Gold THE GEOFFREY CHAUCER PAGE


 

The Man of Law's Introduction, Prologue, Tale, and Epilogue

An Interlinear Translation

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

(How to use the interlinear translations.)

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Introduction to The Man of Law's Tale

 

The wordes of the Hoost to the compaignye.

 

1          Oure Hooste saugh wel that the brighte sonne
                 Our Host saw well that the bright sun
2          The ark of his artificial day hath ronne
                 The arc of his twelve-hour day has run
3          The ferthe part, and half an houre and moore,
                 One fourth, and half an hour and more,
4          And though he were not depe ystert in loore,
                 And though he was not far advanced in learning,
5          He wiste it was the eightetethe day
                 He knew it was the eighteenth day
6          Of Aprill, that is messager to May;
                 Of April, that is messenger to May;
7          And saugh wel that the shadwe of every tree
                 And saw well that the shadow of every tree
8          Was in lengthe the same quantitee
                 Was in length the same quantity
9          That was the body erect that caused it.
                 As was the erect body that caused it.
10          And therefore by the shadwe he took his wit
                 And therefore by the shadow he judged
11          That Phebus, which that shoon so clere and brighte,
                 That Phoebus, which shone so clear and bright,
12          Degrees was fyve and fourty clombe on highte,
                 Five and forty degrees had climbed on height,
13          And for that day, as in that latitude,
                 And for that day, in that latitude,
14          It was ten of the clokke, he gan conclude,
                 It was ten o'clock, he did conclude,
15          And sodeynly he plighte his horse aboute.
                 And suddenly he pulled his horse about.

16          "Lordynges," quod he, "I warne yow, al this route,
                 "Gentlemen," said he, "I warn you, all this company,
17          The fourthe party of this day is gon.
                 One fourth of this day is gone.
18          Now for the love of God and of Seint John,
                 Now for the love of God and of Saint John,
19          Leseth no tyme, as ferforth as ye may.
                 Lose no time, insofar as you can.
20          Lordynges, the tyme wasteth nyght and day,
                 Gentlemen, the time wastes away night and day,
21          And steleth from us, what pryvely slepynge,
                 And steals from us, in part imperceptibly when sleeping,
22          And what thurgh necligence in oure wakynge,
                 And in part through negligence when we are awake,
23          As dooth the streem that turneth nevere agayn,
                 As does the stream that never turns back,
24          Descendynge from the mountaigne into playn.
                 Descending from the mountain into the plain.
25          Wel kan Senec and many a philosophre
                 Well can Seneca and many a philosopher
26          Biwaillen tyme moore than gold in cofre;
                 Bewail time more than gold in coffer;
27          For `Los of catel may recovered be,
                 For `Loss of property may be recovered,
28          But los of tyme shendeth us,' quod he.
                 But loss of time ruins us,' said he.
29          It wol nat come agayn, withouten drede,
                 It will not come again, without doubt,
30          Nomoore than wole Malkynes maydenhede,
                 No more than will Malkin's maidenhead,
31          Whan she hath lost it in hir wantownesse.
                 When she has lost it in her wantonness.
32          Lat us nat mowlen thus in ydelnesse.
                 Let us not grow moldy thus in idleness.

33          "Sire Man of Lawe," quod he, "so have ye blis,
                 "Sir Man of Law," said he, "as you may have bliss,
34          Telle us a tale anon, as forward is.
                 Tell us a tale now, as was agreed.
35          Ye been submytted, thurgh youre free assent,
                 You have submitted, through your free assent,
36          To stonden in this cas at my juggement.
                 To stand in this case at my judgment.
37          Acquiteth yow now of youre biheeste;
                 Now fulfill your promise;
38          Thanne have ye do youre devoir atte leeste."
                 Then have you done your duty at the least."

39          "Hooste," quod he, "depardieux, ich assente;
                 "Host," said he, "in God's name, I assent;
40          To breke forward is nat myn entente.
                 To break our agreement is not my intent.
41          Biheste is dette, and I wole holde fayn
                 Promise is debt, and I will eagerly keep
42          Al my biheste, I kan no bettre sayn.
                 All my promise, I can say no better.
43          For swich lawe as a man yeveth another wight,
                 For such law as a man gives another person,
44          He sholde hymselven usen it, by right;
                 He should himself use it, by right;
45          Thus wole oure text. But nathelees, certeyn,
                 Thus our text will have it. But nonetheless, certainly,
46          I kan right now no thrifty tale seyn
                 Right now I can tell no suitable tale
47          That Chaucer, thogh he kan but lewedly
                 That Chaucer, though he is ignorant
48          On metres and on rymyng craftily,
                 Of meters and of riming craftily,
49          Hath seyd hem in swich Englissh as he kan
                 Has (not already) said them in such English as he knows
50          Of olde tyme, as knoweth many a man;
                 Long ago, as knows many a man;
51          And if he have noght seyd hem, leve brother,
                 And if he has not said them, dear brother,
52          In o book, he hath seyd hem in another.
                 In one book, he has said them in another.
53          For he hath toold of loveris up and doun
                 For he has told of lovers up and down
54          Mo than Ovide made of mencioun
                 More than Ovid made mention of
55          In his Episteles, that been ful olde.
                 In his Epistles, that are very old.
56          What sholde I tellen hem, syn they been tolde?
                 Why should I tell them, since they have been told?

57          "In youthe he made of Ceys and Alcione,
                 "In youth he wrote about Ceyx and Alcion,
58          And sitthen hath he spoken of everichone,
                 And since has he spoken of each one,
59          Thise noble wyves and thise loveris eke.
                 These noble wives and these lovers also.
60          Whoso that wole his large volume seke,
                 Whoever will seek his large volume,
61          Cleped the Seintes Legende of Cupide,
                 Called the Saints' Legend of Cupid,
62          Ther may he seen the large woundes wyde
                 There may he see the large wounds wide
63          Of Lucresse, and of Babilan Tesbee;
                 Of Lucretia, and Thisbe of Babylon;
64          The swerd of Dido for the false Enee;
                 The sword of Dido (used) because of the false Aeneas;
65          The tree of Phillis for hire Demophon;
                 The tree of Phyllis for her Demophon;
66          The pleinte of Dianire and of Hermyon,
                 The complaint of Deianire and of Hermione,
67          Of Adriane, and of Isiphilee --
                 Of Ariadne, and of Hypsipyle --
68          The bareyne yle stondynge in the see --
                 The barren isle standing in the sea --
69          The dreynte Leandre for his Erro;
                 The drowned Leander for his Hero;
70          The teeris of Eleyne, and eek the wo
                 The tears of Helen, and also the woe
71          Of Brixseyde, and of the, Ladomya;
                 Of Briseis, and of thee, Laodamia;
72          The crueltee of the, queene Medea,
                 The cruelty of thee, queen Medea,
73          Thy litel children hangynge by the hals,
                 Thy little children hanging by the neck,
74          For thy Jason, that was of love so fals!
                 Because of thy Jason, that was in love so false!
75          O Ypermystra, Penelopee, Alceste,
                 O Hypermnestra, Penelope, Alcestis,
76          Youre wifhod he comendeth with the beste!
                 Your wifehood he commends with the best!

77          "But certeinly no word ne writeth he
                 "But certainly no word writes he
78          Of thilke wikke ensample of Canacee,
                 Of that wicked example of Canace,
79          That loved hir owene brother synfully --
                 Who loved her own brother sinfully --
80          Of swiche cursed stories I sey fy! --
                 Of such cursed stories I say fie! --
81          Or ellis of Tyro Appollonius,
                 Or else of Apollonius of Tyre,
82          How that the cursed kyng Antiochus
                 How that the cursed king Antiochus
83          Birafte his doghter of hir maydenhede,
                 Deprived his daughter of her maidenhead,
84          That is so horrible a tale for to rede,
                 That is so horrible a tale to read,
85          Whan he hir threw upon the pavement.
                 When he threw her upon the pavement.
86          And therfore he, of ful avysement,
                 And therefore he, after careful consideration
87          Nolde nevere write in none of his sermons
                 Would never write in any of his compositions
88          Of swiche unkynde abhomynacions,
                 Of such unnatural abominations,
89          Ne I wol noon reherce, if that I may.
                 Nor will I tell any such, if that I may.

90          "But of my tale how shal I doon this day?
                 "But of my tale what shall I do this day?
91          Me were looth be likned, doutelees,
                 I would hate to be likened, doubtless,
92          To Muses that men clepe Pierides --
                 To the Muses that men call Pierides --
93          Methamorphosios woot what I mene;
                 Metamorphoses shows what I mean;
94          But nathelees, I recche noght a bene
                 But nonetheless, I reckon it not worth a bean
95          Though I come after hym with hawebake.
                 Though I come after him with a humble dish.
96          I speke in prose, and lat him rymes make."
                 I speak in prose, and let him make rhymes."
97          And with that word he, with a sobre cheere,
                 And with that word he, with a solemn demeanor,
98          Bigan his tale, as ye shal after heere.
                 Began his tale, as you shall after hear.

 

The Prologue of the Man of Law's Tale

 

The Prologe of the Mannes Tale of Law

 

99          O hateful harm, condicion of poverte!
                   O hateful harm, condition of poverty!
100          With thurst, with coold, with hunger so confoundid!
                   By thirst, by cold, by hunger so distressed!
101          To asken help thee shameth in thyn herte;
                   To ask help thou art ashamed in thy heart;
102          If thou noon aske, with nede artow so woundid
                   If thou ask for none, thou art so wounded by need
103          That verray nede unwrappeth al thy wounde hid!
                   That true need reveals all thy hidden wound!
104          Maugree thyn heed, thou most for indigence
                   Despite all you can do, thou must for indigence
105          Or stele, or begge, or borwe thy despence!
                   Either steal, or beg, or borrow thy living expenses!

106          Thow blamest Crist and seist ful bitterly
                   Thou blamest Christ and sayest full bitterly
107          He mysdeparteth richesse temporal;
                   He wrongly allots temporal riches;
108          Thy neighebor thou wytest synfully,
                   Thy neighbor thou blamest sinfully,
109          And seist thou hast to lite and he hath al.
                   And sayest thou hast too little and he has all.
110          "Parfay," seistow, "somtyme he rekene shal,
                   "By my faith," sayest thou, "sometimes he shall pay for it,
111          Whan that his tayl shal brennen in the gleede,
                   When his tail shall burn in the live coals,
112          For he noght helpeth needfulle in hir neede."
                   For he helps not the needy in their need."

113          Herkne what is the sentence of the wise:
                   Listen to what is the opinion of the wise:
114          "Bet is to dyen than have indigence";
                   "Better it is to die than to have poverty";
115          "Thy selve neighebor wol thee despise."
                   "Thy very neighbor will despise thee."
116          If thou be povre, farwel thy reverence!
                   If thou be poor, farewell thy reverence!
117          Yet of the wise man take this sentence:
                   Yet of the wise man take this advice:
118          "Alle the dayes of povre men been wikke."
                   "All the days of poor men are painful."
119          Be war, therfore, er thou come to that prikke!
                   Beware, therefore, before thou come to that point!

120          If thou be povre, thy brother hateth thee,
                   If thou be poor, thy brother hates thee,
121          And alle thy freendes fleen from thee, allas!
                   And all thy friends flee from thee, alas!
122          O riche marchauntz, ful of wele been yee,
                   O rich merchants, full of prosperity are you,
123          O noble, o prudent folk, as in this cas!
                   O noble, o prudent folk, in such a case as this!
124          Youre bagges been nat fild with ambes as,
                   Your bags are not filled with double aces (a losing throw in dice),
125          But with sys cynk, that renneth for youre chaunce;
                   But with six five, that is your winning number;
126          At Cristemasse myrie may ye daunce!
                   At Christmas merrily may you dance!

127          Ye seken lond and see for yowre wynnynges;
                   You seek land and sea for your winnings;
128          As wise folk ye knowen al th' estaat
                   As wise folk you know all the condition
129          Of regnes; ye been fadres of tidynges
                   Of (foreign) lands; you are fathers of tidings
130          And tales, bothe of pees and of debaat.
                   And tales, both of peace and of war.
131          I were right now of tales desolaat,
                   I would right now be without any tales,
132          Nere that a marchant, goon is many a yeere,
                   Were it not that a merchant, gone by is many a year,
133          Me taughte a tale, which that ye shal heere.
                   Taught me a tale, which you shall hear.

 


The Man of Law's Tale

 

Heere begynneth the Man of Lawe his tale.

 

 

134          In Surrye whilom dwelte a compaignye
                   In Syria once dwelt a company
135          Of chapmen riche, and therto sadde and trewe,
                   Of rich merchants, and moreover trustworthy and true,
136          That wyde-where senten hir spicerye,
                   That wherever they sent their oriental goods,
137          Clothes of gold, and satyns riche of hewe.
                   Cloth of gold, and satins rich in color.
138          Hir chaffare was so thrifty and so newe
                   Their merchandise was so serviceable and so novel
139          That every wight hath deyntee to chaffare
                   That every person has desire to trade
140          With hem, and eek to sellen hem hire ware.
                   With them, and also to sell them their goods.

141          Now fil it that the maistres of that sort
                   Now it happened that the masters of that company
142          Han shapen hem to Rome for to wende;
                   Have prepared themselves to travel to Rome;
143          Were it for chapmanhod or for disport,
                   Were it for business or for pleasure,
144          Noon oother message wolde they thider sende,
                   No other messenger would they thither send,
145          But comen hemself to Rome; this is the ende.
                   But came themselves to Rome; this is the sum of it.
146          And in swich place as thoughte hem avantage
                   And in such a place as they thought advantageous
147          For hire entente, they take hir herbergage.
                   For their purposes, they take their lodging.

