The Legend of Ariadne

By Geoffrey Chaucer

LGW 6 1886 Juge infernal, Mynos, of Crete kyng,
LGW 6 1887 Now cometh thy lot, now comestow on the ryng.
LGW 6 1888 Nat for thy sake oonly write I this storye,
LGW 6 1889 But for to clepe ageyn unto memorye
LGW 6 1890 Of Theseus the grete untrouthe of love;
LGW 6 1891 For which the goddes of the heven above
LGW 6 1892 Ben wrothe, and wreche han take for thy synne.
LGW 6 1893 Be red for shame! Now I thy lyf begynne.
LGW 6 1894 Mynos, that was the myghty kyng of Crete,
LGW 6 1895 That hadde an hundred citees stronge and grete,
LGW 6 1896 To scole hath sent hys sone Androgeus,
LGW 6 1897 To Athenes; of the which hyt happed thus,
LGW 6 1898 That he was slayn, lernynge philosophie,
LGW 6 1899 Ryght in that citee, nat but for envye.
LGW 6 1900 The grete Mynos, of the which I speke,
LGW 6 1901 Hys sones deth ys come for to wreke.
LGW 6 1902 Alcathoe he besegeth harde and longe;
LGW 6 1903 But natheles, the walles be so stronge,
LGW 6 1904 And Nysus, that was kyng of that citee,
LGW 6 1905 So chevalrous, that lytel dredeth he;
LGW 6 1906 Of Mynos or hys ost tok he no cure,
LGW 6 1907 Til on a day befel an aventure,
LGW 6 1908 That Nysus doughter stod upon the wal,
LGW 6 1909 And of the sege saw the maner al.
LGW 6 1910 So happed it that at a scarmishyng
LGW 6 1911 She caste hire herte upon Mynos the kyng,
LGW 6 1912 For his beaute and for his chyvalrye,
LGW 6 1913 So sore that she wende for to dye.
LGW 6 1914 And, shortly of this proces for to pace,
LGW 6 1915 She made Mynos wynnen thilke place,
LGW 6 1916 So that the cite was al at his wille,
LGW 6 1917 To saven whom hym leste or elles spille.
LGW 6 1918 But wikkedly he quitte hire kyndenesse,
LGW 6 1919 And let hire drenche in sorwe and distresse,
LGW 6 1920 Nere that the goddes hadde of hire pite;
LGW 6 1921 But that tale were to long as now for me.
LGW 6 1922 Athenes wan thys kyng Mynos also,
LGW 6 1923 As Alcathoe, and other tounes mo.
LGW 6 1924 And this th’ effect, that Mynos hath so driven
LGW 6 1925 Hem of Athenes that they mote hym yiven
LGW 6 1926 From yer to yer hire owene children dere
LGW 6 1927 For to be slayne right as ye shal here.
LGW 6 1928 This Mynos hadde a monstre, a wiked best,
LGW 6 1929 That was so crewel that, withoute arest,
LGW 6 1930 Whan that a man was brought in his presence,
LGW 6 1931 He wolde hym ete; ther helpeth no defence.
LGW 6 1932 And every thridde yeer, withouten doute,
LGW 6 1933 They caste lot, and as it com aboute
LGW 6 1934 On riche, on pore, he moste his sone take,
LGW 6 1935 And of his child he moste present make
LGW 6 1936 Unto Minos, to save hym or to spylle,
LGW 6 1937 Or lete his best devoure hym at his wille.
LGW 6 1938 And this hath Mynos don, ryght in dispit;
LGW 6 1939 To wreke his sone was set al his delyt,
LGW 6 1940 And maken hem of Athenes his thral
LGW 6 1941 From yer to yer, whil that he liven shal;
LGW 6 1942 And hom he sayleth whan this toun is wonne.
LGW 6 1943 This wiked custom is so longe yronne,
LGW 6 1944 Til that of Athenes kyng Egeus
LGW 6 1945 Mot senden his owene sone, Theseus,
LGW 6 1946 Sith that the lot is fallen hym upon,
LGW 6 1947 To ben devoured, for grace is there non.
LGW 6 1948 And forth is lad this woful yonge knyght
LGW 6 1949 Unto the court of kyng Mynos ful ryght,
LGW 6 1950 And into a prysoun, fetered, cast is he
LGW 6 1951 Tyl thilke tyme he sholde freten be.
LGW 6 1952 Wel maystow wepe, O woful Theseus,
LGW 6 1953 That art a kynges sone, and dampned thus.
