The Second Nun's Prologue and Tale

An Interlinear Translation


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



The Prologe of the Seconde Nonnes Tale.


1         The ministre and the norice unto vices,
                The minister and the nurse of vices,
2         Which that men clepe in Englissh Ydelnesse,
                Which men call in English Idleness,
3         That porter of the gate is of delices,
                Who is porter of the gate of pleasures
4         To eschue, and by hire contrarie hire oppresse --
                To shun, and by her contrary to overcome her --
5         That is to seyn, by leveful bisynesse --
                That is to say, by keeping busy in lawful good works --
6         Wel oghten we to doon al oure entente,
                Well ought we to do all our diligence
7         Lest that the feend thurgh ydelnesse us hente.
                Lest the fiend by means of idleness seize us.

8         For he that with his thousand cordes slye
                For he that with his thousand sly snares
9         Continuelly us waiteth to biclappe,
                Continually lies in wait to seize us suddenly,
10         Whan he may man in ydelnesse espye,
                When he can espy a man in idleness,
11         He kan so lightly cache hym in his trappe,
                He can catch him in his trap so quickly,
12         Til that a man be hent right by the lappe,
                That until a man is seized right by the hem of his garment,
13         He nys nat war the feend hath hym in honde.
                He is not aware that the fiend has him in hand.
14         Wel oghte us werche and ydelnesse withstonde.
                Well ought we to work and resist idleness.

15         And though men dradden nevere for to dye,
                And even though people never dreaded to die,
16         Yet seen men wel by resoun, doutelees,
                Yet they can well see by reason, doubtless,
17         That ydelnesse is roten slogardye,
                That idleness is rotten laziness,
18         Of which ther nevere comth no good n' encrees;
                From which there never comes any good or profit;
19         And syn that slouthe hire holdeth in a lees
                And since sloth holds her (Idleness) on a leash
20         Oonly to slepe, and for to ete and drynke,
                (Allowing her) only to sleep, and to eat and drink,
21         And to devouren al that othere swynke,
                And to devour all that others earn by working,

22         And for to putte us fro swich ydelnesse,
                And in order to set us apart from such idleness,
23         That cause is of so greet confusioun,
                Which is the cause of such great ruin,
24         I have heer doon my feithful bisynesse
                I have here done my faithful efforts
25         After the legende in translacioun
                In translating the legend
26         Right of thy glorious lif and passioun,
                Correctly of thy glorious life and suffering,
27         Thou with thy gerland wroght with rose and lilie --
                Thou with thy garland made with rose and lily --
28         Thee meene I, mayde and martyr, Seint Cecilie.
                I mean thee, maid and martyr, Saint Cecilie.


            Invocacio ad Mariam
                  (Invocation to Mary)

29         And thow that flour of virgines art alle,
                And thou who art the flower of all virgins,
30         Of whom that Bernard list so wel to write,
                Of whom it so well pleased Bernard to write,
31         To thee at my bigynnyng first I calle;
                To thee at my beginning first I call;
32         Thou confort of us wrecches, do me endite
                Thou comfort of us wretches, let me narrate
33         Thy maydens deeth, that wan thurgh hire merite
                Thy maiden's death, that won by means of her merit
34         The eterneel lyf and of the feend victorie,
                The eternal life and victory over the fiend,
35         As man may after reden in hire storie.
                As one may hereafter read in her story.

36         Thow Mayde and Mooder, doghter of thy Sone,
                Thou Maid and Mother, daughter of thy Son,
37         Thow welle of mercy, synful soules cure,
                Thou well of mercy, sinful souls' cure,
38         In whom that God for bountee chees to wone,
                In whom God for goodness chose to dwell,
39         Thow humble, and heigh over every creature,
                Thou humble, and high over every creature,
40         Thow nobledest so ferforth oure nature,
                Thou so greatly enobled our nature,
41         That no desdeyn the Makere hadde of kynde
                That the Maker of humankind had no disdain
42         His Sone in blood and flessh to clothe and wynde.
                To clothe and wrap His Son in blood and flesh.

43         Withinne the cloistre blisful of thy sydis
                Within the blissful cloister of thy sides
44         Took mannes shap the eterneel love and pees,
                The eternal love and peace took man's shape,
45         That of the tryne compas lord and gyde is,
                He who is lord and guide of the threefold universe,
46         Whom erthe and see and hevene out of relees
                Whom earth and sea and heaven unceasing
47         Ay heryen; and thou, Virgine wemmelees,
                Ever praise; and thou, Virgin without blemish,
48         Baar of thy body -- and dweltest mayden pure --
                Bore in thy body -- and remained maiden pure --
49         The Creatour of every creature.
                The Creator of every creature.

50         Assembled is in thee magnificence
                Magnificence is in thee combined
51         With mercy, goodnesse, and with swich pitee
                With mercy, goodness, and with such pity
52         That thou, that art the sonne of excellence
                That thou, who art the sun of excellence
53         Nat oonly helpest hem that preyen thee,
                Not only helpest them that pray thee,
54         But often tyme of thy benygnytee
                But often of thy goodness
55         Ful frely, er that men thyn help biseche,
                Very willingly, before men beseech thine help,
56         Thou goost biforn and art hir lyves leche.
                Thou goest before and art their lives' physician.

57         Now help, thow meeke and blisful faire mayde,
                Now, thou meek and blissful fair maid help
58         Me, flemed wrecche, in this desert of galle;
                Me, banished exile, in this desert of bitterness;
59         Thynk on the womman Cananee, that sayde
                Think on the Cananite woman, who said
60         That whelpes eten somme of the crommes alle
                That dogs eat some of all the crumbs
61         That from hir lordes table been yfalle;
                That from their lord's table are fallen;
62         And though that I, unworthy sone of Eve,
                And though that I, unworthy son of Eve,
63         Be synful, yet accepte my bileve.
                Be sinful, yet accept my faith.

64         And, for that feith is deed withouten werkis,
                And, because faith is dead without works,
65         So for to werken yif me wit and space,
                Give me wit and opportunity to work so,
66         That I be quit fro thennes that most derk is!
                That I may be free from that place that is most dark!
67         O thou, that art so fair and ful of grace,
                O thou, that art so fair and full of grace,
68         Be myn advocat in that heighe place
                Be my advocate in that high place
69         Theras withouten ende is songe "Osanne,"
                Where unceasingly is sung "Hosanna,"
70         Thow Cristes mooder, doghter deere of Anne!
                Thou Christ's mother, daughter dear of Anne!

