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GEOFFREY CHAUCER


TROILUS AND CRISEYDE

BOOK I




he double sorwe of Troilus to tellen,
That was the kyng Priamus sone of Troye,
In lovynge, how his aventures fellen
Fro wo to wele, and after out of joie,
My purpos is, er that I parte fro ye.
Thesiphone, thow help me for t' endite
Thise woful vers, that wepen as I write.

To the clepe I, thow goddesse of torment,
Thow cruwel Furie, sorwynge evere in peyne,
Help me, that am the sorwful instrument,
That helpeth loveres, as I kan, to pleyne;
For wel sit it, the sothe for to seyne,
A woful wight to han a drery feere,
And to a sorwful tale, a sory chere.

For I, that God of Loves servantz serve,
Ne dar to Love, for myn unliklynesse,
Preyen for speed, al sholde I therfore sterve,
So fer am I from his help in derknesse.
But natheles, if this may don gladnesse
Unto any lovere, and his cause availle,
Have he my thonk, and myn be this travaille!

But ye loveres, that bathen in gladnesse,
If any drope of pyte in yow be,
Remembreth yow on passed hevynesse
That ye han felt, and on the adversite
Of othere folk, and thynketh how that ye
Han felt that Love dorste yow displese,
Or ye han wonne hym with to gret an ese.

And preieth for hem that ben in the cas
Of Troilus, as ye may after here,
That Love hem brynge in hevene to solas;
And ek for me preieth to God so dere
That I have myght to shewe, in som manere,
Swich peyne and wo as Loves folk endure,
In Troilus unsely aventure.

And biddeth ek for hem that ben despeired
In love, that nevere nyl recovered be,
And ek for hem that falsly ben apeired
Thorugh wikked tonges, be it he or she;
Thus biddeth God, for his benignite,
So graunte hem soone owt of this world to pace,
That ben despeired out of Loves grace.

And biddeth ek for hem that ben at ese,
That God hem graunte ay good perseveraunce,
And sende hem myght hire ladies so to plese
That it to Love be worship and plesaunce.
For so hope I my sowle best avaunce,
To prey for hem that Loves servauntz be,
And write hire wo, and lyve in charite,

And for to have of hem compassioun,
As though I were hire owne brother dere.
Now herkneth with a good entencioun,
For now wil I gon streght to my matere,
In which ye may the double sorwes here
Of Troilus in lovynge of Criseyde,
And how that she forsook hym er she deyde.

Yt is wel wist how that the Grekes stronge
In armes with a thousand shippes wente
To Troiewardes, and the cite longe
Assegeden, neigh ten yer er they stente,
And in diverse wise and oon entente,
The ravysshyng to wreken of Eleyne,
By Paris don, they wroughten al hir peyne.

Now fel it so that in the town ther was
Dwellynge a lord of gret auctorite,
A gret devyn, that clepid was Calkas,
That in science so expert was that he
Knew wel that Troie sholde destroied be,
By answere of his god, that highte thus:
Daun Phebus or Appollo Delphicus.

So whan this Calkas knew by calkulynge,
And ek by answer of this Appollo,
That Grekes sholden swich a peple brynge,
Thorugh which that Troie moste ben fordo,
He caste anon out of the town to go;
For wel wiste he by sort that Troye sholde
Destroyed ben, ye, wolde whoso nolde.

For which for to departen softely
Took purpos ful this forknowynge wise,
And to the Grekes oost ful pryvely
He stal anon; and they, in curteys wise,
Hym diden bothe worship and servyce,
In trust that he hath konnynge hem to rede
In every peril which that is to drede.

Gret rumour gan, whan it was first aspied
Thorugh al the town, and generaly was spoken,
That Calkas traitour fled was and allied
With hem of Grece, and casten to be wroken
On hym that falsly hadde his feith so broken,
And seyden he and al his kyn at-ones
Ben worthi for to brennen, fel and bones.

Now hadde Calkas left in this meschaunce,
Al unwist of this false and wikked dede,
His doughter, which that was in gret penaunce,
For of hire lif she was ful sore in drede,
As she that nyste what was best to rede;
For bothe a widewe was she and allone
Of any frend to whom she dorste hir mone.

Criseyde was this lady name al right.
As to my doom, in al Troies cite
Nas non so fair, forpassynge every wight,
So aungelik was hir natif beaute,
That lik a thing inmortal semed she,
As doth an hevenyssh perfit creature,
That down were sent in scornynge of nature.

This lady, which that alday herd at ere
Hire fadres shame, his falsnesse and tresoun,
Wel neigh out of hir wit for sorwe and fere,
In widewes habit large of samyt broun,
On knees she fil biforn Ector adown
With pitous vois, and tendrely wepynge,
His mercy bad, hirselven excusynge.