LGW 6 1954 Me thynketh this, that thow were depe yholde
LGW 6 1955 To whom that savede thee from cares colde!
LGW 6 1956 And if now any woman helpe the,
LGW 6 1957 Wel oughtestow hire servaunt for to be,
LGW 6 1958 And ben hire trewe lovere yer be yere!
LGW 6 1959 But now to come ageyn to my matere.
LGW 6 1960 The tour there as this Theseus is throwe
LGW 6 1961 Doun in the botom derk and wonder lowe,
LGW 6 1962 Was joynynge in the wal to a foreyne;
LGW 6 1963 And it was longynge to the doughtren tweyne
LGW 6 1964 Of Mynos, that in hire chaumbers grete
LGW 6 1965 Dwellten above, toward the mayster-strete
LGW 6 1966 Of Athenes, in joye and in solas.
LGW 6 1967 Noot I not how, it happede par cas,
LGW 6 1968 As Theseus compleynede hym by nyghte,
LGW 6 1969 The kynges doughter, Adryane that highte,
LGW 6 1970 And ek hire syster Phedra, herden al
LGW 6 1971 His compleynynge as they stode on the wal
LGW 6 1972 And lokeden upon the bryghte mone.
LGW 6 1973 Hem leste nat to go to bedde so sone;
LGW 6 1974 And of his wo they hadde compassioun.
LGW 6 1975 A kynges sone to ben in swich prysoun,
LGW 6 1976 And ben devoured, thoughte hem gret pite.
LGW 6 1977 This Adryane spak to hire syster fre,
LGW 6 1978 And seyde, “Phedra, leve syster dere,
LGW 6 1979 This woful lordes sone may ye nat here,
LGW 6 1980 How pitously compleyneth he his kyn,
LGW 6 1981 And ek his povre estat that he is in,
LGW 6 1982 And gilteles? Now, certes, it is routhe!
LGW 6 1983 And if ye wol assenten, by my trouthe,
LGW 6 1984 He shal ben holpen, how so that we do.”
LGW 6 1985 Phedra answerde, “Ywis, me is as wo
LGW 6 1986 For hym as evere I was for any man;
LGW 6 1987 And, to his help, the beste red I can
LGW 6 1988 Is that we do the gayler prively
LGW 6 1989 To come and speke with us hastily,
LGW 6 1990 And don this woful man with hym to come.
LGW 6 1991 For if he may this monstre overcome,
LGW 6 1992 Thanne were he quyt; ther is non other bote.
LGW 6 1993 Lat us wel taste hym at his herte-rote,
LGW 6 1994 That if so be that he a wepen have,
LGW 6 1995 Wher that he dar, his lyf to kepe and save,
LGW 6 1996 Fyghten with the fend, and hym defende.
LGW 6 1997 For in the prysoun ther he shal descende,
LGW 6 1998 Ye wote wel that the beste is in a place
LGW 6 1999 That nys nat derk, and hath roum eek and space
LGW 6 2000 To welde an ax, or swerd, or staf, or knyf;
LGW 6 2001 So that, me thynketh, he shulde save his lyf.
LGW 6 2002 If that he be a man, he shal do so.
LGW 6 2003 And we shul make hym balles ek also
LGW 6 2004 Of wex and tow, that whan he gapeth faste,
LGW 6 2005 Into the bestes throte he shal hem caste
LGW 6 2006 To slake his hunger and encombre his teth;
LGW 6 2007 And right anon, whan that Theseus seth
LGW 6 2008 The beste achoked, he shal on hym lepe
LGW 6 2009 To slen hym or they comen more to-hepe.
LGW 6 2010 This wepen shal the gayler, or that tyde,
LGW 6 2011 Ful prively withinne the prysoun hyde;
LGW 6 2012 And for the hous is krynkeled to and fro,
LGW 6 2013 And hath so queynte weyes for to go —
LGW 6 2014 For it is shapen as the mase is wrought —
LGW 6 2015 Therto have I a remedye in my thought,
LGW 6 2016 That, by a clewe of twyn, as he hath gon,
LGW 6 2017 The same weye he may returne anon,
LGW 6 2018 Folwynge alwey the thred as he hath come.
LGW 6 2019 And whan that he this beste hath overcome,
LGW 6 2020 Thanne may he flen awey out of this drede,
LGW 6 2021 And ek the gayler may he with hym lede,
LGW 6 2022 And hym avaunce at hom in his cuntre,
LGW 6 2023 Syn that so gret a lordes sone is he.
