The Parliament of Fowls

By Geoffrey Chaucer

PF 1 The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne,
PF 2 Th’ assay so hard, so sharp the conquerynge,
PF 3 The dredful joye alwey that slit so yerne:
PF 4 Al this mene I by Love, that my felynge
PF 5 Astonyeth with his wonderful werkynge
PF 6 So sore, iwis, that whan I on hym thynke
PF 7 Nat wot I wel wher that I flete or synke.
PF 8 For al be that I knowe nat Love in dede,
PF 9 Ne wot how that he quiteth folk here hyre,
PF 10 Yit happeth me ful ofte in bokes reede
PF 11 Of his myrakles and his crewel yre.
PF 12 There rede I wel he wol be lord and syre;
PF 13 I dar nat seyn, his strokes been so sore,
PF 14 But “God save swich a lord!” — I can na moore.
PF 15 Of usage — what for lust and what for lore —
PF 16 On bokes rede I ofte, as I yow tolde.
PF 17 But wherfore that I speke al this? Nat yoore
PF 18 Agon it happede me for to beholde
PF 19 Upon a bok, was write with lettres olde,
PF 20 And therupon, a certeyn thing to lerne,
PF 21 The longe day ful faste I redde and yerne.
PF 22 For out of olde feldes, as men seyth,
PF 23 Cometh al this newe corn from yer to yere,
PF 24 And out of olde bokes, in good feyth,
PF 25 Cometh al this newe science that men lere.
PF 26 But now to purpos as of this matere:
PF 27 To rede forth hit gan me so delite
PF 28 That al that day me thoughte but a lyte.
PF 29 This bok of which I make mencioun
PF 30 Entitled was al ther, as I shal telle:
PF 31 “Tullyus of the Drem of Scipioun.”
PF 32 Chapitres sevene it hadde, of hevene and helle
PF 33 And erthe, and soules that therinne dwelle,
PF 34 Of whiche, as shortly as I can it trete,
PF 35 Of his sentence I wol yow seyn the greete.
PF 36 Fyrst telleth it, whan Scipion was come
PF 37 In Affrike, how he meteth Massynisse,
PF 38 That hym for joie in armes hath inome;
PF 39 Thanne telleth [it] here speche and al the blysse
PF 40 That was betwix hem til the day gan mysse,
PF 41 And how his auncestre, Affrycan so deere,
PF 42 Gan in his slep that nyght to hym apere.
PF 43 Thanne telleth it that, from a sterry place,
PF 44 How Affrycan hath hym Cartage shewed,
PF 45 And warnede hym beforn of al his grace,
PF 46 And seyde hym what man, lered other lewed,
PF 47 That lovede commune profyt, wel ithewed,
PF 48 He shulde into a blysful place wende
PF 49 There as joye is that last withouten ende.
PF 50 Thanne axede he if folk that here been dede
PF 51 Han lyf and dwellynge in another place.
PF 52 And Affrican seyde, “Ye, withouten drede,”
PF 53 And that oure present worldes lyves space
PF 54 Nis but a maner deth, what wey we trace;
PF 55 And rightful folk shul gon, after they dye,
PF 56 To hevene; and shewede hym the Galaxye.
PF 57 Thanne shewede he hym the lytel erthe that here is,
PF 58 At regard of the hevenes quantite;
PF 59 And after shewede he hym the nyne speres;
PF 60 And after that the melodye herde he
PF 61 That cometh of thilke speres thryes thre,
PF 62 That welle is of musik and melodye
PF 63 In this world here, and cause of armonye.
PF 64 Than bad he hym, syn erthe was so lyte,
PF 65 And dissevable and ful of harde grace,
PF 66 That he ne shulde hym in the world delyte.
PF 67 Thanne tolde he hym, in certeyn yeres space
PF 68 That every sterre shulde come into his place
PF 69 Ther it was first, and al shulde out of mynde
PF 70 That in this world is don of al mankynde.
PF 71 Thanne preyede hym Scipion to telle hym al
PF 72 The wey to come into that hevene blisse.
PF 73 And he seyde, “Know thyself first immortal,
PF 74 And loke ay besyly thow werche and wysse
PF 75 To commune profit, and thow shalt not mysse
PF 76 To comen swiftly to that place deere
PF 77 That ful of blysse is and of soules cleere.
PF 78 “But brekers of the lawe, soth to seyne,
PF 79 And likerous folk, after that they ben dede,
PF 80 Shul whirle aboute th’ erthe alwey in peyne,
PF 81 Tyl many a world be passed, out of drede,
PF 82 And than, foryeven al hir wikked dede,
PF 83 Than shul they come into that blysful place,
PF 84 To which to comen God the sende his grace.”
PF 85 The day gan faylen, and the derke nyght,
PF 86 That reveth bestes from here besynesse,
PF 87 Berafte me my bok for lak of lyght,
PF 88 And to my bed I gan me for to dresse,
PF 89 Fulfyld of thought and busy hevynesse;
PF 90 For bothe I hadde thyng which that I nolde,
PF 91 And ek I ne hadde that thyng that I wolde.
