The Complaint Unto Pity

By Geoffrey Chaucer

Pity 1 Pite, that I have sought so yore agoo
Pity 2 With herte soore and ful of besy peyne,
Pity 3 That in this world was never wight so woo
Pity 4 Withoute deth — and yf I shal not feyne,
Pity 5 My purpos was to Pite to compleyne
Pity 6 Upon the crueltee and tirannye
Pity 7 Of Love, that for my trouthe doth me dye.
Pity 8 And when that I, be lengthe of certeyne yeres,
Pity 9 Had evere in oon a tyme sought to speke,
Pity 10 To Pitee ran I al bespreynt with teres
Pity 11 To prayen hir on Cruelte me awreke.
Pity 12 But er I myghte with any word outbreke
Pity 13 Or tellen any of my peynes smerte,
Pity 14 I fond hir ded, and buried in an herte.
Pity 15 Adoun I fel when that I saugh the herse,
Pity 16 Ded as a ston while that the swogh me laste;
Pity 17 But up I roos with colour ful dyverse
Pity 18 And pitously on hir myn eyen I caste,
Pity 19 And ner the corps I gan to presen faste,
Pity 20 And for the soule I shop me for to preye.
Pity 21 I was but lorn, ther was no more to seye.
Pity 22 Thus am I slayn sith that Pite is ded.
Pity 23 Allas, that day, that ever hyt shulde falle.
Pity 24 What maner man dar now hold up his hed?
Pity 25 To whom shal any sorwful herte calle?
Pity 26 Now Cruelte hath cast to slee us alle,
Pity 27 In ydel hope, folk redeless of peyne,
Pity 28 Syth she is ded, to whom shul we compleyne?
Pity 29 But yet encreseth me this wonder newe,
Pity 30 That no wight woot that she is ded, but I —
Pity 31 So many men as in her tyme hir knewe —
Pity 32 And yet she dyed not so sodeynly,
Pity 33 For I have sought hir ever ful besely
Pity 34 Sith first I hadde wit or mannes mynde,
Pity 35 But she was ded er that I koude hir fynde.
Pity 36 Aboute hir herse there stoden lustely,
Pity 37 Withouten any woo as thoughte me,
Pity 38 Bounte parfyt, wel armed and richely,
Pity 39 And fresshe Beaute, Lust, and Jolyte,
Pity 40 Assured Maner, Youthe, and Honeste,
Pity 41 Wisdom, Estaat, Drede, and Governaunce,
Pity 42 Confedred both by bonde and alliaunce.
Pity 43 A compleynt had I, writen in myn hond,
Pity 44 For to have put to Pite as a bille;
Pity 45 But when I al this companye ther fond,
Pity 46 That rather wolden al my cause spille
Pity 47 Then do me help, I held my pleynte stille,
Pity 48 For to that folk, withouten any fayle,
Pity 49 Withoute Pitee ther may no bille availe.
Pity 50 Then leve I al these vertues, sauf Pite,
Pity 51 Kepynge the corps as ye have herd me seyn,
Pity 52 Confedered alle by bond of Cruelte
Pity 53 And ben assented when I shal be sleyn.
Pity 54 And I have put my complaynt up ageyn,
Pity 55 For to my foes my bille I dar not shewe,
Pity 56 Th’ effect of which seith thus, in wordes fewe:
Pity 57 Humblest of herte, highest of reverence,
Pity 58 Benygne flour, coroune of vertues alle,
Pity 59 Sheweth unto youre rial excellence
Pity 60 Youre servaunt, yf I durste me so calle,
Pity 61 Hys mortal harm in which he is yfalle,
Pity 62 And noght al oonly for his evel fare,
Pity 63 But for your renoun, as he shal declare.
Pity 64 Hit stondeth thus: your contraire, Crueltee,
Pity 65 Allyed is ayenst your regalye
Pity 66 Under colour of womanly Beaute —
Pity 67 For men shulde not, lo, knowe hir tirannye —
Pity 68 With Bounte, Gentilesse, and Curtesye,
Pity 69 And hath depryved yow now of your place
Pity 70 That hyghte “Beaute apertenant to Grace.”
Pity 71 For kyndely by youre herytage ryght
Pity 72 Ye ben annexed ever unto Bounte;
Pity 73 And verrayly ye oughte do youre myght
Pity 74 To helpe Trouthe in his adversyte.
Pity 75 Ye be also the corowne of Beaute,
Pity 76 And certes yf ye wanten in these tweyne,
Pity 77 The world is lore; ther is no more to seyne.
Pity 78 Eke what availeth Maner and Gentilesse
Pity 79 Withoute yow, benygne creature?
Pity 80 Shal Cruelte be your governeresse?
Pity 81 Allas, what herte may hyt longe endure?
Pity 82 Wherfore, but ye the rather take cure
Pity 83 To breke that perilouse alliaunce,
Pity 84 Ye sleen hem that ben in your obeisaunce.
Pity 85 And further over yf ye suffre this,
Pity 86 Youre renoun ys fordoo than in a throwe;
Pity 87 Ther shal no man wite well what Pite is.
Pity 88 Allas, that your renoun is falle so lowe!
Pity 89 Ye be than fro youre heritage ythrowe
Pity 90 By Cruelte that occupieth youre place,
Pity 91 And we despeyred that seken to your grace.
Pity 92 Have mercy on me, thow Herenus quene,
Pity 93 That yow have sought so tendirly and yore;
Pity 94 Let som strem of youre lyght on me be sene
Pity 95 That love and drede yow ever lenger the more;
Pity 96 For sothly for to seyne I bere the soore,
Pity 97 And though I be not konnynge for to pleyne,
Pity 98 For Goddis love have mercy on my peyne.
Pity 99 My peyne is this, that what so I desire
Pity 100 That have I not, ne nothing lyk therto;
Pity 101 And ever setteth Desir myn hert on fire.
Pity 102 Eke on that other syde where so I goo,
Pity 103 What maner thing that may encrese my woo,
Pity 104 That have I redy, unsoght, everywhere;
Pity 105 Me lakketh but my deth and than my bere.
Pity 106 What nedeth to shewe parcel of my peyne?
Pity 107 Syth every woo that herte may bethynke
Pity 108 I suffre and yet I dar not to yow pleyne;
Pity 109 For wel I wot although I wake or wynke,
Pity 110 Ye rekke not whether I flete or synke.
Pity 111 But natheles yet my trouthe I shal sustene
Pity 112 Unto my deth, and that shal wel be sene.
Pity 113 This is to seyne I wol be youres evere,
Pity 114 Though ye me slee by Crueltee your foo,
Pity 115 Algate my spirit shal never dissevere
Pity 116 Fro youre servise for any peyne or woo.
Pity 117 Sith ye be ded — allas that hyt is soo —
Pity 118 Thus for your deth I may wel wepe and pleyne
Pity 119 With herte sore and ful of besy peyne.