The Clerk’s Tale

From The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

ClT 57 Ther is, at the west syde of Ytaille,
ClT 58 Doun at the roote of Vesulus the colde,
ClT 59 A lusty playn, habundant of vitaille,
ClT 60 Where many a tour and toun thou mayst biholde,
ClT 61 That founded were in tyme of fadres olde,
ClT 62 And many another delitable sighte,
ClT 63 And Saluces this noble contree highte.
ClT 64 A markys whilom lord was of that lond,
ClT 65 As were his worthy eldres hym bifore;
ClT 66 And obeisant, ay redy to his hond,
ClT 67 Were alle his liges, bothe lasse and moore.
ClT 68 Thus in delit he lyveth, and hath doon yoore,
ClT 69 Biloved and drad, thurgh favour of Fortune,
ClT 70 Bothe of his lordes and of his commune.
ClT 71 Therwith he was, to speke as of lynage,
ClT 72 The gentilleste yborn of Lumbardye,
ClT 73 A fair persone, and strong, and yong of age,
ClT 74 And ful of honour and of curteisye;
ClT 75 Discreet ynogh his contree for to gye,
ClT 76 Save in somme thynges that he was to blame;
ClT 77 And Walter was this yonge lordes name.
ClT 78 I blame hym thus: that he considered noght
ClT 79 In tyme comynge what myghte hym bityde,
ClT 80 But on his lust present was al his thoght,
ClT 81 As for to hauke and hunte on every syde.
ClT 82 Wel ny alle othere cures leet he slyde,
ClT 83 And eek he nolde — and that was worst of alle —
ClT 84 Wedde no wyf, for noght that may bifalle.
ClT 85 Oonly that point his peple bar so soore
ClT 86 That flokmeele on a day they to hym wente,
ClT 87 And oon of hem, that wisest was of loore —
ClT 88 Or elles that the lord best wolde assente
ClT 89 That he sholde telle hym what his peple mente,
ClT 90 Or elles koude he shewe wel swich mateere —
ClT 91 He to the markys seyde as ye shul heere:
ClT 92 “O noble markys, youre humanitee
ClT 93 Asseureth us and yeveth us hardinesse,
ClT 94 As ofte as tyme is of necessitee,
ClT 95 That we to yow mowe telle oure hevynesse.
ClT 96 Accepteth, lord, now of youre gentillesse
ClT 97 That we with pitous herte unto yow pleyne,
ClT 98 And lat youre eres nat my voys desdeyne.
ClT 99 “Al have I noght to doone in this mateere
ClT 100 Moore than another man hath in this place,
ClT 101 Yet for as muche as ye, my lord so deere,
ClT 102 Han alwey shewed me favour and grace
ClT 103 I dar the bettre aske of yow a space
ClT 104 Of audience to shewen oure requeste,
ClT 105 And ye, my lord, to doon right as yow leste.
ClT 106 “For certes, lord, so wel us liketh yow
ClT 107 And al youre werk, and evere han doon, that we
ClT 108 Ne koude nat us self devysen how
ClT 109 We myghte lyven in moore felicitee,
ClT 110 Save o thyng, lord, if it youre wille be,
ClT 111 That for to been a wedded man yow leste;
ClT 112 Thanne were youre peple in sovereyn hertes reste.
ClT 113 “Boweth youre nekke under that blisful yok
ClT 114 Of soveraynetee, noght of servyse,
ClT 115 Which that men clepe spousaille or wedlok;
ClT 116 And thenketh, lord, among youre thoghtes wyse
ClT 117 How that oure dayes passe in sondry wyse,
ClT 118 For thogh we slepe, or wake, or rome, or ryde,
ClT 119 Ay fleeth the tyme; it nyl no man abyde.
ClT 120 “And thogh youre grene youthe floure as yit,
ClT 121 In crepeth age alwey, as stille as stoon,
ClT 122 And deeth manaceth every age, and smyt
ClT 123 In ech estaat, for ther escapeth noon;
ClT 124 And al so certein as we knowe echoon
ClT 125 That we shul deye, as uncerteyn we alle
ClT 126 Been of that day whan deeth shal on us falle.
ClT 127 “Accepteth thanne of us the trewe entente,
ClT 128 That nevere yet refuseden youre heeste,
ClT 129 And we wol, lord, if that ye wole assente,
ClT 130 Chese yow a wyf, in short tyme atte leeste,
ClT 131 Born of the gentilleste and of the meeste
ClT 132 Of al this land, so that it oghte seme
ClT 133 Honour to God and yow, as we kan deeme.
ClT 134 “Delivere us out of al this bisy drede,
ClT 135 And taak a wyf, for hye Goddes sake!
ClT 136 For if it so bifelle, as God forbede,
ClT 137 That thurgh youre deeth youre lyne sholde slake,
ClT 138 And that a straunge successour sholde take
ClT 139 Youre heritage, O wo were us alyve!
ClT 140 Wherfore we pray you hastily to wyve.”
ClT 141 Hir meeke preyere and hir pitous cheere
ClT 142 Made the markys herte han pitee.
ClT 143 “Ye wol,” quod he, “myn owene peple deere,
ClT 144 To that I nevere erst thoughte streyne me.
ClT 145 I me rejoysed of my liberte,
ClT 146 That seelde tyme is founde in mariage;
ClT 147 Ther I was free, I moot been in servage.
ClT 148 “But nathelees I se youre trewe entente,
ClT 149 And truste upon youre wit, and have doon ay;
ClT 150 Wherfore of my free wyl I wole assente
ClT 151 To wedde me, as soone as evere I may.
ClT 152 But ther as ye han profred me to-day
ClT 153 To chese me a wyf, I yow relesse
ClT 154 That choys and prey yow of that profre cesse.
ClT 155 “For God it woot, that children ofte been
ClT 156 Unlyk hir worthy eldres hem bifore;
ClT 157 Bountee comth al of God, nat of the streen
ClT 158 Of which they been engendred and ybore.
ClT 159 I truste in Goddes bountee, and therfore
ClT 160 My mariage and myn estaat and reste
ClT 161 I hym bitake; he may doon as hym leste.
ClT 162 “Lat me allone in chesynge of my wyf —
ClT 163 That charge upon my bak I wole endure.
ClT 164 But I yow preye, and charge upon youre lyf,
ClT 165 What wyf that I take, ye me assure
ClT 166 To worshipe hire, whil that hir lyf may dure,
ClT 167 In word and werk, bothe heere and everywheere,
ClT 168 As she an emperoures doghter weere.
ClT 169 “And forthermoore, this shal ye swere: that ye
ClT 170 Agayn my choys shul neither grucche ne stryve;
ClT 171 For sith I shal forgoon my libertee
ClT 172 At youre requeste, as evere moot I thryve,
ClT 173 Ther as myn herte is set, ther wol I wyve;
ClT 174 And but ye wole assente in swich manere,
ClT 175 I prey yow, speketh namoore of this matere.”
ClT 176 With hertely wyl they sworen and assenten
ClT 177 To al this thyng — ther seyde no wight nay —
ClT 178 Bisekynge hym of grace, er that they wenten,
ClT 179 That he wolde graunten hem a certein day
ClT 180 Of his spousaille, as soone as evere he may;
ClT 181 For yet alwey the peple somwhat dredde,
ClT 182 Lest that the markys no wyf wolde wedde.
ClT 183 He graunted hem a day, swich as hym leste,
ClT 184 On which he wolde be wedded sikerly,
ClT 185 And seyde he dide al this at hir requeste.
ClT 186 And they, with humble entente, buxomly,
ClT 187 Knelynge upon hir knees ful reverently,
ClT 188 Hym thonken alle; and thus they han an ende
ClT 189 Of hire entente, and hoom agayn they wende.
ClT 190 And heerupon he to his officeres
ClT 191 Comaundeth for the feste to purveye,
ClT 192 And to his privee knyghtes and squieres
ClT 193 Swich charge yaf as hym liste on hem leye;
ClT 194 And they to his comandement obeye,
ClT 195 And ech of hem dooth al his diligence
ClT 196 To doon unto the feeste reverence.
ClT 197 Noght fer fro thilke paleys honurable,
ClT 198 Wher as this markys shoop his mariage,
ClT 199 There stood a throop, of site delitable,
ClT 200 In which that povre folk of that village
ClT 201 Hadden hir beestes and hir herbergage,
ClT 202 And of hire labour tooke hir sustenance,
ClT 203 After that the erthe yaf hem habundance.
