeth, for it is rather lyk
218 An apparence ymaad by som magyk,
219 As jogelours pleyen at thise feestes grete.”
220 Of sondry doutes thus they jangle and trete,
221 As lewed peple demeth comunly
222 Of thynges that been maad moore subtilly
223 Than they kan in hir lewednesse comprehende;
224 They demen gladly to the badder ende.
225 And somme of hem wondred on the mirour,
226 That born was up into the maister-tour,
227 Hou men myghte in it swiche thynges se.
228 Another answerde and seyde it myghte wel be
229 Naturelly, by composiciouns
230 Of anglis and of slye reflexiouns,
231 And seyde that in Rome was swich oon.
232 They speken of Alocen, and Vitulon,
233 And Aristotle, that writen in hir lyves
234 Of queynte mirours and of perspectives,
235 As knowen they that han hir bookes herd.
236 And oother folk han wondred on the swerd
237 That wolde percen thurghout every thyng,
238 And fille in speche of Thelophus the kyng,
239 And of Achilles with his queynte spere,
240 For he koude with it bothe heele and dere,
241 Right in swich wise as men may with the swerd
242 Of which right now ye han youreselven herd.
243 They speken of sondry hardyng of metal,
244 And speke of medicynes therwithal,
245 And how and whanne it sholde yharded be,
246 Which is unknowe, algates unto me.
247 Tho speeke they of Canacees ryng,
248 And seyden alle that swich a wonder thyng
249 Of craft of rynges herde they nevere noon,
250 Save that he Moyses and kyng Salomon
251 Hadde a name of konnyng in swich art.
252 Thus seyn the peple and drawen hem apart.
253 But nathelees somme seiden that it was
254 Wonder to maken of fern-asshen glas,
255 And yet nys glas nat lyk asshen of fern;
256 But, for they han yknowen it so fern,
257 Therfore cesseth hir janglyng and hir wonder.
258 As soore wondren somme on cause of thonder,
259 On ebbe, on flood, on gossomer, and on myst,
260 And alle thyng, til that the cause is wyst.
261 Thus jangle they, and demen, and devyse
262 Til that the kyng gan fro the bord aryse.
263 Phebus hath laft the angle meridional,
264 And yet ascendynge was the beest roial,
265 The gentil Leon, with his Aldiran,
266 Whan that this Tartre kyng, Cambyuskan,
267 Roos fro his bord, ther as he sat ful hye.
268 Toforn hym gooth the loude mynstralcye
269 Til he cam to his chambre of parementz,
270 Ther as they sownen diverse instrumentz
271 That it is lyk an hevene for to heere.
272 Now dauncen lusty Venus children deere,
273 For in the Fyssh hir lady sat ful hye,
274 And looketh on hem with a freendly ye.
275 This noble kyng is set upon his trone.
276 This strange knyght is fet to hym ful soone,
277 And on the daunce he gooth with Canacee.
278 Heere is the revel and the jolitee
279 That is nat able a dul man to devyse.
280 He moste han knowen love and his servyse
281 And been a feestlych man as fressh as May,
282 That sholde yow devysen swich array.
283 Who koude telle yow the forme of daunces
284 So unkouthe, and swiche fresshe contenaunces,
285 Swich subtil lookyng and dissymulynges
