Gold THE GEOFFREY CHAUCER PAGE


 

   The Clerk's Prologue , Tale, and Envoy

An Interlinear Translation

The Middle English text is from Larry D. Benson., Gen. ed., The Riverside Chaucer,
Houghton Mifflin Company; used with permission of the publisher.

 

(How to use the interlinear translations.)

 

Tale

 

 

 

Heere bigynneth the Tale of the Clerk of Oxenford

 

57         Ther is, at the west syde of Ytaille,
                There is, at the west side of Italy,
58         Doun at the roote of Vesulus the colde,
                Down at the foot of Vesulus the cold,
59         A lusty playn, habundant of vitaille,
                A lusty plain, abundant with food crops,
60         Where many a tour and toun thou mayst biholde,
                Where many a tower and town thou may behold,
61         That founded were in tyme of fadres olde,
                That were founded in time of fathers old,
62         And many another delitable sighte,
                And many another delectable sight,
63         And Saluces this noble contree highte.
                And Saluces this noble country is called.

64         A markys whilom lord was of that lond,
                A marquis once was lord of that land,
65         As were his worthy eldres hym bifore;
                As were his worthy elders before him;
66         And obeisant, ay redy to his hond,
                And obedient, ever ready to his hand (to do his commands),
67         Were alle his liges, bothe lasse and moore.
                Were all his subjects, both lesser ranks and nobles.
68         Thus in delit he lyveth, and hath doon yoore,
                Thus in delight he lives, and has done since long before,
69         Biloved and drad, thurgh favour of Fortune,
                Beloved and feared, through favor of Fortune,
70         Bothe of his lordes and of his commune.
                Both by his lords and by his citizenry.

71         Therwith he was, to speke as of lynage,
                Moreover he was, to speak of lineage,
72         The gentilleste yborn of Lumbardye,
                The most noble born in Lombardy,
73         A fair persone, and strong, and yong of age,
                A handsome person, and strong, and young of age,
74         And ful of honour and of curteisye;
                And full of honor and of courtesy;
75         Discreet ynogh his contree for to gye,
                Discreet enough to govern his country,
76         Save in somme thynges that he was to blame;
                Except in some things he was to blame;
77         And Walter was this yonge lordes name.
                And Walter was this young lord's name.

78         I blame hym thus: that he considered noght
                I blame him thus: that he considered not
79         In tyme comynge what myghte hym bityde,
                In time coming what might happen to him,
80         But on his lust present was al his thoght,
                But on his immediate pleasure was all his thought,
81         As for to hauke and hunte on every syde.
                Such as to hawk and hunt on every side.
82         Wel ny alle othere cures leet he slyde,
                Well nigh all other cares he let slip away,
83         And eek he nolde -- and that was worst of alle --
                And also he would not -- and that was worst of all --
84         Wedde no wyf, for noght that may bifalle.
                Wed any woman, for anything that may befall.

85         Oonly that point his peple bar so soore
                Only that point his people took so badly
86         That flokmeele on a day they to hym wente,
                That in groups on one day they went to him,
87         And oon of hem, that wisest was of loore --
                And one of them, that wisest was in learning --
88         Or elles that the lord best wolde assente
                Or else the one that the lord most readily would consent
89         That he sholde telle hym what his peple mente,
                That he should tell him what his people meant,
90         Or elles koude he shewe wel swich mateere --
                Or else he knew well how to present such a matter --
91         He to the markys seyde as ye shul heere:
                He to the marquis said as you shall hear:

92         "O noble markys, youre humanitee
                "O noble marquis, your graciousness
93         Asseureth us and yeveth us hardinesse,
                Makes us confident and gives us boldness,
94         As ofte as tyme is of necessitee,
                As often as it is time (to do so) by necessity,
95         That we to yow mowe telle oure hevynesse.
                That we to you may tell our sorrow.
96         Accepteth, lord, now of youre gentillesse
                Grant, lord, now of your nobility
97         That we with pitous herte unto yow pleyne,
                That we with pitiful heart may unto you complain,
98         And lat youre eres nat my voys desdeyne.
                And let your ears not disdain (to hear) my voice.

99         "Al have I noght to doone in this mateere
                "Although I have nothing to do in this matter
100         Moore than another man hath in this place,
                More than another man has in this place,
101         Yet for as muche as ye, my lord so deere,
                Yet for as much as you, my lord so dear,
102         Han alwey shewed me favour and grace
                Have always shown me favor and grace
103         I dar the bettre aske of yow a space
                I dare the more confidently to ask of you a time
104         Of audience to shewen oure requeste,
                Of hearing to present our request,
105         And ye, my lord, to doon right as yow leste.
                And you, my lord, to do right as it may please you.

106         "For certes, lord, so wel us liketh yow
                "For certainly, lord, so well you please us
107         And al youre werk, and evere han doon, that we
                And all your actions, and ever have done so, that we
108         Ne koude nat us self devysen how
                Could not ourselves imagine how
109         We myghte lyven in moore felicitee,
                We might live in more happiness,
110         Save o thyng, lord, if it youre wille be,
                Save one thing, lord, if it be your will,
111         That for to been a wedded man yow leste;
                That you would desire to be a wedded man;
112         Thanne were youre peple in sovereyn hertes reste.
                Then your people would be in complete peace of mind.

113         "Boweth youre nekke under that blisful yok
                "Bow your neck under that blissful yoke
114         Of soveraynetee, noght of servyse,
                Of sovereignty, not of servitude,
115         Which that men clepe spousaille or wedlok;
                Which men call marriage or wedlock;
116         And thenketh, lord, among youre thoghtes wyse
                And think, lord, among your wise thoughts
117         How that oure dayes passe in sondry wyse,
                How our days pass in various ways,
118         For thogh we slepe, or wake, or rome, or ryde,
                For though we sleep, or wake, or roam, or ride,
119         Ay fleeth the tyme; it nyl no man abyde.
                Ever flees the time; it will wait for no man.

120         "And thogh youre grene youthe floure as yit,
                "And though your green youth flowers as yet,
121         In crepeth age alwey, as stille as stoon,
                In creeps age always, as still as stone,
122         And deeth manaceth every age, and smyt
                And death menaces every age, and smites
123         In ech estaat, for ther escapeth noon;
                In each rank, for there escapes no one;
124         And al so certein as we knowe echoon
                And just as certainly as we know, each one of us,
125         That we shul deye, as uncerteyn we alle
                That we shall die, as uncertain we all
126         Been of that day whan deeth shal on us falle.
                Are of that day when death shall on us fall.

127         "Accepteth thanne of us the trewe entente,
                "Accept then the true intent of us,
128         That nevere yet refuseden youre heeste,
                Who never yet refused your command,
129         And we wol, lord, if that ye wole assente,
                And we will, lord, if you will assent,
130         Chese yow a wyf, in short tyme atte leeste,
                Chose a wife for you, in short time at the least,
131         Born of the gentilleste and of the meeste
                Born of the most noble and of the greatest (in rank)
132         Of al this land, so that it oghte seme
                Of all this land, so that it must seem
133         Honour to God and yow, as we kan deeme.
                Honor to God and you, so far as we can judge.

134         "Delivere us out of al this bisy drede,
                "Deliver us out of all this constant fear,
135         And taak a wyf, for hye Goddes sake!
                And take a wife, for high God's sake!
136         For if it so bifelle, as God forbede,
                For if it so happen, may God forbid,
137         That thurgh youre deeth youre lyne sholde slake,
                That through your death your line should die out,
138         And that a straunge successour sholde take
                And that a foreign successor should take
139         Youre heritage, O wo were us alyve!
                Your heritage, O woe would it be to us in our lifetime!
140         Wherfore we pray you hastily to wyve."
                Wherefore we pray you hastily to take a wife."

141         Hir meeke preyere and hir pitous cheere
                Their meek prayer and their pitiful manner
142         Made the markys herte han pitee.
                Made the marquis's heart have pity.
143         "Ye wol," quod he, "myn owene peple deere,
                "You want," said he, "my own people dear,
144         To that I nevere erst thoughte streyne me.
                That which I never before thought to compel myself.
145         I me rejoysed of my liberte,
                I rejoiced in my liberty,
146         That seelde tyme is founde in mariage;
                That seldom is found in marriage;
147         Ther I was free, I moot been in servage.
                Where I was free, I must be in servitude.

148         "But nathelees I se youre trewe entente,
                "But nevertheless I see your true intent,
149         And truste upon youre wit, and have doon ay;
                And trust upon your intelligence, and always have done so;
150         Wherfore of my free wyl I wole assente
                Therefore of my free will I will assent
151         To wedde me, as soone as evere I may.
                To wed, as soon as ever I can.
152         But ther as ye han profred me to-day
                But insofar as you have offered me to-day
153         To chese me a wyf, I yow relesse
                To choose me a wife, I release you
154         That choys and prey yow of that profre cesse.
                (From making) that choice and pray you to cease (making) that offer.

155         "For God it woot, that children ofte been
                "For God knows it, that children often are
156         Unlyk hir worthy eldres hem bifore;
                Unlike their worthy elders (who came) before them;
157         Bountee comth al of God, nat of the streen
                All goodness comes from God, not from the lineage
158         Of which they been engendred and ybore.
                By which they are conceived and born.
159         I truste in Goddes bountee, and therfore
                I trust in God's goodness, and therefore
160         My mariage and myn estaat and reste
                My marriage and my estate and peace of mind
161         I hym bitake; he may doon as hym leste.
                I entrust to him; he may do as he pleases.

162         "Lat me allone in chesynge of my wyf --
                "Let me alone in the choosing of my wife --
163         That charge upon my bak I wole endure.
                That responsibility upon my back I will endure.
164         But I yow preye, and charge upon youre lyf,
                But I you pray, and order you upon your life,
165         What wyf that I take, ye me assure
                Whatever wife I take, you me assure
166         To worshipe hire, whil that hir lyf may dure,
                To honor her, while her life may endure,
167         In word and werk, bothe heere and everywheere,
                In word and deed, both here and everywhere,
168         As she an emperoures doghter weere.
                As if she were an emperor's daughter.

169         "And forthermoore, this shal ye swere: that ye
                "And furthermore, this shall you swear: that you
170         Agayn my choys shul neither grucche ne stryve;
                Against my choice shall neither grouch nor strive;
171         For sith I shal forgoon my libertee
                For since I must forgo my liberty
172         At youre requeste, as evere moot I thryve,
                At your request, as ever I may thrive,
173         Ther as myn herte is set, ther wol I wyve;
                Where my heart is set, there will I take a wife;
174         And but ye wole assente in swich manere,
                And unless you will assent in such a manner,
175         I prey yow, speketh namoore of this matere."
                I pray you, speak no more of this matter."

176         With hertely wyl they sworen and assenten
                With heartfelt will they swore and assent
177         To al this thyng -- ther seyde no wight nay --
                To all this thing -- there said no person nay --
178         Bisekynge hym of grace, er that they wenten,
                Beseeching him of grace, before they went,
179         That he wolde graunten hem a certein day
                That he would grant them a fixed day
180         Of his spousaille, as soone as evere he may;
                Of his wedding, as soon as ever he can;
181         For yet alwey the peple somwhat dredde,
                For yet always the people somewhat dreaded,
182         Lest that the markys no wyf wolde wedde.
                Lest the marquis no wife would wed.

183         He graunted hem a day, swich as hym leste,
                He granted them a day, such as he pleased,
184         On which he wolde be wedded sikerly,
                On which he would be wedded surely,
185         And seyde he dide al this at hir requeste.
                And said he did all this at their request.
186         And they, with humble entente, buxomly,
                And they, with humble good will, obediently,
187         Knelynge upon hir knees ful reverently,
                Kneeling upon their knees full reverently,
188         Hym thonken alle; and thus they han an ende
                All thanked him; and thus they have a conclusion
189         Of hire entente, and hoom agayn they wende.
                In accord with their wishes, and home again they go.

190         And heerupon he to his officeres
                And thereupon he to his officers
191         Comaundeth for the feste to purveye,
                Commands the feast to prepare,
192         And to his privee knyghtes and squieres
                And to his household knights and squires
193         Swich charge yaf as hym liste on hem leye;
                Gave such orders as he desired to lay on them;
194         And they to his comandement obeye,
                And they to his commandment obey,
195         And ech of hem dooth al his diligence
                And each of them does all his efforts
196         To doon unto the feeste reverence.
                To lend honor unto the feast.

 

Explicit prima pars.
The first part ends.

Incipit secunda pars.
The second part begins.

