Iamque domos patrias, Sithice post
aspera gentis prelia,laurigero, etc.
And now (Theseus drawing nigh his) native land in
laurelled car after battling with the Scithian folk, etc.
859 Whilom, as olde stories tellen us,
Once, as old histories tell us,
860 Ther was a duc that highte Theseus;
There was a duke who was called Theseus;
861 Of Atthenes he was lord and governour,
He was lord and governor of Athens,
862 And in his tyme swich a conquerour
And in his time such a conqueror
863 That gretter was ther noon under the sonne.
That there was no one greater under the sun.
864 Ful many a riche contree hadde he wonne;
Very many a powerful country had he won;
865 What with his wysdom and his chivalrie,
What with his wisdom and his chivalry,
866 He conquered al the regne of Femenye,
He conquered all the land of the Amazons,
867 That whilom was ycleped Scithia,
That once was called Scithia,
868 And weddede the queene Ypolita,
And wedded the queen Ypolita,
869 And broghte hire hoom with hym in his contree
And brought her home with him into his country
870 With muchel glorie and greet solempnytee,
With much glory and great ceremony,
871 And eek hir yonge suster Emelye.
And also her young sister Emelye.
872 And thus with victorie and with melodye
And thus with victory and with festivity
873 Lete I this noble duc to Atthenes ryde,
I leave this noble duke riding to Athens,
874 And al his hoost in armes hym bisyde.
And all his host in arms beside him.
875 And certes, if it nere to long to heere,
And certainly, if it were not too long to hear,
876 I wolde have toold yow fully the manere
I would have told you fully the manner
877 How wonnen was the regne of Femenye
How the reign of Femenye was won
878 By Theseus and by his chivalrye;
By Theseus and by his chivalry;
879 And of the grete bataille for the nones
And of the great battle at that time
880 Bitwixen Atthenes and Amazones;
Between Athenians and Amazons;
881 And how asseged was Ypolita,
And how Ypolita was besieged,
882 The faire, hardy queene of Scithia;
The fair, bold queen of Scithia;
883 And of the feste that was at hir weddynge,
And of the festivity that was at their wedding,
884 And of the tempest at hir hoom-comynge;
And of the storm at her home-coming;
885 But al that thyng I moot as now forbere.
But all that matter I must now forgo.
886 I have, God woot, a large feeld to ere,
I have, God knows, a large field to till,
887 And wayke been the oxen in my plough.
And the oxen in my plow are weak.
888 The remenant of the tale is long ynough.
The remnant of the tale is long enough.
889 I wol nat letten eek noon of this route;
Also I will not hinder any one of this company;
890 Lat every felawe telle his tale aboute,
Let every fellow tell his tale in turn,
891 And lat se now who shal the soper wynne;
And let's see now who shall win the supper;
892 And ther I lefte, I wol ayeyn bigynne.
And where I left off, I will again begin.
893 This duc, of whom I make mencioun,
This duke, of whom I make mention,
894 Whan he was come almoost unto the toun,
When he was come almost unto the town,
895 In al his wele and in his mooste pride,
In all his prosperity and in his most pride,
896 He was war, as he caste his eye aside,
He was aware, as he cast his eye aside,
897 Where that ther kneled in the heighe weye
Where there kneeled in the high way
898 A compaignye of ladyes, tweye and tweye,
A company of ladies, two by two,
899 Ech after oother clad in clothes blake;
Each after another, clad in black clothes;
900 But swich a cry and swich a wo they make
But such a cry and such a woeful (lament) they make
901 That in this world nys creature lyvynge
That in this world is no living creature
902 That herde swich another waymentynge;
That (ever) heard lamentation such as this;
903 And of this cry they nolde nevere stenten
And of this cry they would not ever stop
904 Til they the reynes of his brydel henten.
Until they seized the reins of his bridle.
905 "What folk been ye, that at myn hom-comynge
"What folk are you, who at my homecoming
906 Perturben so my feste with criynge?"
So disturb my festival with crying?"
907 Quod Theseus. "Have ye so greet envye
Said Theseus. "Have you such great envy
908 Of myn honour, that thus compleyne and crye?
Of my honor, (you) who thus lament and cry?
909 Or who hath yow mysboden or offended?
Or who has injured or offended you?
910 And telleth me if it may been amended,
And tell me if it may be remedied,
911 And why that ye been clothed thus in blak."
And why you are clothed thus in black."
912 The eldeste lady of them alle spak,
The eldest lady of them all spoke,
913 Whan she hadde swowned with a deedly cheere,
After she had swooned with (so) deadly a countenance,
914 That it was routhe for to seen and heere;
That it was pitiful to see and hear;
915 She seyde, "Lord, to whom Fortune hath yiven
She said, "Lord, to whom Fortune has given
916 Victorie, and as a conqueror to lyven,
Victory, and (allowed) to live as a conqueror,
917 Nat greveth us youre glorie and youre honour,
Your glory and your honor does not grieve us,
918 But we biseken mercy and socour.
But we beseech (you for) mercy and succor.
919 Have mercy on oure wo and oure distresse!
Have mercy on our woe and our distress!
920 Som drope of pitee, thurgh thy gentillesse,
Some drop of pity, because of thy nobility,
921 Upon us wrecched wommen lat thou falle,
Let thou fall upon us wretched women,
922 For, certes, lord, ther is noon of us alle
For, certainly, lord, there is not one of us all
923 That she ne hath been a duchesse or a queene.
Who has not been a duchesse or a queen.