Now was this Ector pitous of nature,
And saugh that she was sorwfully bigon,
And that she was so fair a creature;
Of his goodnesse he gladede hire anon,
And seyde, "Lat youre fadres treson gon
Forth with meschaunce, and ye youreself in joie
Dwelleth with us, whil yow good list, in Troie.

"And al th' onour that men may don yow have,
As ferforth as youre fader dwelled here,
Ye shul have, and youre body shal men save,
As fer as I may ought enquere or here."
And she hym thonked with ful humble chere,
And ofter wolde, and it hadde ben his wille,
And took hire leve, and hom, and held hir stille.

And in hire hous she abood with swich meyne
As til hire honour nede was to holde;
And whil she was dwellynge in that cite,
Kepte hir estat, and both of yonge and olde
Ful wel biloved, and wel men of hir tolde.
But wheither that she children hadde or noon,
I rede it naught, therfore I late it goon.

The thynges fellen, as they don of werre,
Bitwixen hem of Troie and Grekes ofte;
For som day boughten they of Troie it derre,
And eft the Grekes founden nothing softe
The folk of Troie; and thus Fortune on lofte
And under eft gan hem to whielen bothe
Aftir hir course, ay whil that thei were wrothe.

But how this town com to destruccion
Ne falleth naught to purpos me to telle,
For it were a long digression
Fro my matere, and yow to long to dwelle.
But the Troian gestes, as they felle,
In Omer, or in Dares, or in Dite,
Whoso that kan may rede hem as they write.

But though that Grekes hem of Troie shetten,
And hir cite biseged al aboute,
Hire olde usage nolde they nat letten,
As for to honoure hir goddes ful devoute;
But aldirmost in honour, out of doute,
Thei hadde a relik, heet Palladion,
That was hire trist aboven everichon.

And so bifel, whan comen was the tyme
Of Aperil, whan clothed is the mede
With newe grene, of lusty Veer the pryme,
And swote smellen floures white and rede,
In sondry wises shewed, as I rede,
The folk of Troie hire observaunces olde,
Palladiones feste for to holde.

And to the temple, in al hir beste wise,
In general ther wente many a wight,
To herknen of Palladions servyce;
And namely, so many a lusty knyght,
So many a lady fressh and mayden bright,
Ful wel arayed, both meeste, mene, and leste,
Ye, bothe for the seson and the feste.

Among thise othere folk was Criseyda,
In widewes habit blak; but natheles,
Right as oure firste lettre is now an A,
In beaute first so stood she, makeles.
Hire goodly lokyng gladed al the prees.
Nas nevere yet seyn thyng to ben preysed derre,
Nor under cloude blak so bright a sterre

As was Criseyde, as folk seyde everichone
That hir behelden in hir blake wede.
And yet she stood ful lowe and stille allone,
Byhynden other folk, in litel brede,
And neigh the dore, ay undre shames drede,
Simple of atir and debonaire of chere,
With ful assured lokyng and manere.

This Troilus, as he was wont to gide
His yonge knyghtes, lad hem up and down
In thilke large temple on every side,
Byholding ay the ladies of the town,
Now here, now there; for no devocioun
Hadde he to non, to reven hym his reste,
But gan to preise and lakken whom hym leste.

And in his walk ful faste he gan to wayten
If knyght or squyer of his compaignie
Gan for to syke, or lete his eighen baiten
On any womman that he koude espye.
He wolde smyle and holden it folye,
And seye hym thus, "God woot, she slepeth softe
For love of the, whan thow turnest ful ofte!

"I have herd told, pardieux, of youre lyvynge,
Ye loveres, and youre lewed observaunces,
And which a labour folk han in wynnynge
Of love, and in the kepyng which doutaunces;
And whan youre prey is lost, woo and penaunces.
O veray fooles, nyce and blynde be ye!
Ther nys nat oon kan war by other be."

And with that word he gan caste up the browe,
Ascaunces, "Loo! is this naught wisely spoken?"
At which the God of Love gan loken rowe
Right for despit, and shop for to ben wroken.
He kidde anon his bowe nas naught broken;
For sodeynly he hitte hym atte fulle --
And yet as proud a pekok kan he pulle.

O blynde world, O blynde entencioun!
How often falleth al the effect contraire
Of surquidrie and foul presumpcioun;
For kaught is proud, and kaught is debonaire.
This Troilus is clomben on the staire,
And litel weneth that he moot descenden;
But alday faileth thing that fooles wenden.