286 For drede of jalouse mennes aperceyvynges?
287 No man but Launcelot, and he is deed.
288 Therfore I passe of al this lustiheed;
289 I sey namoore, but in this jolynesse
290 I lete hem til men to the soper dresse.
291 The styward bit the spices for to hye,
292 And eek the wyn, in al this melodye.
293 The usshers and the squiers been ygoon,
294 The spices and the wyn is come anoon.
295 They ete and drynke, and whan this hadde an ende,
296 Unto the temple, as reson was, they wende.
297 The service doon, they soupen al by day.
298 What nedeth yow rehercen hire array?
299 Ech man woot wel that a kynges feeste
300 Hath plentee to the meeste and to the leeste,
301 And deyntees mo than been in my knowyng.
302 At after-soper gooth this noble kyng
303 To seen this hors of bras, with al a route
304 Of lordes and of ladyes hym aboute.
305 Swich wondryng was ther on this hors of bras
306 That syn the grete sege of Troie was,
307 Theras men wondreden on an hors also,
308 Ne was ther swich a wondryng as was tho.
309 But fynally the kyng axeth this knyght
310 The vertu of this courser and the myght,
311 And preyde hym to telle his governaunce.
312 This hors anoon bigan to trippe and daunce,
313 Whan that this knyght leyde hand upon his reyne,
314 And seyde, “Sire, ther is namoore to seyne,
315 But, whan yow list to ryden anywhere,
316 Ye mooten trille a pyn, stant in his ere,
317 Which I shal yow telle bitwix us two.
318 Ye moote nempne hym to what place also,
319 Or to what contree, that yow list to ryde.
320 And whan ye come ther as yow list abyde,
321 Bidde hym descende, and trille another pyn,
322 For therin lith th’ effect of al the gyn,
323 And he wol doun descende and doon youre wille,
324 And in that place he wol abyde stille.
325 Though al the world the contrarie hadde yswore,
326 He shal nat thennes been ydrawe ne ybore.
327 Or, if yow liste bidde hym thennes goon,
328 Trille this pyn, and he wol vanysshe anoon
329 Out of the sighte of every maner wight,
330 And come agayn, be it by day or nyght,
331 Whan that yow list to clepen hym ageyn
332 In swich a gyse as I shal to yow seyn
333 Bitwixe yow and me, and that ful soone.
334 Ride whan yow list; ther is namoore to doone.”
335 Enformed whan the kyng was of that knyght,
336 And hath conceyved in his wit aright
337 The manere and the forme of al this thyng,
338 Ful glad and blithe, this noble doughty kyng
339 Repeireth to his revel as biforn.
340 The brydel is unto the tour yborn
341 And kept among his jueles leeve and deere.
342 The hors vanysshed, I noot in what manere,
343 Out of hir sighte; ye gete namoore of me.
344 But thus I lete in lust and jolitee
345 This Cambyuskan his lordes festeiynge
346 Til wel ny the day bigan to sprynge.
347 The norice of digestioun, the sleep,
348 Gan on hem wynke and bad hem taken keep
349 That muchel drynke and labour wolde han reste;
350 And with a galpyng mouth hem alle he keste,
351 And seyde that it was tyme to lye adoun,
352 For blood was in his domynacioun.
353 “Cherisseth blood, natures freend,” quod he.
