Imatges de pàgina
PDF

She that for hire housbonde chees to dye,
And eke to goon to helle, rather than he,
And Ercules rescowed hire, parde,
And broght hir out of helle agayne to blys?"

And I answerde ageyn, and sayde, "Yis,
Now knowe I hire. And is this good Alceste,
The dayesie, and myn owene hertes reste?
Now fele I weel the goodnesse of this wyf, 520
That both after hir deth, and in hir lyf,
Hir grete bounte 1 doubleth hir renoun.
Wei hath she quyt me myn affeccioun,
That I have to hire flour the dayesye.
No wonder ys thogh Jove hire stellyfye,
As telleth Agaton,2 for hire goodenesse,
Hire white corowne berith of hyt witnesse;
For also many vertues hadde shee,
As smale florouns in hire corowne bee.

"In remembraunce of hire and in honoure Cibella2 maade the daysye and the floure 531 Ycrowned al with white, as men may see, And Mars gaf to hire corowne reede, pardec, In stede of rubyes, sette among the white."

Therwith this queene wex reed for shame a

lyte,

Whanne she was preysed so in hire presence.
Thanne seyde Love, "A ful grete necligence
Was yt to the, that ilke tyme thou made,
'Hyd, Absolon, thy tresses' in balade,

* Goodness. 'An unknown author. s Rhea-Cybele, the Roddest ti fecundity.

NO LOVER IN HELL. IOI

That thou forgate hire 1 in thy songe to sette,

Syn that thou art so gretly in hire dette, 541

And wost wel that kalender ys shee

To any woman that wol lover bee:

For she taught al the crafte of fyne lovyng,

And namely of wyfhode the lyvyng,

And al the boundes that she oghte kepe;

Thy litel witte was thilke tyme aslepe.

But now I charge the upon thy lyfe,

That in thy legende thou make of thys wyfe.

Whan thou hast other smale ymaade before;

And fare now wel, I charge thee namore. 551

But er I goo, thus muche I wole the telle,

Ne shal no trewe lover come in helle.

Thise other ladies sittynge here arowe

Ben in thy balade, yf thou kanst hem knowe,

And in thy bookes alle thou shalt hem fynde;

Have hem in thy Legende now alle in mynde,

I mene of hem that ben in thy knowyng.

For here ben twenty thousand moo sittyng

Thanne thou knowest, goode wommen alle, 560

And trewe of love for oght that may byfalle;

1 This reference to the omission of Alceste's name from the ballad is not found in the Gg text. It would have been inapt, for in that text the refrain of the ballad reads, " Alceste is here," instead of * My Uidy comith." The Gg text reads, —

Thanne seyde Love, " A fu. grete necligence

Was it to the to write onstedefast-nesse

Of women, sithe thow knowist here goodnesse

By pref and ek by storyis here by-forn.

Let be the chaf and writ wel of the corn.

Why noldist thow have writyn of Alceste

And latyn Criseide ben a-slepe and rest,

For of Alceste schulde thy wrytynge be,

Syn that thow wist that calandir is she

Of goodnesse, for sche taughte of feyn [glad] lovynge."

Make the metres of hem as the lest;
I mot goon home, the sonne draweth west,
To Paradys, with al thise companye;
And serve alwey the fresshe daysye.1
At Cleopatre I wole that thou begynne,
And so forthe, and my love so shalthoi
wynne;

For lat see now what man that lover be,1
Wol doon so stronge a peyne for love as she.
I wot wel that thou maist nat al yt ryme, 570
That swiche lovers dide in hire tyme;
It were to long to reden and to here;
Sufficeth me thou make in this manere,
That thou reherce of al hir lyfe the grete,
After thise olde auctours lysten for to trete.
For who-so shal so many a storye telle,
Sey shortly or he shal to longe dwelle."

And with that worde my bokes gan I take, And ryght thus on my legende gan I make.

Tncipit Legenda Cleopatrie, Martiris, Egipti Regine?

After the deth of Tholome the kyng, 580 That al Egipte hadde in his governyng, Regned hys queene Cleopataras; Til on a tyme befel ther swich a cas,s That out of Rome was sent a senatour,

1 Lines 552-565 and 56*-577 are not in the Gg text. 1 Here be* gtaneth the legend of Cleopatra, the martvr. queen of Egypt. Th ttory U a familiar one, and is found in Plutarch. 2 Chance.

CLEOPATRA OF EGYPT. IO3

For to conqueren regnes1 and honour
Unto the toune of Rome, as was usaunce,
To have the worlde at hir obeysaunce,
And sooth to seye, Antonius was his name.

So fil yt, as Fortune hym oght a shame,
Whanne he was fallen in prosperitee, 590
Rebel unto the toune of Rome ys hee.
And over al this, the suster of Cesar
He lafte hir falsly, er that she was war,
And wold algates han another wyf;
For which he took with Rome and Cesar strif.

Natheles, forsooth this ilke senatour Was a full worthy gentil werreyour, And of his deeth it was ful gret damage. But Love had brought this man in swich a rage,

And him so narwe bounded in his laas,* 600

Alle for the love of Cleopataras,

That al the worlde he sette at noo value;

Hym thoghte ther was nothing to him so due

As Cleopataras for to love and serve;

Hym roghte * nat in armes for to sterve

In the defence of hir and of hir ryght.

This noble queene ek lovede so this knyght, Thurgh his desert and for his chivalrye; As certeynly, but-yf that bookes lye, He was of persone, and of gentilesse, 61c Ind of discrecion, and hardynesse, Worthy to any wight that liven may;

Kingdoms. Lace, snare. s Recked.

And she was faire as is the rose in May.
And — to maken shortely is the beste —
She wax his wif, and hadde him as hir leste.

The weddyng and the feste to devyse,
To me that have ytake swich emprise,
Of so many a storye for to make,
Yt were to longe, lest that I sholde slake
Of thing that beryth more effecte and charge;
For men may overlade a shippe or barge. 621
And forthy,1 to effect2 than wol I skyppe,
And al the remenaunt I wol let yt slyppe.

Octovyan,* that woode 4 was of this dede, Shoop him an oost on Antony to lede, Al outerly for his destructioun, With stoute Romaynes, crewel as lyoun; To shippe they wente, and thus I let hem sayle.

Antonius, that was war, and wol nat fayle To meten with thise Romaynes, yf he may, 630 Took eke his rede,6 and booth upon a day His wyf and he and al hys oost forthe wente To shippe anoon, no lenger they ne stente, And in the see hit happed hem to mete. Up gooth the trumpe, and for to shoute and shete,*

And paynen hem to sette on with the sonne; With grisly soune out gooth the grete gonne,7 And hertely they hurtelen al attones,

1 Therefore. 1 The tUnoutnent. s The Emperor Augustus Angry. 5 Counsel. s Shoot. 7 The mangonel is apparently in tended, from the mention of "grete stones," but the use of gui> powder in war was at the time of Chaucer's writing forty years old and the passage may contain an anachronism.

« AnteriorContinua »