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The Canterbury Tales and Other Works of Chaucer (Middle English), by Geoffery Chaucer, [14th cent.], at

The Shorter Poems

Complaynt D'Amours

 I, which that am the sorwefulleste man
 That in this world was ever yit livinge,
 And leest recoverer of himselven can,
 Beginne right thus my deedly compleininge
 On hir that may to lyf and deeth me bringe,
 Which hath on me no mercy ne no rewthe,
 That love hir best, but sleeth me for my trewthe.
 Can I noght doon ne seye that may yow lyke?
 Ne, certes now; allas, allas the whyle!
10 Your plesaunce is to laughen whan I syke,
 And thus ye me from al my blisse exyle.
 Ye han me cast in thilke spitous yle
 Ther never man on lyve mighte asterte;
 This have I, for I love you, swete herte!
 Sooth is, that wel I woot, by lyklinesse,
 If that it were a thing possible to do
 For to acompte youre beautee and goodnesse,
 I have no wonder thogh ye do me wo;
 Sith I, th' unworthiest that may ryde or go,
20 Durste ever thinken in so hy a place.
 What wonder is, thogh ye do me no grace?
 Allas, thus is my lyf brought to an ende;
 My deeth, I see, is my conclusioun.
 I may wel singe, "In sory tyme I spende
 My lyf." That song may have confusioun.
 For mercy, pitee, and deep affeccioun,
 I sey for me, for al my deedly chere,
 Alle thise diden, in that, me love yow dere.
 And in this wyse and in dispayr I live
30 In love -- nay, but in dispayr I dye!
 But shal I thus yow my deeth foryive,
 That causeles doth me this sorwe drye?
 Ye, certes, I! For she of my folye
 Hath nought to done although she do me sterve,
 Hit is nat with hir wil that I hir serve.
 Than sithen I am of my sorwe the cause
 And sithen I have this withoute hir reed,
 Than may I seyn right shortly in a clause,
 It is no blame unto hir womanheed
40 Though swich a wrecche as I be for hir deed.
 Yet alwey two thinges doon me dye,
 That is to seyn, hir beautee and myn ye';
 So that, algates, she is verray rote
 Of my disese and of my deth also,
 For with oon word she mighte be my bote,
 If that she vouched sauf for to do so.
 But than is hir gladnesse at my wo?
 It is hir wone plesaunce for to take
 To seen hir servaunts dyen for hir sake.
50 But certes, than is al my wonderinge,
 Sithen she is the fayrest creature,
 As to my doom, that ever was livinge,
 The benignest and beste eek that Nature
 Hath wrought or shal, whyl that the world may dure,
 Why that she lefte Pite so behinde?
 It was, ywis, a greet defaute in Kinde.
 Yit is al this no lak to hir, pardee,
 But God or Nature sore wolde I blame.
 For though she shewe no pite unto me,
60 Sithen that she doth othere men the same,
 I ne oughte to despyse my ladyes game;
 It is hir pley to laughen whan men syketh,
 And I assente al that hir list and lyketh.
 Yet wolde I, as I dar, with sorwful herte
 Biseche unto your meke womanhede
 That I now dorste my sharpe sorwes smerte
 Shewe by word, that ye wolde ones rede
 The compleynte of me, which ful sore I drede
 That I have seid here, through myn unkonninge,
70 In any word to your displesinge.
 Lothest of anything that ever was loth
 Were me, as wisly God my soule save,
 To seyn a thing through which ye might be wroth;
 And, to that day that I be leyd in grave,
 A trewer servaunt shulle ye never have;
 And, though that I have pleyned unto you here,
 Foryiveth it me, myn owne lady dere.
 Ever have I been, and shal, how-so I wende,
 Outher to live or dye, your humble trewe.
80 Ye been to me my ginning and myn ende,
 Sonne of the sterre bright and clere of hewe;
 Alwey in oon to love yow freshly newe,
 By God and by my trouthe, is myn entente;
 To live or dye, I wol it never repente!
 This compleynte on Seint Valentynes day,
 Whan every foughel chesen shal his make,
 To hir, whos I am hool and shal alwey,
 This woful song and this compleynte I make,
 That never yit wolde me to mercy take;
90 And yit wol I evermore her serve
 And love hir best, although she do me sterve.

Next: Merciles Beaute