The Legend of Good Women – Prologue (F Version)

By Geoffrey Chaucer

LGW F 1 A thousand tymes have I herd men telle
LGW F 2 That ther ys joy in hevene and peyne in helle,
LGW F 3 And I acorde wel that it ys so;
LGW F 4 But, natheles, yet wot I wel also
LGW F 5 That ther nis noon dwellyng in this contree
LGW F 6 That eyther hath in hevene or helle ybe,
LGW F 7 Ne may of hit noon other weyes witen
LGW F 8 But as he hath herd seyd or founde it writen;
LGW F 9 For by assay ther may no man it preve.
LGW F 10 But God forbede but men shulde leve
LGW F 11 Wel more thing than men han seen with ye!
LGW F 12 Men shal not wenen every thing a lye
LGW F 13 But yf himself yt seeth or elles dooth.
LGW F 14 For, God wot, thing is never the lasse sooth,
LGW F 15 Thogh every wight ne may it nat ysee.
LGW F 16 Bernard the monk ne saugh nat all, pardee!
LGW F 17 Than mote we to bokes that we fynde,
LGW F 18 Thurgh whiche that olde thinges ben in mynde,
LGW F 19 And to the doctrine of these olde wyse,
LGW F 20 Yeve credence, in every skylful wise,
LGW F 21 That tellen of these olde appreved stories
LGW F 22 Of holynesse, of regnes, of victories,
LGW F 23 Of love, of hate, of other sondry thynges,
LGW F 24 Of whiche I may not maken rehersynges.
LGW F 25 And yf that olde bokes were aweye,
LGW F 26 Yloren were of remembraunce the keye.
LGW F 27 Wel ought us thanne honouren and beleve
LGW F 28 These bokes, there we han noon other preve.
LGW F 29 And as for me, though that I konne but lyte,
LGW F 30 On bokes for to rede I me delyte,
LGW F 31 And to hem yive I feyth and ful credence,
LGW F 32 And in myn herte have hem in reverence
LGW F 33 So hertely, that ther is game noon
LGW F 34 That fro my bokes maketh me to goon,
LGW F 35 But yt be seldom on the holyday,
LGW F 36 Save, certeynly, whan that the month of May
LGW F 37 Is comen, and that I here the foules synge,
LGW F 38 And that the floures gynnen for to sprynge,
LGW F 39 Farewel my bok and my devocioun!
LGW F 40 Now have I thanne eek this condicioun,
LGW F 41 That, of al the floures in the mede,
LGW F 42 Thanne love I most thise floures white and rede,
LGW F 43 Swiche as men callen daysyes in our toun.
LGW F 44 To hem have I so gret affeccioun,
LGW F 45 As I seyde erst, whanne comen is the May,
LGW F 46 That in my bed ther daweth me no day
LGW F 47 That I nam up and walkyng in the mede
LGW F 48 To seen this flour ayein the sonne sprede,
LGW F 49 Whan it upryseth erly by the morwe.
LGW F 50 That blisful sighte softneth al my sorwe,
LGW F 51 So glad am I, whan that I have presence
LGW F 52 Of it, to doon it alle reverence,
LGW F 53 As she that is of alle floures flour,
LGW F 54 Fulfilled of al vertu and honour,
LGW F 55 And evere ilyke faire and fressh of hewe;
LGW F 56 And I love it, and ever ylike newe,
LGW F 57 And evere shal, til that myn herte dye.
LGW F 58 Al swere I nat, of this I wol nat lye;
LGW F 59 Ther loved no wight hotter in his lyve.
LGW F 60 And whan that hit ys eve, I renne blyve,
LGW F 61 As sone as evere the sonne gynneth weste,
LGW F 62 To seen this flour, how it wol go to reste,
LGW F 63 For fere of nyght, so hateth she derknesse.
LGW F 64 Hire chere is pleynly sprad in the brightnesse
LGW F 65 Of the sonne, for ther yt wol unclose.
LGW F 66 Allas, that I ne had Englyssh, ryme or prose,
LGW F 67 Suffisant this flour to preyse aryght!
LGW F 68 But helpeth, ye that han konnyng and myght,
LGW F 69 Ye lovers that kan make of sentement;
LGW F 70 In this cas oghte ye be diligent
LGW F 71 To forthren me somwhat in my labour,
LGW F 72 Whethir ye ben with the leef or with the flour.