PF 92 But fynally my spirit at the laste,
PF 93 For wery of my labour al the day,
PF 94 Tok reste, that made me to slepe faste;
PF 95 And in my slep I mette, as that I lay,
PF 96 How Affrican, ryght in the selve aray
PF 97 That Scipion hym say byfore that tyde,
PF 98 Was come and stod right at my beddes syde.
PF 99 The wery huntere, slepynge in his bed,
PF 100 To wode ayeyn his mynde goth anon;
PF 101 The juge dremeth how his plees been sped;
PF 102 The cartere dremeth how his cart is gon;
PF 103 The riche, of gold; the knyght fyght with his fon;
PF 104 The syke met he drynketh of the tonne;
PF 105 The lovere met he hath his lady wonne.
PF 106 Can I not seyn if that the cause were
PF 107 For I hadde red of Affrican byforn
PF 108 That made me to mete that he stod there;
PF 109 But thus seyde he: “Thow hast the so wel born
PF 110 In lokynge of myn olde bok totorn,
PF 111 Of which Macrobye roughte nat a lyte,
PF 112 That sumdel of thy labour wolde I quyte.”
PF 113 Cytherea, thow blysful lady swete,
PF 114 That with thy fyrbrond dauntest whom the lest
PF 115 And madest me this sweven for to mete,
PF 116 Be thow myn helpe in this, for thow mayst best!
PF 117 As wisly as I sey the north-north-west,
PF 118 Whan I began my sweven for to write,
PF 119 So yif me myght to ryme, and endyte!
PF 120 This forseyde Affrican me hente anon
PF 121 And forth with hym unto a gate broughte,
PF 122 Ryght of a park walled with grene ston;
PF 123 And over the gate, with lettres large iwroughte,
PF 124 There were vers iwriten, as me thoughte,
PF 125 On eyther half, of ful gret difference,
PF 126 Of which I shal yow seyn the pleyn sentence:
PF 127 “Thorgh me men gon into that blysful place
PF 128 Of hertes hele and dedly woundes cure;
PF 129 Thorgh me men gon unto the welle of grace,
PF 130 There grene and lusty May shal evere endure.
PF 131 This is the wey to al good aventure.
PF 132 Be glad, thow redere, and thy sorwe of-caste;
PF 133 Al open am I — passe in, and sped thee faste!”
PF 134 “Thorgh me men gon,” than spak that other side,
PF 135 “Unto the mortal strokes of the spere
PF 136 Of which Disdayn and Daunger is the gyde,
PF 137 Ther nevere tre shal fruyt ne leves bere.
PF 138 This strem yow ledeth to the sorweful were
PF 139 There as the fish in prysoun is al drye;
PF 140 Th’ eschewing is only the remedye!”
PF 141 These vers of gold and blak iwriten were,
PF 142 Of whiche I gan astoned to beholde.
PF 143 For with that oon encresede ay my fere
PF 144 And with that other gan myn herte bolde;
PF 145 That oon me hette, that other dide me colde;
PF 146 No wit hadde I, for errour, for to chese
PF 147 To entre or flen, or me to save or lese.
PF 148 Right as betwixen adamauntes two
PF 149 Of evene myght, a pece of yren set
PF 150 Ne hath no myght to meve to ne fro —
PF 151 For what that oon may hale, that other let —
PF 152 Ferde I, that nyste whether me was bet
PF 153 To entre or leve, til Affrycan, my gide,
PF 154 Me hente and shof in at the gates wide,
PF 155 And seyde, “It stondeth writen in thy face,
PF 156 Thyn errour, though thow telle it not to me;
PF 157 But dred the not to come into this place,
PF 158 For this writyng nys nothyng ment bi the,
PF 159 Ne by non but he Loves servaunt be:
PF 160 For thow of love hast lost thy tast, I gesse,
PF 161 As sek man hath of swete and bytternesse.
PF 162 “But natheles, although that thow be dul,
PF 163 Yit that thow canst not do, yit mayst thow se.
PF 164 For many a man that may nat stonde a pul
PF 165 Yet liketh hym at wrastlyng for to be,
PF 166 And demen yit wher he do bet or he.
PF 167 And if thow haddest connyng for t’ endite,
PF 168 I shal the shewe mater of to wryte.”
PF 169 With that myn hand in his he tok anon,
PF 170 Of which I confort caughte, and wente in faste.
PF 171 But, Lord, so I was glad and wel begoon!
PF 172 For overal where that I myne eyen caste
PF 173 Were trees clad with leves that ay shal laste,
PF 174 Ech in his kynde, of colour fresh and greene
PF 175 As emeraude, that joye was to seene.