LGW 6 2024 This is my red, if that he dar it take.”
LGW 6 2025 What sholde I lenger sarmoun of it make?
LGW 6 2026 This gayler cometh, and with hym Theseus.
LGW 6 2027 Whan these thynges ben acorded thus,
LGW 6 2028 Adoun sit Theseus upon his kne —
LGW 6 2029 “The ryghte lady of my lyf,” quod he,
LGW 6 2030 “I, sorweful man, ydampned to the deth,
LGW 6 2031 Fro yow, whil that me lasteth lyf or breth,
LGW 6 2032 I wol nat twynne, after this aventure,
LGW 6 2033 But in youre servise thus I wol endure,
LGW 6 2034 That, as a wreche unknowe, I wol yow serve
LGW 6 2035 For everemo, til that myn herte sterve.
LGW 6 2036 Forsake I wol at hom myn herytage,
LGW 6 2037 And, as I seyde, ben of youre court a page,
LGW 6 2038 If that ye vouche-sauf that in this place
LGW 6 2039 Ye graunte me to han so gret a grace
LGW 6 2040 That I may han nat but my mete and drynke.
LGW 6 2041 And for my sustenaunce yit wol I swynke,
LGW 6 2042 Ryght as yow leste, that Mynos ne no wight —
LGW 6 2043 Syn that he saw me nevere with eyen syght —
LGW 6 2044 Ne no man elles, shal me conne espye;
LGW 6 2045 So slyly and so wel I shal me gye,
LGW 6 2046 And me so wel disfigure and so lowe,
LGW 6 2047 That in this world ther shal no man me knowe,
LGW 6 2048 To han my lyf, and for to han presence
LGW 6 2049 Of yow, that don to me this excellence.
LGW 6 2050 And to my fader shal I sende here
LGW 6 2051 This worthy man that is now youre gaylere,
LGW 6 2052 And hym so gwerdone that he shal wel be
LGW 6 2053 Oon of the gretteste men of my cuntre.
LGW 6 2054 And if I durste seyn, my lady bryght,
LGW 6 2055 I am a kynges sone and ek a knyght.
LGW 6 2056 As wolde God, if that it myghte be
LGW 6 2057 Ye weren in my cuntre, alle thre,
LGW 6 2058 And I with yow to bere yow compaignye,
LGW 6 2059 Thanne shulde ye se if that I therof lye.
LGW 6 2060 And if I profre yow in low manere
LGW 6 2061 To ben youre page and serven yow ryght here,
LGW 6 2062 But I yow serve as lowly in that place,
LGW 6 2063 I preye to Mars to yeve me swich a grace
LGW 6 2064 That shames deth on me ther mote falle,
LGW 6 2065 And deth and poverte to my frendes alle;
LGW 6 2066 And that my spirit by nyghte mote go,
LGW 6 2067 After my deth, and walke to and fro,
LGW 6 2068 That I mote of traytour have a name,
LGW 6 2069 For which my spirit go, to do me shame!
LGW 6 2070 And if I evere cleyme other degre,
LGW 6 2071 But if ye vouche-sauf to yeve it me,
LGW 6 2072 As I have seyd, of shames deth I deye!
LGW 6 2073 And mercy, lady! I can nat elles seye.”
LGW 6 2074 A semely knyght was Theseus to se,
LGW 6 2075 And yong, but of a twenty yer and thre.
LGW 6 2076 But whoso hadde seyn his contenaunce,
LGW 6 2077 He wolde have wept for routhe of his penaunce;
LGW 6 2078 For which this Adryane in this manere
LGW 6 2079 Answerde hym to his profre and to his chere:
LGW 6 2080 “A kynges sone, and ek a knyght,” quod she,
LGW 6 2081 “To ben my servaunt in so low degre,
LGW 6 2082 God shilde it, for the shame of wemen alle,
LGW 6 2083 And lene me nevere swich a cas befalle!
LGW 6 2084 But sende yow grace of herte and sleyghte also,
LGW 6 2085 Yow to defende and knyghtly slen youre fo,
LGW 6 2086 And leve hereafter that I may yow fynde
LGW 6 2087 To me and to my syster here so kynde,
LGW 6 2088 That I repente nat to yeve yow lyf!
