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And he were caught, it was acorded thụs,
That with a swerd he scholde lese his heed ;
Ther nas noon other remedy ne reed,
But took his leeve, and homward he him spedde ;
Let him be war, his nekke lith to wedde. 1220

How gret a sorwe suffreth now Arcite !
The deth he feleth thorugh his herte smyte;
He weepeth, weyleth, cryeth pitously;
To slen himself he wayteth pryvyly.
He seyde,

“ Allas the day that I was born !
Now is my prisoun werse than was biforne :
Now is me schape eternally to dwelle
Nought in purgatorie, but in helle.
Allas! that ever knewe I Perotheus !
For elles had I dweld with Theseus

1230
I-fetered in his prisoun for evere moo.
Than had I ben in blis, and nat in woo.
Oonly the sight of hir, whom that I serve,
Though that I hir grace may nat deserve,
Wold han sufficed right ynough for me.
O dere cosyn Palamon," quod he, -
“ Thyn is the victoire of this aventure,
Ful blisfully in prisoun to endure;
In prisoun ? nay, certes but in paradys !
Wel hath fortune y-torned the the dys,

1240 That hath the sight of hir, and I the absence. For possible is, syn thou hast hir presence, And art a knight, a worthi and an able, That by som cas, syn fortune is chaungable,

1250

Thou maist to thy desir somtyme atteyne.
But I that am exiled, and bareyne
Of alle grace, and in so gret despeir,
That ther nys water, erthe, fyr, ne eyr,
Ne creature, that of hem maked is,
That may me helpe ne comfort in this.
Wel ought I sterve in wanhope and distresse;
Farwel my lyf and al my jolynesse.
Allas, why playnen folk so in comune
Of purveance of God, or of fortune,
That geveth hem ful ofte in many a gyse
Wel better than thei can hemself devyse?
Som man desireth for to have richesse,
That cause is of his morthre or gret seeknesse.
And som man wolde out of his prisoun fayn,
That in his hous is of his mayné slayn.
Infinite harmes ben in this mateere ;
We wote nevere what thing we prayen heere.
We faren as he that dronke is as a mows.
A dronke man wot wel he hath an hous,
But he not nat which the righte wey is thider,
And to a dronke man the wey is slider,
And certes in this world so faren we.
We seeken faste after felicité,
But we gon wrong ful ofte trewely.
Thus may we seyen alle, namely I,
That wende have had a gret opinioun,

1260

1270

1264.- a dronke man. From Boethius De Consol. lib. iii. pr. 2. sed velut ebrius, domum quo tramite revertatur ignorat.

That gif I mighte skape fro prisoun,
Than had I be in joye and parfyt hele,
Ther now I am exiled fro

my

wele. Syn that I may not se yow, Emelye, I nam but deed; ther nys no remedye.

Uppon that other syde Palamon, Whan he wiste that Arcite was agoon, Such sorwe maketh, that the grete tour Resowneth of his yollyng and clamour.

1280 The pure feteres of his schynes grete Weren of his bitter salte teres wete. · Allas!” quod he, “Arcita, cosyn myn, Of al oure strif, God woot, the fruyt is thin, Thow walkest now in Thebes at thi large, And of my woo thou gevest litel charge. Thou maiste, syn thou hast wysdom and manhede, Assemble al the folk of oure kynrede, And make a werre so scharpe in this cité, That by som aventure, or by som treté,

1290 Thou mayst hire wynne to lady and to wyf, For whom that I most needes leese my lyf. For as by wey of possibilité, Syn thou art at thi large of prisoun free, And art a lord, gret is thin avantage, More than is myn, that sterve here in a kage. For I moot weepe and weyle, whil I lyve, With al the woo that prisoun may me gyve, And eek with peyne that love me geveth also, That doubleth al my torment and my

wo."

1300

Therwith the fuyr of jelousye upsterte
Withinne his brest, and hent him by the herte
So wodly, that lik was he to byholde
The box-tree, or the asschen deed and colde.
Tho seyde he; “O goddes cruel, that governe
This world with byndyng of youre word eterne,
And writen in the table of athamaunte
Youre parlement and youre eterne graunte,
What is mankynde more to yow holde
Than is a scheep, that rouketh in the folde? 1310
For slayn is man right as another beste,
And dwelleth eek in prisoun and arreste,
And hath seknesse, and greet adversité,
And ofte tymes gilteles, pardé.
What governaunce is in youre prescience,
That gilteles tormenteth innocence ?
And yet encreceth this al my penaunce,
That man is bounden to his observaunce
For Goddes sake to letten of his wille,
Ther as a beste may al his lust fulfille.

1320
And whan a beste is deed, he ne hath no peyne;
But man after his deth moot wepe and pleyne,
Though in this world he have care and woo :
Withouten doute it may

stonde so.
The answer of this I lete to divinis,
But wel I woot, that in this world gret pyne is.
Allas ! I se a serpent or a theef,
That many a trewe man hath doon mescheef,
Gon at his large, and wher him lust may turne.

1330

1

1340

But I moste be in prisoun thurgh Saturne,
And eek thorugh Juno, jalous and eke wood,
That hath destruyed wel neyh al the blood
Of Thebes, with his waste walles wyde.
And Venus sleeth me on that other syde
For jelousye, and fere of him Arcyte."

Now wol I stynte of Palamon a lite,
And lete him stille in his prisoun dwelle,
And of Arcita forth than wol I telle.
The somer passeth, and the nightes longe
Encrescen double wise the peynes stronge
Bothe of the lover and the prisoner.
I noot which hath the wofullere cheer.
For schortly for to sey, this Palamon
Perpetuelly is dampned to prisoun,
In cheynes and in feteres to be deed;
And Arcite is exiled upon his heed
For evere mo as out of that contré,
Ne nevere mo he schal his lady see.
Now lovyeres axe I this question,
Who hath the worse, Arcite or Palamon ?
That on may se his lady day by day,
But in prisoun he moot dwelle alway.
That other may wher him lust ryde or go,
But seen his lady schal he never mo.
Now deemeth as you luste, ye that can,
For I wol telle forth as I bigan.

1350

1349.- this question. An implied allusion to the medieval courts of love, in which questions of this kind were seriously discussed.

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