PF 176 The byldere ok, and ek the hardy asshe;
PF 177 The piler elm, the cofre unto carayne;
PF 178 The boxtre pipere, holm to whippes lashe;
PF 179 The saylynge fyr; the cipresse, deth to playne;
PF 180 The shetere ew; the asp for shaftes pleyne;
PF 181 The olyve of pes, and eke the dronke vyne;
PF 182 The victor palm, the laurer to devyne.
PF 183 A gardyn saw I ful of blosmy bowes
PF 184 Upon a ryver, in a grene mede,
PF 185 There as swetnesse everemore inow is,
PF 186 With floures white, blewe, yelwe, and rede,
PF 187 And colde welle-stremes, nothyng dede,
PF 188 That swymmen ful of smale fishes lighte,
PF 189 With fynnes rede and skales sylver bryghte.
PF 190 On every bow the bryddes herde I synge,
PF 191 With voys of aungel in here armonye;
PF 192 Some besyede hem here bryddes forth to brynge;
PF 193 The litel conyes to here pley gonne hye;
PF 194 And ferther al aboute I gan aspye
PF 195 The dredful ro, the buk, the hert and hynde,
PF 196 Squyrels, and bestes smale of gentil kynde.
PF 197 Of instruments of strenges in acord
PF 198 Herde I so pleye a ravyshyng swetnesse,
PF 199 That God, that makere is of al and lord,
PF 200 Ne herde nevere beter, as I gesse.
PF 201 Therwith a wynd, unnethe it myghte be lesse,
PF 202 Made in the leves grene a noyse softe
PF 203 Acordaunt to the foules song alofte.
PF 204 Th’ air of that place so attempre was
PF 205 That nevere was grevaunce of hot ne cold.
PF 206 There wex ek every holsom spice and gras;
PF 207 No man may there waxe sek ne old;
PF 208 Yit was there joye more a thousandfold
PF 209 Than man can telle; ne nevere wolde it nyghte,
PF 210 But ay cler day to any mannes syghte.
PF 211 Under a tre, besyde a welle, I say
PF 212 Cupide, oure lord, his arwes forge and file;
PF 213 And at his fet his bowe al redy lay;
PF 214 And Wille, his doughter, temprede al this while
PF 215 The hevedes in the welle, and with hire wile
PF 216 She couchede hem, after they shulde serve
PF 217 Some for to sle, and some to wounde and kerve.
PF 218 Tho was I war of Plesaunce anon-ryght,
PF 219 And of Aray, and Lust, and Curteysie,
PF 220 And of the Craft that can and hath the myght
PF 221 To don by force a wyght to don folye —
PF 222 Disfigurat was she, I nyl nat lye;
PF 223 And by hymself, under an ok, I gesse,
PF 224 Saw I Delyt, that stod with Gentilesse.
PF 225 I saw Beute withouten any atyr,
PF 226 And Youthe, ful of game and jolyte;
PF 227 Foolhardynesse, Flaterye, and Desyr,
PF 228 Messagerye, and Meede, and other thre —
PF 229 Here names shul not here be told for me —
PF 230 And upon pilers greete of jasper longe
PF 231 I saw a temple of bras ifounded stronge.
PF 232 Aboute the temple daunsedyn alwey
PF 233 Women inowe, of whiche some ther weere
PF 234 Fayre of hemself, and some of hem were gay;
PF 235 In kertels, al dishevele, wente they there:
PF 236 That was here offyce alwey, yer by yeere.
PF 237 And on the temple, of dowves white and fayre
PF 238 Saw I syttynge many an hundred peyre.
PF 239 Byfore the temple-dore ful soberly
PF 240 Dame Pees sat, with a curtyn in hire hond,
PF 241 And by hire syde, wonder discretly,
PF 242 Dame Pacience syttynge there I fond,
PF 243 With face pale, upon an hil of sond;
PF 244 And aldernext, withinne and ek withoute,
PF 245 Byheste and Art, and of here folk a route.
PF 246 Withinne the temple, of sykes hoote as fyr
PF 247 I herde a swogh that gan aboute renne,
PF 248 Whiche sikes were engendered with desyr,
PF 249 That maden every auter for to brenne
PF 250 Of newe flaume; and wel espyed I thenne
PF 251 That al the cause of sorwes that they drye
PF 252 Cam of the bittere goddesse Jelosye.
PF 253 The god Priapus saw I, as I wente,
PF 254 Withinne the temple in sovereyn place stonde,
PF 255 In swich aray as whan the asse hym shente
PF 256 With cri by nighte, and with hys sceptre in honde.
PF 257 Ful besyly men gonne assaye and fonde
PF 258 Upon his hed to sette, of sondry hewe,
PF 259 Garlondes ful of freshe floures newe.
PF 260 And in a prive corner in disport
PF 261 Fond I Venus and hire porter Richesse,
PF 262 That was ful noble and hautayn of hyre port —
PF 263 Derk was that place, but afterward lightnesse
PF 264 I saw a lyte, unnethe it myghte be lesse —
PF 265 And on a bed of gold she lay to reste,
PF 266 Til that the hote sonne gan to weste.