71         And of thy light my soule in prison lighte,
                And of thy light enlighten in prison my soul,
72         That troubled is by the contagioun
                That is troubled by the contamination
73         Of my body, and also by the wighte
                Of my body, and also by the weight
74         Of erthely lust and fals affeccioun;
                Of earthly lust and false desires;
75         O havene of refut, O salvacioun
                O haven of refuge, O salvation
76         Of hem that been in sorwe and in distresse,
                Of those who are in sorrow and in distress,
77         Now help, for to my werk I wol me dresse.
                Now help, for to my work I will address myself.

78         Yet preye I yow that reden that I write,
                Yet I pray you who read what I write,
79         Foryeve me that I do no diligence
                Forgive me that I make no effort
80         This ilke storie subtilly to endite,
                To narrate this same story elaborately,
81         For bothe have I the wordes and sentence
                For I have both the words and the meaning
82         Of hym that at the seintes reverence
                Of him who out of reverence for the saint
83         The storie wroot, and folwen hire legende,
                Wrote the story, and (I) follow her legend,
84         And pray yow that ye wole my werk amende.
                And pray you that you will correct (any errors in) my work.


           Interpretacio nominis Cecile quam ponit Frater
                    Jacobus Januensis in Legenda

            (The interpretation of the name of Cecilia which Brother
                    Jacob of Genoa put in the Legend.)


85         First wolde I yow the name of Seint Cecilie
                First the name of Saint Cecilie I would to you
86         Expowne, as men may in hir storie see.
                Explain, as one can see in her story.
87         It is to seye in Englissh "hevenes lilie,"
                It is to say in English "heaven's lily,"
88         For pure chaastnesse of virginitee;
                For pure chastity of virginity;
89         Or, for she whitnesse hadde of honestee,
                Or, because she had whiteness because of chastity,
90         And grene of conscience, and of good fame
                And green because of conscience and of good reputation
91         The soote savour, "lilie" was hir name.
                The sweet smell, "lily" was her name.

92         Or Cecilie is to seye "the wey to blynde,"
                Or Cecilie is to mean "the way for the blind,"
93         For she ensample was by good techynge;
                Because she set an example by good teaching;
94         Or elles Cecile, as I writen fynde,
                Or else Cecile, as I written find,
95         Is joyned, by a manere conjoynynge
                Is joined, by a sort of combination
96         Of "hevene" and "Lia"; and heere, in figurynge,
                Of "heaven" and "Leah"; and here, symbolically,
97         The "hevene" is set for thoght of hoolynesse,
                The "heaven" is set for her holiness of thought,
98         And "Lia" for hire lastynge bisynesse.
                And "Leah" for her constant business.

99         Cecile may eek be seyd in this manere,
                Cecile may also be explained in this manner,
100         "Wantynge of blyndnesse," for hir grete light
                "Lack of blindness," for her great light
101         Of sapience and for hire thewes cleere;
                Of wisdom and for her pure morals;
102         Or elles, loo, this maydens name bright
                Or else, lo, this maidens bright name
103         Of "hevene" and "leos" comth, for which by right
                Comes from "heaven" and "leos," for which rightly
104         Men myghte hire wel "the hevene of peple" calle,
                Men could well call her "the heaven of people,"
105         Ensample of goode and wise werkes alle.
                Exemplar of all good and wise works.

106         For "leos" "peple" in Englissh is to seye,
                For "leos" in English means "people,"
107         And right as men may in the hevene see
                And just as men may in the heaven see
108         The sonne and moone and sterres every weye,
                The sun and moon and stars in every direction,
109         Right so men goostly in this mayden free
                Just so in this maiden men spiritually
110         Seyen of feith the magnanymytee,
                See the greatness of spirit of faith,
111         And eek the cleernesse hool of sapience,
                And also the complete clarity of wisdom,
112         And sondry werkes, brighte of excellence.
                And various works, bright because of their excellence.

113         And right so as thise philosophres write
                And just as these scientists write
114         That hevene is swift and round and eek brennynge,
                That heaven is swift and round and also burning,
115         Right so was faire Cecilie the white
                Just so was fair Cecilie the white
116         Ful swift and bisy evere in good werkynge,
                Very swift and busy ever in good works,
117         And round and hool in good perseverynge,
                And round and whole in persevering in good (works),
118         And brennynge evere in charite ful brighte.
                And burning ever in very bright charity.
119         Now have I yow declared what she highte.
                Now have I declared to you what she was called.

                (Here ends [the Prologue])






The Second Nun's Tale

An Interlinear Translation

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


Here bigynneth the Seconde Nonnes Tale of the lyf of Seinte Cecile.


120         This mayden bright Cecilie, as hir lif seith,
                This bright maiden Cecilie, as her Life says,
122         Was comen of Romayns and of noble kynde,
                Was descended from Romans and of noble birth,
122         And from hir cradel up fostred in the feith
                And from her cradle nurtured up in the faith
123         Of Crist, and bar his gospel in hir mynde.
                Of Christ, and bore his gospel in her mind.
124         She nevere cessed, as I writen fynde,
                She never ceased, as I written find,
125         Of hir preyere and God to love and drede,
                Of her prayer and God to love and dread,
126         Bisekynge hym to kepe hir maydenhede.
                Beseeching him to preserve her virginity.

127         And whan this mayden sholde unto a man
                And when this maiden should unto a man
128         Ywedded be, that was ful yong of age,
                Wedded be, who was very young of age,
129         Which that ycleped was Valerian,
                Who was called Valerian,
130         And day was comen of hir marriage,
                And the day of her marriage was come,
131         She, ful devout and humble in hir corage,
                She, very devout and humble in her spirit,
132         Under hir robe of gold, that sat ful faire,
                Under her robe of gold, that became her very well,
133         Hadde next hire flessh yclad hire in an haire.
                Had next to her flesh clad herself in a hair shirt.