As proude Bayard gynneth for to skippe
Out of the weye, so pryketh hym his corn,
Til he a lasshe have of the longe whippe --
Than thynketh he, "Though I praunce al byforn
First in the trays, ful fat and newe shorn,
Yet am I but an hors, and horses lawe
I moot endure, and with my feres drawe" --

So ferde it by this fierse and proude knyght:
Though he a worthy kynges sone were,
And wende nothing hadde had swich myght
Ayeyns his wille that shuld his herte stere,
Yet with a look his herte wex a-fere,
That he that now was moost in pride above,
Wax sodeynly moost subgit unto love.

Forthy ensample taketh of this man,
Ye wise, proude, and worthi folkes alle,
To scornen Love, which that so soone kan
The fredom of youre hertes to hym thralle;
For evere it was, and evere it shal byfalle,
That Love is he that alle thing may bynde,
For may no man fordon the lawe of kynde.

That this be soth, hath preved and doth yit.
For this trowe I ye knowen alle or some,
Men reden nat that folk han gretter wit
Than they that han be most with love ynome;
And strengest folk ben therwith overcome,
The worthiest and grettest of degree:
This was, and is, and yet men shall it see.

And trewelich it sit wel to be so,
For alderwisest han therwith ben plesed;
And they that han ben aldermost in wo,
With love han ben comforted moost and esed;
And ofte it hath the cruel herte apesed,
And worthi folk maad worthier of name,
And causeth moost to dreden vice and shame.

Now sith it may nat goodly ben withstonde,
And is a thing so vertuous in kynde,
Refuseth nat to Love for to ben bonde,
Syn, as hymselven liste, he may yow bynde;
The yerde is bet that bowen wole and wynde
Than that that brest, and therfore I yow rede
To folowen hym that so wel kan yow lede.

But for to tellen forth in special
Of this kynges sone of which I tolde,
And leten other thing collateral,
Of hym thenke I my tale forth to holde,
Both of his joie and of his cares colde;
And al his werk, as touching this matere,
For I it gan, I wol therto refere.

Withinne the temple he wente hym forth pleyinge,
This Troilus, of every wight aboute,
On this lady, and now on that, lokynge,
Wher so she were of town or of withoute;
And upon cas bifel that thorugh a route
His eye percede, and so depe it wente,
Til on Criseyde it smot, and ther it stente.

And sodeynly he wax therwith astoned,
And gan hir bet biholde in thrifty wise.
"O mercy, God," thoughte he, "wher hastow woned,
That art so feyr and goodly to devise?"
Therwith his herte gan to sprede and rise,
And softe sighed, lest men myghte hym here,
And caught ayeyn his firste pleyinge chere.

She nas nat with the leste of hire stature,
But alle hire lymes so wel answerynge
Weren to wommanhod, that creature
Was nevere lasse mannyssh in semynge;
And ek the pure wise of hire mevynge
Shewed wel that men myght in hire gesse
Honour, estat, and wommanly noblesse.

To Troilus right wonder wel with alle
Gan for to like hire mevynge and hire chere,
Which somdel deignous was, for she let falle
Hire look a lite aside in swich manere,
Ascaunces, "What, may I nat stonden here?"
And after that hir lokynge gan she lighte,
That nevere thoughte hym seen so good a syghte.

And of hire look in him ther gan to quyken
So gret desir and such affeccioun,
That in his herte botme gan to stiken
Of hir his fixe and depe impressioun.
And though he erst hadde poured up and down,
He was tho glad his hornes in to shrinke:
Unnethes wiste he how to loke or wynke.

Lo, he that leet hymselven so konnynge,
And scorned hem that Loves peynes dryen,
Was ful unwar that Love hadde his dwellynge
Withinne the subtile stremes of hire yen;
That sodeynly hym thoughte he felte dyen,
Right with hire look, the spirit in his herte:
Blissed be Love, that kan thus folk converte!

She, this in blak, likynge to Troilus
Over alle thing, he stood for to biholde;
Ne his desir, ne wherfore he stood thus,
He neither chere made, ne word tolde;
But from afer, his manere for to holde,
On other thing his look som tyme he caste,
And eft on hire, whil that servyse laste.

And after this, nat fullich al awhaped,
Out of the temple al esilich he wente,
Repentynge hym that he hadde evere ijaped
Of Loves folk, lest fully the descente
Of scorn fille on hymself; but what he mente,
Lest it were wist on any manere syde,
His woo he gan dissimilen and hide.

Whan he was fro the temple thus departed,
He streght anon unto his paleys torneth.
Right with hire look thorugh-shoten and thorugh-darted,
Al feyneth he in lust that he sojorneth,
And al his chere and speche also he borneth,
And ay of Loves servantz every while,
Hymself to wrye, at hem he gan to smyle,

And seyde, "Lord, so ye lyve al in lest,
Ye loveres! For the konnyngeste of yow,
That serveth most ententiflich and best,
Hym tit as often harm therof as prow.
Youre hire is quyt ayeyn, ye, God woot how!
Nought wel for wel, but scorn for good servyse.
In feith, youre ordre is ruled in good wise!