354 They thanken hym galpynge, by two, by thre,
355 And every wight gan drawe hym to his reste,
356 As sleep hem bad; they tooke it for the beste.
357 Hire dremes shul nat now been toold for me;
358 Ful were hire heddes of fumositee,
359 That causeth dreem of which ther nys no charge.
360 They slepen til that it was pryme large,
361 The mooste part, but it were Canacee.
362 She was ful mesurable, as wommen be;
363 For of hir fader hadde she take leve
364 To goon to reste soone after it was eve.
365 Hir liste nat appalled for to be,
366 Ne on the morwe unfeestlich for to se,
367 And slepte hire firste sleep, and thanne awook.
368 For swich a joye she in hir herte took
369 Bothe of hir queynte ryng and hire mirour,
370 That twenty tyme she changed hir colour;
371 And in hire sleep, right for impressioun
372 Of hire mirour, she hadde a visioun.
373 Wherfore, er that the sonne gan up glyde,
374 She cleped on hir maistresse hire bisyde,
375 And seyde that hire liste for to ryse.
376 Thise olde wommen that been gladly wyse,
377 As is hire maistresse, answerde hire anon,
378 And seyde, “Madame, whider wil ye goon
379 Thus erly, for the folk been alle on reste?”
380 “I wol,” quod she, “arise, for me leste
381 Ne lenger for to slepe, and walke aboute.”
382 Hire maistresse clepeth wommen a greet route,
383 And up they rysen, wel a ten or twelve;
384 Up riseth fresshe Canacee hireselve,
385 As rody and bright as dooth the yonge sonne,
386 That in the Ram is foure degrees up ronne —
387 Noon hyer was he whan she redy was —
388 And forth she walketh esily a pas,
389 Arrayed after the lusty seson soote
390 Lightly, for to pleye and walke on foote,
391 Nat but with fyve or sixe of hir meynee;
392 And in a trench forth in the park gooth she.
393 The vapour which that fro the erthe glood
394 Made the sonne to seme rody and brood;
395 But nathelees it was so fair a sighte
396 That it made alle hire hertes for to lighte,
397 What for the seson and the morwenynge,
398 And for the foweles that she herde synge.
399 For right anon she wiste what they mente
400 Right by hir song, and knew al hire entente.
401 The knotte why that every tale is toold,
402 If it be taried til that lust be coold
403 Of hem that han it after herkned yoore,
404 The savour passeth ever lenger the moore,
405 For fulsomnesse of his prolixitee;
406 And by the same resoun, thynketh me,
407 I sholde to the knotte condescende,
408 And maken of hir walkyng soone an ende.
409 Amydde a tree, for drye as whit as chalk,
410 As Canacee was pleyyng in hir walk,
411 Ther sat a faucon over hire heed ful hye,
412 That with a pitous voys so gan to crye
413 That all the wode resouned of hire cry.
414 Ybeten hadde she hirself so pitously
415 With bothe hir wynges til the rede blood
416 Ran endelong the tree ther-as she stood.
417 And evere in oon she cryde alwey and shrighte,
418 And with hir beek hirselven so she prighte
419 That ther nys tygre, ne noon so crueel beest
420 That dwelleth outher in wode or in forest,
421 That nolde han wept, if that he wepe koude,
422 For sorwe of hire, she shrighte alwey so loude.
423 For ther nas nevere yet no man on lyve,
424 If that I koude a faucon wel discryve,
425 That herde of swich another of fairnesse,
426 As wel of plumage as of gentillesse
427 Of shap, of al that myghte yrekened be.
428 A faucon peregryn thanne semed she
429 Of fremde land; and everemoore, as she stood,
430 She swowneth now and now for lak of blood,
431 Til wel neigh is she fallen fro the tree.
432 This faire kynges doghter, Canacee,
433 That on hir fynger baar the queynte ryng,
434 Thurgh which she understood wel every thyng
435 That any fowel may in his leden seyn,
436 And koude answeren hym in his ledene ageyn,
437 Hath understonde what this faucon seyde,
438 And wel neigh for the routhe almoost she deyde.
439 And to the tree she gooth ful hastily,
440 And on this faukon looketh pitously,
441 And heeld hir lappe abrood, for wel she wiste
442 The faukon moste fallen fro the twiste,
443 Whan that it swowned next, for lak of blood.
444 A longe whil to wayten hire she stood
445 Til atte laste she spak in this manere
446 Unto the hauk, as ye shal after heere:
447 “What is the cause, if it be for to telle,
448 That ye be in this furial pyne of helle?”
449 Quod Canacee unto this hauk above.
450 “Is this for sorwe of deeth or los of love?