ClT 204 Amonges thise povre folk ther dwelte a man
ClT 205 Which that was holden povrest of hem alle;
ClT 206 But hye God somtyme senden kan
ClT 207 His grace into a litel oxes stalle;
ClT 208 Janicula men of that throop hym calle.
ClT 209 A doghter hadde he, fair ynogh to sighte,
ClT 210 And Grisildis this yonge mayden highte.
ClT 211 But for to speke of vertuous beautee,
ClT 212 Thanne was she oon the faireste under sonne;
ClT 213 For povreliche yfostred up was she,
ClT 214 No likerous lust was thurgh hire herte yronne.
ClT 215 Wel ofter of the welle than of the tonne
ClT 216 She drank, and for she wolde vertu plese,
ClT 217 She knew wel labour but noon ydel ese.
ClT 218 But thogh this mayde tendre were of age,
ClT 219 Yet in the brest of hire virginitee
ClT 220 Ther was enclosed rype and sad corage;
ClT 221 And in greet reverence and charitee
ClT 222 Hir olde povre fader fostred shee.
ClT 223 A fewe sheep, spynnynge, on feeld she kepte;
ClT 224 She wolde noght been ydel til she slepte.
ClT 225 And whan she homward cam, she wolde brynge
ClT 226 Wortes or othere herbes tymes ofte,
ClT 227 The whiche she shredde and seeth for hir lyvynge,
ClT 228 And made hir bed ful hard and nothyng softe;
ClT 229 And ay she kepte hir fadres lyf on-lofte
ClT 230 With everich obeisaunce and diligence
ClT 231 That child may doon to fadres reverence.
ClT 232 Upon Grisilde, this povre creature,
ClT 233 Ful ofte sithe this markys sette his ye
ClT 234 As he on huntyng rood paraventure;
ClT 235 And whan it fil that he myghte hire espye,
ClT 236 He noght with wantown lookyng of folye
ClT 237 His eyen caste on hire, but in sad wyse
ClT 238 Upon hir chiere he wolde hym ofte avyse,
ClT 239 Commendynge in his herte hir wommanhede,
ClT 240 And eek hir vertu, passynge any wight
ClT 241 Of so yong age, as wel in chiere as dede.
ClT 242 For thogh the peple have no greet insight
ClT 243 In vertu, he considered ful right
ClT 244 Hir bountee, and disposed that he wolde
ClT 245 Wedde hire oonly, if evere he wedde sholde.
ClT 246 The day of weddyng cam, but no wight kan
ClT 247 Telle what womman that it sholde be;
ClT 248 For which merveille wondred many a man,
ClT 249 And seyden, whan they were in privetee,
ClT 250 “Wol nat oure lord yet leve his vanytee?
ClT 251 Wol he nat wedde? Allas! Allas, the while!
ClT 252 Why wole he thus hymself and us bigile?”
ClT 253 But nathelees this markys hath doon make
ClT 254 Of gemmes, set in gold and in asure,
ClT 255 Brooches and rynges, for Grisildis sake;
ClT 256 And of hir clothyng took he the mesure
ClT 257 By a mayde lyk to hire stature,
ClT 258 And eek of othere aornementes alle
ClT 259 That unto swich a weddyng sholde falle.
ClT 260 The time of undren of the same day
ClT 261 Approcheth, that this weddyng sholde be,
ClT 262 And al the paleys put was in array,
ClT 263 Bothe halle and chambres, ech in his degree;
ClT 264 Houses of office stuffed with plentee
ClT 265 Ther maystow seen, of deyntevous vitaille
ClT 266 That may be founde as fer as last Ytaille.
ClT 267 This roial markys, richely arrayed,
ClT 268 Lordes and ladyes in his compaignye,
ClT 269 The whiche that to the feeste weren yprayed,
ClT 270 And of his retenue the bachelrye,
ClT 271 With many a soun of sondry melodye,
ClT 272 Unto the village of the which I tolde
ClT 273 In this array the righte wey han holde.
ClT 274 Grisilde of this, God woot, ful innocent,
ClT 275 That for hire shapen was al this array,
ClT 276 To fecchen water at a welle is went,
ClT 277 And cometh hoom as soone as ever she may;
ClT 278 For wel she hadde herd seyd that thilke day
ClT 279 The markys sholde wedde, and if she myghte,
ClT 280 She wolde fayn han seyn som of that sighte.
ClT 281 She thoghte, “I wole with othere maydens stonde,
ClT 282 That been my felawes, in oure dore and se
ClT 283 The markysesse, and therfore wol I fonde
ClT 284 To doon at hoom, as soone as it may be,
ClT 285 The labour which that longeth unto me,
ClT 286 And thanne I may at leyser hire biholde,
ClT 287 If she this wey unto the castel holde.”
ClT 288 And as she wolde over hir thresshfold gon,
ClT 289 The markys cam and gan hire for to calle;
ClT 290 And she set doun hir water pot anon,
ClT 291 Biside the thresshfold, in an oxes stalle,
ClT 292 And doun upon hir knes she gan to falle,
ClT 293 And with sad contenance kneleth stille,
ClT 294 Til she had herd what was the lordes wille.
ClT 295 This thoghtful markys spak unto this mayde
ClT 296 Ful sobrely, and seyde in this manere:
ClT 297 “Where is youre fader, O Grisildis?” he sayde.
ClT 298 And she with reverence, in humble cheere,
ClT 299 Answerde, “Lord, he is al redy heere.”
ClT 300 And in she gooth withouten lenger lette,
ClT 301 And to the markys she hir fader fette.
ClT 302 He by the hand thanne took this olde man,
ClT 303 And seyde thus, whan he hym hadde asyde:
ClT 304 “Janicula, I neither may ne kan
ClT 305 Lenger the plesance of myn herte hyde.
ClT 306 If that thou vouche sauf, what so bityde,
ClT 307 Thy doghter wol I take, er that I wende,
ClT 308 As for my wyf, unto hir lyves ende.
ClT 309 “Thou lovest me, I woot it wel certeyn,
ClT 310 And art my feithful lige man ybore,
ClT 311 And al that liketh me, I dar wel seyn
ClT 312 It liketh thee, and specially therfore
ClT 313 Tel me that poynt that I have seyd bifore,
ClT 314 If that thou wolt unto that purpos drawe,
ClT 315 To take me as for thy sone-in-lawe.”
ClT 316 This sodeyn cas this man astonyed so
ClT 317 That reed he wax; abayst and al quakynge
ClT 318 He stood; unnethes seyde he wordes mo,
ClT 319 But oonly thus: “Lord,” quod he, “my willynge
ClT 320 Is as ye wole, ne ayeynes youre likynge
ClT 321 I wol no thyng, ye be my lord so deere;
ClT 322 Right as yow lust, governeth this mateere.”
ClT 323 “Yet wol I,” quod this markys softely,
ClT 324 “That in thy chambre I and thou and she
ClT 325 Have a collacioun, and wostow why?
ClT 326 For I wol axe if it hire wille be
ClT 327 To be my wyf and reule hire after me.
ClT 328 And al this shal be doon in thy presence;
ClT 329 I wol noght speke out of thyn audience.”
ClT 330 And in the chambre, whil they were aboute
ClT 331 Hir tretys, which as ye shal after heere,
ClT 332 The peple cam unto the hous withoute,
ClT 333 And wondred hem in how honest manere
ClT 334 And tentifly she kepte hir fader deere.
ClT 335 But outrely Grisildis wondre myghte,
ClT 336 For nevere erst ne saugh she swich a sighte.
ClT 337 No wonder is thogh that she were astoned
ClT 338 To seen so greet a gest come in that place;
ClT 339 She nevere was to swiche gestes woned,
ClT 340 For which she looked with ful pale face.
ClT 341 But shortly forth this matere for to chace,
ClT 342 Thise arn the wordes that the markys sayde
ClT 343 To this benigne, verray, feithful mayde:
ClT 344 “Grisilde,” he seyde, “ye shal wel understonde
ClT 345 It liketh to youre fader and to me
ClT 346 That I yow wedde, and eek it may so stonde,
ClT 347 As I suppose, ye wol that it so be.
ClT 348 But thise demandes axe I first,” quod he,
ClT 349 “That, sith it shal be doon in hastif wyse,
ClT 350 Wol ye assente, or elles yow avyse?
