Legends and Sagas
The Canterbury Tales and Other Works of Chaucer (Middle English), by Geoffery Chaucer, [14th cent.], at sacred-texts.com
Troilus and Criseyde
Book 5 Aprochen gan the fatal destyne
That Joves hath in disposicioun,
And to yow, angry Parcas, sustren thre,
Committeth to don execucioun;
For which Criseyde moste out of the town,
And Troilus shal dwellen forth in pyne
Til Lachesis his thred no lenger twyne.
The gold-tressed Phebus heighe on-lofte
Thries hadde alle with his bemes cleene
10 The snowes molte, and Zepherus as ofte
Ibrought ayeyn the tendre leves grene,
Syn that the sone of Ecuba the queene
Bigan to love hire first for whom his sorwe
Was al, that she departe sholde a-morwe.
Ful redy was at prime Diomede
Criseyde unto the Grekis oost to lede,
For sorwe of which she felt hire herte blede,
As she that nyste what was best to rede.
And trewely, as men in bokes rede,
20 Men wiste nevere womman han the care,
Ne was so loth out of a town to fare.
This Troilus, withouten reed or loore,
As man that hath his joies ek forlore,
Was waytyng on his lady evere more
As she that was the sothfast crop and more
Of al his lust or joies heretofore.
But Troilus, now far-wel al thi joie,
For shaltow nevere sen hire eft in Troie!
Soth is that while he bood in this manere,
30 He gan his wo ful manly for to hide,
That wel unnethe it sene was in his chere;
But at the yate ther she sholde out ride,
With certeyn folk he hoved hire t' abide,
So wo-bigon, al wolde he naught hym pleyne,
That on his hors unnethe he sat for peyne.
For ire he quook, so gan his herte gnawe,
Whan Diomede on horse gan hym dresse,
And seyde to hymself this ilke sawe:
"Allas," quod he, "thus foul a wrecchednesse,
40 Whi suffre ich it? Whi nyl ich it redresse?
Were it nat bet atones for to dye
Than evere more in langour thus to drye?
"Whi nyl I make atones riche and pore
To have inough to doone er that she go?
Why nyl I brynge al Troie upon a roore?
Whi nyl I slen this Diomede also?
Why nyl I rather with a man or two
Stele hire away? Whi wol I this endure?
Whi nyl I helpen to myn owen cure?"
50 But why he nolde don so fel a dede,
That shal I seyn, and whi hym liste it spare:
He hadde in herte alweyes a manere drede
Lest that Criseyde, in rumour of this fare,
Sholde han ben slayn; lo, this was al his care.
And ellis, certeyn, as I seyde yore,
He hadde it don, withouten wordes more.
Criseyde, whan she redy was to ride,
Ful sorwfully she sighte, and seyde "Allas!"
But forth she moot, for aught that may bitide;
60 Ther is non other remedie in this cas.
And forth she rit ful sorwfully a pas.
What wonder is, though that hire sore smerte,
Whan she forgoth hire owen swete herte?
This Troilus, in wise of curteysie,
With hauk on honde and with an huge route
Of knyghtes, rood and did hire companye,
Passyng al the valeye fer withoute,
And ferther wolde han riden, out of doute,
Ful fayn, and wo was hym to gon so sone;
70 But torne he moste, and it was ek to done.
And right with that was Antenor ycome
Out of the Grekis oost, and every wight
Was of it glad, and seyde he was welcome.
And Troilus, al nere his herte light,
He peyned hym with al his fulle myght
Hym to withholde of wepyng atte leeste,
And Antenor he kiste and made feste.
And therwithal he moste his leve take,
And caste his eye upon hire pitously,
80 And neer he rood, his cause for to make,
To take hire by the honde al sobrely.
And Lord, so she gan wepen tendrely!
And he ful softe and sleighly gan hire seye,
"Now holde youre day, and do me nat to deye."
With that his courser torned he aboute
With face pale, and unto Diomede
No word he spak, ne non of al his route;
Of which the sone of Tideus took hede,
As he that koude more than the crede
90 In swich a craft, and by the reyne hire hente;
And Troilus to Troie homward he wente.
This Diomede, that ledde hire by the bridel,
Whan that he saugh the folk of Troie aweye,
Thoughte, "Al my labour shal nat ben on ydel,
If that I may, for somwhat shal I seye,
For at the werste it may yet shorte oure weye.
I have herd seyd ek tymes twyes twelve,
`He is a fool that wol foryete hymselve.'"
But natheles, this thoughte he wel ynough,
100 That "Certeynlich I am aboute nought,
If that I speke of love or make it tough;
For douteles, if she have in hire thought
Hym that I gesse, he may nat ben ybrought
So soon awey; but I shal fynde a meene
That she naught wite as yet shal what I mene."
This Diomede, as he that koude his good,
Whan tyme was, gan fallen forth in speche
Of this and that, and axed whi she stood
In swich disese, and gan hire ek biseche
110 That if that he encresse myghte or eche
With any thyng hire ese, that she sholde
Comaunde it hym, and seyde he don it wolde.
For treweliche he swor hire as a knyght
That ther nas thyng with which he myghte hire plese,
That he nolde don his peyne and al his myght
To don it, for to don hire herte an ese;
And preyede hire she wolde hire sorwe apese,
And seyde, "Iwis, we Grekis kan have joie
To honouren yow as wel as folk of Troie."
120 He seyde ek thus: "I woot yow thynketh straunge --
Ne wonder is, for it is to yow newe --
Th' aquayntaunce of thise Troianis to chaunge
For folk of Grece, that ye nevere knewe.
But wolde nevere God but if as trewe
A Grek ye sholde among us alle fynde
As any Troian is, and ek as kynde.
"And by the cause I swor yow right, lo, now,
To ben youre frend, and helply, to my myght,
And for that more aquayntaunce ek of yow
130 Have ich had than another straunger wight,
So fro this forth, I pray yow, day and nyght
Comaundeth me, how soore that me smerte,
To don al that may like unto youre herte;
"And that ye me wolde as youre brother trete,
And taketh naught my frendshipe in despit;
And though youre sorwes be for thynges grete --
Not I nat whi -- but out of more respit
Myn herte hath for t' amende it gret delit;
And if I may youre harmes nat redresse,
140 I am right sory for youre hevynesse,
"For though ye Troians with us Grekes wrothe
Han many a day ben, alwey yet, parde,
O god of Love in soth we serven bothe.
And for the love of God, my lady fre,
Whomso ye hate, as beth nat wroth with me,
For trewely, ther kan no wyght yow serve
That half so loth youre wratthe wold disserve.
"And nere it that we ben so neigh the tente
Of Calcas, which that sen us bothe may,
150 I wolde of this yow telle al myn entente --
But this enseled til anothir day.
Yeve me youre hond; I am, and shal ben ay,
God helpe me so, while that my lyf may dure,
Youre owene aboven every creature.
"Thus seyde I nevere er now to womman born,
For God myn herte as wisly glade so,
I loved never womman here-biforn
As paramours, ne nevere shal no mo.
And for the love of God, beth nat my fo,
160 Al kan I naught to yow, my lady deere,
Compleyne aright, for I am yet to leere.
"And wondreth nought, myn owen lady bright,
Though that I speke of love to yow thus blyve;
For I have herd er this of many a wight,
Hath loved thyng he nevere saigh his lyve.
Ek I am nat of power for to stryve
Ayeyns the god of Love, but hym obeye
I wole alwey; and mercy I yow preye.
"Ther ben so worthi knyghtes in this place,
170 And ye so fayr, that everich of hem alle
Wol peynen hym to stonden in youre grace.
But myghte me so faire a grace falle,
That ye me for youre servant wolde calle,
So lowely ne so trewely yow serve
Nil non of hem as I shal til I sterve."
Criseyde unto that purpos lite answerde,
As she that was with sorwe oppressed so
That, in effect, she naught his tales herde
But here and ther, now here a word or two.
180 Hire thoughte hire sorwful herte brast a-two,
For whan she gan hire fader fer espie
Wel neigh down of hire hors she gan to sye.
But natheles she thonketh Diomede
Of al his travaile and his goode cheere,
And that hym list his frendshipe hire to bede;
And she accepteth it in good manere,
And wol do fayn that is hym lief and dere,
And tristen hym she wolde, and wel she myghte,
As seyde she; and from hire hors sh' alighte.
190 Hire fader hath hire in his armes nome,
And twenty tyme he kiste his doughter sweete,
And seyde, "O deere doughter myn, welcome!"
She seyde ek she was fayn with hym to mete,
And stood forth muwet, milde, and mansuete.
But here I leve hire with hire fader dwelle,
And forth I wol of Troilus yow telle.
To Troie is come this woful Troilus,
In sorwe aboven alle sorwes smerte,
With feloun look and face dispitous.
200 Tho sodeynly doun from his hors he sterte,
And thorugh his paleis, with a swollen herte,
To chaumbre he wente; of nothyng took he hede,
Ne non to hym dar speke a word for drede.
And ther his sorwes that he spared hadde
He yaf an issue large, and "Deth!" he criede;
And in his throwes frenetik and madde
He corseth Jove, Appollo, and ek Cupide;
He corseth Ceres, Bacus, and Cipride,
His burthe, hymself, his fate, and ek nature,
210 And, save his lady, every creature.
To bedde he goth, and walwith ther and torneth
In furie, as doth he Ixion in helle,
And in this wise he neigh til day sojorneth.
But tho bigan his herte a lite unswelle
Thorugh teris, which that gonnen up to welle,
And pitously he cryde upon Criseyde,
And to hymself right thus he spak, and seyde,
"Wher is myn owene lady, lief and deere?
Wher is hire white brest? Wher is it, where?
220 Wher ben hire armes and hire eyen cleere
That yesternyght this tyme with me were?
Now may I wepe allone many a teere,
And graspe aboute I may, but in this place,
Save a pilowe, I fynde naught t' enbrace.
"How shal I do? Whan shal she come ayeyn?
I not, allas, whi lete ich hire to go;
As wolde God ich hadde as tho ben sleyn!
O herte myn, Criseyde, O swete fo!
