The Monk’s Tale

From The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

MkT 1991 I wol biwaille in manere of tragedie
MkT 1992 The harm of hem that stoode in heigh degree,
MkT 1993 And fillen so that ther nas no remedie
MkT 1994 To brynge hem out of hir adversitee.
MkT 1995 For certein, whan that Fortune list to flee,
MkT 1996 Ther may no man the cours of hire withholde.
MkT 1997 Lat no man truste on blynd prosperitee;
MkT 1998 Be war by thise ensamples trewe and olde.
MkT 1999 At Lucifer, though he an angel were
MkT 2000 And nat a man, at hym wol I bigynne.
MkT 2001 For though Fortune may noon angel dere,
MkT 2002 From heigh degree yet fel he for his synne
MkT 2003 Doun into helle, where he yet is inne.
MkT 2004 O Lucifer, brightest of angels alle,
MkT 2005 Now artow Sathanas, that mayst nat twynne
MkT 2006 Out of miserie, in which that thou art falle.
MkT 2007 Loo Adam, in the feeld of Damyssene
MkT 2008 With Goddes owene fynger wroght was he,
MkT 2009 And nat bigeten of mannes sperme unclene,
MkT 2010 And welte al paradys savynge o tree.
MkT 2011 Hadde nevere worldly man so heigh degree
MkT 2012 As Adam, til he for mysgovernaunce
MkT 2013 Was dryven out of hys hye prosperitee
MkT 2014 To labour, and to helle, and to meschaunce.
MkT 2015 Loo Sampsoun, which that was annunciat
MkT 2016 By th’ angel longe er his nativitee,
MkT 2017 And was to God Almyghty consecrat,
MkT 2018 And stood in noblesse whil he myghte see.
MkT 2019 Was nevere swich another as was hee,
MkT 2020 To speke of strengthe, and therwith hardynesse;
MkT 2021 But to his wyves toolde he his secree,
MkT 2022 Thurgh which he slow hymself for wrecchednesse.
MkT 2023 Sampsoun, this noble almyghty champioun,
MkT 2024 Withouten wepen save his handes tweye,
MkT 2025 He slow and al torente the leoun,
MkT 2026 Toward his weddyng walkynge by the weye.
MkT 2027 His false wyf koude hym so plese and preye
MkT 2028 Til she his conseil knew; and she, untrewe,
MkT 2029 Unto his foos his conseil gan biwreye,
MkT 2030 And hym forsook, and took another newe.
MkT 2031 Thre hundred foxes took Sampson for ire,
MkT 2032 And alle hir tayles he togydre bond,
MkT 2033 And sette the foxes tayles alle on fire,
MkT 2034 For he on every tayl had knyt a brond;
MkT 2035 And they brende alle the cornes in that lond,
MkT 2036 And alle hire olyveres, and vynes eke.
MkT 2037 A thousand men he slow eek with his hond,
MkT 2038 And hadde no wepen but an asses cheke.
MkT 2039 Whan they were slayn, so thursted hym that he
MkT 2040 Was wel ny lorn, for which he gan to preye
MkT 2041 That God wolde on his peyne han some pitee
MkT 2042 And sende hym drynke, or elles moste he deye;
MkT 2043 And of this asses cheke, that was dreye,
MkT 2044 Out of a wang-tooth sprang anon a welle,
MkT 2045 Of which he drank ynogh, shortly to seye;
MkT 2046 Thus heelp hym God, as Judicum can telle.
MkT 2047 By verray force at Gazan on a nyght,
MkT 2048 Maugree Philistiens of that citee,
MkT 2049 The gates of the toun he hath up plyght,
MkT 2050 And on his bak ycaryed hem hath hee
MkT 2051 Hye on an hill whereas men myghte hem see.
MkT 2052 O noble, almyghty Sampsoun, lief and deere,
MkT 2053 Had thou nat toold to wommen thy secree,
MkT 2054 In al this world ne hadde been thy peere!
MkT 2055 This Sampson nevere ciser drank ne wyn,
MkT 2056 Ne on his heed cam rasour noon ne sheere,
MkT 2057 By precept of the messager divyn,
MkT 2058 For alle his strengthes in his heeres weere.
MkT 2059 And fully twenty wynter, yeer by yeere,
MkT 2060 He hadde of Israel the governaunce.
MkT 2061 But soone shal he wepe many a teere,
MkT 2062 For wommen shal hym bryngen to meschaunce!
MkT 2063 Unto his lemman Dalida he tolde
MkT 2064 That in his heeris al his strengthe lay,
MkT 2065 And falsly to his foomen she hym solde.
MkT 2066 And slepynge in hir barm upon a day,
MkT 2067 She made to clippe or shere his heres away,
MkT 2068 And made his foomen al his craft espyen;
MkT 2069 And whan that they hym foond in this array,
MkT 2070 They bounde hym faste and putten out his yen.
MkT 2071 But er his heer were clipped or yshave,
MkT 2072 Ther was no boond with which men myghte him bynde;
MkT 2073 But now is he in prison in a cave,
MkT 2074 Where-as they made hym at the queerne grynde.
MkT 2075 O noble Sampsoun, strongest of mankynde,
MkT 2076 O whilom juge, in glorie and in richesse!
MkT 2077 Now maystow wepen with thyne eyen blynde,
MkT 2078 Sith thou fro wele art falle in wrecchednesse.
MkT 2079 The ende of this caytyf was as I shal seye.
MkT 2080 His foomen made a feeste upon a day,
MkT 2081 And made hym as hire fool biforn hem pleye;
MkT 2082 And this was in a temple of greet array.
MkT 2083 But atte laste he made a foul affray,
MkT 2084 For he two pilers shook and made hem falle,
MkT 2085 And doun fil temple and al, and ther it lay —
MkT 2086 And slow hymself, and eek his foomen alle.