148          Sojourned han thise merchantz in that toun
                   These merchants have sojourned in that town
149          A certein tyme, as fil to hire plesance.
                   A certain length of time, as accorded with their desires.
150          And so bifel that th' excellent renoun
                   And it so happened that the excellent renown
151          Of the Emperoures doghter, dame Custance,
                   Of the Emperor's daughter, Lady Custance,
152          Reported was, with every circumstance,
                   Was reported, in full detail,
153          Unto thise Surryen marchantz in swich wyse,
                   Unto these Syrian merchants in such a manner,
154          Fro day to day, as I shal yow devyse.
                   From day to day, as I shall tell you.

155          This was the commune voys of every man:
                   This was the common opinion of every man:
156          "Oure Emperour of Rome -- God hym see! --
                   "Our Emperor of Rome -- may God look after him! --
157          A doghter hath that, syn the world bigan,
                   A daughter has that, since the world began,
158          To rekene as wel hir goodnesse as beautee,
                   To consider as well her goodness as beauty,
159          Nas nevere swich another as is shee.
                   There was never such another as is she.
160          I prey to God in honour hire susteene,
                   I pray to God to sustain her in honor,
161          And wolde she were of al Europe the queene.
                   And would she were of all Europe the queen.

162          "In hire is heigh beautee, withoute pride,
                   "In her is great beauty, without pride,
163          Yowthe, withoute grenehede or folye;
                   Youth, without immaturity or folly;
164          To alle hire werkes vertu is hir gyde;
                   In all her deeds virtue is her guide;
165          Humblesse hath slayn in hire al tirannye.
                   Humility has slain in her all tyranny.
166          She is mirour of alle curteisye;
                   She is mirror of all courtesy;
167          Hir herte is verray chambre of hoolynesse,
                   Her heart is a true chamber of holiness,
168          Hir hand, ministre of fredam for almesse."
                   Her hand, minister of generosity in giving alms."

169          And al this voys was sooth, as God is trewe.
                   And all this opinion was true, as God is true.
170          But now to purpos lat us turne agayn.
                   But now to the point let us turn again.
171          Thise marchantz han doon fraught hir shippes newe,
                   These merchants have had their ships newly loaded,
172          And whan they han this blisful mayden sayn,
                   And when they have this blissful maiden seen,
173          Hoom to Surrye been they went ful fayn,
                   Home to Syria they have gone very happily,
174          And doon hir nedes as they han doon yoore,
                   And they conduct their business as they have done for years,
175          And lyven in wele; I kan sey yow namoore.
                   And live in prosperity; I can tell you no more.

176          Now fil it that thise marchantz stode in grace
                   Now it happened that these merchants stood in the good graces
177          Of hym that was the Sowdan of Surrye;
                   Of him that was the Sultan of Syria;
178          For whan they cam from any strange place,
                   For when they came from any foreign place,
179          He wolde, of his benigne curteisye,
                   He would, of his gracious courtesy,
180          Make hem good chiere, and bisily espye
                   Entertain them well, and busily seek out
181          Tidynges of sondry regnes, for to leere
                   News from various countries, to learn
182          The wondres that they myghte seen or heere.
                   The wonders that they could have seen or heard.

183          Amonges othere thynges, specially,
                   Amongst other things, specially,
184          Thise marchantz han hym toold of dame Custance
                   These merchants have told him of Lady Custance
185          So greet noblesse in ernest, ceriously,
                   Such great noble qualities in earnest, in detail,
186          That this Sowdan hath caught so greet plesance
                   That this Sultan has caught such great desire
187          To han hir figure in his remembrance,
                   To have her figure in his remembrance,
188          That al his lust and al his bisy cure
                   That all his desire and all his intense concern
189          Was for to love hire while his lyf may dure.
                   Was to love her while his life may endure.

190          Paraventure in thilke large book
                   Perhaps in that large book
191          Which that men clepe the hevene ywriten was
                   Which men call the heaven was written
192          With sterres, whan that he his birthe took,
                   In stars, when he was born,
193          That he for love sholde han his deeth, allas!
                   That he because of love should have his death, alas!
194          For in the sterres, clerer than is glas,
                   For in the stars, clearer than is glass,
195          Is writen, God woot, whoso koude it rede,
                   Is written, God knows, whoever could read it,
196          The deeth of every man, withouten drede.
                   The death of every man, without doubt.

197          In sterres, many a wynter therbiforn,
                   In stars, many a winter before then,
198          Was writen the deeth of Ector, Achilles,
                   Was written the death of Hector, Achilles,
199          Of Pompei, Julius, er they were born;
                   Of Pompey, Julius, before they were born;
200          The strif of Thebes; and of Ercules,
                   The strife of Thebes; and of Hercules,
201          Of Sampson, Turnus, and of Socrates
                   Of Sampson, Turnus, and of Socrates
202          The deeth; but mennes wittes ben so dulle
                   The death; but men's wits are so dull
203          That no wight kan wel rede it atte fulle.
                   That no person can well interpret it fully.

204          This Sowdan for his privee conseil sente,
                   This Sultan for his privy council sent,
205          And, shortly of this matiere for to pace,
                   And, to pass briefly over this matter,
206          He hath to hem declared his entente,
                   He has to them declared his intent,
207          And seyde hem, certein, but he myghte have grace
                   And said to them, certainly, unless he could have the good fortune
208          To han Custance withinne a litel space,
                   To have Custance within a little time,
209          He nas but deed; and charged hem in hye
                   He was as good as dead; and ordered them hastily
210          To shapen for his lyf som remedye.
                   To arrange some remedy to save his life .

211          Diverse men diverse thynges seyden;
                   Different men said different things;
212          They argumenten, casten up and doun;
                   They argue, consider alternatives;
213          Many a subtil resoun forth they leyden;
                   Many a subtle argument they laid forth;
214          They speken of magyk and abusioun.
                   They speak of magic and deception.
215          But finally, as in conclusioun,
                   But finally, in conclusion,
216          They kan nat seen in that noon avantage,
                   They can not see any advantage in that,
217          Ne in noon oother wey, save mariage.
                   Nor in any other way, save for marriage.

218          Thanne sawe they therinne swich difficultee
                   Then saw they in that such difficulty
219          By wey of reson, for to speke al playn,
                   By way of reason, to speak all plainly,
220          By cause that ther was swich diversitee
                   Because there was such difference
221          Bitwene hir bothe lawes, that they sayn
                   Between their two religions, that they say
222          They trowe that no "Cristen prince wolde fayn
                   They suppose that no "Christian prince would be willing
223          Wedden his child under oure lawe sweete
                   To wed his child under our sweet religion
224          That us was taught by Mahoun, oure prophete."
                   That was taught us by Mohammed, our prophet."

225          And he answerde, "Rather than I lese
                   And he answered, "Rather than I lose
226          Custance, I wol be cristned, doutelees.
                   Custance, I will be christened, doubtless.
227          I moot been hires; I may noon oother chese.
                   I must be hers; I can choose no other.
228          I prey yow hoold youre argumentz in pees;
                   I pray you to keep your arguments silent;
229          Saveth my lyf, and beth noght recchelees
                   Save my life, and be not negligent
230          To geten hire that hath my lyf in cure,
                   To get her who has my life in her keeping,
231          For in this wo I may nat longe endure."
                   For in this woe I can not long endure."

232          What nedeth gretter dilatacioun?
                   What needs greater increase of words?
233          I seye, by tretys and embassadrie,
                   I say, by treaty and negotiation,
234          And by the popes mediacioun,
                   And by the pope's mediation,
235          And al the chirche, and al the chivalrie,
                   And all the church, and all the knights,
236          That in destruccioun of mawmettrie,
                   That for the destruction of idolatry,
237          And in encrees of Cristes lawe deere,
                   And for the increase of Christ's dear law,
238          They been acorded, so as ye shal heere:
                   They are agreed, as you shall hear:

239          How that the Sowdan and his baronage
                   That the Sultan and his baronage
240          And alle his liges sholde ycristned be,
                   And all his vassals should christened be,
241          And he shal han Custance in mariage,
                   And he shall have Custance in marriage,
242          And certein gold, I noot what quantitee;
                   And a certain amount of gold, I do not know how much;
243          And heer-to founden sufficient suretee.
                   And for this provided sufficient pledges.
244          This same accord was sworn on eyther syde;
                   This same agreement was sworn on either side;
245          Now, faire Custance, almyghty God thee gyde!
                   Now, fair Custance, almighty God thee guide!

246          Now wolde som men waiten, as I gesse,
                   Now would some men expect, as I guess,
247          That I sholde tellen al the purveiance
                   That I should tell all the preparations
248          That th' Emperour, of his grete noblesse,
                   That the Emperor, of his great nobility,
249          Hath shapen for his doghter, dame Custance.
                   Has arranged for his daughter, Lady Custance.
250          Wel may men knowen that so greet ordinance
                   Well may men know that such great preparation
251          May no man tellen in a litel clause
                   No man can tell in a brief statement
252          As was arrayed for so heigh a cause.
                   As was provided for so important an occasion.

253          Bisshopes been shapen with hire for to wende,
                   Bishops are appointed to go with her,
254          Lordes, ladies, knyghtes of renoun,
                   Lords, ladies, knights of renown,
255          And oother folk ynowe; this is th' ende;
                   And other folk enough; this is the sum of it;
256          And notified is thurghout the toun
                   And it is made known throughout the town
257          That every wight, with greet devocioun,
                   That every person, with great devotion,
258          Sholde preyen Crist that he this mariage
                   Should pray Christ that He this marriage
259          Receyve in gree and spede this viage.
                   Receive favorably and lend success to this voyage.

260          The day is comen of hir departynge;
                   The day is come of her departure;
261          I seye, the woful day fatal is come,
                   I say, the woeful fatal day is come,
262          That ther may be no lenger tariynge,
                   That there may be no longer tarrying,
263          But forthward they hem dressen, alle and some.
                   But to go forth they prepare themselves, one and all.
264          Custance, that was with sorwe al overcome,
                   Custance, that was with sorrow all overcome,
265          Ful pale arist, and dresseth hire to wende;
                   Full pale arises, and prepares herself to go;
266          For wel she seeth ther is noon oother ende.
                   For well she sees there is no other possible conclusion.

267          Allas, what wonder is it thogh she wepte,
                   Alas, what wonder is it though she wept,
268          That shal be sent to strange nacioun
                   She who shall be sent to a foreign nation
269          Fro freendes that so tendrely hire kepte,
                   From friends who so tenderly cared for her,
270          And to be bounden under subjeccioun
                   And to be bound under subjection
271          Of oon, she knoweth nat his condicioun?
                   By one, (of whom) she knows not his character?
272          Housbondes been alle goode, and han ben yoore;
                   Husbands are all good, and have been for years;
273          That knowen wyves; I dar sey yow na moore.
                   Wives know that; I dare say you no more.

274          "Fader," she seyde, "thy wrecched child Custance,
                   "Father," she said, "thy wretched child Custance,
275          Thy yonge doghter fostred up so softe,
                   Thy young daughter fostered up so tenderly,
276          And ye, my mooder, my soverayn plesance
                   And you, my mother, my greatest joy
277          Over alle thyng, out-taken Crist on-lofte,
                   Over all things, except Christ above,
278          Custance youre child hire recomandeth ofte
                   Custance your child commends herself often
279          Unto youre grace, for I shal to Surrye,
                   Unto your grace, for I must go to Syria,
280          Ne shal I nevere seen yow moore with ye.
                   Nor shall I never see you again with my eyes.

281          "Allas, unto the Barbre nacioun
                   "Alas, unto the pagan world
282          I moste anoon, syn that it is youre wille;
                   I must go right now, since it is your will;
283          But Crist, that starf for our redempcioun
                   But Christ, that died for our redemption
284          So yeve me grace his heestes to fulfille!
                   Give me grace his commands to fulfill!
285          I, wrecche womman, no fors though I spille!
                   I, wretched woman, no matter though I die!
286          Wommen are born to thraldom and penance,
                   Women are born to servitude and suffering,
287          And to been under mannes governance."
                   And to be under man's governance."

288          I trowe at Troye, whan Pirrus brak the wal
                   I believe at Troy, when Pirrus broke the wall
289          Or Ilion brende, at Thebes the citee,
                   Before Ilion burned, at Thebes the city,
290          N' at Rome, for the harm thurgh Hanybal
                   Nor at Rome, for the harm wrought by Hannibal
291          That Romayns hath venquysshed tymes thre,
                   Who has vanquished Romans three times,
292          Nas herd swich tendre wepyng for pitee
                   Was not heard such tender weeping for pity
293          As in the chambre was for hire departynge;
                   As in the chamber was for her departing;
294          But forth she moot, wher-so she wepe or synge.
                   But forth she must go, whether she weeps or sings.