 

197         Noght fer fro thilke paleys honurable,
                Not far from that same noble palace,
198         Wher as this markys shoop his mariage,
                Where this marquis planned his marriage,
199         There stood a throop, of site delitable,
                There stood a small village, in a delightful location,
200         In which that povre folk of that village
                In which poor folk of that village
201         Hadden hir beestes and hir herbergage,
                Had their beasts and their dwellings
202         And of hire labour tooke hir sustenance,
                And of their labor took their sustenance,
203         After that the erthe yaf hem habundance.
                According to what produce the earth gave them.

204         Amonges thise povre folk ther dwelte a man
                Among these poor folk there dwelt a man
205         Which that was holden povrest of hem alle;
                Who was considered poorest of them all;
206         But hye God somtyme senden kan
                But high God sometimes can send
207         His grace into a litel oxes stalle;
                His grace into a little ox's stall;
208         Janicula men of that throop hym calle.
                Janicula men of that village call him.
209         A doghter hadde he, fair ynogh to sighte,
                A daughter had he, fair enough in appearance,
210         And Grisildis this yonge mayden highte.
                And Griselda this young maiden was called.

211         But for to speke of vertuous beautee,
                But to speak of virtuous beauty,
212         Thanne was she oon the faireste under sonne;
                Then was she the fairest of all under sun;
213         For povreliche yfostred up was she,
                Because she was raised in poverty,
214         No likerous lust was thurgh hire herte yronne.
                No sensual desire had run through her heart.
215         Wel ofter of the welle than of the tonne
                Much more often of the well than of the wine barrel
216         She drank, and for she wolde vertu plese,
                She drank, and because she would satisfy the demands of virtue
217         She knew wel labour but noon ydel ese.
                She knew well labor but no idle ease.

218         But thogh this mayde tendre were of age,
                But though this maid was tender of age,
219         Yet in the brest of hire virginitee
                Yet in the breast of her virginity
220         Ther was enclosed rype and sad corage;
                There was enclosed a mature and steadfast spirit;
221         And in greet reverence and charitee
                And in great reverence and charity
222         Hir olde povre fader fostred shee.
                Her old poor father she cared for.
223         A fewe sheep, spynnynge, on feeld she kepte;
                A few sheep, while spinning, on field she kept;
224         She wolde noght been ydel til she slepte.
                She would not be idle until she slept.

225         And whan she homward cam, she wolde brynge
                And when she homeward came, she would bring
226         Wortes or othere herbes tymes ofte,
                Cabbages or other greens very often,
227         The whiche she shredde and seeth for hir lyvynge,
                Which she shredded and boiled for their sustenance
228         And made hir bed ful hard and nothyng softe;
                And made her bed full hard and not at all soft;
229         And ay she kepte hir fadres lyf on-lofte
                And ever she sustained her father's life
230         With everich obeisaunce and diligence
                With every obedience and diligence
231         That child may doon to fadres reverence.
                That child may do to father's reverence.

232         Upon Grisilde, this povre creature,
                Upon Griselda, this poor creature,
233         Ful ofte sithe this markys sette his ye
                Very many times this marquis set his eye
234         As he on huntyng rood paraventure;
                By chance, as he on hunting rode;
235         And whan it fil that he myghte hire espye,
                And when it happened that he might see her,
236         He noght with wantown lookyng of folye
                He not with lecherous looking of folly
237         His eyen caste on hire, but in sad wyse
                His eyes cast on hire, but in serious manner
238         Upon hir chiere he wolde hym ofte avyse,
                Upon her demeanor he would often think,

239         Commendynge in his herte hir wommanhede,
                Commending in his heart her womanly qualities,
240         And eek hir vertu, passynge any wight
                And also her virtue, passing any person
241         Of so yong age, as wel in chiere as dede.
                Of so young age, as well in manner as deed.
242         For thogh the peple have no greet insight
                For though the people have no great insight
243         In vertu, he considered ful right
                In virtue, he considered very carefully
244         Hir bountee, and disposed that he wolde
                Her goodness, and decided that he would
245         Wedde hire oonly, if evere he wedde sholde.
                Wed her only, if ever he should wed.

246         The day of weddyng cam, but no wight kan
                The day of wedding came, but no person can
247         Telle what womman that it sholde be;
                Tell what woman it should be;
248         For which merveille wondred many a man,
                For which marvel wondered many a man,
249         And seyden, whan they were in privetee,
                And said, when they were in private,
250         "Wol nat oure lord yet leve his vanytee?
                "Will not our lord yet leave his vanity?
251         Wol he nat wedde? Allas! Allas, the while!
                Will he not wed? Alas! Alas, the times!
252         Why wole he thus hymself and us bigile?"
                Why will he thus himself and us deceive?"

253         But nathelees this markys hath doon make
                But nevertheless this marquis has made
254         Of gemmes, set in gold and in asure,
                Of gems, set in gold and in azure,
255         Brooches and rynges, for Grisildis sake;
                Brooches and rings, for Griselda's sake;
256         And of hir clothyng took he the mesure
                And of her clothing he took the measure
257         By a mayde lyk to hire stature,
                By a maid like her (in) stature,
258         And eek of othere aornementes alle
                And also of all other ornaments
259         That unto swich a weddyng sholde falle.
                That unto such a wedding should be appropriate.

260         The time of undren of the same day
                The time of mid-morning of the same day
261         Approcheth, that this weddyng sholde be,
                Approaches, when this wedding should be,
262         And al the paleys put was in array,
                And all the palace was put in proper order,
263         Bothe halle and chambres, ech in his degree;
                Both hall and chambers, each in its turn;
264         Houses of office stuffed with plentee
                Storage buildings stuffed with plenty,
265         Ther maystow seen, of deyntevous vitaille
                There canst thou see, of delicious foods
266         That may be founde as fer as last Ytaille.
                What can be found from as far as farthest Italy.

267         This roial markys, richely arrayed,
                This royal marquis, richly arrayed,
268         Lordes and ladyes in his compaignye,
                Lords and ladies in his company,
269         The whiche that to the feeste weren yprayed,
                Who were invited to the feast,
270         And of his retenue the bachelrye,
                And of his retinue the knights,
271         With many a soun of sondry melodye,
                With many a sound of varied melody,
272         Unto the village of the which I tolde
                Unto the village of which I told
273         In this array the righte wey han holde.
                In this splendid array the direct route have held.

274         Grisilde of this, God woot, ful innocent,
                Griselda of this, God knows, full ignorant,
275         That for hire shapen was al this array,
                That for her was all this splendour prepared,
276         To fecchen water at a welle is went,
                Has gone to fetch water at a well,
277         And cometh hoom as soone as ever she may;
                And comes home as soon as ever she can;
278         For wel she hadde herd seyd that thilke day
                For well she had heard said that same day
279         The markys sholde wedde, and if she myghte,
                The marquis should wed, and if she could,
280         She wolde fayn han seyn som of that sighte.
                She would be happy to have seen some of that sight.

281         She thoghte, "I wole with othere maydens stonde,
                She thought, "I will stand with other maidens,
282         That been my felawes, in oure dore and se
                Who are my fellows, in our door and see
283         The markysesse, and therfore wol I fonde
                The marchioness, and therefore will I try
284         To doon at hoom, as soone as it may be,
                To do at home, as soon as it can be,
285         The labour which that longeth unto me,
                The chores that I must do,
286         And thanne I may at leyser hire biholde,
                And then I may at leisure her behold,
287         If she this wey unto the castel holde."
                If she takes this way to the castle."

288         And as she wolde over hir threshold gon,
                And as she would over her threshold go,
289         The markys cam and gan hire for to calle;
                The marquis came and called her;
290         And she set doun hir water pot anon,
                And she set down her water pot quickly,
291         Biside the thresshfold, in an oxes stalle,
                Beside the threshold, in an ox's stall,
292         And doun upon hir knes she gan to falle,
                And down upon her knees she fell,
293         And with sad contenance kneleth stille,
                And with sober countenance kneels without speaking,
294         Til she had herd what was the lordes wille.
                Until she had heard what was the lord's will.

295         This thoghtful markys spak unto this mayde
                This pensive marquis spoke unto this maid
296         Ful sobrely, and seyde in this manere:
                Full soberly, and said in this manner:
297         "Where is youre fader, O Grisildis?" he sayde.
                "Where is your father, O Griselda?" he said.
298         And she with reverence, in humble cheere,
                And she with reverence, in humble manner,
299         Answerde, "Lord, he is al redy heere."
                Answered, "Lord, he is right here."
300         And in she gooth withouten lenger lette,
                And in she goes without longer delay,
301         And to the markys she hir fader fette.
                And to the marquis she fetched her father.

302         He by the hand thanne took this olde man,
                He by the hand then took this old man,
303         And seyde thus, whan he hym hadde asyde:
                And said thus, when he had him aside:
304         "Janicula, I neither may ne kan
                "Janicula, I neither may nor can
305         Lenger the plesance of myn herte hyde.
                Longer hide the desire of my heart.
306         If that thou vouche sauf, what so bityde,
                If thou agree, whatsoever may happen,
307         Thy doghter wol I take, er that I wende,
                Thy daughter will I take, before I depart,
308         As for my wyf, unto hir lyves ende.
                For my wife, until her life's end.

309         "Thou lovest me, I woot it wel certeyn,
                "Thou lovest me, I know it well for certain,
310        And art my feithful lige man ybore,
                And art my faithful liege man born,
311        And al that liketh me, I dar wel seyn
                And all that pleases me, I dare well say
312        It liketh thee, and specially therfore
                It pleases thee, and specially therefore
313        Tel me that poynt that I have seyd bifore,
                Tell me of that question that I have stated previously,
314        If that thou wolt unto that purpos drawe,
                If thou will agree with that proposal,
315        To take me as for thy sone-in-lawe."
                To take me for thy son-in-law."

316        This sodeyn cas this man astonyed so
                This sudden occurrence this man so astounded
317        That reed he wax; abayst and al quakynge
                That he grew red; abashed and all trembling
318        He stood; unnethes seyde he wordes mo,
                He stood; hardly said he any more words,
319        But oonly thus: "Lord," quod he, "my willynge
                But only thus: "Lord," said he, "my desire
320        Is as ye wole, ne ayeynes youre likynge
                Is as you wish, and against your pleasure
321        I wol no thyng, ye be my lord so deere;
                I will do nothing, you are my lord so dear;
322        Right as yow lust, governeth this mateere."
                Right as you please, govern this matter."

323        "Yet wol I," quod this markys softely,
                "Yet I want," said this marquis softly,
324        "That in thy chambre I and thou and she
                "That in thy chamber I and thou and she
325        Have a collacioun, and wostow why?
                Have a discussion, and knowest thou why?
326        For I wol axe if it hire wille be
                For I will ask if it be her will
327        To be my wyf and reule hire after me.
                To be my wife and conduct herself as I decide.
328        And al this shal be doon in thy presence;
                And all this shall be done in thy presence;
329        I wol noght speke out of thyn audience."
                I will say nothing out of thy hearing."

330        And in the chambre, whil they were aboute
                And in the chamber, while they were engaged in
331        Hir tretys, which as ye shal after heere,
                Their negotiation, which you shall after hear,
332        The peple cam unto the hous withoute,
                The people came unto outside the house,
333        And wondred hem in how honest manere
                And wondered in what a virtuous manner
334        And tentifly she kepte hir fader deere.
                And how attentively she cared for her dear father.
335        But outrely Grisildis wondre myghte,
                But certainly Griselda might wonder,
336        For nevere erst ne saugh she swich a sighte.
                For never before saw she such a sight.

337        No wonder is thogh that she were astoned
                Though it is no wonder that she was astonished
338        To seen so greet a gest come in that place;
                To see so great a guest come in that place;
339        She nevere was to swiche gestes woned,
                She never was accustomed to such guests,
340        For which she looked with ful pale face.
                For which she looked full pale in her face.
341        But shortly forth this matere for to chace,
                But shortly forth this matter to pursue,
342        Thise arn the wordes that the markys sayde
                These are the words that the marquis said
343        To this benigne, verray, feithful mayde:
                To this benign, true, faithful maid:

344        "Grisilde," he seyde, "ye shal wel understonde
                "Griselda," he said, "you shall well understand
345        It liketh to youre fader and to me
                It is pleasing to your father and to me
346        That I yow wedde, and eek it may so stonde,
                That I you wed, and also it may so stand,
347        As I suppose, ye wol that it so be.
                As I suppose, that you desire that it so be.
348        But thise demandes axe I first," quod he,
                But these questions ask I first," said he,
349        "That, sith it shal be doon in hastif wyse,
                "That, since it shall be done in a hasty manner,
350        Wol ye assente, or elles yow avyse?
                Will you assent, or else think it over?

