« PreviousContinue »
And there oure ost bigan his hors areste,
And seyde; “ Lordus, herkeneth if yow leste.
Ye woot youre forward, and I it
If eve-song and morwe-song acorde,
Let se now who schal telle ferst a tale.
As evere I moote drinke wyn or ale,
Who so be rebel to my juggement,
Schal paye for al that by the weye is spent.
Now draweth cut, er that we forther twynne ;
Which that hath the schortest schal bygynne.”
“Sire knight,” quoth he, “ maister and my lord,
Now draweth cut, for that is
Cometh ner, quoth he, my lady prioresse;
And ye, sir clerk, lat be your schamfastnesse, ,
Ne studieth nat; ley hand to, every man.”
Anon to drawen every wight bigan,
And schortly for to tellen as it was,
Were it by aventure, or sort, or cas,
The soth is this, the fil to the knight,
Of which ful glad and blithe was every wight;
And telle he moste his tale as was resoun,
By forward and by composicioun,
han herd; what needeth wordes moo? And whan this goode man seigh that it was so, As he thạt wys was and obedient
828.—waterynge of seint Thomas. The watering of St. Thomas was at the second mile stone on the old Canterbury road. It is mentioned not unfrequently in the early dramatists.
837.-draweth cut. Froissart terms this method of drawing lots tirer à la longue paille.
To kepe his forward by his fre assent,
He seyde; “Syn I schal bygynne the game,
What, welcome be thou cut, a Goddus name!
Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye.”
And with that word we riden forth oure weye;
And he bigan with right a merie chere,
His tale, and seide right in this manere.
WHILOM, as olde stories tellen us,
Ther was a duk that highte Theseus.
Of Athenes he was lord and governour,
And in his tyme swich a conquerour,
That gretter was ther non under the sonne.
Ful many a riche contré hadde he wonne ;
That with his wisdam and his chivalrie
He conquered al the regne of Femynye,
That whilom was i-cleped Cithea;
And weddede the queen Ipolita,
860.-right in this manere. Tyrwhitt reads as ye shul here, and inserts anon after tale.
The Knightes Tale. This story is taken from the Theseida of Boccacio, which was translated also into French verse; but whether Chaucer used the Italian or the French is not certain, as I have not been able to compare Chaucer with the French, The English story differs in some parts considerably, and is very much abbreviated, from the poem of Boccacio. The extracts given in the following notes are repeated from Tyrwhitt. See Tyrwhitt's Introd. and Warton's His. of Eng. Poet.
868.-Femynye. A medieval name for the kingdom of the Amazons. Gower (Conf. Amant.) terms Penthesilea queen of Feminee. Cilhea is of course a corruption of Scythia.
And brought hire hoom with him in his contré
With moche glorie and gret solempnité,
And eek hire yonge suster Emelye.
And thus with victorie and with melodye
Lete I this noble duk to Athenes ryde,
And al his ost, in armes him biside.
And certes, if it nere to long to heere,
I wolde han told yow fully the manere,
How wonnen was the regne of Femenye,
By Theseus, and by his chivalrye;
And of the grete bataille for the nones
Bytwix Athenes and the Amazones;
And how asegid was Ypolita
The faire hardy quyen of Cithea ;
And of the feste that was at hire weddynge,
And of the tempest at hire hoom comynge,
But al that thing I most as now forbere.
I have, God wot, a large feeld to ere;
And wayke ben the oxen in my plough.
The remenaunt of the tale is long inough,
I wol not lette eek non of at this rowte.
Lat every felawe telle his tale aboute,
And lat see now who schal the soper wynne.
And ther I lafte, I wolde agayn begynne.
This duk, of whom I make mencioun,
Whan he was comen almost unto the toun,
886.- tempest. Tyrwhitt has temple, but I think his reasons for this reading are not sufficiently weighty to authorize a departure from the text of the MS. Harl., supported, as it is, hy most of the good MSS.
In al his wele and in his moste pryde,
He was war, as he cast his eyghe aside,
Wher that ther kneled in the hye weye
A companye of ladies, tweye and tweye,
Ech after other, clad in clothes blake :
But such a cry and such a woo they make,
That in this world nys creature lyvynge,
That herde such another waymentynge.
And of that cry ne wolde they never stenten,
Til they the reynes of his bridel henten.
" What folk be
Pertourben so my feste with cryenge ?”
Quod Theseus, “ have ye so gret envye
Of myn honour, that thus compleyne and crie? 910
Or who hath yow misboden, or offendid?
And telleth me if it may ben amendid;
And why that ye ben clad thus al in blak?"
The oldest lady of hem alle spak,
Whan sche had swowned with a dedly chere,
That it was routhe for to seen or heere ;
And seyde ; “ Lord, to whom fortune hath geven
Victorie, and as a conquerour lyven,
Nought greveth us youre glorie and honour;
But we beseken mercy and socour.
Have mercy on oure woo and oure distresse.
Som drope of pitee, thurgh youre gentilnesse,
Uppon us wrecchede wommen lat thou falle.
For certus, lord, ther nys noon of us alle,
That sche nath ben a duchesse or a queene;
Now be we caytifs, as it is well seene :
Thanked be fortune, and hire false wheel,
That noon estat assureth to ben weel
And certus, lord, to abiden youre presence
Here in the temple of the goddesse Clemence
We han ben waytynge al this fourtenight:
Now helpe us, lord, syn it is in thy might.
I wrecche, which that wepe and waylle thus,
Was whilom wyf to kyng Capaneus,
That starf at Thebes, cursed be that day :
And alle we that ben in this array,
And maken alle this lamentacioun,
We leften alle oure housbondes at the toun,
Whil that the sege ther aboute lay.
And yet the olde Creon, welaway!
That lord is now of Thebes the citee,
Fulfilde of ire and of iniquité,
He for despyt, and for his tyrannye,
To do the deede bodyes vilonye,
Of alle oure lordes, which that ben i-slawe,
Hath alle the bodies on an heep y-drawe,
And wol not suffren hem by noon assent
Nother to ben y-buried nor i-brent,
But maketh houndes ete hem in despite."
And with that word, withoute more respite,
They fillen gruf, and criden pitously,
“ Have on us wrecched wommen som mercy,
And lat oure sorwe synken in thyn herte.”
This gentil duke doun from his courser sterte