PF 267 Hyre gilte heres with a golden thred
PF 268 Ibounden were, untressed as she lay,
PF 269 And naked from the brest unto the hed
PF 270 Men myghte hire sen; and, sothly for to say,
PF 271 The remenaunt was wel kevered to my pay,
PF 272 Ryght with a subtyl coverchef of Valence —
PF 273 Ther was no thikkere cloth of no defense.
PF 274 The place yaf a thousand savours sote,
PF 275 And Bachus, god of wyn, sat hire besyde,
PF 276 And Ceres next, that doth of hunger boote,
PF 277 And, as I seyde, amyddes lay Cypride,
PF 278 To whom on knees two yonge folk ther cryde
PF 279 To ben here helpe. But thus I let hire lye,
PF 280 And ferther in the temple I gan espie
PF 281 That, in dispit of Dyane the chaste,
PF 282 Ful many a bowe ibroke heng on the wal
PF 283 Of maydenes swiche as gonne here tymes waste
PF 284 In hyre servyse; and peynted overal
PF 285 Ful many a story, of which I touche shal
PF 286 A fewe, as of Calyxte and Athalante,
PF 287 And many a mayde of which the name I wante.
PF 288 Semyramis, Candace, and Hercules,
PF 289 Biblis, Dido, Thisbe, and Piramus,
PF 290 Tristram, Isaude, Paris, and Achilles,
PF 291 Eleyne, Cleopatre, and Troylus,
PF 292 Silla, and ek the moder of Romulus:
PF 293 Alle these were peynted on that other syde,
PF 294 And al here love, and in what plyt they dyde.
PF 295 Whan I was come ayeyn into the place
PF 296 That I of spak, that was so sote and grene,
PF 297 Forth welk I tho myselven to solace.
PF 298 Tho was I war wher that ther sat a queene
PF 299 That, as of lyght the somer sonne shene
PF 300 Passeth the sterre, right so over mesure
PF 301 She fayrer was than any creature.
PF 302 And in a launde, upon an hil of floures,
PF 303 Was set this noble goddesse Nature.
PF 304 Of braunches were here halles and here boures
PF 305 Iwrought after here cast and here mesure;
PF 306 Ne there nas foul that cometh of engendrure
PF 307 That they ne were prest in here presence
PF 308 To take hire dom and yeve hire audyence.
PF 309 For this was on Seynt Valentynes day,
PF 310 Whan every foul cometh there to chese his make,
PF 311 Of every kynde that men thynke may,
PF 312 And that so huge a noyse gan they make
PF 313 That erthe, and eyr, and tre, and every lake
PF 314 So ful was that unethe was there space
PF 315 For me to stonde, so ful was al the place.
PF 316 And right as Aleyn, in the Pleynt of Kynde,
PF 317 Devyseth Nature of aray and face,
PF 318 In swich aray men myghte hire there fynde.
PF 319 This noble emperesse, ful of grace,
PF 320 Bad every foul to take his owne place,
PF 321 As they were woned alwey fro yer to yeere,
PF 322 Seynt Valentynes day, to stonden theere.
PF 323 That is to seyn, the foules of ravyne
PF 324 Weere hyest set, and thanne the foules smale
PF 325 That eten, as hem Nature wolde enclyne,
PF 326 As worm or thyng of which I telle no tale;
PF 327 And water-foul sat lowest in the dale;
PF 328 But foul that lyveth by sed sat on the grene,
PF 329 And that so fele that wonder was to sene.
PF 330 There myghte men the royal egle fynde,
PF 331 That with his sharpe lok perseth the sonne,
PF 332 And othere egles of a lowere kynde,
PF 333 Of whiche that clerkes wel devyse conne.
PF 334 Ther was the tiraunt with his fetheres donne
PF 335 And grey — I mene the goshauk that doth pyne
PF 336 To bryddes for his outrageous ravyne.
PF 337 The gentyl faucoun, that with his feet distrayneth
PF 338 The kynges hand; the hardy sperhauk eke,
PF 339 The quayles foo; the merlioun, that payneth
PF 340 Hymself ful ofte the larke for to seke;
PF 341 There was the douve with hire yen meke;
PF 342 The jelous swan, ayens his deth that syngeth.
PF 343 The oule ek, that of deth the bode bryngeth.