LGW 6 2089 Yit were it betere that I were youre wyf,
LGW 6 2090 Syn that ye ben as gentil born as I,
LGW 6 2091 And have a reaume, nat but faste by,
LGW 6 2092 Than that I suffered, gilteles, yow sterve,
LGW 6 2093 Or that I let yow as a page serve.
LGW 6 2094 It nys no profre as unto youre kynrede;
LGW 6 2095 But what is that that man nyl don for drede?
LGW 6 2096 And to my syster, syn that it is so
LGW 6 2097 That she mot gon with me, if that I go,
LGW 6 2098 Or elles suffre deth as wel as I,
LGW 6 2099 That ye unto youre sone as trewely
LGW 6 2100 Don hire ben wedded at youre hom-comyng.
LGW 6 2101 This is the final ende of al this thyng;
LGW 6 2102 Ye swere it here, upon al that may be sworn.”
LGW 6 2103 “Ye, lady myn,” quod he, “or ellis torn
LGW 6 2104 Mote I be with the Mynotaur to-morwe!
LGW 6 2105 And haveth hereof myn herte blod to borwe,
LGW 6 2106 If that ye wole; if I hadde knyf or spere,
LGW 6 2107 I wolde it laten out, and theron swere,
LGW 6 2108 For thanne at erst I wot ye wole me leve.
LGW 6 2109 By Mars, that is the chef of my beleve,
LGW 6 2110 So that I myghte liven and nat fayle
LGW 6 2111 To-morwe for t’ acheve my batayle,
LGW 6 2112 I wolde nevere from this place fle,
LGW 6 2113 Til that ye shulde the verray preve se.
LGW 6 2114 For now, if that the sothe I shal yow say,
LGW 6 2115 I have yloved yow ful many a day,
LGW 6 2116 Thogh ye ne wiste it nat, in my cuntre,
LGW 6 2117 And aldermost desired yow to se
LGW 6 2118 Of any erthly livynge creature.
LGW 6 2119 Upon my trouthe I swere and yow assure,
LGW 6 2120 This sevene yer I have youre servaunt be.
LGW 6 2121 Now have I yow, and also have ye me,
LGW 6 2122 My dere herte, of Athenes duchesse!”
LGW 6 2123 This lady smyleth at his stedefastnesse,
LGW 6 2124 And at his hertely wordes and his chere,
LGW 6 2125 And to hyre sister seyde in this manere,
LGW 6 2126 Al softely: “Now, syster myn,” quod she,
LGW 6 2127 “Now be we duchesses, bothe I and ye,
LGW 6 2128 And sekered to the regals of Athenes,
LGW 6 2129 And bothe hereafter likly to ben quenes;
LGW 6 2130 And saved from his deth a kynges sone,
LGW 6 2131 As evere of gentil women is the wone
LGW 6 2132 To save a gentyl man, emforth hire myght,
LGW 6 2133 In honest cause, and namely in his ryght.
LGW 6 2134 Me thynketh no wight oughte us herof blame,
LGW 6 2135 Ne beren us therfore an evil name.”
LGW 6 2136 And shortly of this mater for to make,
LGW 6 2137 This Theseus of hire hath leve take,
LGW 6 2138 And every poynt was performed in dede
LGW 6 2139 As ye han in this covenaunt herd me rede.
LGW 6 2140 His wepne, his clewe, his thyng, that I have sayd,
LGW 6 2141 Was by the gayler in the hous yleyd,
LGW 6 2142 Ther as the Mynotaur hath his dwellynge,
LGW 6 2143 Ryght faste by the dore, at his entrynge.
LGW 6 2144 And Theseus is lad unto his deth,
LGW 6 2145 And forth unto this Mynotaur he geth,
LGW 6 2146 And by the techynge of this Adryane
LGW 6 2147 He overcom this beste and was his bane;
LGW 6 2148 And out he cometh by the clewe agayn
LGW 6 2149 Ful prively, whan he this beste hath slayn;
LGW 6 2150 And by the gayler geten hath a barge,
LGW 6 2151 And of his wyves tresor gan it charge,
LGW 6 2152 And tok his wif, and ek hire sister fre,
LGW 6 2153 And ek the gayler, and with hem alle thre
LGW 6 2154 Is stole awey out of the lond by nyghte,
LGW 6 2155 And to the contre of Ennopye hym dyghte
LGW 6 2156 There as he hadde a frend of his knowynge.
LGW 6 2157 There feste they, there daunce they and synge;
LGW 6 2158 And in his armes hath this Adryane,
LGW 6 2159 That of the beste hath kept hym from his bane;
LGW 6 2160 And gat hym there a newe barge anon,
LGW 6 2161 And of his contre-folk a ful gret won,
LGW 6 2162 And taketh his leve, and homward sayleth he.