351        "I seye this: be ye redy with good herte
                "I say this: are you ready (to submit) with good heart
352        To al my lust, and that I frely may,
                To all my desires, and that I freely may,
353        As me best thynketh, do yow laughe or smerte,
                As seems best to me, make you laugh or feel pain,
354        And nevere ye to grucche it, nyght ne day?
                And you never to grouch about it, at any time?
355        And eek whan I sey `ye,' ne sey nat `nay,'
                And also when I say `yes,' say not `nay,'
356        Neither by word ne frownyng contenance?
                Neither by word nor frowning countenance?
357        Swere this, and heere I swere oure alliance."
                Swear this, and here I swear our alliance."

358        Wondrynge upon this word, quakynge for drede,
                Wondering upon these words, trembling for fear,
359        She seyde, "Lord, undigne and unworthy
                She said, "Lord, unsuitable and unworthy
360        Am I to thilke honour that ye me beede,
                Am I of that same honor that you offer me,
361        But as ye wole youreself, right so wol I.
                But as you desire yourself, right so desire I.
362        And heere I swere that nevere willyngly,
                And here I swear that never willingly,
363        In werk ne thoght, I nyl yow disobeye,
                In deed nor thought, will I disobey you,
364        For to be deed, though me were looth to deye."
                Even to be dead, though I would hate to die."

365        "This is ynogh, Grisilde myn," quod he.
                "This is enough, Griselda mine," said he.
366        And forth he gooth with a ful sobre cheere
                And forth he goes with a full sober manner
367        Out at the dore, and after that cam she,
                Out of the door, and after that came she,
368        And to the peple he seyde in this manere:
                And to the people he said in this manner:
369        "This is my wyf," quod he, "that standeth heere.
                "This is my wife," said he, "that stands here.
370        Honoureth hire and loveth hire, I preye,
                Honor her and love her, I pray,
371        Whoso me loveth; ther is namoore to seye."
                Whoever loves me; there is no more to say."

372        And for that no thyng of hir olde geere
                And so that nothing of her old belongings
373        She sholde brynge into his hous, he bad
                She should bring into his house, he ordered
374        That wommen sholde dispoillen hire right theere;
                That women should undress her right there;
375        Of which thise ladyes were nat right glad
                Of which these ladies were not very happy
376        To handle hir clothes, wherinne she was clad.
                To handle her clothes, in which she was clad.
377        But nathelees, this mayde bright of hewe
                But nevertheless, this maid bright of hue
378        Fro foot to heed they clothed han al newe.
                From foot to head they have clothed all new.

379        Hir heris han they kembd, that lay untressed
                Her hair have they combed, that lay unkempt
380        Ful rudely, and with hir fyngres smale
                Very crudely, and with their elegant fingers
381        A corone on hire heed they han ydressed,
                A crown on her head they have placed,
382        And sette hire ful of nowches grete and smale.
                And set her garments full of jeweled ornaments of every sort.
383        Of hire array what sholde I make a tale?
                Of her appearance why should I make a long tale?
384        Unnethe the peple hir knew for hire fairnesse
                The hardly people knew her for her beauty
385        Whan she translated was in swich richesse.
                When she was translated into such riches.

386        This markys hath hire spoused with a ryng
                This marquis has espoused her with a ring
387        Broght for the same cause, and thanne hire sette
                Brought for the same purpose, and then set her
388        Upon an hors, snow-whit and wel amblyng,
                Upon a horse, snow-white and with a gentle pace,
389        And to his paleys, er he lenger lette,
                And to his palace, before he longer delayed,
390        With joyful peple that hire ladde and mette,
                With joyful people that led and met her,
391        Conveyed hire; and thus the day they spende
                Conducted her; and thus the day they spend
392        In revel, til the sonne gan descende.
                In revel, until the sun descended.

393        And shortly forth this tale for to chace,
                And shortly forth this tale to pursue,
394        I seye that to this newe markysesse
                I say that to this new marchioness
395        God hath swich favour sent hire of his grace
                God has such favor sent her of his grace
396        That it ne semed nat by liklynesse
                That it seemed not likely
397        That she was born and fed in rudenesse,
                That she was born and fed in humble circumstances,
398        As in a cote or in an oxe-stalle,
                In a peasant's hut or in an ox-stall,
399        But norissed in an emperoures halle.
                But nurtured in an emperor's hall.

400        To every wight she woxen is so deere
                To every person she is grown so dear
401        And worshipful that folk ther she was bore,
                And worshipful that folk where she was born,
402        And from hire birthe knewe hire yeer by yeere,
                And from her birth knew her year by year,
403        Unnethe trowed they -- but dorste han swore --
                They hardly believed -- but dared have sworn --
404        That to Janicle, of which I spak bifore,
                That to Janicle, of whom I spoke before,
405        She doghter were, for, as by conjecture,
                She was daughter, for, by conjecture,
406        Hem thoughte she was another creature.
                They thought she was another creature.

407        For though that evere vertuous was she,
                For though that she was always virtuous,
408        She was encressed in swich excellence
                She was increased in such excellence
409        Of thewes goode, yset in heigh bountee,
                Of good characteristics, set in high goodness,
410        And so discreet and fair of eloquence,
                And so discreet and fair of eloquence,
411        So benigne and so digne of reverence,
                So benign and so worthy of reverence,
412        And koude so the peples herte embrace,
                And could so the people's heart embrace,
413        That ech hire lovede that looked on hir face.
                That each who looked on her face loved her.

414        Noght oonly of Saluces in the toun
                Not only in the town of Saluces
415        Publiced was the bountee of hir name,
                Was made known the praise of her name,
416        But eek biside in many a regioun,
                But also moreover in many a region,
417        If oon seide wel, another seyde the same;
                If one said well, another said the same;
418        So spradde of hire heighe bountee the fame
                So spread the fame of her high goodness
419        That men and wommen, as wel yonge as olde,
                That men and women, as well young as old,
420        Goon to Saluce upon hire to biholde.
                Go to Saluce to look upon her.

421        Thus Walter lowely -- nay, but roially --
                Thus Walter lowly -- nay, but royally --
422        Wedded with fortunat honestetee,
                Wedded with beneficial virtue,
423        In Goddes pees lyveth ful esily
                In God's peace lives full easily
424        At hoom, and outward grace ynogh had he;
                At home, and to all appearances he had sufficient happiness;
425        And for he saugh that under low degree
                And because he saw that under low social rank
426        Was ofte vertu hid, the peple hym heelde
                Was often virtue hid, the people considered him
427        A prudent man, and that is seyn ful seelde.
                A prudent man, and that is seen full seldom.

428        Nat oonly this Grisildis thurgh hir wit
                Not only this Griselda through her wit
429        Koude al the feet of wyfly hoomlinesse,
                Knew all the skills of a housewife's duties,
430        But eek, whan that the cas required it,
                But also, when the situation required it,
431        The commune profit koude she redresse.
                The public good could she promote.
432        Ther nas discord, rancour, ne hevynesse
                There was no discord, rancor, nor sadness
433        In al that land that she ne koude apese,
                In all that land that she could not alleviate,
434        And wisely brynge hem alle in reste and ese.
                And wisely bring them all in rest and ease.

435        Though that hire housbonde absent were anon,
                Though her husband was absent at the time,
436        If gentil men or othere of hire contree
                If noble men or others of her country
437        Were wrothe, she wolde bryngen hem aton;
                Were wroth, she would bring them to agreement;
438        So wise and rype wordes hadde she,
                Such wise and well considered words had she,
439        And juggementz of so greet equitee,
                And judgments of such great justice,
440        That she from hevene sent was, as men wende,
                That she was sent from heaven, as men supposed,
441        Peple to save and every wrong t'amende.
                People to save and every wrong to amend.

442        Nat longe tyme after that this Grisild
                Not long time after this Griselda
443        Was wedded, she a doghter hath ybore,
                Was married, she has borne a daughter,
444        Al had hire levere have born a knave child;
                Although she would rather have given birth to a male child;
445        Glad was this markys and the folk therfore,
                Glad was this marquis and the folk for this,
446        For though a mayde child coome al bifore,
                For though a maid child came all before,
447        She may unto a knave child atteyne
                She may unto a male child attain
448        By liklihede, syn she nys nat bareyne.
                By likelihood, since she is not barren.

 

Explicit secundus pars.
The second part ends.

Incipit tercia pars.
The third part begins.

 

449        Ther fil, as it bifalleth tymes mo,
                There happened, as it befalls many times,
450        Whan that this child had souked but a throwe,
                When this child had suckled but a short time,
451        This markys in his herte longeth so
                This marquis in his heart longs so
452        To tempte his wyf, hir sadnesse for to knowe,
                To test his wife, her constancy to know,
453        That he ne myghte out of his herte throwe
                That he could not out of his heart throw
454        This merveillous desir his wyf t'assaye;
                This strange desire to test his wife;
455        Nedelees, God woot, he thoghte hire for t'affraye.
                Needless, God knows, he intended to frighten her.

456        He hadde assayed hire ynogh bifore,
                He had tested her enough before,
457        And foond hire evere good; what neded it
                And found her always good; why was it needed
458        Hire for to tempte, and alwey moore and moore,
                To test her, and always more and more,
459        Though som men preise it for a subtil wit?
                Though some men praise its ingenuity?
460        But as for me, I seye that yvele it sit
                But as for me, I say that it ill befits one
461        To assaye a wyf whan that it is no nede,
                To test a wife when there is no need,
462        And putten hire in angwyssh and in drede.
                And put her in anguish and in dread.

463        For which this markys wroghte in this manere:
                For which this marquis worked in this manner:
464        He cam allone a-nyght, ther as she lay,
                He came alone at night, where she lay,
465        With stierne face and with ful trouble cheere,
                With stern face and with a very troubled manner,
466        And seyde thus: "Grisilde," quod he, "that day
                And said thus: "Griselda," said he, "that day
467        That I yow took out of youre povere array,
                That I took you out of your impoverished situation,
468        And putte yow in estaat of heigh noblesse --
                And put you in the condition of high nobility --
469        Ye have nat that forgeten, as I gesse?
                You have not forgotten that, as I suppose?

470        "I seye, Grisilde, this present dignitee,
                "I say, Griselda, this present high social position,
471        In which that I have put yow, as I trowe,
                In which I have put you, as I believe,
472        Maketh yow nat foryetful for to be
                Requires that you be not forgetful
473        That I yow took in povre estaat ful lowe,
                That I took you in a poor, very humble condition,
474        For any wele ye moot youreselven knowe.
                Despite any present prosperity you must know it yourself.
475        Taak heede of every word that y yow seye;
                Take heed of every word that I say to you;
476        Ther is no wight that hereth it but we tweye.
                There is no person that hears it but we two.

477        "Ye woot youreself wel how that ye cam heere
                "You know well yourself how you came here
478        Into this hous, it is nat longe ago;
                Into this house, it is not long ago;
479        And though to me that ye be lief and deere,
                And though to me you are beloved and dear,
480        Unto my gentils ye be no thyng so.
                Unto my nobles you are not at all so.
481        They seyn, to hem it is greet shame and wo
                They say, to them it is great shame and woe
482        For to be subgetz and been in servage
                To be subjects and be in servitude
483        To thee, that born art of a smal village.
                To thee, that art born in a humble village.

484        "And namely sith thy doghter was ybore
                "And especially since thy daughter was born
485        Thise wordes han they spoken, doutelees.
                These words have they spoken, doubtless.
486        But I desire, as I have doon bifore,
                But I desire, as I have done before,
487        To lyve my lyf with hem in reste and pees.
                To live my life with them in rest and peace.
488        I may nat in this caas be recchelees;
                I can not be imprudent in this case;
489        I moot doon with thy doghter for the beste,
                I must do with thy daughter for the best,
490        Nat as I wolde, but as my peple leste.
                Not as I would want, but as my people desire.

491        "And yet, God woot, this is ful looth to me;
                "And yet, God knows, this is full hateful to me;
492        But nathelees withoute youre wityng
                But nevertheless without your knowledge
493        I wol nat doon; but this wol I," quod he,
                I will not do anything; but this I desire," said he,
494        "That ye to me assente as in this thyng.
                "That you assent to me in this matter.
495        Shewe now youre pacience in youre werkyng,
                Show now in your actions your patience,
496        That ye me highte and swore in youre village
                That you promised me and swore in your village
497        That day that maked was oure mariage."
                That day that our marriage was made."