924 Now be we caytyves, as it is wel seene,
Now we are miserable wretches, as it is easily seen,
925 Thanked be Fortune and hire false wheel,
Thanks be to Fortune and her false wheel,
926 That noon estaat assureth to be weel.
Who assures no estate (will continue) to be well.
927 And certes, lord, to abyden youre presence,
And certainly, lord, to await your presence,
928 Heere in this temple of the goddesse Clemence
Here in this temple of the goddess Clemency
929 We han ben waitynge al this fourtenyght.
We have been waiting all this fortnight.
930 Now help us, lord, sith it is in thy myght.
Now help us, lord, since it is in thy power.
931 "I, wrecche, which that wepe and wayle thus,
"I, wretch, who weep and wail thus,
932 Was whilom wyf to kyng Cappaneus,
Was once wife to king Cappaneus,
933 That starf at Thebes -- cursed be that day! --
Who died at Thebes -- cursed be that day! --
934 And alle we that been in this array
And all of us who are in this condition
935 And maken al this lamentacioun,
And make all this lamentation,
936 We losten alle oure housbondes at that toun,
We lost all our husbands at that town,
937 Whil that the seege theraboute lay.
While the siege lay around it.
938 And yet now the olde Creon -- weylaway! --
And yet now the old Creon -- woe oh woe! --
939 That lord is now of Thebes the citee,
Who is now lord of the city of Thebes,
940 Fulfild of ire and of iniquitee,
Filled with anger and with iniquity,
941 He, for despit and for his tirannye,
He, for spite and for his tyranny,
942 To do the dede bodyes vileynye
To do dishonor to the dead bodies
943 Of alle oure lordes whiche that been yslawe,
Of all our lords who are slain,
944 Hath alle the bodyes on an heep ydrawe,
Has dragged all the bodies in a heap,
945 And wol nat suffren hem, by noon assent,
And will not allow them, not at all,
946 Neither to been yburyed nor ybrent,
Neither to be buried nor burned,
947 But maketh houndes ete them in despit."
But makes hounds eat them as an insult."
948 And with that word, withouten moore respit,
And with that word, without more delay,
949 They fillen gruf and criden pitously,
They fell face down and cried piteously,
950 "Have on us wrecched wommen som mercy,
"Have some mercy on us wretched women,
951 And lat oure sorwe synken in thyn herte."
And let our sorrow sink in thy heart."
952 This gentil duc doun from his courser sterte
This gentle duke leaped down from his war horse
953 With herte pitous, whan he herde them speke.
With compassionate heart, when he heard them speak.
954 Hym thoughte that his herte wolde breke,
It seemed to him that his heart would break,
955 Whan he saugh hem so pitous and so maat,
When he saw them so pitiful and so dejected,
956 That whilom weren of so greet estaat;
That once were of such high rank;
957 And in his armes he hem alle up hente,
And in his arms he caught up them all,
958 And hem conforteth in ful good entente,
And comforts them with very good will,
959 And swoor his ooth, as he was trewe knyght,
And swore his oath, as he was true knight,
960 He wolde doon so ferforthly his myght
(That) he would do his might so completely
961 Upon the tiraunt Creon hem to wreke
To avenge them upon the tyrant Creon
962 That al the peple of Grece sholde speke
That all the people of Greece should speak (about)
963 How Creon was of Theseus yserved
How Creon was treated by Theseus
964 As he that hadde his deeth ful wel deserved.
As one who had very well deserved his death.
965 And right anoon, withouten moore abood,
And right away, without more delay,
966 His baner he desplayeth, and forth rood
He displays his banner, and rode forth
967 To Thebes-ward, and al his hoost biside.
Toward Thebes, and all his army beside (him).
968 No neer Atthenes wolde he go ne ride,
He would not walk nor ride any nearer to Athens,
969 Ne take his ese fully half a day,
Nor take his ease fully half a day,
970 But onward on his wey that nyght he lay,
But that night he lay (camped) on his way,
971 And sente anon Ypolita the queene,
And sent straightway Ypolita the queen,
972 And Emelye, hir yonge suster sheene,
And Emelye, her beautiful young sister,
973 Unto the toun of Atthenes to dwelle,
Unto the town of Athens to dwell,
974 And forth he rit; ther is namoore to telle.
And forth he rides; there is no more to tell.
975 The rede statue of Mars, with spere and targe,
The red statue of Mars, with spear and shield,
976 So shyneth in his white baner large
So shines in his large white banner
977 That alle the feeldes glyteren up and doun;
That all the fields glitter all around;
978 And by his baner born is his penoun
And by his banner is carried his pennon
979 Of gold ful riche, in which ther was ybete
Of very rich gold, in which there was embroidered
980 The Mynotaur, which that he wan in Crete.
The Minotaur, which he defeated in Crete.
981 Thus rit this duc, thus rit this conquerour,
Thus rides this duke, thus rides this conqueror,
982 And in his hoost of chivalrie the flour,
And in his army the flower of chivalry,
983 Til that he cam to Thebes and alighte
Until he came to Thebes and dismounted
984 Faire in a feeld, ther as he thoughte to fighte.
Graciously in a field, where he intended to fight.