O lady myn, that I love and na mo,
230 To whom for evermo myn herte I dowe,
Se how I dey, ye nyl me nat rescowe!
"Who seth yow now, my righte lode-sterre?
Who sit right now or stant in youre presence?
Who kan conforten now youre hertes werre?
Now I am gon, whom yeve ye audience?
Who speketh for me right now in myn absence?
Allas, no wight; and that is al my care,
For wel woot I, as yvele as I ye fare.
"How sholde I thus ten dayes ful endure,
240 Whan I the firste nyght have al this tene?
How shal she don ek, sorwful creature?
For tendernesse, how shal she sustene
Swich wo for me? O pitous, pale, grene
Shal ben youre fresshe, wommanliche face
For langour, er ye torne unto this place."
And whan he fil in any slomberynges,
Anon bygynne he sholde for to grone
And dremen of the dredefulleste thynges
That myghte ben; as mete he were allone
250 In place horrible makyng ay his mone,
Or meten that he was amonges alle
His enemys, and in hire hondes falle.
And therwithal his body sholde sterte,
And with the stert al sodeynliche awake,
And swich a tremour fele aboute his herte
That of the fere his body sholde quake;
And therwithal he sholde a noyse make,
And seme as though he sholde falle depe
From heighe o-lofte; and thanne he wolde wepe,
260 And rewen on hymself so pitously
That wonder was to here his fantasie.
Another tyme he sholde myghtyly
Conforte hymself, and sein it was folie
So causeles swich drede for to drye;
And eft bygynne his aspre sorwes newe,
That every man myght on his sorwes rewe.
Who koude telle aright or ful discryve
His wo, his pleynt, his langour, and his pyne?
Naught alle the men that han or ben on lyve.
270 Thow, redere, maist thiself ful wel devyne
That swich a wo my wit kan nat diffyne;
On ydel for to write it sholde I swynke,
Whan that my wit is wery it to thynke.
On hevene yet the sterres weren seene,
Although ful pale ywoxen was the moone,
And whiten gan the orisonte shene
Al estward, as it wont is for to doone;
And Phebus with his rosy carte soone
Gan after that to dresse hym up to fare
280 Whan Troilus hath sent after Pandare.
This Pandare, that of al the day biforn
Ne myghte han comen Troilus to se,
Although he on his hed it hadde sworn --
For with the kyng Priam al day was he,
So that it lay nought in his libertee
Nowher to gon -- but on the morwe he wente
To Troilus, whan that he for hym sente.
For in his herte he koude wel devyne
That Troilus al nyght for sorwe wook;
290 And that he wolde telle hym of his pyne,
This knew he wel ynough, withoute book.
For which to chaumbre streght the wey he took,
And Troilus tho sobrelich he grette,
And on the bed ful sone he gan hym sette.
"My Pandarus," quod Troilus, "the sorwe
Which that I drye I may nat longe endure.
I trowe I shal nat lyven til to-morwe.
For which I wolde alweys, on aventure,
To the devysen of my sepulture
300 The forme; and of my moeble thow dispone
Right as the semeth best is for to done.
"But of the fir and flaumbe funeral
In which my body brennen shal to glede,
And of the feste and pleyes palestral
At my vigile, I prey the, tak good hede
That that be wel; and offre Mars my steede,
My swerd, myn helm; and, leve brother deere,
My sheld to Pallas yef, that shyneth cleere.
"The poudre in which myn herte ybrend shal torne,
310 That preye I the thow take and it conserve
In a vessell that men clepeth an urne,
Of gold, and to my lady that I serve,
For love of whom thus pitouslich I sterve,
So yeve it hire, and do me this plesaunce,
To preyen hire kepe it for a remembraunce.
"For wele I fele, by my maladie
And by my dremes now and yore ago,
Al certeynly that I mot nedes dye.
The owle ek, which that hette Escaphilo,
320 Hath after me shright al thise nyghtes two.
And god Mercurye, of me now, woful wrecche,
The soule gyde, and whan the liste, it fecche!"
Pandare answerde and seyde, "Troilus,
My deere frend, as I have told the yore,
That it is folye for to sorwen thus,
And causeles, for which I kan namore.
But whoso wil nought trowen reed ne loore,
I kan nat sen in hym no remedie,
But lat hym worthen with his fantasie.
330 "But, Troilus, I prey the, tel me now
If that thow trowe er this that any wight
Hath loved paramours as wel as thow?
Ye, God woot, and fro many a worthi knyght
Hath his lady gon a fourtenyght,
And he nat yet made halvendel the fare.
What nede is the to maken al this care?
"Syn day by day thow maist thiselven se
That from his love, or ellis from his wif,
A man mot twynnen of necessite --
340 Ye, though he love hire as his owene lif --
Yet nyl he with hymself thus maken strif.
For wel thou woost, my leve brother deere,
That alwey frendes may nat ben yfeere.
"How don this folk that seen hire loves wedded
By frendes myght, as it bitit ful ofte,
And sen hem in hire spouses bed ybedded?
God woot, they take it wisly, faire, and softe,
Forwhi good hope halt up hire herte o-lofte.
And for they kan a tyme of sorwe endure,
350 As tyme hem hurt, a tyme doth hem cure.
"So shuldestow endure, and laten slide
The tyme, and fonde to ben glad and light.
Ten dayes nys so longe nought t' abide.
And syn she the to comen hath bihyght,
She nyl hire heste breken for no wight.
For dred the nat that she nyl fynden weye
To come ayein; my lif that dorste I leye.
"Thi swevnes ek and al swich fantasie
Drif out and lat hem faren to meschaunce,
360 For they procede of thi malencolie
That doth the fele in slep al this penaunce.
A straw for alle swevenes signifiaunce!
God helpe me so, I counte hem nought a bene!
Ther woot no man aright what dremes mene.
"For prestes of the temple tellen this,
That dremes ben the revelaciouns
Of goddes, and as wel they telle, ywis,
That they ben infernals illusiouns;
And leches seyn that of complexiouns
370 Proceden they, or fast, or glotonye.
Who woot in soth thus what thei signifie?
"Ek oother seyn that thorugh impressiouns,
As if a wight hath faste a thyng in mynde,
That therof cometh swiche avysiouns;
And other seyn, as they in bokes fynde,
That after tymes of the yer, by kynde,
Men dreme, and that th' effect goth by the moone.
But leve no drem, for it is nought to doone.
"Wel worth. of dremes ay thise olde wives,
380 And treweliche ek augurye of thise fowles,
For fere of which men wenen lese here lyves,
As revenes qualm, or shrichyng of thise owles.
To trowen on it bothe fals and foul is.
Allas, allas, so noble a creature
As is a man shal dreden swich ordure!
"For which with al myn herte I the biseche,
Unto thiself that al this thow foryyve;
And ris now up withowten more speche,
And lat us caste how forth may best be dryve
390 This tyme, and ek how fresshly we may lyve
Whan that she comth, the which shal be right soone.
God helpe me so, the beste is thus to doone.
"Ris, lat us speke of lusty lif in Troie
That we han led, and forth the tyme dryve;
And ek of tyme comyng us rejoie,
That bryngen shal oure blisse now so blyve;
And langour of thise twyes dayes fyve
We shal therwith so foryete or oppresse
That wel unneth it don shal us duresse.
400 "This town is ful of lordes al aboute,
And trewes lasten al this mene while.
Go we pleye us in som lusty route
To Sarpedoun, nat hennes but a myle;
And thus thow shalt the tyme wel bygile,
And dryve it forth unto that blisful morwe
That thow hire se, that cause is of thi sorwe.
"Now ris, my deere brother Troilus,
For certes it non honour is to the
To wepe and in thi bedde to jouken thus;
410 For trewelich, of o thyng trust to me:
If thow thus ligge a day, or two, or thre,
The folk wol seyn that thow for cowardise
The feynest sik, and that thow darst nat rise!"
This Troilus answerde, "O brother deere,
This knowen folk that han ysuffred peyne,
That though he wepe and make sorwful cheere
That feleth harm and smert in every veyne,
No wonder is. and though ich evere pleyne,
Or alwey wepe, I am no thyng to blame,
420 Syn I have lost the cause of al my game.
"But syn of fyne force I mot arise,
I shal arise as soone as evere I may;
And God, to whom myn herte I sacrifice,
So sende us hastely the tenthe day!
For was ther nevere fowel so fayn of May
As I shal ben whan that she comth in Troie
That cause is of my torment and my joie.
"But whider is thi reed," quod Troilus,
"That we may pleye us best in al this town?"
430 "By God, my conseil is," quod Pandarus,
"To ride and pleye us with kyng Sarpedoun."
So longe of this they speken up and down
Til Troilus gan at the laste assente
To rise, and forth to Sarpedoun they wente.
This Sarpedoun, as he that honourable
Was evere his lyve, and ful of heigh largesse,
With al that myghte yserved ben on table
That deynte was, al coste it gret richesse,
He fedde hem day by day, that swich noblesse,
440 As seyden bothe the mooste and ek the leeste,
Was nevere er that day wist at any feste.
Nor in this world ther is non instrument
Delicious, thorugh wynd or touche of corde,
As fer as any wight hath evere ywent,
That tonge telle or herte may recorde,
That at that feste it nas wel herd acorde;
Ne of ladys ek so fair a compaignie
On daunce, er tho, was nevere iseye with ie.
But what availeth this to Troilus,
450 That for his sorwe nothyng of it roughte?
For evere in oon his herte pietous
Ful bisyly Criseyde, his lady, soughte.
On hire was evere al that his herte thoughte,
Now this, now that, so faste ymagenynge
That glade, iwis, kan hym no festeyinge.
Thise ladies ek that at this feste ben,
Syn that he saugh his lady was aweye,
It was his sorwe upon hem for to sen,
Or for to here on instrumentes pleye.
460 For she that of his herte berth the keye
Was absent, lo, this was his fantasie --
That no wight sholde maken melodie.
Nor ther nas houre in al the day or nyght,
Whan he was there as no wight myghte hym heere,
That he ne seyde, "O lufsom lady bryght,
How have ye faren syn that ye were here?
Welcome, ywis, myn owne lady deere!"