134         And whil the organs maden melodie,
                And while the organs made melody,
135         To God allone in herte thus sang she:
                To God alone in heart thus sang she:
136         "O Lord, my soule and eek my body gye
                "O Lord, my soul and also my body preserve
137         Unwemmed, lest that I confounded be."
                Immaculate, lest that I be damned."
138         And for his love that dyde upon a tree
                And for his love who died upon the cross
139         Every seconde and thridde day she faste,
                Every second and third day she fasted,
140         Ay biddynge in hire orisons ful faste.
                Ever praying in her prayers very earnestly.

141         The nyght cam, and to bedde moste she gon
                The night came, and to bed must she go
142         With hire housbonde, as ofte is the manere,
                With her husband, as often is the manner,
143         And pryvely to hym she seyde anon,
                And privately to him she said at once,
144         "O sweete and wel biloved spouse deere,
                "O sweet and well beloved spouse dear,
145         Ther is a conseil, and ye wolde it heere,
                There is a secret, if you want to hear it,
146         Which that right fayn I wolde unto yow seye,
                Which I am very eager to say to you,
147         So that ye swere ye shul it nat biwreye."
                Providing that you swear you shall not reveal it."

148         Valerian gan faste unto hire swere
                Valerian did earnestly unto her swear
149         That for no cas ne thyng that myghte be,
                That for no occasion nor thing that might be,
150         He sholde nevere mo biwreyen here;
                He should never ever betray her;
151         And thanne at erst to hym thus seyde she:
                And then for the first time to him thus said she:
152         "I have an aungel which that loveth me,
                "I have an angel who loves me,
153         That with greet love, wher so I wake or sleepe,
                Who with great love, whether I wake or sleep,
154         Is redy ay my body for to kepe.
                Is always ready to guard my body.

155         "And if that he may feelen, out of drede,
                "And if he may sense, withoubt doubt,
156         That ye me touche, or love in vileynye,
                That you touch me, or love me lecherously,
157         He right anon wol sle yow with the dede,
                He straightway will slay you in the act,
158         And in youre yowthe thus ye shullen dye;
                And in your youth thus you shall die;
159         And if that ye in clene love me gye,
                And if you preserve me in chaste love,
160         He wol yow loven as me, for youre clennesse,
                He will love you as (he loves) me, for your chastity,
161         And shewen yow his joye and his brightnesse."
                And show you his joy and his brightness."

162         Valerian, corrected as God wolde,
                Valerian, corrected as God would (have it),
163         Answerde agayn, "If I shal trusten thee,
                Answered in reply, "If I must trust thee,
164         Lat me that aungel se and hym biholde;
                Let me see that angel and behold him;
165         And if that it a verray angel bee,
                And if it be a true angel,
166         Thanne wol I doon as thou hast prayed me;
                Then will I do as thou hast prayed me;
167         And if thou love another man, for sothe
                And if thou love another man, in truth
168         Right with this swerd thanne wol I sle yow bothe."
                Then truly with this sword will I slay you both."

169         Cecile answerde anon-right in this wise:
                Cecile answered immediately in this manner:
170         "If that yow list, the angel shul ye see,
                "If you wish, you shall see the angel,
171         So that ye trowe on Crist and yow baptize.
                Provided that you believe in Christ and have yourself baptized.
172         Gooth forth to Via Apia," quod shee,
                Go forth to the Appian Way," said she,
173         "That fro this toun ne stant but miles three,
                "That from this town stands no more than three miles,
174         And to the povre folkes that ther dwelle,
                And to the poor folks that dwell there,
175         Sey hem right thus, as that I shal yow telle.
                Say to them exactly thus, which I shall tell you.

176         "Telle hem that I, Cecile, yow to hem sente
                "Tell them that I, Cecile, sent you to them
177         To shewen yow the goode Urban the olde,
                To show you the good Urban the old,
178         For secree nedes and for good entente.
                For secret needs and for a good purpose.
179         And whan that ye Seint Urban han biholde,
                And when you have beheld Saint Urban,
180         Telle hym the wordes whiche I to yow tolde;
                Tell him the words which I told to you;
181         And whan that he hath purged yow fro synne,
                And when he has cleansed you of sin (by baptism),
182         Thanne shul ye se that angel, er ye twynne."
                Then you shall see that angel, ere you depart."

183         Valerian is to the place ygon,
                Valerian has gone to the place,
184         And right as hym was taught by his lernynge,
                And just as he was taught by his learning (from Cecilie),
185         He foond this hooly olde Urban anon
                He immediately found this holy old Urban
186         Among the seintes buryeles lotynge.
                In hiding among the saints' burial places.
187         And he anon withouten tariynge
                And he immediately without delay
188         Dide his message; and whan that he it tolde,
                Said his message; and when he told it,
189         Urban for joye his handes gan up holde.
                Urban for joy did hold up his hands.

190         The teeris from his eyen leet he falle.
                He let the tears fall from his eyes.
191         "Almyghty Lord, O Jhesu Crist," quod he,
                "Almighty Lord, O Jesus Christ," said he,
192         "Sower of chaast conseil, hierde of us alle,
                "Sower of chaste counsel, shepherd of us all,
193         The fruyt of thilke seed of chastitee
                The fruit of that same seed of chastity
194         That thou hast sowe in Cecile, taak to thee!
                That thou hast sown in Cecile, take to thee!
195         Lo, lyk a bisy bee, withouten gile,
                Lo, like a busy bee, without guile,
196         Thee serveth ay thyn owene thral Cecile.
                Always thine own servant Cecile serves Thee.

197         "For thilke spouse that she took but now
                "For that same spouse that she took just now
198         Ful lyk a fiers leoun, she sendeth heere,
                Very like a fierce lion, she sends here,
199         As meke as evere was any lomb, to yow!"
                As meek as ever was any lamb, to you!"
200         And with that word anon ther gan appeere
                And with that word anon there did appear
201         An oold man, clad in white clothes cleere,
                An old man, clad in clear white clothes,
202         That hadde a book with lettre of gold in honde,
                Who had in hand a book with lettering of gold ,
203         And gan bifore Valerian to stonde.
                And did stand before Valerian.