295          O firste moevyng! Crueel firmament,
                   O first moving! Cruel firmament,
296          With thy diurnal sweigh that crowdest ay
                   With thy daily motion that pushes ever
297          And hurlest al from est til occident
                   And hurls all from east to west
298          That naturelly wolde holde another way,
                   That naturally would go the other way,
299          Thy crowdyng set the hevene in swich array
                   Thy impetus set the heaven in such an arrangement
300          At the bigynnyng of this fiers viage,
                   At the beginning of this dangerous voyage,
301          That crueel Mars hath slayn this mariage.
                   That cruel Mars has slain this marriage.
302          Infortunat ascendent tortuous,
                   Unfortunate ascending oblique house, [see n.]
303          Of which the lord is helplees falle, allas,
                   From which the lord, helpless, has fallen, alas,
304          Out of his angle into the derkeste hous!
                   Out of his angle into the most unfavorable house!
305          O Mars, o atazir, as in this cas!
                   O Mars, o dominant planet, in this case!
306          O fieble moone, unhappy been thy paas!
                   O feeble moon, unhappy are thy steps!
307          Thou knyttest thee ther thou art nat receyved;
                   Thou join thyself where thou art not (well) received;
308          Ther thou were weel, fro thennes artow weyved.
                   Where thou were well, from thence art thou driven away.

309          Imprudent Emperour of Rome, allas!
                   Imprudent Emperor of Rome, alas!
310          Was ther no philosophre in al thy toun?
                   Was there no astrologer in all thy town?
311          Is no tyme bet than oother in swich cas?
                   Is no time better than another in such a case?
312          Of viage is ther noon eleccioun,
                   For voyages is there no choice of a favorable time,
313          Namely to folk of heigh condicioun?
                   Especially for folk of noble social status?
314          Noght whan a roote is of a burthe yknowe?
                   Not when an exact date of a birth is known?
315          Allas, we been to lewed or to slowe!
                   Alas, we are too ignorant or too slow in wit!

316          To shippe is brought this woful faire mayde
                   To ship is brought this woeful fair maid
317          Solempnely, with every circumstance.
                   Solemnly, with every ceremony.
318          "Now Jhesu Crist be with yow alle!" she sayde;
                   "Now Jesus Christ be with you all!" she said;
319          Ther nys namoore, but "Farewel, faire Custance!"
                   There is no more, but "Farewell, fair Custance!"
320          She peyneth hire to make good contenance;
                   She takes pains to make a cheerful appearance;
321          And forth I lete hire saille in this manere,
                   And forth I let her sail in this manner,
322          And turne I wole agayn to my matere.
                   And turn I will again to my subject matter.

323          The mooder of the Sowdan, welle of vices,
                   The mother of the Sultan, well of vices,
324          Espied hath hir sones pleyn entente,
                   Espied has her son's full intention,
325          How he wol lete his olde sacrifices;
                   How he will leave his old sacrifices;
326          And right anon she for hir conseil sente,
                   And right away she sent for her council,
327          And they been come to knowe what she mente.
                   And they are come to know what she intended.
328          And whan assembled was this folk in-feere,
                   And when this folk was assembled together,
329          She sette hire doun, and seyde as ye shal heere.
                   She set herself down, and said as you shall hear.

330          "Lordes," quod she, "ye knowen everichon,
                   "Lords," said she, "you know each one of you,
331          How that my sone in point is for to lete
                   How my son is about to forsake
332          The hooly lawes of our Alkaron,
                   The holy laws of our Koran,
333          Yeven by Goddes message Makomete.
                   Given by God's messenger Mohammed.
334          But oon avow to grete God I heete,
                   But one vow to great God I promise,
335          The lyf shal rather out of my body sterte
                   The life shall rather out of my body go
336          Or Makometes lawe out of myn herte!
                   Before Mohammed's law (goes) out of my heart!

337          "What sholde us tyden of this newe lawe
                   "What should come to us from this new religion
338          But thraldom to oure bodies and penance,
                   Except slavery to our bodies and suffering,
339          And afterward in helle to be drawe,
                   And afterward to be dragged into hell,
340          For we reneyed Mahoun oure creance?
                   Because we renounced our faith in Mohammed?
341          But, lordes, wol ye maken assurance,
                   But, lords, will you make assurance,
342          As I shal seyn, assentynge to my loore,
                   As I shall say, assenting to my teaching,
343          And I shal make us sauf for everemoore?"
                   And I shall make us safe for evermore?"

344          They sworen and assenten, every man,
                   They swore and agree, every man,
345          To lyve with hire and dye, and by hire stonde,
                   To live with her and die, and by her stand,
346          And everich, in the beste wise he kan,
                   And every one, in the best way he can,
347          To strengthen hire shal alle his frendes fonde;
                   To strengthen her shall try (to persuade) all his friends;
348          And she hath this emprise ytake on honde,
                   And she has this enterprise taken in hand,
349          Which ye shal heren that I shal devyse,
                   Which you shall hear as I shall tell,
350          And to hem alle she spak right in this wyse:
                   And to them all she spoke right in this manner:

351          "We shul first feyne us cristendom to take --
                   "We shall first pretend to receive Christendom --
352          Coold water shal nat greve us but a lite! --
                   Cold water shall not grieve us but a little! --
353          And I shal swich a feeste and revel make
                   And I shall such a feast and revel make
354          That, as I trowe, I shal the Sowdan quite.
                   That, as I believe, I shall pay back the Sultan.
355          For thogh his wyf be cristned never so white,
                   For though his wife be christened never so white,
356          She shal have nede to wasshe awey the rede,
                   She shall have need to wash away the red,
357          Thogh she a font-ful water with hire lede."
                   Though she a baptismal font full of water bring with her."

358          O Sowdanesse, roote of iniquitee!
                   O Sultaness, root of iniquity!
359          Virago, thou Semyrame the secounde!
                   Virago, thou Semiramis the second!
360          O serpent under femynynytee,
                   O serpent under (cover of) femininity,
361          Lik to the serpent depe in helle ybounde!
                   Like the serpent deep in hell bound!
362          O feyned womman, al that may confounde
                   O feigned woman, that can destroy all
363          Vertu and innocence, thurgh thy malice,
                   Virtue and innocence, through thy malice,
364          Is bred in thee, as nest of every vice!
                   That is bred in thee, nest of every vice!

365          O Sathan, envious syn thilke day
                   O Satan, envious since that same day
366          That thou were chaced from oure heritage,
                   That thou were chased from our heritage,
367          Wel knowestow to wommen the olde way!
                   Well knowest thou the old way to women!
368          Thou madest Eva brynge us in servage;
                   Thou madest Eva bring us into slavery;
369          Thou wolt fordoon this Cristen mariage.
                   Thou wilt destroy this Christian marriage.
370          Thyn instrument so -- weylawey the while! --
                   Thy instrument thus -- alas the times! --
371          Makestow of wommen, whan thou wolt bigile.
                   Makest thou of women, when thou wilt deceive.

372          This Sowdanesse, whom I thus blame and warye,
                   This Sultaness, whom I thus blame and curse,
373          Leet prively hire conseil goon hire way.
                   Privately had her council go their way.
374          What sholde I in this tale lenger tarye?
                   Why should I in this tale longer tarry?
375          She rydeth to the Sowdan on a day,
                   She rides to the Sultan on a day,
376          And seyde hym that she wolde reneye hir lay,
                   And said to him that she would renounce her religion,
377          And cristendom of preestes handes fonge,
                   And take Christendom from a priest's hands,
378          Repentynge hire she hethen was so longe,
                   Repenting that she heathen was so long,

379          Bisechynge hym to doon hire that honour,
                   Beseeching him to do her that honor,
380          That she moste han the Cristen folk to feeste --
                   That she might have the Christian folk to feast --
381          "To plesen hem I wol do my labour."
                   "To please them I will work hard."
382          The Sowdan seith, "I wol doon at youre heeste,"
                   The Sultan says, "I will act according to your command."
383          And knelynge thanketh hire of that requeste.
                   And kneeling thanks her for that request.
384          So glad he was, he nyste what to seye.
                   So glad he was, he knew not what to say.
385          She kiste hir sone, and hoom she gooth hir weye.
                   She kissed her son, and home she goes her way.

 

 

Explicit prima pars.
Here ends the first part.

 

(To test your knowledge of the language thus far
click here).

 

Sequitur pars secunda.
The second part follows.

 

386          Arryved been this Cristen folk to londe
                   This Christian folk have come to land
387          In Surrye, with a greet solempne route,
                   In Syria, with a great solemn company,
388          And hastifliche this Sowdan sente his sonde
                   And hastily this Sultan sent his messenger
389          First to his mooder, and al the regne aboute,
                   First to his mother, and all the reign about,
390          And seyde his wyf was comen, out of doute,
                   And said his wife was come, without doubt,
391          And preyde hire for to ryde agayn the queene,
                   And prayed her to ride to meet the queen,
392          The honour of his regne to susteene.
                   The honor of his reign to sustain.

393          Greet was the prees, and riche was th' array
                   Large was the crowd, and rich was the assembly
394          Of Surryens and Romayns met yfeere;
                   Of Syrians and Romans met together;
395          The mooder of the Sowdan, riche and gay,
                   The mother of the Sultan, richly dressed and gay,
396          Receyveth hire with also glad a cheere
                   Receives her with as glad a demeanor
397          As any mooder myghte hir doghter deere,
                   As any mother might have for her daughter dear,
398          And to the nexte citee ther bisyde
                   And to the nearest city there beside
399          A softe paas solempnely they ryde.
                   At a slow pace solemnly they ride.

400          Noght trowe I the triumphe of Julius,
                   I do not believe the triumph of Julius,
401          Of which that Lucan maketh swich a boost,
                   Of which Lucan makes such a boastful account,
402          Was roialler ne moore curius
                   Was more royal nor more splendid
403          Than was th' assemblee of this blisful hoost.
                   Than was the assembly of this blissful host.
404          But this scorpioun, this wikked goost,
                   But this scorpion, this wicked spirit,
405          The Sowdanesse, for al hire flaterynge,
                   The Sultaness, for all her flattering,
406          Caste under this ful mortally to stynge.
                   Planned, under cover of this, very mortally to sting.

407          The Sowdan comth hymself soone after this
                   The Sultan comes himself soon after this
408          So roially that wonder is to telle,
                   So royally that it is a wonder to tell,
409          And welcometh hire with alle joye and blis.
                   And welcomes her with all joy and bliss.
410          And thus in murthe and joye I lete hem dwelle;
                   And thus in mirth and joy I let them remain;
411          The fruyt of this matiere is that I telle.
                   The essential part of this matter is what I tell.
412          Whan tyme cam, men thoughte it for the beste
                   When time came, men thought it for the best
413          That revel stynte, and men goon to hir reste.
                   That revel should stint, and people go to their rest.

414          The tyme cam, this olde Sowdanesse
                   The time having come, this old Sultaness
415          Ordeyned hath this feeste of which I tolde,
                   Has arranged this feast of which I told,
416          And to the feeste Cristen folk hem dresse
                   And to the feast Christian folk go
417          In general, ye, bothe yonge and olde.
                   All together, yes, both young and old.
418          Heere may men feeste and roialtee biholde,
                   Here may men behold feasting and royalty,
419          And deyntees mo than I kan yow devyse;
                   And dainties more than I can tell you;
420          But al to deere they boghte it er they ryse.
                   But all too dear they paid for it before they rise (from the feast).

421          O sodeyn wo, that evere art successour
                   O sudden woe, that ever art successor
422          To worldly blisse, spreynd with bitternesse,
                   To worldly bliss, sprinkled with bitterness,
423          The ende of the joye of oure worldly labour!
                   The end of the joy of our worldly labor!
424          Wo occupieth the fyn of oure gladnesse.
                   Woe takes over at the end of our gladness.
425          Herke this conseil for thy sikernesse:
                   Hearken to this counsel for thy safety:
426          Upon thy glade day have in thy mynde
                   Upon thy glad day have in thy mind
427          The unwar wo or harm that comth bihynde.
                   The unexpected woe or harm that follows.

428          For shortly for to tellen, at o word,
                   For shortly to tell, at one word,
429          The Sowdan and the Cristen everichone
                   The Sultan and the Christians each one
430          Been al tohewe and stiked at the bord,
                   Are all hacked to pieces and stabbed at the table,
431          But it were oonly dame Custance allone.
                   Except for only Lady Custance alone.
432          This olde Sowdanesse, cursed krone,
                   This old Sultaness, cursed crone,
433          Hath with hir freendes doon this cursed dede,
                   Has with her friends done this cursed deed,
434          For she hirself wolde al the contree lede.
                   For she herself wanted to rule all the country.

435          Ne ther was Surryen noon that was converted,
                   Nor there was any Syrian that was converted,
436          That of the conseil of the Sowdan woot,
                   Who knew of the counsel of the Sultan (followed his advice),
437          That he nas al tohewe er he asterted.
                   Who was not all hacked to pieces before he could escape.
438          And Custance han they take anon, foot-hoot,
                   And Custance have they taken right then, immediately,
439          And in a ship al steerelees, God woot,
                   And in a ship entirely without a rudder, God knows,
440          They han hir set, and bidde hire lerne saille
                   They have set her, and told her to learn to sail
441          Out of Surrye agaynward to Ytaille.
                   Out of Syria back to Italy.

442          A certein tresor that she thider ladde,
                   A certain amount of treasure that she brought there,
443          And, sooth to seyn, vitaille greet plentee
                   And, to say the truth, a great store of provisions
444          They han hire yeven, and clothes eek she hadde,
                   They have given her, and clothes also she had,
445          And forth she sailleth in the salte see.
                   And forth she sails in the salt see.
446          O my Custance, ful of benignytee,
                   O my Custance, full of goodness,
447          O Emperoures yonge doghter deere,
                   O Emperor's young daughter dear,
448          He that is lord of Fortune be thy steere!
                   He that is lord of Fortune be thy rudder!

