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For which this noble Theseus anon
Let senden after gentil Palamon,
Unwist of him, what was the cause and why:
But in his blacke clothes sorwefully
He came at his commandement on hie;
Tho sente Theseus for Emelie.
Whan they were set, and husht was al the place, And Theseus abiden hath a space,
Or any word came from his wise brest
His eyen set he ther as was his lest,
And with a sad visage he siked still,
And after that right thus he sayd his will.
The firste mover of the cause above
Whan he firste made the fayre chaine of love,
Gret was th' effect, and high was his entent;
Wel wist he why, and what therof he ment:
For with that fayre chaine of love he bond
The fire, the air, the watre, and the lond
In certain bondes, that they may not flee:
That same prince and mover eke (quod he)
Hath stablisht, in this wretched world adoun,
Certain of dayes and duration
To all that are engendred in this place,
Over the which day they ne mow not pace,
Al mow they yet dayes wel abrege.
Ther nedeth non autoritee allege,
For it is preved by experience,
But that me lust declaren my sentence.
Than may men by this ordre wel discerne,
That thilke mover stable is and eterne.
Wel may men knowen, but it be a fool,
That every part deriveth from his hool.
For nature hath not taken his beginning
Of no partie ne cantel of a thing,
But of a thing that parfit is and stable,
Descending so, til it be corrumpable.
And therfore of his wise purveyance
He hath so wel beset his ordinance,
That speces of thinges and progressions
Shullen enduren by successions,
And not eterne, withouten
This maiest thou understand and seen at eye.
Lo the oke, that hath so long a norishing
Fro the time that it ginneth first to spring,
And hath so long a lif, as ye may see,
Yet at the laste wasted is the tree.
Considereth eke, how that the harde stone
Under our feet, on which we trede and gon,
It wasteth, as it lieth by the wey.
The brode river somtime wexeth drey.
The grete tounes see we wane and wende.
Than may ye see that all thing hath an ende.
Of man and woman see we wel also,
That nedes in on of the termes two,
That is to sayn, in youthe or elles age,
He mote be ded, the king as shall a page;
Som in his bed, som in the depe see,
Som in the large feld, as ye may see:
Ther helpeth nought, all goth that ilke wey:
Than may I sayn that alle thing mote dey.
What maketh this but Jupiter the king?
The which is prince, and cause of alle thing,
Converting alle unto his propre wille,
From which it is derived, soth to telle.
And here-againes no creature on live
Of no degree availleth for to strive.
Than is it wisdom, as it thinketh me,
To maken vertue of necessite,
And take it wel, that we may not eschewe,
And namely that to us all is dewe.
And who so grutcheth ought, he doth folie,
And rebel is to him that all may gie.
And certainly a man hath most honour
To dien in his excellence and flour,
Whan he is siker of his goode name.
Than hath he don his frend, ne him, no shame;
And glader ought his frend ben of his deth,
Whan with honour is yolden up his breth,
Than whan his name appalled is for age;
For all foryetten is his vassallage.
Than is it best, as for a worthy fame,
To dien whan a man is best of name.
The contrary of all this is wilfulnesse.
Why grutchen we? why have we hevinesse,
That good Arcite, of chivalry the flour,
Departed is, with dutee and honour,
Out of this foule prison of this lif?
Why grutchen here his cosin and his wif
Of his welfare, that loven him so wel?
Can he hem thank? nay, God wot, never a del,
That both his soule, and eke hemself offend,
And yet they mow hir lustes not amend.
What may I conclude of this longe serie,
But after sorwe I rede us to be merie,
And thanken Jupiter of all his grace.
And er that we departen from this place,
I rede that we make of sorwes two
O parfit joye lasting evermo :
And loketh now wher most sorwe is herein,
Ther wol I firste amenden and begin.
Sister, (quod he) this is my full assent,
With all th'avis here of my parlement,
That gentil Palamon, your owen knight,
That serveth you with will, and herte, and might,
And ever hath don, sin ye first him knew,
That ye shall of your grace upon him rew,
And taken him for husbond and for lord:
Lene me your hand, for this is oure accord.
Let see now of your womanly pitee.
He is a kinges brothers sone pardee,
And though he were a poure bachelere,
Sin he hath served you so many a yere,
And had for you so gret adversite,
It moste ben considered, leveth me.
For gentil mercy oweth to passen right.
Than sayd he thus to Palamon the knight;
I trow ther nedeth litel sermoning
To maken you assenten to this thing.
Cometh ner, and take your lady by the hond.
Betwixen hem was maked anon the bond,
That highte matrimoine or mariage,
By all the conseil of the baronage.
And thus with alle blisse and melodie
Hath Palamon ywedded Emelie.
And God that all this wide world hath wrought,
Send him his love, that hath it dere ybought.