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Of Saturne, by sum constellacioun,

1090
Hath geven us this, although we hadde it sworn;
So stood the heven whan that we were born,
We moste endure it: this is the schort and pleyn."

This Palamon answered, and seyde ageyn;
Cosyn, for sothe of this opynyoun
Thou hast a veyn ymaginacioun.
This prisoun caused me not for to crye.
But I was hurt right now thurgh myn yhe
Into myn herte, that wol my bane be.
The fairnesse of the lady that I see

1100
Yonde in the gardyn rome to and fro,
Is cause of my cryyng and my wo.
I not whethur sche be womman or goddesse;
But Venus is it, sothly, as I gesse."
And therwithal on knees adoun he fil,
And seyde: “Venus, if it be youre wil
Yow in this gardyn thus to transfigure,
Biforn me sorwful wrecched creature,
Out of this prisoun help that we may scape.
And if so be oure destiné be schape

1110 By eterne word to deyen in prisoun, Of oure lynage haveth sum compassioun, That is so lowe y-brought by tyrannye." And with that word Arcite gan espye

1090.-Saturne. According to the old astrological system, this was a very unpropitious star to be born under. It may be observed, that in the present story there is a constant allusion to medieval astrology, which could not be fully illustrated without long notes.

1120

Wher as this lady romed to and fro.
And with that sight hire beauté hurt him so,
That if that Palamon was wounded sore,
Arcite is hurt as moche as he, or more.

And with a sigh he seyde pitously :
“ The freissche beauté sleeth me sodeynly

Of hir that rometh yonder in the place;
And but I have hir mercy and hir grace,
That I may see hir atte leste weye,
I nam but deed; ther nys no more to seye.”
This Palamon, whan he tho wordes herde,
Dispitously he loked, and answerde:
Whether seistow in ernest or in pley?”
Nay," quoth Arcite, “in ernest, in good fey.
God helpe me so, me lust ful evele pleye.”
This Palamon gan knytte his browes tweye:
" It nere," quod he, " to the no gret honour,

For to be fals, ne for to be traytour
To me, that am thy cosyn and thy brother
I-swore ful deepe, and ech of us to other,
That never for to deyen in the payne,
Til that deeth departe schal us twayne,

66

1130

1134.—I-swore. It was a common practice in the middle ages for persons to take formal oaths of fraternity and friendship, and a breach of the oath was considered something worse thau perjury. This incident enters into the plots of some of the medieval romances. A curious example will be found in the Romance of Athelston, Reliq. Antiq. ii,

P. 85.

1135.-deyen in the payne. This appears to have been a proverbial expression, taken from the French. In Froissart, as cited by Tyrwhitt, Edward III is made to declare, that he would bring the war to a successful issue, or il mourroit en la peine.

1140

1150

Neyther of us in love to hynder other,
Ne in non other cas, my leeve brother;
But that thou schuldest trewly forther me
In every caas, and I schal forther the.
This was thyn othe, and myn

eek certayn;
I wot right wel, thou darst it nat withsayn.
Thus art thou of my counseil out of doute.
And now thou woldest falsly ben aboute
To love my lady, whom I love and serve,
And evere schal, unto myn herte sterve.
Now certes, fals Arcite, thou schal not so.
I loved hir first, and tolde the my woo
As to my counseil, and to brother sworn
To forther me, as I have told biforn.
For which thou art i-bounden as a knight
To helpe me, if it lay in thi might,
Or elles art thou fals, I dar wel sayn."
This Arcite ful proudly spak agayn.
“Thou schalt,” quoth he, “ be rather fals than I.

But thou art fals, I telle the uttirly.
For par amour I loved hir first then thow.
What wolt thou sayn ? thou wost not yit now
Whether sche be a womman or goddesse.
Thyn is affeccioun of holynesse,
And
myn

is love, as of a creature;
For which I tolde the myn aventure
As to my cosyn, and my brother sworn.
I
pose,

that thou lovedest hire biforn:

1160

1137.-love. The Harl. MS. has lande.

geve a lover

Wost thou nat wel the olde clerkes sawe,
That who schal

eny lawe,
Love is a grettere lawe, by my pan,
Then
may

be

geve to eny erthly man? Therfore posityf lawe, and such decré, Is broke alway for love in ech degree.

1170 A man moot needes love maugré his heed. He may nought fle it, though he schulde be deed, Al be sche mayde, or be sche widewe or wyf. And that it is nat likly al thy lyf To stonden in hire grace, no more schal I: For wel thou wost thyselven verrily, That thou and I been dampned to prisoun Perpetuelly, us gayneth no raunsoun. We stryve, as doth the houndes for the boon, They foughte al day, and yit here part was noon. 1180 Ther com a kyte, whil that they were wrothe, And bar awey the boon bitwise hem bothe. And therfore at the kynges court, my brother, Eche man for himself, ther is non other. Love if the list; for I love and ay schal : And sothly, leeve brother, this is al. Eke in this prisoun moote we endure, And every of us take his aventure."

1165.the olde clerkes sawe. Boethius, who says, iu his treatise De Consolat. Philos. lib. iii, met. 12,

Quis legem det amantibus ?

Major lex amor est sibi. 1179.-houndes. This is a medieval fable which I have not met with elsewhere, though it may probably be found in some of the inedited collections.

Gret was the stryf and long bytwise hem tweye,
If that I hadde leysir for to seye :

1190
But to the effect, it happed on a day,
(To telle it yow as schortly as I may)
A worthy duk that highte Perotheus,
That felaw was to the duk Theseus
Syn thilke day that they were children lyte,
Was come to Athenes, his felawe to visite,
And for to pley, as he was wont to do,
For in this world he loved noman so:
And he loved him as tendurly agayn.
So wel they loved, as olde bookes sayn,

1200 That whan that oon was deed, sothly to telle, His felawe wente and sought him doun in helle: But of that story lyst me nought to write. Duk Perotheus loved wel Arcite, And hadde him knowe at Thebes yeer by yeer : And fynally at requeste and prayer Of Perotheus, withoute

any raunsoun Duk Theseus him leet out of prisoun, Frely to go, wher him lust over al, In such a gyse, as I you telle schal.

1210 This was the forward, playnly to endite, Betwixe Theseus and him Arcite: That if so were, that Arcite were founde Evere in his lyf, by daye or night, o stound In eny contré of this Theseus,

1202.-in helle. An allusion to the classic story of Theseus and Pirithous.

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