451 For, as I trowe, thise been causes two
452 That causen moost a gentil herte wo;
453 Of oother harm it nedeth nat to speke.
454 For ye youreself upon yourself yow wreke,
455 Which proveth wel that outher ire or drede
456 Moot been enchesoun of youre cruel dede,
457 Syn that I see noon oother wight yow chace.
458 For love of God, as dooth youreselven grace,
459 Or what may been youre help? For west nor est
460 Ne saugh I nevere er now no bryd ne beest
461 That ferde with hymself so pitously.
462 Ye sle me with youre sorwe verraily,
463 I have of yow so greet compassioun.
464 For Goddes love, com fro the tree adoun;
465 And as I am a kynges doghter trewe,
466 If that I verraily the cause knewe
467 Of youre disese, if it lay in my myght,
468 I wolde amenden it er that it were nyght,
469 As wisly helpe me grete God of kynde!
470 And herbes shal I right ynowe yfynde
471 To heel with youre hurtes hastily.”
472 Tho shrighte this faucon yet moore pitously
473 Than ever she dide, and fil to grounde anon,
474 And lith aswowne, deed and lyk a stoon,
475 Til Canacee hath in hire lappe hire take
476 Unto the tyme she gan of swough awake.
477 And after that she of hir swough gan breyde,
478 Right in hir haukes ledene thus she seyde:
479 “That pitee renneth soone in gentil herte,
480 Feelynge his similitude in peynes smerte,
481 Is preved alday, as men may it see,
482 As wel by werk as by auctoritee;
483 For gentil herte kitheth gentillesse.
484 I se wel that ye han of my distresse
485 Compassion, my faire Canacee,
486 Of verray wommanly benignytee
487 That Nature in youre principles hath set.
488 But for noon hope for to fare the bet,
489 But for to obeye unto youre herte free,
490 And for to maken othere be war by me,
491 As by the whelp chasted is the leon,
492 Right for that cause and that conclusion,
493 Whil that I have a leyser and a space,
494 Myn harm I wol confessen er I pace.”
495 And evere, whil that oon hir sorwe tolde,
496 That oother weep as she to water wolde
497 Til that the faucon bad hire to be stille,
498 And, with a syk, right thus she seyde hir wille:
499 “Ther I was bred — allas, that ilke day! —
500 And fostred in a roche of marbul gray
501 So tendrely that no thyng eyled me,
502 I nyste nat what was adversitee
503 Til I koude flee ful hye under the sky.
504 Tho dwelte a tercelet me faste by,
505 That semed welle of alle gentillesse;
506 Al were he ful of treson and falsnesse,
507 It was so wrapped under humble cheere,
508 And under hewe of trouthe in swich manere,
509 Under plesance, and under bisy peyne,
510 That no wight koude han wend he koude feyne,
511 So depe in greyn he dyed his coloures.
512 Right as a serpent hit hym under floures
513 Til he may seen his tyme for to byte,
514 Right so this god of loves ypocryte
515 Dooth so his cerymonyes and obeisaunces,
516 And kepeth in semblaunt alle his observaunces
517 That sownen into gentillesse of love.
518 As in a toumbe is al the faire above,
519 And under is the corps, swich as ye woot,
520 Swich was this ypocrite, bothe coold and hoot.
521 And in this wise he served his entente
522 That, save the feend, noon wiste what he mente,
523 Til he so longe hadde wopen and compleyned,
524 And many a yeer his service to me feyned,
525 Til that myn herte, to pitous and to nyce,
526 Al innocent of his crouned malice,
527 Forfered of his deeth, as thoughte me,
528 Upon his othes and his seuretee,
529 Graunted hym love, upon this condicioun,
530 That everemoore myn honour and renoun
531 Were saved, bothe privee and apert;
532 This is to seyn, that after his desert,
533 I yaf hym al myn herte and al my thoght —
534 God woot and he, that ootherwise noght —
535 And took his herte in chaunge of myn for ay.
536 But sooth is seyd, goon sithen many a day,
537 ‘ A trewe wight and a theef thenken nat oon.’