498        Whan she had herd al this, she noght ameved
                When she had heard all this, she changed not
499        Neither in word, or chiere, or contenaunce,
                Neither in word, nor manner, nor countenance,
500        For, as it semed, she was nat agreved.
                For, as it seemed, she was not aggrieved.
501        She seyde, "Lord, al lyth in youre plesaunce.
                She said, "Lord, all is subject to your pleasure.
502        My child and I, with hertely obeisaunce,
                My child and I, with heart-felt obedience,
503        Been youres al, and ye mowe save or spille
                Are entirely yours, and you may save or kill
504        Youre owene thyng; werketh after youre wille.
                Your own thing; do as you will.

505        "Ther may no thyng, God so my soule save,
                "There can nothing, as God my soul may save,
506        Liken to yow that may displese me;
                Please you that may displease me;
507        Ne I desire no thyng for to have,
                Nor do I desire to have anything,
508        Ne drede for to leese, save oonly yee.
                Nor dread to lose, save only you.
509        This wyl is in myn herte, and ay shal be;
                This will is in my heart, and ever shall be;
510        No lengthe of tyme or deeth may this deface,
                No length of time or death can obliterate this,
511        Ne chaunge my corage to another place."
                Nor change my heart to another place."

512        Glad was this markys of hire answeryng,
                Glad was this marquis of her answer,
513        But yet he feyned as he were nat so;
                But yet he feigned as if he were not so;
514        Al drery was his cheere and his lookyng,
                All sorrowful was his manner and his look,
515        Whan that he sholde out of the chambre go.
                When he had to go out of the chamber.
516        Soone after this, a furlong wey or two,
                Soon after this, in a few minutes,
517        He prively hath toold al his entente
                He privately has told all his plan
518        Unto a man, and to his wyf hym sente.
                Unto a man, and sent him to his wife.

519        A maner sergeant was this privee man,
                A sort of sergeant (policeman) was this confidential servant,
520        The which that feithful ofte he founden hadde
                Whom he had often found faithful
521        In thynges grete, and eek swich folk wel kan
                In important matters, and also such folk well can
522        Doon execucioun in thynges badde.
                Carry out their orders in evil matters.
523        The lord knew wel that he hym loved and dradde;
                The lord knew well that he loved and dreaded him;
524        And whan this sergeant wiste his lordes wille,
                And when this sergeant knew his lord's will,
525        Into the chambre he stalked hym ful stille.
                Into the chamber he stalked very quietly.

526        "Madame," he seyde, "ye moote foryeve it me,
                "Madame," he said, "you must forgive it me,
527        Though I do thyng to which I am constreyned.
                Though I do a thing to which I am constrained.
528        Ye been so wys that ful wel knowe ye
                You are so wise that full well you know
529        That lordes heestes mowe nat been yfeyned;
                That lords' commands may not be evaded (by feigning);
530        They mowe wel been biwailled or compleyned,
                They may well be bewailed or complained of,
531        But men moote nede unto hire lust obeye,
                But men must by necessity unto their desires obey,
532        And so wol I; ther is namoore to seye.
                And so will I; there is no more to say.

533        "This child I am comanded for to take" --
                "This child I am commanded to take" --
534        And spak namoore, but out the child he hente
                And spoke no more, but out the child he seized
535        Despitously, and gan a cheere make
                Mercilessly, and made a face
536        As though he wolde han slayn it er he wente.
                As if he would have slain it before he went.
537        Grisildis moot al suffre and al consente,
                Griselda must suffer all and consent to all,
538        And as a lamb she sitteth meke and stille,
                And as a lamb she sits meek and still,
539        And leet this crueel sergeant doon his wille.
                And let this cruel sergeant do his will.

540        Suspecious was the diffame of this man,
                Suspicious was the bad reputation of this man,
541        Suspect his face, suspect his word also;
                Suspect his face, suspect his word also;
542        Suspect the tyme in which he this bigan.
                Suspect the time in which he this began.
543        Allas! Hir doghter that she loved so,
                Alas! Her daughter that she loved so,
544        She wende he wolde han slawen it right tho.
                She thought he would have slain it right then.
545        But nathelees she neither weep ne syked,
                But nevertheless she neither wept nor sighed,
546        Conformynge hire to that the markys lyked.
                Conforming herself to what the marquis pleased.

547        But atte laste to speken she bigan,
                But at the last she began to speak,
548        And mekely she to the sergeant preyde,
                And meekly she to the sergeant prayed,
549        So as he was a worthy gentil man,
                As he was a worthy gentle man,
550        That she moste kisse hire child er that it deyde.
                That she might kiss her child before it died.
551        And in hir barm this litel child she leyde
                And in her lap this little child she laid
552        With ful sad face, and gan the child to blisse,
                With full sad face, and blessed the child,
553        And lulled it, and after gan it kisse.
                And lulled it, and afterward kissed it.

554        And thus she seyde in hire benigne voys,
                And thus she said in her benign voice,
555        "Fareweel my child! I shal thee nevere see.
                "Farewell my child! I shall thee never see.
556        But sith I thee have marked with the croys
                But since I have marked thee with the cross
557        Of thilke Fader -- blessed moote he be! --
                Of that same Father -- blessed may he be! --
558        That for us deyde upon a croys of tree,
                That for us died upon a cross of wood,
559        Thy soule, litel child, I hym bitake,
                Thy soul, little child, I entrust to him,
560        For this nyght shaltow dyen for my sake."
                For this night shalt thou die for my sake."

561        I trowe that to a norice in this cas
                I believe that to a nurse in this case
562        It had been hard this reuthe for to se;
                It would have been hard this pitiful situation to see;
563        Wel myghte a mooder thanne han cryd "allas!"
                Well might a mother then have cried "alas!"
564        But nathelees so sad stidefast was she
                But nevertheless so firmly steadfast was she
565        That she endured al adversitee,
                That she endured all adversity,
566        And to the sergeant mekely she sayde,
                And to the sergeant meekly she said,
567        "Have heer agayn youre litel yonge mayde.
                "Have here again your little young maid.

568        "Gooth now," quod she, "and dooth my lordes heeste;
                "Go now," said she, "and do my lord's command;
569        But o thyng wol I prey yow of youre grace,
                But one thing will I pray you of your grace,
570        That, but my lord forbad yow, atte leeste
                That, unless my lord forbad you, at the least
571        Burieth this litel body in som place
                Bury this little body in some place
572        That beestes ne no briddes it torace."
                That no beasts nor birds tear it to pieces."
573        But he no word wol to that purpos seye,
                But he no word will say to that proposal,
574        But took the child and wente upon his weye.
                But took the child and went upon his way.

575        This sergeant cam unto his lord ageyn,
                This sergeant came unto his lord again,
576        And of Grisildis wordes and hire cheere
                And of Griselda's words and her manner
577        He tolde hym point for point, in short and pleyn,
                He told him in detail, in short and plain (words),
578        And hym presenteth with his doghter deere.
                And presents him with his daughter dear.
579        Somwhat this lord hadde routhe in his manere,
                Somewhat this lord had pity in his manner,
580        But nathelees his purpos heeld he stille,
                But nevertheless his purpose held he still,
581        As lordes doon, whan they wol han hir wille;
                As lords do, when they will have their will;

582        And bad this sergeant that he pryvely
                And commanded this sergeant that he secretly
583        Sholde this child softe wynde and wrappe,
                Should this child softly wind and wrap (in a blanket),
584        With alle circumstances tendrely,
                With every care tenderly,
585        And carie it in a cofre or in a lappe;
                And carry it in a box or in a folded cloth;
586        But, upon peyne his heed of for to swappe,
                But, upon pain of having his head cut off,
587        That no man sholde knowe of his entente,
                No man should know of his intention,
588        Ne whenne he cam, ne whider that he wente;
                Nor whence he came, nor whither he went;

589        But at Boloigne to his suster deere,
                But at Bologna to his sister dear,
590        That thilke tyme of Panik was countesse,
                Who at that very time was countess of Panik,
591        He sholde it take and shewe hire this mateere,
                He should take it and explain to her this matter,
592        Bisekynge hire to doon hire bisynesse
                Beseeching her to do her best
593        This child to fostre in alle gentillesse;
                This child to nurture in all noble manners;
594        And whos child that it was he bad hire hyde
                And whose child that it was he commanded her to hide
595        From every wight, for oght that may bityde.
                From every person, for anything that may happen.

596        The sergeant gooth, and hath fulfild this thyng;
                The sergeant goes, and has fulfilled this order;
597        But to this markys now retourne we.
                But to this marquis we now return.
598        For now gooth he ful faste ymaginyng
                For now he goes very intently considering
599        If by his wyves cheere he myghte se,
                If by his wife's appearance he might see,
600        Or by hire word aperceyve, that she
                Or by her word perceive, if she
601        Were chaunged; but he nevere hire koude fynde
                Were changed; but he never could find her
602        But evere in oon ylike sad and kynde.
                Anything but always the same, alike steadfast and kind.

603        As glad, as humble, as bisy in servyse,
                As glad, as humble, as diligent in service,
604        And eek in love, as she was wont to be,
                And also in love, as she was accustomed to be,
605        Was she to hym in every maner wyse;
                Was she to him in every sort of way;
606        Ne of hir doghter noght a word spak she.
                Nor of her daughter not a word spoke she.
607        Noon accident, for noon adversitee,
                No external sign, for any adversity,
608        Was seyn in hire, ne nevere hir doghter name
                Was seen in her, and never her daughter's name
609        Ne nempned she, in ernest nor in game.
                Mentioned she, in earnest nor in jest (in any way).

 

Explicit tercia pars.
The third part ends.

Sequitur pars quarta.
The fourth part follows.

 

610        In this estaat ther passed been foure yeer
                In this condition there are passed four years
611        Er she with childe was, but, as God wolde,
                Before she was with child, but, as God would,
612        A knave child she bar by this Walter,
                A male child she bore by this Walter,
613        Ful gracious and fair for to biholde.
                Very gracious and beautiful in appearance.
614        And whan that folk it to his fader tolde,
                And when folk told it to his father,
615        Nat oonly he but al his contree merye
                Not only he but all his country merry
616        Was for this child, and God they thanke and herye.
                Was for this child, and God they thank and praise.

617        Whan it was two yeer old, and fro the brest
                When it was two years old, and from the breast
618        Departed of his norice, on a day
                Of his nurse weaned, on one day
619        This markys caughte yet another lest
                This marquis caught yet another desire
620        To tempte his wyf yet ofter, if he may.
                To test his wife yet again, if he can.
621        O nedelees was she tempted in assay!
                O needless was she put to the test!
622        But wedded men ne knowe no mesure,
                But wedded men know no moderation,
623        Whan that they fynde a pacient creature.
                When they find a patient creature.

624        "Wyf," quod this markys, "ye han herd er this
                "Wife," said this marquis, "you have heard before this
625        My peple sikly berth oure mariage;
                My people are unhappy with our marriage;
626        And namely sith my sone yboren is,
                And especially since my son is born,
627        Now is it worse than evere in al oure age.
                Now is it worse than ever in all our lives.
628        The murmur sleeth myn herte and my corage,
                The grumbling slays my heart and my feelings,
629        For to myne eres comth the voys so smerte
                For to my ears comes the voice so sharply
630        That it wel ny destroyed hath myn herte.
                That it well nigh has destroyed my heart.

631        "Now sey they thus: `Whan Walter is agon,
                "Now say they thus: `When Walter is gone,
632        Thanne shal the blood of Janicle succede
                Then shall the blood of Janicle succeed
633        And been oure lord, for oother have we noon.'
                And be our lord, for we have no other.'
634        Swiche wordes seith my peple, out of drede.
                Such words say my people, no doubt.
635        Wel oughte I of swich murmur taken heede,
                Well ought I of such grumbling take heed,
636        For certeinly I drede swich sentence,
                For certainly I dread such opinion,
637        Though they nat pleyn speke in myn audience.
                Though they speak not plainly in my hearing.

638        "I wolde lyve in pees, if that I myghte;
                "I would live in peace, if I could;
639        Wherfore I am disposed outrely,
                Therefore I am firmly resolved,
640        As I his suster servede by nyghte,
                As I dealt with his sister by night,
641        Right so thenke I to serve hym pryvely.
                Right so I intend to deal with him secretly.
642        This warne I yow, that ye nat sodeynly
                This I warn you, so that you not suddenly
643        Out of youreself for no wo sholde outreye;
                For any woe should break out in a passion;
644        Beth pacient, and therof I yow preye."
                Be patient, and for that I pray you."

