The Complaint of Mars

By Geoffrey Chaucer

Mars 1 Gladeth, ye foules, of the morowe gray;
Mars 2 Lo, Venus, rysen among yon rowes rede.
Mars 3 And floures fressh, honoureth ye this day,
Mars 4 For when the sunne uprist then wol ye sprede.
Mars 5 But ye lovers, that lye in any drede,
Mars 6 Fleeth, lest wikked tonges yow espye.
Mars 7 Lo, yond the sunne, the candel of jelosye!
Mars 8 Wyth teres blewe and with a wounded herte
Mars 9 Taketh your leve, and with Seint John to borowe
Mars 10 Apeseth sumwhat of your sorowes smerte.
Mars 11 Tyme cometh eft that cese shal your sorowe;
Mars 12 The glade nyght ys worth an hevy morowe —
Mars 13 Seynt Valentyne, a foul thus herde I synge
Mars 14 Upon thy day er sonne gan up-sprynge.
Mars 15 Yet sang this foul — I rede yow al awake,
Mars 16 And ye that han not chosen in humble wyse,
Mars 17 Without repentynge cheseth yow your make,
Mars 18 And ye that han ful chosen as I devise,
Mars 19 Yet at the leste renoveleth your servyse.
Mars 20 Confermeth hyt perpetuely to dure,
Mars 21 And paciently taketh your aventure.
Mars 22 And for the worship of this highe feste,
Mars 23 Yet wol I, in my briddes wise, synge
Mars 24 The sentence of the compleynt, at the leste,
Mars 25 That woful Mars made atte departyng
Mars 26 Fro fresshe Venus in a morwenynge,
Mars 27 Whan Phebus with his firy torches rede
Mars 28 Ransaked every lover in hys drede.
Mars 29 Whilom the thridde hevenes lord above,
Mars 30 As wel by hevenysh revolucioun
Mars 31 As by desert, hath wonne Venus his love,
Mars 32 And she hath take him in subjeccioun,
Mars 33 And as a maistresse taught him his lessoun,
Mars 34 Commaundynge him that nevere, in her servise,
Mars 35 He nere so bold no lover to dispise.
Mars 36 For she forbad him jelosye at al,
Mars 37 And cruelte, and bost, and tyrannye.
Mars 38 She made him at her lust so humble and tal,
Mars 39 That when her deyned to cast on hym her ye,
Mars 40 He tok in pacience to lyve or dye.
Mars 41 And thus she brydeleth him in her manere,
Mars 42 With nothing but with scourging of her chere.
Mars 43 Who regneth now in blysse but Venus,
Mars 44 That hath thys worthy knyght in governaunce?
Mars 45 Who syngeth now but Mars, that serveth thus
Mars 46 The faire Venus, causer of plesaunce?
Mars 47 He bynt him to perpetuall obeisaunce,
Mars 48 And she bynt her to loven him for evere,
Mars 49 But so be that his trespas hyt desevere.
Mars 50 Thus be they knyt and regnen as in hevene
Mars 51 Be lokyng moost; til hyt fil on a tyde
Mars 52 That by her bothe assent was set a stevene
Mars 53 That Mars shal entre, as fast as he may glyde,
Mars 54 Into hir nexte paleys, and ther abyde,
Mars 55 Walkynge hys cours, til she had him atake,
Mars 56 And he preide her to haste her for his sake.
Mars 57 Then seyde he thus, “Myn hertes lady swete,
Mars 58 Ye knowe wel my myschef in that place,
Mars 59 For sikerly, til that I with yow mete,
Mars 60 My lyf stant ther in aventure and grace;
Mars 61 But when I se the beaute of your face,
Mars 62 Ther ys no drede of deth may do me smerte,
Mars 63 For al your lust is ese to myn herte.”
Mars 64 She hath so gret compassioun of her knyght,
Mars 65 That dwelleth in solitude til she come —
Mars 66 For hyt stod so that thilke tyme no wight
Mars 67 Counseyled hym ther, ne seyde to hym welcome —
Mars 68 That nygh her wit for wo was overcome;
Mars 69 Wherfore she sped her as faste in her weye
Mars 70 Almost in oo day as he dyde in tweye.
Mars 71 The grete joye that was betwix hem two
Mars 72 When they be mette ther may no tunge telle.