538 And whan he saugh the thyng so fer ygoon
539 That I hadde graunted hym fully my love
540 In swich a gyse as I have seyd above,
541 And yeven hym my trewe herte as free
542 As he swoor he yaf his herte to me,
543 Anon this tigre, ful of doublenesse,
544 Fil on his knees with so devout humblesse,
545 With so heigh reverence, and, as by his cheere,
546 So lyk a gentil lovere of manere,
547 So ravysshed, as it semed, for the joye
548 That nevere Jason ne Parys of Troye —
549 Jason? certes, ne noon oother man
550 Syn Lameth was, that alderfirst bigan
551 To loven two, as writen folk biforn —
552 Ne nevere, syn the firste man was born,
553 Ne koude man, by twenty thousand part,
554 Countrefete the sophymes of his art,
555 Ne were worthy unbokelen his galoche,
556 Ther doublenesse or feynyng sholde approche,
557 Ne so koude thonke a wight as he dide me!
558 His manere was an hevene for to see
559 Til any womman, were she never so wys,
560 So peynted he and kembde at point-devys
561 As wel his wordes as his contenaunce.
562 And I so loved hym for his obeisaunce,
563 And for the trouthe I demed in his herte,
564 That if so were that any thyng hym smerte,
565 Al were it never so lite, and I it wiste,
566 Me thoughte I felte deeth myn herte twiste.
567 And shortly, so ferforth this thyng is went
568 That my wyl was his willes instrument;
569 This is to seyn, my wyl obeyed his wyl
570 In alle thyng, as fer as reson fil,
571 Kepynge the boundes of my worshipe evere.
572 Ne nevere hadde I thyng so lief, ne levere,
573 As hym, God woot, ne nevere shal namo.
574 “This laste lenger than a yeer or two,
575 That I supposed of hym noght but good.
576 But finally, thus atte laste it stood,
577 That Fortune wolde that he moste twynne
578 Out of that place which that I was inne.
579 Wher me was wo, that is no questioun;
580 I kan nat make of it discripsioun.
581 For o thyng dar I tellen boldely:
582 I knowe what is the peyne of deeth therby;
583 Swich harm I felte for he ne myghte bileve.
584 So on a day of me he took his leve,
585 So sorwefully eek that I wende verraily
586 That he had felt as muche harm as I,
587 Whan that I herde hym speke and saugh his hewe.
588 But nathelees, I thoughte he was so trewe,
589 And eek that he repaire sholde ageyn
590 Withinne a litel while, sooth to seyn;
591 And resoun wolde eek that he moste go
592 For his honour, as ofte it happeth so,
593 That I made vertu of necessitee,
594 And took it wel, syn that it moste be.
595 As I best myghte, I hidde fro hym my sorwe,
596 And took hym by the hond, Seint John to borwe,
597 And seyde hym thus: ‘Lo, I am youres al;
598 Beth swich as I to yow have been and shal.’
599 What he answerde, it nedeth noght reherce;
600 Who kan sey bet than he, who kan do werse?
601 Whan he hath al wel seyd, thanne hath he doon.
602 ‘Therfore bihoveth hire a ful long spoon
603 That shal ete with a feend,’ thus herde I seye.
604 So atte laste he moste forth his weye,
605 And forth he fleeth til he cam ther hym leste.
606 Whan it cam hym to purpos for to reste,
607 I trowe he hadde thilke text in mynde,
608 That ‘alle thyng, repeirynge to his kynde,
609 Gladeth hymself;’ thus seyn men, as I gesse.
610 Men loven of propre kynde newefangelnesse,
611 As briddes doon that men in cages fede.
612 For though thou nyght and day take of hem hede,
613 And strawe hir cage faire and softe as silk,
614 And yeve hem sugre, hony, breed and milk,
615 Yet right anon as that his dore is uppe
616 He with his feet wol spurne adoun his cuppe,
617 And to the wode he wole and wormes ete;
618 So newefangel been they of hire mete,
619 And loven novelries of propre kynde,
620 No gentillesse of blood ne may hem bynde.
621 “So ferde this tercelet, allas the day!