But weylaway, al this nat but a maze.
Fortune his howve entended bet to glaze!
470 The lettres ek that she of olde tyme
Hadde hym ysent, he wolde allone rede
An hondred sithe atwixen noon and prime,
Refiguryng hire shap, hire wommanhede,
Withinne his herte, and every word or dede
That passed was; and thus he drof t' an ende
The ferthe day, and seyde he wolde wende.
And seyde, "Leve brother Pandarus,
Intendestow that we shal here bleve
Til Sarpedoun wol forth congeyen us?
480 Yet were it fairer that we toke oure leve.
For Goddes love, lat us now soone at eve
Oure leve take, and homward lat us torne,
For treweliche, I nyl nat thus sojourne."
Pandare answerde, "Be we comen hider
To fecchen fir and rennen hom ayein?
God help me so, I kan nat tellen whider
We myghte gon, if I shal sothly seyn,
Ther any wight is of us more feyn
Than Sarpedoun; and if we hennes hye
490 Thus sodeynly, I holde it vilanye.
"Syn that we seyden that we wolde bleve
With hym a wowke, and now, thus sodeynly,
The ferthe day to take of hym owre leve --
He wolde wondren on it, trewely!
Lat us holden forth oure purpos fermely;
And syn that ye bihighten hym to bide,
Holde forward now, and after lat us ride."
Thus Pandarus, with alle peyne and wo,
Made hym to dwelle; and at the wikes ende
500 Of Sarpedoun they toke hire leve tho,
And on hire wey they spedden hem to wende.
Quod Troilus, "Now Lord me grace sende,
That I may fynden at myn hom-comynge
Criseyde comen!" And therwith gan he synge.
"Ye, haselwode!" thoughte this Pandare,
And to hymself ful softeliche he seyde,
"God woot, refreyden may this hote fare,
Er Calkas sende Troilus Criseyde!"
But natheles, he japed thus, and pleyde,
510 And swor, ywys, his herte hym wel bihighte
She wolde come as soone as evere she myghte.
Whan they unto the paleys were ycomen
Of Troilus, they doun of hors alighte,
And to the chambre hire wey than han they nomen;
And into tyme that it gan to nyghte
They spaken of Criseyde the brighte;
And after this, whan that hem bothe leste,
They spedde hem fro the soper unto reste.
On morwe, as soone as day bygan to clere,
520 This Troilus gan of his slep t' abrayde,
And to Pandare, his owen brother deere,
"For love of God," ful pitously he sayde,
"As go we sen the palais of Criseyde;
For syn we yet may have namore feste,
So lat us sen hire paleys atte leeste."
And therwithal, his meyne for to blende,
A cause he fond in towne for to go,
And to Criseydes hous they gonnen wende.
But Lord, this sely Troilus was wo!
530 Hym thoughte his sorwful herte braste a-two.
For whan he saugh hire dores spered alle,
Wel neigh for sorwe adoun he gan to falle.
Therwith, whan he was war and gan biholde
How shet was every wyndow of the place,
As frost, hym thoughte, his herte gan to colde;
For which with chaunged dedlich pale face,
Withouten word, he forthby gan to pace,
And as God wolde, he gan so faste ride
That no wight of his contenance espide.
540 Than seide he thus: "O paleys desolat,
O hous of houses whilom best ihight,
O paleys empty and disconsolat,
O thow lanterne of which queynt is the light,
O paleys, whilom day, that now art nyght,
Wel oughtestow to falle, and I to dye,
Syn she is went that wont was us to gye!
"O paleis, whilom crowne of houses alle,
Enlumyned with sonne of alle blisse!
O ryng, fro which the ruby is out falle,
550 O cause of wo, that cause hast ben of lisse!
Yet, syn I may no bet, fayn wolde I kisse
Thy colde dores, dorste I for this route;
And farwel shryne, of which the seynt is oute!"
Therwith he caste on Pandarus his ye,
With chaunged face, and pitous to biholde;
And whan he myghte his tyme aright aspie,
Ay as he rood to Pandarus he tolde
His newe sorwe and ek his joies olde,
So pitously and with so ded an hewe
560 That every wight myghte on his sorwe rewe.
Fro thennesforth he rideth up and down,
And every thyng com hym to remembraunce
As he rood forby places of the town
In which he whilom hadde al his plesaunce.
"Lo, yonder saugh ich last my lady daunce;
And in that temple, with hire eyen cleere,
Me kaughte first my righte lady dere.
"And yonder have I herd ful lustyly
My dere herte laugh; and yonder pleye
570 Saugh ich hire ones ek ful blisfully;
And yonder ones to me gan she seye,
`Now goode swete, love me wel, I preye';
And yond so goodly gan she me biholde
That to the deth myn herte is to hire holde.
"And at that corner, in the yonder hous,
Herde I myn alderlevest lady deere
So wommanly, with vois melodious,
Syngen so wel, so goodly, and so cleere
That in my soule yet me thynketh ich here
580 The blisful sown; and in that yonder place
My lady first me took unto hire grace."
Thanne thoughte he thus: "O blisful lord Cupide,
Whan I the proces have in my memorie
How thow me hast wereyed on every syde,
Men myght a book make of it, lik a storie.
What nede is the to seke on me victorie,
Syn I am thyn and holly at thi wille?
What joie hastow thyn owen folk to spille?
"Wel hastow, lord, ywroke on me thyn ire,
590 Thow myghty god, and dredefull for to greve!
Now mercy, lord! Thow woost wel I desire
Thi grace moost of alle lustes leeve,
And lyve and dye I wol in thy byleve;
For which I n' axe in guerdoun but o bone --
That thow Criseyde ayein me sende sone.
"Destreyne hire herte as faste to retorne
As thow doost myn to longen hire to see;
Than woot I wel that she nyl naught sojorne.
Now blisful lord, so cruel thow ne be
600 Unto the blood of Troie, I preye the,
As Juno was unto the blood Thebane,
For which the folk of Thebes caughte hire bane."
And after this he to the yates wente
Ther as Criseyde out rood a ful good paas,
And up and down ther made he many a wente,
And to hymself ful ofte he seyde, "Allas,
Fro hennes rood my blisse and my solas!
As wolde blisful God now, for his joie,
I myghte hire sen ayein come into Troie!
610 "And to the yonder hille I gan hire gyde,
Allas, and ther I took of hire my leve!
And yond I saugh hire to hire fader ride,
For sorwe of which myn herte shal tocleve;
And hider hom I com whan it was eve,
And here I dwelle out cast from alle joie,
And shal, til I may sen hire eft in Troie."
And of hymself ymagened he ofte
To ben defet, and pale, and waxen lesse
Than he was wont, and that men seyden softe,
620 "What may it be? Who kan the sothe gesse
Whi Troilus hath al this hevynesse?"
And al this nas but his malencolie,
That he hadde of hymself swich fantasie.
Another tyme ymaginen he wolde
That every wight that wente by the weye
Hadde of hym routhe, and that they seyen sholde,
"I am right sory Troilus wol deye."
And thus he drof a day yet forth or tweye,
As ye have herd; swich lif right gan he lede
630 As he that stood bitwixen hope and drede.
For which hym likede in his songes shewe
Th' enchesoun of his wo, as he best myghte;
And made a song of wordes but a fewe,
Somwhat his woful herte for to lighte;
And whan he was from every mannes syghte,
With softe vois he of his lady deere,
That absent was, gan synge as ye may heere:
"O sterre, of which I lost have al the light,
With herte soor wel oughte I to biwaille
640 That evere derk in torment, nyght by nyght,
Toward my deth with wynd in steere I saille;
For which the tenthe nyght, if that I faille
The gydyng of thi bemes bright an houre,
My ship and me Caribdis wol devoure."
This song whan he thus songen hadde, soone
He fil ayeyn into his sikes olde;
And every nyght, as was his wone to doone,
He stood the brighte moone to byholde,
And al his sorwe he to the moone tolde,
650 And seyde, "Ywis, whan thow art horned newe,
I shal be glad, if al the world be trewe!
"I saugh thyn hornes olde ek by the morwe
Whan hennes rood my righte lady dere
That cause is of my torment and my sorwe;
For which, O brighte Latona the clere,
For love of God, ren faste aboute thy spere!
For whan thyne hornes newe gynnen sprynge,
Than shal she come that may my blisse brynge."
The dayes moore and lenger every nyght
660 Than they ben wont to be, hym thoughte tho,
And that the sonne went his cours unright
By lenger weye than it was wont to do;
And seyde, "Ywis, me dredeth evere mo
The sonnes sone, Pheton, be on lyve,
And that his fader carte amys he dryve."
Upon the walles faste ek wolde he walke,
And on the Grekis oost he wolde se;
And to hymself right thus he wolde talke:
"Lo, yonder is myn owene lady free,
670 Or ellis yonder, ther tho tentes be;
And thennes comth this eyr, that is so soote
That in my soule I fele it doth me boote.
"And hardily, this wynd that more and moore
Thus stoundemele encresseth in my face
Is of my ladys depe sikes soore.
I preve it thus: for in noon other place
Of al this town, save onliche in this space,
Fele I no wynd that sowneth so lik peyne;
It seyth, `Allas! Whi twynned be we tweyne?'"
680 This longe tyme he dryveth forth right thus
Til fully passed was the nynthe nyght;
And ay bisyde hym was this Pandarus,
That bisily did al his fulle myght
Hym to conforte and make his herte light,
Yevyng hym hope alwey the tenthe morwe
That she shal come and stynten al his sorwe.
Upon that other syde ek was Criseyde,
With wommen fewe, among the Grekis stronge,
For which ful ofte a day "Allas," she seyde,
690 "That I was born! Wel may myn herte longe
After my deth, for now lyve I to longe.
Allas, and I ne may it nat amende,
For now is wors than evere yet I wende!
"My fader nyl for nothyng do me grace
To gon ayeyn, for naught I kan hym queme;
And if so be that I my terme pace,
My Troilus shal in his herte deme
That I am fals, and so it may wel seme:
Thus shal ich have unthonk on every side --
700 That I was born so weilaway the tide!
"And if that I me putte in jupartie
To stele awey by nyght, and it bifalle
That I be kaught, I shal be holde a spie;
Or elles -- lo, this drede I moost of alle --
If in the hondes of som wrecche I falle,
I nam but lost, al be myn herte trewe.