204         Valerian as deed fil doun for drede
                Valerian as if dead fell down for fear
205         Whan he hym saugh, and he up hente hym tho,
                When he saw him, and the old man picked him up then,
206         And on his book right thus he gan to rede:
                And from his book right thus he began to read:
207         "O Lord, o feith, o God, withouten mo,
                "One Lord, one faith, one God, without more,
208         O Cristendom, and Fader of alle also,
                One baptism, and Father of all also,
209         Aboven alle and over alle everywhere."
                Above all and over all everywhere."
210         Thise wordes al with gold ywriten were.
                These words were written all with gold.

211         Whan this was rad, thanne seyde this olde man,
                When this was read, then said this old man,
212         "Leevestow this thyng or no? Sey ye or nay."
                "Dost thou believe this thing or not? Say yes or no."
213         "I leeve al this thyng," quod Valerian,
                "I believe all this thing," said Valerian,
214         "For sother thyng than this, I dar wel say,
                "For truer thing than this, I dare well say,
215         Under the hevene no wight thynke may."
                No person under the heaven can imagine."
216         Tho vanysshed this olde man, he nyste where,
                Then vanished this old man, he knew not where,
217         And Pope Urban hym cristned right there.
                And Pope Urban christened him right there.

218         Valerian gooth hoom and fynt Cecilie
                Valerian goes home and finds Cecilie
219         Withinne his chambre with an angel stonde.
                Within his room standing with an angel.
220         This angel hadde of roses and of lilie
                This angel had of roses and of lily
221         Corones two, the which he bar in honde;
                Two crowns, which he bore in hand;
222         And first to Cecile, as I understonde,
                And first to Cecile, as I understand,
223         He yaf that oon, and after gan he take
                He gave that one, and after he did give
224         That oother to Valerian, hir make.
                That other to Valerian, her mate.

225         "With body clene and with unwemmed thoght
                "With body clean and with unblemished thought
226         Kepeth ay wel thise corones," quod he;
                Always guard well these crowns," said he;
227         "Fro paradys to yow have I hem broght,
                "From paradise I have brought them to you,
228         Ne nevere mo ne shal they roten bee,
                Nor never ever shall they be rotten,
229         Ne lese hir soote savour, trusteth me;
                Nor lose their sweet fragrance, trust me;
230         Ne nevere wight shal seen hem with his ye,
                Nor never a person shall see them with his eye,
231         But he be chaast and hate vileynye.
                Unless he be chaste and hates villainy.

232         "And thow, Valerian, for thow so soone
                "And thou, Valerian, because thou so soon
233         Assentedest to good conseil also,
                Assented to good counsel also,
234         Sey what thee list, and thou shalt han thy boone."
                Say what pleases thee, and thou shalt have thy request."
235         "I have a brother," quod Valerian tho,
                "I have a brother," said Valerian then,
236         "That in this world I love no man so.
                "And in this world I love no man so much.
237         I pray yow that my brother may han grace
                I pray you that my brother may have grace
238         To knowe the trouthe, as I do in this place."
                To know the truth, as I do in this place."

239         The angel seyde, "God liketh thy requeste,
                The angel said, "God likes thy request,
240         And bothe with the palm of martirdom
                And both (of you) with the palm of martyrdom
241         Ye shullen come unto his blisful feste."
                You shall come unto his blissful feast."
242         And with that word Tiburce his brother coom.
                And with that word Tiburce his brother came.
243         And whan that he the savour undernoom,
                And when he perceived the fragrance,
244         Which that the roses and the lilies caste,
                Which the roses and the lilies cast forth
245         Withinne his herte he gan to wondre faste,
                Within his heart he began to wonder intently,

246         And seyde, "I wondre, this tyme of the yeer,
                And said, "I wonder, this time of the year,
247         Whennes that soote savour cometh so
                Whence that sweet fragrance comes so (much)
248         Of rose and lilies that I smelle heer.
                Of rose and lilies that I smell here.
249         For though I hadde hem in myne handes two,
                For even if I had them in my two hands,
250         The savour myghte in me no depper go.
                The fragrance could go in me no deeper.
251         The sweete smel that in myn herte I fynde
                The sweet smell that in my heart I find
252         Hath chaunged me al in another kynde."
                Has changed me all into another nature."

253         Valerian seyde: "Two corones han we,
                Valerian said: "Two crowns have we,
254         Snow white and rose reed, that shynen cleere,
                Snow white and rose red, that shine clear,
255         Whiche that thyne eyen han no myght to see;
                Which thine eyes have no power to see;
256         And as thou smellest hem thurgh my preyere,
                And as thou smellest them because of my prayer,
257         So shaltow seen hem, leeve brother deere,
                So shalt thou see them, beloved brother dear,
258         If it so be thou wolt, withouten slouthe,
                If it so be thou will, without delaying,
259         Bileve aright and knowen verray trouthe."
                Believe correctly and know real truth."

260         Tiburce answerde, "Seistow this to me
                Tiburce answered, "Sayest thou this to me
261         In soothnesse, or in dreem I herkne this?"
                In actuality, or do I hear this in dream?"
262         "In dremes," quod Valerian, "han we be
                "In dreams," said Valerian, "have we been
263         Unto this tyme, brother myn, ywis.
                Until this time, my brother, indeed.
264         But now at erst in trouthe oure dwellyng is."
                But now for the first time our dwelling is in truth."
265         "How woostow this?" quod Tiburce, "and in what wyse?"
                "How knowest thou this?" said Tiburce, "and in what manner?"
266         Quod Valerian, "That shal I thee devyse.
                Said Valerian, "That I shall tell thee.

267         "The aungel of God hath me the trouthe ytaught
                "The angel of God has taught me the truth
268         Which thou shalt seen, if that thou wolt reneye
                Which thou shalt see, if thou wilt renounce
269         The ydoles and be clene, and elles naught."
                The idols and be chaste, and otherwise nothing (will you see.)"
270         And of the myracle of thise corones tweye
                And of the miracle of these two crowns
271         Seint Ambrose in his preface list to seye;
                Saint Ambrose in his preface is pleased to speak;
272         Solempnely this noble doctour deere
                Solemnly this noble dear Doctor (of the Church)
273         Commendeth it, and seith in this manere:
                Commends it, and says in this manner:

274         "The palm of martirdom for to receyve,
                "In order to receive the palm of martyrdom,
275         Seinte Cecile, fulfild of Goddes yifte,
                Saint Cecile, completely filled with God's gift,
276         The world and eek hire chambre gan she weyve;
                The world and also her bed-chamber did she give up;
277         Witnesse Tyburces and [Valerians] shrifte,
                Witness Tyburce's and Valerian's confession,
278         To whiche God of his bountee wolde shifte
                To which God of his goodness would provide
279         Corones two of floures wel smellynge,
                Two crowns of flowers well smelling,
280         And made his angel hem the corones brynge.
                And made his angel bring them the crowns.