PF 344 The crane, the geaunt, with his trompes soun;
PF 345 The thef, the chough; and ek the janglynge pye;
PF 346 The skornynge jay; the eles fo, heroun;
PF 347 The false lapwynge, ful of trecherye;
PF 348 The stare, that the conseyl can bewrye;
PF 349 The tame ruddok, and the coward kyte;
PF 350 The kok, that orloge is of thorpes lyte;
PF 351 The sparwe, Venus sone; the nyghtyngale,
PF 352 That clepeth forth the grene leves newe;
PF 353 The swalwe, mortherere of the foules smale
PF 354 That maken hony of floures freshe of hewe;
PF 355 The wedded turtil, with hire herte trewe;
PF 356 The pekok, with his aungels fetheres bryghte;
PF 357 The fesaunt, skornere of the cok by nyghte;
PF 358 The waker goos; the cukkow ever unkynde;
PF 359 The popynjay, ful of delicasye;
PF 360 The drake, stroyere of his owene kynde;
PF 361 The stork, the wrekere of avouterye;
PF 362 The hote cormeraunt of glotenye;
PF 363 The raven wys; the crowe with vois of care;
PF 364 The throstil old; the frosty feldefare.
PF 365 What shulde I seyn? Of foules every kynde
PF 366 That in this world han fetheres and stature
PF 367 Men myghten in that place assembled fynde
PF 368 Byfore the noble goddesse Nature,
PF 369 And ech of hem dide his besy cure
PF 370 Benygnely to chese or for to take,
PF 371 By hire acord, his formel or his make.
PF 372 But to the poynt: Nature held on hire hond
PF 373 A formel egle, of shap the gentilleste
PF 374 That evere she among hire werkes fond,
PF 375 The moste benygne and the goodlieste.
PF 376 In hire was everi vertu at his reste,
PF 377 So ferforth that Nature hireself hadde blysse
PF 378 To loke on hire, and ofte hire bek to kysse.
PF 379 Nature, the vicaire of the almyghty Lord,
PF 380 That hot, cold, hevy, lyght, moyst, and dreye
PF 381 Hath knyt by evene noumbres of acord,
PF 382 In esy voys began to speke and seye,
PF 383 “Foules, tak hed of my sentence, I preye,
PF 384 And for youre ese, in fortheryng of youre nede,
PF 385 As faste as I may speke, I wol yow speede.
PF 386 “Ye knowe wel how, Seynt Valentynes day,
PF 387 By my statut and thorgh my governaunce,
PF 388 Ye come for to cheese — and fle youre wey —
PF 389 Youre makes, as I prike yow with plesaunce;
PF 390 But natheles, my ryghtful ordenaunce
PF 391 May I nat lete for al this world to wynne,
PF 392 That he that most is worthi shal begynne.
PF 393 “The tersel egle, as that ye knowe wel,
PF 394 The foul royal, above yow in degre,
PF 395 The wyse and worthi, secre, trewe as stel,
PF 396 Which I have formed, as ye may wel se,
PF 397 In every part as it best liketh me —
PF 398 It nedeth not his shap yow to devyse —
PF 399 He shal first chese and speken in his gyse.
PF 400 “And after hym by ordre shul ye chese,
PF 401 After youre kynde, everich as yow lyketh,
PF 402 And, as youre hap is, shul ye wynne or lese.
PF 403 But which of yow that love most entriketh,
PF 404 God sende hym hire that sorest for hym syketh!”
PF 405 And therwithal the tersel gan she calle,
PF 406 And seyde, “My sone, the choys is to the falle.
PF 407 “But natheles, in this condicioun
PF 408 Mot be the choys of everich that is heere,
PF 409 That she agre to his eleccioun,
PF 410 Whoso he be that shulde be hire feere.
PF 411 This is oure usage alwey, fro yer to yeere,
PF 412 And whoso may at this tyme have his grace
PF 413 In blisful tyme he cam into this place!”
PF 414 With hed enclyned and with humble cheere
PF 415 This royal tersel spak, and tariede noght:
PF 416 “Unto my soverayn lady, and not my fere,
PF 417 I chese, and chese with wil, and herte, and thought,
PF 418 The formel on youre hond, so wel iwrought,
PF 419 Whos I am al, and evere wol hire serve,
PF 420 Do what hire lest, to do me lyve or sterve;
PF 421 “Besekynge hire of merci and of grace,
PF 422 As she that is my lady sovereyne;
PF 423 Or let me deye present in this place.
PF 424 For certes, longe may I nat lyve in payne,
PF 425 For in myn herte is korven every veyne.
PF 426 Havynge reward only to my trouthe,
PF 427 My deere herte, have on my wo som routhe.
PF 428 “And if that I be founde to hyre untrewe,
PF 429 Disobeysaunt, or wilful necligent,
PF 430 Avauntour, or in proces love a newe,
PF 431 I preye to yow this be my jugement:
PF 432 That with these foules I be al torent,
PF 433 That ilke day that evere she me fynde
PF 434 To hir untrewe, or in my gilt unkynde.
PF 435 “And syn that non loveth hire so wel as I,
PF 436 Al be she nevere of love me behette,
PF 437 Thanne oughte she be myn thourgh hire mercy,
PF 438 For other bond can I non on hire knette.
PF 439 Ne nevere for no wo ne shal I lette
PF 440 To serven hire, how fer so that she wende;
PF 441 Say what yow list, my tale is at an ende.”