449          She blesseth hire, and with ful pitous voys
                   She blesses herself, and with full pitiful voice
450          Unto the croys of Crist thus seyde she:
                   Unto the cross of Christ thus said she:
451          "O cleere, o welful auter, hooly croys,
                   "O clear, o blessed altar, holy cross,
452          Reed of the Lambes blood ful of pitee,
                   Red with the blood of the Lamb full of pity,
453          That wessh the world fro the olde iniquitee,
                   That washed the world from the old iniquity,
454          Me fro the feend and fro his clawes kepe,
                   Keep me from the fiend and from his claws,
455          That day that I shal drenchen in the depe.
                   That day that I shall drown in the deep.

456          "Victorious tree, proteccioun of trewe,
                   "Victorious tree, protection of true (believers),
457          That oonly worthy were for to bere
                   That alone was worthy to bear
458          The Kyng of Hevene with his woundes newe,
                   The King of Heaven with his fresh wounds,
459          The white Lamb, that hurt was with a spere,
                   The white Lamb, that hurt was with a spear,
460          Flemere of feendes out of hym and here
                   Banisher of fiends out of man and woman
461          On which thy lymes feithfully extenden,
                   Over which thy limbs faithfully extend,
462          Me kepe, and yif me myght my lyf t' amenden."
                   Guard me, and give me power my life to amend."

463          Yeres and dayes fleet this creature
                   Years and days floated this creature
464          Thurghout the See of Grece unto the Strayte
                   Throughout the Sea of Greece unto the Strait
465          Of Marrok, as it was hire aventure.
                   Of Gibraltar, as it was her lot.
466          On many a sory meel now may she bayte;
                   On many a sorry meal now may she feed;
467          After hir deeth ful often may she wayte,
                   Full often may she expect her death,
468          Er that the wilde wawes wol hire dryve
                   Before the wild waves will drive her
469          Unto the place ther she shal arryve.
                   Unto the place where she shall come to land.

470          Men myghten asken why she was nat slayn
                   Men might ask why she was not slain
471          Eek at the feeste? Who myghte hir body save?
                   Also at the feast? Who could save her body?
472          And I answere to that demande agayn,
                   And I answer to that question in reply,
473          Who saved Danyel in the horrible cave
                   Who saved Daniel in the horrible cave
474          Ther every wight save he, maister and knave,
                   Where every person except for him, master and servant,
475          Was with the leon frete er he asterte?
                   Was devoured by the lion before he could escape?
476          No wight but God that he bar in his herte.
                   No one but God Whom he bore in his heart.

477          God liste to shewe his wonderful myracle
                   God wanted to show his wonderful miracle
478          In hire, for we sholde seen his myghty werkis;
                   In her, so that we should see his mighty works;
479          Crist, which that is to every harm triacle,
                   Christ, Who is a medicine for every harm,
480          By certeine meenes ofte, as knowen clerkis,
                   By certain means often, as know clerks,
481          Dooth thyng for certein ende that ful derk is
                   Does something for a certain reason that is very obscure
482          To mannes wit, that for oure ignorance
                   To man's understanding, which, because of our ignorance,
483          Ne konne noght knowe his prudent purveiance.
                   Can not know His prudent foresight.

484          Now sith she was nat at the feeste yslawe,
                   Now since she was not slain at the feast,
485          Who kepte hire fro the drenchyng in the see?
                   Who kept her from the drowning in the sea?
486          Who kepte Jonas in the fisshes mawe
                   Who kept Jonas in the fish's maw
487          Til he was spouted up at Nynyvee?
                   Until he was spouted up at Nineveh?
488          Wel may men knowe it was no wight but he
                   Well may men know it was no one but He
489          That kepte peple Ebrayk from hir drenchynge,
                   Who kept the Hebrew people from their drowning,
490          With drye feet thurghout the see passynge.
                   With dry feet through the sea passing.

491          Who bad the foure spirites of tempest
                   Who commanded the four spirits of tempest
492          That power han t' anoyen lond and see,
                   That have power to harm land and sea,
493          Bothe north and south, and also west and est,
                   Both north and south, and also west and east,
494          "Anoyeth neither see, ne land, ne tree"?
                   "Harm neither sea, nor land, nor tree"?
495          Soothly, the comandour of that was he
                   Truly, the commander of that was He
496          That fro the tempest ay this womman kepte
                   Who from the tempest always this woman guarded
497          As wel whan she wook as whan she slepte.
                   As well when she woke as when she slept.

498          Where myghte this womman mete and drynke have
                   Where could this woman have food and drink
499          Thre yeer and moore? How lasteth hire vitaille?
                   Three years and more? How lasts her store of provisions?
500          Who fedde the Egipcien Marie in the cave,
                   Who fed the Egyptian Mary in the cave,
501          Or in desert? No wight but Crist, sanz faille.
                   Or in desert? No person but Christ, without doubt.
502          Fyve thousand folk it was as greet mervaille
                   It was as great marvel five thousand folk
503          With loves fyve and fisshes two to feede.
                   To feed with five loaves and two fish.
504          God sente his foyson at hir grete neede.
                   God sent his plenty at their great need.

505          She dryveth forth into oure occian
                   She drives forth into our ocean
506          Thurghout oure wilde see, til atte laste
                   Throughout our wild sea, until at the last
507          Under an hoold that nempnen I ne kan,
                   Next to a castle that I can not name,
508          Fer in Northhumberlond the wawe hire caste,
                   Far in Northumberland the waves cast her,
509          And in the sond hir ship stiked so faste
                   And in the sand her ship stuck so fast
510          That thennes wolde it noght of al a tyde;
                   That thence it would not (move) for the duration of an entire tide;
511          The wyl of Crist was that she sholde abyde.
                   The will of Christ was that she should remain there.

512          The constable of the castel doun is fare
                   The constable of the castle down has come
513          To seen this wrak, and al the ship he soghte,
                   To see this wreck, and all the ship he searched,
514          And foond this wery womman ful of care;
                   And found this weary woman full of care;
515          He foond also the tresor that she broghte.
                   He found also the treasure that she brought.
516          In hir langage mercy she bisoghte,
                   In her language mercy she besought,
517          The lyf out of hir body for to twynne,
                   The life out of her body to take away,
518          Hire to delivere of wo that she was inne.
                   Her to deliver from the woe that she was in.

519          A maner Latyn corrupt was hir speche,
                   A sort of corrupt Latin was her speech,
520          But algates therby was she understonde.
                   But nonetheless by means of this she was understood.
521          The constable, whan hym lyst no longer seche,
                   The constable, when he desired no longer to search,
522          This woful womman broghte he to the londe.
                   This woeful woman he brought to the land.
523          She kneleth doun and thanketh Goddes sonde;
                   She kneels down and gives thanks for what God has sent;
524          But what she was she wolde no man seye,
                   But who she was she would tell no man,
525          For foul ne fair, thogh that she sholde deye.
                   For anything, though she should die.

526          She seyde she was so mazed in the see
                   She said she was so bewildered in the sea
527          That she forgat hir mynde, by hir trouthe.
                   That she lost her memory, by her pledged word (she swore).
528          The constable hath of hire so greet pitee,
                   The constable has for her such great pity,
529          And eek his wyf, that they wepen for routhe.
                   And also his wife, that they weep for pity.
530          She was so diligent, withouten slouthe,
                   She was so diligent, without laziness,
531          To serve and plesen everich in that place
                   To serve and please every one in that place
532          That alle hir loven that looken in hir face.
                   That all who look in her face love her.

533          This constable and dame Hermengyld, his wyf,
                   This constable and Lady Hermengild, his wife,
534          Were payens, and that contree everywhere;
                   Were pagans, and (so was) that country everywhere;
535          But Hermengyld loved hire right as hir lyf,
                   But Hermengild loved her as much as her life,
536          And Custance hath so longe sojourned there,
                   And Custance has so long lived there,
537          In orisons, with many a bitter teere,
                   In prayers, with many a bitter tear,
538          Til Jhesu hath converted thurgh his grace
                   Until Jesus has converted through his grace
539          Dame Hermengyld, constablesse of that place.
                   Dame Hermengild, wife of the constable of that place.

540          In al that lond no Cristen dorste route;
                   In all that land no Christians dared assemble;
541          Alle Cristen folk been fled fro that contree
                   All Christian folk have fled from that country
542          Thurgh payens, that conquereden al aboute
                   Because of pagans, that conquered all about
543          The plages of the north, by land and see.
                   The coastal regions of the north, by land and sea.
544          To Walys fledde the Cristyanytee
                   To Wales fled the Christian people
545          Of olde Britons dwellynge in this ile;
                   Of old Britons dwelling in this isle;
546          Ther was hir refut for the meene while.
                   There was their refuge at that time.

547          But yet nere Cristene Britons so exiled
                   But yet Christian Britons were not so (completely) exiled
548          That ther nere somme that in hir privetee
                   That there were not some that in their secrecy
549          Honoured Crist and hethen folk bigiled,
                   Honored Christ and deceived the heathen folk,
550          And ny the castel swiche ther dwelten three.
                   And near the castle there dwelt three such (Christians).
551          That oon of hem was blynd and myghte nat see,
                   The one of them was blind and could not see,
552          But it were with thilke eyen of his mynde
                   Unless it were with those eyes of his mind
553          With whiche men seen, after that they ben blynde.
                   With which men see, after they have become blind.

554          Bright was the sonne as in that someres day,
                   Bright was the sun in that summer's day,
555          For which the constable and his wyf also
                   For which the constable and his wife also
556          And Custance han ytake the righte way
                   And Custance have taken the direct route
557          Toward the see a furlong wey or two,
                   Toward the sea an eighth of a mile or two,
558          To pleyen and to romen to and fro,
                   To amuse themselves and to roam to and fro,
559          And in hir walk this blynde man they mette,
                   And in their walk this blind man they met,
560          Croked and oold, with eyen faste yshette.
                   Bent over and old, with eyes fast shut.

561          "In name of Crist," cride this blinde Britoun,
                   "In the name of Christ," cried this blind Briton,
562          "Dame Hermengyld, yif me my sighte agayn!"
                   "Dame Hermengild, give me my sight again!"
563          This lady weex affrayed of the soun,
                   This lady grew afraid of these words,
564          Lest that hir housbonde, shortly for to sayn,
                   Lest that her husband, shortly to say,
565          Wolde hire for Jhesu Cristes love han slayn,
                   Would have slain her for Jesus Christ's love,
566          Til Custance made hire boold, and bad hire wirche
                   Until Custance made her bold, and told her to work
567          The wyl of Crist, as doghter of his chirche.
                   The will of Christ, as daughter of his church.

568          The constable weex abasshed of that sight,
                   The constable grew troubled at that sight,
569          And seyde, "What amounteth al this fare?"
                   And said, "What does all this business mean?"
570          Custance answerde, "Sire, it is Cristes myght,
                   Custance answered, "Sir, it is Christ's might,
571          That helpeth folk out of the feendes snare."
                   That helps folk out of the fiend's snare."
572          And so ferforth she gan oure lay declare
                   And so completely she did our religion explain
573          That she the constable, er that it was eve
                   That she the constable, before it was evening,
574          Converteth, and on Crist made hym bileve.
                   Converts, and made him believe in Christ.

575          This constable was nothyng lord of this place
                   This constable was in no way lord of this place
576          Of which I speke, ther he Custance fond,
                   Of which I speak, where he Custance found,
577          But kepte it strongly many a wyntres space
                   But kept it securely many a winter's space of time
578          Under Alla, kyng of al Northhumbrelond,
                   Under Alla, king of all Northumberland,
579          That was ful wys, and worthy of his hond
                   Who was full wise, and worthy of his hand (a mighty warrior)
580          Agayn the Scottes, as men may wel heere;
                   Against the Scots, as men may well hear;
581          But turne I wole agayn to my mateere.
                   But I will turn again to my subject.

582          Sathan, that evere us waiteth to bigile,
                   Satan, that ever waits (for a chance) to trick us,
583          Saugh of Custance al hire perfeccioun,
                   Saw of Custance all her perfection,
584          And caste anon how he myghte quite hir while,
                   And considered right away how he might repay her,
585          And made a yong knyght that dwelte in that toun
                   And made a young knight that dwelt in that town
586          Love hire so hoote, of foul affeccioun,
                   Love her so passionately, by foul desire,
587          That verraily hym thoughte he sholde spille,
                   That truly he thought he should die,
588          But he of hire myghte ones have his wille.
                   Unless he might once have his will of her.

589          He woweth hire, but it availleth noght;
                   He woos her, but it avails not;
590          She wolde do no synne, by no weye.
                   She would do no sin, in no way.
591          And for despit he compassed in his thoght
                   And for malice he plotted in his mind
592          To maken hire on shameful deeth to deye.
                   To make her in a shameful death to die.
593          He wayteth whan the constable was aweye,
                   He waits until the constable was away,
594          And pryvely upon a nyght he crepte
                   And secretly one night he crept
595          In Hermengyldes chambre, whil she slepte.
                   In Hermengild's bedroom, while she slept.