MkT 2087 This is to seyn, the prynces everichoon,
MkT 2088 And eek thre thousand bodyes, were ther slayn
MkT 2089 With fallynge of the grete temple of stoon.
MkT 2090 Of Sampson now wol I namoore sayn.
MkT 2091 Beth war by this ensample oold and playn
MkT 2092 That no men telle hir conseil til hir wyves
MkT 2093 Of swich thyng as they wolde han secree fayn,
MkT 2094 If that it touche hir lymes or hir lyves.
MkT 2095 Of Hercules, the sovereyn conquerour,
MkT 2096 Syngen his werkes laude and heigh renoun;
MkT 2097 For in his tyme of strengthe he was the flour.
MkT 2098 He slow and rafte the skyn of the leoun;
MkT 2099 He of Centauros leyde the boost adoun;
MkT 2100 He Arpies slow, the crueel bryddes felle;
MkT 2101 He golden apples rafte of the dragoun;
MkT 2102 He drow out Cerberus, the hound of helle;
MkT 2103 He slow the crueel tyrant Busirus
MkT 2104 And made his hors to frete hym, flessh and boon;
MkT 2105 He slow the firy serpent venymus;
MkT 2106 Of Acheloys two hornes he brak oon;
MkT 2107 And he slow Cacus in a cave of stoon;
MkT 2108 He slow the geant Antheus the stronge;
MkT 2109 He slow the grisly boor, and that anon;
MkT 2110 And bar the hevene on his nekke longe.
MkT 2111 Was nevere wight, sith that this world bigan,
MkT 2112 That slow so manye monstres as dide he.
MkT 2113 Thurghout this wyde world his name ran,
MkT 2114 What for his strengthe and for his heigh bountee,
MkT 2115 And every reawme wente he for to see.
MkT 2116 He was so stroong that no man myghte hym lette.
MkT 2117 At bothe the worldes endes, seith Trophee,
MkT 2118 In stide of boundes he a pileer sette.
MkT 2119 A lemman hadde this noble champioun,
MkT 2120 That highte Dianira, fressh as May;
MkT 2121 And as thise clerkes maken mencioun,
MkT 2122 She hath hym sent a sherte, fressh and gay.
MkT 2123 Allas, this sherte — allas and weylaway! —
MkT 2124 Envenymed was so subtilly withalle
MkT 2125 That er that he had wered it half a day
MkT 2126 It made his flessh al from his bones falle.
MkT 2127 But nathelees somme clerkes hire excusen
MkT 2128 By oon that highte Nessus, that it maked.
MkT 2129 Be as be may, I wol hire noght accusen;
MkT 2130 But on his bak this sherte he wered al naked
MkT 2131 Til that his flessh was for the venym blaked.
MkT 2132 And whan he saugh noon oother remedye,
MkT 2133 In hoote coles he hath hymselven raked,
MkT 2134 For with no venym deigned hym to dye.
MkT 2135 Thus starf this worthy, myghty Hercules.
MkT 2136 Lo, who may truste on Fortune any throwe?
MkT 2137 For hym that folweth al this world of prees
MkT 2138 Er he be war is ofte yleyd ful lowe.
MkT 2139 Ful wys is he that kan hymselven knowe!
MkT 2140 Beth war, for whan that Fortune list to glose,
MkT 2141 Thanne wayteth she her man to overthrowe
MkT 2142 By swich a wey as he wolde leest suppose.
MkT 2143 The myghty trone, the precious tresor,
MkT 2144 The glorious ceptre, and roial magestee
MkT 2145 That hadde the kyng Nabugodonosor
MkT 2146 With tonge unnethe may discryved bee.
MkT 2147 He twyes wan Jerusalem the citee;
MkT 2148 The vessel of the temple he with hym ladde.
MkT 2149 At Babiloigne was his sovereyn see,
MkT 2150 In which his glorie and his delit he hadde.
MkT 2151 The faireste children of the blood roial
MkT 2152 Of Israel he leet do gelde anoon,
MkT 2153 And maked ech of hem to been his thral.
MkT 2154 Amonges othere Daniel was oon,
MkT 2155 That was the wiseste child of everychon,
MkT 2156 For he the dremes of the kyng expowned,
MkT 2157 Whereas in Chaldeye clerk ne was ther noon
MkT 2158 That wiste to what fyn his dremes sowned.
MkT 2159 This proude kyng leet maken a statue of gold,
MkT 2160 Sixty cubites long and sevene in brede,
MkT 2161 To which ymage bothe yong and oold
MkT 2162 Comanded he to loute, and have in drede,
MkT 2163 Or in a fourneys, ful of flambes rede,
MkT 2164 He shal be brent that wolde noght obeye.
MkT 2165 But nevere wolde assente to that dede
MkT 2166 Daniel ne his yonge felawes tweye.
MkT 2167 This kyng of kynges proud was and elaat;
MkT 2168 He wende that God, that sit in magestee,
MkT 2169 Ne myghte hym nat bireve of his estaat.
MkT 2170 But sodeynly he loste his dignytee,
MkT 2171 And lyk a beest hym semed for to bee,
MkT 2172 And eet hey as an oxe, and lay theroute
MkT 2173 In reyn; with wilde beestes walked hee
MkT 2174 Til certein tyme was ycome aboute.
MkT 2175 And lik an egles fetheres wax his heres;
MkT 2176 His nayles lyk a briddes clawes weere;
MkT 2177 Til God relessed hym a certeyn yeres,
MkT 2178 And yaf hym wit, and thanne with many a teere
MkT 2179 He thanked God, and evere his lyf in feere
MkT 2180 Was he to doon amys or moore trespace;
MkT 2181 And til that tyme he leyd was on his beere
MkT 2182 He knew that God was ful of myght and grace.