Now, myghty God, thow on my sorwe rewe!"
Ful pale ywoxen was hire brighte face,
Hire lymes lene, as she that al the day
710 Stood, whan she dorste, and loked on the place
Ther she was born, and ther she dwelt hadde ay;
And al the nyght wepyng, allas, she lay.
And thus despeired, out of alle cure,
She ladde hire lif, this woful creature.
Ful ofte a day she sighte ek for destresse,
And in hireself she wente ay purtraynge
Of Troilus the grete worthynesse,
And al his goodly wordes recordynge
Syn first that day hire love bigan to springe.
720 And thus she sette hire woful herte afire
Thorugh remembraunce of that she gan desire.
In al this world ther nys so cruel herte
That hire hadde herd compleynen in hire sorwe
That nolde han wepen for hire peynes smerte,
So tendrely she weep, bothe eve and morwe.
Hire nedede no teris for to borwe!
And this was yet the werste of al hire peyne:
Ther was no wight to whom she dorste hire pleyne.
Ful rewfully she loked upon Troie,
730 Biheld the toures heigh and ek the halles;
"Allas," quod she, "the plesance and the joie,
The which that now al torned into galle is,
Have ich had ofte withinne yonder walles!
O Troilus, what dostow now?" she seyde.
"Lord, wheyther thow yet thenke upon Criseyde?
"Allas, I ne hadde trowed on youre loore
And went with yow, as ye me redde er this!
Than hadde I now nat siked half so soore.
Who myghte han seyd that I hadde don amys
740 To stele awey with swich oon as he ys.
But al to late comth the letuarie
Whan men the cors unto the grave carie.
"To late is now to speke of that matere.
Prudence, allas, oon of thyne eyen thre
Me lakked alwey, er that I come here!
On tyme ypassed wel remembred me,
And present tyme ek koud ich wel ise,
But future tyme, er I was in the snare,
Koude I nat sen; that causeth now my care.
750 "But natheles, bityde what bityde,
I shal to-morwe at nyght, by est or west,
Out of this oost stele in som manere syde,
And gon with Troilus where as hym lest.
This purpos wol ich holde, and this is best.
No fors of wikked tonges janglerie,
For evere on love han wrecches had envye.
"For whoso wol of every word take hede,
Or reulen hym by every wightes wit,
Ne shal he nevere thryven, out of drede;
760 For that that som men blamen evere yit,
Lo, other manere folk comenden it.
And as for me, for al swich variaunce,
Felicite clepe I my suffisaunce.
"For which, withouten any wordes mo,
To Troie I wole, as for conclusioun."
But God it wot, er fully monthes two,
She was ful fer fro that entencioun!
For bothe Troilus and Troie town
Shal knotteles thorughout hire herte slide;
770 For she wol take a purpos for t' abide.
This Diomede, of whom yow telle I gan,
Goth now withinne hymself ay arguynge,
With al the sleghte and al that evere he kan,
How he may best, with shortest taryinge,
Into his net Criseydes herte brynge.
To this entent he koude nevere fyne;
To fisshen hire he leyde out hook and lyne.
But natheles, wel in his herte he thoughte
That she nas nat withoute a love in Troie,
780 For nevere sythen he hire thennes broughte
Ne koude he sen hire laughe or maken joie.
He nyst how best hire herte for t' acoye;
"But for t' asay," he seyde, "it naught n' agreveth,
For he that naught n' asaieth naught n' acheveth."
Yet seyde he to hymself upon a nyght,
"Now am I nat a fool, that woot wel how
Hire wo for love is of another wight,
And hereupon to gon assaye hire now?
I may wel wite it nyl nat ben my prow,
790 For wise folk in bookes it expresse,
`Men shal nat wowe a wight in hevynesse.'
"But whoso myghte wynnen swich a flour
From hym for whom she morneth nyght and day,
He myghte seyn he were a conquerour."
And right anon, as he that bold was ay,
Thoughte in his herte, "Happe how happe may,
Al sholde I dye, I wol hire herte seche!
I shal namore lesen but my speche."
This Diomede, as bokes us declare,
800 Was in his nedes prest and corageous,
With sterne vois and myghty lymes square,
Hardy, testif, strong, and chivalrous
Of dedes, lik his fader Tideus.
And som men seyn he was of tonge large;
And heir he was of Calydoigne and Arge.
Criseyde mene was of hire stature;
Therto of shap, of face, and ek of cheere,
Ther myghte ben no fairer creature.
And ofte tymes this was hire manere:
810 To gon ytressed with hire heres clere
Doun by hire coler at hire bak byhynde,
Which with a thred of gold she wolde bynde;
And, save hire browes joyneden yfeere,
Ther nas no lak, in aught I kan espien.
But for to speken of hire eyen cleere,
Lo, trewely, they writen that hire syen
That Paradis stood formed in hire yen.
And with hire riche beaute evere more
Strof love in hire ay, which of hem was more.
820 She sobre was, ek symple, and wys withal,
The best ynorisshed ek that myghte be,
And goodly of hire speche in general,
Charitable, estatlich, lusty, fre;
Ne nevere mo ne lakked hire pite;
Tendre-herted, slydynge of corage;
But trewely, I kan nat telle hire age.
And Troilus wel woxen was in highte,
And complet formed by proporcioun
So wel that kynde it nought amenden myghte;
830 Yong, fressh, strong, and hardy as lyoun;
Trewe as stiel in ech condicioun;
Oon of the beste entecched creature
That is or shal whil that the world may dure.
And certeynly in storye it is yfounde
That Troilus was nevere unto no wight,
As in his tyme, in no degree secounde
In durryng don that longeth to a knyght.
Al myghte a geant passen hym of myght,
His herte ay with the first and with the beste
840 Stood paregal, to durre don that hym leste.
But for to tellen forth of Diomede:
It fel that after, on the tenthe day
Syn that Criseyde out of the citee yede,
This Diomede, as fressh as braunche in May,
Com to the tente ther as Calkas lay,
And feyned hym with Calkas han to doone;
But what he mente, I shal yow tellen soone.
Criseyde, at shorte wordes for to telle,
Welcomed hym and down hym by hire sette --
850 And he was ethe ynough to maken dwelle!
And after this, withouten longe lette,
The spices and the wyn men forth hem fette;
And forth they speke of this and that yfeere,
As frendes don, of which som shal ye heere.
He gan first fallen of the werre in speche
Bitwixe hem and the folk of Troie town;
And of th' assege he gan hire ek biseche
To telle hym what was hire opynyoun;
Fro that demaunde he so descendeth down
860 To axen hire if that hire straunge thoughte
The Grekis gise and werkes that they wroughte;
And whi hire fader tarieth so longe
To wedden hire unto som worthy wight.
Criseyde, that was in hire peynes stronge
For love of Troilus, hire owen knyght,
As ferforth as she konnyng hadde or myght
Answerde hym tho; but as of his entente,
It semed nat she wiste what he mente.
But natheles, this ilke Diomede
870 Gan in hymself assure, and thus he seyde:
"If ich aright have taken of yow hede,
Me thynketh thus, O lady myn, Criseyde,
That syn I first hond on youre bridel leyde,
Whan ye out come of Troie by the morwe,
Ne koude I nevere sen yow but in sorwe.
"Kan I nat seyn what may the cause be,
But if for love of som Troian it were,
The which right sore wolde athynken me
That ye for any wight that dwelleth there
880 Sholden spille a quarter of a tere
Or pitously youreselven so bigile --
For dredeles, it is nought worth the while.
"The folk of Troie, as who seyth, alle and some
In prisoun ben, as ye youreselven se;
Nor thennes shal nat oon on-lyve come
For al the gold atwixen sonne and se.
Trusteth wel, and understondeth me,
Ther shal nat oon to mercy gon on-lyve,
Al were he lord of worldes twies fyve!
890 "Swich wreche on hem for fecchynge of Eleyne
Ther shal ben take, er that we hennes wende,
That Manes, which that goddes ben of peyne,
Shal ben agast that Grekes wol hem shende,
And men shul drede, unto the worldes ende,
From hennesforth to ravysshen any queene,
So cruel shal oure wreche on hem be seene.
"And but if Calkas lede us with ambages --
That is to seyn, with double wordes slye,
Swiche as men clepen a word with two visages --
900 Ye shal wel knowen that I naught ne lie,
And al this thyng right sen it with youre ye,
And that anon, ye nyl nat trowe how sone;
Now taketh hede, for it is for to doone.
"What! Wene ye youre wise fader wolde
Han yeven Antenor for yow anon,
If he ne wiste that the cite sholde
Destroied ben? Whi, nay, so mote I gon!
He knew ful wel ther shal nat scapen oon
That Troian is. and for the grete feere
910 He dorste nat ye dwelte lenger there.
"What wol ye more, lufsom lady deere?
Lat Troie and Troian fro youre herte pace!
Drif out that bittre hope, and make good cheere,
And clepe ayeyn the beaute of youre face
That ye with salte teris so deface,
For Troie is brought in swich a jupartie
That it to save is now no remedie.
"And thenketh wel, ye shal in Grekis fynde
A moore parfit love, er it be nyght,
920 Than any Troian is, and more kynde,
And bet to serven yow wol don his myght.
And if ye vouchesauf, my lady bright,
I wol ben he to serven yow myselve,
Yee, levere than be kyng of Greces twelve!"
And with that word he gan to waxen red,
And in his speche a litel wight he quok,
And caste asyde a litel wight his hed,
And stynte a while; and afterward he wok,
And sobreliche on hire he threw his lok,
930 And seyde, "I am, al be it yow no joie,
As gentil man as any wight in Troie.
"For if my fader Tideus," he seyde,
"Ilyved hadde, ich hadde ben er this
Of Calydoyne and Arge a kyng, Criseyde!
And so hope I that I shal yet, iwis.
But he was slayn -- allas, the more harm is. --
Unhappily at Thebes al to rathe,
Polymyte and many a man to scathe.