985 But shortly for to speken of this thyng,
But briefly to speak of this thing,
986 With Creon, which that was of Thebes kyng,
With Creon, who was king of Thebes,
987 He faught, and slough hym manly as a knyght
He fought, and slew him boldly as a knight
988 In pleyn bataille, and putte the folk to flyght;
In open battle, and put the army to flight;
989 And by assaut he wan the citee after,
And by assault he won the city afterwards,
990 And rente adoun bothe wall and sparre and rafter;
And tore down both wall and beam and rafter;
991 And to the ladyes he restored agayn
And he gave back to the ladies
992 The bones of hir freendes that were slayn,
The bones of their husbands who were slain,
993 To doon obsequies, as was tho the gyse.
To do obsequies, as was then the custom.
994 But it were al to longe for to devyse
But it would be all too long to describe
995 The grete clamour and the waymentynge
The great clamor and the lamentation
996 That the ladyes made at the brennynge
That the ladies made at the burning
997 Of the bodies, and the grete honour
Of the bodies, and the great honor
998 That Theseus, the noble conquerour,
That Theseus, the noble conqueror,
999 Dooth to the ladyes, whan they from hym wente;
Does to the ladies, when they went from him;
1000 But shortly for to telle is myn entente.
But briefly to tell is my intent.
1001 Whan that this worthy duc, this Theseus,
When this worthy duke, this Theseus,
1002 Hath Creon slayn and wonne Thebes thus,
Has slain Creon and thus won Thebes,
1003 Stille in that feeld he took al nyght his reste,
Still in that field he took all night his rest,
1004 And dide with al the contree as hym leste.
And did with all the country as he pleased.
1005 To ransake in the taas of bodyes dede,
To search in the heap of dead bodies,
1006 Hem for to strepe of harneys and of wede,
To strip them of armor and of clothing,
1007 The pilours diden bisynesse and cure
The scavengers took great pains and worked hard
1008 After the bataille and disconfiture.
After the battle and defeat.
1009 And so bifel that in the taas they founde,
And (it) so befell that in the heap they found,
1010 Thurgh-girt with many a grevous blody wounde,
Pierced through with many a grievous bloody wound,
1011 Two yonge knyghtes liggynge by and by,
Two young knights lying side by side,
1012 Bothe in oon armes, wroght ful richely,
Both with the same coat of arms, very richly wrought,
1013 Of whiche two Arcita highte that oon,
Of which two one was called Arcite,
1014 And that oother knyght highte Palamon.
And that other knight was called Palamon.
1015 Nat fully quyke, ne fully dede they were,
They were not fully alive, nor fully dead,
1016 But by hir cote-armures and by hir gere
But by their coats of arms and by their equipment
1017 The heraudes knewe hem best in special
The heralds best knew them in particular
1018 As they that weren of the blood roial
As they that were of the royal blood
1019 Of Thebes, and of sustren two yborn.
Of Thebes, and born of two sisters.
1020 Out of the taas the pilours han hem torn,
The scavengers have pulled them out of the heap,
1021 And han hem caried softe unto the tente
And have carried them softy unto the tent
1022 Of Theseus; and he ful soone hem sente
Of Theseus; and he very soon sent them
1023 To Atthenes, to dwellen in prisoun
To Athens, to dwell in prison
1024 Perpetuelly -- he nolde no raunsoun.
Perpetually -- he would not (accept) any ransom.
1025 And whan this worthy duc hath thus ydon,
And when this worthy duke has thus done,
1026 He took his hoost, and hoom he rit anon
He took his army, and home he rides straightway
1027 With laurer crowned as a conquerour;
As a conqueror crowned with laurel;
1028 And ther he lyveth in joye and in honour
And there he lives in joy and in honor
1029 Terme of his lyf; what nedeth wordes mo?
For the duration of his life; what more words are needed?
1030 And in a tour, in angwissh and in wo,
And in a tower, in anguish and in woe,
1031 This Palamon and his felawe Arcite
This Palamon and his fellow Arcite
1032 For everemoore; ther may no gold hem quite.
For evermore (remain); no gold can ransom them.
1033 This passeth yeer by yeer and day by day,
This passes year by year and day by day,
1034 Till it fil ones, in a morwe of May,
Until it befell once, in a morning of May,
1035 That Emelye, that fairer was to sene
That Emelye, who was fairer to be seen
1036 Than is the lylie upon his stalke grene,
Than is the lily upon its green stalk,
1037 And fressher than the May with floures newe --
And fresher than the May with new flowers --
1038 For with the rose colour stroof hire hewe,
For her hue vied with color of the rose,
1039 I noot which was the fyner of hem two --
I do not know which was the finer of them two --
1040 Er it were day, as was hir wone to do,
Before it was day, as was her custom to do,
1041 She was arisen and al redy dight,
She was arisen and all ready prepared,
1042 For May wole have no slogardie anyght.
For May will have no laziness at night.
1043 The sesoun priketh every gentil herte,
The season urges on every gentle heart,
1044 And maketh it out of his slep to sterte,
And makes it out of its sleep to awake suddenly,
1045 And seith "Arys, and do thyn observaunce."
And says "Arise, and do thy observance."
1046 This maked Emelye have remembraunce
This made Emelye remember
1047 To doon honour to May, and for to ryse.
To do honor to May, and to rise.
