Imatges de pàgina


CHAP. him unexpectedly, and fawns upon him with

the familiarity of an old acquaintance, he is 1369.

led, through a beautiful valley, enamelled with flowers, adorned with trees, and peopled with all kinds of gay and sportive animals, to a large oak, at the foot of which is seated a knight, of noble appearance,

clothed in black, and seemingly immersed in disconsolate and melancholy contemplations. This knight is John of Gaunt. In a little while, though Chaucer represents himself as wholly a stranger to the knight, they enter into conversation. That they have no previous acquaintance, is apparently feigned, that the illustrious mourner may with the greater probability and propriety enter into the history of his sorrows.

Chaucer dwells emphatically and elaboof John of

rately upon the depth of his friend's suffer-
ings and anguish. While as yet he had only
remarked him unobserved, Chaucer exclaims,

It was grete wonder that nature
Might suffre


To have soche sorow', and he not ded.

ver. 467,



And Gaụnt, venting his anguish in soliloquy, CHAP

is made to say,


Alas, o dethe ! what eyleth the,
That thou n'oldest have taken me,
Whạn that thou toke my lady swete?

ver. 481.

When he had uttered his complaint, his spirits seemed suddenly to fail him, and his blood retreated to his heart;

and that made al His hewé chaunge, and wexen grene And pale.

ver. 496.

Chaucer accosts, and expresses a wish to console, him; for which the knight courteously thanks the poet, but adds,

No man ne may my sorowe glade,
That mak'th

my hewe to fal and fade, And hath myn understanding" lorne, That me is wo, that I was borne.

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lost, destroyed.



Me's wo, that I live hourés twelve !
And who so wol assaye him selve,
Whether his hert can have pité
Of any sorowe', let him se me;
I wretche, that dethe hath made al naked
Of al the blisse that oer was maked ;
I wretche, the wersté of al wightes,
That hate my dayés, and my nightes;
My lyfe, my lastés, be


% lothe:

And this is paine withouten “rede,
Alway dyinge, and be not dede;
That Sisyphus that lyeth in hel
not of more sorowe tel.

ver. 563,

After many exclamations of this discon, solate nature, the hero at length grows more composed, and, to gratify the curiosity of the poet, enters into the history of his loves. He describes the person and accomplishments of Blanche, the coyness and modesty with which she received his courtship, her slow


if wishes.

8 aversion.

* uncertainty, doubt.


and timorous consent, and the happy nuptials CHAP. with which his wishes were ultimately crown

1369. ed. He expatiates with enthusiasm upon

the felicity of his marriage state. Many of these passages have been already quoted. The poem then draws to a conclusion.

Sir, 'quod I, and where is she now?

Now, ' quod he, and kystinte anone,
Therwith he woxe as dedde as stone,
And saied, Alas, that I was bore !
That was the losse, that here before
I toldé the that I hadde lorne.
Bethinke the how I saied beforne,
“ Thou 'woste full litel what thou menest,
For I have loste more then thou wenest."
God wot, alas ! right that was She!

Alas, sir, how? what maie that be?
She is dedde!-Naie!--Yes, by my trouthe.-
Is that your losse ? By God, 'tis - routhe!

ver. 1298.

At this moment the party of hunters returns;


quoth, saith.

stinted, ceased,


I knewest.

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CHAP. and “ this kyng," as Chaucer now styles

him, mounting his horse, rides homeward, 1369.

Unto a place was there beside,
Whiche that was from us but a " lite,
A long castell, with wallés white,
On a riche hill.

ver. 1316.

Defects of the


There are several passages in this poeni upon the death of the duchess, which mark in no common degree the crudeness of taste of the times in which Chaucer wrote. It is scarcely worth while again, as we did in examining the Troilus and Creseide, to quote single lines which are trite, vulgar and impotent; such as where Chaucer makes his hero say, exclaiming upon fortune,

for she is nothing stable, Nowe by the fyre, nowe at the table.

ver. 645.

The present poem has much more considerable deformities. Nothing can be in a poorer

A little.

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