LGW F 73 For wel I wot that ye han her-biforn
LGW F 74 Of makyng ropen, and lad awey the corn,
LGW F 75 And I come after, glenyng here and there,
LGW F 76 And am ful glad yf I may fynde an ere
LGW F 77 Of any goodly word that ye han left.
LGW F 78 And thogh it happen me rehercen eft
LGW F 79 That ye han in your fresshe songes sayd,
LGW F 80 Forbereth me, and beth nat evele apayd,
LGW F 81 Syn that ye see I do yt in the honour
LGW F 82 Of love, and eke in service of the flour
LGW F 83 Whom that I serve as I have wit or myght.
LGW F 84 She is the clernesse and the verray lyght
LGW F 85 That in this derke world me wynt and ledeth.
LGW F 86 The hert in-with my sorwfull brest yow dredeth
LGW F 87 And loveth so sore that ye ben verrayly
LGW F 88 The maistresse of my wit, and nothing I.
LGW F 89 My word, my werk ys knyt so in youre bond
LGW F 90 That, as an harpe obeieth to the hond
LGW F 91 And maketh it soune after his fyngerynge,
LGW F 92 Ryght so mowe ye oute of myn herte bringe
LGW F 93 Swich vois, ryght as yow lyst, to laughe or pleyne.
LGW F 94 Be ye my gide and lady sovereyne!
LGW F 95 As to myn erthly god to yow I calle,
LGW F 96 Bothe in this werk and in my sorwes alle.
LGW F 97 But wherfore that I spak, to yive credence
LGW F 98 To olde stories and doon hem reverence,
LGW F 99 And that men mosten more thyng beleve
LGW F 100 Then men may seen at eye, or elles preve —
LGW F 101 That shal I seyn, whanne that I see my tyme;
LGW F 102 I may not al at-ones speke in ryme.
LGW F 103 My besy gost, that thursteth alwey newe
LGW F 104 To seen this flour so yong, so fressh of hewe,
LGW F 105 Constreyned me with so gledy desir
LGW F 106 That in myn herte I feele yet the fir
LGW F 107 That made me to ryse er yt were day —
LGW F 108 And this was now the firste morwe of May —
LGW F 109 With dredful hert and glad devocioun,
LGW F 110 For to ben at the resureccioun
LGW F 111 Of this flour, whan that yt shulde unclose
LGW F 112 Agayn the sonne, that roos as red as rose,
LGW F 113 That in the brest was of the beste, that day,
LGW F 114 That Agenores doghtre ladde away.
LGW F 115 And doun on knes anoon-ryght I me sette,
LGW F 116 And, as I koude, this fresshe flour I grette,
LGW F 117 Knelyng alwey, til it unclosed was,
LGW F 118 Upon the smale, softe, swote gras,
LGW F 119 That was with floures swote enbrouded al,
LGW F 120 Of swich swetnesse and swich odour overal,
LGW F 121 That, for to speke of gomme, or herbe, or tree,
LGW F 122 Comparisoun may noon ymaked bee;
LGW F 123 For yt surmounteth pleynly alle odoures,
LGW F 124 And of riche beaute alle floures.
LGW F 125 Forgeten hadde the erthe his pore estat
LGW F 126 Of wynter, that hym naked made and mat,
LGW F 127 And with his swerd of cold so sore greved;
LGW F 128 Now hath th’ atempre sonne all that releved,
LGW F 129 That naked was, and clad him new agayn.
LGW F 130 The smale foules, of the sesoun fayn,
LGW F 131 That from the panter and the net ben scaped,
LGW F 132 Upon the foweler, that hem made awhaped
LGW F 133 In wynter, and distroyed hadde hire brood,
LGW F 134 In his dispit hem thoghte yt did hem good
LGW F 135 To synge of hym, and in hir song despise
LGW F 136 The foule cherl that, for his coveytise,
LGW F 137 Had hem betrayed with his sophistrye.
LGW F 138 This was hire song: “The foweler we deffye,
LGW F 139 And al his craft.” And somme songen clere
LGW F 140 Layes of love, that joye it was to here,
LGW F 141 In worship and in preysinge of hir make;
LGW F 142 And for the newe blisful somers sake,
LGW F 143 Upon the braunches ful of blosmes softe,
LGW F 144 In hire delyt they turned hem ful ofte,
LGW F 145 And songen, “Blessed be Seynt Valentyn,
LGW F 146 For on his day I chees yow to be myn,
LGW F 147 Withouten repentyng, myn herte swete!”