622 Though he were gentil born, and fressh and gay,
623 And goodlich for to seen, and humble and free,
624 He saugh upon a tyme a kyte flee,
625 And sodeynly he loved this kyte so
626 That al his love is clene fro me ago,
627 And hath his trouthe falsed in this wyse.
628 Thus hath the kyte my love in hire servyse,
629 And I am lorn withouten remedie!”
630 And with that word this faucon gan to crie
631 And swowned eft in Canacees barm.
632 Greet was the sorwe for the haukes harm
633 That Canacee and alle hir wommen made;
634 They nyste hou they myghte the faucon glade.
635 But Canacee hom bereth hire in hir lappe,
636 And softely in plastres gan hire wrappe,
637 Ther as she with hire beek hadde hurt hirselve.
638 Now kan nat Canacee but herbes delve
639 Out of the ground, and make salves newe
640 Of herbes preciouse and fyne of hewe
641 To heelen with this hauk. Fro day to nyght
642 She dooth hire bisynesse and al hire myght,
643 And by hire beddes heed she made a mewe
644 And covered it with veluettes blewe,
645 In signe of trouthe that is in wommen sene.
646 And al withoute, the mewe is peynted grene,
647 In which were peynted alle thise false fowles,
648 As ben thise tidyves, tercelettes, and owles;
649 Right for despit were peynted hem bisyde,
650 Pyes, on hem for to crie and chyde.
651 Thus lete I Canacee hir hauk kepyng;
652 I wol namoore as now speke of hir ryng
653 Til it come eft to purpos for to seyn
654 How that this faucon gat hire love ageyn
655 Repentant, as the storie telleth us,
656 By mediacion of Cambalus,
657 The kynges sone, of which I yow tolde.
658 But hennesforth I wol my proces holde
659 To speken of aventures and of batailles
660 That nevere yet was herd so grete mervailles.
661 First wol I telle yow of Cambyuskan,
662 That in his tyme many a citee wan;
663 And after wol I speke of Algarsif,
664 How that he wan Theodora to his wif,
665 For whom ful ofte in greet peril he was,
666 Ne hadde he ben holpen by the steede of bras;
667 And after wol I speke of Cambalo,
668 That faught in lystes with the bretheren two
669 For Canacee er that he myghte hire wynne.
670 And ther I lefte I wol ayeyn bigynne.
671 Appollo whirleth up his chaar so hye
672 Til that the god Mercurius hous, the slye —
673 “In feith, Squier, thow hast thee wel yquit
674 And gentilly. I preise wel thy wit,”
675 Quod the Frankeleyn, “considerynge thy yowthe,
676 So feelyngly thou spekest, sire, I allow the!
677 As to my doom, ther is noon that is heere
678 Of eloquence that shal be thy peere,
679 If that thou lyve; God yeve thee good chaunce,
680 And in vertu sende thee continuaunce,
681 For of thy speche I have greet deyntee.
682 I have a sone, and by the Trinitee,
683 I hadde levere than twenty pound worth lond,
684 Though it right now were fallen in myn hond,
685 He were a man of swich discrecioun
686 As that ye been! Fy on possessioun,
687 But if a man be vertuous withal!
688 I have my sone snybbed, and yet shal,
689 For he to vertu listeth nat entende;
690 But for to pleye at dees, and to despende
691 And lese al that he hath is his usage.
692 And he hath levere talken with a page
693 Than to comune with any gentil wight
694 Where he myghte lerne gentillesse aright.”
695 “Straw for youre gentillesse!” quod oure Hoost.
696 “What, Frankeleyn! Pardee, sire, wel thou woost
697 That ech of yow moot tellen atte leste
698 A tale or two, or breken his biheste.”
699 “That knowe I wel, sire,” quod the Frankeleyn.
700 “I prey yow, haveth me nat in desdeyn,
701 Though to this man I speke a word or two.”
702 “Telle on thy tale withouten wordes mo.”
703 “Gladly, sire Hoost,” quod he, “I wole obeye
704 Unto your wyl; now herkneth what I seye.
705 I wol yow nat contrarien in no wyse
706 As fer as that my wittes wol suffyse.
707 I prey to God that it may plesen yow;
708 Thanne woot I wel that it is good ynow.”

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