Mars 73 Ther is no more but unto bed thei go,
Mars 74 And thus in joy and blysse I lete hem duelle.
Mars 75 This worthi Mars, that is of knyghthod welle,
Mars 76 The flour of feyrnesse lappeth in his armes,
Mars 77 And Venus kysseth Mars, the god of armes.
Mars 78 Sojourned hath this Mars of which I rede
Mars 79 In chambre amyd the paleys prively
Mars 80 A certeyn tyme, til him fel a drede
Mars 81 Throgh Phebus, that was comen hastely
Mars 82 Within the paleys yates sturdely,
Mars 83 With torche in honde, of which the stremes bryghte
Mars 84 On Venus chambre knokkeden ful lyghte.
Mars 85 The chambre ther as ley this fresshe quene
Mars 86 Depeynted was with white boles grete,
Mars 87 And by the lyght she knew, that shon so shene,
Mars 88 That Phebus cam to brenne hem with his hete.
Mars 89 This sely Venus nygh dreynt in teres wete
Mars 90 Enbraceth Mars and seyde, “Alas, I dye!
Mars 91 The torche is come that al this world wol wrie.”
Mars 92 Up sterte Mars; hym liste not to slepe
Mars 93 When he his lady herde so compleyne,
Mars 94 But, for his nature was not for to wepe,
Mars 95 In stede of teres, from his eyen tweyne
Mars 96 The firi sparkes brosten out for peyne,
Mars 97 And hente his hauberk that ley hym besyde.
Mars 98 Fle wolde he not, ne myghte himselven hide.
Mars 99 He throweth on his helm of huge wyghte,
Mars 100 And girt him with his swerd, and in his hond
Mars 101 His myghty spere, as he was wont to fyghte,
Mars 102 He shaketh so that almost hit towond.
Mars 103 Ful hevy was he to walken over lond;
Mars 104 He may not holde with Venus companye
Mars 105 But bad her fleen lest Phebus her espye.
Mars 106 O woful Mars — alas — what maist thou seyn,
Mars 107 That in the paleys of thy disturbaunce
Mars 108 Art left byhynde in peril to be sleyn?
Mars 109 And yet therto ys double thy penaunce,
Mars 110 For she that hath thyn herte in governaunce
Mars 111 Is passed half the stremes of thin yen;
Mars 112 That thou nere swift, wel maist thou wepe and crien.
Mars 113 Now fleeth Venus unto Cilenios tour
Mars 114 With voide cours for fere of Phebus lyght —
Mars 115 Alas — and ther ne hath she no socour,
Mars 116 For she ne found ne saugh no maner wyght,
Mars 117 And eke as ther she hath but litil myght,
Mars 118 Wherfor, herselven for to hyde and save,
Mars 119 Within the gate she fledde into a cave.
Mars 120 Derk was this cave and smokyng as the helle;
Mars 121 Not but two pas within the yate hit stod.
Mars 122 A naturel day in derk I lete her duelle.
Mars 123 Now wol I speke of Mars, furious and wod.
Mars 124 For sorow he wolde have sen his herte blod;
Mars 125 Sith that he myghte don her no companye,
Mars 126 He ne roghte not a myte for to dye.
Mars 127 So feble he wex for hete and for his wo
Mars 128 That nygh he swelte, he myghte unnethe endure;
Mars 129 He passeth but o steyre in dayes two.
Mars 130 But nathelesse, for al his hevy armure,
Mars 131 He foloweth her that is his lyves cure,
Mars 132 For whos departyng he tok gretter ire
Mars 133 Then for al his brennyng in the fire.
Mars 134 After he walketh softely a paas,
Mars 135 Compleynyng, that hyt pite was to here,
Mars 136 He seyde, “O lady bryght, Venus, alas,
Mars 137 That evere so wyd a compas ys my spere!
Mars 138 Alas, when shal I mete yow, herte dere?
Mars 139 This twelfte daye of April I endure
Mars 140 Throgh jelous Phebus this mysaventure.”
Mars 141 Now God helpe sely Venus allone.
Mars 142 But as God wolde, hyt happed for to be
Mars 143 That, while that Venus weping made her mone,
Mars 144 Cilenius, rydinge in his chevache,
Mars 145 Fro Venus valaunse myghte his paleys se,
Mars 146 And Venus he salueth and doth chere,
Mars 147 And her receyveth as his frend ful dere.