1048 Yclothed was she fressh, for to devyse:
She was gaily clothed, so to say:
1049 Hir yelow heer was broyded in a tresse
Her yellow hair was braided in a tress
1050 Bihynde hir bak, a yerde long, I gesse.
Behind her back, a yard long, I guess.
1051 And in the gardyn, at the sonne upriste,
And in the garden, at the rising of the sun,
1052 She walketh up and doun, and as hire liste
She walks up and down, and as she pleases
1053 She gadereth floures, party white and rede,
She gathers flowers, mixed white and red,
1054 To make a subtil gerland for hire hede;
To make an intricate garland for her head;
1055 And as an aungel hevenysshly she soong.
And she sang (as) heavenly as an angel.
1056 The grete tour, that was so thikke and stroong,
The great tower, that was so thick and strong,
1057 Which of the castel was the chief dongeoun
Which was the main fortification of the castle
1058 (Ther as the knyghtes weren in prisoun
(Where the knights were in prison
1059 Of which I tolde yow and tellen shal),
Of which I told yow and shall tell),
1060 Was evene joynant to the gardyn wal
Was just next to the garden wall
1061 Ther as this Emelye hadde hir pleyynge.
Where this Emelye took her pleasure.
1062 Bright was the sonne and cleer that morwenynge,
The sun was bright and clear that morning,
1063 And Palamoun, this woful prisoner,
And Palamon, this woeful prisoner,
1064 As was his wone, by leve of his gayler,
As was his custom, by permission of his jailer,
1065 Was risen and romed in a chambre an heigh,
Had risen and roamed in a chamber on high,
1066 In which he al the noble citee seigh,
In which he saw all the noble city,
1067 And eek the gardyn, ful of braunches grene,
And also the garden, full of green branches,
1068 Ther as this fresshe Emelye the shene
Where this fresh Emelye the bright
1069 Was in hire walk, and romed up and doun.
Was in her walk, and roamed up and down.
1070 This sorweful prisoner, this Palamoun,
This sorrowful prisoner, this Palamon,
1071 Goth in the chambre romynge to and fro
Goes in the chamber roaming to and fro
1072 And to hymself compleynynge of his wo.
And to himself lamenting his woe.
1073 That he was born, ful ofte he seyde, "allas!"
That he was born, full often he said, "alas!"
1074 And so bifel, by aventure or cas,
And so it happened, by chance or accident,
1075 That thurgh a wyndow, thikke of many a barre
That through a window, thickly set with many a bar
1076 Of iren greet and square as any sparre,
Of iron, great and square as any beam,
1077 He cast his eye upon Emelya,
He cast his eye upon Emelye,
1078 And therwithal he bleynte and cride, "A!"
And with that he turned pale and cried, "A!"
1079 As though he stongen were unto the herte.
As though he were stabbed unto the heart.
1080 And with that cry Arcite anon up sterte
And with that cry Arcite immediately leaped up
1081 And seyde, "Cosyn myn, what eyleth thee,
And said, "My cousin, what ails thee,
1082 That art so pale and deedly on to see?
Who art so pale and deadly to look upon?
1083 Why cridestow? Who hath thee doon offence?
Why didst thou cry out? Who has done thee offence?
1084 For Goddes love, taak al in pacience
For the love of God, take all in patience
1085 Oure prisoun, for it may noon oother be.
Our imprisonment, for it may not be otherwise.
1086 Fortune hath yeven us this adversitee.
Fortune has given us this adversity.
1087 Som wikke aspect or disposicioun
Some wicked aspect or disposition
1088 Of Saturne, by som constellacioun,
Of Saturn, by some arrangement of the heavenly bodies,
1089 Hath yeven us this, although we hadde it sworn;
Has given us this, although we had sworn it would not be;
1090 So stood the hevene whan that we were born.
So stood the heavens when we were born.
1091 We moste endure it; this is the short and playn."
We must endure it; this is the short and plain."
1092 This Palamon answerde and seyde agayn,
This Palamon answered and said in reply,
1093 "Cosyn, for sothe, of this opinioun
"Cousin, truly, concerning this opinion
1094 Thow hast a veyn ymaginacioun.
Thou hast a foolish conception.
1095 This prison caused me nat for to crye,
This prison did not cause me to cry out,
1096 But I was hurt right now thurghout myn ye
But I was hurt right now through my eye
1097 Into myn herte, that wol my bane be.
Into my heart, so that it will be the death of me.
1098 The fairnesse of that lady that I see
The fairness of that lady whom I see
1099 Yond in the gardyn romen to and fro
Yonder in the garden roaming to and fro
1100 Is cause of al my criyng and my wo.
Is cause of all my crying and my woe.
1101 I noot wher she be womman or goddesse,
I know not whether she is woman or goddess,
1102 But Venus is it soothly, as I gesse."
But truly it is Venus, as I suppose."
1103 And therwithal on knees doun he fil,
And with that he fell down on his knees,
1104 And seyde, "Venus, if it be thy wil
And said, "Venus, if it be thy will
1105 Yow in this gardyn thus to transfigure
Thus to transfigure yourself in this garden
1106 Bifore me, sorweful, wrecched creature,
Before me, sorrowful, wretched creature,
1107 Out of this prisoun help that we may scapen.
Help that we may escape out of this prison.
1108 And if so be my destynee be shapen
And if it be so that my destiny is shaped
1109 By eterne word to dyen in prisoun,
By eternal decree to die in prison,
1110 Of oure lynage have som compassioun,
Have some compassion on our (noble) lineage
1111 That is so lowe ybroght by tirannye."
Which is brought so low by tyranny."