ClT 351 “I seye this: be ye redy with good herte
ClT 352 To al my lust, and that I frely may,
ClT 353 As me best thynketh, do yow laughe or smerte,
ClT 354 And nevere ye to grucche it, nyght ne day?
ClT 355 And eek whan I sey ‘ye,’ ne sey nat ‘nay,’
ClT 356 Neither by word ne frownyng contenance?
ClT 357 Swere this, and heere I swere oure alliance.”
ClT 358 Wondrynge upon this word, quakynge for drede,
ClT 359 She seyde, “Lord, undigne and unworthy
ClT 360 Am I to thilke honour that ye me beede,
ClT 361 But as ye wole youreself, right so wol I.
ClT 362 And heere I swere that nevere willyngly,
ClT 363 In werk ne thoght, I nyl yow disobeye,
ClT 364 For to be deed, though me were looth to deye.”
ClT 365 “This is ynogh, Grisilde myn,” quod he.
ClT 366 And forth he gooth with a ful sobre cheere
ClT 367 Out at the dore, and after that cam she,
ClT 368 And to the peple he seyde in this manere:
ClT 369 “This is my wyf,” quod he, “that standeth heere.
ClT 370 Honoureth hire and loveth hire, I preye,
ClT 371 Whoso me loveth; ther is namoore to seye.”
ClT 372 And for that no thyng of hir olde geere
ClT 373 She sholde brynge into his hous, he bad
ClT 374 That wommen sholde dispoillen hire right theere;
ClT 375 Of which thise ladyes were nat right glad
ClT 376 To handle hir clothes, wherinne she was clad.
ClT 377 But nathelees, this mayde bright of hewe
ClT 378 Fro foot to heed they clothed han al newe.
ClT 379 Hir heris han they kembd, that lay untressed
ClT 380 Ful rudely, and with hir fyngres smale
ClT 381 A corone on hire heed they han ydressed,
ClT 382 And sette hire ful of nowches grete and smale.
ClT 383 Of hire array what sholde I make a tale?
ClT 384 Unnethe the peple hir knew for hire fairnesse
ClT 385 Whan she translated was in swich richesse.
ClT 386 This markys hath hire spoused with a ryng
ClT 387 Broght for the same cause, and thanne hire sette
ClT 388 Upon an hors, snow-whit and wel amblyng,
ClT 389 And to his paleys, er he lenger lette,
ClT 390 With joyful peple that hire ladde and mette,
ClT 391 Conveyed hire; and thus the day they spende
ClT 392 In revel, til the sonne gan descende.
ClT 393 And shortly forth this tale for to chace,
ClT 394 I seye that to this newe markysesse
ClT 395 God hath swich favour sent hire of his grace
ClT 396 That it ne semed nat by liklynesse
ClT 397 That she was born and fed in rudenesse,
ClT 398 As in a cote or in an oxe-stalle,
ClT 399 But norissed in an emperoures halle.
ClT 400 To every wight she woxen is so deere
ClT 401 And worshipful that folk ther she was bore,
ClT 402 And from hire birthe knewe hire yeer by yeere,
ClT 403 Unnethe trowed they — but dorste han swore —
ClT 404 That to Janicle, of which I spak bifore,
ClT 405 She doghter were, for, as by conjecture,
ClT 406 Hem thoughte she was another creature.
ClT 407 For though that evere vertuous was she,
ClT 408 She was encressed in swich excellence
ClT 409 Of thewes goode, yset in heigh bountee,
ClT 410 And so discreet and fair of eloquence,
ClT 411 So benigne and so digne of reverence,
ClT 412 And koude so the peples herte embrace,
ClT 413 That ech hire lovede that looked on hir face.
ClT 414 Noght oonly of Saluces in the toun
ClT 415 Publiced was the bountee of hir name,
ClT 416 But eek biside in many a regioun,
ClT 417 If oon seide wel, another seyde the same;
ClT 418 So spradde of hire heighe bountee the fame
ClT 419 That men and wommen, as wel yonge as olde,
ClT 420 Goon to Saluce upon hire to biholde.
ClT 421 Thus Walter lowely — nay, but roially —
ClT 422 Wedded with fortunat honestetee,
ClT 423 In Goddes pees lyveth ful esily
ClT 424 At hoom, and outward grace ynogh had he;
ClT 425 And for he saugh that under low degree
ClT 426 Was ofte vertu hid, the peple hym heelde
ClT 427 A prudent man, and that is seyn ful seelde.
ClT 428 Nat oonly this Grisildis thurgh hir wit
ClT 429 Koude al the feet of wyfly hoomlinesse,
ClT 430 But eek, whan that the cas required it,
ClT 431 The commune profit koude she redresse.
ClT 432 Ther nas discord, rancour, ne hevynesse
ClT 433 In al that land that she ne koude apese,
ClT 434 And wisely brynge hem alle in reste and ese.
ClT 435 Though that hire housbonde absent were anon,
ClT 436 If gentil men or othere of hire contree
ClT 437 Were wrothe, she wolde bryngen hem aton;
ClT 438 So wise and rype wordes hadde she,
ClT 439 And juggementz of so greet equitee,
ClT 440 That she from hevene sent was, as men wende,
ClT 441 Peple to save and every wrong t’ amende.
ClT 442 Nat longe tyme after that this Grisild
ClT 443 Was wedded, she a doghter hath ybore,
ClT 444 Al had hire levere have born a knave child;
ClT 445 Glad was this markys and the folk therfore,
ClT 446 For though a mayde child coome al bifore,
ClT 447 She may unto a knave child atteyne
ClT 448 By liklihede, syn she nys nat bareyne.
ClT 449 Ther fil, as it bifalleth tymes mo,
ClT 450 Whan that this child had souked but a throwe,
ClT 451 This markys in his herte longeth so
ClT 452 To tempte his wyf, hir sadnesse for to knowe,
ClT 453 That he ne myghte out of his herte throwe
ClT 454 This merveillous desir his wyf t’ assaye;
ClT 455 Nedelees, God woot, he thoghte hire for t’ affraye.
ClT 456 He hadde assayed hire ynogh bifore,
ClT 457 And foond hire evere good; what neded it
ClT 458 Hire for to tempte, and alwey moore and moore,
ClT 459 Though som men preise it for a subtil wit?
ClT 460 But as for me, I seye that yvele it sit
ClT 461 To assaye a wyf whan that it is no nede,
ClT 462 And putten hire in angwyssh and in drede.
ClT 463 For which this markys wroghte in this manere:
ClT 464 He cam allone a-nyght, ther as she lay,
ClT 465 With stierne face and with ful trouble cheere,
ClT 466 And seyde thus: “Grisilde,” quod he, “that day
ClT 467 That I yow took out of youre povere array,
ClT 468 And putte yow in estaat of heigh noblesse —
ClT 469 Ye have nat that forgeten, as I gesse?
ClT 470 “I seye, Grisilde, this present dignitee,
ClT 471 In which that I have put yow, as I trowe,
ClT 472 Maketh yow nat foryetful for to be
ClT 473 That I yow took in povre estaat ful lowe,
ClT 474 For any wele ye moot youreselven knowe.
ClT 475 Taak heede of every word that y yow seye;
ClT 476 Ther is no wight that hereth it but we tweye.
ClT 477 “Ye woot youreself wel how that ye cam heere
ClT 478 Into this hous, it is nat longe ago;
ClT 479 And though to me that ye be lief and deere,
ClT 480 Unto my gentils ye be no thyng so.
ClT 481 They seyn, to hem it is greet shame and wo
ClT 482 For to be subgetz and been in servage
ClT 483 To thee, that born art of a smal village.
ClT 484 “And namely sith thy doghter was ybore
ClT 485 Thise wordes han they spoken, doutelees.
ClT 486 But I desire, as I have doon bifore,
ClT 487 To lyve my lyf with hem in reste and pees.
ClT 488 I may nat in this caas be recchelees;
ClT 489 I moot doon with thy doghter for the beste,
ClT 490 Nat as I wolde, but as my peple leste.
ClT 491 “And yet, God woot, this is ful looth to me;
ClT 492 But nathelees withoute youre wityng
ClT 493 I wol nat doon; but this wol I,” quod he,
ClT 494 “That ye to me assente as in this thyng.
ClT 495 Shewe now youre pacience in youre werkyng,
ClT 496 That ye me highte and swore in youre village
ClT 497 That day that maked was oure mariage.”