LGW F 148 And therwithalle hire bekes gonnen meete,
LGW F 149 Yeldyng honour and humble obeysaunces
LGW F 150 To love, and diden hire other observaunces
LGW F 151 That longeth onto love and to nature;
LGW F 152 Construeth that as yow lyst, I do no cure.
LGW F 153 And thoo that hadde doon unkyndenesse —
LGW F 154 As dooth the tydif, for newfangelnesse —
LGW F 155 Besoghte mercy of hir trespassynge,
LGW F 156 And humblely songen hire repentynge,
LGW F 157 And sworen on the blosmes to be trewe
LGW F 158 So that hire makes wolde upon hem rewe,
LGW F 159 And at the laste maden hire acord.
LGW F 160 Al founde they Daunger for a tyme a lord,
LGW F 161 Yet Pitee, thurgh his stronge gentil myght,
LGW F 162 Forgaf, and made Mercy passen Ryght,
LGW F 163 Thurgh innocence and ruled Curtesye.
LGW F 164 But I ne clepe nat innocence folye,
LGW F 165 Ne fals pitee, for vertu is the mene,
LGW F 166 As Etik seith. in swich maner I mene.
LGW F 167 And thus thise foweles, voide of al malice,
LGW F 168 Acordeden to love, and laften vice
LGW F 169 Of hate, and songen alle of oon acord,
LGW F 170 “Welcome, somer, oure governour and lord!”
LGW F 171 And Zepherus and Flora gentilly
LGW F 172 Yaf to the floures, softe and tenderly,
LGW F 173 Hire swoote breth, and made hem for to sprede,
LGW F 174 As god and goddesse of the floury mede;
LGW F 175 In which me thoghte I myghte, day by day,
LGW F 176 Duellen alwey, the joly month of May,
LGW F 177 Withouten slep, withouten mete or drynke.
LGW F 178 Adoun ful softely I gan to synke,
LGW F 179 And, lenynge on myn elbowe and my syde,
LGW F 180 The longe day I shoop me for t’ abide
LGW F 181 For nothing elles, and I shal nat lye,
LGW F 182 But for to loke upon the dayesie,
LGW F 183 That wel by reson men it calle may
LGW F 184 The “dayesye,” or elles the “ye of day,”
LGW F 185 The emperice and flour of floures alle.
LGW F 186 I pray to God that faire mote she falle,
LGW F 187 And alle that loven floures, for hire sake!
LGW F 188 But natheles, ne wene nat that I make
LGW F 189 In preysing of the flour agayn the leef,
LGW F 190 No more than of the corn agayn the sheef;
LGW F 191 For, as to me, nys lever noon ne lother.
LGW F 192 I nam withholden yit with never nother;
LGW F 193 Ne I not who serveth leef ne who the flour.
LGW F 194 Wel browken they her service or labour;
LGW F 195 For this thing is al of another tonne,
LGW F 196 Of olde storye, er swich stryf was begonne.
LGW F 197 Whan that the sonne out of the south gan weste,
LGW F 198 And that this flour gan close and goon to reste
LGW F 199 For derknesse of the nyght, the which she dredde,
LGW F 200 Hom to myn hous ful swiftly I me spedde
LGW F 201 To goon to reste, and erly for to ryse,
LGW F 202 To seen this flour to sprede, as I devyse.
LGW F 203 And in a litel herber that I have,
LGW F 204 That benched was on turves fressh ygrave,
LGW F 205 I bad men sholde me my couche make;
LGW F 206 For deyntee of the newe someres sake,
LGW F 207 I bad hem strawen floures on my bed.
LGW F 208 Whan I was leyd and had myn eyen hed,
LGW F 209 I fel on slepe within an houre or twoo.
LGW F 210 Me mette how I lay in the medewe thoo,
LGW F 211 To seen this flour that I so love and drede;
LGW F 212 And from afer com walkyng in the mede
LGW F 213 The god of Love, and in his hand a quene,
LGW F 214 And she was clad in real habit grene.
LGW F 215 A fret of gold she hadde next her heer,
LGW F 216 And upon that a whit corowne she beer
LGW F 217 With flourouns smale, and I shal nat lye;
LGW F 218 For al the world, ryght as a dayesye
LGW F 219 Ycorouned ys with white leves lyte,
LGW F 220 So were the flowrouns of hire coroune white.