1112 And with that word Arcite gan espye
And with that word Arcite did see
1113 Wher as this lady romed to and fro,
Where this lady roamed to and fro,
1114 And with that sighte hir beautee hurte hym so,
And with that sight her beauty hurt him so,
1115 That, if that Palamon was wounded sore,
That, if Palamon was sorely wounded,
1116 Arcite is hurt as muche as he, or moore.
Arcite is hurt as much as he, or more.
1117 And with a sigh he seyde pitously,
And with a sigh he said piteously,
1118 "The fresshe beautee sleeth me sodeynly
"The fresh beauty slays me suddenly
1119 Of hire that rometh in the yonder place;
Of her who roams in the yonder place;
1120 And but I have hir mercy and hir grace,
And unless I have her mercy and her grace,
1121 That I may seen hire atte leeste weye,
So that I can at least see her,
1122 I nam but deed; ther nis namoore to seye."
I am as good as dead; there is no more to say."
1123 This Palamon, whan he tho wordes herde,
This Palamon, when he heard those words,
1124 Dispitously he looked and answerde,
Angrily he looked and answered,
1125 "Wheither seistow this in ernest or in pley?"
"Sayest thou this in earnest or in play?"
1126 "Nay," quod Arcite, "in ernest, by my fey!
"Nay," said Arcite, "in earnest, by my faith!
1127 God helpe me so, me list ful yvele pleye."
So help me God, I have no desire to play."
1128 This Palamon gan knytte his browes tweye.
This Palamon did knit his two brows.
1129 "It nere," quod he, "to thee no greet honour
"It would not be," said he, "any great honor to thee
1130 For to be fals, ne for to be traitour
To be false, nor to be traitor
1131 To me, that am thy cosyn and thy brother
To me, who am thy cousin and thy brother
1132 Ysworn ful depe, and ech of us til oother,
Sworn very sincerely, and each of us to the other,
1133 That nevere, for to dyen in the peyne,
That never, though we had to die by torture,
1134 Til that the deeth departe shal us tweyne,
Until death shall part us two,
1135 Neither of us in love to hyndre oother,
Neither of us in love (is) to hinder the other,
1136 Ne in noon oother cas, my leeve brother,
Nor in any other case, my dear brother,
1137 But that thou sholdest trewely forthren me
But rather thou shouldest truly help me
1138 In every cas, as I shal forthren thee --
In every case, as I shall help thee --
1139 This was thyn ooth, and myn also, certeyn;
This was thy oath, and mine also, certainly;
1140 I woot right wel, thou darst it nat withseyn.
I know right well, thou darest not deny it.
1141 Thus artow of my conseil, out of doute,
Thus thou art my trusted confidant, without doubt,
1142 And now thow woldest falsly been aboute
And now thou wouldest falsely be busy preparing
1143 To love my lady, whom I love and serve,
To love my lady, whom I love and serve,
1144 And evere shal til that myn herte sterve.
And ever shall until my heart dies.
1145 Nay, certes, false Arcite, thow shalt nat so.
Nay, certainly, false Arcite, thou shalt not (do) so.
1146 I loved hire first, and tolde thee my wo
I loved hire first, and told thee my woe
1147 As to my conseil and my brother sworn
As to my confidant and my sworn brother
1148 To forthre me, as I have toold biforn.
To further me, as I have told before.
1149 For which thou art ybounden as a knyght
For which thou art bound as a knight
1150 To helpen me, if it lay in thy myght,
To help me, if it lay in thy power,
1151 Or elles artow fals, I dar wel seyn."
Or else thou art false, I dare well say."
1152 This Arcite ful proudly spak ageyn:
This Arcite full proudly spoke in return:
1153 "Thow shalt," quod he, "be rather fals than I;
"Thou shalt," said he, "be rather false than I;
1154 And thou art fals, I telle thee outrely,
And thou art false, I tell thee flatly,
1155 For paramour I loved hire first er thow.
As a mistress I loved her first before thou.
1156 What wiltow seyen? Thou woost nat yet now
What wilt thou say? Thou knowest not yet now
1157 Wheither she be a womman or goddesse!
Whether she is a woman or goddess!
1158 Thyn is affeccioun of hoolynesse,
Thine is a feeling of holiness,
1159 And myn is love as to a creature;
And mine is love as to a creature;
1160 For which I tolde thee myn aventure
For which I told thee my circumstance
1161 As to my cosyn and my brother sworn.
As to my cousin and my sworn brother.
1162 I pose that thow lovedest hire biforn;
I posit (this assumption): that thou lovedest her first;
1163 Wostow nat wel the olde clerkes sawe,
Knowest thou not well the old clerks' saying,
1164 That `who shal yeve a lovere any lawe?'
That `who shall give a lover any law?'
1165 Love is a gretter lawe, by my pan,
Love is a greater law, by my skull,
1166 Than may be yeve to any erthely man;
Than may be given to any earthly man;
1167 And therfore positif lawe and swich decree
And therefore positive (man-made) law and such decree
1168 Is broken al day for love in ech degree.
Is broken every day for love in every way.