"In nouncerteyn ben alle youre observaunces,
But it a sely fewe pointes be;
Ne no thing asketh so gret attendaunces
As doth youre lay, and that knowe alle ye;
But that is nat the worste, as mote I the!
But, tolde I yow the worste point, I leve,
Al seyde I soth, ye wolden at me greve.

"But take this: that ye loveres ofte eschuwe,
Or elles doon, of good entencioun,
Ful ofte thi lady wol it mysconstruwe,
And deme it harm in hire oppynyoun;
And yet if she, for other enchesoun,
Be wroth, than shaltow have a groyn anon.
Lord, wel is hym that may ben of yow oon!"

But for al this, whan that he say his tyme,
He held his pees -- non other boote hym gayned --
For love bigan his fetheres so to lyme
That wel unnethe until his folk he fayned
That other besy nedes hym destrayned;
For wo was hym, that what to doon he nyste,
But bad his folk to gon wher that hem liste.

And whan that he in chambre was allone,
He doun upon his beddes feet hym sette,
And first he gan to sike, and eft to grone,
And thought ay on hire so, withouten lette,
That, as he sat and wook, his spirit mette
That he hire saugh a-temple, and al the wise
Right of hire look, and gan it newe avise.

Thus gan he make a mirour of his mynde
In which he saugh al holly hire figure,
And that he wel koude in his herte fynde.
It was to hym a right good aventure
To love swich oon, and if he dede his cure
To serven hir, yet myghte he falle in grace,
Or ellis for oon of hire servantz pace.

Imagenynge that travaille nor grame
Ne myghte for so goodly oon be lorn
As she, ne hym for his desir no shame,
Al were it wist, but in pris and up-born
Of alle lovers wel more than biforn,
Thus argumented he in his gynnynge,
Ful unavysed of his woo comynge.

Thus took he purpos loves craft to suwe,
And thoughte he wolde werken pryvely,
First to hiden his desir in muwe
From every wight yborn, al outrely,
But he myghte ought recovered be therby,
Remembryng hym that love to wide yblowe
Yelt bittre fruyt, though swete seed be sowe.

And over al this, yet muchel more he thoughte
What for to speke, and what to holden inne;
And what to arten hire to love he soughte,
And on a song anon-right to bygynne,
And gan loude on his sorwe for to wynne;
For with good hope he gan fully assente
Criseyde for to love, and nought repente.

And of his song naught only the sentence,
As writ myn auctour called Lollius,
But pleinly, save oure tonges difference,
I dar wel seyn, in al, that Troilus
Seyde in his song, loo, every word right thus
As I shal seyn; and whoso list it here,
Loo, next this vers he may it fynden here.

Canticus Troili

"If no love is, O God, what fele I so?
And if love is, what thing and which is he?
If love be good, from whennes cometh my woo?
If it be wikke, a wonder thynketh me,
When every torment and adversite
That cometh of hym may to me savory thinke,
For ay thurst I, the more that ich it drynke.

"And if that at myn owen lust I brenne,
From whennes cometh my waillynge and my pleynte?
If harm agree me, wherto pleyne I thenne?
I noot, ne whi unwery that I feynte.
O quike deth, O swete harm so queynte,
How may of the in me swich quantite,
But if that I consente that it be?

"And if that I consente, I wrongfully
Compleyne, iwis. Thus possed to and fro,
Al sterelees withinne a boot am I
Amydde the see, bitwixen wyndes two,
That in contrarie stonden evere mo.
Allas, what is this wondre maladie?
For hote of cold, for cold of hote, I dye."

And to the God of Love thus seyde he
With pitous vois, "O lord, now youres is
My spirit, which that oughte youres be.
Yow thanke I, lord, that han me brought to this.
But wheither goddesse or womman, iwis,
She be, I not, which that ye do me serve;
But as hire man I wol ay lyve and sterve.

"Ye stonden in hir eighen myghtily,
As in a place unto youre vertu digne;
Wherfore, lord, if my service or I
May liken yow, so beth to me benigne;
For myn estat roial I here resigne
Into hire hond, and with ful humble chere
Bicome hir man, as to my lady dere."

In hym ne deyned spare blood roial
The fyr of love -- wherfro God me blesse --
Ne him forbar in no degree, for al
His vertu or his excellent prowesse,
But held hym as his thral lowe in destresse,
And brende hym so in soundry wise ay newe,
That sexti tyme a day he loste his hewe.

So muche, day by day, his owene thought,
For lust to hire, gan quiken and encresse,
That every other charge he sette at nought.
Forthi ful ofte, his hote fir to cesse,
To sen hire goodly lok he gan to presse;
For therby to ben esed wel he wende,
And ay the ner he was, the more he brende.