"But herte myn, syn that I am youre man --
940 And ben the first of whom I seche grace --
To serve yow as hertely as I kan,
And evere shal whil I to lyve have space,
So, er that I departe out of this place,
Ye wol me graunte that I may to-morwe,
At bettre leyser, telle yow my sorwe."
What sholde I telle his wordes that he seyde?
He spak inough for o day at the meeste.
It preveth wel; he spak so that Criseyde
Graunted on the morwe, at his requeste,
950 For to speken with hym at the leeste --
So that he nolde speke of swich matere.
And thus to hym she seyde, as ye may here,
As she that hadde hire herte on Troilus
So faste that ther may it non arace;
And strangely she spak, and seyde thus:
"O Diomede, I love that ilke place
Ther I was born; and Joves, for his grace,
Delyvere it soone of al that doth it care!
God, for thy myght, so leve it wel to fare!
960 "That Grekis wolde hire wrath on Troie wreke,
If that they myght, I knowe it wel, iwis;
But it shal naught byfallen as ye speke,
And God toforn! And forther over this,
I woot my fader wys and redy is,
And that he me hath bought, as ye me tolde,
So deere, I am the more unto hym holde.
"That Grekis ben of heigh condicioun
I woot ek wel; but certeyn, men shal fynde
As worthi folk withinne Troie town,
970 As konnyng, and as parfit, and as kynde,
As ben bitwixen Orkades and Inde;
And that ye koude wel yowre lady serve,
I trowe ek wel, hire thank for to deserve.
"But as to speke of love, ywis," she seyde,
"I hadde a lord, to whom I wedded was,
The whos myn herte al was, til that he deyde;
And other love, as help me now Pallas,
Ther in myn herte nys, ne nevere was.
And that ye ben of noble and heigh kynrede,
980 I have wel herd it tellen, out of drede.
"And that doth me to han so gret a wonder
That ye wol scornen any womman so.
Ek, God woot, love and I ben fer ysonder!
I am disposed bet, so mot I go,
Unto my deth, to pleyne and maken wo.
What I shal after don I kan nat seye;
But trewelich, as yet me list nat pleye.
"Myn herte is now in tribulacioun,
And ye in armes bisy day by day.
990 Herafter, whan ye wonnen han the town,
Peraventure so it happen may
That whan I se that nevere yit I say
Than wol I werke that I nevere wroughte!
This word to yow ynough suffisen oughte.
"To-morwe ek wol I speken with yow fayn,
So that ye touchen naught of this matere.
And whan yow list, ye may come here ayayn;
And er ye gon, thus muche I sey yow here:
As help me Pallas with hire heres clere,
1000 If that I sholde of any Grek han routhe,
It sholde be youreselven, by my trouthe!
"I say nat therfore that I wol yow love,
N' y say nat nay; but in conclusioun,
I mene wel, by God that sit above!"
And therwithal she caste hire eyen down,
And gan to sike, and seyde, "O Troie town,
Yet bidde I God in quiete and in reste
I may yow sen, or do myn herte breste."
But in effect, and shortly for to seye,
1010 This Diomede al fresshly newe ayeyn
Gan pressen on, and faste hire mercy preye;
And after this, the sothe for to seyn,
Hire glove he took, of which he was ful feyn;
And finaly, whan it was woxen eve
And al was wel, he roos and tok his leve.
The brighte Venus folwede and ay taughte
The wey ther brode Phebus down alighte;
And Cynthea hire char-hors overraughte
To whirle out of the Leoun, if she myghte;
1020 And Signifer his candels sheweth brighte
Whan that Criseyde unto hire bedde wente
Inwith hire fadres faire brighte tente,
Retornyng in hire soule ay up and down
The wordes of this sodeyn Diomede,
His grete estat, and perel of the town,
And that she was allone and hadde nede
Of frendes help; and thus bygan to brede
The cause whi, the sothe for to telle,
That she took fully purpos for to dwelle.
1030 The morwen com, and gostly for to speke,
This Diomede is come unto Criseyde;
And shortly, lest that ye my tale breke,
So wel he for hymselven spak and seyde
That alle hire sikes soore adown he leyde;
And finaly, the sothe for to seyne,
He refte hire of the grete of al hire peyne.
And after this the storie telleth us
That she hym yaf the faire baye stede
The which he ones wan of Troilus;
1040 And ek a broche -- and that was litel nede --
That Troilus was, she yaf this Diomede.
And ek, the bet from sorwe hym to releve,
She made hym were a pencel of hire sleve.
I fynde ek in stories elleswhere,
Whan thorugh the body hurt was Diomede
Of Troilus, tho wep she many a teere
Whan that she saugh his wyde wowndes blede,
And that she took, to kepen hym, good hede;
And for to helen hym of his sorwes smerte,
1050 Men seyn -- I not -- that she yaf hym hire herte.
But trewely, the storie telleth us,
Ther made nevere womman moore wo
Than she, whan that she falsed Troilus.
She seyde, "Allas, for now is clene ago
My name of trouthe in love, for everemo!
For I have falsed oon the gentileste
That evere was, and oon the worthieste!
"Allas, of me, unto the worldes ende,
Shal neyther ben ywriten nor ysonge
1060 No good word, for thise bokes wol me shende.
O, rolled shal I ben on many a tonge!
Thorughout the world my belle shal be ronge!
And wommen moost wol haten me of alle.
Allas, that swich a cas me sholde falle!
"Thei wol seyn, in as muche as in me is,
I have hem don dishonour, weylaway!
Al be I nat the first that dide amys,
What helpeth that to don my blame awey?
But syn I se ther is no bettre way,
1070 And that to late is now for me to rewe,
To Diomede algate I wol be trewe.
"But, Troilus, syn I no bettre may,
And syn that thus departen ye and I,
Yet prey I God, so yeve yow right good day,
As for the gentileste, trewely,
That evere I say, to serven feythfully,
And best kan ay his lady honour kepe."
And with that word she brast anon to wepe.
"And certes yow ne haten shal I nevere;
1080 And frendes love, that shal ye han of me,
And my good word, al sholde I lyven evere.
And trewely I wolde sory be
For to seen yow in adversitee;
And gilteles, I woot wel, I yow leve.
But al shal passe; and thus take I my leve."
But trewely, how longe it was bytwene
That she forsok hym for this Diomede,
Ther is non auctour telleth it, I wene.
Take every man now to his bokes heede,
1090 He shal no terme fynden, out of drede.
For though that he bigan to wowe hire soone,
Er he hire wan, yet was ther more to doone.
Ne me ne list this sely womman chyde
Forther than the storye wol devyse.
Hire name, allas, is publysshed so wide
That for hire gilt it oughte ynough suffise.
And if I myghte excuse hire any wise,
For she so sory was for hire untrouthe,
Iwis, I wolde excuse hire yet for routhe.
1100 This Troilus, as I byfore have told,
Thus driveth forth, as wel as he hath myght;
But often was his herte hoot and cold,
And namely that ilke nynthe nyght,
Which on the morwe she hadde hym bihight
To com ayeyn. God woot, ful litel reste
Hadde he that nyght -- nothyng to slepe hym leste.
The laurer-crowned Phebus with his heete
Gan, in his cours ay upward as he wente,
To warmen of the est se the wawes weete,
1110 And Nysus doughter song with fressh entente,
Whan Troilus his Pandare after sente;
And on the walles of the town they pleyde,
To loke if they kan sen aught of Criseyde.
Tyl it was noon they stoden for to se
Who that ther come, and every maner wight
That com fro fer, they seyden it was she --
Til that thei koude knowen hym aright.
Now was his herte dul, now was it light.
And thus byjaped stonden for to stare
1120 Aboute naught this Troilus and Pandare.
To Pandarus this Troilus tho seyde,
"For aught I woot, byfor noon, sikirly,
Into this town ne comth nat here Criseyde.
She hath ynough to doone, hardyly,
To wynnen from hire fader, so trowe I.
Hire olde fader wol yet make hire dyne
Er that she go -- God yeve hys herte pyne!"
Pandare answerede, "It may wel be, certeyn.
And forthi lat us dyne, I the byseche,
1130 And after noon than maystow come ayeyn."
And hom they go, withoute more speche,
And comen ayeyn -- but longe may they seche
Er that they fynde that they after cape.
Fortune hem bothe thenketh for to jape!
Quod Troilus, "I se wel now that she
Is taried with hire olde fader so,
That er she come, it wol neigh even be.
Com forth; I wol unto the yate go.
Thise porters ben unkonnyng evere mo,
1140 And I wol don hem holden up the yate
As naught ne were, although she come late."
The day goth faste, and after that com eve,
And yet com nought to Troilus Criseyde.
He loketh forth by hegge, by tre, by greve,
And fer his hed over the wal he leyde;
And at the laste he torned hym and seyde,
"By God, I woot hire menyng now, Pandare!
Almoost, ywys, al newe was my care.
"Now douteles, this lady kan hire good;
1150 I woot she meneth riden pryvely.
I comende hire wisdom, by myn hood!
She wol nat maken peple nycely
Gaure on hire whan she comth, but softely
By nyghte into the town she thenketh ride.
And, deere brother, thynk nat longe t' abide.
"We han naught elles for to don, ywis.
And Pandarus, now woltow trowen me?
Have here my trouthe, I se hire! Yond she is.
Heve up thyn eyen, man! Maistow nat se?"
1160 Pandare answerede, "Nay, so mote I the!
Al wrong, by God! What saistow, man? Where arte?
That I se yond nys but a fare-carte."
"Allas, thow seyst right soth," quod Troilus.
"But, hardily, it is naught al for nought
That in myn herte I now rejoysse thus;
It is ayeyns som good I have a thought.
Not I nat how, but syn that I was wrought
Ne felte I swich a comfort, dar I seye;
She comth to-nyght, my lif that dorste I leye!"
1170 Pandare answerde, "It may be, wel ynough,"
And held with hym of al that evere he seyde.
But in his herte he thoughte, and softe lough,
And to hymself ful sobreliche he seyde,
"From haselwode, there joly Robyn pleyde,
Shal come al that that thow abidest heere.