LGW F 221 For of o perle fyn, oriental,
LGW F 222 Hire white coroune was ymaked al;
LGW F 223 For which the white coroune above the grene
LGW F 224 Made hire lyk a daysie for to sene,
LGW F 225 Considered eke hir fret of gold above.
LGW F 226 Yclothed was this myghty god of Love
LGW F 227 In silk, enbrouded ful of grene greves,
LGW F 228 In-with a fret of rede rose-leves,
LGW F 229 The fresshest syn the world was first bygonne.
LGW F 230 His gilte heer was corowned with a sonne
LGW F 231 Instede of gold, for hevynesse and wyghte.
LGW F 232 Therwith me thoghte his face shoon so bryghte
LGW F 233 That wel unnethes myghte I him beholde;
LGW F 234 And in his hand me thoghte I saugh him holde
LGW F 235 Twoo firy dartes as the gledes rede,
LGW F 236 And aungelyke hys wynges saugh I sprede.
LGW F 237 And al be that men seyn that blynd ys he,
LGW F 238 Algate me thoghte that he myghte se;
LGW F 239 For sternely on me he gan byholde,
LGW F 240 So that his loking dooth myn herte colde.
LGW F 241 And by the hand he held this noble quene
LGW F 242 Corowned with whit and clothed al in grene,
LGW F 243 So womanly, so benigne, and so meke,
LGW F 244 That in this world, thogh that men wolde seke,
LGW F 245 Half hire beaute shulde men nat fynde
LGW F 246 In creature that formed ys by kynde.
LGW F 247 And therfore may I seyn, as thynketh me,
LGW F 248 This song in preysyng of this lady fre:
LGW F 249 Hyd, Absolon, thy gilte tresses clere;
LGW F 250 Ester, ley thou thy meknesse al adown;
LGW F 251 Hyd, Jonathas, al thy frendly manere;
LGW F 252 Penalopee and Marcia Catoun,
LGW F 253 Make of youre wifhod no comparysoun;
LGW F 254 Hyde ye youre beautes, Ysoude and Eleyne:
LGW F 255 My lady cometh, that al this may disteyne.
LGW F 256 Thy faire body, lat yt nat appere,
LGW F 257 Lavyne; and thou, Lucresse of Rome toun,
LGW F 258 And Polixene, that boghten love so dere,
LGW F 259 And Cleopatre, with al thy passyoun,
LGW F 260 Hyde ye your trouthe of love and your renoun;
LGW F 261 And thou, Tisbe, that hast for love swich peyne:
LGW F 262 My lady cometh, that al this may disteyne.
LGW F 263 Herro, Dido, Laudomia, alle yfere,
LGW F 264 And Phillis, hangyng for thy Demophoun,
LGW F 265 And Canace, espied by thy chere,
LGW F 266 Ysiphile, betrayed with Jasoun,
LGW F 267 Maketh of your trouthe neythir boost ne soun;
LGW F 268 Nor Ypermystre or Adriane, ye tweyne:
LGW F 269 My lady cometh, that al this may dysteyne.
LGW F 270 This balade may ful wel ysongen be,
LGW F 271 As I have seyd erst, by my lady free;
LGW F 272 For certeynly al thise mowe nat suffise
LGW F 273 To apperen wyth my lady in no wyse.
LGW F 274 For as the sonne wole the fyr disteyne,
LGW F 275 So passeth al my lady sovereyne,
LGW F 276 That ys so good, so faire, so debonayre,
LGW F 277 I prey to God that ever falle hire faire!
LGW F 278 For, nadde comfort ben of hire presence,
LGW F 279 I hadde ben ded, withouten any defence,
LGW F 280 For drede of Loves wordes and his chere,
LGW F 281 As, when tyme ys, herafter ye shal here.
LGW F 282 Behynde this god of Love, upon the grene,
LGW F 283 I saugh comyng of ladyes nyntene,
LGW F 284 In real habit, a ful esy paas,
LGW F 285 And after hem coome of wymen swich a traas
LGW F 286 That, syn that God Adam hadde mad of erthe,
LGW F 287 The thridde part, of mankynde, or the ferthe,
LGW F 288 Ne wende I not by possibilitee
LGW F 289 Had ever in this wide world ybee;
LGW F 290 And trewe of love thise women were echon.