PF 442 Ryght as the freshe, rede rose newe
PF 443 Ayeyn the somer sonne coloured is,
PF 444 Ryght so for shame al wexen gan the hewe
PF 445 Of this formel, whan she herde al this;
PF 446 She neyther answerde wel, ne seyde amys,
PF 447 So sore abasht was she, tyl that Nature
PF 448 Seyde, “Doughter, drede yow nought, I yow assure.”
PF 449 Another tersel egle spak anon,
PF 450 Of lower kynde, and seyde, “That shal nat be!
PF 451 I love hire bet than ye don, by Seint John,
PF 452 Or at the leste I love hire as wel as ye,
PF 453 And lenger have served hire in my degre;
PF 454 And if she shulde have loved for long lovynge,
PF 455 To me allone hadde be the guerdonynge.
PF 456 “I dar ek seyn, if she me fynde fals,
PF 457 Unkynde, janglere, or rebel any wyse,
PF 458 Or jelous, do me hangen by the hals!
PF 459 And, but I bere me in hire servyse
PF 460 As wel as that my wit can me suffyse,
PF 461 From poynt in poynt, hyre honour for to save,
PF 462 Take she my lif and al the good I have!”
PF 463 The thridde tercel egle answerde tho,
PF 464 “Now, sires, ye seen the lytel leyser heere;
PF 465 For every foul cryeth out to ben ago
PF 466 Forth with his make, or with his lady deere;
PF 467 And ek Nature hireself ne wol not heere,
PF 468 For taryinge here, not half that I wolde seye;
PF 469 And but I speke, I mot for sorwe deye.
PF 470 “Of long servyse avaunte I me nothing;
PF 471 But as possible is me to deye to-day
PF 472 For wo as he that hath ben languysshyng
PF 473 This twenty wynter, and wel happen may;
PF 474 A man may serven bet and more to pay
PF 475 In half a yer, although it were no moore,
PF 476 Than som man doth that hath served ful yoore.
PF 477 “I seye not this by me, for I ne can
PF 478 Don no servyse that may my lady plese;
PF 479 But I dar seyn, I am hire treweste man
PF 480 As to my dom, and faynest wolde hire ese.
PF 481 At shorte wordes, til that deth me sese
PF 482 I wol ben heres, whether I wake or wynke,
PF 483 And trewe in al that herte may bethynke.”
PF 484 Of al my lyf, syn that day I was born,
PF 485 So gentil ple in love or other thyng
PF 486 Ne herde nevere no man me beforn —
PF 487 Who that hadde leyser and connyng
PF 488 For to reherse hire chere and hire spekyng;
PF 489 And from the morwe gan this speche laste
PF 490 Tyl dounward went the sonne wonder faste.
PF 491 The noyse of foules for to ben delyvered
PF 492 So loude rong, “Have don, and lat us wende!”
PF 493 That wel wende I the wode hadde al to-shyvered.
PF 494 “Com of!” they criede, “allas, ye wol us shende!
PF 495 Whan shal youre cursede pletynge have an ende?
PF 496 How sholde a juge eyther parti leve
PF 497 For ye or nay withouten any preve?”
PF 498 The goos, the cokkow, and the doke also
PF 499 So cryede, “Kek kek! kokkow! quek quek!” hye,
PF 500 That thourgh myne eres the noyse wente tho.
PF 501 The goos seyde, “Al this nys not worth a flye!
PF 502 But I can shape herof a remedie,
PF 503 And I wol seye my verdit fayre and swythe
PF 504 For water-foul, whoso be wroth or blythe!”
PF 505 “And I for worm-foul,” seyde the fol kokkow,
PF 506 “For I wol of myn owene autorite,
PF 507 For comune spede, take on the charge now,
PF 508 For to delyvere us is gret charite.”
PF 509 “Ye may abyde a while yit, parde!”
PF 510 Quod the turtel, “If it be youre wille
PF 511 A wight may speke, hym were as fayr be stylle.
PF 512 “I am a sed-foul, oon the unworthieste,
PF 513 That wot I wel, and litel of connynge.
PF 514 But bet is that a wyghtes tonge reste
PF 515 Than entermeten hym of such doinge,
PF 516 Of which he neyther rede can ne synge;
PF 517 And whoso hit doth ful foule hymself acloyeth,
PF 518 For office uncommytted ofte anoyeth.”
PF 519 Nature, which that alwey hadde an ere
PF 520 To murmur of the lewednesse behynde,
PF 521 With facound voys seyde, “Hold youre tonges there!
PF 522 And I shal sone, I hope, a conseyl fynde
PF 523 Yow to delyvere, and fro this noyse unbynde:
PF 524 I juge, of every folk men shul oon calle
PF 525 To seyn the verdit for yow foules alle.”