1169 A man moot nedes love, maugree his heed;
A man must of necessity love, in spite of all he can do;
1170 He may nat fleen it, thogh he sholde be deed,
He can not flee (from) it, though he should be dead,
1171 Al be she mayde, or wydwe, or elles wyf.
Whether she be maid, or widow, or else wife.
1172 And eek it is nat likly al thy lyf
And also it is not likely all thy life
1173 To stonden in hir grace; namoore shal I;
To stand in her good graces; no more shall I;
1174 For wel thou woost thyselven, verraily,
For well thou thyself knowest, truly,
1175 That thou and I be dampned to prisoun
That thou and I are condemned to prison
1176 Perpetuelly; us gayneth no raunsoun.
Perpetually; no ransom can help us.
1177 We stryve as dide the houndes for the boon;
We strive as the hounds did for the bone;
1178 They foughte al day, and yet hir part was noon.
They fought all day, and yet their share was nothing.
1179 Ther cam a kyte, whil that they were so wrothe,
There came a kite, while they were so angry,
1180 And baar awey the boon bitwixe hem bothe.
And carried away the bone between them both.
1181 And therfore, at the kynges court, my brother,
And therefore, at the king's court, my brother,
1182 Ech man for hymself, ther is noon oother.
Each man for himself, there is no other (way).
1183 Love, if thee list, for I love and ay shal;
Love, if it please thee, for I love and always shall;
1184 And soothly, leeve brother, this is al.
And truly, dear brother, this is all.
1185 Heere in this prisoun moote we endure,
Here in this prison we must endure,
1186 And everich of us take his aventure."
And each one of us take his chance."
1187 Greet was the strif and long bitwix hem tweye,
Great and long was the strife between them two,
1188 If that I hadde leyser for to seye;
If I had leisure to tell (it);
1189 But to th'effect. It happed on a day,
But to the point. It happened on a day,
1190 To telle it yow as shortly as I may,
To tell it to you as briefly as I can,
1191 A worthy duc that highte Perotheus,
A worthy duke that was called Perotheus,
1192 That felawe was unto duc Theseus
Who was a friend to duke Theseus
1193 Syn thilke day that they were children lite,
Since that same time that they were little children,
1194 Was come to Atthenes his felawe to visite,
Had come to Athens to visit his friend,
1195 And for to pleye as he was wont to do;
And to amuse himself as he was accustomed to do;
1196 For in this world he loved no man so,
For in this world he loved no man so (much),
1197 And he loved hym als tendrely agayn.
And he (Theseus) loved him as tenderly in turn.
1198 So wel they lovede, as olde bookes sayn,
So well they loved, as old books say,
1199 That whan that oon was deed, soothly to telle,
That when one was dead, truly to tell,
1200 His felawe wente and soughte hym doun in helle --
His friend went and sought him down in hell --
1201 But of that storie list me nat to write.
But of that story I do not desire to write.
1202 Duc Perotheus loved wel Arcite,
Duke Perotheus loved well Arcite,
1203 And hadde hym knowe at Thebes yeer by yere,
And had known him at Thebes year after year,
1204 And finally at requeste and preyere
And finally at request and prayer
1205 Of Perotheus, withouten any raunsoun,
Of Perotheus, without any ransom,
1206 Duc Theseus hym leet out of prisoun
Duke Theseus let him out of prison
1207 Frely to goon wher that hym liste over al,
Freely to go all over, wherever he wishes,
1208 In swich a gyse as I you tellen shal.
In such a manner as shall I tell you.
1209 This was the forward, pleynly for t'endite,
This was the agreement, plainly to write,
1210 Bitwixen Theseus and hym Arcite:
Between Theseus and this Arcite:
1211 That if so were that Arcite were yfounde
That if it so were that Arcite were found
1212 Evere in his lif, by day or nyght, oo stounde
Ever in his life, by day or night, at any moment
1213 In any contree of this Theseus,
In any country of this Theseus,
1214 And he were caught, it was acorded thus,
And if he were caught, it was agreed thus,
1215 That with a swerd he sholde lese his heed.
That with a sword he should lose his head.
1216 Ther nas noon oother remedie ne reed;
There was no other remedy nor course of action;
1217 But taketh his leve, and homward he him spedde.
But (he) takes his leave, and homeward he sped.
1218 Lat hym be war! His nekke lith to wedde.
Let him be ware! His neck lies as a pledge.
1219 How greet a sorwe suffreth now Arcite!
How great a sorrow now suffers Arcite!
1220 The deeth he feeleth thurgh his herte smyte;
He feels the death smite through his heart;
1221 He wepeth, wayleth, crieth pitously;
He weeps, wails, cries piteously;
1222 To sleen hymself he waiteth prively.
To slay himself he secretly awaits (an opportunity).
1223 He seyde, "Allas that day that I was born!
He said, "Alas that day that I was born!
1224 Now is my prisoun worse than biforn;
Now my prison is worse than before;
1225 Now is me shape eternally to dwelle
Now I am destined eternally to dwell
1226 Noght in purgatorie, but in helle.
Not in purgatory, but in hell.
1227 Allas, that evere knew I Perotheus!
Alas, that ever I knew Perotheus!
1228 For elles hadde I dwelled with Theseus,
For else I would have remained with Theseus,
1229 Yfetered in his prisoun everemo.
Fettered in his prison evermore.
1230 Thanne hadde I been in blisse and nat in wo.
Then would I have been in bliss and not in woe.