Mars 148 Mars dwelleth forth in his adversyte,
Mars 149 Compleynyng ever on her departynge,
Mars 150 And what his compleynt was, remembreth me;
Mars 151 And therfore, in this lusty morwenynge
Mars 152 As I best can, I wol hit seyn and synge;
Mars 153 And after that I wol my leve take,
Mars 154 And God yeve every wyght joy of his make!
Mars 155 The ordre of compleynt requireth skylfully
Mars 156 That yf a wight shal pleyne pitously,
Mars 157 Ther mot be cause wherfore that men pleyne;
Mars 158 Or men may deme he pleyneth folily
Mars 159 And causeles; alas, that am not I.
Mars 160 Wherfore the ground and cause of al my peyne,
Mars 161 So as my troubled wit may hit atteyne,
Mars 162 I wol reherse; not for to have redresse,
Mars 163 But to declare my ground of hevynesse.
Mars 164 The firste tyme, alas, that I was wroght
Mars 165 And for certeyn effectes hider broght
Mars 166 Be him that lordeth ech intelligence,
Mars 167 I yaf my trewe servise and my thoght
Mars 168 For evermore — how dere I have hit boght —
Mars 169 To her that is of so gret excellence
Mars 170 That what wight that first sheweth his presence,
Mars 171 When she is wroth and taketh of hym no cure,
Mars 172 He may not longe in joye of love endure.
Mars 173 This is no feyned mater that I telle;
Mars 174 My lady is the verrey sours and welle
Mars 175 Of beaute, lust, fredom, and gentilnesse,
Mars 176 Of riche aray — how dere men hit selle! —
Mars 177 Of al disport in which men frendly duelle,
Mars 178 Of love and pley, and of benigne humblesse,
Mars 179 Of soun of instrumentes of al swetnesse;
Mars 180 And therto so wel fortuned and thewed
Mars 181 That thorogh the world her goodnesse is yshewed.
Mars 182 What wonder ys it then, thogh I besette
Mars 183 My servise on such on that may me knette
Mars 184 To wele or wo sith hit lyth in her myght?
Mars 185 Therfore my herte forever I to her hette,
Mars 186 Ne truly, for my deth, I shal not lette
Mars 187 To ben her truest servaunt and her knyght.
Mars 188 I flater noght, that may wete every wyght;
Mars 189 For this day in her servise shal I dye.
Mars 190 But grace be, I se her never wyth ye.
Mars 191 To whom shal I than pleyne of my distresse?
Mars 192 Who may me helpe? Who may my harm redresse?
Mars 193 Shal I compleyne unto my lady fre?
Mars 194 Nay, certes, for she hath such hevynesse,
Mars 195 For fere and eke for wo that, as I gesse,
Mars 196 In lytil tyme hit wol her bane be.
Mars 197 But were she sauf, hit were no fors of me.
Mars 198 Alas, that ever lovers mote endure
Mars 199 For love so many a perilous aventure!
Mars 200 For thogh so be that lovers be as trewe
Mars 201 As any metal that is forged newe,
Mars 202 In many a cas hem tydeth ofte sorowe.
Mars 203 Somtyme her lady wil not on hem rewe;
Mars 204 Somtyme yf that jelosie hyt knewe,
Mars 205 They myghten lyghtly leye her hed to borowe;
Mars 206 Somtyme envyous folk with tunges horowe
Mars 207 Depraven hem; alas, whom may they plese?
Mars 208 But he be fals, no lover hath non ese.
Mars 209 But what availeth such a long sermoun
Mars 210 Of aventures of love up and doun?
Mars 211 I wol returne and speken of my peyne.
Mars 212 The poynt is this of my distruccioun:
Mars 213 My righte lady, my savacyoun,
Mars 214 Is in affray, and not to whom to pleyne.
Mars 215 O herte swete, O lady sovereyne!
Mars 216 For your disese wel oughte I swowne and swelte,
Mars 217 Though I non other harm ne drede felte.
Mars 218 To what fyn made the God, that sit so hye,
Mars 219 Benethen him love other companye
Mars 220 And streyneth folk to love, malgre her hed?
Mars 221 And then her joy, for oght I can espye,
Mars 222 Ne lasteth not the twynkelyng of an ye,
Mars 223 And somme han never joy til they be ded.