281         "The mayde hath broght thise men to blisse above;
                "The maid has brought these men to bliss above;
282         The world hath wist what it is worth, certeyn,
                The world has known what it is worth, certainly,
283         Devocioun of chastitee to love."
                To love a devotion to chastity."
284         Tho shewed hym Cecile al open and pleyn
                Then Cecile showed him all open and plain
285         That alle ydoles nys but a thyng in veyn,
                That all idols are but meaningless things,
286         For they been dombe, and therto they been deve,
                For they are dumb, and moreover they are deaf,
287         And charged hym his ydoles for to leve.
                And (she) ordered him to leave his idols.

288         "Whoso that troweth nat this, a beest he is,"
                "Whoever believes not this, he is a beast,"
289         Quod tho Tiburce, "if that I shal nat lye."
                Tiburce then said, "if I shall not lie."
290         And she gan kisse his brest, that herde this,
                And she who heard this did kiss his breast,
291         And was ful glad he koude trouthe espye.
                And was very glad he could perceive truth.
292         "This day I take thee for myn allye,"
                "This day I take thee for my kinsman,"
293         Seyde this blisful faire mayde deere,
                Said this blissful fair maid dear,
294         And after that she seyde as ye may heere:
                And after that she said as you may hear:

295         "Lo, right so as the love of Crist," quod she,
                "Lo, exactly as the love of Christ," said she,
296         "Made me thy brotheres wyf, right in that wise
                "Made me thy brother's wife, exactly in that manner
297         Anon for myn allye heer take I thee,
                Right now here I take thee for my kinsman,
298         Syn that thou wolt thyne ydoles despise.
                Since thou will despise thine idols.
299         Go with thy brother now, and thee baptise,
                Go with thy brother now, and get thyself baptized,
300         And make thee clene, so that thou mowe biholde
                And make thyself clean, so that thou can behold
301         The angels face of which thy brother tolde."
                The angel's face of which thy brother told."

302         Tiburce answerde and seyde, "Brother deere,
                Tiburce answered and said, "Brother dear,
303         First tel me whider I shal, and to what man?"
                First tell me where I must go, and to what man?"
304         "To whom?" quod he, "com forth with right good cheere,
                "To whom?" said he, "come forth with right good cheer,
305         I wol thee lede unto the Pope Urban."
                I will lead thee unto the Pope Urban."
306         "Til Urban? Brother myn Valerian,"
                "To Urban? My brother Valerian,"
307         Quod tho Tiburce, "woltow me thider lede?
                Said then Tiburce, "wilt thou lead me there?
308         Me thynketh that it were a wonder dede.
                It seems to me that it would be a wonderful deed.

309         "Ne menestow nat Urban," quod he tho,
                "Thou meanest not Urban," said he then,
310         "That is so ofte dampned to be deed,
                "That is so often condemned to be dead,
311         And woneth in halkes alwey to and fro,
                And dwells in hiding places always (going) from one to another,
312         And dar nat ones putte forth his heed?
                And dares not once put forth his head?
313         Men sholde hym brennen in a fyr so reed
                Men should burn him in a fire so red
314         If he were founde, or that men myghte hym spye,
                If he were found, or if men could catch sight of him,
315         And we also, to bere hym compaignye;
                And we too (would burn), to bear him company;

316         "And whil we seken thilke divinitee
                "And while we seek that same divinity
317         That is yhid in hevene pryvely,
                That is hidden secretly in heaven,
318         Algate ybrend in this world shul we be!"
                Nevertheless we shall be burned in this world!"
319         To whom Cecile answerde boldely,
                To whom Cecile answered boldly,
320         "Men myghten dreden wel and skilfully
                "Men might well and reasonably fear
321         This lyf to lese, myn owene deere brother,
                To lose this life, my own dear brother,
322         If this were lyvynge oonly and noon oother.
                If this were the only life and (there were) none other.

323         "But ther is bettre lif in oother place,
                "But there is a better life in another place,
324         That nevere shal be lost, ne drede thee noght,
                That never shall be lost, doubt thee not,
325         Which Goddes Sone us tolde thurgh his grace.
                Which God's Son told us by means of his grace.
326         That Fadres Sone hath alle thyng ywroght,
                That Father's Son has created all things,
327         And al that wroght is with a skilful thoght;
                And all that is created (and endowed) with the power of reason;
328         The Goost, that fro the Fader gan procede,
                The Holy Ghost, who from the Father did proceed,
329         Hath sowled hem, withouten any drede.
                Has given them souls, without any doubt.

330         "By word and by myracle heigh Goddes Sone,
                "By word and by miracle high God's Son,
331         Whan he was in this world, declared heere
                When he was in this world, declared here
332         That ther was oother lyf ther men may wone."
                That there was another life where men may dwell."
333         To whom answerde Tiburce, "O suster deere,
                To whom answered Tiburce, "O sister dear,
334         Ne seydestow right now in this manere,
                Said thou not just now in this manner,
335         Ther nys but o God, lord in soothfastnesse?
                There is but one God, lord in truthfulness?
336         And now of three how maystow bere witnesse?"
                And now of three how canst thou bear witness?"

