Imatges de pàgina

But for to kepe hem priuely and stille,
Til I thy purpos knew and al thy wille.'


Whan she this herde, aswowne doun she falleth
For pitous loye, and after hir swowning
She bothe hir yonge children vn-to hir calleth,
And in hir armes, pitously weping,
Embraceth hem, and tendrely kissing
Ful lyk a mooder, with hir salte teres
She batheth bothe hir visage and hir heres.



O, which a pitous thing it was to se
Hir swowning, and hir humble voys to here !
'Graunt mercy, lord, that thanke I yow,' quod she,

That ye han saued me my children dere !
Now rekke I neuer to ben deed ryght here; 1090
Sith I stonde in your loue and in your grace,
No fors of deeth, ne whan my spirit pace!


O tendre, o dere, o yonge children myne,
Your woful mooder wende stedfastly
That cruel houndes or som foul vermyne
Hadde eten yow; but god, of his mercy,
And your benigne fader tendrely
Hath doon yow kept;' and in that same stounde
Al sodeynly she swapte adoun to grounde.


· And in hir swough so sadly holdeth she
Hir children two, whan she gan hem tembrace,
That with greet sleighte and greet difficultee
The children from hir arm they gonne arace.
O many a teer on many a pitous face
Doun ran of hem that stoden hir bisyde ;
Vnnethe abouten hir myghte they abyde.


Walter hir gladeth and hir sorwe slaketh ;
She ryseth vp abaysed from hir trance,
And euery wyght hir ioye and feste maketh,
Til she hath caught agayn hir contenance.
Walter hir dooth so feithfully plesance,
That it was deyntee for to seen the chere
Bitwise hem two, now they ben met yfere.



Thise ladyes whan that they her tyme sey,
Han taken hir, and in-to chambre gon,
And strepen hir out of hir rude array,
And in a cloth of gold that bryghte shoon,
With a coroune of many a riche stoon
Vp-on hir heed, they in-to halle hir broughte,
And ther she was honoured as hir oughte.

I 120

Thus hath this pitous day a blisful ende,
For euery man and womman doth his myght
This day in murthe and reuel to dispende
Til on the welkne shoon the sterres lyght.
For more solempne in euery mannes syght
This feste was, and gretter of costage,
Than was the reuel of hir mariage.



Ful many a yeer in heigh prosperitee
Liuen thise two in concord and in reste,
And richely his doughter maried he
Vn-to a lord, oon of the worthieste
Of al Itaille; and than in pees and reste
His wyues fader in his court he kepeth,
Til that the soule out of his body crepeth.


His sone succedeth in his heritage
In reste and pees, after his fader day;

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And fortunat was eek in mariage,
Al putte he nat his wyf in greet assay.
This world is nat so strong, it is no nay,
As it hath ben of olde tymes yore,
And herkneth what this auctour seith therfore.


This storie is seyd nat for that wyues sholde
Folwen Grisild as in humilitee,
For it were importable, though they wolde;
But for that euery wyght in his degree
Sholde be constant in aduersitee
As was Grisild, therfor this? Petrark wryteth
This storie, which with hy style he endyteth.



For, sith a womman was so pacient
Vn-to a mortal man, wel more vs oughte
Receyuen al in gree that god vs sent;
For greet skile is, he preue that he wroughte.
But he ne tempteth no man that he boughte,
As seith seint Iame, if ye his pistil rede;
He preueth folk al day, it is no drede,


And suffreth vs, as for our excercyse,
With sharpe scourges of aduersitee
Ful ofte to be bete in sondry wyse;
Nat for to knowe our wil, for certes he,
Er we were born, knew al? our freletee;
And for our beste is al his gouernance;
Lat vs than liue in vertuous suffrance.


But o word, lordinges, herkneth er I go :-
It were ful hard to fynde now a dayes

1 Cm. this ; which the rest omit.
2 E. omits al; the rest have it.


In al a toun Grisildes thre or two;
For, if that they were put to swiche assayes,
The gold of hem hath now so badde alayes
With bras, that though the coyne be fair at yë,
It wolde rather breste atwo than plye.


For which heer, for the wyues loue of Bathe,
Whos lyf and al hir secte god mayntene
In heigh maistrie, and elles were it scathe,
I wol with lusty herte fresshe and grene
Seyn yow a song to glade yow, I wene,
And lat vs stinte of ernestful matere:-
Herkneth my song that seith in this manere.


Lenuoy de Chaucer.

Grisild is deed, and eek hir pacience,
And bothe atones buried in Itaille ;
For which I crye in open audience,
No wedded man so hardy be tassaille
His wyues pacience, in hope to fynde
Grisildes, for in certein he shal faille !



O noble wyues, ful of heigh prudence,
Lat non humilitee your tonge naille,
Ne lat no clerk haue cause or diligence
To wryte of yow a storie of swich meruaille
As of Grisildis pacient and kynde;
Lest Chicheuache yow swelwe in hir entraille !


Folweth Ekko, that holdeth no silence,
But euere answereth at the countretaille ;
Beth nat bidaffed for your innocence,
But sharply tak on yow the gouernaille.


Emprinteth wel this lesson in your mynde
For commune profit, sith it may auaille.
Ye archewyues, stondeth at defence,
Sin ye be stronge as is a greet camaille ;
Ne suffreth nat that men yow don offence.
And sklendre wyues, fieble as in bataille,
Beth egre as is a tygre yond in Ynde;
Ay clappeth as a mille, I yow consaille.

I 200

Ne dreed hem nat, do hem no reuerence;
For though thyn housbonde armed be in maille,
The arwes of thy crabbed eloquence
Shal perce his brest, and eek his auentaille ;
In Ialousye I rede eek thou him bynde,

1205 And thou shalt make him couche as doth a quaille.

If thou be fair, ther folk ben in presence
Shew thou thy visage and thyn apparaille;
If thou be foul, be fre of thy dispence,
To gete thee frendes ay do thy trauaille ;
Be ay of chere as lyght as leef on lynde,
And lat him care, and wepe, and wringe, and waille !

I 210

The prologe of the Marchantes tale.

Weping and wayling, care and other sorwe
I knowe ynow, on euen and on morwe,'
Quod the Marchant, and so doon othere mo
That wedded ben, I trowe that it be so.
For wel I wot it fareth so with me.
I haue a wyf, the worste that may be;
For though the feend to hir ycoupled were,
She wolde him ouermacche, I dar wel swere.


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