Mars 224 What meneth this? What is this mystihed?
Mars 225 Wherto constreyneth he his folk so faste
Mars 226 Thing to desyre, but hit shulde laste?
Mars 227 And thogh he made a lover love a thing
Mars 228 And maketh hit seme stedfast and during,
Mars 229 Yet putteth he in hyt such mysaventure
Mars 230 That reste nys ther non in his yeving.
Mars 231 And that is wonder, that so juste a kyng
Mars 232 Doth such hardnesse to his creature.
Mars 233 Thus, whether love breke or elles dure,
Mars 234 Algates he that hath with love to done
Mars 235 Hath ofter wo then changed ys the mone.
Mars 236 Hit semeth he hath to lovers enmyte,
Mars 237 And lyk a fissher, as men alday may se,
Mars 238 Baiteth hys angle-hok with som plesaunce
Mars 239 Til many a fissh ys wod til that he be
Mars 240 Sesed therwith; and then at erst hath he
Mars 241 Al his desir, and therwith al myschaunce;
Mars 242 And thogh the lyne breke, he hath penaunce;
Mars 243 For with the hok he wounded is so sore
Mars 244 That he his wages hath for evermore.
Mars 245 The broche of Thebes was of such a kynde,
Mars 246 So ful of rubies and of stones of Ynde
Mars 247 That every wight, that sette on hit an ye,
Mars 248 He wende anon to worthe out of his mynde;
Mars 249 So sore the beaute wolde his herte bynde.
Mars 250 Til he hit had, him thoghte he moste dye;
Mars 251 And whan that hit was his, then shulde he drye
Mars 252 Such woo for drede, ay while that he hit hadde,
Mars 253 That wel nygh for the fere he shulde madde.
Mars 254 And whan hit was fro his possessioun,
Mars 255 Then had he double wo and passioun
Mars 256 For he so feir a tresor had forgo;
Mars 257 But yet this broche as in conclusioun
Mars 258 Was not the cause of his confusioun,
Mars 259 But he that wroghte hit enfortuned hit so
Mars 260 That every wight that had hit shulde have wo;
Mars 261 And therfore in the worcher was the vice,
Mars 262 And in the covetour that was so nyce.
Mars 263 So fareth hyt by lovers and by me;
Mars 264 For thogh my lady have so gret beaute
Mars 265 That I was mad til I had gete her grace,
Mars 266 She was not cause of myn adversite,
Mars 267 But he that wroghte her, also mot I the,
Mars 268 That putte such a beaute in her face,
Mars 269 That made me coveyten and purchace
Mars 270 Myn oune deth — him wite I that I dye,
Mars 271 And myn unwit that ever I clamb so hye.
Mars 272 But to yow, hardy knyghtes of renoun,
Mars 273 Syn that ye be of my devisioun,
Mars 274 Al be I not worthy to so gret a name,
Mars 275 Yet, seyn these clerkes, I am your patroun;
Mars 276 Therfore ye oghte have som compassioun
Mars 277 Of my disese, and take hit not a-game.
Mars 278 The proudest of yow may be mad ful tame;
Mars 279 Wherfore I prey yow of your gentilesse
Mars 280 That ye compleyne for myn hevynesse.
Mars 281 And ye, my ladyes, that ben true and stable,
Mars 282 Be wey of kynde, ye oughten to be able
Mars 283 To have pite of folk that be in peyne.
Mars 284 Now have ye cause to clothe yow in sable,
Mars 285 Sith that youre emperise, the honurable,
Mars 286 Is desolat; wel oghte ye to pleyne.
Mars 287 Now shulde your holy teres falle and reyne.
Mars 288 Alas, your honour and your emperise,
Mars 289 Negh ded for drede ne can her not chevise!
Mars 290 Compleyneth eke, ye lovers, al in-fere,
Mars 291 For her that with unfeyned humble chere
Mars 292 Was evere redy to do yow socour;
Mars 293 Compleyneth her that evere hath had yow dere;
Mars 294 Compleyneth Beaute, Fredom, and Manere;
Mars 295 Compleyneth her that endeth your labour;
Mars 296 Compleyneth thilke ensample of al honour,
Mars 297 That never dide but al gentilesse;
Mars 298 Kytheth therfore on her sum kyndenesse.