596          Wery, forwaked in hire orisouns,
                   Weary, exhausted because of her prayers,
597          Slepeth Custance, and Hermengyld also.
                   Sleeps Custance, and Hermengild also.
598          This knyght, thurgh Sathanas temptaciouns,
                   This knight, through Satan's temptations,
599          Al softely is to the bed ygo,
                   Very quietly has gone to the bed,
600          And kitte the throte of Hermengyld atwo,
                   And cut the throat of Hermengild in two,
601          And leyde the blody knyf by dame Custance,
                   And laid the bloody knife by Lady Custance,
602          And wente his wey, ther God yeve hym meschance!
                   And went his way, may God give him misfortune!

603          Soone after cometh this constable hoom agayn,
                   Soon after, this constable comes home again,
604          And eek Alla, that kyng was of that lond,
                   And also Alla, who was king of that land,
605          And saugh his wyf despitously yslayn,
                   And saw his wife mercilessly slain,
606          For which ful ofte he weep and wroong his hond,
                   For which full often he wept and wrung his hands,
607          And in the bed the blody knyf he fond
                   And in the bed the bloody knife he found
608          By Dame Custance. Allas, what myghte she seye?
                   By Lady Custance. Alas, what could she say?
609          For verray wo hir wit was al aweye.
                   For sheer woe her wit was all away.

610          To kyng Alla was toold al this meschance,
                   To king Alla was told all this misfortune,
611          And eek the tyme, and where, and in what wise
                   And also the time, and where, and in what manner
612          That in a ship was founden this Custance,
                   That in a ship was found this Custance,
613          As heer-biforn that ye han herd devyse.
                   As before this you have heard tell.
614          The kynges herte of pitee gan agryse,
                   The king's heart for pity trembled,
615          Whan he saugh so benigne a creature
                   When he saw so good a creature
616          Falle in disese and in mysaventure.
                   Fallen in distress and in misfortune.

617          For as the lomb toward his deeth is broght,
                   For as the lamb toward its death is brought,
618          So stant this innocent bifore the kyng.
                   So stands this innocent before the king.
619          This false knyght, that hath this tresoun wroght,
                   This false knight, who has this treason wrought,
620          Berth hire on hond that she hath doon thys thyng.
                   Falsely testifies that she has done this thing.
621          But nathelees, ther was greet moornyng
                   But nonetheless, there was great mourning
622          Among the peple, and seyn they kan nat gesse
                   Among the people, and they say they can not imagine
623          That she had doon so greet a wikkednesse,
                   That she had done so great a wickedness,

624          For they han seyn hire evere so vertuous,
                   For they have seen her always so virtuous,
625          And lovynge Hermengyld right as hir lyf.
                   And loving Hermengild as much as her life.
626          Of this baar witnesse everich in that hous,
                   Of this bore witness every one in that house,
627          Save he that Hermengyld slow with his knyf.
                   Except for him who slew Hermengild with his knife.
628          This gentil kyng hath caught a greet motyf
                   This gentle king was deeply moved
629          Of this witnesse, and thoghte he wolde enquere
                   By this witness, and thought he would enquire
630          Depper in this, a trouthe for to lere.
                   Deeper in this, to learn the truth.

631          Allas! Custance, thou hast no champioun,
                   Alas! Custance, thou hast no champion,
632          Ne fighte kanstow noght, so weylaway!
                   And fight can thou not, alas!
633          But he that starf for our redempcioun,
                   But He that died for our redemption,
634          And boond Sathan (and yet lith ther he lay),
                   And bound Satan (and he yet lies where he lay),
635          So be thy stronge champion this day!
                   So be thy strong champion this day!
636          For, but if Crist open myracle kithe,
                   For, unless Christ a clear miracle reveals,
637          Withouten gilt thou shalt be slayn as swithe.
                   Without guilt thou shalt be slain immediately.

638          She sette hire doun on knees, and thus she sayde:
                   She set herself down on knees, and thus she said:
639          "Immortal God, that savedest Susanne
                   "Immortal God, that savedest Susannah
640          Fro false blame, and thou, merciful mayde,
                   From false blame, and thou, merciful maid,
641          Marie I meene, doghter to Seint Anne,
                   Mary I mean, daughter to Saint Anne,
642          Bifore whos child angeles synge Osanne,
                   Before whose child angels sing Hosanna,
643          If I be giltlees of this felonye,
                   If I be guiltless of this felony,
644          My socour be, for ellis shal I dye!"
                   My succor be, for otherwise I shall dye!"

645          Have ye nat seyn somtyme a pale face,
                   Have you not seen sometime a pale face,
646          Among a prees, of hym that hath be lad
                   Among a crowd, of him that has been led
647          Toward his deeth, wher as hym gat no grace,
                   Toward his death, where he got no reprieve,
648          And swich a colour in his face hath had
                   And such a color in his face has had
649          Men myghte knowe his face that was bistad
                   Men might know his face that was in trouble
650          Amonges alle the faces in that route?
                   Amongst all the faces in that route?
651          So stant Custance, and looketh hire aboute.
                   So stands Custance, and looks around her.

652          O queenes, lyvynge in prosperitee,
                   O queens, living in prosperity,
653          Duchesses, and ye ladyes everichone,
                   Duchesses, and you ladies each one,
654          Haveth som routhe on hire adversitee!
                   Have some pity on her adversity!
655          An Emperoures doghter stant allone;
                   An Emperor's daughter stands alone;
656          She hath no wight to whom to make hir mone.
                   She has no person to whom to lament (plead for help).
657          O blood roial, that stondest in this drede,
                   O blood royal, that stands in this dreadful state,
658          Fer been thy freendes at thy grete nede!
                   Far away are thy friends at thy great need!

659          This Alla kyng hath swich compassioun,
                   This king Alla has such compassion,
660          As gentil herte is fulfild of pitee,
                   Since a noble heart is filled with pity,
661          That from his eyen ran the water doun.
                   That from his eyes ran the water down.
662          "Now hastily do fecche a book," quod he,
                   "Now hastily have a book fetched," said he,
663          "And if this knyght wol sweren how that she
                   "And if this knight will swear how that she
664          This womman slow, yet wol we us avyse
                   Slew this woman, then will we think carefully about
665          Whom that we wole that shal been oure justise."
                   Whom we desire to be our judge (i.e., bring her to trial)."

666          A Britoun book, written with Evaungiles,
                   A British book, in which were written the gospels,
667          Was fet, and on this book he swoor anoon
                   Was fetched, and on this book he swore at once
668          She gilty was, and in the meene whiles
                   That she was guilty, and in the same moment
669          An hand hym smoot upon the nekke-boon,
                   A hand struck him upon the neck-boon,
670          That doun he fil atones as a stoon,
                   That down he fell at once like a stone,
671          And bothe his eyen broste out of his face
                   And both his eyes burst out of his face
672          In sighte of every body in that place.
                   In sight of every body in that place.

673          A voys was herd in general audience,
                   A voice was heard by everyone there,
674          And seyde, "Thou hast desclaundred, giltelees,
                   And it said, "Thou hast slandered, guiltless,
675          The doghter of hooly chirche in heigh presence;
                   The daughter of holy church in the presence of the High One (God);
676          Thus hastou doon, and yet holde I my pees!"
                   Thus hast thou done, and yet I hold my peace!"
677          Of this mervaille agast was al the prees;
                   Of this marvel terrified was all the crowd of people;
678          As mazed folk they stoden everichone,
                   Like bewildered folk they stood each one,
679          For drede of wreche, save Custance allone.
                   For fear of vengeance, except for Custance alone.

680          Greet was the drede and eek the repentance
                   Great was the fear and also the repentance
681          Of hem that hadden wrong suspecioun
                   Of them that had a wrong suspicion
682          Upon this sely innocent, Custance;
                   Of this blessed innocent, Custance;
683          And for this miracle, in conclusioun,
                   And because of this miracle, in conclusion,
684          And by Custances mediacioun,
                   And by Custance's mediation,
685          The kyng -- and many another in that place --
                   The king -- and many another in that place --
686          Converted was, thanked be Cristes grace!
                   Converted was, thanked be Christ's grace!

687          This false knyght was slayn for his untrouthe
                   This false knight was slain for his untruth
688          By juggement of Alla hastifly;
                   By judgment of Alla immediately;
689          And yet Custance hadde of his deeth greet routhe.
                   And yet Custance had for his death great pity.
690          And after this Jhesus, of his mercy,
                   And after this Jesus, of His mercy,
691          Made Alla wedden ful solempnely
                   Made Alla wed full solemnly
692          This hooly mayden, that is so bright and sheene;
                   This holy maiden, that is so bright and beautiful;
693          And thus hath Crist ymaad Custance a queene.
                   And thus has Christ made Custance a queen.

694          But who was woful, if I shal nat lye,
                   But who was woeful, if I shall not lie,
695          Of this weddyng but Donegild, and namo,
                   Of this wedding but Donegild, and no others,
696          The kynges mooder, ful of tirannye?
                   The king's mother, full of tyranny?
697          Hir thoughte hir cursed herte brast atwo.
                   She thought her cursed heart broke in two.
698          She wolde noght hir sone had do so;
                   She wished that her son had not done so;
699          Hir thoughte a despit that he sholde take
                   She thought it an insult that he should take
700          So strange a creature unto his make.
                   So foreign a creature as his mate.

701          Me list nat of the chaf, ne of the stree,
                   I do not want of the chaff, nor of the straw,
702          Maken so long a tale as of the corn.
                   To make so long a tale as of the grain (the essential part).
703          What sholde I tellen of the roialtee
                   Why should I tell of the royalty
704          At mariage, or which cours goth biforn;
                   At the marriage, or which course goes before;
705          Who bloweth in a trumpe or in an horn?
                   Who blows in a trumpet or in a horn?
706          The fruyt of every tale is for to seye:
                   The fruit (the essential part) of every tale is to be told:
707          They ete, and drynke, and daunce, and synge, and pleye.
                   They eat, and drink, and dance, and sing, and play.

708          They goon to bedde, as it was skile and right;
                     They go to bed, as it was reasonable and right;
709          For thogh that wyves be ful hooly thynges,
                     For though wives are full holy things,
710          They moste take in pacience at nyght
                     They must take in patience at night
711          Swiche manere necessaries as been plesynges
                     Such sorts of necessary acts as are pleasing
712          To folk that han ywedded hem with rynges,
                     To folk that have wedded them with rings,
713          And leye a lite hir hoolynesse aside,
                     And (they must) lay their holiness aside a little while,
714          As for the tyme -- it may no bet bitide.
                     As for the time being -- it can be no better.

715          On hire he gat a knave child anon,
                   On her he begot a male child quickly,
716          And to a bisshop, and his constable eke,
                   And to a bishop, and his constable also,
717          He took his wyf to kepe, whan he is gon
                   He gave his wife to protect, when he is gone
718          To Scotlond-ward, his foomen for to seke.
                   Toward Scotland, his foemen to seek.
719          Now faire Custance, that is so humble and meke,
                   Now fair Custance, who is so humble and meek,
720          So longe is goon with childe, til that stille
                   So long is gone with child, until that quietly
721          She halt hire chambre, abidyng Cristes wille.
                   She keeps to her chamber, abiding Christ's will.

722          The tyme is come a knave child she beer;
                   The time is come a male child she bore;
723          Mauricius at the fontstoon they hym calle.
                   Mauricius at the baptismal font they call him.
724          This constable dooth forth come a messageer,
                   This constable orders a messenger to come forth,
725          And wroot unto his kyng, that cleped was Alle,
                   And wrote unto his king, who was called Alla,
726          How that this blisful tidyng is bifalle,
                   How this blissful event has occurred,
727          And othere tidynges spedeful for to seye.
                   And other tidings useful to be said.
728          He taketh the lettre, and forth he gooth his weye.
                   He takes the letter, and forth he goes his way.

729          This messager, to doon his avantage,
                   This messenger, to do (something for) his profit,
730          Unto the kynges mooder rideth swithe,
                   Unto the king's mother rides quickly,
731          And salueth hire ful faire in his langage:
                   And salutes her full fair in his language:
732          "Madame," quod he, "ye may be glad and blithe,
                   "Madame," said he, "you may be glad and happy,
733          And thanketh God an hundred thousand sithe!
                   And thank God a hundred thousand times!
734          My lady queene hath child, withouten doute,
                   My lady queen has a child, without doubt,
735          To joye and blisse to al this regne aboute.
                   As a joy and bliss to all this reign about.

736          "Lo, heere the lettres seled of this thyng,
                   "Lo, here (are) the letters sealed of this business,
737          That I moot bere with al the haste I may.
                   That I must bear with all the haste I can.
738          If ye wol aught unto youre sone the kyng,
                   If you will (send) anything unto your son the king,
739          I am youre servant, bothe nyght and day."
                   I am at your service, both night and day."
740          Donegild answerde, "As now at this tyme, nay;
                   Donegild answered, "Right now, at this time, no;
741          But heere al nyght I wol thou take thy reste.
                   But here all night I want that thou take thy rest.
742          To-morwe wol I seye thee what me leste."
                   Tomorrow will I say to thee what I wish."

743          This messager drank sadly ale and wyn,
                   This messenger drank heavily ale and wine,
744          And stolen were his lettres pryvely
                   And stolen were his letters secretly
745          Out of his box, whil he sleep as a swyn;
                   Out of his box, while he slept like a pig;
746          And countrefeted was ful subtilly
                   And counterfeited was full subtly
747          Another lettre, wroght ful synfully,
                   Another letter, made full sinfully,
748          Unto the kyng direct of this mateere
                   Directed unto the king concerning this matter
749          Fro his constable, as ye shal after heere.
                   From his constable, as you shall after hear.