MkT 2183 His sone, which that highte Balthasar,
MkT 2184 That heeld the regne after his fader day,
MkT 2185 He by his fader koude noght be war,
MkT 2186 For proud he was of herte and of array,
MkT 2187 And eek an ydolastre was he ay.
MkT 2188 His hye estaat assured hym in pryde;
MkT 2189 But Fortune caste hym doun, and ther he lay,
MkT 2190 And sodeynly his regne gan divide.
MkT 2191 A feeste he made unto his lordes alle
MkT 2192 Upon a tyme and bad hem blithe bee;
MkT 2193 And thanne his officeres gan he calle:
MkT 2194 “Gooth, bryngeth forth the vesseles,” quod he,
MkT 2195 “Whiche that my fader in his prosperitee
MkT 2196 Out of the temple of Jerusalem birafte;
MkT 2197 And to oure hye goddes thanke we
MkT 2198 Of honour that oure eldres with us lafte.”
MkT 2199 Hys wyf, his lordes, and his concubynes
MkT 2200 Ay dronken, whil hire appetites laste,
MkT 2201 Out of thise noble vessels sondry wynes.
MkT 2202 And on a wal this kyng his eyen caste
MkT 2203 And saugh an hand, armlees, that wroot ful faste,
MkT 2204 For feere of which he quook and siked soore.
MkT 2205 This hand that Balthasar so soore agaste
MkT 2206 Wroot Mane, techel, phares, and namoore.
MkT 2207 In all that land magicien was noon
MkT 2208 That koude expoune what this lettre mente;
MkT 2209 But Daniel expowned it anoon,
MkT 2210 And seyde, “Kyng, God to thy fader lente
MkT 2211 Glorie and honour, regne, tresour, rente;
MkT 2212 And he was proud and nothyng God ne dradde,
MkT 2213 And therfore God greet wreche upon hym sente,
MkT 2214 And hym birafte the regne that he hadde.
MkT 2215 “He was out cast of mannes compaignye;
MkT 2216 With asses was his habitacioun,
MkT 2217 And eet hey as a beest in weet and drye
MkT 2218 Til that he knew, by grace and by resoun,
MkT 2219 That God of hevene hath domynacioun
MkT 2220 Over every regne and every creature;
MkT 2221 And thanne hadde God of hym compassioun,
MkT 2222 And hym restored his regne and his figure.
MkT 2223 “Eek thou, that art his sone, art proud also,
MkT 2224 And knowest alle thise thynges verraily,
MkT 2225 And art rebel to God, and art his foo.
MkT 2226 Thou drank eek of his vessels boldely;
MkT 2227 Thy wyf eek, and thy wenches, synfully
MkT 2228 Dronke of the same vessels sondry wynys;
MkT 2229 And heryest false goddes cursedly;
MkT 2230 Therefore to thee yshapen ful greet pyne ys.
MkT 2231 “This hand was sent from God that on the wal
MkT 2232 Wroot Mane, techel, phares, truste me;
MkT 2233 Thy regne is doon; thou weyest noght at al.
MkT 2234 Dyvyded is thy regne, and it shal be
MkT 2235 To Medes and to Perses yeven,” quod he.
MkT 2236 And thilke same nyght this kyng was slawe,
MkT 2237 And Darius occupieth his degree,
MkT 2238 Thogh he therto hadde neither right ne lawe.
MkT 2239 Lordynges, ensample heerby may ye take
MkT 2240 How that in lordshipe is no sikernesse,
MkT 2241 For whan Fortune wole a man forsake,
MkT 2242 She bereth awey his regne and his richesse,
MkT 2243 And eek his freendes, bothe moore and lesse.
MkT 2244 For what man that hath freendes thurgh Fortune,
MkT 2245 Mishap wol maken hem enemys, I gesse;
MkT 2246 This proverbe is ful sooth and ful commune.
MkT 2247 Cenobia, of Palymerie queene,
MkT 2248 As writen Persiens of hir noblesse,
MkT 2249 So worthy was in armes and so keene
MkT 2250 That no wight passed hire in hardynesse,
MkT 2251 Ne in lynage, ne in oother gentillesse.
MkT 2252 Of kynges blood of Perce is she descended.
MkT 2253 I seye nat that she hadde moost fairnesse,
MkT 2254 But of hir shap she myghte nat been amended.
MkT 2255 From hire childhede I fynde that she fledde
MkT 2256 Office of wommen, and to wode she wente,
MkT 2257 And many a wilde hertes blood she shedde
MkT 2258 With arwes brode that she to hem sente.
MkT 2259 She was so swift that she anon hem hente;
MkT 2260 And whan that she was elder, she wolde kille
MkT 2261 Leouns, leopardes, and beres al torente,
MkT 2262 And in hir armes weelde hem at hir wille.
MkT 2263 She dorste wilde beestes dennes seke,
MkT 2264 And rennen in the montaignes al the nyght,
MkT 2265 And slepen under a bussh, and she koude eke
MkT 2266 Wrastlen, by verray force and verray myght,
MkT 2267 With any yong man, were he never so wight.
MkT 2268 Ther myghte no thyng in hir armes stonde.
MkT 2269 She kepte hir maydenhod from every wight;
MkT 2270 To no man deigned hire for to be bonde.
MkT 2271 But atte laste hir freendes han hire maried
MkT 2272 To Odenake, a prynce of that contree,
MkT 2273 Al were it so that she hem longe taried.
MkT 2274 And ye shul understonde how that he
MkT 2275 Hadde swiche fantasies as hadde she.
MkT 2276 But natheless, whan they were knyt in-feere,
MkT 2277 They lyved in joye and in felicitee,
MkT 2278 For ech of hem hadde oother lief and deere,
MkT 2279 Save o thyng: that she wolde nevere assente,
MkT 2280 By no wey, that he sholde by hire lye
MkT 2281 But ones, for it was hir pleyn entente
MkT 2282 To have a child, the world to multiplye;
MkT 2283 And also soone as that she myghte espye
MkT 2284 That she was nat with childe with that dede,
MkT 2285 Thanne wolde she suffre hym doon his fantasye
MkT 2286 Eft-soone, and nat but oones, out of drede.