LGW F 291 Now wheither was that a wonder thing or non,
LGW F 292 That ryght anoon as that they gonne espye
LGW F 293 Thys flour which that I clepe the dayesie,
LGW F 294 Ful sodeynly they stynten al attones,
LGW F 295 And kneled doun, as it were for the nones,
LGW F 296 And songen with o vois, “Heel and honour
LGW F 297 To trouthe of womanhede, and to this flour
LGW F 298 That bereth our alder pris in figurynge!
LGW F 299 Hire white corowne bereth the witnessynge.”
LGW F 300 And with that word, a-compas enviroun,
LGW F 301 They setten hem ful softely adoun.
LGW F 302 First sat the god of Love, and syth his quene
LGW F 303 With the white corowne, clad in grene,
LGW F 304 And sithen al the remenaunt by and by,
LGW F 305 As they were of estaat, ful curteysly;
LGW F 306 Ne nat a word was spoken in the place
LGW F 307 The mountaunce of a furlong wey of space.
LGW F 308 I, knelying by this flour, in good entente,
LGW F 309 Abood to knowen what this peple mente,
LGW F 310 As stille as any ston; til at the laste
LGW F 311 This god of Love on me hys eyen caste,
LGW F 312 And seyde, “Who kneleth there?” And I answerde
LGW F 313 Unto his askynge, whan that I it herde,
LGW F 314 And seyde, “Sir, it am I,” and com him ner,
LGW F 315 And salwed him. Quod he, “What dostow her
LGW F 316 So nygh myn oune floure, so boldely?
LGW F 317 Yt were better worthy, trewely,
LGW F 318 A worm to neghen ner my flour than thow.”
LGW F 319 “And why, sire,” quod I, “and yt lyke yow?”
LGW F 320 “For thow,” quod he, “art therto nothing able.
LGW F 321 Yt is my relyke, digne and delytable,
LGW F 322 And thow my foo, and al my folk werreyest,
LGW F 323 And of myn olde servauntes thow mysseyest,
LGW F 324 And hynderest hem with thy translacioun,
LGW F 325 And lettest folk from hire devocioun
LGW F 326 To serve me, and holdest it folye
LGW F 327 To serve Love. Thou maist yt nat denye,
LGW F 328 For in pleyn text, withouten nede of glose,
LGW F 329 Thou hast translated the Romaunce of the Rose,
LGW F 330 That is an heresye ayeins my lawe,
LGW F 331 And makest wise folk fro me withdrawe;
LGW F 332 And of Creseyde thou hast seyd as the lyste,
LGW F 333 That maketh men to wommen lasse triste,
LGW F 334 That ben as trewe as ever was any steel.
LGW F 335 Of thyn answere avise the ryght weel;
LGW F 336 For thogh thou reneyed hast my lay,
LGW F 337 As other wrecches han doon many a day,
LGW F 338 By Seynt Venus that my moder ys,
LGW F 339 If that thou lyve, thou shalt repenten this
LGW F 340 So cruelly that it shal wel be sene!”
LGW F 341 Thoo spak this lady, clothed al in grene,
LGW F 342 And seyde, “God, ryght of youre curtesye,
LGW F 343 Ye moten herken yf he can replye
LGW F 344 Agayns al this that ye have to him meved.
LGW F 345 A god ne sholde nat thus be agreved,
LGW F 346 But of hys deitee he shal be stable,
LGW F 347 And therto gracious and merciable.
LGW F 348 And yf ye nere a god, that knowen al,
LGW F 349 Thanne myght yt be as I yow tellen shal:
LGW F 350 This man to yow may falsly ben accused
LGW F 351 That as by right him oughte ben excused.
LGW F 352 For in youre court ys many a losengeour,
LGW F 353 And many a queynte totelere accusour,
LGW F 354 That tabouren in youre eres many a sown,
LGW F 355 Ryght after hire ymagynacioun,
LGW F 356 To have youre daliance, and for envie.
LGW F 357 Thise ben the causes, and I shal not lye.
LGW F 358 Envie ys lavendere of the court alway,
LGW F 359 For she ne parteth, neither nyght ne day,
LGW F 360 Out of the hous of Cesar; thus seith Dante;
LGW F 361 Whoso that gooth, algate she wol nat wante.