337         "That shal I telle," quod she, "er I go.
                "That shall I tell," said she, "ere I go.
338         Right as a man hath sapiences three --
                Exactly as a man has three mental faculties --
339         Memorie, engyn, and intellect also --
                Memory, imagination, and judgement also --
340         So in o beynge of divinitee,
                So in one being of divinity,
341         Thre persones may ther right wel bee."
                Three persons may right well be there."
342         Tho gan she hym ful bisily to preche
                Then very zealously she did preach to him
343         Of Cristes come, and of his peynes teche,
                Of Christ's coming, and teach (him) of His pains,

344         And manye pointes of his passioun;
                And many particulars of His passion;
345         How Goddes Sone in this world was withholde
                How God's Son was compelled to remain in this world
346         To doon mankynde pleyn remissioun,
                To provide full forgiveness for mankind,
347         That was ybounde in synne and cares colde;
                Which was bound in sin and painful cares;
348         Al this thyng she unto Tiburce tolde.
                All this thing she told unto Tiburce.
349         And after this Tiburce in good entente
                And after this Tiburce with a good will
350         With Valerian to Pope Urban he wente,
                With Valerian he went to Pope Urban,

351         That thanked God, and with glad herte and light
                Who thanked God, and with glad and happy heart
352         He cristned hym and made hym in that place
                He christened him and made him in that place
353         Parfit in his lernynge, Goddes knyght.
                Perfect in his learning, God's knight.
354         And after this Tiburce gat swich grace
                And after this Tiburce got such grace
355         That every day he saugh in tyme and space
                That every day in real time and space he saw
356         The aungel of God; and every maner boone
                The angel of God; and every manner of gift
357         That he God axed, it was sped ful soone.
                That he asked of God was provided immediately.

358         It were ful hard by ordre for to seyn
                It would be very hard in proper sequence to say
359         How manye wondres Jhesus for hem wroghte;
                How many wonders Jesus made for them;
360         But atte laste, to tellen short and pleyn,
                But at the last, to tell short and plain,
361         The sergeantz of the toun of Rome hem soghte,
                The officers of the law of the town of Rome sought them,
362         And hem biforn Almache, the prefect, broghte,
                And brought them before Almache, the prefect,
363         Which hem apposed, and knew al hire entente,
                Who questioned them, and knew all their thought,
364         And to the ymage of Juppiter hem sente,
                And sent them to the image of Jupiter,

365         And seyde, "Whoso wol nat sacrifise,
                And said, "Whoever will not sacrifice,
366         Swape of his heed; this my sentence heer."
                Strike off his head; this is my sentence here."
367         Anon thise martirs that I yow devyse,
                Immediately these martyrs of whom I tell you,
368         Oon Maximus, that was an officer
                One Maximus, that was an officer
369         Of the prefectes, and his corniculer,
                Of the prefect's, and his chief assistant,
370         Hem hente, and whan he forth the seintes ladde,
                Seized them, and when he led forth the saints,
371         Hymself he weep for pitee that he hadde.
                He himself wept for pity that he had.

372         Whan Maximus had herd the seintes loore,
                When Maximus had heard the saints' teaching,
373         He gat hym of the tormentoures leve,
                He got himself permission of the executioners,
374         And ladde hem to his hous withoute moore,
                And led them to his house without more delay,
375         And with hir prechyng, er that it were eve,
                And with their preaching, ere that it was evening,
376         They gonnen fro the tormentours to reve,
                They did take away from the executioners,
377         And fro Maxime, and fro his folk echone,
                And from Maxime, and from his folk each one of them,
378         The false feith, to trowe in God allone.
                The false faith, (and brought them) to believe in God alone.

379         Cecile cam, whan it was woxen nyght,
                Cecile came, when it was grown night,
380         With preestes that hem cristned alle yfeere;
                With priests who christened them all together;
381         And afterward, whan day was woxen light,
                And afterward, when day was grown light,
382         Cecile hem seyde with a ful stedefast cheere,
                Cecile said to them with a full steadfast countenance,
383         "Now, Cristes owene knyghtes leeve and deere,
                "Now, Christ's own knights beloved and dear,
384         Cast alle awey the werkes of derknesse,
                Cast away all the works of darkness,
385         And armeth yow in armure of brightnesse.
                And arm yourselves in armor of brightness.

386         "Ye han for sothe ydoon a greet bataille,
                "You have truly done a great battle,
387         Youre cours is doon, youre feith han ye conserved.
                Your race is done, your faith you have maintained.
388         Gooth to the corone of lif that may nat faille;
                Go to the crown of life that can not fail;
389         The rightful Juge, which that ye han served,
                The rightful Judge, whom you have served,
390         Shal yeve it yow, as ye han it deserved."
                Shall give it to you, as you have deserved it."
391         And whan this thyng was seyd as I devyse,
                And when this thing was said as I tell,
392         Men ledde hem forth to doon the sacrefise.
                Men led them forth to do the sacrifice.

393         But whan they weren to the place broght
                But when they were brought to the place
394         To tellen shortly the conclusioun,
                To tell shortly the conclusion,
395         They nolde encense ne sacrifise right noght,
                They would not incense nor sacrifice in any way,
396         But on hir knees they setten hem adoun
                But on their knees they set themselves down
397         With humble herte and sad devocioun,
                With humble heart and steadfast devotion,
398         And losten bothe hir hevedes in the place.
                And lost both their heads in the place.
399         Hir soules wenten to the Kyng of grace.
                Their souls went to the King of grace.

400         This Maximus, that saugh this thyng bityde,
                This Maximus, who saw this thing happen,
401         With pitous teeris tolde it anonright,
                With piteous tears told it right away,
402         That he hir soules saugh to hevene glyde
                That he saw their souls glide to heaven
403         With aungels ful of cleernesse and of light,
                With angels full of clearness and of light,
404         And with his word converted many a wight;
                And with his word converted many a person;
405         For which Almachius dide hym so bete
                For which Almachius had him so beaten
406         With whippe of leed til he his lif gan lete.
                With whip tipped with lead that he left his life.

407         Cecile hym took and buryed hym anon
                Cecile took him and buried him straightway
408         By Tiburce and Valerian softely
                By Tiburce and Valerian tenderly
409         Withinne hire buriyng place, under the stoon;
                Within their burying place, under the tombstone;
410         And after this, Almachius hastily
                And after this, Almachius hastily
411         Bad his ministres fecchen openly
                Ordered his ministers to fetch publicly
412         Cecile, so that she myghte in his presence
                Cecile, so that she might in his presence
413         Doon sacrifice and Juppiter encense.
                Do sacrifice and burn incense to Jupiter.

