The Legend of Hypermnestra

By Geoffrey Chaucer

LGW 9 2562 In Grece whilom weren brethren two,
LGW 9 2563 Of whiche that oon was called Danao,
LGW 9 2564 That many a sone hath of his body wonne,
LGW 9 2565 As swiche false lovers ofte conne.
LGW 9 2566 Among his sones alle there was oon
LGW 9 2567 That aldermost he lovede of everychoon.
LGW 9 2568 And whan this child was born, this Danao
LGW 9 2569 Shop hym a name and callede hym Lyno.
LGW 9 2570 That other brother called was Egiste,
LGW 9 2571 That was of love as fals as evere hym liste,
LGW 9 2572 And many a doughter gat he in his lyf;
LGW 9 2573 Of whiche he gat upon his ryghte wyf
LGW 9 2574 A doughter dere, and dide hire for to calle
LGW 9 2575 Ypermystra, yongeste of hem alle.
LGW 9 2576 The whiche child of hire natyvyte
LGW 9 2577 To alle thewes goode yborn was she,
LGW 9 2578 As likede to the goddes er she was born,
LGW 9 2579 That of the shef she sholde be the corn.
LGW 9 2580 The Wirdes, that we clepen Destine,
LGW 9 2581 Hath shapen hire that she mot nedes be
LGW 9 2582 Pyetous, sad, wis, and trewe as stel,
LGW 9 2583 As to these wemen it acordeth wel.
LGW 9 2584 For thogh that Venus yaf hire gret beaute,
LGW 9 2585 With Jupiter compouned so was she
LGW 9 2586 That conscience, trouthe, and drede of shame,
LGW 9 2587 And of hyre wifhod for to kepe hire name,
LGW 9 2588 This, thoughte hire, was felycite as here.
LGW 9 2589 The rede Mars was that tyme of the yeere
LGW 9 2590 So feble that his malyce is hym raft;
LGW 9 2591 Repressed hath Venus his crewel craft,
LGW 9 2592 That, what with Venus and other oppressioun
LGW 9 2593 Of houses, Mars his venim is adoun,
LGW 9 2594 That Ypermystra dar nat handle a knyf
LGW 9 2595 In malyce, thogh she shulde lese hire lyf.
LGW 9 2596 But natheles, as hevene gan tho turne,
LGW 9 2597 To badde aspectes hath she of Saturne,
LGW 9 2598 That made hire for to deyen in prisoun,
LGW 9 2599 As I shal after make mencioun.
LGW 9 2600 To Danao and Egistes also,
LGW 9 2601 Althogh so be that they were brethren two —
LGW 9 2602 For thilke tyme was spared no lynage —
LGW 9 2603 It lykede hem to make a maryage
LGW 9 2604 Bytwixen Ypermystre and hym Lyno,
LGW 9 2605 And casten swich a day it shal be so,
LGW 9 2606 And ful acorded was it utterly;
LGW 9 2607 The aray is wrought, the tyme is faste by.
LGW 9 2608 And thus Lyno hath of his faders brother
LGW 9 2609 The doughter wedded, and ech of hem hath other.
LGW 9 2610 The torches brennen, and the laumpes bryghte;
LGW 9 2611 The sacryfices ben ful redy dighte;
LGW 9 2612 Th’ encens out of the fyre reketh sote;
LGW 9 2613 The flour, the lef is rent up by the rote
LGW 9 2614 To maken garlondes and crounes hye.
LGW 9 2615 Ful is the place of soun of minstralsye,
LGW 9 2616 Of songes amorous of maryage,
LGW 9 2617 As thylke tyme was the pleyne usage.
LGW 9 2618 And this was in the paleys of Egiste,
LGW 9 2619 That in his hous was lord, ryght as hym lyste.
LGW 9 2620 And thus the day they dryve to an ende;
LGW 9 2621 The frendes taken leve, and hom they wende;
LGW 9 2622 The nyght is come, the bryd shal go to bedde.
LGW 9 2623 Egistus to his chamber faste hym spedde,
LGW 9 2624 And prively he let his doughter calle.
LGW 9 2625 Whan that the hous was voyded of hem alle,
LGW 9 2626 He loketh on his doughter with glad chere
LGW 9 2627 And to hire spak, as ye shal after here:
LGW 9 2628 “My ryghte doughter, tresor of myn herte,
LGW 9 2629 Syn fyrst that day that shapen was my sherte,
LGW 9 2630 Or by the fatal systren had my dom,
LGW 9 2631 So nygh myn herte nevere thyng ne com
LGW 9 2632 As thow, myn Ypermystre, doughter dere.
LGW 9 2633 Tak hed what I, thy fader, seye the here,
LGW 9 2634 And werk after thy wiser evere mo.
LGW 9 2635 For alderfirst, doughter, I love the so
LGW 9 2636 That al the world to me nis half so lef;
LGW 9 2637 Ne I nolde rede the to thy myschef
LGW 9 2638 For al the good under the colde mone.
LGW 9 2639 And what I mene, it shal be seyd right sone,
LGW 9 2640 With protestacioun, as in this wyse,
LGW 9 2641 That, but thow do as I shal the devyse,
LGW 9 2642 Thow shalt be ded, by hym that al hath wrought!