ClT 498 Whan she had herd al this, she noght ameved
ClT 499 Neither in word, or chiere, or contenaunce,
ClT 500 For, as it semed, she was nat agreved.
ClT 501 She seyde, “Lord, al lyth in youre plesaunce.
ClT 502 My child and I, with hertely obeisaunce,
ClT 503 Been youres al, and ye mowe save or spille
ClT 504 Youre owene thyng; werketh after youre wille.
ClT 505 “Ther may no thyng, God so my soule save,
ClT 506 Liken to yow that may displese me;
ClT 507 Ne I desire no thyng for to have,
ClT 508 Ne drede for to leese, save oonly yee.
ClT 509 This wyl is in myn herte, and ay shal be;
ClT 510 No lengthe of tyme or deeth may this deface,
ClT 511 Ne chaunge my corage to another place.”
ClT 512 Glad was this markys of hire answeryng,
ClT 513 But yet he feyned as he were nat so;
ClT 514 Al drery was his cheere and his lookyng,
ClT 515 Whan that he sholde out of the chambre go.
ClT 516 Soone after this, a furlong wey or two,
ClT 517 He prively hath toold al his entente
ClT 518 Unto a man, and to his wyf hym sente.
ClT 519 A maner sergeant was this privee man,
ClT 520 The which that feithful ofte he founden hadde
ClT 521 In thynges grete, and eek swich folk wel kan
ClT 522 Doon execucioun in thynges badde.
ClT 523 The lord knew wel that he hym loved and dradde;
ClT 524 And whan this sergeant wiste his lordes wille,
ClT 525 Into the chambre he stalked hym ful stille.
ClT 526 “Madame,” he seyde, “ye moote foryeve it me,
ClT 527 Though I do thyng to which I am constreyned.
ClT 528 Ye been so wys that ful wel knowe ye
ClT 529 That lordes heestes mowe nat been yfeyned;
ClT 530 They mowe wel been biwailled or compleyned,
ClT 531 But men moote nede unto hire lust obeye,
ClT 532 And so wol I; ther is namoore to seye.
ClT 533 “This child I am comanded for to take” —
ClT 534 And spak namoore, but out the child he hente
ClT 535 Despitously, and gan a cheere make
ClT 536 As though he wolde han slayn it er he wente.
ClT 537 Grisildis moot al suffre and al consente,
ClT 538 And as a lamb she sitteth meke and stille,
ClT 539 And leet this crueel sergeant doon his wille.
ClT 540 Suspecious was the diffame of this man,
ClT 541 Suspect his face, suspect his word also;
ClT 542 Suspect the tyme in which he this bigan.
ClT 543 Allas! Hir doghter that she loved so,
ClT 544 She wende he wolde han slawen it right tho.
ClT 545 But nathelees she neither weep ne syked,
ClT 546 Conformynge hire to that the markys lyked.
ClT 547 But atte laste to speken she bigan,
ClT 548 And mekely she to the sergeant preyde,
ClT 549 So as he was a worthy gentil man,
ClT 550 That she moste kisse hire child er that it deyde.
ClT 551 And in hir barm this litel child she leyde
ClT 552 With ful sad face, and gan the child to blisse,
ClT 553 And lulled it, and after gan it kisse.
ClT 554 And thus she seyde in hire benigne voys,
ClT 555 “Fareweel my child! I shal thee nevere see.
ClT 556 But sith I thee have marked with the croys
ClT 557 Of thilke Fader — blessed moote he be! —
ClT 558 That for us deyde upon a croys of tree,
ClT 559 Thy soule, litel child, I hym bitake,
ClT 560 For this nyght shaltow dyen for my sake.”
ClT 561 I trowe that to a norice in this cas
ClT 562 It had been hard this reuthe for to se;
ClT 563 Wel myghte a mooder thanne han cryd “allas!”
ClT 564 But nathelees so sad stidefast was she
ClT 565 That she endured al adversitee,
ClT 566 And to the sergeant mekely she sayde,
ClT 567 “Have heer agayn youre litel yonge mayde.
ClT 568 “Gooth now,” quod she, “and dooth my lordes heeste;
ClT 569 But o thyng wol I prey yow of youre grace,
ClT 570 That, but my lord forbad yow, atte leeste
ClT 571 Burieth this litel body in som place
ClT 572 That beestes ne no briddes it torace.”
ClT 573 But he no word wol to that purpos seye,
ClT 574 But took the child and wente upon his weye.
ClT 575 This sergeant cam unto his lord ageyn,
ClT 576 And of Grisildis wordes and hire cheere
ClT 577 He tolde hym point for point, in short and pleyn,
ClT 578 And hym presenteth with his doghter deere.
ClT 579 Somwhat this lord hadde routhe in his manere,
ClT 580 But nathelees his purpos heeld he stille,
ClT 581 As lordes doon, whan they wol han hir wille;
ClT 582 And bad this sergeant that he pryvely
ClT 583 Sholde this child softe wynde and wrappe,
ClT 584 With alle circumstances tendrely,
ClT 585 And carie it in a cofre or in a lappe;
ClT 586 But, upon peyne his heed of for to swappe,
ClT 587 That no man sholde knowe of his entente,
ClT 588 Ne whenne he cam, ne whider that he wente;
ClT 589 But at Boloigne to his suster deere,
ClT 590 That thilke tyme of Panik was countesse,
ClT 591 He sholde it take and shewe hire this mateere,
ClT 592 Bisekynge hire to doon hire bisynesse
ClT 593 This child to fostre in alle gentillesse;
ClT 594 And whos child that it was he bad hire hyde
ClT 595 From every wight, for oght that may bityde.
ClT 596 The sergeant gooth, and hath fulfild this thyng;
ClT 597 But to this markys now retourne we.
ClT 598 For now gooth he ful faste ymaginyng
ClT 599 If by his wyves cheere he myghte se,
ClT 600 Or by hire word aperceyve, that she
ClT 601 Were chaunged; but he nevere hire koude fynde
ClT 602 But evere in oon ylike sad and kynde.
ClT 603 As glad, as humble, as bisy in servyse,
ClT 604 And eek in love, as she was wont to be,
ClT 605 Was she to hym in every maner wyse;
ClT 606 Ne of hir doghter noght a word spak she.
ClT 607 Noon accident, for noon adversitee,
ClT 608 Was seyn in hire, ne nevere hir doghter name
ClT 609 Ne nempned she, in ernest nor in game.
ClT 610 In this estaat ther passed been foure yeer
ClT 611 Er she with childe was, but, as God wolde,
ClT 612 A knave child she bar by this Walter,
ClT 613 Ful gracious and fair for to biholde.
ClT 614 And whan that folk it to his fader tolde,
ClT 615 Nat oonly he but al his contree merye
ClT 616 Was for this child, and God they thanke and herye.
ClT 617 Whan it was two yeer old, and fro the brest
ClT 618 Departed of his norice, on a day
ClT 619 This markys caughte yet another lest
ClT 620 To tempte his wyf yet ofter, if he may.
ClT 621 O nedelees was she tempted in assay!
ClT 622 But wedded men ne knowe no mesure,
ClT 623 Whan that they fynde a pacient creature.
ClT 624 “Wyf,” quod this markys, “ye han herd er this
ClT 625 My peple sikly berth oure mariage;
ClT 626 And namely sith my sone yboren is,
ClT 627 Now is it worse than evere in al oure age.
ClT 628 The murmur sleeth myn herte and my corage,
ClT 629 For to myne eres comth the voys so smerte
ClT 630 That it wel ny destroyed hath myn herte.
ClT 631 “Now sey they thus: ‘Whan Walter is agon,
ClT 632 Thanne shal the blood of Janicle succede
ClT 633 And been oure lord, for oother have we noon.’
ClT 634 Swiche wordes seith my peple, out of drede.
ClT 635 Wel oughte I of swich murmur taken heede,
ClT 636 For certeinly I drede swich sentence,
ClT 637 Though they nat pleyn speke in myn audience.
ClT 638 “I wolde lyve in pees, if that I myghte;
ClT 639 Wherfore I am disposed outrely,
ClT 640 As I his suster servede by nyghte,
ClT 641 Right so thenke I to serve hym pryvely.
ClT 642 This warne I yow, that ye nat sodeynly
ClT 643 Out of youreself for no wo sholde outreye;
ClT 644 Beth pacient, and therof I yow preye.”