For ay the ner the fir, the hotter is --
This, trowe I, knoweth al this compaignye;
But were he fer or ner, I dar sey this:
By nyght or day, for wisdom or folye,
His herte, which that is his brestez ye,
Was ay on hire, that fairer was to sene
Than evere were Eleyne or Polixene.

Ek of the day ther passed nought an houre
That to hymself a thousand tyme he seyde,
"Good goodly, to whom serve I and laboure
As I best kan, now wolde God, Criseyde,
Ye wolden on me rewe, er that I deyde!
My dere herte, allas, myn hele and hewe
And lif is lost, but ye wol on me rewe!"

Alle other dredes weren from him fledde,
Both of th' assege and his savacioun;
N' yn him desir noon other fownes bredde,
But argumentes to his conclusioun:
That she of him wolde han compassioun,
And he to ben hire man while he may dure.
Lo, here his lif, and from the deth his cure!

The sharpe shoures felle of armes preve
That Ector or his othere brethren diden
Ne made hym only therfore ones meve;
And yet was he, where so men wente or riden,
Founde oon the beste, and longest tyme abiden
Ther peril was, and dide ek swich travaille
In armes, that to thenke it was merveille.

But for non hate he to the Grekes hadde,
Ne also for the rescous of the town,
Ne made hym thus in armes for to madde,
But only, lo, for this conclusioun:
To liken hire the bet for his renoun.
Fro day to day in armes so he spedde
That the Grekes as the deth him dredde.

And fro this forth tho refte hym love his slep,
And made his mete his foo, and ek his sorwe
Gan multiplie, that, whoso tok kep,
It shewed in his hewe both eve and morwe.
Therfor a title he gan him for to borwe
Of other siknesse, lest men of hym wende
That the hote fir of love hym brende,

And seyde he hadde a fevere and ferde amys.
But how it was, certeyn, kan I nat seye,
If that his lady understood nat this,
Or feynede hire she nyste, oon of the tweye;
But wel I rede that, by no manere weye,
Ne semed it that she of hym roughte,
Or of his peyne, or whatsoevere he thoughte.

But thanne felte this Troilus swich wo
That he was wel neigh wood; for ay his drede
Was this, that she som wight hadde loved so,
That nevere of hym she wolde han taken hede,
For which hym thoughte he felte his herte blede;
Ne of his wo ne dorste he nat bygynne
To tellen hir, for al this world to wynne.

But whan he hadde a space from his care,
Thus to hymself ful ofte he gan to pleyne;
He seyde, "O fool, now artow in the snare,
That whilom japedest at loves peyne.
Now artow hent, now gnaw thin owen cheyne!
Thow were ay wont ech lovere reprehende
Of thing fro which thou kanst the nat defende.

"What wol now every lovere seyn of the,
If this be wist, but evere in thin absence
Laughen in scorn, and seyn, `Loo, ther goth he
That is the man of so gret sapience,
That held us loveres leest in reverence.
Now, thanked God, he may gon in the daunce
Of hem that Love list febly for to avaunce.'

"But, O thow woful Troilus, God wolde,
Sith thow most loven thorugh thi destine,
That thow beset were on swich oon that sholde
Know al thi wo, al lakked hir pitee!
But also cold in love towardes the
Thi lady is as frost in wynter moone,
And thow fordon as snow in fire is soone.

"God wold I were aryved in the port
Of deth, to which my sorwe wol me lede!
A, Lord, to me it were a gret comfort;
Than were I quyt of languisshyng in drede;
For, be myn hidde sorwe iblowe on brede,
I shal byjaped ben a thousand tyme
More than that fol of whos folie men ryme.

"But now help, God, and ye, swete, for whom
I pleyne, ikaught, ye, nevere wight so faste!
O mercy, dere herte, and help me from
The deth, for I, whil that my lyf may laste,
More than myself wol love yow to my laste;
And with som frendly lok gladeth me, swete,
Though nevere more thing ye me byheete."

Thise wordes, and ful many an other to,
He spak, and called evere in his compleynte
Hire name, for to tellen hire his wo,
Til neigh that he in salte teres dreynte.
Al was for nought: she herde nat his pleynte;
And whan that he bythought on that folie,
A thousand fold his wo gan multiplie.

Bywayling in his chambre thus allone,
A frend of his that called was Pandare
Com oones in unwar, and herde hym groone,
And say his frend in swich destresse and care:
"Allas," quod he, "who causeth al this fare?
O mercy, God! What unhap may this meene?
Han now thus soone Grekes maad yow leene?
"Or hastow som remors of conscience,

And art now falle in som devocioun,
And wailest for thi synne and thin offence,
And hast for ferde caught attricioun?
God save hem that biseged han oure town,
That so kan leye oure jolite on presse,
And bringe oure lusty folk to holynesse!"