MkT 2287 And if she were with childe at thilke cast,
MkT 2288 Namoore sholde he pleyen thilke game
MkT 2289 Til fully fourty [wikes] weren past;
MkT 2290 Thanne wolde she ones suffre hym do the same.
MkT 2291 Al were this Odenake wilde or tame,
MkT 2292 He gat namoore of hire, for thus she seyde:
MkT 2293 It was to wyves lecherie and shame,
MkT 2294 In oother caas, if that men with hem pleyde.
MkT 2295 Two sones by this Odenake hadde she,
MkT 2296 The whiche she kepte in vertu and lettrure.
MkT 2297 But now unto oure tale turne we.
MkT 2298 I seye, so worshipful a creature,
MkT 2299 And wys therwith, and large with mesure,
MkT 2300 So penyble in the werre, and curteis eke,
MkT 2301 Ne moore labour myghte in werre endure,
MkT 2302 Was noon, though al this world men sholde seke.
MkT 2303 Hir riche array ne myghte nat be told,
MkT 2304 As wel in vessel as in hire clothyng.
MkT 2305 She was al clad in perree and in gold,
MkT 2306 And eek she lafte noght, for noon huntyng,
MkT 2307 To have of sondry tonges ful knowyng,
MkT 2308 Whan that she leyser hadde; and for to entende
MkT 2309 To lerne bookes was al hire likyng,
MkT 2310 How she in vertu myghte hir lyf dispende.
MkT 2311 And shortly of this storie for to trete,
MkT 2312 So doghty was hir housbonde and eek she,
MkT 2313 That they conquered manye regnes grete
MkT 2314 In the orient, with many a fair citee
MkT 2315 Apertenaunt unto the magestee
MkT 2316 Of Rome, and with strong hond held hem ful faste,
MkT 2317 Ne nevere myghte hir foomen doon hem flee,
MkT 2318 Ay whil that Odenakes dayes laste.
MkT 2319 Hir batailles, whoso list hem for to rede,
MkT 2320 Agayn Sapor the kyng and othere mo,
MkT 2321 And how that al this proces fil in dede,
MkT 2322 Why she conquered and what title had therto,
MkT 2323 And after, of hir meschief and hire wo,
MkT 2324 How that she was biseged and ytake —
MkT 2325 Lat hym unto my maister Petrak go,
MkT 2326 That writ ynough of this, I undertake.
MkT 2327 Whan Odenake was deed, she myghtily
MkT 2328 The regnes heeld, and with hire propre hond
MkT 2329 Agayn hir foos she faught so cruelly
MkT 2330 That ther nas kyng ne prynce in al that lond
MkT 2331 That he nas glad, if he that grace fond,
MkT 2332 That she ne wolde upon his lond werreye.
MkT 2333 With hire they maden alliance by bond
MkT 2334 To been in pees, and lete hire ride and pleye.
MkT 2335 The Emperour of Rome, Claudius
MkT 2336 Ne hym bifore, the Romayn Galien,
MkT 2337 Ne dorste nevere been so corageus,
MkT 2338 Ne noon Ermyn, ne noon Egipcien,
MkT 2339 Ne Surrien, ne noon Arabyen,
MkT 2340 Withinne the feeld that dorste with hire fighte,
MkT 2341 Lest that she wolde hem with hir handes slen,
MkT 2342 Or with hir meignee putten hem to flighte.
MkT 2343 In kynges habit wente hir sones two,
MkT 2344 As heires of hir fadres regnes alle,
MkT 2345 And Hermanno and Thymalao
MkT 2346 Hir names were, as Persiens hem calle.
MkT 2347 But ay Fortune hath in hire hony galle;
MkT 2348 This myghty queene may no while endure.
MkT 2349 Fortune out of hir regne made hire falle
MkT 2350 To wrecchednesse and to mysaventure.
MkT 2351 Aurelian, whan that the governaunce
MkT 2352 Of Rome cam into his handes tweye,
MkT 2353 He shoop upon this queene to doon vengeaunce.
MkT 2354 And with his legions he took his weye
MkT 2355 Toward Cenobie, and shortly for to seye,
MkT 2356 He made hire flee, and atte laste hire hente,
MkT 2357 And fettred hire, and eek hire children tweye,
MkT 2358 And wan the land, and hoom to Rome he wente.
MkT 2359 Amonges othere thynges that he wan,
MkT 2360 Hir chaar, that was with gold wroght and perree,
MkT 2361 This grete Romayn, this Aurelian,
MkT 2362 Hath with hym lad, for that men sholde it see.
MkT 2363 Biforen his triumphe walketh shee,
MkT 2364 With gilte cheynes on hire nekke hangynge.
MkT 2365 Coroned was she, as after hir degree,
MkT 2366 And ful of perree charged hire clothynge.
MkT 2367 Allas, Fortune! She that whilom was
MkT 2368 Dredeful to kynges and to emperoures,
MkT 2369 Now gaureth al the peple on hire, allas!
MkT 2370 And she that helmed was in starke stoures
MkT 2371 And wan by force townes stronge and toures,
MkT 2372 Shal on hir heed now were a vitremyte;
MkT 2373 And she that bar the ceptre ful of floures
MkT 2374 Shal bere a distaf, hire cost for to quyte.
MkT 2375 O noble, O worthy Petro, glorie of Spayne,
MkT 2376 Whom Fortune heeld so hye in magestee,
MkT 2377 Wel oghten men thy pitous deeth complayne!