750          The lettre spak the queene delivered was
                   The letter said the queen delivered was
751          Of so horrible a feendly creature
                   Of so horrible a fiendish creature
752          That in the castel noon so hardy was
                   That in the castle no one was so bold
753          That any while dorste ther endure.
                   That for any length of time dared to remain near it.
754          The mooder was an elf, by aventure
                   The mother was an evil spirit, by chance
755          Ycomen, by charmes or by sorcerie,
                   Come, by charms or by sorcery,
756          And every wight hateth hir compaignye.
                   And every person hates her company.

757          Wo was this kyng whan he this lettre had sayn,
                   Woe was this king when he this letter had seen,
758          But to no wight he tolde his sorwes soore,
                   But to no person he told his painful sorrows,
759          But of his owene hand he wroot agayn,
                   But by his own hand he wrote in answer,
760          "Welcome the sonde of Crist for everemoore
                   "Welcome be the dispensation of Christ for evermore
761          To me that am now lerned in his loore!
                   To me that am now learned in his teaching!
762          Lord, welcome be thy lust and thy plesaunce;
                   Lord, welcome be thy desire and thy pleasure;
763          My lust I putte al in thyn ordinaunce.
                   I put all my will in thy governance.

764          "Kepeth this child, al be it foul or feir,
                   "Guard this child, whether it be foul or fair,
765          And eek my wyf, unto myn hoom-comynge.
                   And also my wife, until my home-coming.
766          Crist, whan hym list, may sende me an heir
                   Christ, when He pleases, may send me an heir
767          Moore agreable than this to my likynge."
                   Moore agreeable than this to my desire."
768          This lettre he seleth, pryvely wepynge,
                   This letter he seals, secretly weeping,
769          Which to the messager was take soone,
                   Which to the messenger was given soon,
770          And forth he gooth; ther is na moore to doone.
                   And forth he goes; there is nothing more to do.

771          O messager, fulfild of dronkenesse,
                   O messenger, filled with drunkenness,
772          Strong is thy breeth, thy lymes faltren ay,
                   Strong is thy breath, thy limbs ever tremble,
773          And thou biwreyest alle secreenesse.
                   And thou betray all secrets.
774          Thy mynde is lorn, thou janglest as a jay,
                   Thy mind is lost, thou chatter like a jay,
775          Thy face is turned in a newe array.
                   Thy face is completely changed.
776          Ther dronkenesse regneth in any route,
                   Where drunkenness reigns in any group,
777          Ther is no conseil hyd, withouten doute.
                   There is no secret hidden, without doubt.

778          O Donegild, I ne have noon Englissh digne
                   O Donegild, I do not have any English suitable (to describe)
779          Unto thy malice and thy tirannye!
                   Unto thy malice and thy tyranny!
780          And therfore to the feend I thee resigne;
                   And therefore to the fiend I thee consign;
781          Lat hym enditen of thy traitorie!
                   Let him write about thy treachery!
782          Fy, mannysh, fy! -- o nay, by God, I lye --
                   Fie, like a man, fie! -- o nay, by God, I lie --
783          Fy, feendlych spirit, for I dar wel telle,
                   Fie, like a fiendish spirit, for I dare well tell,
784          Thogh thou heere walke, thy spirit is in helle!
                   Though thou here walk, thy spirit is in hell!

785          This messager comth fro the kyng agayn,
                   This messenger comes from the king again,
786          And at the kynges moodres court he lighte,
                   And at the king's mother's court he dismounted,
787          And she was of this messager ful fayn,
                   And she was very happy because of this messenger,
788          And plesed hym in al that ever she myghte.
                   And (she) pleased him in all that ever she could.
789          He drank, and wel his girdel underpighte;
                   He drank, and well stuffed (drink) under his belt;
790          He slepeth, and he fnorteth in his gyse
                   He sleeps, and he snorts in his way
791          Al nyght, til the sonne gan aryse.
                   All night, until the sun did arise.

792          Eft were his lettres stolen everychon,
                   Again were his letters stolen every one,
793          And countrefeted lettres in this wyse:
                   And counterfeited letters in this manner:
794          "The king comandeth his constable anon,
                   "The king commands his constable at once,
795          Up peyne of hangyng, and on heigh juyse,
                   Upon pain of hanging, and of strict judicial punishment,
796          That he ne sholde suffren in no wyse
                   That he should not allow in any manner
797          Custance in-with his reawme for t' abyde
                   Custance within his realm to remain
798          Thre dayes and o quarter of a tyde;
                   Three days and a quarter of duration of a tide (three hours);

799          "But in the same ship as he hire fond,
                   "But in the same ship as he her found,
800          Hire, and hir yonge sone, and al hir geere,
                   Her, and her young son, and all her gear,
801          He sholde putte, and croude hire fro the lond,
                   He should put, and push her from the land,
802          And charge hire that she never eft coome theere."
                   And command her that she never again come here."
803          O my Custance, wel may thy goost have feere,
                   O my Custance, well may thy spirit have fear,
804          And, slepynge, in thy dreem been in penance,
                   And, sleeping, in thy dream to be in suffering,
805          Whan Donegild cast al this ordinance.
                   When Donegild devised all this plan.

806          This messager on morwe, whan he wook,
                   This messenger in the morning, when he awoke,
807          Unto the castel halt the nexte way,
                   Unto the castle goes the nearest way,
808          And to the constable he the lettre took;
                   And to the constable he gave the letter;
809          And whan that he this pitous lettre say,
                   And when that he this pitiful letter saw,
810          Ful ofte he seyde, "Allas and weylaway!"
                   Full often he said, "Alas and woe!"
811          "Lord Crist," quod he, "how may this world endure,
                   "Lord Christ," said he, "how can this world endure,
812          So ful of synne is many a creature?
                   So full of sin is so many a creature?

813          "O myghty God, if that it be thy wille,
                   "O mighty God, if it be thy will,
814          Sith thou art rightful juge, how may it be
                   Since thou art rightful judge, how may it be
815          That thou wolt suffren innocentz to spille,
                   That thou wilt allow innocents to die,
816          And wikked folk regne in prosperitee?
                   And wicked folk to reign in prosperity?
817          O goode Custance, allas, so wo is me
                   O good Custance, alas, so woeful am I
818          That I moot be thy tormentour, or deye
                   That I must be thy tormentor, or die
819          On shames deeth; ther is noon oother weye."
                   In a shameful death; there is no other way."

820          Wepen bothe yonge and olde in al that place
                   Weep both young and old in all that place
821          Whan that the kyng this cursed lettre sente,
                   When the king this cursed letter sent,
822          And Custance, with a deedly pale face,
                   And Custance, with a deadly pale face,
823          The ferthe day toward hir ship she wente.
                   The fourth day toward her ship she went.
824          But nathelees she taketh in good entente
                   But nonetheless she takes in good faith
825          The wyl of Crist, and knelynge on the stronde,
                   The will of Christ, and kneeling on the strand,
826          She seyde, "Lord, ay welcome be thy sonde!
                   She said, "Lord, always welcome be thy dispensation!

827          "He that me kepte fro the false blame
                   "He that me kept from the false blame
828          While I was on the lond amonges yow,
                   While I was on the land amongst you,
829          He kan me kepe from harm and eek fro shame
                   He can keep me from harm and also from shame
830          In salte see, althogh I se noght how.
                   In the salt sea, although I see not how.
831          As strong as evere he was, he is yet now.
                   As strong as ever He was, He is yet now.
832          In hym triste I, and in his mooder deere,
                   In Him trust I, and in his mother dear,
833          That is to me my seyl and eek my steere."
                   Who is to me my sail and also my rudder."

834          Hir litel child lay wepyng in hir arm,
                   Her little child lay weeping in her arm,
835          And knelynge, pitously to hym she seyde,
                   And kneeling, pitifully to him she said,
836          "Pees, litel sone, I wol do thee noon harm."
                   "Peace, little son, I will do thee no harm."
837          With that hir coverchief of hir heed she breyde,
                   With that her kerchief off her head she pulled,
838          And over his litel eyen she it leyde,
                   And over his little eyes she it laid,
839          And in hir arm she lulleth it ful faste,
                   And in her arm she lulls it fast asleep,
840          And into hevene hire eyen up she caste.
                   And into heaven her eyes up she caste.

841          "Mooder," quod she, "and mayde bright, Marie,
                   "Mother," said she, "and maiden bright, Mary,
842          Sooth is that thurgh wommanes eggement
                   True it is that through woman's instigation
843          Mankynde was lorn, and damned ay to dye,
                   Mankind was lost, and damned forever to die,
844          For which thy child was on a croys yrent.
                   For which thy child was on a cross stretched.
845          Thy blisful eyen sawe al his torment;
                   Thy blissful eyes saw all his torment;
846          Thanne is ther no comparison bitwene
                   Then is there no comparison between
847          Thy wo and any wo man may sustene.
                   Thy woe and any woe man may sustain.

848          "Thow sawe thy child yslayn bifore thyne yen,
                   "Thou saw thy child slain before thy eyes,
849          And yet now lyveth my litel child, parfay!
                   And yet now lives my little child, in faith!
850          Now, lady bright, to whom alle woful cryen,
                   Now, lady bright, to whom all woeful (people) cry,
851          Thow glorie of wommanhede, thow faire may,
                   Thou glory of womanhood, thou fair maiden,
852          Thow haven of refut, brighte sterre of day,
                   Thou haven of refuge, bright star of day,
853          Rewe on my child, that of thy gentillesse
                   Have pity on my child, (thou who) of thy nobility
854          Rewest on every reweful in distresse.
                   Takes pity on every wretched person in distress.

855          "O litel child, allas! What is thy gilt,
                   "O little child, alas! What is thy guilt,
856          That nevere wroghtest synne as yet, pardee?
                   That never did sin as yet, in faith?
857          Why wil thyn harde fader han thee spilt?
                   Why will thy hard father have thee killed?
858          O mercy, deere constable," quod she,
                   O mercy, dear constable," said she,
859          "As lat my litel child dwelle heer with thee;
                   "Let my little child remain here with thee;
860          And if thou darst nat saven hym, for blame,
                   And if thou dare not save him, for fear of punishment,
861          So kys hym ones in his fadres name!"
                   Kiss him once in his father's name!"

862          Therwith she looked bakward to the londe,
                   Therewith she looked backward to the land,
863          And seyde, "Farewel, housbonde routhelees!"
                   And said, "Farewell, ruthless husband!"
864          And up she rist, and walketh doun the stronde
                   And up she rises, and walks down the strand
865          Toward the ship -- hir folweth al the prees --
                   Toward the ship -- all the crowd follows her --
866          And evere she preyeth hire child to holde his pees;
                   And ever she prays her child to hold his peace;
867          And taketh hir leve, and with an hooly entente
                   And takes her leave, and with a holy attitude
868          She blisseth hire, and into ship she wente.
                   She blesses herself, and into the ship she went.

869          Vitailled was the ship, it is no drede,
                   Supplied with food was the ship, it is no doubt,
870          Habundantly for hire ful longe space,
                   Abundantly for her very long time (of sailing),
871          And othere necessaries that sholde nede
                   And other necessities that should be needed
872          She hadde ynogh -- heryed be Goddes grace!
                   She had enough -- praised be God's grace!
873          For wynd and weder almyghty God purchace,
                   For wind and weather almighty God provide,
874          And brynge hire hoom! I kan no bettre seye,
                   And bring her home! I can no better say,
875          But in the see she dryveth forth hir weye.
                   But in the sea she drives forth on her way.

Explicit secunda pars.
The second part ends.

(To test your knowledge of the language thus far click here).

 

Sequitur pars tercia.
The third part follows

 

876          Alla the kyng comth hoom soone after this
                   Alla the king comes home soon after this
877          Unto his castel, of which I tolde,
                   Unto his castle, of the which I told,
878          And asketh where his wyf and his child is.
                   And asks where his wife and his child is.
879          The constable gan aboute his herte colde,
                   The constable began about his heart to grow cold,
880          And pleynly al the manere he hym tolde
                   And plainly the whole affair he him told
881          As ye han herd -- I kan telle it no bettre --
                   As you have heard -- I can tell it no better --
882          And sheweth the kyng his seel and eek his lettre,
                   And shows the king his seal and also his letter,

883          And seyde, "Lord, as ye comanded me
                   And said, "Lord, as you commanded me
884          Up peyne of deeth, so have I doon, certein."
                   Upon pain of death, so have I done, certainly."
885          This messager tormented was til he
                   This messenger tortured was until he
886          Moste biknowe and tellen, plat and pleyn,
                   Had to reveal and tell, bluntly and plainly,
887          Fro nyght to nyght, in what place he had leyn;
                   From night to night, in what place he had lain;
888          And thus, by wit and sotil enquerynge,
                   And thus, by wit and subtle questioning,
889          Ymagined was by whom this harm gan sprynge.
                   Deduced was by whom this harm did spring.

890          The hand was knowe that the lettre wroot,
                   The hand was known that the letter wrote,
891          And al the venym of this cursed dede,
                   And all the venom of this cursed deed,
892          But in what wise, certeinly, I noot.
                   But in what manner (this was done), certainly, I know not.
893          Th' effect is this: that Alla, out of drede,
                   The effect is this: that Alla, without doubt,
894          His mooder slow -- that may men pleynly rede --
                   His mother slew -- that may men plainly read --
895          For that she traitour was to hire ligeance.
                   Because she traitor was to her allegiance.
896          Thus endeth olde Donegild, with meschance!
                   Thus ends old Donegild, with bad luck to her!