Thise wordes seyde he for the nones alle,
That with swich thing he myght hym angry maken,
And with angre don his wo to falle,
As for the tyme, and his corage awaken.
But wel he wist, as fer as tonges spaken,
Ther nas a man of gretter hardinesse
Thanne he, ne more desired worthinesse.

"What cas," quod Troilus, "or what aventure
Hath gided the to sen me langwisshinge,
That am refus of every creature?
But for the love of God, at my preyinge,
Go hennes awey; for certes my deyinge
Wol the disese, and I mot nedes deye;
Therfore go wey, ther is na more to seye.

"But if thow wene I be thus sik for drede,
It is naught so, and therfore scorne nought.
Ther is another thing I take of hede
Wel more than aught the Grekes han yet wrought,
Which cause is of my deth, for sorowe and thought;
But though that I now telle it the ne leste,
Be thow naught wroth; I hide it for the beste."

This Pandare, that neigh malt for wo and routhe,
Ful ofte seyde, "Allas, what may this be?
Now frend," quod he, "if evere love or trouthe
Hath ben, or is, bitwixen the and me,
Ne do thow nevere swich a crueltee
To hiden fro thi frend so gret a care!
Wostow naught wel that it am I, Pandare?

"I wol parten with the al thi peyne,
If it be so I do the no comfort,
As it is frendes right, soth for to seyne,
To entreparten wo as glad desport.
I have, and shal, for trewe or fals report,
In wrong and right iloved the al my lyve:
Hid nat thi wo fro me, but telle it blyve."

Than gan this sorwful Troylus to syke,
And seide hym thus: "God leve it be my beste
To telle it the; for sith it may the like,
Yet wol I telle it, though myn herte breste.
And wel woot I thow mayst do me no reste;
But lest thow deme I truste nat to the,
Now herke, frend, for thus it stant with me.

"Love, ayeins the which whoso defendeth
Hymselven most, hym alderlest avaylleth,
With disespeyr so sorwfulli me offendeth,
That streight unto the deth myn herte sailleth.
Therto desir so brennyngly me assailleth,
That to ben slayn it were a gretter joie
To me than kyng of Grece ben and Troye.

"Suffiseth this, my fulle frend Pandare,
That I have seyd, for now wostow my wo;
And for the love of God, my colde care,
So hide it wel -- I tolde it nevere to mo,
For harmes myghten folwen mo than two
If it were wist -- but be thow in gladnesse,
And lat me sterve, unknowe, of my destresse."

"How hastow thus unkyndely and longe
Hid this fro me, thow fol?" quod Pandarus.
"Paraunter thow myghte after swich oon longe,
That myn avys anoon may helpen us."
"This were a wonder thing," quod Troilus;
"Thow koudest nevere in love thiselven wisse.
How devel maistow brynge me to blisse?"

"Ye, Troilus, now herke," quod Pandare;
"Though I be nyce, it happeth often so,
That oon that excesse doth ful yvele fare
By good counseil kan kepe his frend therfro.
I have myself ek seyn a blynd man goo
Ther as he fel that couth. loken wide;
A fool may ek a wis-man ofte gide.

"A wheston is no kervyng instrument,
But yet it maketh sharppe kervyng tolis;
And there thow woost that I have aught myswent,
Eschuw thow that, for swich thing to the scole is.
Thus often wise men ben war by foolys.
If thow do so, thi wit is wel bewared;
By his contrarie is every thyng declared.

"For how myghte evere swetnesse han ben knowe
To him that nevere tasted bitternesse?
Ne no man may ben inly glad, I trowe,
That nevere was in sorwe or som destresse.
Eke whit by blak, by shame ek worthinesse,
Ech set by other, more for other semeth,
As men may se, and so the wyse it demeth.

"Sith thus of two contraries is o lore,
I, that have in love so ofte assayed
Grevances, oughte konne, and wel the more,
Counseillen the of that thow art amayed.
Ek the ne aughte nat ben yvel appayed,
Though I desyre with the for to bere
Thyn hevy charge; it shal the lasse dere.

"I woot wel that it fareth thus be me
As to thi brother, Paris, an herdesse
Which that icleped was Oenone
Wrot in a compleynte of hir hevynesse.
Yee say the lettre that she wrot, I gesse?"
"Nay, nevere yet, ywys," quod Troilus.
"Now," quod Pandare, "herkne, it was thus:

"`Phebus, that first fond art of medicyne,'
Quod she, `and couth. in every wightes care
Remedye and reed, by herbes he knew fyne,
Yet to hymself his konnyng was ful bare,
For love hadde hym so bounden in a snare,
Al for the doughter of the kyng Amete,
That al his craft ne koude his sorwes bete.'