MkT 2378 Out of thy land thy brother made thee flee,
MkT 2379 And after, at a seege, by subtiltee,
MkT 2380 Thou were bitraysed and lad unto his tente,
MkT 2381 Where as he with his owene hand slow thee,
MkT 2382 Succedynge in thy regne and in thy rente.
MkT 2383 The feeld of snow, with th’ egle of blak therinne,
MkT 2384 Caught with the lymrod coloured as the gleede,
MkT 2385 He brew this cursednesse and al this synne.
MkT 2386 The wikked nest was werker of this nede.
MkT 2387 Noght Charles Olyver, that took ay heede
MkT 2388 Of trouthe and honour, but of Armorike
MkT 2389 Genylon-Olyver, corrupt for meede,
MkT 2390 Broghte this worthy kyng in swich a brike.
MkT 2391 O worthy Petro, kyng of Cipre, also,
MkT 2392 That Alisandre wan by heigh maistrie,
MkT 2393 Ful many an hethen wroghtestow ful wo,
MkT 2394 Of which thyne owene liges hadde envie,
MkT 2395 And for no thyng but for thy chivalrie
MkT 2396 They in thy bed han slayn thee by the morwe.
MkT 2397 Thus kan Fortune hir wheel governe and gye,
MkT 2398 And out of joye brynge men to sorwe.
MkT 2399 Off Melan grete Barnabo Viscounte,
MkT 2400 God of delit and scourge of Lumbardye,
MkT 2401 Why sholde I nat thyn infortune acounte,
MkT 2402 Sith in estaat thow cloumbe were so hye?
MkT 2403 Thy brother sone, that was thy double allye,
MkT 2404 For he thy nevew was and sone-in-lawe,
MkT 2405 Withinne his prisoun made thee to dye —
MkT 2406 But why ne how noot I that thou were slawe.
MkT 2407 Off the Erl Hugelyn of Pyze the langour
MkT 2408 Ther may no tonge telle for pitee.
MkT 2409 But litel out of Pize stant a tour,
MkT 2410 In which tour in prisoun put was he,
MkT 2411 And with hym been his litel children thre;
MkT 2412 The eldest scarsly fyf yeer was of age.
MkT 2413 Allas, Fortune, it was greet crueltee
MkT 2414 Swiche briddes for to putte in swich a cage!
MkT 2415 Dampned was he to dyen in that prisoun,
MkT 2416 For Roger, which that bisshop was of Pize,
MkT 2417 Hadde on hym maad a fals suggestioun,
MkT 2418 Thurgh which the peple gan upon hym rise
MkT 2419 And putten hym to prisoun in swich wise
MkT 2420 As ye han herd, and mete and drynke he hadde
MkT 2421 So smal that wel unnethe it may suffise,
MkT 2422 And therwithal it was ful povre and badde.
MkT 2423 And on a day bifil that in that hour
MkT 2424 Whan that his mete wont was to be broght,
MkT 2425 The gayler shette the dores of the tour.
MkT 2426 He herde it wel, but he spak right noght,
MkT 2427 And in his herte anon ther fil a thoght
MkT 2428 That they for hunger wolde doon hym dyen.
MkT 2429 “Allas!” quod he, “Allas, that I was wroght!”
MkT 2430 Therwith the teeris fillen from his yen.
MkT 2431 His yonge sone, that thre yeer was of age,
MkT 2432 Unto hym seyde, “Fader, why do ye wepe?
MkT 2433 Whanne wol the gayler bryngen oure potage?
MkT 2434 Is ther no morsel breed that ye do kepe?
MkT 2435 I am so hungry that I may nat slepe.
MkT 2436 Now wolde God that I myghte slepen evere!
MkT 2437 Thanne sholde nat hunger in my wombe crepe;
MkT 2438 Ther is no thyng, but breed, that me were levere.”
MkT 2439 Thus day by day this child bigan to crye,
MkT 2440 Til in his fadres barm adoun it lay,
MkT 2441 And seyde, “Farewel, fader, I moot dye!”
MkT 2442 And kiste his fader, and dyde the same day.
MkT 2443 And whan the woful fader deed it say,
MkT 2444 For wo his armes two he gan to byte,
MkT 2445 And seyde, “Allas, Fortune, and weylaway!
MkT 2446 Thy false wheel my wo al may I wyte.”
MkT 2447 His children wende that it for hunger was
MkT 2448 That he his armes gnow, and nat for wo,
MkT 2449 And seyde, “Fader, do nat so, allas!
MkT 2450 But rather ete the flessh upon us two.
MkT 2451 Oure flessh thou yaf us, take oure flessh us fro,
MkT 2452 And ete ynogh” — right thus they to hym seyde,
MkT 2453 And after that, withinne a day or two,
MkT 2454 They leyde hem in his lappe adoun and deyde.
MkT 2455 Hymself, despeired, eek for hunger starf;
MkT 2456 Thus ended is this myghty Erl of Pize.
MkT 2457 From heigh estaat Fortune awey hym carf.
MkT 2458 Of this tragedie it oghte ynough suffise;
MkT 2459 Whoso wol here it in a lenger wise,
MkT 2460 Redeth the grete poete of Ytaille
MkT 2461 That highte Dant, for he kan al devyse
MkT 2462 Fro point to point; nat o word wol he faille.
MkT 2463 Although that Nero were as vicius
MkT 2464 As any feend that lith ful lowe adoun,
MkT 2465 Yet he, as telleth us Swetonius,
MkT 2466 This wyde world hadde in subjeccioun,
MkT 2467 Bothe est and west, [south], and septemtrioun.
MkT 2468 Of rubies, saphires, and of peerles white
MkT 2469 Were alle his clothes brouded up and doun,
MkT 2470 For he in gemmes greetly gan delite.
MkT 2471 Moore delicaat, moore pompous of array,
MkT 2472 Moore proud was nevere emperour than he;
MkT 2473 That ilke clooth that he hadde wered o day,
MkT 2474 After that tyme he nolde it nevere see.