ClT 645 “I have,” quod she, “seyd thus, and evere shal:
ClT 646 I wol no thyng, ne nyl no thyng, certayn,
ClT 647 But as yow list. Naught greveth me at al,
ClT 648 Though that my doughter and my sone be slayn —
ClT 649 At youre comandement, this is to sayn.
ClT 650 I have noght had no part of children tweyne
ClT 651 But first siknesse, and after, wo and peyne.
ClT 652 “Ye been oure lord; dooth with youre owene thyng
ClT 653 Right as yow list; axeth no reed at me.
ClT 654 For as I lefte at hoom al my clothyng,
ClT 655 Whan I first cam to yow, right so,” quod she,
ClT 656 “Lefte I my wyl and al my libertee,
ClT 657 And took youre clothyng; wherfore I yow preye,
ClT 658 Dooth youre plesaunce; I wol youre lust obeye.
ClT 659 “And certes, if I hadde prescience
ClT 660 Youre wyl to knowe, er ye youre lust me tolde,
ClT 661 I wolde it doon withouten necligence;
ClT 662 But now I woot youre lust, and what ye wolde,
ClT 663 Al youre plesance ferme and stable I holde;
ClT 664 For wiste I that my deeth wolde do yow ese,
ClT 665 Right gladly wolde I dyen, yow to plese.
ClT 666 “Deth may noght make no comparisoun
ClT 667 Unto youre love.” And whan this markys say
ClT 668 The constance of his wyf, he caste adoun
ClT 669 His eyen two, and wondreth that she may
ClT 670 In pacience suffre al this array;
ClT 671 And forth he goth with drery contenance,
ClT 672 But to his herte it was ful greet plesance.
ClT 673 This ugly sergeant, in the same wyse
ClT 674 That he hire doghter caughte, right so he —
ClT 675 Or worse, if men worse kan devyse —
ClT 676 Hath hent hire sone, that ful was of beautee.
ClT 677 And evere in oon so pacient was she
ClT 678 That she no chiere maade of hevynesse,
ClT 679 But kiste hir sone, and after gan it blesse;
ClT 680 Save this, she preyede hym that, if he myghte,
ClT 681 Hir litel sone he wolde in erthe grave
ClT 682 His tendre lymes, delicaat to sighte,
ClT 683 Fro foweles and fro beestes for to save.
ClT 684 But she noon answere of hym myghte have.
ClT 685 He wente his wey, as hym no thyng ne roghte,
ClT 686 But to Boloigne he tendrely it broghte.
ClT 687 This markys wondred, evere lenger the moore,
ClT 688 Upon hir pacience, and if that he
ClT 689 Ne hadde soothly knowen therbifoore
ClT 690 That parfitly hir children loved she,
ClT 691 He wolde have wend that of som subtiltee,
ClT 692 And of malice, or for crueel corage,
ClT 693 That she hadde suffred this with sad visage.
ClT 694 But wel he knew that next hymself, certayn,
ClT 695 She loved hir children best in every wyse.
ClT 696 But now of wommen wolde I axen fayn
ClT 697 If thise assayes myghte nat suffise?
ClT 698 What koude a sturdy housbonde moore devyse
ClT 699 To preeve hir wyfhod and hir stedefastnesse,
ClT 700 And he continuynge evere in sturdinesse?
ClT 701 But ther been folk of swich condicion
ClT 702 That whan they have a certein purpos take,
ClT 703 They kan nat stynte of hire entencion,
ClT 704 But, right as they were bounden to that stake,
ClT 705 They wol nat of that firste purpos slake.
ClT 706 Right so this markys fulliche hath purposed
ClT 707 To tempte his wyf as he was first disposed.
ClT 708 He waiteth if by word or contenance
ClT 709 That she to hym was changed of corage,
ClT 710 But nevere koude he fynde variance.
ClT 711 She was ay oon in herte and in visage,
ClT 712 And ay the forther that she was in age,
ClT 713 The moore trewe, if that it were possible,
ClT 714 She was to hym in love, and moore penyble.
ClT 715 For which it semed thus: that of hem two
ClT 716 Ther nas but o wyl, for as Walter leste,
ClT 717 The same lust was hire plesance also.
ClT 718 And, God be thanked, al fil for the beste.
ClT 719 She shewed wel, for no worldly unreste
ClT 720 A wyf, as of hirself, nothing ne sholde
ClT 721 Wille in effect, but as hir housbonde wolde.
ClT 722 The sclaundre of Walter ofte and wyde spradde,
ClT 723 That of a crueel herte he wikkedly,
ClT 724 For he a povre womman wedded hadde,
ClT 725 Hath mordred bothe his children prively.
ClT 726 Swich murmur was among hem comunly.
ClT 727 No wonder is, for to the peples ere
ClT 728 Ther cam no word but that they mordred were.
ClT 729 For which, where as his peple therbifore
ClT 730 Hadde loved hym wel, the sclaundre of his diffame
ClT 731 Made hem that they hym hatede therfore.
ClT 732 To been a mordrere is an hateful name;
ClT 733 But nathelees, for ernest ne for game,
ClT 734 He of his crueel purpos nolde stente;
ClT 735 To tempte his wyf was set al his entente.
ClT 736 Whan that his doghter twelve yeer was of age,
ClT 737 He to the court of Rome, in subtil wyse
ClT 738 Enformed of his wyl, sente his message,
ClT 739 Comaundynge hem swiche bulles to devyse
ClT 740 As to his crueel purpos may suffyse —
ClT 741 How that the pope, as for his peples reste,
ClT 742 Bad hym to wedde another, if hym leste.
ClT 743 I seye, he bad they sholde countrefete
ClT 744 The popes bulles, makynge mencion
ClT 745 That he hath leve his firste wyf to lete,
ClT 746 As by the popes dispensacion,
ClT 747 To stynte rancour and dissencion
ClT 748 Bitwixe his peple and hym; thus seyde the bulle,
ClT 749 The which they han publiced atte fulle.
ClT 750 The rude peple, as it no wonder is,
ClT 751 Wenden ful wel that it hadde be right so;
ClT 752 But whan thise tidynges came to Grisildis,
ClT 753 I deeme that hire herte was ful wo.
ClT 754 But she, ylike sad for everemo,
ClT 755 Disposed was, this humble creature,
ClT 756 The adversitee of Fortune al t’ endure,
ClT 757 Abidynge evere his lust and his plesance,
ClT 758 To whom that she was yeven herte and al,
ClT 759 As to hire verray worldly suffisance.
ClT 760 But shortly if this storie I tellen shal,
ClT 761 This markys writen hath in special
ClT 762 A lettre, in which he sheweth his entente,
ClT 763 And secreely he to Boloigne it sente.
ClT 764 To the Erl of Panyk, which that hadde tho
ClT 765 Wedded his suster, preyde he specially
ClT 766 To bryngen hoom agayn his children two
ClT 767 In honurable estaat al openly.
ClT 768 But o thyng he hym preyede outrely,
ClT 769 That he to no wight, though men wolde enquere,
ClT 770 Sholde nat telle whos children that they were,
ClT 771 But seye the mayden sholde ywedded be
ClT 772 Unto the Markys of Saluce anon.
ClT 773 And as this erl was preyed, so dide he;
ClT 774 For at day set he on his wey is goon
ClT 775 Toward Saluce, and lordes many oon
ClT 776 In riche array, this mayden for to gyde,
ClT 777 Hir yonge brother ridynge hire bisyde.
ClT 778 Arrayed was toward hir mariage
ClT 779 This fresshe mayde, ful of gemmes cleere;
ClT 780 Hir brother, which that seven yeer was of age,
ClT 781 Arrayed eek ful fressh in his manere.
ClT 782 And thus in greet noblesse and with glad cheere,
ClT 783 Toward Saluces shapynge hir journey,
ClT 784 Fro day to day they ryden in hir wey.
ClT 785 Among al this, after his wikke usage,
ClT 786 This markys, yet his wyf to tempte moore
ClT 787 To the outtreste preeve of hir corage,
ClT 788 Fully to han experience and loore
ClT 789 If that she were as stidefast as bifoore,
ClT 790 He on a day in open audience
ClT 791 Ful boistously hath seyd hire this sentence:
ClT 792 “Certes, Grisilde, I hadde ynogh plesance
ClT 793 To han yow to my wyf for youre goodnesse,
ClT 794 As for youre trouthe and for youre obeisance,
ClT 795 Noght for youre lynage, ne for youre richesse;
ClT 796 But now knowe I in verray soothfastnesse
ClT 797 That in greet lordshipe, if I wel avyse,
ClT 798 Ther is greet servitute in sondry wyse.