LGW F 362 And eke, peraunter, for this man ys nyce,
LGW F 363 He myghte doon yt, gessyng no malice,
LGW F 364 But for he useth thynges for to make;
LGW F 365 Hym rekketh noght of what matere he take.
LGW F 366 Or him was boden maken thilke tweye
LGW F 367 Of som persone, and durste yt nat withseye;
LGW F 368 Or him repenteth outrely of this.
LGW F 369 He ne hath nat doon so grevously amys
LGW F 370 To translaten that olde clerkes writen,
LGW F 371 As thogh that he of malice wolde enditen
LGW F 372 Despit of love, and had himself yt wroght.
LGW F 373 This shoolde a ryghtwis lord have in his thoght,
LGW F 374 And nat be lyk tirauntz of Lumbardye,
LGW F 375 That han no reward but at tyrannye.
LGW F 376 For he that kynge or lord ys naturel,
LGW F 377 Hym oghte nat be tiraunt ne crewel
LGW F 378 As is a fermour, to doon the harm he kan.
LGW F 379 He moste thinke yt is his lige man,
LGW F 380 And is his tresour and his gold in cofre.
LGW F 381 This is the sentence of the Philosophre,
LGW F 382 A kyng to kepe his liges in justice;
LGW F 383 Withouten doute, that is his office.
LGW F 384 Al wol he kepe his lordes hire degree,
LGW F 385 As it ys ryght and skilful that they bee
LGW F 386 Enhaunced and honoured, and most dere —
LGW F 387 For they ben half-goddes in this world here —
LGW F 388 Yit mot he doon bothe ryght, to poore and ryche,
LGW F 389 Al be that hire estaat be nat yliche,
LGW F 390 And han of poore folk compassyoun.
LGW F 391 For loo, the gentil kynde of the lyoun:
LGW F 392 For whan a flye offendeth him or biteth,
LGW F 393 He with his tayl awey the flye smyteth
LGW F 394 Al esely; for, of hys genterye,
LGW F 395 Hym deyneth not to wreke hym on a flye,
LGW F 396 As dooth a curre, or elles another best.
LGW F 397 In noble corage ought ben arest,
LGW F 398 And weyen every thing by equytee,
LGW F 399 And ever have reward to his owen degree.
LGW F 400 For, syr, yt is no maistrye for a lord
LGW F 401 To dampne a man without answere of word,
LGW F 402 And for a lord that is ful foul to use.
LGW F 403 And if so be he may hym nat excuse,
LGW F 404 But asketh mercy with a dredeful herte,
LGW F 405 And profereth him, ryght in his bare sherte,
LGW F 406 To ben ryght at your owen jugement,
LGW F 407 Than oght a god by short avysement
LGW F 408 Consydre his owne honour and hys trespas.
LGW F 409 For, syth no cause of deth lyeth in this caas,
LGW F 410 Yow oghte to ben the lyghter merciable;
LGW F 411 Leteth youre ire, and beth sumwhat tretable.
LGW F 412 The man hath served yow of his kunnynge,
LGW F 413 And furthred wel youre lawe in his makynge.
LGW F 414 Al be hit that he kan nat wel endite,
LGW F 415 Yet hath he maked lewed folk delyte
LGW F 416 To serve yow, in preysinge of your name.
LGW F 417 He made the book that hight the Hous of Fame,
LGW F 418 And eke the Deeth of Blaunche the Duchesse,
LGW F 419 And the Parlement of Foules, as I gesse,
LGW F 420 And al the love of Palamon and Arcite
LGW F 421 Of Thebes, thogh the storye ys knowen lyte;
LGW F 422 And many an ympne for your halydayes,
LGW F 423 That highten balades, roundels, virelayes;
LGW F 424 And, for to speke of other holynesse,
LGW F 425 He hath in prose translated Boece,
LGW F 426 And maad the lyf also of Seynt Cecile.
LGW F 427 He made also, goon ys a gret while,
LGW F 428 Origenes upon the Maudeleyne.
LGW F 429 Hym oughte now to have the lesse peyne;
LGW F 430 He hath maad many a lay and many a thing.
LGW F 431 Now as ye be a god and eke a kyng,
LGW F 432 I, your Alceste, whilom quene of Trace,
LGW F 433 Y aske yow this man, ryght of your grace,
LGW F 434 That ye him never hurte in al his lyve;
LGW F 435 And he shal swere to yow, and that as blyve,
LGW F 436 He shal no more agilten in this wyse,
LGW F 437 But he shal maken, as ye wol devyse,
LGW F 438 Of wommen trewe in lovyng al hire lyve,
LGW F 439 Wherso ye wol, of mayden or of wyve,
LGW F 440 And forthren yow as muche as he mysseyde
LGW F 441 Or in the Rose or elles in Creseyde.”