MkT 2475 Nettes of gold threed hadde he greet plentee
MkT 2476 To fisshe in Tybre, whan hym liste pleye.
MkT 2477 His lustes were al lawe in his decree,
MkT 2478 For Fortune as his freend hym wolde obeye.
MkT 2479 He Rome brende for his delicasie;
MkT 2480 The senatours he slow upon a day
MkT 2481 To heere how that men wolde wepe and crie;
MkT 2482 And slow his brother, and by his suster lay.
MkT 2483 His mooder made he in pitous array,
MkT 2484 For he hire wombe slitte to biholde
MkT 2485 Where he conceyved was — so weilaway
MkT 2486 That he so litel of his mooder tolde!
MkT 2487 No teere out of his eyen for that sighte
MkT 2488 Ne cam, but seyde, “A fair womman was she!”
MkT 2489 Greet wonder is how that he koude or myghte
MkT 2490 Be domesman of hire dede beautee.
MkT 2491 The wyn to bryngen hym comanded he,
MkT 2492 And drank anon — noon oother wo he made.
MkT 2493 Whan myght is joyned unto crueltee,
MkT 2494 Allas, to depe wol the venym wade!
MkT 2495 In yowthe a maister hadde this emperour
MkT 2496 To teche hym letterure and curteisye,
MkT 2497 For of moralitee he was the flour,
MkT 2498 As in his tyme, but if bookes lye;
MkT 2499 And whil this maister hadde of hym maistrye,
MkT 2500 He maked hym so konnyng and so sowple
MkT 2501 That longe tyme it was er tirannye
MkT 2502 Or any vice dorste on hym uncowple.
MkT 2503 This Seneca, of which that I devyse,
MkT 2504 By cause Nero hadde of hym swich drede,
MkT 2505 For he fro vices wolde hym ay chastise
MkT 2506 Discreetly, as by word and nat by dede —
MkT 2507 “Sire,” wolde he seyn, “an emperour moot nede
MkT 2508 Be vertuous and hate tirannye –“
MkT 2509 For which he in a bath made hym to blede
MkT 2510 On bothe his armes, til he moste dye.
MkT 2511 This Nero hadde eek of acustumaunce
MkT 2512 In youthe agayns his maister for to ryse,
MkT 2513 Which afterward hym thoughte a greet grevaunce;
MkT 2514 Therefore he made hym dyen in this wise.
MkT 2515 But natheless this Seneca the wise
MkT 2516 Chees in a bath to dye in this manere
MkT 2517 Rather than han another tormentise;
MkT 2518 And thus hath Nero slayn his maister deere.
MkT 2519 Now fil it so that Fortune liste no lenger
MkT 2520 The hye pryde of Nero to cherice,
MkT 2521 For though that he were strong, yet was she strenger.
MkT 2522 She thoughte thus: “By God! I am to nyce
MkT 2523 To sette a man that is fulfild of vice
MkT 2524 In heigh degree, and emperour hym calle.
MkT 2525 By God, out of his sete I wol hym trice;
MkT 2526 Whan he leest weneth, sonnest shal he falle.”
MkT 2527 The peple roos upon hym on a nyght
MkT 2528 For his defaute, and whan he it espied,
MkT 2529 Out of his dores anon he hath hym dight
MkT 2530 Allone, and ther he wende han been allied
MkT 2531 He knokked faste, and ay the moore he cried
MkT 2532 The fastere shette they the dores alle.
MkT 2533 Tho wiste he wel, he hadde himself mysgyed,
MkT 2534 And wente his wey; no lenger dorste he calle.
MkT 2535 The peple cried and rombled up and doun,
MkT 2536 That with his erys herde he how they seyde,
MkT 2537 “Where is this false tiraunt, this Neroun?”
MkT 2538 For fere almoost out of his wit he breyde,
MkT 2539 And to his goddes pitously he preyde
MkT 2540 For socour, but it myghte nat bityde.
MkT 2541 For drede of this hym thoughte that he deyde,
MkT 2542 And ran into a gardyn hym to hyde.
MkT 2543 And in this gardyn foond he cherles tweye
MkT 2544 That seten by a fyr, greet and reed.
MkT 2545 And to thise cherles two he gan to preye
MkT 2546 To sleen hym and to girden of his heed,
MkT 2547 That to his body, whan that he were deed,
MkT 2548 Were no despit ydoon for his defame.
MkT 2549 Hymself he slow, he koude no bettre reed,
MkT 2550 Of which Fortune lough, and hadde a game.
MkT 2551 Was nevere capitayn under a kyng
MkT 2552 That regnes mo putte in subjeccioun,
MkT 2553 Ne strenger was in feeld of alle thyng,
MkT 2554 As in his tyme, ne gretter of renoun,
MkT 2555 Ne moore pompous in heigh presumpcioun
MkT 2556 Than Oloferne, which Fortune ay kiste
MkT 2557 So likerously, and ladde hym up and doun
MkT 2558 Til that his heed was of, er that he wiste.
MkT 2559 Nat oonly that this world hadde hym in awe
MkT 2560 For lesynge of richesse or libertee,
MkT 2561 But he made every man reneyen his lawe.
MkT 2562 “Nabugodonosor was god,” seyde hee;
MkT 2563 “Noon oother god sholde adoured bee.”
MkT 2564 Agayns his heeste no wight dorst trespace,
MkT 2565 Save in Bethulia, a strong citee,
MkT 2566 Where Eliachim a preest was of that place.
MkT 2567 But taak kep of the deth of Oloferne:
MkT 2568 Amydde his hoost he dronke lay a-nyght,
MkT 2569 Withinne his tente, large as is a berne,
MkT 2570 And yet, for al his pompe and al his myght,
MkT 2571 Judith, a womman, as he lay upright
MkT 2572 Slepynge, his heed of smoot, and from his tente
MkT 2573 Ful pryvely she stal from every wight,
MkT 2574 And with his heed unto hir toun she wente.