"Right so fare I, unhappyly for me.
I love oon best, and that me smerteth sore;
And yet, peraunter, kan I reden the
And nat myself; repreve me na more.
I have no cause, I woot wel, for to sore
As doth an hauk that listeth for to pleye;
But to thin help yet somwhat kan I seye.

"And of o thing right siker maistow be,
That certein, for to dyen in the peyne,
That I shal nevere mo discoveren the;
Ne, by my trouthe, I kepe nat restreyne
The fro thi love, theigh that it were Eleyne
That is thi brother wif, if ich it wiste:
Be what she be, and love hire as the liste!

"Therfore, as frend, fullich in me assure,
And tel me plat what is th' enchesoun
And final cause of wo that ye endure;
For douteth nothyng, myn entencioun
Nis nat to yow of reprehencioun,
To speke as now, for no wight may byreve
A man to love, tyl that hym list to leve.

"And witteth wel that bothe two ben vices:
Mistrusten alle, or elles alle leve.
But wel I woot, the mene of it no vice is,
For to trusten som wight is a preve
Of trouth; and forthi wolde I fayn remeve
Thi wrong conseyte, and do the som wyght triste
Thi wo to telle; and tel me, if the liste.

"The wise seith, `Wo hym that is allone,
For, and he falle, he hath non helpe to ryse';
And sith thow hast a felawe, tel thi mone;
For this nys naught, certein, the nexte wyse
To wynnen love -- as techen us the wyse --
To walwe and wepe as Nyobe the queene,
Whos teres yet in marble ben yseene.

"Lat be thy wepyng and thi drerynesse,
And lat us lissen wo with oother speche;
So may thy woful tyme seme lesse.
Delyte nat in wo thi wo to seche,
As don thise foles that hire sorwes eche
With sorwe, whan thei han mysaventure,
And listen naught to seche hem other cure.

"Men seyn, `to wrecche is consolacioun
To have another felawe in hys peyne.'
That owghte wel ben oure opynyoun,
For bothe thow and I of love we pleyne.
So ful of sorwe am I, soth for to seyne,
That certeinly namore harde grace
May sitte on me, for-why ther is no space.

"If God wol, thow art nat agast of me,
Lest I wolde of thi lady the bygyle!
Thow woost thyself whom that I love, parde,
As I best kan, gon sithen longe while.
And sith thow woost I do it for no wyle,
And sith I am he that thow trustest moost,
Tel me somwhat, syn al my wo thow woost."

Yet Troilus for al this no word seyde,
But longe he ley as stylle as he ded were;
And after this with sikynge he abreyde,
And to Pandarus vois he lente his ere,
And up his eighen caste he, that in feere
Was Pandarus, lest that in frenesie
He sholde falle, or elles soone dye;

And cryde "Awake!" ful wonderlich and sharpe;
"What! Slombrestow as in a litargie?
Or artow lik an asse to the harpe,
That hereth sown whan men the strynges plye,
But in his mynde of that no melodie
May sinken hym to gladen, for that he
So dul ys of his bestialite?"

And with that, Pandare of his wordes stente;
And Troilus yet hym nothyng answerde,
For-why to tellen nas nat his entente
To nevere no man, for whom that he so ferde;
For it is seyd, "Men maketh ofte a yerde
With which the maker is hymself ybeten
In sondry manere," as thise wyse treten,

And namelich in his counseil tellynge
That toucheth love that oughte ben secree;
For of himself it wol ynough out sprynge,
But if that it the bet governed be.
Ek som tyme it is a craft to seme fle
Fro thyng whych in effect men hunte faste;
Al this gan Troilus in his herte caste.

But natheles, whan he hadde herd hym crye
"Awake!" he gan to syken wonder soore,
And seyde, "Frend, though that I stylle lye,
I am nat deef. Now pees, and crye namore,
For I have herd thi wordes and thi lore;
But suffre me my meschief to bywaille,
For thy proverbes may me naught availle.

"Nor other cure kanstow non for me;
Ek I nyl nat ben cured; I wol deye.
What knowe I of the queene Nyobe?
Lat be thyne olde ensaumples, I the preye."
"No," quod Pandarus, "therfore I seye,
Swych is delit of foles to bywepe
Hire wo, but seken bote they ne kepe.

"Now knowe I that ther reson in the failleth.
But tel me, if I wiste what she were
For whom that the al this mysaunter ailleth,
Dorstestow that I tolde in hire ere
Thi wo, sith thow darst naught thiself for feere,
And hire bysoughte on the to han som routhe?"
"Why, nay," quod he, "by God and by my trouthe!"