PF 526 Assented were to this conclusioun
PF 527 The briddes alle; and foules of ravyne
PF 528 Han chosen fyrst, by pleyn eleccioun,
PF 529 The tercelet of the faucoun to diffyne
PF 530 Al here sentence, and as him lest, termyne;
PF 531 And to Nature hym gonne to presente,
PF 532 And she accepteth hym with glad entente.
PF 533 The terslet seyde thanne in this manere:
PF 534 “Ful hard were it to preve by resoun
PF 535 Who loveth best this gentil formel heere;
PF 536 For everych hath swich replicacioun
PF 537 That non by skilles may be brought adoun.
PF 538 I can not se that argumentes avayle:
PF 539 Thanne semeth it there moste be batayle.”
PF 540 “Al redy!” quod these egles tercels tho.
PF 541 “Nay, sires,” quod he, “if that I durste it seye,
PF 542 Ye don me wrong, my tale is not ido!
PF 543 For, sires — ne taketh not agref I preye —
PF 544 It may not gon as ye wolde in this weye;
PF 545 Oure is the voys that han the charge in honde,
PF 546 And to the juges dom ye moten stonde.
PF 547 “And therfore pes! I seye, as to my wit,
PF 548 Me wolde thynke how that the worthieste
PF 549 Of knyghthod, and lengest had used it,
PF 550 Most of estat, of blod the gentilleste,
PF 551 Were sittyngest for hire, if that hir leste;
PF 552 And of these thre she wot hireself, I trowe,
PF 553 Which that he be, for it is light to knowe.”
PF 554 The water-foules han here hedes leid
PF 555 Togedere, and of a short avysement,
PF 556 Whan everych hadde his large golee seyd,
PF 557 They seyden sothly, al by oon assent,
PF 558 How that the goos, with here facounde gent,
PF 559 “That so desyreth to pronounce oure nede,
PF 560 Shal telle oure tale,” and preyede “God hire spede!”
PF 561 And for these water-foules tho began
PF 562 The goos to speke, and in hire kakelynge
PF 563 She seyde, “Pes! Now tak kep every man,
PF 564 And herkeneth which a resoun I shal forth brynge!
PF 565 My wit is sharp; I love no taryinge;
PF 566 I seye I rede hym, though he were my brother,
PF 567 But she wol love hym, lat hym love another!”
PF 568 “Lo, here a parfit resoun of a goos!”
PF 569 Quod the sperhauk; “Nevere mot she thee!
PF 570 Lo, swich it is to have a tonge loos!
PF 571 Now parde, fol, yit were it bet for the
PF 572 Han holde thy pes than shewed thy nycete.
PF 573 It lyth nat in his wit, ne in his wille,
PF 574 But soth is seyd, ‘a fol can not be stille.'”
PF 575 The laughter aros of gentil foules alle,
PF 576 And right anon the sed-foul chosen hadde
PF 577 The turtle trewe, and gonne hire to hem calle,
PF 578 And preyeden hire to seyn the sothe sadde
PF 579 Of this matere, and axede what she radde.
PF 580 And she answerde that pleynly hire entente
PF 581 She wolde shewe, and sothly what she mente.
PF 582 “Nay, God forbede a lovere shulde chaunge!”
PF 583 The turtle seyde, and wex for shame al red,
PF 584 “Though that his lady everemore be straunge,
PF 585 Yit lat hym serve hire ever, til he be ded.
PF 586 Forsothe, I preyse nat the goses red;
PF 587 ‘For, though she deyede, I wolde non other make;
PF 588 I wol ben hires, til that the deth me take.'”
PF 589 “Wel bourded,” quod the doke, “by myn hat!
PF 590 That men shulde loven alwey causeles!
PF 591 Who can a resoun fynde or wit in that?
PF 592 Daunseth he murye that is myrtheles?
PF 593 Who shulde recche of that is recheles?”
PF 594 “Ye queke,” seyde the goos, “ful wel and fayre!
PF 595 There been mo sterres, God wot, than a payre!”
PF 596 “Now fy, cherl!” quod the gentil tercelet,
PF 597 “Out of the donghil cam that word ful right!
PF 598 Thow canst nat seen which thyng is wel beset!
PF 599 Thow farst by love as oules don by lyght:
PF 600 The day hem blent, ful wel they se by nyght.
PF 601 Thy kynde is of so low a wrechednesse
PF 602 That what love is, thow canst nouther seen ne gesse.”
PF 603 Tho gan the kokkow putte hym forth in pres
PF 604 For foul that eteth worm, and seyde blyve: —
PF 605 “So I,” quod he, “may have my make in pes,
PF 606 I reche nat how longe that ye stryve.
PF 607 Lat ech of hem be soleyn al here lyve!
PF 608 This is my red, syn they may nat acorde;
PF 609 This shorte lessoun nedeth nat recorde.”
PF 610 “Ye, have the glotoun fild inow his paunche,
PF 611 Thanne are we wel!” seyde the merlioun;
PF 612 “Thow mortherere of the heysoge on the braunche
PF 613 That broughte the forth, thow reufullest glotoun!