645        "I have," quod she, "seyd thus, and evere shal:
                "I have," said she, "said thus, and ever shall:
646        I wol no thyng, ne nyl no thyng, certayn,
                I want nothing, nor will not want any thing, certainly,
647        But as yow list. Naught greveth me at al,
                But as you desire. It does not grieve me at all,
648        Though that my doughter and my sone be slayn --
                Though my daughter and my son be slain --
649        At youre comandement, this is to sayn.
                At your commandment, this is to say.
650        I have noght had no part of children tweyne
                I have not had any part of children two
651        But first siknesse, and after, wo and peyne.
                But first sickness, and after, woe and pain.

652        "Ye been oure lord; dooth with youre owene thyng
                "You are our lord; do with your own thing
653        Right as yow list; axeth no reed at me.
                Right as you desire; ask no advice from me.
654        For as I lefte at hoom al my clothyng,
                For as I left at home all my clothing,
655        Whan I first cam to yow, right so," quod she,
                When I first came to you, right so," said she,
656        "Lefte I my wyl and al my libertee,
                "Left I my will and all my liberty,
657        And took youre clothyng; wherfore I yow preye,
                And took your clothing; wherefore I you pray,
658        Dooth youre plesaunce; I wol youre lust obeye.
                Do your pleasure; I will obey your desire.

659        "And certes, if I hadde prescience
                "And certainly, if I had foreknowledge
660        Youre wyl to knowe, er ye youre lust me tolde,
                To know your will, before you told me your desire,
661        I wolde it doon withouten necligence;
                I would do it without negligence;
662        But now I woot youre lust, and what ye wolde,
                But now I know your desire, and what you want,
663        Al youre plesance ferme and stable I holde;
                All your pleasure (whatever you wish) firm and stable I hold;
664        For wiste I that my deeth wolde do yow ese,
                For if I knew that my death would do you ease,
665        Right gladly wolde I dyen, yow to plese.
                Right gladly would I die, to please you.

666        "Deth may noght make no comparisoun
                "Death can not make any comparison (is nothing compared)
667        Unto youre love." And whan this markys say
                Unto your love." And when this marquis saw
668        The constance of his wyf, he caste adoun
                The constancy of his wife, he cast down
669        His eyen two, and wondreth that she may
                His eyes two, and wonders that she can
670        In pacience suffre al this array;
                In patience suffer all this treatment;
671        And forth he goth with drery contenance,
                And forth he goes with sorrowful countenance,
672        But to his herte it was ful greet plesance.
                But to his heart it was full great pleasure.

673        This ugly sergeant, in the same wyse
                This ugly sergeant, in the same manner
674        That he hire doghter caughte, right so he --
                That he her daughter seized, right so he --
675        Or worse, if men worse kan devyse --
                Or worse, if one can worse imagine --
676        Hath hent hire sone, that ful was of beautee.
                Has seized her son, that was full of beauty.
677        And evere in oon so pacient was she
                And continually so patient was she
678        That she no chiere maade of hevynesse,
                That she made no appearance of sadness,
679        But kiste hir sone, and after gan it blesse;
                But kissed her son, and afterwards it blessed;

680        Save this, she preyede hym that, if he myghte,
                Save this, she prayed him that, if he could,
681        Hir litel sone he wolde in erthe grave
                Her little son he would bury in earth
682        His tendre lymes, delicaat to sighte,
                His tender limbs, pleasing in appearance,
683        Fro foweles and fro beestes for to save.
                From birds and from beasts to save.
684        But she noon answere of hym myghte have.
                But she no answer of him might have.
685        He wente his wey, as hym no thyng ne roghte,
                He went his way, as if he cared nothing about it,
686        But to Boloigne he tendrely it broghte.
                But to Bologna he tenderly brought it.

687        This markys wondred, evere lenger the moore,
                This marquis wondered, more and more,
688        Upon hir pacience, and if that he
                Upon her patience, and if he
689        Ne hadde soothly knowen therbifoore
                Had not truly known before this
690        That parfitly hir children loved she,
                That she perfectly loved her children,
691        He wolde have wend that of som subtiltee,
                He would have supposed that by some trickery,
692        And of malice, or for crueel corage,
                And out of malice, or for hard heart,
693        That she hadde suffred this with sad visage.
                That she had suffered this with calm manner.

694        But wel he knew that next hymself, certayn,
                But well he knew that next to himself, certainly,
695        She loved hir children best in every wyse.
                She loved her children best in every way.
696        But now of wommen wolde I axen fayn
                But now I would like to ask of women
697        If thise assayes myghte nat suffise?
                If these tests might not suffice?
698        What koude a sturdy housbonde moore devyse
                What could a cruel husband more devise
699        To preeve hir wyfhod and hir stedefastnesse,
                To test her wifehood and her steadfastness,
700        And he continuynge evere in sturdinesse?
                And he continuing ever in cruelty?

701        But ther been folk of swich condicion
                But there are folk of such disposition
702        That whan they have a certein purpos take,
                That when they have a certain purpose taken,
703        They kan nat stynte of hire entencion,
                They can not refrain from their intention,
704        But, right as they were bounden to that stake,
                But, right as if they were bound to that stake,
705        They wol nat of that firste purpos slake.
                They will not from that original plan desist.
706        Right so this markys fulliche hath purposed
                Right so this marquis has firmly decided
707        To tempte his wyf as he was first disposed.
                To test his wife as he was first disposed.

708        He waiteth if by word or contenance
                He watches to see if by word or countenance
709        That she to hym was changed of corage,
                That she to him was changed in heart,
710        But nevere koude he fynde variance.
                But never could he find variation.
711        She was ay oon in herte and in visage,
                She was always the same in heart and in visage,
712        And ay the forther that she was in age,
                And ever the further that she was in age,
713        The moore trewe, if that it were possible,
                The more true, if it were possible,
714        She was to hym in love, and moore penyble.
                She was to him in love, and more attentive.

715        For which it semed thus: that of hem two
                For which it seemed thus: that of them two
716        Ther nas but o wyl, for as Walter leste,
                There was but one will, for as Walter desired,
717        The same lust was hire plesance also.
                The same desire was her pleasure also.
718        And, God be thanked, al fil for the beste.
                And, God be thanked, all fell for the best.
719        She shewed wel, for no worldly unreste
                She proved good; for no worldly discomfort
720        A wyf, as of hirself, nothing ne sholde
                A wife, concerning herself, nothing should
721        Wille in effect, but as hir housbonde wolde.
                Desire in fact, except what her husband would want.

722        The sclaundre of Walter ofte and wyde spradde,
                The ill fame of Walter spread often and wide,
723        That of a crueel herte he wikkedly,
                That of a cruel heart he wickedly,
724        For he a povre womman wedded hadde,
                Because he had wedded a poor woman,
725        Hath mordred bothe his children prively.
                Has murdered both his children secretly.
726        Swich murmur was among hem comunly.
                Such grumbling was among them unanimously.
727        No wonder is, for to the peples ere
                No wonder is, for to the people's ear
728        Ther cam no word but that they mordred were.
                There came no word but that they were murdered.

729        For which, where as his peple therbifore
                For which, whereas his people before this
730        Hadde loved hym wel, the sclaundre of his diffame
                Had loved him well, the disgrace of his bad reputation
731        Made hem that they hym hatede therfore.
                Made them so that they hated him for this.
732        To been a mordrere is an hateful name;
                To be a murderer is (to have) a hateful reputation;
733        But nathelees, for ernest ne for game,
                But nevertheless, not for any reason,
734        He of his crueel purpos nolde stente;
                Would he of his cruel purpose desist;
735        To tempte his wyf was set al his entente.
                To test his wife was set all his intention.

736        Whan that his doghter twelve yeer was of age,
                When his daughter was twelve years of age,
737        He to the court of Rome, in subtil wyse
                He to the court of Rome, (which was) in a cunning manner
738        Enformed of his wyl, sente his message,
                Informed of his real purpose, sent his messenger,
739        Comaundynge hem swiche bulles to devyse
                Commanding them such papal bulls to devise
740        As to his crueel purpos may suffyse --
                As to his cruel purpose may suffice --
741        How that the pope, as for his peples reste,
                How the pope, to restore tranquility for his people,
742        Bad hym to wedde another, if hym leste.
                Commanded him to wed another, if he pleased.

743        I seye, he bad they sholde countrefete
                I say, he commanded they should counterfeit
744        The popes bulles, makynge mencion
                The pope's bulls, making mention
745        That he hath leve his firste wyf to lete,
                That he has permission to leave his first wife,
746        As by the popes dispensacion,
                As by the pope's dispensation,
747        To stynte rancour and dissencion
                To stint rancor and dissension
748        Bitwixe his peple and hym; thus seyde the bulle,
                Between his people and him; thus said the bull,
749        The which they han publiced atte fulle.
                Which they have published widely.

750        The rude peple, as it no wonder is,
                The ignorant people, as it no wonder is,
751        Wenden ful wel that it hadde be right so;
                Supposed full well that it had been right so;
752        But whan thise tidynges came to Grisildis,
                But when these tidings came to Griselda,
753        I deeme that hire herte was ful wo.
                I believe that her heart was very woeful.
754        But she, ylike sad for everemo,
                But she, continuously steadfast for evermore,
755        Disposed was, this humble creature,
                Disposed was, this humble creature,
756        The adversitee of Fortune al t'endure,
                To endure all the adversity of Fortune,

757        Abidynge evere his lust and his plesance,
                Enduring ever his desire and his pleasure,
758        To whom that she was yeven herte and al,
                To whom she was given, heart and all,
759        As to hire verray worldly suffisance.
                As her true worldly source of satisfaction.
760        But shortly if this storie I tellen shal,
                But shortly if this story I tell shall,
761        This markys writen hath in special
                This marquis written has in detail
762        A lettre, in which he sheweth his entente,
                A letter, in which he reveals his intention,
763        And secreely he to Boloigne it sente.
                And secretly he sent it to Bologna.

764        To the Erl of Panyk, which that hadde tho
                To the Earl of Panyk, who had then
765        Wedded his suster, preyde he specially
                Wedded his sister, prayed he specifically
766        To bryngen hoom agayn his children two
                To bring home again his two children
767        In honurable estaat al openly.
                In a noble public display.
768        But o thyng he hym preyede outrely,
                But one thing he him prayed earnestly,
769        That he to no wight, though men wolde enquere,
                That he to no one, though men would inquire,
770        Sholde nat telle whos children that they were,
                Should tell whose children they were,

771        But seye the mayden sholde ywedded be
                But say the maiden should wedded be
772        Unto the Markys of Saluce anon.
                Unto the Marquis of Saluce immediately.
773        And as this erl was preyed, so dide he;
                And as this earl was asked, so did he;
774        For at day set he on his wey is goon
                For at the set day he on his way is gone
775        Toward Saluce, and lordes many oon
                Toward Saluce, and lords many a one
776        In riche array, this mayden for to gyde,
                In rich array, this maiden to guide,
777        Hir yonge brother ridynge hire bisyde.
                Her young brother riding beside her.

778        Arrayed was toward hir mariage
                Adorned was in preparation for her marriage
779        This fresshe mayde, ful of gemmes cleere;
                This lovely maid, (her clothing) full of bright gems;
780        Hir brother, which that seven yeer was of age,
                Her brother, who was seven years of age,
781        Arrayed eek ful fressh in his manere.
                Adorned also full handsomely in his manner.
782        And thus in greet noblesse and with glad cheere,
                And thus in great nobility and with a glad manner,
783        Toward Saluces shapynge hir journey,
                Toward Saluces directing their journey,
784        Fro day to day they ryden in hir wey.
                From day to day they ride on their way.

 

Explicit quarta pars.
The fourth part ends.

Sequitur pars quinta.
The fifth part follows.

 

785        Among al this, after his wikke usage,
                Meanwhile, in accord with his wicked usage,
786        This markys, yet his wyf to tempte moore
                This marquis, yet his wife to test more
787        To the outtreste preeve of hir corage,
                To the utmost test of her heart,
788        Fully to han experience and loore
                Fully to have experience and knowledge
789        If that she were as stidefast as bifoore,
                If she were as steadfast as before,
790        He on a day in open audience
                He on a certain day in the hearing of all
791        Ful boistously hath seyd hire this sentence:
                Full rudely has said to her this speech:

792        "Certes, Grisilde, I hadde ynogh plesance
                "Certainly, Griselda, I had enough pleasure
793        To han yow to my wyf for youre goodnesse,
                To have you as my wife for your goodness,
794        As for youre trouthe and for youre obeisance,
                As for your truth and for your obedience
795        Noght for youre lynage, ne for youre richesse;
                Not for your lineage, nor for your riches;
796        But now knowe I in verray soothfastnesse
                But now know I in true certainty
797        That in greet lordshipe, if I wel avyse,
                That in great lordship, if I judge rightly,
798        Ther is greet servitute in sondry wyse.
                There is great servitude in various ways.