LGW F 442 The god of Love answerede hire thus anoon:
LGW F 443 “Madame,” quod he, “it is so long agoon
LGW F 444 That I yow knew so charitable and trewe,
LGW F 445 That never yit syn that the world was newe
LGW F 446 To me ne fond y better noon than yee.
LGW F 447 If that I wol save my degree,
LGW F 448 I may, ne wol, nat werne your requeste.
LGW F 449 Al lyeth in yow, dooth wyth hym what yow leste.
LGW F 450 I al foryeve, withouten lenger space;
LGW F 451 For whoso yeveth a yifte or dooth a grace,
LGW F 452 Do it by tyme, his thank ys wel the more.
LGW F 453 And demeth ye what he shal doo therfore.
LGW F 454 Goo thanke now my lady here,” quod he.
LGW F 455 I roos, and doun I sette me on my knee,
LGW F 456 And seyde thus: “Madame, the God above
LGW F 457 Foryelde yow that ye the god of Love
LGW F 458 Han maked me his wrathe to foryive,
LGW F 459 And yeve me grace so longe for to lyve
LGW F 460 That I may knowe soothly what ye bee
LGW F 461 That han me holpe and put in this degree.
LGW F 462 But trewly I wende, as in this cas,
LGW F 463 Naught have agilt, ne doon to love trespas.
LGW F 464 For-why a trewe man, withouten drede,
LGW F 465 Hath nat to parten with a theves dede;
LGW F 466 Ne a trewe lover oght me not to blame
LGW F 467 Thogh that I speke a fals lovere som shame.
LGW F 468 They oghte rather with me for to holde
LGW F 469 For that I of Creseyde wroot or tolde,
LGW F 470 Or of the Rose; what so myn auctour mente,
LGW F 471 Algate, God woot, yt was myn entente
LGW F 472 To forthren trouthe in love and yt cheryce,
LGW F 473 And to ben war fro falsnesse and fro vice
LGW F 474 By swich ensample; this was my menynge.”
LGW F 475 And she answerde, “Lat be thyn arguynge,
LGW F 476 For Love ne wol nat countrepleted be
LGW F 477 In ryght ne wrong; and lerne that at me!
LGW F 478 Thow hast thy grace, and hold the ryght therto.
LGW F 479 Now wol I seyn what penance thou shalt do
LGW F 480 For thy trespas. Understonde yt here:
LGW F 481 Thow shalt, while that thou lyvest, yer by yere,
LGW F 482 The moste partye of thy tyme spende
LGW F 483 In makyng of a glorious legende
LGW F 484 Of goode wymmen, maydenes and wyves,
LGW F 485 That weren trewe in lovyng al hire lyves;
LGW F 486 And telle of false men that hem bytraien,
LGW F 487 That al hir lyf ne don nat but assayen
LGW F 488 How many women they may doon a shame;
LGW F 489 For in youre world that is now holde a game.
LGW F 490 And thogh the lyke nat a lovere bee,
LGW F 491 Speke wel of love; this penance yive I thee.
LGW F 492 And to the god of Love I shal so preye
LGW F 493 That he shal charge his servantz by any weye
LGW F 494 To forthren thee, and wel thy labour quyte.
LGW F 495 Goo now thy wey, this penaunce ys but lyte.
LGW F 496 And whan this book ys maad, yive it the quene,
LGW F 497 On my byhalf, at Eltham or at Sheene.”
LGW F 498 The god of Love gan smyle, and than he sayde:
LGW F 499 “Wostow,” quod he, “wher this be wyf or mayde,
LGW F 500 Or queene, or countesse, or of what degre,
LGW F 501 That hath so lytel penance yiven thee,
LGW F 502 That hast deserved sorer for to smerte?
LGW F 503 But pite renneth soone in gentil herte;
LGW F 504 That maistow seen; she kytheth what she ys.”
LGW F 505 And I answered, “Nay, sire, so have I blys,
LGW F 506 No moore but that I see wel she is good.”
LGW F 507 “That is a trewe tale, by myn hood!”