PF 614 Lyve thow soleyn, wormes corupcioun,
PF 615 For no fors is of lak of thy nature!
PF 616 Go, lewed be thow whil the world may dure!”
PF 617 “Now pes,” quod Nature, “I comaunde heer!
PF 618 For I have herd al youre opynyoun,
PF 619 And in effect yit be we nevere the neer.
PF 620 But fynally, this is my conclusioun,
PF 621 That she hireself shal han hir eleccioun
PF 622 Of whom hire lest; whoso be wroth or blythe,
PF 623 Hym that she cheest, he shal hire han as swithe.
PF 624 “For sith it may not here discussed be
PF 625 Who loveth hire best, as seyde the tercelet,
PF 626 Thanne wol I don hire this favour, that she
PF 627 Shal han right hym on whom hire herte is set,
PF 628 And he hire that his herte hath on hire knet:
PF 629 Thus juge I, Nature, for I may not lye;
PF 630 To non estat I have non other ye.
PF 631 “But as for counseyl for to chese a make,
PF 632 If I were Resoun, thanne wolde I
PF 633 Conseyle yow the royal tercel take,
PF 634 As seyde the tercelet ful skylfully,
PF 635 As for the gentilleste and most worthi,
PF 636 Which I have wrought so wel to my plesaunce
PF 637 That to yow hit oughte to been a suffisaunce.”
PF 638 With dredful vois the formel hire answerde,
PF 639 “My rightful lady, goddesse of Nature!
PF 640 Soth is that I am evere under youre yerde,
PF 641 As is everich other creature,
PF 642 And mot be youres whil my lyf may dure;
PF 643 And therfore graunteth me my firste bone,
PF 644 And myn entente I wol yow sey right sone.”
PF 645 “I graunte it yow,” quod she; and right anon
PF 646 This formel egle spak in this degre:
PF 647 “Almyghty queen, unto this yer be don,
PF 648 I axe respit for to avise me,
PF 649 And after that to have my choys al fre.
PF 650 This al and som that I wol speke and seye;
PF 651 Ye gete no more, although ye do me deye!
PF 652 “I wol nat serve Venus ne Cupide,
PF 653 Forsothe as yit, by no manere weye.”
PF 654 “Now, syn it may non otherwise betyde,”
PF 655 Quod Nature, “heere is no more to seye.
PF 656 Thanne wolde I that these foules were aweye,
PF 657 Ech with his make, for taryinge lengere heere!”
PF 658 And seyde hem thus, as ye shul after here.
PF 659 “To yow speke I, ye tercelets,” quod Nature,
PF 660 “Beth of good herte, and serveth alle thre.
PF 661 A yer is nat so longe to endure,
PF 662 And ech of yow peyne him in his degre
PF 663 For to do wel, for, God wot, quyt is she
PF 664 Fro yow this yer; what after so befalle,
PF 665 This entremes is dressed for yow alle.”
PF 666 And whan this werk al brought was to an ende,
PF 667 To every foul Nature yaf his make
PF 668 By evene acord, and on here way they wende.
PF 669 And, Lord, the blisse and joye that they make!
PF 670 For ech of hem gan other in wynges take,
PF 671 And with here nekkes ech gan other wynde,
PF 672 Thankynge alwey the noble goddesse of kynde.
PF 673 But fyrst were chosen foules for to synge,
PF 674 As yer by yer was alwey hir usaunce
PF 675 To synge a roundel at here departynge,
PF 676 To don Nature honour and plesaunce.
PF 677 The note, I trowe, imaked was in Fraunce,
PF 678 The wordes were swiche as ye may heer fynde,
PF 679 The nexte vers, as I now have in mynde.
PF 680 “Now welcome, somer, with thy sonne softe,
PF 681 That hast thes wintres wedres overshake,
PF 682 And driven away the longe nyghtes blake!
PF 683 “Saynt Valentyn, that art ful hy on-lofte,
PF 684 Thus syngen smale foules for thy sake:
PF 685 Now welcome, somer, with thy sonne softe,
PF 686 That hast thes wintres wedres overshake.
PF 687 “Wel han they cause for to gladen ofte,
PF 688 Sith ech of hem recovered hath hys make,
PF 689 Ful blissful mowe they synge when they wake:
PF 690 Now welcome, somer, with thy sonne softe,
PF 691 That hast thes wintres wedres overshake,
PF 692 And driven away the longe nyghtes blake!”
PF 693 And with the shoutyng, whan the song was do
PF 694 That foules maden at here flyght awey,
PF 695 I wok, and othere bokes tok me to,
PF 696 To reede upon, and yit I rede alwey.
PF 697 I hope, ywis, to rede so som day
PF 698 That I shal mete som thyng for to fare
PF 699 The bet, and thus to rede I nyl nat spare.