ClT 799 “I may nat doon as every plowman may.
ClT 800 My peple me constreyneth for to take
ClT 801 Another wyf, and crien day by day;
ClT 802 And eek the pope, rancour for to slake,
ClT 803 Consenteth it — that dar I undertake —
ClT 804 And trewely thus muche I wol yow seye:
ClT 805 My newe wyf is comynge by the weye.
ClT 806 “Be strong of herte, and voyde anon hir place;
ClT 807 And thilke dowere that ye broghten me,
ClT 808 Taak it agayn; I graunte it of my grace.
ClT 809 Retourneth to youre fadres hous,” quod he;
ClT 810 “No man may alwey han prosperitee.
ClT 811 With evene herte I rede yow t’ endure
ClT 812 The strook of Fortune or of aventure.”
ClT 813 And she agayn answerde in pacience:
ClT 814 “My lord,” quod she, “I woot, and wiste alway,
ClT 815 How that bitwixen youre magnificence
ClT 816 And my poverte no wight kan ne may
ClT 817 Maken comparison; it is no nay.
ClT 818 I ne heeld me nevere digne in no manere
ClT 819 To be youre wyf, no, ne youre chamberere.
ClT 820 “And in this hous, ther ye me lady maade —
ClT 821 The heighe God take I for my witnesse,
ClT 822 And also wysly he my soule glaade —
ClT 823 I nevere heeld me lady ne mistresse,
ClT 824 But humble servant to youre worthynesse,
ClT 825 And evere shal, whil that my lyf may dure,
ClT 826 Aboven every worldly creature.
ClT 827 “That ye so longe of youre benignitee
ClT 828 Han holden me in honour and nobleye,
ClT 829 Where as I was noght worthy for to bee,
ClT 830 That thonke I God and yow, to whom I preye
ClT 831 Foryelde it yow; ther is namoore to seye.
ClT 832 Unto my fader gladly wol I wende,
ClT 833 And with hym dwelle unto my lyves ende.
ClT 834 “Ther I was fostred of a child ful smal,
ClT 835 Til I be deed my lyf ther wol I lede,
ClT 836 A wydwe clene in body, herte, and al.
ClT 837 For sith I yaf to yow my maydenhede,
ClT 838 And am youre trewe wyf, it is no drede,
ClT 839 God shilde swich a lordes wyf to take
ClT 840 Another man to housbonde or to make!
ClT 841 “And of youre newe wyf God of his grace
ClT 842 So graunte yow wele and prosperitee!
ClT 843 For I wol gladly yelden hire my place,
ClT 844 In which that I was blisful wont to bee.
ClT 845 For sith it liketh yow, my lord,” quod shee,
ClT 846 “That whilom weren al myn hertes reste,
ClT 847 That I shal goon, I wol goon whan yow leste.
ClT 848 “But ther as ye me profre swich dowaire
ClT 849 As I first broghte, it is wel in my mynde
ClT 850 It were my wrecched clothes, nothyng faire,
ClT 851 The whiche to me were hard now for to fynde.
ClT 852 O goode God! How gentil and how kynde
ClT 853 Ye semed by youre speche and youre visage
ClT 854 The day that maked was oure mariage!
ClT 855 “But sooth is seyd — algate I fynde it trewe,
ClT 856 For in effect it preeved is on me —
ClT 857 Love is noght oold as whan that it is newe.
ClT 858 But certes, lord, for noon adversitee,
ClT 859 To dyen in the cas, it shal nat bee
ClT 860 That evere in word or werk I shal repente
ClT 861 That I yow yaf myn herte in hool entente.
ClT 862 “My lord, ye woot that in my fadres place
ClT 863 Ye dide me streepe out of my povre weede,
ClT 864 And richely me cladden, of youre grace.
ClT 865 To yow broghte I noght elles, out of drede,
ClT 866 But feith, and nakednesse, and maydenhede;
ClT 867 And heere agayn your clothyng I restoore,
ClT 868 And eek your weddyng ryng, for everemore.
ClT 869 “The remenant of youre jueles redy be
ClT 870 Inwith youre chambre, dar I saufly sayn.
ClT 871 Naked out of my fadres hous,” quod she,
ClT 872 “I cam, and naked moot I turne agayn.
ClT 873 Al youre plesance wol I folwen fayn;
ClT 874 But yet I hope it be nat youre entente
ClT 875 That I smoklees out of youre paleys wente.
ClT 876 “Ye koude nat doon so dishonest a thyng,
ClT 877 That thilke wombe in which youre children leye
ClT 878 Sholde biforn the peple, in my walkyng,
ClT 879 Be seyn al bare; wherfore I yow preye,
ClT 880 Lat me nat lyk a worm go by the weye.
ClT 881 Remembre yow, myn owene lord so deere,
ClT 882 I was youre wyf, though I unworthy weere.
ClT 883 “Wherfore, in gerdon of my maydenhede,
ClT 884 Which that I broghte, and noght agayn I bere,
ClT 885 As voucheth sauf to yeve me, to my meede,
ClT 886 But swich a smok as I was wont to were,
ClT 887 That I therwith may wrye the wombe of here
ClT 888 That was youre wyf. And heer take I my leeve
ClT 889 Of yow, myn owene lord, lest I yow greve.”
ClT 890 “The smok,” quod he, “that thou hast on thy bak,
ClT 891 Lat it be stille, and bere it forth with thee.”
ClT 892 But wel unnethes thilke word he spak,
ClT 893 But wente his wey, for routhe and for pitee.
ClT 894 Biforn the folk hirselven strepeth she,
ClT 895 And in hir smok, with heed and foot al bare,
ClT 896 Toward hir fadre hous forth is she fare.
ClT 897 The folk hire folwe, wepynge in hir weye,
ClT 898 And Fortune ay they cursen as they goon;
ClT 899 But she fro wepyng kepte hire eyen dreye,
ClT 900 Ne in this tyme word ne spak she noon.
ClT 901 Hir fader, that this tidynge herde anoon,
ClT 902 Curseth the day and tyme that Nature
ClT 903 Shoop hym to been a lyves creature.
ClT 904 For out of doute this olde poure man
ClT 905 Was evere in suspect of hir mariage;
ClT 906 For evere he demed, sith that it bigan,
ClT 907 That whan the lord fulfild hadde his corage,
ClT 908 Hym wolde thynke it were a disparage
ClT 909 To his estaat so lowe for t’ alighte,
ClT 910 And voyden hire as soone as ever he myghte.
ClT 911 Agayns his doghter hastily goth he,
ClT 912 For he by noyse of folk knew hire comynge,
ClT 913 And with hire olde coote, as it myghte be
ClT 914 He covered hire, ful sorwefully wepynge.
ClT 915 But on hire body myghte he it nat brynge,
ClT 916 For rude was the clooth, and moore of age
ClT 917 By dayes fele than at hire mariage.
ClT 918 Thus with hire fader for a certeyn space
ClT 919 Dwelleth this flour of wyfly pacience,
ClT 920 That neither by hire wordes ne hire face,
ClT 921 Biforn the folk, ne eek in hire absence,
ClT 922 Ne shewed she that hire was doon offence;
ClT 923 Ne of hire heighe estaat no remembraunce
ClT 924 Ne hadde she, as by hire contenaunce.
ClT 925 No wonder is, for in hire grete estaat
ClT 926 Hire goost was evere in pleyn humylitee;
ClT 927 No tendre mouth, noon herte delicaat,
ClT 928 No pompe, no semblant of roialtee,
ClT 929 But ful of pacient benyngnytee,
ClT 930 Discreet and pridelees, ay honurable,
ClT 931 And to hire housbonde evere meke and stable.
ClT 932 Men speke of Job, and moost for his humblesse,
ClT 933 As clerkes, whan hem list, konne wel endite,
ClT 934 Namely of men, but as in soothfastnesse,
ClT 935 Though clerkes preise wommen but a lite,
ClT 936 Ther kan no man in humblesse hym acquite
ClT 937 As womman kan, ne kan been half so trewe
ClT 938 As wommen been, but it be falle of newe.