MkT 2575 What nedeth it of kyng Anthiochus
MkT 2576 To telle his hye roial magestee,
MkT 2577 His hye pride, his werkes venymus?
MkT 2578 For swich another was ther noon as he.
MkT 2579 Rede which that he was in Machabee,
MkT 2580 And rede the proude wordes that he seyde,
MkT 2581 And why he fil fro heigh prosperitee,
MkT 2582 And in an hill how wrecchedly he deyde.
MkT 2583 Fortune hym hadde enhaunced so in pride
MkT 2584 That verraily he wende he myghte attayne
MkT 2585 Unto the sterres upon every syde,
MkT 2586 And in balance weyen ech montayne,
MkT 2587 And alle the floodes of the see restrayne.
MkT 2588 And Goddes peple hadde he moost in hate;
MkT 2589 Hem wolde he sleen in torment and in payne,
MkT 2590 Wenynge that God ne myghte his pride abate.
MkT 2591 And for that Nichanore and Thymothee
MkT 2592 Of Jewes weren venquysshed myghtily,
MkT 2593 Unto the Jewes swich an hate hadde he
MkT 2594 That he bad greithen his chaar ful hastily,
MkT 2595 And swoor, and seyde ful despitously
MkT 2596 Unto Jerusalem he wolde eftsoone
MkT 2597 To wreken his ire on it ful cruelly;
MkT 2598 But of his purpos he was let ful soone.
MkT 2599 God for his manace hym so soore smoot
MkT 2600 With invisible wounde, ay incurable,
MkT 2601 That in his guttes carf it so and boot
MkT 2602 That his peynes weren importable.
MkT 2603 And certeinly the wreche was resonable,
MkT 2604 For many a mannes guttes dide he peyne.
MkT 2605 But from his purpos cursed and dampnable,
MkT 2606 For al his smert, he wolde hym nat restreyne,
MkT 2607 But bad anon apparaillen his hoost;
MkT 2608 And sodeynly, er he was of it war,
MkT 2609 God daunted al his pride and al his boost.
MkT 2610 For he so soore fil out of his char
MkT 2611 That it his limes and his skyn totar,
MkT 2612 So that he neyther myghte go ne ryde,
MkT 2613 But in a chayer men aboute hym bar,
MkT 2614 Al forbrused, bothe bak and syde.
MkT 2615 The wreche of God hym smoot so cruelly
MkT 2616 That thurgh his body wikked wormes crepte,
MkT 2617 And therwithal he stank so horribly
MkT 2618 That noon of al his meynee that hym kepte,
MkT 2619 Wheither so he wook or ellis slepte,
MkT 2620 Ne myghte noght the stynk of hym endure.
MkT 2621 In this meschief he wayled and eek wepte,
MkT 2622 And knew God lord of every creature.
MkT 2623 To al his hoost and to hymself also
MkT 2624 Ful wlatsom was the stynk of his careyne;
MkT 2625 No man ne myghte hym bere to ne fro.
MkT 2626 And in this stynk and this horrible peyne,
MkT 2627 He starf ful wrecchedly in a monteyne.
MkT 2628 Thus hath this robbour and this homycide,
MkT 2629 That many a man made to wepe and pleyne,
MkT 2630 Swich gerdoun as bilongeth unto pryde.
MkT 2631 The storie of Alisaundre is so commune
MkT 2632 That every wight that hath discrecioun
MkT 2633 Hath herd somwhat or al of his fortune.
MkT 2634 This wyde world, as in conclusioun,
MkT 2635 He wan by strengthe, or for his hye renoun
MkT 2636 They weren glad for pees unto hym sende.
MkT 2637 The pride of man and beest he leyde adoun,
MkT 2638 Wherso he cam, unto the worldes ende.
MkT 2639 Comparisoun myghte nevere yet been maked
MkT 2640 Bitwixe hym and another conquerour;
MkT 2641 For al this world for drede of hym hath quaked.
MkT 2642 He was of knyghthod and of fredom flour;
MkT 2643 Fortune hym made the heir of hire honour.
MkT 2644 Save wyn and wommen, no thing myghte aswage
MkT 2645 His hye entente in armes and labour,
MkT 2646 So was he ful of leonyn corage.
MkT 2647 What pris were it to hym, though I yow tolde
MkT 2648 Of Darius, and an hundred thousand mo
MkT 2649 Of kynges, princes, dukes, erles bolde
MkT 2650 Whiche he conquered, and broghte hem into wo?
MkT 2651 I seye, as fer as man may ryde or go,
MkT 2652 The world was his — what sholde I moore devyse?
MkT 2653 For though I write or tolde yow everemo
MkT 2654 Of his knyghthod, it myghte nat suffise.
MkT 2655 Twelf yeer he regned, as seith Machabee.
MkT 2656 Philippes sone of Macidoyne he was,
MkT 2657 That first was kyng in Grece the contree.
MkT 2658 O worthy, gentil Alisandre, allas,
MkT 2659 That evere sholde fallen swich a cas!
MkT 2660 Empoysoned of thyn owene folk thou weere;
MkT 2661 Thy sys Fortune hath turned into aas,
MkT 2662 And for thee ne weep she never a teere.
MkT 2663 Who shal me yeven teeris to compleyne
MkT 2664 The deeth of gentillesse and of franchise,
MkT 2665 That al the world weelded in his demeyne,
MkT 2666 And yet hym thoughte it myghte nat suffise?
MkT 2667 So ful was his corage of heigh emprise.
MkT 2668 Allas, who shal me helpe to endite
MkT 2669 False Fortune, and poyson to despise,
MkT 2670 The whiche two of al this wo I wyte?
