The Legend of Philomela

By Geoffrey Chaucer

LGW 7 2228 Thow yevere of the formes, that hast wrought
LGW 7 2229 This fayre world and bar it in thy thought
LGW 7 2230 Eternaly er thow thy werk began,
LGW 7 2231 Why madest thow, unto the slaunder of man,
LGW 7 2232 Or, al be that it was nat thy doing,
LGW 7 2233 As for that fyn, to make swich a thyng,
LGW 7 2234 Whi sufferest thow that Tereus was bore,
LGW 7 2235 That is in love so fals and so forswore,
LGW 7 2236 That fro this world up to the firste hevene
LGW 7 2237 Corrumpeth whan that folk his name nevene?
LGW 7 2238 And, as to me, so grisely was his dede
LGW 7 2239 That, whan that I his foule storye rede,
LGW 7 2240 Myne eyen wexe foule and sore also.
LGW 7 2241 Yit last the venym of so longe ago,
LGW 7 2242 That it enfecteth hym that wol beholde
LGW 7 2243 The storye of Tereus, of which I tolde.
LGW 7 2244 Of Trace was he lord, and kyn to Marte,
LGW 7 2245 The crewel god that stant with blody darte;
LGW 7 2246 And wedded hadde he, with a blysful cheere,
LGW 7 2247 Kyng Pandiones fayre doughter dere,
LGW 7 2248 That highte Progne, flour of hire cuntre,
LGW 7 2249 Thogh Juno lyst nat at the feste to be,
LGW 7 2250 Ne Imeneus that god of wedyng is.
LGW 7 2251 But at the feste redy ben, ywis,
LGW 7 2252 The Furies thre with al here mortal brond.
LGW 7 2253 The oule al nyght aboute the balkes wond,
LGW 7 2254 That prophete is of wo and of myschaunce.
LGW 7 2255 This revel, ful of song and ek of daunce,
LGW 7 2256 Laste a fortenyght, or lytel lasse.
LGW 7 2257 But shortly of this story for to passe,
LGW 7 2258 For I am wery of hym for to telle,
LGW 7 2259 Fyve yer his wif and he togeder dwelle,
LGW 7 2260 Til on a day she gan so sore longe
LGW 7 2261 To sen hire sister that she say nat longe,
LGW 7 2262 That for desyr she nyste what to seye.
LGW 7 2263 But to hire husbonde gan she for to preye,
LGW 7 2264 For Godes love, that she moste ones gon
LGW 7 2265 Hyre syster for to sen, and come anon,
LGW 7 2266 Or elles, but she moste to hire wende,
LGW 7 2267 She preyde hym that he wolde after hire sende;
LGW 7 2268 And this was day by day al hire preyere,
LGW 7 2269 With al humblesse of wifhod, word and chere.
LGW 7 2270 This Tereus let make his shipes yare,
LGW 7 2271 And into Grece hymself is forth yfare.
LGW 7 2272 Unto his fadyr-in-lawe gan he preye
LGW 7 2273 To vouche-sauf that for a month or tweye
LGW 7 2274 That Philomene, his wyves syster, myghte
LGW 7 2275 On Progne his wyf but ones han a syghte —
LGW 7 2276 “And she shal come to yow ageyn anon.
LGW 7 2277 Myself with hyre wol bothe come and gon,
LGW 7 2278 And as myn hertes lyf I wol hire kepe.”
LGW 7 2279 This olde Pandion, this kyng, gan wepe
LGW 7 2280 For tendernesse of herte for to leve
LGW 7 2281 His doughter gon, and for to yeve hire leve;
LGW 7 2282 Of al this world he loveth nothyng so;
LGW 7 2283 But at the laste leve hath she to go.
LGW 7 2284 For Philomene with salte teres eke
LGW 7 2285 Gan of hire fader grace to beseke
LGW 7 2286 To sen hire syster that she loveth so,
LGW 7 2287 And hym embraseth with hire armes two.
LGW 7 2288 And therwithal so yong and fayr was she
LGW 7 2289 That, whan that Tereus saw hire beaute,
LGW 7 2290 And of aray that there was non hire lyche,
LGW 7 2291 And yit of beaute was she two so ryche,
LGW 7 2292 He caste his fyry herte upon hyre so
LGW 7 2293 That he wol have hir, how so that it go;
LGW 7 2294 And with his wiles kneled and so preyde,
LGW 7 2295 Tyl at the laste Pandyon thus seyde:
LGW 7 2296 “Now, sone,” quod he, “that art to me so dere,
LGW 7 2297 I the betake my yonge doughter here
LGW 7 2298 That bereth the keye of al myn hertes lyf.
LGW 7 2299 And gret me wel my doughter and thy wif,
LGW 7 2300 And yif hire leve somtyme for to pleye,
LGW 7 2301 That she may sen me ones er I deye.”
LGW 7 2302 And sothly, he hath mad hym riche feste,
LGW 7 2303 And to his folk, the moste and ek the leste,
LGW 7 2304 That with hym com; and yaf hym yiftes grete,
LGW 7 2305 And hym conveyeth thourgh the mayster-strete
LGW 7 2306 Of Athenes, and to the se hym broughte,
LGW 7 2307 And turneth hom; no malyce he ne thoughte.