Ye, fare wel al the snow of ferne yere!"
The warden of the yates gan to calle
The folk which that withoute the yates were,
And bad hem dryven in hire bestes alle,
1180 Or all the nyght they moste bleven there.
And fer withinne the nyght, with many a teere,
This Troilus gan homward for to ride,
For wel he seth it helpeth naught t' abide.
But natheles, he gladed hym in this:
He thought he misacounted hadde his day,
And seyde, "I understonde have al amys.
For thilke nyght I last Criseyde say,
She seyde, `I shal ben here, if that I may,
Er that the moone, O deere herte swete,
1190 The Leoun passe, out of this Ariete.'
"For which she may yet holde al hire byheste."
And on the morwe unto the yate he wente,
And up and down, by west and ek by este,
Upon the walles made he many a wente.
But al for nought; his hope alwey hym blente.
For which at nyght, in sorwe and sikes sore,
He wente hym hom, withouten any more.
His hope al clene out of his herte fledde;
He nath wheron now lenger for to honge;
1200 But for the peyne hym thoughte his herte bledde,
So were his throwes sharpe and wonder stronge;
For whan he saugh that she abood so longe,
He nyste what he juggen of it myghte,
Syn she hath broken that she hym bihighte.
The thridde, ferthe, fifte, sexte day
After tho dayes ten of which I tolde,
Bitwixen hope and drede his herte lay,
Yet somwhat trustyng on hire hestes olde.
But whan he saugh she nolde hire terme holde,
1210 He kan now sen non other remedie
But for to shape hym soone for to dye.
Therwith the wikked spirit, God us blesse,
Which that men clepeth woode jalousie,
Gan in hym crepe, in al this hevynesse;
For which, by cause he wolde soone dye,
He ne et ne drank, for his malencolye,
And ek from every compaignye he fledde:
This was the lif that al the tyme he ledde.
He so defet was, that no manere man
1220 Unneth hym myghte knowen ther he wente;
So was he lene, and therto pale and wan,
And feble, that he walketh by potente;
And with his ire he thus hymselve shente.
But whoso axed hym wherof hym smerte,
He seyde his harm was al aboute his herte.
Priam ful ofte, and ek his moder deere,
His bretheren and his sustren gonne hym freyne
Whi he so sorwful was in al his cheere,
And what thyng was the cause of al his peyne;
1230 But al for naught. He nolde his cause pleyne,
But seyde he felte a grevous maladie
Aboute his herte, and fayn he wolde dye.
So on a day he leyde hym doun to slepe,
And so byfel that yn his slep hym thoughte
That in a forest faste he welk to wepe
For love of here that hym these peynes wroughte;
And up and doun as he the forest soughte,
He mette he saugh a bor with tuskes grete,
That slepte ayeyn the bryghte sonnes hete.
1240 And by this bor, faste in his armes folde,
Lay, kyssyng ay, his lady bryght, Criseyde.
For sorwe of which, whan he it gan byholde,
And for despit, out of his slep he breyde,
And loude he cride on Pandarus, and seyde:
"O Pandarus, now know I crop and roote.
I n' am but ded; ther nys noon other bote.
"My lady bryght, Criseyde, hath me bytrayed,
In whom I trusted most of ony wight.
She elliswhere hath now here herte apayed.
1250 The blysful goddes thorugh here grete myght
Han in my drem yshewed it ful right.
Thus yn my drem Criseyde have I byholde" --
And al this thing to Pandarus he tolde.
"O my Criseyde, allas, what subtilte,
What newe lust, what beaute, what science,
What wratthe of juste cause have ye to me?
What gilt of me, what fel experience
Hath fro me raft, allas, thyn advertence?
O trust, O feyth, O depe asseuraunce!
1260 Who hath me reft Criseyde, al my plesaunce?
"Allas, whi leet I you from hennes go,
For which wel neigh out of my wit I breyde?
Who shal now trowe on any othes mo?
God wot, I wende, O lady bright, Criseyde,
That every word was gospel that ye seyde!
But who may bet bigile, yf hym lyste,
Than he on whom men weneth best to triste?
"What shal I don, my Pandarus, allas?
I fele now so sharp a newe peyne,
1270 Syn that ther lith no remedye in this cas,
That bet were it I with myn hondes tweyne
Myselven slowh alwey than thus to pleyne;
For thorugh the deth my wo sholde han an ende,
Ther every day with lyf myself I shende."
Pandare answerde and seyde, "Allas the while
That I was born! Have I nat seyd er this,
That dremes many a maner man bigile?
And whi? For folk expounden hem amys.
How darstow seyn that fals thy lady ys
1280 For any drem, right for thyn owene drede?
Lat be this thought; thow kanst no dremes rede.
"Peraunter, ther thow dremest of this boor,
It may so be that it may signifie
Hire fader, which that old is and ek hoor,
Ayeyn the sonne lith o poynt to dye,
And she for sorwe gynneth wepe and crie,
And kisseth hym, ther he lith on the grounde:
Thus sholdestow thi drem aright expounde!"
"How myghte I than don," quod Troilus,
1290 "To knowe of this, yee, were it nevere so lite?"
"Now seystow wisly," quod this Pandarus;
"My red is this: syn thow kanst wel endite,
That hastily a lettre thow hire write,
Thorugh which thow shalt wel bryngyn it aboute
To know a soth of that thow art in doute.
"And se now whi: for this I dar wel seyn,
That if so is that she untrewe be,
I kan nat trowen that she wol write ayeyn.
And if she write, thow shalt ful sone yse
1300 As wheither she hath any liberte
To come ayeyn; or ellis in som clause,
If she be let, she wol assigne a cause.
"Thow hast nat writen hire syn that she wente,
Nor she to the; and this I dorste laye,
Ther may swich cause ben in hire entente
That hardily thow wolt thiselven saye
That hire abod the best is for yow twaye.
Now writ hire thanne, and thow shalt feele sone
A soth of al. Ther is namore to done."
1310 Acorded ben to this conclusioun,
And that anon, thise ilke lordes two;
And hastily sit Troilus adown,
And rolleth in his herte to and fro
How he may best discryven hire his wo.
And to Criseyde, his owen lady deere,
He wrot right thus, and seyde as ye may here:
"Right fresshe flour, whos I ben have and shal,
Withouten part of elleswhere servyse,
With herte, body, lif, lust, thought, and al,
1320 I, woful wyght, in everich humble wise
That tonge telle or herte may devyse,
As ofte as matere occupieth place,
Me recomaunde unto youre noble grace.
"Liketh yow to witen, swete herte,
As ye wel knowe, how longe tyme agon
That ye me lefte in aspre peynes smerte,
Whan that ye wente, of which yet boote non
Have I non had, but evere wors bigon
Fro day to day am I, and so mot dwelle,
1330 While it yow list, of wele and wo my welle.
"For which to yow, with dredful herte trewe,
I write, as he that sorwe drifth to write,
My wo, that everich houre encresseth newe,
Compleynyng, as I dar or kan endite.
And that defaced is, that may ye wite
The teris which that fro myn eyen reyne,
That wolden speke, if that they koude, and pleyne.
"Yow first biseche I, that youre eyen clere
To loke on this defouled ye nat holde;
1340 And over al this, that ye, my lady deere,
Wol vouchesauf this lettre to byholde;
And by the cause ek of my cares colde
That sleth my wit, if aught amys m' asterte,
Foryeve it me, myn owen swete herte!
"If any servant dorste or oughte of right
Upon his lady pitously compleyne,
Thanne wene I that ich oughte be that wight,
Considered this, that ye thise monthes tweyne
Han taried, ther ye seyden, soth to seyne,
1350 But dayes ten ye nolde in oost sojourne --
But in two monthes yet ye nat retourne.
"But for as muche as me moot nedes like
Al that yow liste, I dar nat pleyne moore,
But humblely, with sorwful sikes sike,
Yow write ich myn unresty sorwes soore,
Fro day to day desiryng evere moore
To knowen fully, if youre wille it weere,
How ye han ferd and don whil ye be theere;
"The whos welfare and hele ek God encresse
1360 In honour swich that upward in degree
It growe alwey, so that it nevere cesse.
Right as youre herte ay kan, my lady free,
Devyse, I prey to God so moot it be,
And graunte it that ye soone upon me rewe,
As wisly as in al I am yow trewe.
"And if yow liketh knowen of the fare
Of me, whos wo ther may no wit discryve,
I kan namore but, chiste of every care,
At wrytyng of this lettre I was on-lyve,
1370 Al redy out my woful gost to dryve,
Which I delaye, and holde hym yet in honde,
Upon the sighte of matere of youre sonde.
"Myn eyen two, in veyn with which I se,
Of sorwful teris salte arn waxen welles;
My song, in pleynte of myn adversitee;
My good, in harm; myn ese ek woxen helle is.
My joie, in wo; I kan sey yow naught ellis,
But torned is -- for which my lif I warie --
Everich joie or ese in his contrarie;
1380 "Which with youre comyng hom ayeyn to Troie
Ye may redresse, and more a thousand sithe
Than evere ich hadde encressen in me joie.
For was ther nevere herte yet so blithe
To han his lif as I shal ben as swithe
As I yow se; and though no manere routhe
Commeve yow, yet thynketh on youre trouthe.
"And if so be my gilt hath deth deserved,
Or if yow list namore upon me se,
In guerdoun yet of that I have yow served,
1390 Byseche I yow, myn owen lady free,
That hereupon ye wolden write me,
For love of God, my righte lode-sterre,
That deth may make an ende of al my werre;
"If other cause aught doth yow for to dwelle,
That with youre lettre ye me recomforte;
For though to me youre absence is an helle,
With pacience I wol my wo comporte,
And with youre lettre of hope I wol desporte.
Now writeth, swete, and lat me thus nat pleyne;
1400 With hope, or deth, delivereth me fro peyne.
"Iwis, myne owene deere herte trewe,
I woot that whan ye next upon me se,
So lost have I myn hele and ek myn hewe,
Criseyde shal nought konne knowen me.
Iwys, myn hertes day, my lady free,
So thursteth ay myn herte to byholde
Youre beute, that my lif unnethe I holde.