ClT 939 Fro Boloigne is this Erl of Panyk come,
ClT 940 Of which the fame up sprang to moore and lesse,
ClT 941 And to the peples eres, alle and some,
ClT 942 Was kouth eek that a newe markysesse
ClT 943 He with hym broghte, in swich pompe and richesse
ClT 944 That nevere was ther seyn with mannes ye
ClT 945 So noble array in al West Lumbardye.
ClT 946 The markys, which that shoop and knew al this,
ClT 947 Er that this erl was come, sente his message
ClT 948 For thilke sely povre Grisildis;
ClT 949 And she with humble herte and glad visage,
ClT 950 Nat with no swollen thoght in hire corage,
ClT 951 Cam at his heste, and on hire knees hire sette,
ClT 952 And reverently and wisely she hym grette.
ClT 953 “Grisilde,” quod he, “my wyl is outrely
ClT 954 This mayden, that shal wedded been to me,
ClT 955 Received be to-morwe as roially
ClT 956 As it possible is in myn hous to be,
ClT 957 And eek that every wight in his degree
ClT 958 Have his estaat, in sittyng and servyse
ClT 959 And heigh plesaunce, as I kan best devyse.
ClT 960 “I have no wommen suffisaunt, certayn,
ClT 961 The chambres for t’ arraye in ordinaunce
ClT 962 After my lust, and therfore wolde I fayn
ClT 963 That thyn were al swich manere governaunce.
ClT 964 Thou knowest eek of old al my plesaunce;
ClT 965 Thogh thyn array be badde and yvel biseye,
ClT 966 Do thou thy devoir at the leeste weye.”
ClT 967 “Nat oonly, lord, that I am glad,” quod she,
ClT 968 “To doon youre lust, but I desire also
ClT 969 Yow for to serve and plese in my degree
ClT 970 Withouten feyntyng, and shal everemo;
ClT 971 Ne nevere, for no wele ne no wo,
ClT 972 Ne shal the goost withinne myn herte stente
ClT 973 To love yow best with al my trewe entente.”
ClT 974 And with that word she gan the hous to dighte,
ClT 975 And tables for to sette, and beddes make;
ClT 976 And peyned hire to doon al that she myghte,
ClT 977 Preyynge the chambereres, for Goddes sake,
ClT 978 To hasten hem, and faste swepe and shake;
ClT 979 And she, the mooste servysable of alle,
ClT 980 Hath every chambre arrayed and his halle.
ClT 981 Abouten undren gan this erl alighte,
ClT 982 That with hym broghte thise noble children tweye,
ClT 983 For which the peple ran to seen the sighte
ClT 984 Of hire array, so richely biseye;
ClT 985 And thanne at erst amonges hem they seye
ClT 986 That Walter was no fool, thogh that hym leste
ClT 987 To chaunge his wyf, for it was for the beste.
ClT 988 For she is fairer, as they deemen alle,
ClT 989 Than is Grisilde, and moore tendre of age,
ClT 990 And fairer fruyt bitwene hem sholde falle,
ClT 991 And moore plesant, for hire heigh lynage.
ClT 992 Hir brother eek so fair was of visage
ClT 993 That hem to seen the peple hath caught plesaunce,
ClT 994 Commendynge now the markys governaunce.
ClT 995 “O stormy peple! Unsad and evere untrewe!
ClT 996 Ay undiscreet and chaungynge as a fane!
ClT 997 Delitynge evere in rumbul that is newe,
ClT 998 For lyk the moone ay wexe ye and wane!
ClT 999 Ay ful of clappyng, deere ynogh a jane!
ClT 1000 Youre doom is fals, youre constance yvele preeveth;
ClT 1001 A ful greet fool is he that on yow leeveth.”
ClT 1002 Thus seyden sadde folk in that citee,
ClT 1003 Whan that the peple gazed up and doun,
ClT 1004 For they were glad, right for the noveltee,
ClT 1005 To han a newe lady of hir toun.
ClT 1006 Namoore of this make I now mencioun,
ClT 1007 But to Grisilde agayn wol I me dresse,
ClT 1008 And telle hir constance and hir bisynesse.
ClT 1009 Ful bisy was Grisilde in every thyng
ClT 1010 That to the feeste was apertinent.
ClT 1011 Right noght was she abayst of hire clothyng,
ClT 1012 Thogh it were rude and somdeel eek torent;
ClT 1013 But with glad cheere to the yate is went
ClT 1014 With oother folk to greete the markysesse,
ClT 1015 And after that dooth forth hire bisynesse.
ClT 1016 With so glad chiere his gestes she receyveth,
ClT 1017 And so konnyngly, everich in his degree,
ClT 1018 That no defaute no man aperceyveth,
ClT 1019 But ay they wondren what she myghte bee
ClT 1020 That in so povre array was for to see,
ClT 1021 And koude swich honour and reverence,
ClT 1022 And worthily they preisen hire prudence.
ClT 1023 In al this meene while she ne stente
ClT 1024 This mayde and eek hir brother to commende
ClT 1025 With al hir herte, in ful benyngne entente,
ClT 1026 So wel that no man koude hir pris amende.
ClT 1027 But atte laste, whan that thise lordes wende
ClT 1028 To sitten doun to mete, he gan to calle
ClT 1029 Grisilde, as she was bisy in his halle.
ClT 1030 “Grisilde,” quod he, as it were in his pley,
ClT 1031 “How liketh thee my wyf and hire beautee?”
ClT 1032 “Right wel,” quod she, “my lord; for, in good fey,
ClT 1033 A fairer saugh I nevere noon than she.
ClT 1034 I prey to God yeve hire prosperitee;
ClT 1035 And so hope I that he wol to yow sende
ClT 1036 Plesance ynogh unto youre lyves ende.
ClT 1037 “O thyng biseke I yow, and warne also,
ClT 1038 That ye ne prikke with no tormentynge
ClT 1039 This tendre mayden, as ye han doon mo;
ClT 1040 For she is fostred in hire norissynge
ClT 1041 Moore tendrely, and, to my supposynge,
ClT 1042 She koude nat adversitee endure
ClT 1043 As koude a povre fostred creature.”
ClT 1044 And whan this Walter saugh hire pacience,
ClT 1045 Hir glade chiere, and no malice at al,
ClT 1046 And he so ofte had doon to hire offence,
ClT 1047 And she ay sad and constant as a wal,
ClT 1048 Continuynge evere hire innocence overal,
ClT 1049 This sturdy markys gan his herte dresse
ClT 1050 To rewen upon hire wyfly stedfastnesse.
ClT 1051 “This is ynogh, Grisilde myn,” quod he;
ClT 1052 “Be now namoore agast ne yvele apayed.
ClT 1053 I have thy feith and thy benyngnytee,
ClT 1054 As wel as evere womman was, assayed,
ClT 1055 In greet estaat and povreliche arrayed.
ClT 1056 Now knowe I, dere wyf, thy stedfastnesse” —
ClT 1057 And hire in armes took and gan hire kesse.
ClT 1058 And she for wonder took of it no keep;
ClT 1059 She herde nat what thyng he to hire seyde;
ClT 1060 She ferde as she had stert out of a sleep,
ClT 1061 Til she out of hire mazednesse abreyde.
ClT 1062 “Grisilde,” quod he, “by God, that for us deyde,
ClT 1063 Thou art my wyf, ne noon oother I have,
ClT 1064 Ne nevere hadde, as God my soule save!
ClT 1065 “This is thy doghter, which thou hast supposed
ClT 1066 To be my wyf; that oother feithfully
ClT 1067 Shal be myn heir, as I have ay disposed;
ClT 1068 Thou bare hym in thy body trewely.
ClT 1069 At Boloigne have I kept hem prively;
ClT 1070 Taak hem agayn, for now maystow nat seye
ClT 1071 That thou hast lorn noon of thy children tweye.
ClT 1072 “And folk that ootherweys han seyd of me,
ClT 1073 I warne hem wel that I have doon this deede
ClT 1074 For no malice, ne for no crueltee,
ClT 1075 But for t’ assaye in thee thy wommanheede,
ClT 1076 And nat to sleen my children — God forbeede! —
ClT 1077 But for to kepe hem pryvely and stille,
ClT 1078 Til I thy purpos knewe and al thy wille.”