LGW 6 2163 And in an yle amyd the wilde se,
LGW 6 2164 Ther as there dwelled creature non
LGW 6 2165 Save wilde bestes, and that ful many oon,
LGW 6 2166 He made his ship a-londe for to sette;
LGW 6 2167 And in that yle half a day he lette,
LGW 6 2168 And seyde that on the lond he moste hym reste.
LGW 6 2169 His maryners han don ryght as hym leste;
LGW 6 2170 And, for to tellen shortly in this cas,
LGW 6 2171 Whan Adryane his wif aslepe was,
LGW 6 2172 For that hire syster fayrer was than she,
LGW 6 2173 He taketh hire in his hond and forth goth he
LGW 6 2174 To shipe, and as a traytour stal his wey,
LGW 6 2175 Whil that this Adryane aslepe lay,
LGW 6 2176 And to his contre-ward he sayleth blyve —
LGW 6 2177 A twenty devel-wey the wynd hym dryve! —
LGW 6 2178 And fond his fader drenched in the se.
LGW 6 2179 Me lest no more to speke of hym, parde.
LGW 6 2180 These false lovers, poysoun be here bane!
LGW 6 2181 But I wol turne ageyn to Adryane,
LGW 6 2182 That is with slep for werynesse atake.
LGW 6 2183 Ful sorwefully hire herte may awake.
LGW 6 2184 Allas, for thee myn herte hath now pite!
LGW 6 2185 Ryght in the dawenyng awaketh she,
LGW 6 2186 And gropeth in the bed, and fond ryght nought.
LGW 6 2187 “Allas,” quod she, “that evere I was wrought!
LGW 6 2188 I am betrayed!” and hire her torente,
LGW 6 2189 And to the stronde barefot faste she wente,
LGW 6 2190 And cryed, “Theseus, myn herte swete!
LGW 6 2191 Where be ye, that I may nat with yow mete,
LGW 6 2192 And myghte thus with bestes ben yslayn?”
LGW 6 2193 The holwe rokkes answerde hire agayn.
LGW 6 2194 No man she saw, and yit shyned the mone,
LGW 6 2195 And hye upon a rokke she wente sone,
LGW 6 2196 And saw his barge saylynge in the se.
LGW 6 2197 Cold wex hire herte, and ryght thus seyde she:
LGW 6 2198 “Meker than ye fynde I the bestes wilde!”
LGW 6 2199 Hadde he nat synne that hire thus begylde?
LGW 6 2200 She cryed, “O turn ageyn, for routhe and synne!
LGW 6 2201 Thy barge hath nat al his meyne inne!”
LGW 6 2202 Hire coverchef on a pole up steked she,
LGW 6 2203 Ascaunce that he shulde it wel yse,
LGW 6 2204 And hym remembre that she was behynde,
LGW 6 2205 And turne ageyn, and on the stronde hire fynde.
LGW 6 2206 But al for nought; his wey he is ygon.
LGW 6 2207 Adoun she fyl aswoune upon a ston;
LGW 6 2208 And up she rist, and kyssed, in al hire care,
LGW 6 2209 The steppes of his fet ther he hath fare,
LGW 6 2210 And to hire bed ryght thus she speketh tho:
LGW 6 2211 “Thow bed,” quod she, “that hast receyved two,
LGW 6 2212 Thow shalt answere of two, and nat of oon!
LGW 6 2213 Where is thy gretter part awey ygon?
LGW 6 2214 Allas! Where shal I, wreche wight, become?
LGW 6 2215 For thogh so be that ship or boot here come,
LGW 6 2216 Hom to my contre dar I nat for drede.
LGW 6 2217 I can myselven in this cas nat rede.”
LGW 6 2218 What shulde I more telle hire compleynyng?
LGW 6 2219 It is so long, it were an hevy thyng.
LGW 6 2220 In hire Epistel Naso telleth al;
LGW 6 2221 But shortly to the ende I telle shal.
LGW 6 2222 The goddes han hire holpen for pite,
LGW 6 2223 And in the signe of Taurus men may se
LGW 6 2224 The stones of hire corone shyne clere.
LGW 6 2225 I wol no more speke of this mateere;
LGW 6 2226 But thus this false lovere can begyle
LGW 6 2227 His trewe love, the devel quyte hym his while!