414         But they, converted at hir wise loore,
                But they, converted by her wise teaching,
415         Wepten ful soore, and yaven ful credence
                Wept very bitterly, and gave full credence
416         Unto hire word, and cryden moore and moore,
                Unto her word, and cried more and more,
417         "Crist, Goddes Sone, withouten difference,
                "Christ, God's Son, without difference [between Father and Son],
418         Is verray God -- this is al oure sentence --
                Is true God -- this is the belief of us all --
419         That hath so good a servant hym to serve.
                That has so good a servant to serve Him.
420         This with o voys we trowen, thogh we sterve!"
                This unanimously we believe, even if we should die!"

421         Almachius, that herde of this doynge,
                Almachius, that heard of this business,
422         Bad fecchen Cecile, that he myghte hire see,
                Ordered (his men to) fetch Cecile, so that he might see her
423         And alderfirst, lo, this was his axynge.
                And first of all, lo, this was his quesation.
424         "What maner womman artow?" tho quod he.
                "What sort of woman art thou?" then said he.
425         "I am a gentil womman born," quod she.
                "I am a gentle woman born," said she.
426         "I axe thee," quod he, "though it thee greeve,
                "I ask thee," said he, "though it may grieve thee,
427         Of thy religioun and of thy bileeve."
                About thy religion and about thy belief."

428         "Ye han bigonne youre questioun folily,"
                "You have begun your question foolishly,"
429         Quod she, "that wolden two answeres conclude
                Said she, "you who would include two answers
430         In o demande; ye axed lewedly."
                In one question; you asked ignorantly."
431         Almache answerde unto that similitude,
                Almache answered unto that refutation,
432         "Of whennes comth thyn answeryng so rude?"
                "Of whence comes thine answering so rude?"
433         "Of whennes?" quod she, whan that she was freyned,
                "Of whence?" said she, when she was asked,
434         "Of conscience and of good feith unfeyned."
                "Of conscience and of sincere good faith."

435         Almachius seyde, "Ne takestow noon heede
                Almachius said, "Takest thou no heed
436         Of my power?" And she answerde hym this:
                Of my power?" And she answered him this:
437         "Youre myght," quod she, "ful litel is to dreede,
                "Your might," said she, "is very little to fear,
438         For every mortal mannes power nys
                For every mortal man's power is nothing
439         But lyk a bladdre ful of wynd, ywys.
                But only like a bladder full of wind, indeed.
440         For with a nedles poynt, whan it is blowe,
                For with a needle's point, when it is blown up,
441         May al the boost of it be leyd ful lowe."
                Can all the arrogance of it be laid full low."

442         "Ful wrongfully bigonne thow," quod he,
                "Full wrongfully thou began," said he,
443         "And yet in wrong is thy perseveraunce.
                "And yet wrongful is thy perseverance.
444         Wostow nat how oure myghty princes free
                Dost thou not know how our mighty noble princes
445         Han thus comanded and maad ordinaunce
                Have thus commanded and made a law
446         That every Cristen wight shal han penaunce
                That every Christian person shall be punished
447         But if that he his Cristendom withseye,
                Unless he renounce his Christian faith,
448         And goon al quit, if he wole it reneye?"
                And go all free, if he will deny it?"

449         "Yowre princes erren, as youre nobleye dooth,"
                "Your princes err, as your nobles do,"
450         Quod tho Cecile, "and with a wood sentence
                Said then Cecile, "and with a crazy verdict
451         Ye make us gilty, and it is nat sooth.
                You make us guilty, and it is not true.
452         For ye, that knowen wel oure innocence,
                For you, who know well our innocence,
453         For as muche as we doon a reverence
                Forasmuch as we do reverence
454         To Crist, and for we bere a Cristen name,
                To Christ, and because we bear a Christian name,
455         Ye putte on us a cryme and eek a blame.
                You accuse us of a crime and also (put on us) the blame for it.

456         "But we that knowen thilke name so
                "But we who know that same name
457         For vertuous, we may it nat withseye."
                To be so virtuous, we can not deny it."
458         Almache answerde, "Chees oon of thise two:
                Almache answered, "Chose one of these two:
459         Do sacrifice, or Cristendom reneye,
                Do sacrifice, or renounce Christendom,
460         That thou mowe now escapen by that weye."
                So that thou can now escape by that means."
461         At which the hooly blisful faire mayde
                At which the holy blissful fair maid
462         Gan for to laughe, and to the juge sayde:
                Began to laugh, and to the judge said:

463         "O juge, confus in thy nycetee,
                "O judge, confused in thy folly,
464         Woltow that I reneye innocence,
                Wilt thou that I renounce innocence,
465         To make me a wikked wight?" quod shee.
                To make myself a wicked person?" said she.
466         "Lo, he dissymuleth heere in audience;
                "Lo, he hides his true feelings here in open court;
467         He stareth, and woodeth in his advertence!"
                He stares, and goes mad in his mind!"
468         To whom Almachius, "Unsely wrecche,
                To whom Almachius, "Miserable wretch,
469         Ne woostow nat how fer my myght may strecche?
                Knowest thou not how far my power can stretch?

470         "Han noght oure myghty princes to me yiven,
                "Have not our mighty princes to me given,
471         Ye, bothe power and auctoritee
                Yea, both power and authority
472         To maken folk to dyen or to lyven?
                To make folk to die or to live?
473         Why spekestow so proudly thanne to me?"
                Why speakest thou so proudly then to me?"
474         "I speke noght but stedfastly," quod she;
                "I speak only faithfully," said she;
475         "Nat proudly, for I seye, as for my syde,
                "Not proudly, for I say, as for my side,
476         We haten deedly thilke vice of pryde.
                We hate that same deadly sin of pride.

477         "And if thou drede nat a sooth to heere,
                "And if thou dread not to hear a truth,
478         Thanne wol I shewe al openly, by right,
                Then will I show all openly, according to law,
479         That thou hast maad a ful gret lesyng heere.
                That thou hast made a very great lie here.
480         Thou seyst thy princes han thee yeven myght
                Thou sayest thy princes have given thee power
481         Bothe for to sleen and for to quyken a wight;
                Both to slay and to give life to a person;
482         Thou, that ne mayst but oonly lyf bireve,
                Thou, who can only take away life,
483         Thou hast noon oother power ne no leve.
                Thou hast no other power nor any authority.