1231 Oonly the sighte of hire whom that I serve,
Only the sight of her whom I serve,
1232 Though that I nevere hir grace may deserve,
Though I never can deserve her grace,
1233 Wolde han suffised right ynough for me.
Would have sufficed right enough for me.
1234 O deere cosyn Palamon," quod he,
O dear cousin Palamon," said he,
1235 "Thyn is the victorie of this aventure.
"The victory of this adventure is thine.
1236 Ful blisfully in prison maistow dure --
Very blissfully in prison thou can remain --
1237 In prison? Certes nay, but in paradys!
In prison? Certainly not, but in paradise!
1238 Wel hath Fortune yturned thee the dys,
Well has Fortune turned the dice for thee,
1239 That hast the sighte of hire, and I th'absence.
That hast the sight of her, and I the absence.
1240 For possible is, syn thou hast hire presence,
For it is possible, since thou hast her presence,
1241 And art a knyght, a worthy and an able,
And art a knight, a worthy and an able (one),
1242 That by som cas, syn Fortune is chaungeable,
That by some chance, since Fortune is changeable,
1243 Thow maist to thy desir somtyme atteyne.
Thou mayest sometime attain thy desire.
1244 But I, that am exiled and bareyne
But I, who am exiled and barren
1245 Of alle grace, and in so greet dispeir
Of all grace, and in so great despair
1246 That ther nys erthe, water, fir, ne eir,
That there is not earth, water, fire, nor air,
1247 Ne creature that of hem maked is,
Nor creature that is made of them,
1248 That may me helpe or doon confort in this,
That can help me or do comfort (to me) in this,
1249 Wel oughte I sterve in wanhope and distresse.
Well ought I to die in despair and distress.
1250 Farwel my lif, my lust, and my gladnesse!
Farwell my life, my desire, and my gladness!
1251 "Allas, why pleynen folk so in commune
"Alas, why do folk so commonly complain
1252 On purveiaunce of God, or of Fortune,
About the providence of God, or of Fortune,
1253 That yeveth hem ful ofte in many a gyse
That gives them full often in many a manner
1254 Wel bettre than they kan hemself devyse?
Much better than they can themselves imagine?
1255 Som man desireth for to han richesse,
One man desires to have riches,
1256 That cause is of his mordre or greet siknesse;
Which is the cause of his murder or great sickness;
1257 And som man wolde out of his prisoun fayn,
And one man would happily (go) out of his prison,
1258 That in his hous is of his meynee slayn.
Who is slain in his house by members of his household.
1259 Infinite harmes been in this mateere.
Infinite harms are in this matter.
1260 We witen nat what thing we preyen heere;
We know not what thing we pray for here;
1261 We faren as he that dronke is as a mous.
We act like one who is drunk as a mouse.
1262 A dronke man woot wel he hath an hous,
A drunk man knows well he has a house,
1263 But he noot which the righte wey is thider,
But he does not know which is the right way to it,
1264 And to a dronke man the wey is slider.
And to a drunk man the way is slippery.
1265 And certes, in this world so faren we;
And certainly, so we fare in this world;
1266 We seken faste after felicitee,
We seek eagerly after felicity,
1267 But we goon wrong ful often, trewely.
But we go wrong very often, truly.
1268 Thus may we seyen alle, and namely I,
Thus can we all say, and especially I,
1269 That wende and hadde a greet opinioun
Who supposed and had a firm belief
1270 That if I myghte escapen from prisoun,
That if I might escape from prison,
1271 Thanne hadde I been in joye and parfit heele,
Then I would have been in joy and perfect well-being,
1272 Ther now I am exiled fro my wele.
Whereas now I am exiled from my source of happiness.
1273 Syn that I may nat seen you, Emelye,
Since I can not see you, Emelye,
1274 I nam but deed; ther nys no remedye."
I am as good as dead; there is not any remedy."
1275 Upon that oother syde Palamon,
Upon that other side Palamon,
1276 Whan that he wiste Arcite was agon,
When he knew Arcite was gone,
1277 Swich sorwe he maketh that the grete tour
He makes such sorrow that the great tour
1278 Resouneth of his youlyng and clamour.
Resounds with his yowling and clamor.
1279 The pure fettres on his shynes grete
The great fetters themselves on his shins
1280 Weren of his bittre, salte teeres wete.
Were wet from his bitter, salt tears.
1281 "Allas," quod he, "Arcita, cosyn myn,
"Alas," said he, "Arcite, cousin mine,
1282 Of al oure strif, God woot, the fruyt is thyn.
Of all our strife, God knows, the profit is thine.
1283 Thow walkest now in Thebes at thy large,
Thou walkest freely now in Thebes,
1284 And of my wo thow yevest litel charge.
And thou care little about my woe.
1285 Thou mayst, syn thou hast wisdom and manhede,
Thou mayest, since thou hast wisdom and manhood,
1286 Assemblen alle the folk of oure kynrede,
Assemble all the folk of our family,
1287 And make a werre so sharp on this citee
And make a war so sharp on this city
1288 That by som aventure or some tretee
That by some chance or some treaty
1289 Thow mayst have hire to lady and to wyf
Thou mayest have her as lady and as wife
1290 For whom that I moste nedes lese my lyf.
For whom I must of necessity lose my life.