LGW F 508 Quod Love; “And that thou knowest wel, pardee,
LGW F 509 If yt be so that thou avise the.
LGW F 510 Hastow nat in a book, lyth in thy cheste,
LGW F 511 The grete goodnesse of the quene Alceste,
LGW F 512 That turned was into a dayesye;
LGW F 513 She that for hire housbonde chees to dye,
LGW F 514 And eke to goon to helle, rather than he,
LGW F 515 And Ercules rescowed hire, parde,
LGW F 516 And broght hir out of helle agayn to blys?”
LGW F 517 And I answerd ageyn, and sayde, “Yis,
LGW F 518 Now knowe I hire. And is this good Alceste,
LGW F 519 The dayesie, and myn owene hertes reste?
LGW F 520 Now fele I weel the goodnesse of this wyf,
LGW F 521 That both aftir hir deth and in hir lyf
LGW F 522 Hir grete bounte doubleth hire renoun.
LGW F 523 Wel hath she quyt me myn affeccioun
LGW F 524 That I have to hire flour, the dayesye.
LGW F 525 No wonder ys thogh Jove hire stellyfye,
LGW F 526 As telleth Agaton, for hire goodnesse!
LGW F 527 Hire white corowne berith of hyt witnesse;
LGW F 528 For also many vertues hadde shee
LGW F 529 As smale florouns in hire corowne bee.
LGW F 530 In remembraunce of hire and in honour
LGW F 531 Cibella maade the daysye and the flour
LGW F 532 Ycrowned al with whit, as men may see;
LGW F 533 And Mars yaf to hire corowne reed, pardee,
LGW F 534 In stede of rubyes, sette among the white.”
LGW F 535 Therwith this queene wex reed for shame a lyte
LGW F 536 Whan she was preysed so in hire presence.
LGW F 537 Thanne seyde Love, “A ful gret necligence
LGW F 538 Was yt to the, that ylke tyme thou made
LGW F 539 ‘Hyd, Absolon, thy tresses,’ in balade,
LGW F 540 That thou forgate hire in thi song to sette,
LGW F 541 Syn that thou art so gretly in hire dette,
LGW F 542 And wost so wel that kalender ys shee
LGW F 543 To any woman that wol lover bee.
LGW F 544 For she taught al the craft of fyn lovynge,
LGW F 545 And namely of wyfhod the lyvynge,
LGW F 546 And al the boundes that she oghte kepe.
LGW F 547 Thy litel wit was thilke tyme aslepe.
LGW F 548 But now I charge the upon thy lyf
LGW F 549 That in thy legende thou make of thys wyf
LGW F 550 Whan thou hast other smale ymaad before;
LGW F 551 And far now wel, I charge the namore.
LGW F 552 But er I goo, thus muche I wol the telle:
LGW F 553 Ne shal no trewe lover come in helle.
LGW F 554 Thise other ladies sittynge here arowe
LGW F 555 Ben in thy balade, yf thou kanst hem knowe,
LGW F 556 And in thy bookes alle thou shalt hem fynde.
LGW F 557 Have hem now in thy legende al in mynde;
LGW F 558 I mene of hem that ben in thy knowynge.
LGW F 559 For here ben twenty thousand moo sittynge
LGW F 560 Than thou knowest, goode wommen alle,
LGW F 561 And trewe of love for oght that may byfalle.
LGW F 562 Make the metres of hem as the lest —
LGW F 563 I mot goon hom (the sonne draweth west)
LGW F 564 To paradys, with al this companye —
LGW F 565 And serve alwey the fresshe dayesye.
LGW F 566 At Cleopatre I wol that thou begynne,
LGW F 567 And so forth, and my love so shal thou wynne.
LGW F 568 For lat see now what man that lover be,
LGW F 569 Wol doon so strong a peyne for love as she.
LGW F 570 I wot wel that thou maist nat al yt ryme
LGW F 571 That swiche lovers diden in hire tyme;
LGW F 572 It were to long to reden and to here.
LGW F 573 Suffiseth me thou make in this manere:
LGW F 574 That thou reherce of al hir lyf the grete,
LGW F 575 After thise olde auctours lysten for to trete.
LGW F 576 For whoso shal so many a storye telle,
LGW F 577 Sey shortly, or he shal to longe dwelle.”
LGW F 578 And with that word my bokes gan I take,
LGW F 579 And ryght thus on my Legende gan I make.