ClT 1079 Whan she this herde, aswowne doun she falleth
ClT 1080 For pitous joye, and after hire swownynge
ClT 1081 She bothe hire yonge children to hire calleth,
ClT 1082 And in hire armes, pitously wepynge,
ClT 1083 Embraceth hem, and tendrely kissynge
ClT 1084 Ful lyk a mooder, with hire salte teeres
ClT 1085 She bathed bothe hire visage and hire heeres.
ClT 1086 O which a pitous thyng it was to se
ClT 1087 Hir swownyng, and hire humble voys to heere!
ClT 1088 “Grauntmercy, lord, God thanke it yow,” quod she,
ClT 1089 “That ye han saved me my children deere!
ClT 1090 Now rekke I nevere to been deed right heere;
ClT 1091 Sith I stonde in youre love and in youre grace,
ClT 1092 No fors of deeth, ne whan my spirit pace!
ClT 1093 “O tendre, o deere, o yonge children myne!
ClT 1094 Youre woful mooder wende stedfastly
ClT 1095 That crueel houndes or som foul vermyne
ClT 1096 Hadde eten yow; but God of his mercy
ClT 1097 And youre benyngne fader tendrely
ClT 1098 Hath doon yow kept” — and in that same stounde
ClT 1099 Al sodeynly she swapte adoun to grounde.
ClT 1100 And in hire swough so sadly holdeth she
ClT 1101 Hire children two, whan she gan hem t’ embrace,
ClT 1102 That with greet sleighte and greet difficultee
ClT 1103 The children from hire arm they gonne arace.
ClT 1104 O many a teere on many a pitous face
ClT 1105 Doun ran of hem that stooden hire bisyde;
ClT 1106 Unnethe abouten hire myghte they abyde.
ClT 1107 Walter hire gladeth and hire sorwe slaketh;
ClT 1108 She riseth up, abaysed, from hire traunce,
ClT 1109 And every wight hire joye and feeste maketh
ClT 1110 Til she hath caught agayn hire contenaunce.
ClT 1111 Walter hire dooth so feithfully plesaunce
ClT 1112 That it was deyntee for to seen the cheere
ClT 1113 Bitwixe hem two, now they been met yfeere.
ClT 1114 Thise ladyes, whan that they hir tyme say,
ClT 1115 Han taken hire and into chambre gon,
ClT 1116 And strepen hire out of hire rude array,
ClT 1117 And in a clooth of gold that brighte shoon,
ClT 1118 With a coroune of many a riche stoon
ClT 1119 Upon hire heed, they into halle hire broghte,
ClT 1120 And ther she was honured as hire oghte.
ClT 1121 Thus hath this pitous day a blisful ende,
ClT 1122 For every man and womman dooth his myght
ClT 1123 This day in murthe and revel to dispende
ClT 1124 Til on the welkne shoon the sterres lyght.
ClT 1125 For moore solempne in every mannes syght
ClT 1126 This feste was, and gretter of costage,
ClT 1127 Than was the revel of hire mariage.
ClT 1128 Ful many a yeer in heigh prosperitee
ClT 1129 Lyven thise two in concord and in reste,
ClT 1130 And richely his doghter maryed he
ClT 1131 Unto a lord, oon of the worthieste
ClT 1132 Of al Ytaille; and thanne in pees and reste
ClT 1133 His wyves fader in his court he kepeth,
ClT 1134 Til that the soule out of his body crepeth.
ClT 1135 His sone succedeth in his heritage
ClT 1136 In reste and pees, after his fader day,
ClT 1137 And fortunat was eek in mariage,
ClT 1138 Al putte he nat his wyf in greet assay.
ClT 1139 This world is nat so strong, it is no nay,
ClT 1140 As it hath been in olde tymes yoore,
ClT 1141 And herkneth what this auctour seith therfoore.
ClT 1142 This storie is seyd nat for that wyves sholde
ClT 1143 Folwen Grisilde as in humylitee,
ClT 1144 For it were inportable, though they wolde,
ClT 1145 But for that every wight, in his degree,
ClT 1146 Sholde be constant in adversitee
ClT 1147 As was Grisilde; therfore Petrak writeth
ClT 1148 This storie, which with heigh stile he enditeth.
ClT 1149 For sith a womman was so pacient
ClT 1150 Unto a mortal man, wel moore us oghte
ClT 1151 Receyven al in gree that God us sent;
ClT 1152 For greet skile is he preeve that he wroghte.
ClT 1153 But he ne tempteth no man that he boghte,
ClT 1154 As seith Seint Jame, if ye his pistel rede;
ClT 1155 He preeveth folk al day, it is no drede,
ClT 1156 And suffreth us, as for oure excercise,
ClT 1157 With sharpe scourges of adversitee
ClT 1158 Ful ofte to be bete in sondry wise;
ClT 1159 Nat for to knowe oure wyl, for certes he,
ClT 1160 Er we were born, knew al oure freletee;
ClT 1161 And for oure beste is al his governaunce.
ClT 1162 Lat us thanne lyve in vertuous suffraunce.
ClT 1163 But o word, lordynges, herkneth er I go:
ClT 1164 It were ful hard to fynde now-a-dayes
ClT 1165 In al a toun Grisildis thre or two;
ClT 1166 For if that they were put to swiche assayes,
ClT 1167 The gold of hem hath now so badde alayes
ClT 1168 With bras, that thogh the coyne be fair at ye,
ClT 1169 It wolde rather breste a-two than plye.
ClT 1170 For which heere, for the Wyves love of Bathe —
ClT 1171 Whos lyf and al hire secte God mayntene
ClT 1172 In heigh maistrie, and elles were it scathe —
ClT 1173 I wol with lusty herte, fressh and grene,
ClT 1174 Seyn yow a song to glade yow, I wene;
ClT 1175 And lat us stynte of ernestful matere.
ClT 1176 Herkneth my song that seith in this manere:
ClT 1177 Grisilde is deed, and eek hire pacience,
ClT 1178 And bothe atones buryed in Ytaille;
ClT 1179 For which I crie in open audience
ClT 1180 No wedded man so hardy be t’ assaille
ClT 1181 His wyves pacience in trust to fynde
ClT 1182 Grisildis, for in certein he shal faille.
ClT 1183 O noble wyves, ful of heigh prudence,
ClT 1184 Lat noon humylitee youre tonge naille,
ClT 1185 Ne lat no clerk have cause or diligence
ClT 1186 To write of yow a storie of swich mervaille
ClT 1187 As of Grisildis pacient and kynde,
ClT 1188 Lest Chichevache yow swelwe in hire entraille!
ClT 1189 Folweth Ekko, that holdeth no silence,
ClT 1190 But evere answereth at the countretaille.
ClT 1191 Beth nat bidaffed for youre innocence,
ClT 1192 But sharply taak on yow the governaille.
ClT 1193 Emprenteth wel this lessoun in youre mynde,
ClT 1194 For commune profit sith it may availle.
ClT 1195 Ye archewyves, stondeth at defense,
ClT 1196 Syn ye be strong as is a greet camaille;
ClT 1197 Ne suffreth nat that men yow doon offense.
ClT 1198 And sklendre wyves, fieble as in bataille,
ClT 1199 Beth egre as is a tygre yond in Ynde;
ClT 1200 Ay clappeth as a mille, I yow consaille.
ClT 1201 Ne dreed hem nat; doth hem no reverence,
ClT 1202 For though thyn housbonde armed be in maille,
ClT 1203 The arwes of thy crabbed eloquence
ClT 1204 Shal perce his brest and eek his aventaille.
ClT 1205 In jalousie I rede eek thou hym bynde,
ClT 1206 And thou shalt make hym couche as doth a quaille.
ClT 1207 If thou be fair, ther folk been in presence,
ClT 1208 Shewe thou thy visage and thyn apparaille;
ClT 1209 If thou be foul, be fre of thy dispence;
ClT 1210 To gete thee freendes ay do thy travaille;
ClT 1211 Be ay of chiere as light as leef on lynde,
ClT 1212 And lat hym care, and wepe, and wrynge, and waille!
ClT 1212a [This worthy Clerk, whan ended was his tale,
ClT 1212b Oure Hooste seyde, and swoor, “By Goddes bones,
ClT 1212c Me were levere than a barel ale
ClT 1212d My wyf at hoom had herd this legende ones!
ClT 1212e This is a gentil tale for the nones,
ClT 1212f As to my purpos, wiste ye my wille;
ClT 1212g But thyng that wol nat be, lat it be stille.”]