"I say namore, al have I for to seye
To yow wel more than I telle may;
1410 But wheither that ye do me lyve or deye,
Yet praye I God, so yeve yow right good day!
And fareth wel, goodly, faire, fresshe may,
As she that lif or deth may me comande!
And to youre trouthe ay I me recomande,
"With hele swich that, but ye yeven me
The same hele, I shal non hele have.
In yow lith, whan yow liste that it so be,
The day in which me clothen shal my grave;
In yow my lif, in yow myght for to save
1420 Me fro disese of alle peynes smerte;
And far now wel, myn owen swete herte! Le vostre T."
This lettre forth was sent unto Criseyde,
Of which hire answere in effect was this:
Ful pitously she wroot ayeyn, and seyde,
That also sone as that she myghte, ywys,
She wolde come, and mende al that was mys.
And fynaly she wroot and seyde hym thenne,
She wolde come, ye, but she nyste whenne.
But in hire lettre made she swich festes
1430 That wonder was, and swerth she loveth hym best,
Of which he fond but botmeles bihestes.
But Troilus, thow maist now, est or west,
Pipe in an ivy lef, if that the lest!
Thus goth the world. God shilde us fro meschaunce,
And every wight that meneth trouthe avaunce!
Encressen gan the wo fro day to nyght
Of Troilus, for tarying of Criseyde;
And lessen gan his hope and ek his myght,
For which al down he in his bed hym leyde.
1440 He ne eet, ne dronk, ne slep, ne word seyde,
Ymagynyng ay that she was unkynde,
For which wel neigh he wex out of his mynde.
This drem, of which I told have ek byforn,
May nevere outen of his remembraunce.
He thought ay wel he hadde his lady lorn,
And that Joves of his purveyaunce
Hym shewed hadde in slep the signifiaunce
Of hire untrouthe and his disaventure,
And that the boor was shewed hym in figure.
1450 For which he for Sibille his suster sente,
That called was Cassandre ek al aboute,
And al his drem he tolde hire er he stente,
And hire bisoughte assoilen hym the doute
Of the stronge boor with tuskes stoute;
And fynaly, withinne a litel stounde,
Cassandre hym gan right thus his drem expounde:
She gan first smyle, and seyde, "O brother deere,
If thow a soth of this desirest knowe,
Thow most a fewe of olde stories heere,
1460 To purpos how that Fortune overthrowe
Hath lordes olde, thorugh which, withinne a throwe,
Thow wel this boor shalt knowe, and of what kynde
He comen is, as men in bokes fynde.
"Diane, which that wroth was and in ire
For Grekis nolde don hire sacrifice,
Ne encens upon hire auter sette afire,
She, for that Grekis gonne hire so despise,
Wrak hire in a wonder cruel wise;
For with a boor as gret as ox in stalle
1470 She made up frete hire corn and vynes alle.
"To sle this boor was al the contre raysed,
Amonges which ther com, this boor to se,
A mayde, oon of this world the beste ypreysed;
And Meleagre, lord of that contree,
He loved so this fresshe mayden free
That with his manhod, er he wolde stente,
This boor he slough, and hire the hed he sente;
"Of which, as olde bokes tellen us,
Ther ros a contek and a gret envye;
1480 And of this lord descended Tideus
By ligne, or ellis olde bookes lye.
But how this Meleagre gan to dye
Thorugh his moder, wol I yow naught telle,
For al to longe it were for to dwelle."
She tolde ek how Tideus, er she stente,
Unto the stronge citee of Thebes,
To cleymen kyngdom of the citee, wente,
For his felawe, daun Polymytes,
Of which the brother, daun Ethiocles,
1490 Ful wrongfully of Thebes held the strengthe;
This tolde she by proces, al by lengthe.
She tolde ek how Hemonydes asterte,
Whan Tideus slough fifty knyghtes stoute.
She tolde ek alle the prophecyes by herte,
And how that seven kynges with hire route
Bysegeden the citee al aboute;
And of the holy serpent, and the welle,
And of the furies, al she gan hym telle;
Of Archymoris brennynge and the pleyes,
1500 And how Amphiorax fil thorugh the grounde,
How Tideus was sleyn, lord of Argeyes,
And how Ypomedoun in litel stounde
Was dreynt, and ded Parthonope of wownde;
And also how Capaneus the proude
With thonder-dynt was slayn, that cride loude.
She gan ek telle hym how that eyther brother,
Ethiocles and Polymyte also,
At a scarmuche ech of hem slough other,
And of Argyves wepynge and hire wo;
1510 And how the town was brent, she tolde ek tho;
And so descendeth down from gestes olde
To Diomede, and thus she spak and tolde:
"This ilke boor bitokneth Diomede,
Tideus sone, that down descended is
Fro Meleagre, that made the boor to blede;
And thy lady, wherso she be, ywis,
This Diomede hire herte hath, and she his.
Wep if thow wolt, or lef, for out of doute,
This Diomede is inne, and thow art oute."
1520 "Thow seyst nat soth," quod he, "thow sorceresse,
With al thy false goost of prophecye!
Thow wenest ben a gret devyneresse!
Now sestow nat this fool of fantasie
Peyneth hire on ladys for to lye?
Awey!" quod he. "Ther Joves yeve the sorwe!
Thow shalt be fals, peraunter, yet tomorwe!
"As wel thow myghtest lien on Alceste,
That was of creatures, but men lye,
That evere weren, kyndest and the beste!
1530 For whan hire housbonde was in jupertye
To dye hymself but if she wolde dye,
She ches for hym to dye and gon to helle,
And starf anon, as us the bokes telle."
Cassandre goth, and he with cruel herte
Foryat his wo, for angre of hire speche;
And from his bed al sodeynly he sterte,
As though al hool hym hadde ymad a leche.
And day by day he gan enquere and seche
A sooth of this with al his fulle cure;
1540 And thus he drieth forth his aventure.
Fortune, which that permutacioun
Of thynges hath, as it is hire comitted
Thorugh purveyaunce and disposicioun
Of heighe Jove, as regnes shal be flitted
Fro folk in folk, or when they shal be smytted,
Gan pulle awey the fetheres brighte of Troie
Fro day to day, til they ben bare of joie.
Among al this, the fyn of the parodie
Of Ector gan aprochen wonder blyve.
1550 The fate wolde his soule sholde unbodye,
And shapen hadde a mene it out to dryve,
Ayeyns which fate hym helpeth nat to stryve;
But on a day to fighten gan he wende,
At which -- allas! -- he caughte his lyves ende.
For which me thynketh every manere wight
That haunteth armes oughte to biwaille
The deth of hym that was so noble a knyght;
For as he drough a kyng by th' aventaille,
Unwar of this, Achilles thorugh the maille
1560 And thorugh the body gan hym for to ryve;
And thus this worthi knyght was brought of lyve.
For whom, as olde bokes tellen us,
Was mad swich wo that tonge it may nat telle,
And namely, the sorwe of Troilus,
That next hym was of worthynesse welle;
And in this wo gan Troilus to dwelle
That, what for sorwe, and love, and for unreste,
Ful ofte a day he bad his herte breste.
But natheles, though he gan hym dispaire,
1570 And dradde ay that his lady was untrewe,
Yet ay on hire his herte gan repaire.
And as thise lovers don, he soughte ay newe
To gete ayeyn Criseyde, brighte of hewe;
And in his herte he wente hire excusynge,
That Calkas caused al hire tariynge.
And ofte tyme he was in purpos grete
Hymselven lik a pilgrym to desgise
To seen hire; but he may nat contrefete
To ben unknowen of folk that weren wise,
1580 Ne fynde excuse aright that may suffise
If he among the Grekis knowen were;
For which he wep ful ofte and many a tere.
To hire he wroot yet ofte tyme al newe
Ful pitously -- he lefte it nought for slouthe --
Bisechyng hire that sithen he was trewe,
That she wol come ayeyn and holde hire trouthe.
For which Criseyde upon a day, for routhe --
I take it so -- touchyng al this matere,
Wrot hym ayeyn, and seyde as ye may here:
1590 "Cupides sone, ensample of goodlyheede,
O swerd of knyghthod, sours of gentilesse,
How myght a wight in torment and in drede
And heleles, yow sende as yet gladnesse?
I herteles, I sik, I in destresse!
Syn ye with me, nor I with yow, may dele,
Yow neyther sende ich herte may nor hele.
"Youre lettres ful, the papir al ypleynted,
Conceyved hath myn hertes pietee.
I have ek seyn with teris al depeynted
1600 Youre lettre, and how that ye requeren me
To come ayeyn, which yet ne may nat be;
But whi, lest that this lettre founden were,
No mencioun ne make I now, for feere.
"Grevous to me, God woot, is youre unreste,
Youre haste, and that the goddes ordinaunce
It semeth nat ye take it for the beste.
Nor other thyng nys in youre remembraunce,
As thynketh me, but only youre plesaunce.
But beth nat wroth, and that I yow biseche;
1610 For that I tarie is al for wikked speche.
"For I have herd wel moore than I wende,
Touchyng us two, how thynges han ystonde,
Which I shal with dissymelyng amende.
And beth nat wroth, I have ek understonde
How ye ne do but holden me in honde.
But now no force. I kan nat in yow gesse
But alle trouthe and alle gentilesse.
"Come I wole; but yet in swich disjoynte
I stonde as now that what yer or what day
1620 That this shal be, that kan I naught apoynte.
But in effect I pray yow, as I may,
Of youre good word and of youre frendship ay;
For trewely, while that my lif may dure,
As for a frend ye may in me assure.
"Yet preye ich yow, on yvel ye ne take
That it is short which that I to yow write;
I dar nat, ther I am, wel lettres make,
Ne nevere yet ne koude I wel endite.
Ek gret effect men write in place lite;
1630 Th' entente is al, and nat the lettres space.
And fareth now wel. God have yow in his grace! La vostre Tr 5 C."
This Troilus this lettre thoughte al straunge
Whan he it saugh, and sorwfullich he sighte;
Hym thoughte it lik a kalendes of chaunge.