1291 For, as by wey of possibilitee,
For, as by way of possibility,
1292 Sith thou art at thy large, of prisoun free,
Since thou art at thy liberty, free of prison,
1293 And art a lord, greet is thyn avauntage
And art a lord, thy advantage is great,
1294 Moore than is myn, that sterve here in a cage.
More than is mine, who die here in a cage.
1295 For I moot wepe and wayle, whil I lyve,
For I must weep and wail, while I live,
1296 With al the wo that prison may me yive,
With all the woe that prison may give me,
1297 And eek with peyne that love me yeveth also,
And also with pain that love gives me also,
1298 That doubleth al my torment and my wo."
That doubles all my torment and my woe."
1299 Therwith the fyr of jalousie up sterte
With that the fire of jealousy started up
1300 Withinne his brest, and hente him by the herte
Within his breast, and seized him by the heart
1301 So woodly that he lyk was to biholde
So madly that he was to look upon like
1302 The boxtree or the asshen dede and colde.
The box tree or the ash dead and cold.
1303 Thanne seyde he, "O crueel goddes that governe
Then said he, "O cruel gods that govern
1304 This world with byndyng of youre word eterne,
This world with binding of your eternal word,
1305 And writen in the table of atthamaunt
And write in the table of adamant (hardest of stones)
1306 Youre parlement and youre eterne graunt,
Your decision and your eternal decree,
1307 What is mankynde moore unto you holde
Why is mankind more obligated unto you
1308 Than is the sheep that rouketh in the folde?
Than is the sheep that cowers in the sheepfold?
1309 For slayn is man right as another beest,
For man is slain exactly like another beast,
1310 And dwelleth eek in prison and arreest,
And dwells also in prison and detention,
1311 And hath siknesse and greet adversitee,
And has sickness and great adversity,
1312 And ofte tymes giltelees, pardee.
And often times guiltless, indeed.
1313 "What governance is in this prescience,
"What (sort of) governance is in this foreknowledge,
1314 That giltelees tormenteth innocence?
That torments guiltless innocence?
1315 And yet encresseth this al my penaunce,
And yet this increases all my suffering,
1316 That man is bounden to his observaunce,
That man is bound to his duty,
1317 For Goddes sake, to letten of his wille,
For God's sake, to refrain from his desire,
1318 Ther as a beest may al his lust fulfille.
Whereas a beast may fulfill all his desire.
1319 And whan a beest is deed he hath no peyne;
And when a beast is dead he has no pain;
1320 But man after his deeth moot wepe and pleyne,
But man after his death must weep and lament,
1321 Though in this world he have care and wo.
Though in this world he may have (had) care and woe.
1322 Withouten doute it may stonden so.
Without doubt such is the case.
1323 The answere of this lete I to dyvynys,
The answer to this I leave to theologians,
1324 But wel I woot that in this world greet pyne ys.
But well I know that great pain is in this world.
1325 Allas, I se a serpent or a theef,
Alas, I see a serpent or a thief,
1326 That many a trewe man hath doon mescheef,
That has done mischief to many a true man,
1327 Goon at his large, and where hym list may turne.
Go at his liberty, and can go where he pleases.
1328 But I moot been in prisoun thurgh Saturne,
But I must be in prison because of Saturn,
1329 And eek thurgh Juno, jalous and eek wood,
And also because of Juno, jealous and also mad,
1330 That hath destroyed wel ny al the blood
Who has destroyed well nigh all the blood
1331 Of Thebes with his waste walles wyde;
Of Thebes with its wide devastated walls;
1332 And Venus sleeth me on that oother syde
And Venus slays me on that other side
1333 For jalousie and fere of hym Arcite."
For jealousy and fear of this Arcite."
1334 Now wol I stynte of Palamon a lite,
Now will I cease (speaking of) of Palamon for a little while,
1335 And lete hym in his prisoun stille dwelle,
And leave him to dwell in his prison still,
1336 And of Arcita forth I wol yow telle.
And of Arcite forth I will tell you.
1337 The somer passeth, and the nyghtes longe
The summer passes, and the long nights
1338 Encressen double wise the peynes stronge
Increase doubly the strong pains
1339 Bothe of the lovere and the prisoner.
Both of the lover and the prisoner.
1340 I noot which hath the wofuller mester.
I know not which has the more woeful task.
1341 For, shortly for to seyn, this Palamoun
For, briefly to say (it), this Palamon
1342 Perpetuelly is dampned to prisoun,
Is damned perpetually to prison,
1343 In cheynes and in fettres to been deed;
In chains and in fetters to be dead;
1344 And Arcite is exiled upon his heed
And Arcite is exiled on threat of losing his head
134e For everemo, as out of that contree,
For evermore, out of that country,
1346 Ne nevere mo ne shal his lady see.
Nor nevermore shall see his lady.
1347 Yow loveres axe I now this questioun:
Yow lovers now I ask this question:
1348 Who hath the worse, Arcite or Palamoun?
Who has the worse, Arcite or Palamon?
1349 That oon may seen his lady day by day,
That one may see his lady every day,
1350 But in prison he moot dwelle alway;
But in prison he must always dwell;
1351 That oother wher hym list may ride or go,
That other where he pleases may ride or walk,
1352 But seen his lady shal he nevere mo.
But he shall see his lady nevermore.
1353 Now demeth as yow liste, ye that kan,
Now judge as it pleases you, you who know (of such things),
1354 For I wol telle forth as I bigan.
For I will tell forth as I began.
Explicit prima pars
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