799        "I may nat doon as every plowman may.
                "I can not do as every plowman may.
800        My peple me constreyneth for to take
                My people constrain me to take
801        Another wyf, and crien day by day;
                Another wife, and complain day by day;
802        And eek the pope, rancour for to slake,
                And also the pope, to quench rancor,
803        Consenteth it -- that dar I undertake --
                Consents to it -- that dare I assert --
804        And trewely thus muche I wol yow seye:
                And truly thus much I will say to you:
805        My newe wyf is comynge by the weye.
                My new wife is coming by the way.

806        "Be strong of herte, and voyde anon hir place;
                "Be strong of heart, and vacate her place immediately;
807        And thilke dowere that ye broghten me,
                And that dowry that you brought me,
808        Taak it agayn; I graunte it of my grace.
                Take it back; I grant it of my grace.
809        Retourneth to youre fadres hous," quod he;
                Return to your father's house," said he;
810        "No man may alwey han prosperitee.
                "No one can always have prosperity.
811        With evene herte I rede yow t'endure
                With tranquil heart I advise you to endure
812        The strook of Fortune or of aventure."
                The stroke of Fortune or of chance."

813        And she agayn answerde in pacience:
                And she in reply answered in patience:
814        "My lord," quod she, "I woot, and wiste alway,
                "My lord," said she, "I know, and knew always,
815        How that bitwixen youre magnificence
                How between your magnificence
816        And my poverte no wight kan ne may
                And my poverty no person can nor may
817        Maken comparison; it is no nay.
                Make comparison; it cannot be denied.
818        I ne heeld me nevere digne in no manere
                I considered myself never worthy in any way
819        To be youre wyf, no, ne youre chamberere.
                To be your wife, no, nor your chambermaid.

820        "And in this hous, ther ye me lady maade --
                "And in this house, where you made me the lady --
821        The heighe God take I for my witnesse,
                The high God I take for my witness,
822        And also wysly he my soule glaade --
                And as surely as he my soul may gladden --
823        I nevere heeld me lady ne mistresse,
                I never considered myself lady nor mistress,
824        But humble servant to youre worthynesse,
                But humble servant to your worthiness,
825        And evere shal, whil that my lyf may dure,
                And ever shall, while my life may endure,
826        Aboven every worldly creature.
                Above every worldly creature.

827        "That ye so longe of youre benignitee
                "That you so long of your benignity
828        Han holden me in honour and nobleye,
                Have maintained me in honor and nobility,
829        Where as I was noght worthy for to bee,
                Where I was not worthy to be,
830        That thonke I God and yow, to whom I preye
                For that I thank you and God, to Whom I pray
831        Foryelde it yow; ther is namoore to seye.
                To reward you for it; there is no more to say.
832        Unto my fader gladly wol I wende,
                Unto my father gladly will I go,
833        And with hym dwelle unto my lyves ende.
                And with him dwell unto my life's end.

834        "Ther I was fostred of a child ful smal,
                "Where I was fostered as a child full small,
835        Til I be deed my lyf ther wol I lede,
                Until I be dead I will lead my life there,
836        A wydwe clene in body, herte, and al.
                A widow clean in body, heart, and all.
837        For sith I yaf to yow my maydenhede,
                For since I gave to you my maidenhead,
838        And am youre trewe wyf, it is no drede,
                And am your true wife, there is no doubt,
839        God shilde swich a lordes wyf to take
                God forbid such a lord's wife to take
840        Another man to housbonde or to make!
                Another man as husband or as mate!

841        "And of youre newe wyf God of his grace
                "And of your new wife God of his grace
842        So graunte yow wele and prosperitee!
                Grant you happiness and prosperity!
843        For I wol gladly yelden hire my place,
                For I will gladly yield her my place,
844        In which that I was blisful wont to bee.
                In which I was accustomed to be blissful.
845        For sith it liketh yow, my lord," quod shee,
                For since it pleases you, my lord," said she,
846        "That whilom weren al myn hertes reste,
                "Who once was all my heart's peace,
847        That I shal goon, I wol goon whan yow leste.
                That I shall go, I will go when you please.

848        "But ther as ye me profre swich dowaire
                "But inasmuch as you offer me such dowry
849        As I first broghte, it is wel in my mynde
                As I first brought, it is well in my mind
850        It were my wrecched clothes, nothyng faire,
                It was my wretched clothing, in no way fair,
851        The whiche to me were hard now for to fynde.
                Which to me were hard to find now.
852        O goode God! How gentil and how kynde
                O good God! How gentle and how kind
853        Ye semed by youre speche and youre visage
                You seemed by your speech and your visage
854        The day that maked was oure mariage!
                The day that our marriage was made!

855        "But sooth is seyd -- algate I fynde it trewe,
                "But sooth is said -- always I find it true,
856        For in effect it preeved is on me --
                For in fact it is proven by me --
857        Love is noght oold as whan that it is newe.
                When love is old it is not the same as when it was new.
858        But certes, lord, for noon adversitee,
                But certainly, lord, for no adversity,
859        To dyen in the cas, it shal nat bee
                Even if I were to die miserably, it shall not be
860        That evere in word or werk I shal repente
                That ever in word or deed I shall repent
861        That I yow yaf myn herte in hool entente.
                That I gave you my heart whole heartedly.

862        "My lord, ye woot that in my fadres place
                "My lord, you know that in my father's place
863        Ye dide me streepe out of my povre weede,
                You had me stripped out of my poor clothing,
864        And richely me cladden, of youre grace.
                And had me richly clad, by your grace.
865        To yow broghte I noght elles, out of drede,
                To you I brought nothing else, beyond doubt,
866        But feith, and nakednesse, and maydenhede;
                But faith, and nakedness, and maidenhead;
867        And heere agayn your clothyng I restoore,
                And here in return your clothing I restore,
868        And eek your weddyng ryng, for everemore.
                And also your wedding ring, for evermore.

869        "The remenant of youre jueles redy be
                "The remnant of your jewels ready are
870        Inwith youre chambre, dar I saufly sayn.
                Within your chamber, dare I confidently say.
871        Naked out of my fadres hous," quod she,
                Naked out of my father's house," said she,
872        "I cam, and naked moot I turne agayn.
                "I came, and naked must I return.
873        Al youre plesance wol I folwen fayn;
                All your pleasure will I eagerly follow;
874        But yet I hope it be nat youre entente
                But yet I hope it be not your intention
875        That I smoklees out of youre paleys wente.
                That I should go without a smock out of your palace.

876        "Ye koude nat doon so dishonest a thyng,
                "You could not do so shameful a thing,
877        That thilke wombe in which youre children leye
                That that same womb in which your children lay
878        Sholde biforn the peple, in my walkyng,
                Should before the people, in my walking,
879        Be seyn al bare; wherfore I yow preye,
                Be seen all bare; therefore I you pray,
880        Lat me nat lyk a worm go by the weye.
                Let me not like a worm go by the way.
881        Remembre yow, myn owene lord so deere,
                Remember, my own lord so dear,
882        I was youre wyf, though I unworthy weere.
                I was your wife, though I unworthy were.

883        "Wherfore, in gerdon of my maydenhede,
                "Therefore, in recompense for my maidenhead,
884        Which that I broghte, and noght agayn I bere,
                Which I brought, and nothing I bear back,
885        As voucheth sauf to yeve me, to my meede,
                Condescend to give me, as my recompense,
886        But swich a smok as I was wont to were,
                Only such a smock as I was accustomed to wear,
887        That I therwith may wrye the wombe of here
                That I with it may cover the womb of her
888        That was youre wyf. And heer take I my leeve
                Who was your wife. And here take I my leave
889        Of yow, myn owene lord, lest I yow greve."
                Of you, my own lord, lest I you grieve."

890        "The smok," quod he, "that thou hast on thy bak,
                "The smock," said he, "that thou hast on thy back,
891        Lat it be stille, and bere it forth with thee."
                Let it be (there) still, and bear it forth with thee."
892        But wel unnethes thilke word he spak,
                But scarcely that same word he spoke,
893        But wente his wey, for routhe and for pitee.
                But went his way, for grief and for pity.
894        Biforn the folk hirselven strepeth she,
                Before the folk she strips herself,
895        And in hir smok, with heed and foot al bare,
                And in her smock, with head and foot all bare,
896        Toward hir fadre hous forth is she fare.
                Toward her father's house forth is she gone.

897        The folk hire folwe, wepynge in hir weye,
                The folk follow her, weeping on their way,
898        And Fortune ay they cursen as they goon;
                And Fortune ever they curse as they go;
899        But she fro wepyng kepte hire eyen dreye,
                But she from weeping kept her eyes dry,
900        Ne in this tyme word ne spak she noon.
                And in this time no word she spoke.
901        Hir fader, that this tidynge herde anoon,
                Her father, who heard this news straightway,
902        Curseth the day and tyme that Nature
                Curses the day and time that Nature
903        Shoop hym to been a lyves creature.
                Shaped him to be a living creature.

904        For out of doute this olde poure man
                For doubtless this old poor man
905        Was evere in suspect of hir mariage;
                Was ever in suspicion of her marriage;
906        For evere he demed, sith that it bigan,
                For ever he believed, since it began,
907        That whan the lord fulfild hadde his corage,
                That when the lord had fulfilled his desires,
908        Hym wolde thynke it were a disparage
                He would think it was a degradation
909        To his estaat so lowe for t'alighte,
                To his rank so low to stoop,
910        And voyden hire as soone as ever he myghte.
                And get rid of her as soon as ever he could.

911        Agayns his doghter hastily goth he,
                To meet his daughter hastily goes he,
912        For he by noyse of folk knew hire comynge,
                For he by noise of folk knew her coming,
913        And with hire olde coote, as it myghte be
                And with her old coat, insofar as it could
914        He covered hire, ful sorwefully wepynge.
                He covered her, full sorrowfully weeping.
915        But on hire body myghte he it nat brynge,
                But on her body he could not bring it,
916        For rude was the clooth, and moore of age
                For coarse was the cloth, and more of age
917        By dayes fele than at hire mariage.
                By many days than at her marriage.

918        Thus with hire fader for a certeyn space
                Thus with her father for a certain space of time
919        Dwelleth this flour of wyfly pacience,
                Dwells this flower of womanly patience,
920        That neither by hire wordes ne hire face,
                That neither by her words nor her face,
921        Biforn the folk, ne eek in hire absence,
                Before the folk, nor also in their absence,
922        Ne shewed she that hire was doon offence;
                She showed that to her was done offence;
923        Ne of hire heighe estaat no remembraunce
                Nor of her high estate no remembrance
924        Ne hadde she, as by hire contenaunce.
                Had she, according to her countenance.

925        No wonder is, for in hire grete estaat
                No wonder is, for in her great estate
926        Hire goost was evere in pleyn humylitee;
                Her spirit was ever in full humility;
927        No tendre mouth, noon herte delicaat,
                No tender mouth, no self-indulgent feelings,
928        No pompe, no semblant of roialtee,
                No pomp, nor outward appearance of royalty,
929        But ful of pacient benyngnytee,
                But full of patient goodness,
930        Discreet and pridelees, ay honurable,
                Discreet and without pride, ever honorable,
931        And to hire housbonde evere meke and stable.
                And to her husband ever meek and stable.

932        Men speke of Job, and moost for his humblesse,
                Men speak of Job, and mostly for his humility,
933        As clerkes, whan hem list, konne wel endite,
                As clerks, when they want, know well how to write,
934        Namely of men, but as in soothfastnesse,
                Especially of men, but in truth,
935        Though clerkes preise wommen but a lite,
                Though clerks praise women but a little,
936        Ther kan no man in humblesse hym acquite
                There can no man in humility acquit himself
937        As womman kan, ne kan been half so trewe
                As woman can, nor can be half so true
938        As wommen been, but it be falle of newe.
                As women are, unless it happened recently.

[PART VI.]