897          The sorwe that this Alla nyght and day
                   The sorrow that this Alla night and day
898          Maketh for his wyf, and for his child also,
                   Makes for his wife, and for his child also,
899          Ther is no tonge that it telle may.
                   There is no tongue that it can tell.
900          But now wol I unto Custance go,
                   But now will I go unto Custance,
901          That fleteth in the see, in peyne and wo,
                   Who floats in the sea, in pain and woe,
902          Fyve yeer and moore, as liked Cristes sonde,
                   Five years and more, as it pleased Christ's dispensation,
903          Er that hir ship approched unto londe.
                   Before her ship approached unto land.

904          Under an hethen castel, atte laste,
                   Alongside a heathen castle, at the last,
905          Of which the name in my text noght I fynde,
                   Of which the name in my text I do not find,
906          Custance, and eek hir child, the see up caste.
                   Custance, and also her child, the sea up cast.
907          Almyghty God, that saveth al mankynde,
                   Almighty God, that saves all mankind,
908          Have on Custance and on hir child som mynde,
                   Have for Custance and for her child some thought,
909          That fallen is in hethen hand eft soone,
                   Who fallen is in heathen hand once more,
910          In point to spille, as I shal telle yow soone.
                   On the point of dying, as I shall tell you soon.

911          Doun fro the castel comth ther many a wight
                   Down from the castle comes there many a person
912          To gauren on this ship and on Custance.
                   To stare on this ship and on Custance.
913          But shortly, from the castel, on a nyght,
                   But shortly, from the castle, on a night,
914          The lordes styward -- God yeve hym meschance! --
                   The lord's steward -- God give him bad luck! --
915          A theef, that hadde reneyed oure creance,
                   A thief, that had renounced our religion,
916          Cam into ship allone, and seyde he sholde
                   Came into ship alone, and said he should
917          Hir lemman be, wher-so she wolde or nolde.
                   Her lover be, whether she would or would not.

918          Wo was this wrecched womman tho bigon;
                   Woebegone then was this wretched woman;
919          Hir child cride, and she cride pitously.
                   Her child cried, and she cried pitifully.
920          But blisful Marie heelp hire right anon;
                   But blissful Mary helped her right then;
921          For with hir struglyng wel and myghtily
                   For with her struggling well and mightily
922          The theef fil over bord al sodeynly,
                   The thief fell over board all suddenly,
923          And in the see he dreynte for vengeance;
                   And in the sea he drowned as a punishment;
924          And thus hath Crist unwemmed kept Custance.
                   And thus has Christ kept Custance undefiled.

925          O foule lust of luxurie, lo, thyn ende!
                   O foul lust of lechery, lo, thy end!
926          Nat oonly that thou feyntest mannes mynde,
                   Not only that thou make man's mind grow faint,
927          But verraily thou wolt his body shende.
                   But truly thou wilt his body destroy.
928          Th' ende of thy werk, or of thy lustes blynde,
                   The end of thy work, or of thy blind desires,
929          Is compleynyng. Hou many oon may men fynde
                   Is lamentation. How many a one may men find
930          That noght for werk somtyme, but for th' entente
                   That not for the deed sometimes, but for the intention
931          To doon this synne, been outher slayn or shente!
                   To do this sin, are either slain or destroyed!

932          How may this wayke womman han this strengthe
                   How may this weak woman have this strength
933          Hire to defende agayn this renegat?
                   Herself to defend against this renegade?
934          O Golias, unmesurable of lengthe,
                   O Goliath, immeasurable of height,
935          Hou myghte David make thee so maat,
                   How could David make thee so defeated,
936          So yong and of armure so desolaat?
                   So young and so lacking in arms and armor?
937          Hou dorste he looke upon thy dredful face?
                   How dared he look upon thy dreadful face?
938          Wel may men seen, it nas but Goddes grace.
                   Well may men see, it was nothing but God's grace.

939          Who yaf Judith corage or hardynesse
                   Who gave Judith courage or hardiness
940          To sleen hym Olofernus in his tente,
                   To slay that Holofernes in his tent,
941          And to deliveren out of wrecchednesse
                   And to deliver out of wretchedness
942          The peple of God? I seye, for this entente,
                   The people of God? I say, for this purpose,
943          That right as God spirit of vigour sente
                   That just as God the spirit of vigor sent
944          To hem and saved hem out of meschance,
                   To them and saved them out of misfortune,
945          So sente he myght and vigour to Custance.
                   So sent he might and vigor to Custance.

946          Forth gooth hir ship thurghout the narwe mouth
                   Forth goes her ship throughout the narrow mouth
947          Of Jubaltare and Septe, dryvynge ay
                   Of Gibraltar and Morocco, driving ever
948          Somtyme west, and somtyme north and south,
                   Sometimes west, and sometimes north and south,
949          And somtyme est, ful many a wery day,
                   And sometimes east, full many a weary day,
950          Til Cristes mooder -- blessed be she ay! --
                   Until Christ's mother -- blessed be she always! --
951          Hath shapen, thurgh hir endelees goodnesse,
                   Has devised a plan, through her endless goodness,
952          To make an ende of al hir hevynesse.
                   To make an end of all her sadness.

953          Now lat us stynte of Custance but a throwe,
                   Now let us stint of Custance but a short while,
954          And speke we of the Romayn Emperour,
                   And speak we of the Roman Emperor,
955          That out of Surrye hath by lettres knowe
                   That out of Syria has by letters known
956          The slaughtre of cristen folk, and dishonour
                   The slaughter of Christian folk, and dishonor
957          Doon to his doghter by a fals traytour,
                   Done to his daughter by a false traitor,
958          I mene the cursed wikked Sowdanesse
                   I mean the cursed wicked Sultaness
959          That at the feeste leet sleen bothe moore and lesse.
                   That at the feast caused to be slain both high ranking and low.

960          For which this Emperour hath sent anon
                   For which this Emperor has sent at once
961          His senatour, with roial ordinance,
                   His senator, with royal armaments,
962          And othere lordes, God woot, many oon,
                   And other lords, God knows, many a one,
963          On Surryens to taken heigh vengeance.
                   On Syrians to take great vengeance.
964          They brennen, sleen, and brynge hem to meschance
                   They burn, slay, and bring them to misery
965          Ful many a day; but shortly -- this is th' ende --
                   Full many a day; but shortly -- this is the end --
966          Homward to Rome they shapen hem to wende.
                   Homeward to Rome they prepared themselves to wend.

967          This senatour repaireth with victorie
                   This senator goes with victory
968          To Rome-ward, saillynge ful roially,
                   Toward Rome, sailing full royally,
969          And mette the ship dryvynge, as seith the storie,
                   And met the ship sailing, as says the story,
970          In which Custance sit ful pitously.
                   In which Custance sits full piteously.
971          Nothyng ne knew he what she was, ne why
                   In no way knew he who she was, nor why
972          She was in swich array, ne she nyl seye
                   She was in such a state, she will not tell
973          Of hire estaat, althogh she sholde deye.
                   Of her rank, although she should die.

974          He bryngeth hire to Rome, and to his wyf
                   He brings her to Rome, and to his wife
975          He yaf hire, and hir yonge sone also;
                   He gave her, and her young son also;
976          And with the senatour she ladde hir lyf.
                   And with the senator she led her life.
977          Thus kan Oure Lady bryngen out of wo
                   Thus can Our Lady bring out of woe
978          Woful Custance, and many another mo.
                   Woeful Custance, and many another more.
979          And longe tyme dwelled she in that place,
                   And long time dwelled she in that place,
980          In hooly werkes evere, as was hir grace.
                   In holy works ever, as was her special gift of God.

981          The senatoures wyf hir aunte was,
                   The senator's wife was her aunt,
982          But for al that she knew hire never the moore.
                   But for all that she knew her never the more.
983          I wol no lenger tarien in this cas,
                   I will no longer tarry in this case,
984          But to kyng Alla, which I spak of yoore,
                   But to king Alla, whom I spoke of formerly,
985          That for his wyf wepeth and siketh soore,
                   Who for his wife weeps and sighs sore,
986          I wol retourne, and lete I wol Custance
                   I will return, and I will leave Custance
987          Under the senatoures governance.
                   Under the senator's governance.

988          Kyng Alla, which that hadde his mooder slayn,
                   King Alla, who had his mother slain,
989          Upon a day fil in swich repentance
                   Upon a day fell in such repentance
990          That, if I shortly tellen shal and playn,
                   That, if I shortly tell shall and plainly,
991          To Rome he comth to receyven his penance;
                   To Rome he comes to receive his penance;
992          And putte hym in the Popes ordinance
                   And put him in the Pope's governance
993          In heigh and logh, and Jhesu Crist bisoghte
                   In all things, and Jesus Christ besought
994          Foryeve his wikked werkes that he wroghte.
                   To forgive his wicked deeds that he did.

995          The fame anon thurgh Rome toun is born,
                   The news at once through Rome town is carried,
996          How Alla kyng shal comen in pilgrymage,
                   How Alla king shall come in pilgrimage,
997          By herbergeours that wenten hym biforn;
                   By arrangers of lodging that went before him;
998          For which the senatour, as was usage,
                   For which the senator, as was the custom,
999          Rood hym agayns, and many of his lynage,
                   Rode to meet him, and many of his lineage,
1000         As wel to shewen his heighe magnificence
                   As well to show his high magnificence
1001         As to doon any kyng a reverence.
                   As to do any king a reverence.

1002         Greet cheere dooth this noble senatour
                   Great friendliness shows this noble senator
1003         To kyng Alla, and he to hym also;
                   To king Alla, and he to him also;
1004         Everich of hem dooth oother greet honour.
                   Every one of them does the other great honor.
1005         And so bifel that in a day or two
                   And so it happened that in a day or two
1006         This senatour is to kyng Alla go
                   This senator is to king Alla gone
1007         To feste, and shortly, if I shal nat lye,
                   To feast, and shortly, if I shall not lie,
1008         Custances sone wente in his compaignye.
                   Custance's son went in his company.

1009         Som men wolde seyn at requeste of Custance
                   Some men would say at request of Custance
1010         This senatour hath lad this child to feeste;
                   This senator has led this child to the feast;
1011         I may nat tellen every circumstance --
                   I can not tell every detail --
1012         Be as be may, ther was he at the leeste.
                   Be as be may, there he was at the least.
1013         But sooth is this, that at his moodres heeste
                   But the truth is this, that at his mother's command
1014         Biforn Alla, durynge the metes space,
                   Before Alla, during the meal time,
1015         The child stood, lookynge in the kynges face.
                   The child stood, looking in the king's face.

1016         This Alla kyng hath of this child greet wonder,
                   This king Alla has of this child great wonder,
1017         And to the senatour he seyde anon,
                   And to the senator he said at once,
1018         "Whos is that faire child that stondeth yonder?"
                   "Whose is that fair child that stands yonder?"
1019         "I noot," quod he, "by God, and by Seint John!
                   "I do not know," said he, "by God, and by Saint John!
1020         A mooder he hath, but fader hath he noon
                   A mother he has, but father has he none
1021         That I of woot" -- and shortly, in a stounde,
                   That I know of" -- and shortly, in a little while,
1022         He tolde Alla how that this child was founde.
                   He told Alla how this child was found.

1023         "But God woot," quod this senatour also,
                   "But God knows," said this senator also,
1024         "So vertuous a lyvere in my lyf
                   "So virtuous a liver in my life
1025         Ne saugh I nevere as she, ne herde of mo,
                   Saw I never as she, nor heard of more,
1026         Of worldly wommen, mayde, ne of wyf.
                   Of worldly women, maiden, nor of wife.
1027         I dar wel seyn hir hadde levere a knyf
                   I dare well say she had rather have a knife
1028         Thurghout hir brest, than ben a womman wikke;
                   Through her breast, than be a woman wicked;
1029         There is no man koude brynge hire to that prikke."
                   There is no man could bring her to that point."

1030         Now was this child as lyk unto Custance
                   Now was this child as like unto Custance
1031         As possible is a creature to be.
                   As it is possible for a creature to be.
1032         This Alla hath the face in remembrance
                   This Alla has the face in remembrance
1033         Of dame Custance, and ther on mused he
                   Of Lady Custance, and thereon mused he
1034         If that the childes mooder were aught she
                   If the child's mother were in any way she
1035         That is his wyf, and pryvely he sighte,
                   Who is his wife, and secretly he sighed,
1036         And spedde hym fro the table that he myghte.
                   And sped himself from the table as fast as he could.

1037         "Parfay," thoghte he, "fantome is in myn heed!
                   "In faith," thought he, "hallucination is in my head!
1038         I oghte deme, of skilful juggement,
                   I ought to believe, by reasonable judgment,
1039         That in the salte see my wyf is deed."
                   That in the salt sea my wife is dead."
1040         And afterward he made his argument:
                   And afterward he made his contrary argument:
1041         "What woot I if that Crist have hyder ysent
                   "What know I if Christ has hither sent
1042         My wyf by see, as wel as he hire sente
                   My wife by sea, as well as he her sent
1043         To my contree fro thennes that she wente?"
                   To my country from thence that she went?"