MkT 2671 By wisedom, manhede, and by greet labour,
MkT 2672 From humble bed to roial magestee
MkT 2673 Up roos he Julius, the conquerour,
MkT 2674 That wan al th’ occident by land and see,
MkT 2675 By strengthe of hand, or elles by tretee,
MkT 2676 And unto Rome made hem tributarie;
MkT 2677 And sitthe of Rome the emperour was he
MkT 2678 Til that Fortune weex his adversarie.
MkT 2679 O myghty Cesar, that in Thessalie
MkT 2680 Agayn Pompeus, fader thyn in lawe,
MkT 2681 That of the orient hadde al the chivalrie
MkT 2682 As fer as that the day bigynneth dawe,
MkT 2683 Thou thurgh thy knyghthod hast hem take and slawe,
MkT 2684 Save fewe folk that with Pompeus fledde,
MkT 2685 Thurgh which thou puttest al th’ orient in awe.
MkT 2686 Thanke Fortune, that so wel thee spedde!
MkT 2687 But now a litel while I wol biwaille
MkT 2688 This Pompeus, this noble governour
MkT 2689 Of Rome, which that fleigh at this bataille.
MkT 2690 I seye, oon of his men, a fals traitour,
MkT 2691 His heed of smoot, to wynnen hym favour
MkT 2692 Of Julius, and hym the heed he broghte.
MkT 2693 Allas, Pompeye, of th’ orient conquerour,
MkT 2694 That Fortune unto swich a fyn thee broghte!
MkT 2695 To Rome agayn repaireth Julius
MkT 2696 With his triumphe, lauriat ful hye;
MkT 2697 But on a tyme Brutus Cassius,
MkT 2698 That evere hadde of his hye estaat envye,
MkT 2699 Ful prively hath maad conspiracye
MkT 2700 Agayns this Julius in subtil wise,
MkT 2701 And caste the place in which he sholde dye
MkT 2702 With boydekyns, as I shal yow devyse.
MkT 2703 This Julius to the Capitolie wente
MkT 2704 Upon a day, as he was wont to goon,
MkT 2705 And in the Capitolie anon hym hente
MkT 2706 This false Brutus and his othere foon,
MkT 2707 And stiked hym with boydekyns anoon
MkT 2708 With many a wounde, and thus they lete hym lye;
MkT 2709 But nevere gronte he at no strook but oon,
MkT 2710 Or elles at two, but if his storie lye.
MkT 2711 So manly was this Julius of herte,
MkT 2712 And so wel lovede estaatly honestee,
MkT 2713 That though his deedly woundes soore smerte,
MkT 2714 His mantel over his hypes caste he,
MkT 2715 For no man sholde seen his privetee;
MkT 2716 And as he lay of diyng in a traunce,
MkT 2717 And wiste verraily that deed was hee,
MkT 2718 Of honestee yet hadde he remembraunce.
MkT 2719 Lucan, to thee this storie I recomende,
MkT 2720 And to Swetoun, and to Valerius also,
MkT 2721 That of this storie writen word and ende,
MkT 2722 How that to thise grete conqueroures two
MkT 2723 Fortune was first freend, and sitthe foo.
MkT 2724 No man ne truste upon hire favour longe,
MkT 2725 But have hire in awayt for everemoo;
MkT 2726 Witnesse on alle thise conqueroures stronge.
MkT 2727 This riche Cresus, whilom kyng of Lyde,
MkT 2728 Of which Cresus Cirus soore hym dradde,
MkT 2729 Yet was he caught amyddes al his pryde,
MkT 2730 And to be brent men to the fyr hym ladde.
MkT 2731 But swich a reyn doun fro the welkne shadde
MkT 2732 That slow the fyr, and made hym to escape;
MkT 2733 But to be war no grace yet he hadde,
MkT 2734 Til Fortune on the galwes made hym gape.
MkT 2735 Whanne he escaped was, he kan nat stente
MkT 2736 For to bigynne a newe werre agayn.
MkT 2737 He wende wel, for that Fortune hym sente
MkT 2738 Swich hap that he escaped thurgh the rayn,
MkT 2739 That of his foos he myghte nat be slayn;
MkT 2740 And eek a sweven upon a nyght he mette,
MkT 2741 Of which he was so proud and eek so fayn
MkT 2742 That in vengeance he al his herte sette.
MkT 2743 Upon a tree he was, as that hym thoughte,
MkT 2744 Ther Juppiter hym wessh, bothe bak and syde,
MkT 2745 And Phebus eek a fair towaille hym broughte
MkT 2746 To dryen hym with; and therfore wax his pryde,
MkT 2747 And to his doghter, that stood hym bisyde,
MkT 2748 Which that he knew in heigh sentence habounde,
MkT 2749 He bad hire telle hym what it signyfyde,
MkT 2750 And she his dreem bigan right thus expounde:
MkT 2751 “The tree,” quod she, “the galwes is to meene,
MkT 2752 And Juppiter bitokneth snow and reyn,
MkT 2753 And Phebus, with his towaille so clene,
MkT 2754 Tho been the sonne stremes for to seyn.
MkT 2755 Thou shalt anhanged be, fader, certeyn;
MkT 2756 Reyn shal thee wasshe, and sonne shal thee drye.”
MkT 2757 Thus warned hym ful plat and ek ful pleyn
MkT 2758 His doghter, which that called was Phanye.
MkT 2759 Anhanged was Cresus, the proude kyng;
MkT 2760 His roial trone myghte hym nat availle.
MkT 2761 Tragedies noon oother maner thyng
MkT 2762 Ne kan in syngyng crie ne biwaille
MkT 2763 But that Fortune alwey wole assaille
MkT 2764 With unwar strook the regnes that been proude;
MkT 2765 For whan men trusteth hire, thanne wol she faille,
MkT 2766 And covere hire brighte face with a clowde.