939        Fro Boloigne is this Erl of Panyk come,
                From Bologna is this Earl of Panyk come,
940        Of which the fame up sprang to moore and lesse,
                Of which the news up sprang to high ranks and low,
941        And to the peples eres, alle and some,
                And to the people's ears, one and all,
942        Was kouth eek that a newe markysesse
                Was made known also that a new marchioness
943        He with hym broghte, in swich pompe and richesse
                He brought with him, in such pomp and riches
944        That nevere was ther seyn with mannes ye
                That never was there seen with man's eye
945        So noble array in al West Lumbardye.
                Such a noble array in all West Lombardy.

946        The markys, which that shoop and knew al this,
                The marquis, who arranged and knew all this,
947        Er that this erl was come, sente his message
                Before this earl was come, sent his messenger
948        For thilke sely povre Grisildis;
                For that same innocent poor Griselda;
949        And she with humble herte and glad visage,
                And she with humble heart and glad visage,
950        Nat with no swollen thoght in hire corage,
                Not with any proud thought in her heart,
951        Cam at his heste, and on hire knees hire sette,
                Came at his command, and on her knees set herself,
952        And reverently and wisely she hym grette.
                And reverently and wisely she greeted him.

953        "Grisilde," quod he, "my wyl is outrely
                "Griselda," said he, "my will is completely
954        This mayden, that shal wedded been to me,
                That this maiden, who shall be wedded to me,
955        Received be to-morwe as roially
                Be received to-morrow as royally
956        As it possible is in myn hous to be,
                As it is possible in my house to be,
957        And eek that every wight in his degree
                And also that every person, according to his rank
958        Have his estaat, in sittyng and servyse
                Have his due respect, in seating and service
959        And heigh plesaunce, as I kan best devyse.
                And great pleasure, as I can best arrange.

960        "I have no wommen suffisaunt, certayn,
                "I have no women capable, certainly,
961        The chambres for t'arraye in ordinaunce
                The chambers to put in order
962        After my lust, and therfore wolde I fayn
                According to my wishes, and therefore I would like
963        That thyn were al swich manere governaunce.
                That thine be the supervision of all this business.
964        Thou knowest eek of old al my plesaunce;
                Thou knowest also of old all my desires;
965        Thogh thyn array be badde and yvel biseye,
                Though thy dress be bad and in poor condition,
966        Do thou thy devoir at the leeste weye."
                Do thou thy duty at least."

967        "Nat oonly, lord, that I am glad," quod she,
                "Not only, lord, I am glad," said she,
968        "To doon youre lust, but I desire also
                "To do your wishes, but I desire also
969        Yow for to serve and plese in my degree
                You to serve and please in accord with my rank
970        Withouten feyntyng, and shal everemo;
                Without weakening, and shall evermore;
971        Ne nevere, for no wele ne no wo,
                Nor never, for any happiness nor any woe,
972        Ne shal the goost withinne myn herte stente
                Shall the spirit within my heart cease
973        To love yow best with al my trewe entente."
                To love you best with all my true will."

974        And with that word she gan the hous to dighte,
                And with that word she began to prepare the house,
975        And tables for to sette, and beddes make;
                And to set tables, and make beds;
976        And peyned hire to doon al that she myghte,
                And took pains to do all that she could,
977        Preyynge the chambereres, for Goddes sake,
                Praying the chambermaids, for God's sake,
978        To hasten hem, and faste swepe and shake;
                To hasten themselves, and fast sweep and dust;
979        And she, the mooste servysable of alle,
                And she, the most willing to serve of all,
980        Hath every chambre arrayed and his halle.
                Has every chamber prepared and his hall.

981        Abouten undren gan this erl alighte,
                About mid-morning did this earl alight,
982        That with hym broghte thise noble children tweye,
                Who with him brought these noble children two,
983        For which the peple ran to seen the sighte
                For which the people ran to see the sight
984        Of hire array, so richely biseye;
                Of their accoutrements, so rich in appearance;
985        And thanne at erst amonges hem they seye
                And then for the first time amongst themselves they say
986        That Walter was no fool, thogh that hym leste
                That Walter was no fool, though he desired
987        To chaunge his wyf, for it was for the beste.
                To change his wife, for it was for the best.

988        For she is fairer, as they deemen alle,
                For she is fairer, as they all decide,
989        Than is Grisilde, and moore tendre of age,
                Than is Griselda, and more tender of age,
990        And fairer fruyt bitwene hem sholde falle,
                And fairer fruit between them should fall,
991        And moore plesant, for hire heigh lynage.
                And more pleasing, because of her high lineage.
992        Hir brother eek so fair was of visage
                Her brother also so fair was of visage
993        That hem to seen the peple hath caught plesaunce,
                That the people take pleasure in seeing them,
994        Commendynge now the markys governaunce.
                Commending now the marquis's governance.

995        "O stormy peple! Unsad and evere untrewe!
                "O stormy people! Inconstant and ever untrue!
996        Ay undiscreet and chaungynge as a fane!
                Ever undiscerning and changing like a weather vane!
997        Delitynge evere in rumbul that is newe,
                Delighting ever in rumor that is new,
998        For lyk the moone ay wexe ye and wane!
                For like the moon ever you wax and wane!
999        Ay ful of clappyng, deere ynogh a jane!
                Always full of chattering, not worth a penny!
1000      Youre doom is fals, youre constance yvele preeveth;
                Your judgment is false, your constancy proves evil;
1001      A ful greet fool is he that on yow leeveth."
                A full great fool is he that believes in you."

1002      Thus seyden sadde folk in that citee,
                Thus said serious folk in that city,
1003      Whan that the peple gazed up and doun,
                When the people gazed up and down,
1004      For they were glad, right for the noveltee,
                For they were glad, right for the novelty,
1005      To han a newe lady of hir toun.
                To have a new lady of their town.
1006      Namoore of this make I now mencioun,
                No more of this make I now mention,
1007      But to Grisilde agayn wol I me dresse,
                But to Griselda again will I address myself,
1008      And telle hir constance and hir bisynesse.
                And tell her constancy and her diligence.

1009      Ful bisy was Grisilde in every thyng
                Full busy was Griselda in every thing
1010      That to the feeste was apertinent.
                That was pertaining to the feast.
1011      Right noght was she abayst of hire clothyng,
                Not at all was she ashamed of her clothing,
1012      Thogh it were rude and somdeel eek torent;
                Though it was crude and also somewhat ragged;
1013      But with glad cheere to the yate is went
                But with glad manner to the gate is went
1014      With oother folk to greete the markysesse,
                With other folk to greet the marchioness,
1015      And after that dooth forth hire bisynesse.
                And after that carries on her work.

1016      With so glad chiere his gestes she receyveth,
                With such glad manner his guests she receives,
1017      And so konnyngly, everich in his degree,
                And so skillfully, each according to his rank,
1018      That no defaute no man aperceyveth,
                That no man perceives any fault,
1019      But ay they wondren what she myghte bee
                But ever they wonder who she might be
1020      That in so povre array was for to see,
                That in such poor array was to be seen,
1021      And koude swich honour and reverence,
                And knew how to do such honor and reverence,
1022      And worthily they preisen hire prudence.
                And deservedly they praise her prudence.

1023      In al this meene while she ne stente
                In all this mean while she did not cease
1024      This mayde and eek hir brother to commende
                This maid and also her brother to commend
1025      With al hir herte, in ful benyngne entente,
                With all her heart, in full benign intention,
1026      So wel that no man koude hir pris amende.
                So well that no man could praise her more highly.
1027      But atte laste, whan that thise lordes wende
                But at the last, when these lords went
1028      To sitten doun to mete, he gan to calle
                To sit down to dinner, he called
1029      Grisilde, as she was bisy in his halle.
                Griselda, as she was busy in his hall.

1030      "Grisilde," quod he, as it were in his pley,
                "Griselda," said he, as if it were a joke,
1031      "How liketh thee my wyf and hire beautee?"
                "How do you like my wife and her beauty?"
1032      "Right wel," quod she, "my lord; for, in good fey,
                "Right well," said she, "my lord; for, in good faith,
1033      A fairer saugh I nevere noon than she.
                I never saw so fair a one as she.
1034      I prey to God yeve hire prosperitee;
                I pray to God to give her prosperity;
1035      And so hope I that he wol to yow sende
                And so I hope that he will to you send
1036      Plesance ynogh unto youre lyves ende.
                Pleasure enough unto your lives' end.

1037      "O thyng biseke I yow, and warne also,
                "One thing I beseech you, and warn also,
1038      That ye ne prikke with no tormentynge
                That you not distress with any tormenting
1039      This tendre mayden, as ye han doon mo;
                This tender maiden, as you have done to others;
1040      For she is fostred in hire norissynge
                For she has been reared in her nurture
1041      Moore tendrely, and, to my supposynge,
                More tenderly, and, as I believe,
1042      She koude nat adversitee endure
                She could not endure adversity
1043      As koude a povre fostred creature."
                As could a poorly reared creature."

1044      And whan this Walter saugh hire pacience,
                And when this Walter saw her patience,
1045      Hir glade chiere, and no malice at al,
                Her glad expression, and no malice at all,
1046      And he so ofte had doon to hire offence,
                And he so often had done to her offence,
1047      And she ay sad and constant as a wal,
                And she ever steadfast and constant as a wall,
1048      Continuynge evere hire innocence overal,
                Continuing ever her innocence in every way,
1049      This sturdy markys gan his herte dresse
                This stern marquis inclined his heart
1050      To rewen upon hire wyfly stedfastnesse.
                To have pity upon her womanly steadfastness.

1051      "This is ynogh, Grisilde myn," quod he;
                "This is enough, Griselda mine," said he;
1052      "Be now namoore agast ne yvele apayed.
                "Be now no more frightened nor displeased.
1053      I have thy feith and thy benyngnytee,
                I have thy faith and thy goodness,
1054      As wel as evere womman was, assayed,
                As well as ever woman was, tested,
1055      In greet estaat and povreliche arrayed.
                In great estate and in poverty.
1056      Now knowe I, dere wyf, thy stedfastnesse" --
                Now I know, dear wife, thy steadfastness" --
1057      And hire in armes took and gan hire kesse.
                And took her in arms and kissed her.

1058      And she for wonder took of it no keep;
                And she for amazement took of it no notice;
1059      She herde nat what thyng he to hire seyde;
                She heard not what thing he said to her;
1060      She ferde as she had stert out of a sleep,
                She fared as if she had suddenly awakened out of a sleep,
1061      Til she out of hire mazednesse abreyde.
                Until out of her bewilderment she suddenly awoke.
1062      "Grisilde," quod he, "by God, that for us deyde,
                "Griselda," said he, "by God, who for us died,
1063      Thou art my wyf, ne noon oother I have,
                Thou art my wife, and none other I have,
1064      Ne nevere hadde, as God my soule save!
                Nor ever had, as God my soul may save!

1065      "This is thy doghter, which thou hast supposed
                "This is thy daughter, which thou hast supposed
1066      To be my wyf; that oother feithfully
                To be my wife; that other truly
1067      Shal be myn heir, as I have ay disposed;
                Shall be my heir, as I have ever intended;
1068      Thou bare hym in thy body trewely.
                Thou bore him in thy body truly.
1069      At Boloigne have I kept hem prively;
                At Bologna I have kept them secretly;
1070      Taak hem agayn, for now maystow nat seye
                Take them back, for now mayst thou not say
1071      That thou hast lorn noon of thy children tweye.
                That thou hast lost any of thy children two.

1072      "And folk that ootherweys han seyd of me,
                "And folk that otherwise have said of me,
1073      I warne hem wel that I have doon this deede
                I declare to them clearly that I have done this deed
1074      For no malice, ne for no crueltee,
                For no malice, nor for no cruelty,
1075      But for t'assaye in thee thy wommanheede,
                But to test in thee thy womanhood,
1076      And nat to sleen my children -- God forbeede! --
                And not to slay my children -- God forbid! --
1077      But for to kepe hem pryvely and stille,
                But to keep them secretly and quietly,
1078      Til I thy purpos knewe and al thy wille."
                Until I knew thy perseverence and all thy will."

1079      Whan she this herde, aswowne doun she falleth
                When she heard this, down she falls in a swoon
1080      For pitous joye, and after hire swownynge
                For pitiful joy, and after her swooning
1081      She bothe hire yonge children to hire calleth,
                She calls both her young children to her,
1082      And in hire armes, pitously wepynge,
                And in her arms, pitifully weeping,
1083      Embraceth hem, and tendrely kissynge
                Embraces them, and tenderly kissing
1084      Ful lyk a mooder, with hire salte teeres
                Full like a mother, with her salt tears
1085      She bathed bothe hire visage and hire heeres.
                She bathed both their visage and their hair.