1044         And after noon, hoom with the senatour
                   And after noon, home with the senator
1045         Goth Alla, for to seen this wonder chaunce.
                   Goes Alla, to see this wonderful happening.
1046         This senatour dooth Alla greet honour,
                   This senator does Alla great honor,
1047         And hastifly he sente after Custaunce.
                   And hastily he sent after Custance.
1048         But trusteth weel, hire liste nat to daunce
                   But trust well, she did not want to dance
1049         Whan that she wiste wherfore was that sonde;
                   When she knew the reason for that summons;
1050         Unnethe upon hir feet she myghte stonde.
                   Hardly upon her feet she could stand.

1051         Whan Alla saugh his wyf, faire he hire grette,
                   When Alla saw his wife, gently he greeted her,
1052         And weep that it was routhe for to see;
                   And wept that it was a pity to see;
1053         For at the firste look he on hire sette
                   For at the first look he on her set
1054         He knew wel verraily that it was she.
                   He knew well indeed that it was she.
1055         And she, for sorwe, as doumb stant as a tree,
                   And she, for sorrow, stands as dumb as a tree,
1056         So was hir herte shet in hir distresse,
                   So was her heart shut (pressed by emotion) in her distress,
1057         Whan she remembred his unkyndenesse.
                   When she remembered his unnatural cruelty.

1058         Twyes she swowned in his owene sighte;
                   Twice she swooned in his own sight;
1059         He weep, and hym excuseth pitously.
                   He wept, and himself excuses piteously.
1060         "Now God," quod he, "and his halwes brighte
                   "Now God," said he, "and his saints bright
1061         So wisly on my soule as have mercy,
                   As surely as they may have mercy on my soul,
1062         That of youre harm as giltelees am I
                   (I swear) that of your harm I am as guiltless
1063         As is Maurice my sone, so lyk youre face;
                   As is Maurice my son, whose face is so like yours;
1064         Elles the feend me fecche out of this place!"
                   Otherwise (may) the fiend me fetch out of this place!"

1065         Long was the sobbyng and the bitter peyne,
                   Long was the sobbing and the bitter pain,
1066         Er that hir woful hertes myghte cesse;
                   Before their woeful hearts might cease (giving pain);
1067         Greet was the pitee for to heere hem pleyne,
                   Great was the pity to hear them lament,
1068         Thurgh whiche pleintes gan hir wo encresse.
                   Through which lamentations began their woe to increase.
1069         I pray yow alle my labour to relesse;
                   I pray you to release me from all my labor;
1070         I may nat telle hir wo until to-morwe,
                   I can not tell their woe until to-morrow,
1071         I am so wery for to speke of sorwe.
                   I am so weary from speaking of sorrow.

1072         But finally, whan that the sothe is wist
                   But finally, when the truth is known
1073         That Alla giltelees was of hir wo,
                   That Alla was guiltless of her woe,
1074         I trowe an hundred tymes been they kist,
                   I believe a hundred times they have kissed,
1075         And swich a blisse is ther bitwix hem two
                   And such a bliss is there between them two
1076         That, save the joye that lasteth everemo,
                   That, except for the joy that lasts evermore,
1077         Ther is noon lyk that any creature
                   There is none like it that any creature
1078         Hath seyn or shal, whil that the world may dure.
                   Has seen or shall (see), while the world may endure.

1079         Tho preyde she hir housbonde mekely,
                   Then prayed she her husband meekly,
1080         In relief of hir longe, pitous pyne,
                   In relief of her long, pitiful pain,
1081         That he wolde preye hir fader specially
                   That he would pray her father specially
1082         That of his magestee he wolde enclyne
                   That of his majesty he would incline
1083         To vouche sauf som day with hym to dyne.
                   To grant some day with him to dine.
1084         She preyde hym eek he sholde by no weye
                   She prayed him also he should by no means
1085         Unto hir fader no word of hire seye.
                   Unto her father say any word of her.

1086         Som men wolde seyn how that the child Maurice
                   Some men would say that the child Maurice
1087         Dooth this message unto this Emperour;
                   Takes this message unto this Emperor;
1088         But, as I gesse, Alla was nat so nyce
                   But, as I guess, Alla was not so foolish
1089         To hym that was of so sovereyn honour
                   To him that was of such high honor
1090         As he that is of Cristen folk the flour,
                   As he that is of Christian folk the flower,
1091         Sente any child, but it is bet to deeme
                   To have sent any child, but it is better to believe
1092         He wente hymself, and so it may wel seeme.
                   He went himself, and that would be most fitting.

1093         This Emperour hath graunted gentilly
                   This Emperor has agreed nobly
1094         To come to dyner, as he hym bisoughte;
                   To come to dinner, as he him requested;
1095         And wel rede I he looked bisily
                   And well read I (in my source) he looked intently
1096         Upon this child, and on his doghter thoghte.
                   Upon this child, and thought about his daughter.
1097         Alla goth to his in, and as hym oghte,
                   Alla goes to his inn, and as he should,
1098         Arrayed for this feste in every wise
                   Prepared for this feast in every way
1099         As ferforth as his konnyng may suffise.
                   So far as his ability may suffice.

1100         The morwe cam, and Alla gan hym dresse,
                   The morning came, and Alla began to prepare himself,
1101         And eek his wyf, this Emperour to meete;
                   And also his wife, to meet this Emperor;
1102         And forth they ryde in joye and in gladnesse.
                   And forth they ride in joy and in gladness.
1103         And whan she saugh hir fader in the strete,
                   And when she saw her father in the street,
1104         She lighte doun, and falleth hym to feete.
                   She dismounted, and falls to his feet.
1105         "Fader," quod she, "youre yonge child Custance
                   "Father," said she, "your young child Custance
1106         Is now ful clene out of youre remembrance.
                   Is now completely out of your remembrance.

1107         "I am youre doghter Custance," quod she,
                   "I am your daughter Custance," said she,
1108         "That whilom ye han sent unto Surrye.
                   "Whom long ago you have sent unto Syria.
1109         It am I, fader, that in the salte see
                   It am I, father, that in the salt sea
1110         Was put allone and dampned for to dye.
                   Was put alone and damned to die.
1111         Now, goode fader, mercy I yow crye!
                   Now, good father, mercy I beg of you!
1112         Sende me namoore unto noon hethenesse,
                   Send me no more unto any heathen country,
1113         But thonketh my lord heere of his kyndenesse."
                   But thank my lord here of his kindnesses."

1114         Who kan the pitous joye tellen al
                   Who can tell all the pitiful joy
1115         Bitwixe hem thre, syn they been thus ymette?
                   Between them three, since they are thus met?
1116         But of my tale make an ende I shal;
                   But of my tale I shall make an end;
1117         The day goth faste, I wol no lenger lette.
                   The day goes fast, I will no longer delay.
1118         This glade folk to dyner they hem sette;
                   This glad folk to dinner they themselves set;
1119         In joye and blisse at mete I lete hem dwelle
                   In joy and bliss at their meal I let them remain
1120         A thousand foold wel moore than I kan telle.
                   A thousand fold well more (blissful) than I can tell.

1121         This child Maurice was sithen Emperour
                   This child Maurice was later Emperor
1122         Maad by the Pope, and lyved cristenly;
                   Made by the Pope, and lived in a Christian manner;
1123         To Cristes chirche he dide greet honour.
                   To Christ's church he did great honor.
1124         But I lete al his storie passen by;
                   But I let all his story pass by;
1125         Of Custance is my tale specially.
                   Of Custance is my tale in particular.
1126         In the olde Romayn geestes may men fynde
                   In the old Roman histories may men find
1127         Maurices lyf; I bere it noght in mynde.
                   Maurice's life; I bear it not in mind.

1128         This kyng Alla, whan he his tyme say,
                   This king Alla, when he his time saw,
1129         With his Custance, his hooly wyf so sweete,
                   With his Custance, his holy wife so sweet,
1130         To Engelond been they come the righte way,
                   To England are they come by the direct route,
1131         Wher as they lyve in joye and in quiete.
                   Where they live in joy and in quiet.
1132         But litel while it lasteth, I yow heete,
                   But little while it lasts, I you promise,
1133         Joye of this world, for tyme wol nat abyde;
                   Joy of this world, because time will not stand still;
1134         Fro day to nyght it changeth as the tyde.
                   From day to night it changes like the tide.

1135         Who lyved euere in swich delit o day
                   Who lived ever in such delight one day
1136         That hym ne moeved outher conscience,
                   That he was not moved by either conscience,
1137         Or ire, or talent, or som kynnes affray,
                   Or anger, or desire, or some kind of fear,
1138         Envye, or pride, or passion, or offence?
                   Envy, or pride, or passion, or offence?
1139         I ne seye but for this ende this sentence,
                   I make this statement only for this conclusion,
1140         That litel while in joye or in plesance
                   That little while in joy or in pleasure
1141         Lasteth the blisse of Alla with Custance.
                   Lasts the bliss of Alla with Custance.

1142         For Deeth, that taketh of heigh and logh his rente,
                   For Death, that takes of high ranking and low his payment,
1143         Whan passed was a yeer, evene as I gesse,
                   When passed was a year, as I suppose,
1144         Out of this world this kyng Alla he hente,
                   Out of this world this king Alla he seized,
1145         For whom Custance hath ful greet hevynesse.
                   For whom Custance has full great sadness.
1146         Now lat us prayen God his soule blesse!
                   Now let us pray God his soul be blessed!
1147         And dame Custance, finally to seye,
                   And Lady Custance, finally to say,
1148         Toward the toun of Rome goth hir weye.
                   Toward the town of Rome goes her way.

1149         To Rome is come this hooly creature,
                   To Rome has come this holy creature,
1150         And fyndeth hire freendes hoole and sounde;
                   And finds her friends whole and sound;
1151         Now is she scaped al hire aventure.
                   Now has she escaped all her adventure.
1152         And whan that she hir fader hath yfounde,
                   And when she her father has found,
1153         Doun on hir knees falleth she to grounde;
                   Down on her knees falls she to ground;
1154         Wepynge for tendrenesse in herte blithe,
                   Weeping for tenderness blithe in heart,
1155         She heryeth God an hundred thousand sithe.
                   She praises God a hundred thousand times.

1156         In vertu and in hooly almus-dede
                   In virtue and in holy charitable works
1157         They lyven alle, and nevere asonder wende;
                   They all live, and never parted;
1158         Til deeth departeth hem, this lyf they lede.
                   Until death departs them, this life they lead.
1159         And fareth now weel! my tale is at an ende.
                   And fare now well! my tale is at an end.
1160         Now Jhesu Crist, that of his myght may sende
                   Now Jesus Christ, that of his might may send
1161         Joye after wo, governe us in his grace,
                   Joy after woe, govern us in his grace,
1162         And kepe us alle that been in this place! Amen
                   And keep us all that are in this place! Amen

 

Heere endeth the tale of the Man of Lawe

 

 


The Epilogue of The Man of Law's Tale

 

1163         [Owre Hoost upon his stiropes stood anon,
                   [Our Host upon his stirrups stood up at once,
1164         And seyde, "Goode men, herkeneth everych on!
                   And said, "Good men, listen every one!
1165         This was a thrifty tale for the nones!
                   This was a excellent tale for this occasion!
1166         Sir Parisshe Prest," quod he, "for Goddes bones,
                   Sir Parish Priest," said he, "for God's bones,
1167         Telle us a tale, as was thi forward yore.
                   Tell us a tale, as was thy previous agreement.
1168         I se wel that ye lerned men in lore
                   I see well that you men learned in lore
1169         Can moche good, by Goddes dignitee!"
                   Know much that is good, by God's dignity!"

1170         The Parson him answerde, "Benedicite!
                   The Parson him answered, "Bless me!
1171         What eyleth the man, so synfully to swere?"
                   What ails the man, so sinfully to swear?"
1172         Oure Host answerde, "O Jankin, be ye there?
                   Our Host answered, "O Jankin, are you there?
1173         I smelle a Lollere in the wynd," quod he.
                   I smell a Lollard in the wind," said he.
1174         "Now! goode men," quod oure Hoste, "herkeneth me;
                   "Now! good men," said our Host, "listen to me;
1175         Abydeth, for Goddes digne passioun,
                   Wait, for God's worthy passion,
1176         For we schal han a predicacioun;
                   For we shall have a sermon;
1177         This Lollere heer wil prechen us somwhat."
                   This Lollard here will preach us something."

1178         "Nay, by my fader soule, that schal he nat!"
                   "Nay, by my father's soul, that shall he not!"
1179         Seyde the Shipman, "Heer schal he nat preche;
                   Said the Shipman, "Here shall he not preach;
1180         He schal no gospel glosen here ne teche.
                   He shall no gospel interpret here nor teach.
1181         We leven alle in the grete God," quod he;
                   We all believe in the great God," said he;
1182         "He wolde sowen som difficulte,
                   "He would sow some difficulty,
1183         Or springen cokkel in our clene corn.
                   Or sprinkle weeds in our clean grain.
1184         And therfore, Hoost, I warne thee biforn,
                   And therefore, Host, I warn thee beforehand,
1185         My joly body schal a tale telle,
                   My handsome body shall tell a tale,
1186         And I schal clynken you so mery a belle,
                   And I shall clink you so merry a bell,
1187         That I schal waken al this compaignie.
                   That I shall awaken all this company.
1188         But it schal not ben of philosophie,
                   But it shall not be of philosophy,
1189         Ne phislyas, ne termes queinte of lawe.
                   Nor legal cases, nor elaborate terms of law.
1190         Ther is but litel Latyn in my mawe!"]
                   There is but little Latin in my maw!"]

 

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