LGW 9 2643 At shorte wordes, thow ne scapest nought
LGW 9 2644 Out of my paleys or that thow be ded,
LGW 9 2645 But thow consente and werke after my red;
LGW 9 2646 Tak this to thee for ful conclusioun.”
LGW 9 2647 This Ypermystre caste hire eyen doun,
LGW 9 2648 And quok as doth the lef of aspe grene.
LGW 9 2649 Ded wex hire hew, and lyk an ash to sene,
LGW 9 2650 And seyde, “Lord and fader, al youre wille,
LGW 9 2651 After my myght, God wot, I shal fulfille,
LGW 9 2652 So it to me be no confusioun.”
LGW 9 2653 “I nele,” quod he, “have non excepcioun”;
LGW 9 2654 And out he caught a knyf, as rasour kene.
LGW 9 2655 “Hyd this,” quod he, “that it be nat ysene;
LGW 9 2656 And whan thyn husbonde is to bedde go,
LGW 9 2657 Whil that he slepeth, kit his throte atwo.
LGW 9 2658 For in my dremes it is warned me
LGW 9 2659 How that my nevew shal my bane be,
LGW 9 2660 But which I noot, wherfore I wol be siker.
LGW 9 2661 If thow sey nay, we two shul have a biker,
LGW 9 2662 As I have seyd, by hym that I have sworn!”
LGW 9 2663 This Ipermystre hath nygh hire wit forlorn;
LGW 9 2664 And, for to passen harmles of that place,
LGW 9 2665 She graunteth hym; ther is non other grace.
LGW 9 2666 And therwithal a costret taketh he,
LGW 9 2667 And seyde, “Herof a draught, or two, or thre,
LGW 9 2668 Yif hym to drynke, whan he goth to reste,
LGW 9 2669 And he shal slepe as longe as evere thee leste,
LGW 9 2670 The narcotyks and opies ben so stronge.
LGW 9 2671 And go thy wey, lest that him thynke longe.”
LGW 9 2672 Out cometh the bryd, and with ful sobre cheere,
LGW 9 2673 As is of maydens ofte the manere,
LGW 9 2674 To chaumbre is brought with revel and with song.
LGW 9 2675 And shortly, lest this tale be to long,
LGW 9 2676 This Lyno and she ben brought to bedde,
LGW 9 2677 And every wight out at the dore hym spedde.
LGW 9 2678 The nyght is wasted, and he fyl aslepe.
LGW 9 2679 Ful tenderly begynneth she to wepe;
LGW 9 2680 She rist hire up, and dredfully she quaketh,
LGW 9 2681 As doth the braunche that Zepherus shaketh,
LGW 9 2682 And hust were alle in Argon that cite.
LGW 9 2683 As cold as any frost now waxeth she;
LGW 9 2684 For pite by the herte hire streyneth so,
LGW 9 2685 And drede of deth doth hire so moche wo,
LGW 9 2686 That thryes doun she fyl in swich a were.
LGW 9 2687 She rist yit up, and stakereth her and there,
LGW 9 2688 And on hire hondes faste loketh she.
LGW 9 2689 “Allas! and shal myne hondes blody be?
LGW 9 2690 I am a mayde, and, as by my nature,
LGW 9 2691 And bi my semblaunt and by my vesture,
LGW 9 2692 Myne handes ben nat shapen for a knyf,
LGW 9 2693 As for to reve no man fro his lyf.
LGW 9 2694 What devel have I with the knyf to do?
LGW 9 2695 And shal I have my throte korve a-two?
LGW 9 2696 Thanne shal I blede, allas, and me beshende!
LGW 9 2697 And nedes-cost this thyng moste have an ende;
LGW 9 2698 Or he or I mot nedes lese oure lyf.
LGW 9 2699 Now certes,” quod she, “syn I am his wif,
LGW 9 2700 And hath my feyth, yit is it bet for me
LGW 9 2701 For to be ded in wifly honeste
LGW 9 2702 Than ben a traytour lyvynge in my shame.
LGW 9 2703 Be as be may, for ernest or for game,
LGW 9 2704 He shal awake, and ryse, and gon his way,
LGW 9 2705 Out at this goter, or that it be day” —
LGW 9 2706 And wep ful tenderly upon his face,
LGW 9 2707 And in hyre armes gan hym to enbrace,
LGW 9 2708 And hym she roggeth and awaketh softe.
LGW 9 2709 And at a wyndow lep he fro the lofte,
LGW 9 2710 Whan she hath warned hym, and don hym bote.
LGW 9 2711 This Lyno swift was, and lyght of fote,
LGW 9 2712 And from his wif he ran a ful good pas.
LGW 9 2713 This sely woman is so weik — Allas! —
LGW 9 2714 And helples, so that or that she fer wente,
LGW 9 2715 Hire crewel fader dide hire for to hente.
LGW 9 2716 Allas, Lyno, whi art thow so unkynde?
LGW 9 2717 Why ne haddest thow remembred in thy mynde
LGW 9 2718 To taken hire, and lad hire forth with the?
LGW 9 2719 For whan she saw that gon awey was he,
LGW 9 2720 And that she myghte nat so faste go,
LGW 9 2721 Ne folwen hym, she sat hire doun ryght tho,
LGW 9 2722 Til she was caught and fetered in prysoun.
LGW 9 2723 This tale is seyd for this conclusioun —