1086      O which a pitous thyng it was to se
                O what a pathetic thing it was to see
1087      Hir swownyng, and hire humble voys to heere!
                Her swooning, and her humble voice to hear!
1088      "Grauntmercy, lord, God thanke it yow," quod she,
                "Great thanks, lord, may God repay it to you," said she,
1089      "That ye han saved me my children deere!
                "That you have saved for me my children dear!
1090      Now rekke I nevere to been deed right heere;
                Now care I never to be dead right here;
1091      Sith I stonde in youre love and in youre grace,
                Since I stand in your love and in your grace,
1092      No fors of deeth, ne whan my spirit pace!
                Death does not matter, nor when my spirit may pass (away)!

1093      "O tendre, o deere, o yonge children myne!
                "O tender, o dear, o my young children!
1094      Youre woful mooder wende stedfastly
                Your woeful mother truly believed
1095      That crueel houndes or som foul vermyne
                That cruel hounds or some foul animal pests
1096      Hadde eten yow; but God of his mercy
                Had eaten you; but God of his mercy
1097      And youre benyngne fader tendrely
                And your benign father tenderly
1098      Hath doon yow kept" -- and in that same stounde
                Has had you protected" -- and in that same moment
1099      Al sodeynly she swapte adoun to grounde.
                All suddenly she fell down to the ground.

1100      And in hire swough so sadly holdeth she
                And in her swoon so tightly holds she
1101      Hire children two, whan she gan hem t'embrace,
                Her children two, when she embraced them,
1102      That with greet sleighte and greet difficultee
                That with great effort and great difficulty
1103      The children from hire arm they gonne arace.
                The children from her arm they did tear away.
1104      O many a teere on many a pitous face
                O many a tear on many a pitiful face
1105      Doun ran of hem that stooden hire bisyde;
                Down ran of them that stood beside her;
1106      Unnethe abouten hire myghte they abyde.
                Hardly about her might they remain.

1107      Walter hire gladeth and hire sorwe slaketh;
                Walter comforts her and her sorrow relieves;
1108      She riseth up, abaysed, from hire traunce,
                She rises up, disconcerted, from her trance,
1109      And every wight hire joye and feeste maketh
                And every person makes joy and festivity for her
1110      Til she hath caught agayn hire contenaunce.
                Until she has regained her composure.
1111      Walter hire dooth so feithfully plesaunce
                Walter strives so faithfully to please her
1112      That it was deyntee for to seen the cheere
                That it was delightful to see the happiness
1113      Bitwixe hem two, now they been met yfeere.
                Between them two, now they are met together.

1114      Thise ladyes, whan that they hir tyme say,
                These ladies, when they see their time,
1115      Han taken hire and into chambre gon,
                Have taken her and into chamber they go,
1116      And strepen hire out of hire rude array,
                And strip her out of her crude clothing,
1117      And in a clooth of gold that brighte shoon,
                And in a cloth of gold that brightly shone,
1118      With a coroune of many a riche stoon
                With a crown of many a rich stone
1119      Upon hire heed, they into halle hire broghte,
                Upon her head, they into hall her brought,
1120      And ther she was honured as hire oghte.
                And there she was honored as she deserved.

1121      Thus hath this pitous day a blisful ende,
                Thus has this pitiful day a blissful end,
1122      For every man and womman dooth his myght
                For every man and woman does his might
1123      This day in murthe and revel to dispende
                This day in mirth and revel to spend
1124      Til on the welkne shoon the sterres lyght.
                Until in the sky shone the stars' light.
1125      For moore solempne in every mannes syght
                For more splendid in every man's sight
1126      This feste was, and gretter of costage,
                This feast was, and greater of cost,
1127      Than was the revel of hire mariage.
                Than was the revel of their marriage.

1128      Ful many a yeer in heigh prosperitee
                Full many a year in high prosperity
1129      Lyven thise two in concord and in reste,
                Live these two in peace and in quiet,
1130      And richely his doghter maryed he
                And richly his daughter married he
1131      Unto a lord, oon of the worthieste
                Unto a lord, one of the worthiest
1132      Of al Ytaille; and thanne in pees and reste
                Of all Italy; and then in peace and rest
1133      His wyves fader in his court he kepeth,
                His wife's father in his court he keeps,
1134      Til that the soule out of his body crepeth.
                Until the soul out of his body creeps.

1135      His sone succedeth in his heritage
                His son succeeds in his heritage
1136      In reste and pees, after his fader day,
                In rest and peace, after his father's day,
1137      And fortunat was eek in mariage,
                And fortunate was also in marriage,
1138      Al putte he nat his wyf in greet assay.
                Although he put not his wife in great tests.
1139      This world is nat so strong, it is no nay,
                This world is not so strong, there is no denying,
1140      As it hath been in olde tymes yoore,
                As it has been in old times long ago,
1141      And herkneth what this auctour seith therfoore.
                And listen to what this author says concerning this (tale).

1142      This storie is seyd nat for that wyves sholde
                This story is said not so that wives should
1143      Folwen Grisilde as in humylitee,
                Follow Griselda in humility,
1144      For it were inportable, though they wolde,
                For it would be intolerable, though they would (want to),
1145      But for that every wight, in his degree,
                But so that every person, in his station in life,
1146      Sholde be constant in adversitee
                Should be constant in adversity
1147      As was Grisilde; therfore Petrak writeth
                As was Griselda; therefore Petrarch writes
1148      This storie, which with heigh stile he enditeth.
                This story, which with high style he composes.

1149      For sith a womman was so pacient
                For since a woman was so patient
1150      Unto a mortal man, wel moore us oghte
                Unto a mortal man, well more we ought to
1151      Receyven al in gree that God us sent;
                Receive with a good will all that God sends us;
1152      For greet skile is he preeve that he wroghte.
                For it is very reasonable that he test what he made.
1153      But he ne tempteth no man that he boghte,
                But he tests no man that he redeemed,
1154      As seith Seint Jame, if ye his pistel rede;
                As says Saint James, if you his epistle read;
1155      He preeveth folk al day, it is no drede,
                He tests folk all the time, it is no doubt,

1156      And suffreth us, as for oure excercise,
                And permits us, for our own good
1157      With sharpe scourges of adversitee
                With sharp whips of adversity
1158      Ful ofte to be bete in sondry wise;
                Full often to be beaten in various ways;
1159      Nat for to knowe oure wyl, for certes he,
                Not to know our will, for certainly he,
1160      Er we were born, knew al oure freletee;
                Before we were born, knew all our frailty;
1161      And for oure beste is al his governaunce.
                And for our best is all his governance.
1162      Lat us thanne lyve in vertuous suffraunce.
                Let us then live in virtuous forbearance.

1163      But o word, lordynges, herkneth er I go:
                But one word, lords, hear before I go:
1164      It were ful hard to fynde now-a-dayes
                It would be very difficult to find now-a-days
1165      In al a toun Grisildis thre or two;
                In all the town Griseldas three or two;
1166      For if that they were put to swiche assayes,
                For if they were put to such tests,
1167      The gold of hem hath now so badde alayes
                The gold of them has now been so badly debased
1168      With bras, that thogh the coyne be fair at ye,
                With brass, that though the coin be fair to look at,
1169      It wolde rather breste a-two than plye.
                It would rather break in two than bend.

1170      For which heere, for the Wyves love of Bathe --
                For which here, for the love of the Wife of Bath --
1171      Whos lyf and al hire secte God mayntene
                Whose life and all her sect may God maintain
1172      In heigh maistrie, and elles were it scathe --
                In high mastery, and otherwise it would be a pity --
1173      I wol with lusty herte, fressh and grene,
                I will with lusty heart, fresh and vigorous,
1174      Seyn yow a song to glade yow, I wene;
                Say you a song to make you happy, I believe;
1175      And lat us stynte of ernestful matere.
                And let us stint of serious matter.
1176      Herkneth my song that seith in this manere:
                Hear my song that says in this manner:

 

Lenvoy de Chaucer.
Chaucer's envoy.

 

1177      Grisilde is deed, and eek hire pacience,
                Griselda is dead, and also her patience,
1178      And bothe atones buryed in Ytaille;
                And both together buried in Italy;
1179      For which I crie in open audience
                For which I cry in the hearing of all
1180      No wedded man so hardy be t'assaille
                No wedded man so bold be to test
1181      His wyves pacience in trust to fynde
                His wife's patience trusting to find
1182      Grisildis, for in certein he shal faille.
                Griselda, for certainly he shall faille.

1183      O noble wyves, ful of heigh prudence,
                O noble wives, full of great prudence,
1184      Lat noon humylitee youre tonge naille,
                Let no humility nail down your tongue,
1185      Ne lat no clerk have cause or diligence
                Nor let any clerk have cause or eagerness
1186      To write of yow a storie of swich mervaille
                To write about you a story of such marvel
1187      As of Grisildis pacient and kynde,
                As of patient and kind Griselda,
1188      Lest Chichevache yow swelwe in hire entraille!
                Lest Chichevache swallow you in her entrails!

1189      Folweth Ekko, that holdeth no silence,
                Follow Echo, who holds no silence,
1190      But evere answereth at the countretaille.
                But ever answers in reply.
1191      Beth nat bidaffed for youre innocence,
                Be not fooled because of your innocence,
1192      But sharply taak on yow the governaille.
                But eagerly take the governance to yourself.
1193      Emprenteth wel this lessoun in youre mynde,
                Imprint well this lesson in your mind,
1194      For commune profit sith it may availle.
                Since it may work to the benefit of all.

1195      Ye archewyves, stondeth at defense,
                You arch-wives, stand ready for battle,
1196      Syn ye be strong as is a greet camaille;
                Since you are strong as is a great camel;
1197      Ne suffreth nat that men yow doon offense.
                Suffer not that men do offense to you.
1198      And sklendre wyves, fieble as in bataille,
                And slender wives, feeble in battle,
1199      Beth egre as is a tygre yond in Ynde;
                Be fierce as is a tiger yonder in India;
1200      Ay clappeth as a mille, I yow consaille.
                Ever wag your tongues like a windmill, I you advise.

1201      Ne dreed hem nat; doth hem no reverence,
                Fear them not; do them no reverence,
1202      For though thyn housbonde armed be in maille,
                For though thy husband be armed in mail,
1203      The arwes of thy crabbed eloquence
                The arrows of thy spiteful eloquence
1204      Shal perce his brest and eek his aventaille.
                Shall pierce his breast and also his neck-guard.
1205      In jalousie I rede eek thou hym bynde,
                In jealousy I advise also that thou bind him,
1206      And thou shalt make hym couche as doth a quaille.
                And thou shalt make him cower as does a quail.

1207      If thou be fair, ther folk been in presence,
                If thou be fair, where folk are present,
1208      Shewe thou thy visage and thyn apparaille;
                Show thou thy visage and thy apparel;
1209      If thou be foul, be fre of thy dispence;
                If thou be ugly, be lavish in thy expenditures;
1210      To gete thee freendes ay do thy travaille;
                To get thee friends always work hard;
1211      Be ay of chiere as light as leef on lynde,
                Be ever in behavior as light as a leaf on a linden tree,
1212      And lat hym care, and wepe, and wrynge, and waille!
                And let him grieve, and weep, and wring his hands, and wail!

 

[Bihoold the murye words of the Host

 

1212a      This worthy Clerk, whan ended was his tale,
                [When ended was the tale of this worthy Clerk,
1212b      Oure Hooste seyde, and swoor, "By Goddes bones,
                Our Host said, and swore, "By God's bones,
1212c      Me were levere than a barel ale
                I would rather than have a barrel of ale
1212d      My wyf at hoom had herd this legende ones!
                My wife at home had heard this legend once!
1212e      This is a gentil tale for the nones,
                This is a fine tale for this occasion,
1212f      As to my purpos, wiste ye my wille;
                For my purposes, if you knew my will;
1212g      But thyng that wol nat be, lat it be stille."]
                But thing that will not be, let it be still."]

 

Heere endeth the Tale of the Clerk of Oxenford.

 

If you wish, you can test your knowledge of the vocabulary by taking a
quiz.

Or go to the beginning of this set of texts.

Or go The Geoffrey Chaucer Page | The Index of Translations | The Teach Yourself Chaucer Page. Or use the back button on your browser to return to the previous page.

 

 


Last modified: May 7, 2006
Copyright © The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Gold Texts on this page prepared and maintained by L. D. Benson (ldb@wjh.harvard.edu)