LGW 7 2308 The ores pullen forth the vessel faste,
LGW 7 2309 And into Trace aryveth at the laste,
LGW 7 2310 And up into a forest he hire ledde,
LGW 7 2311 And to a cave pryvely hym spedde;
LGW 7 2312 And in this derke cave, yif hir leste,
LGW 7 2313 Or leste nat, he bad hire for to reste;
LGW 7 2314 Of which hire herte agros, and seyde thus:
LGW 7 2315 “Where is my sister, brother Tereus?”
LGW 7 2316 And therwithal she wepte tenderly
LGW 7 2317 And quok for fere, pale and pitously,
LGW 7 2318 Ryght as the lamb that of the wolf is biten;
LGW 7 2319 Or as the culver that of the egle is smiten,
LGW 7 2320 And is out of his clawes forth escaped,
LGW 7 2321 Yit it is afered and awhaped,
LGW 7 2322 Lest it be hent eft-sones; so sat she.
LGW 7 2323 But utterly it may non other be.
LGW 7 2324 By force hath this traytour don a dede,
LGW 7 2325 That he hath reft hire of hire maydenhede,
LGW 7 2326 Maugre hire hed, by strengthe and by his myght.
LGW 7 2327 Lo! here a dede of men, and that a ryght!
LGW 7 2328 She cryeth “Syster!” with ful loud a stevene,
LGW 7 2329 And “Fader dere!” and “Help me, God in hevene!”
LGW 7 2330 Al helpeth nat; and yit this false thef
LGW 7 2331 Hath don this lady yit a more myschef,
LGW 7 2332 For fere lest she shulde his shame crye
LGW 7 2333 And don hym openly a vilenye,
LGW 7 2334 And with his swerd hire tonge of kerveth he,
LGW 7 2335 And in a castel made hire for to be
LGW 7 2336 Ful pryvely in prisoun everemore,
LGW 7 2337 And kepte hire to his usage and his store,
LGW 7 2338 So that she myghte hym neveremore asterte.
LGW 7 2339 O sely Philomene, wo is thyn herte!
LGW 7 2340 God wreke thee, and sende the thy bone!
LGW 7 2341 Now is it tyme I make an ende sone.
LGW 7 2342 This Tereus is to his wif ycome,
LGW 7 2343 And in his armes hath his wif ynome,
LGW 7 2344 And pitously he wep and shok his hed,
LGW 7 2345 And swor hir that he fond hir sister ded;
LGW 7 2346 For which this sely Progne hath swich wo
LGW 7 2347 That nygh hire sorweful herte brak a-two.
LGW 7 2348 And thus in terys lete I Progne dwelle,
LGW 7 2349 And of hire sister forth I wol yow telle.
LGW 7 2350 This woful lady lerned hadde in youthe
LGW 7 2351 So that she werken and enbroude couthe,
LGW 7 2352 And weven in hire stol the radevore
LGW 7 2353 As it of wemen hath be woned yore.
LGW 7 2354 And, sothly for to seyne, she hadde hire fille
LGW 7 2355 Of mete and drynk, and clothyng at hire wille.
LGW 7 2356 She coude eek rede and wel ynow endyte,
LGW 7 2357 But with a penne coude she nat wryte.
LGW 7 2358 But letters can she weve to and fro,
LGW 7 2359 So that, by that the yer was al ago,
LGW 7 2360 She hadde ywoven in a stamyn large
LGW 7 2361 How she was brought from Athenes in a barge,
LGW 7 2362 And in a cave how that she was brought;
LGW 7 2363 And al the thyng that Tereus hath wrought,
LGW 7 2364 She waf it wel, and wrot the storye above,
LGW 7 2365 How she was served for hire systers love.
LGW 7 2366 And to a knave a ryng she yaf anon,
LGW 7 2367 And preyed hym by signes for to gon
LGW 7 2368 Unto the queen, and beren hir that cloth,
LGW 7 2369 And by signes swor hym many an oth
LGW 7 2370 She wolde hym yeven what she geten myghte.
LGW 7 2371 This knave anon unto the quene hym dyghte,
LGW 7 2372 And tok it hire, and al the maner tolde.
LGW 7 2373 And whan that Progne hath this thing beholde,
LGW 7 2374 No word she spak, for sorwe and ek for rage,
LGW 7 2375 But feynede hire to gon on pilgrymage
LGW 7 2376 To Bacus temple; and in a litel stounde
LGW 7 2377 Hire dombe sister sittynge hath she founde,
LGW 7 2378 Wepynge in the castel, here alone.
LGW 7 2379 Allas! The wo, the compleynt, and the mone
LGW 7 2380 That Progne upon hire doumbe syster maketh.
LGW 7 2381 In armes everych of hem other taketh,
LGW 7 2382 And thus I late hem in here sorwe dwelle.
LGW 7 2383 The remenaunt is no charge for to telle,
LGW 7 2384 For this is al and som: thus was she served,
LGW 7 2385 That nevere harm agilte ne deserved
LGW 7 2386 Unto this crewel man, that she of wiste.
LGW 7 2387 Ye may be war of men, if that yow liste.
LGW 7 2388 For al be it that he wol nat, for shame,
LGW 7 2389 Don as Tereus, to lese his name,
LGW 7 2390 Ne serve yow as a morderour or a knave,
LGW 7 2391 Ful lytel while shal ye trewe hym have —
LGW 7 2392 That wol I seyn, al were he now my brother —
LGW 7 2393 But it so be that he may have non other.