But fynaly, he ful ne trowen myghte
That she ne wolde hym holden that she hyghte;
For with ful yvel wille list hym to leve
That loveth wel, in swich cas, though hym greve.
But natheles men seyen that at the laste,
1640 For any thyng, men shal the soothe se;
And swich a cas bitidde, and that as faste,
That Troilus wel understod that she
Nas nought so kynde as that hire oughte be.
And fynaly, he woot now out of doute
That al is lost that he hath ben aboute.
Stood on a day in his malencolie
This Troilus, and in suspecioun
Of hire for whom he wende for to dye.
And so bifel that thorughout Troye town,
1650 As was the gise, iborn was up and down
A manere cote-armure, as seith the storie,
Byforn Deiphebe, in signe of his victorie;
The whiche cote, as telleth Lollius,
Deiphebe it hadde rent fro Diomede
The same day. And whan this Troilus
It saugh, he gan to taken of it hede,
Avysyng of the lengthe and of the brede,
And al the werk; but as he gan byholde,
Ful sodeynly his herte gan to colde,
1660 As he that on the coler fond withinne
A broch that he Criseyde yaf that morwe
That she from Troie moste nedes twynne,
In remembraunce of hym and of his sorwe.
And she hym leyde ayeyn hire feith to borwe
To kepe it ay! But now ful wel he wiste,
His lady nas no lenger on to triste.
He goth hym hom and gan ful soone sende
For Pandarus, and al this newe chaunce,
And of this broche, he tolde hym word and ende,
1670 Compleynyng of hire hertes variaunce,
His longe love, his trouthe, and his penaunce.
And after deth, withouten wordes moore,
Ful faste he cride, his reste hym to restore.
Than spak he thus, "O lady myn, Criseyde,
Where is youre feith, and where is youre biheste?
Where is youre love? Where is youre trouthe?" he seyde.
"Of Diomede have ye now al this feeste!
Allas, I wolde han trowed atte leeste
That syn ye nolde in trouthe to me stonde,
1680 That ye thus nolde han holden me in honde!
"Who shal now trowe on any othes mo?
Allas, I nevere wolde han wend, er this,
That ye, Criseyde, koude han chaunged so;
Ne, but I hadde agilt and don amys,
So cruel wende I nought youre herte, ywis,
To sle me thus! Allas, youre name of trouthe
Is now fordon, and that is al my routhe.
"Was ther non other broch yow liste lete
To feffe with youre newe love," quod he,
1690 "But thilke broch that I, with teris wete,
Yow yaf as for a remembraunce of me?
Non other cause, allas, ne hadde ye
But for despit, and ek for that ye mente
Al outrely to shewen youre entente.
"Thorugh which I se that clene out of youre mynde
Ye han me cast -- and I ne kan nor may,
For al this world, withinne myn herte fynde
To unloven yow a quarter of a day!
In corsed tyme I born was, weilaway,
1700 That yow, that doon me al this wo endure,
Yet love I best of any creature!
"Now God," quod he, "me sende yet the grace
That I may meten with this Diomede!
And trewely, if I have myght and space,
Yet shal I make, I hope, his sydes blede.
O God," quod he, "that oughtest taken heede
To fortheren trouthe, and wronges to punyce,
Whi nyltow don a vengeaunce of this vice?
"O Pandarus, that in dremes for to triste
1710 Me blamed hast, and wont art oft upbreyde,
Now maistow sen thiself, if that the liste,
How trewe is now thi nece, bright Criseyde!
In sondry formes, God it woot," he seyde,
"The goddes shewen bothe joie and tene
In slep, and by my drem it is now sene.
"And certeynly, withouten moore speche,
From hennesforth, as ferforth as I may,
Myn owen deth in armes wol I seche;
I recche nat how soone be the day!
1720 But trewely, Criseyde, swete may,
Whom I have ay with al my myght yserved,
That ye thus doon, I have it nat deserved."
This Pandarus, that al thise thynges herde,
And wiste wel he seyde a soth of this,
He nought a word ayeyn to hym answerde;
For sory of his frendes sorwe he is,
And shamed for his nece hath don amys,
And stant, astoned of thise causes tweye,
As stille as ston; a word ne kowde he seye.
1730 But at the laste thus he spak, and seyde:
"My brother deer, I may do the namore.
What sholde I seyen? I hate, ywys, Cryseyde;
And, God woot, I wol hate hire evermore!
And that thow me bisoughtest don of yoore,
Havyng unto myn honour ne my reste
Right no reward, I dide al that the leste.
"If I dide aught that myghte liken the,
It is me lief; and of this tresoun now,
God woot that it a sorwe is unto me!
1740 And dredeles, for hertes ese of yow,
Right fayn I wolde amende it, wiste I how.
And fro this world, almyghty God I preye
Delivere hire soon! I kan namore seye."
Gret was the sorwe and pleynte of Troilus,
But forth hire cours Fortune ay gan to holde.
Criseyde loveth the sone of Tideus,
And Troilus moot wepe in cares colde.
Swich is this world, whoso it kan byholde;
In ech estat is litel hertes reste.
1750 God leve us for to take it for the beste!
In many cruel bataille, out of drede,
Of Troilus, this ilke noble knyght,
As men may in thise olde bokes rede,
Was seen his knyghthod and his grete myght;
And dredeles, his ire, day and nyght,
Ful cruwely the Grekis ay aboughte;
And alwey moost this Diomede he soughte.
And ofte tyme, I fynde that they mette
With blody strokes and with wordes grete,
1760 Assayinge how hire speres weren whette;
And, God it woot, with many a cruel hete
Gan Troilus upon his helm to bete!
But natheles, Fortune it naught ne wolde
Of oothers hond that eyther deyen sholde.
And if I hadde ytaken for to write
The armes of this ilke worthi man,
Than wolde ich of his batailles endite;
But for that I to writen first bigan
Of his love, I have seyd as I kan --
1770 His worthi dedes, whoso list hem heere,
Rede Dares, he kan telle hem alle ifeere --
Bysechyng every lady bright of hewe,
And every gentil womman, what she be,
That al be that Criseyde was untrewe,
That for that gilt she be nat wroth with me.
Ye may hire gilt in other bokes se;
And gladlier I wol write, yif yow leste,
Penolopees trouthe and good Alceste.
N' y sey nat this al oonly for thise men,
1780 But moost for wommen that bitraised be
Thorugh false folk -- God yeve hem sorwe, amen! --
That with hire grete wit and subtilte
Bytraise yow. And this commeveth me
To speke, and in effect yow alle I preye,
Beth war of men, and herkneth what I seye!
Go, litel bok, go, litel myn tragedye,
Ther God thi makere yet, er that he dye,
So sende myght to make in som comedye!
But litel book, no makyng thow n' envie,
1790 But subgit be to alle poesye;
And kis the steppes where as thow seest pace
Virgile, Ovide, Omer, Lucan, and Stace.
And for ther is so gret diversite
In Englissh and in writyng of oure tonge,
So prey I God that non myswrite the,
Ne the mysmetre for defaute of tonge;
And red wherso thow be, or elles songe,
That thow be understonde, God I biseche!
But yet to purpos of my rather speche:
1800 The wrath, as I bigan yow for to seye,
Of Troilus the Grekis boughten deere,
For thousandes his hondes maden deye,
As he that was withouten any peere,
Save Ector, in his tyme, as I kan heere.
But -- weilawey, save only Goddes wille,
Despitously hym slough the fierse Achille.
And whan that he was slayn in this manere,
His lighte goost ful blisfully is went
Up to the holughnesse of the eighthe spere,
1810 In convers letyng everich element;
And ther he saugh with ful avysement
The erratik sterres, herkenyng armonye
With sownes ful of hevenyssh melodie.
And down from thennes faste he gan avyse
This litel spot of erthe that with the se
Embraced is, and fully gan despise
This wrecched world, and held al vanite
To respect of the pleyn felicite
That is in hevene above; and at the laste,
1820 Ther he was slayn his lokyng down he caste,
And in hymself he lough right at the wo
Of hem that wepten for his deth so faste,
And dampned al oure werk that foloweth so
The blynde lust, the which that may nat laste,
And sholden al oure herte on heven caste;
And forth he wente, shortly for to telle,
1827 Ther as Mercurye sorted hym to dwelle.
Swich fyn hath, lo, this Troilus for love!
Swich fyn hath al his grete worthynesse!
1830 Swich fyn hath his estat real above!
Swich fyn his lust, swich fyn hath his noblesse!
Swych fyn hath false worldes brotelnesse!
And thus bigan his lovyng of Criseyde,
As I have told, and in this wise he deyde.
O yonge, fresshe folkes, he or she,
In which that love up groweth with youre age,
Repeyreth hom fro worldly vanyte,
And of youre herte up casteth the visage
To thilke God that after his ymage
1840 Yow made, and thynketh al nys but a faire,
This world that passeth soone as floures faire.
And loveth hym the which that right for love
Upon a crois, oure soules for to beye,
1844 First starf, and roos, and sit in hevene above;
For he nyl falsen no wight, dar I seye,
That wol his herte al holly on hym leye.
And syn he best to love is, and most meke,
What nedeth feynede loves for to seke?
Lo here, of payens corsed olde rites!
1850 Lo here, what alle hire goddes may availle!
Lo here, thise wrecched worldes appetites!
Lo here, the fyn and guerdoun for travaille
Of Jove, Appollo, of Mars, of swich rascaille!
Lo here, the forme of olde clerkis speche
In poetrie, if ye hire bokes seche.
O moral Gower, this book I directe
To the and to the, philosophical Strode,
To vouchen sauf, ther nede is, to correcte,
Of youre benignites and zeles goode.
1860 And to that sothfast Crist, that starf on rode,
With al myn herte of mercy evere I preye,
And to the Lord right thus I speke and seye:
Thow oon, and two, and thre, eterne on lyve,
That regnest ay in thre, and two, and oon,
Uncircumscript, and al maist circumscrive,
Us from visible and invisible foon
Defende, and to thy mercy, everichon,
So make us, Jesus, for thi mercy, digne,
For love of mayde and moder thyn benigne.
Next: Prologue F