484         "But thou mayst seyn thy princes han thee maked
                "But thou can say thy princes have made thee
485         Ministre of deeth; for if thou speke of mo,
                Minister of death; for if thou speak of more,
486         Thou lyest, for thy power is ful naked."
                Thou liest, for thy power is strictly limited.
487         "Do wey thy booldnesse," seyde Almachius tho,
                "Do away thy boldness," said Almachius then,
488         "And sacrifice to oure goddes er thou go!
                "And sacrifice to our gods ere thou go!
489         I recche nat what wrong that thou me profre,
                I care not what wrong that thou may express to me,
490         For I kan suffre it as a philosophre;
                For I can suffer it as a philosopher;

491         "But thilke wronges may I nat endure
                "But those same wrongs I can not endure
492         That thou spekest of oure goddes heere," quod he.
                Which thou spekest of our gods here," said he.
493         Cecile answerde, "O nyce creature!
                Cecile answered, "O foolish creature!
494         Thou seydest no word syn thou spak to me
                Thou saidest no word since thou spoke to me
495         That I ne knew therwith thy nycetee
                That I did not know therewith thy foolishness
496         And that thou were in every maner wise
                And that thou were in every sort of way
497         A lewed officer and a veyn justise.
                An ignorant officer and a foolish judge.

498         "Ther lakketh no thyng to thyne outter yen
                "There lacks nothing to thine outer eyes
499         That thou n' art blynd; for thyng that we seen alle
                Except that thou art blind; for thing that we all see
500         That it is stoon -- that men may wel espyen --
                That it is stone -- that men can well see --
501         That ilke stoon a god thow wolt it calle.
                That same stone a god thou wilt call it.
502         I rede thee, lat thyn hand upon it falle
                I advise thee, let thine hand upon it fall
503         And taste it wel, and stoon thou shalt it fynde,
                And taste it well, and stone thou shalt find it,
504         Syn that thou seest nat with thyne eyen blynde.
                Since thou seest not with thy blind eyes.

505         "It is a shame that the peple shal
                "It is a shame that the people shall
506         So scorne thee and laughe at thy folye,
                So scorn thee and laugh at thy folly,
507         For communly men woot it wel overal
                For without exception men know it well everywhere
508         That myghty God is in his hevenes hye;
                That mighty God is in his high heavens;
509         And thise ymages, wel thou mayst espye,
                And these images, thou canst well see,
510         To thee ne to hemself mowen noght profite,
                Can do no profit to thee nor to themselves,
511         For in effect they been nat worth a myte."
                For in fact they are not worth a penny."

512         Thise wordes and swiche othere seyde she,
                These words and others such said she,
513         And he weex wroth, and bad men sholde hir lede
                And he grew angry, and ordered that men should lead her
514         Hom til hir hous, and "In hire hous," quod he,
                Home to her house, and "In her house," said he,
515         "Brenne hire right in a bath of flambes rede."
                "Burn her right in a bath of red flames."
516         And as he bad, right so was doon the dede;
                And as he ordered, exactly so the deed was done;
517         For in a bath they gonne hire faste shetten,
                For they did shut her fast in a cauldron,
518         And nyght and day greet fyr they under betten.
                And night and day they fed great fire under it.

519         The longe nyght, and eek a day also,
                The long night, and also a day as well,
520         For al the fyr and eek the bathes heete
                Despite the fire and also the bath's heat
521         She sat al coold and feelede no wo.
                She sat all cool and felt no pain.
522         It made hire nat a drope for to sweete.
                It made her not a drop to sweat.
523         But in that bath hir lyf she moste lete,
                But in that bath her life she must leave,
524         For he Almachius, with ful wikke entente,
                For that Almachius, with completely wicked intent,
525         To sleen hire in the bath his sonde sente.
                Sent his messenger to slay her in the bath.

526         Thre strokes in the nekke he smoot hire tho,
                Three strokes in the neck he smote her then,
527         The tormentour, but for no maner chaunce
                The executioner, but in no sort of way
528         He myghte noght smyte al hir nekke atwo;
                He could not smite all her neck in two;
529         And for ther was that tyme an ordinaunce
                And because there was that time an ordinance
530         That no man sholde doon man swich penaunce
                That no man should do any one such pain
531         The ferthe strook to smyten, softe or soore,
                The fourth stroke to smite, soft or sore,
532         This tormentour ne dorste do namoore,
                This executioner dared not do any more,

533         But half deed, with hir nekke ycorven there,
                But half dead, with her neck carved there,
534         He lefte hir lye, and on his wey he went.
                He left her lie, and on his way he went.
535         The Cristen folk, which that aboute hire were,
                The Christian folk, who were about her,
536         With sheetes han the blood ful faire yhent.
                With sheets have very carefully taken up the blood.
537         Thre dayes lyved she in this torment,
                Three days she lived in this torment,
538         And nevere cessed hem the feith to teche
                And never ceased to teach them the faith
539         That she hadde fostred; hem she gan to preche,
                That she had fostered; to them she did preach,

540         And hem she yaf hir moebles and hir thyng,
                And she gave them her personal property and her things,
541         And to the Pope Urban bitook hem tho,
                And to the Pope Urban (she) entrusted them then,
542         And seyde, "I axed this of hevene kyng,
                And said, "I asked this of heaven's king,
543         To han respit thre dayes and namo
                To have respite three days and no more
544         To recomende to yow, er that I go,
                To commend to you, ere I go,
545         Thise soules, lo, and that I myghte do werche
                These souls, lo, and that I might have made
546         Heere of myn hous perpetuelly a cherche."
                Here of my house perpetually a church."

547         Seint Urban with his deknes prively
                Saint Urban with his deacons secretly
548         The body fette and buryed it by nyghte
                Fetched the body and buried it by night
549         Among his othere seintes honestly.
                Among his other saints decently.
550         Hir hous the chirche of Seint Cecilie highte;
                Her house is called the church of Saint Cecilie;
551         Seint Urban halwed it, as he wel myghte;
                Saint Urban consecrated it, as he well could;
552         In which, into this day, in noble wyse,
                In which, unto this day, in noble manner,
553         Men doon to Crist and to his seint servyse.
                People do service to Christ and to his saint.


Heere is ended the Seconde Nonnes Tale



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