"What, nat as bisyly," quod Pandarus,
"As though myn owene lyf lay on this nede?"
"No, certes, brother," quod this Troilus,
"And whi? For that thow scholdest nevere spede."
"Wostow that wel?" -- "Ye, that is out of drede,"
Quod Troilus; "for al that evere ye konne,
She nyl to noon swich wrecche as I ben wonne."

Quod Pandarus, "Allas! What may this be,
That thow dispeired art thus causeles?
What! lyveth nat thi lady, bendiste?
How wostow so that thow art graceles?
Swich yvel is nat alwey booteles.
Why, put nat impossible thus thi cure,
Syn thyng to come is oft in aventure.

"I graunte wel that thow endurest wo
As sharp as doth he Ticius in helle,
Whos stomak foughles tiren evere moo
That hightyn volturis, as bokes telle;
But I may nat endure that thow dwelle
In so unskilful an oppynyoun
That of thi wo is no curacioun.

"But oones nyltow, for thy coward herte,
And for thyn ire and folissh wilfulnesse,
For wantrust, tellen of thy sorwes smerte,
Ne to thyn owen help don bysynesse
As muche as speke a resoun moore or lesse,
But list as he that lest of nothyng recche.
What womman koude loven swich a wrecche?

"What may she demen oother of thy deeth,
If thow thus deye, and she not why it is,
But that for feere is yolden up thy breth,
For Grekes han biseged us, iwys?
Lord, which a thonk than shaltow han of this!
Thus wol she seyn, and al the town attones,
`The wrecche is ded, the devel have his bones!'

"Thow mayst allone here wepe and crye and knele --
But love a womman that she woot it nought,
And she wol quyte it that thow shalt nat fele;
Unknowe, unkist, and lost that is unsought.
What, many a man hath love ful deere ybought
Twenty wynter that his lady wiste,
That nevere yet his lady mouth he kiste.

"What sholde he therfore fallen in dispayr,
Or be recreant for his owne tene,
Or slen hymself, al be his lady fair?
Nay, nay, but evere in oon be fressh and grene
To serve and love his deere hertes queene,
And thynk it is a guerdon hire to serve,
A thousand fold moore than he kan deserve."

Of that word took hede Troilus,
And thoughte anon what folie he was inne,
And how that soth hym seyde Pandarus,
That for to slen hymself myght he nat wynne,
But bothe don unmanhod and a synne,
And of his deth his lady naught to wite;
For of his wo, God woot, she knew ful lite.

And with that thought he gan ful sore syke,
And seyde, "Allas! What is me best to do?"
To whom Pandare answered, "If the like,
The beste is that thow telle me al thi wo;
And have my trouthe, but thow it fynde so
I be thi boote, er that it be ful longe,
To pieces do me drawe and sithen honge!"

"Ye, so thow seyst," quod Troilus tho, "allas!
But, God woot, it is naught the rather so.
Ful hard were it to helpen in this cas,
For wel fynde I that Fortune is my fo;
Ne al the men that riden konne or go
May of hire cruel whiel the harm withstonde;
For as hire list she pleyeth with free and bonde."

Quod Pandarus, "Than blamestow Fortune
For thow art wroth; ye, now at erst I see.
Woost thow nat wel that Fortune is comune
To everi manere wight in som degree?
And yet thow hast this comfort, lo, parde,
That, as hire joies moten overgon,
So mote hire sorwes passen everechon.

"For if hire whiel stynte any thyng to torne,
Than cessed she Fortune anon to be.
Now, sith hire whiel by no way may sojourne,
What woostow if hire mutabilite
Right as thyselven list wol don by the,
Or that she be naught fer fro thyn helpynge?
Paraunter thow hast cause for to synge.

"And therfore wostow what I the biseche?
Lat be thy wo and tornyng to the grounde;
For whoso list have helyng of his leche,
To hym byhoveth first unwre his wownde.
To Cerberus yn helle ay be I bounde,
Were it for my suster, al thy sorwe,
By my wil she sholde al be thyn to-morwe.

"Look up, I seye, and telle me what she is
Anon, that I may gon about thy nede.
Knowe ich hire aught? For my love, telle me this.
Thanne wolde I hopen rather for to spede."
Tho gan the veyne of Troilus to blede,
For he was hit, and wax al reed for shame.
"A ha!" quod Pandare; "Here bygynneth game."

And with that word he gan hym for to shake,
And seyde, "Thef, thow shalt hyre name telle."
But tho gan sely Troilus for to quake
As though men sholde han led hym into helle,
And seyde, "Allas, of al my wo the welle,
Thanne is my swete fo called Criseyde!"
And wel neigh with the word for feere he deide.

And whan that Pandare herde hire name nevene,
Lord, he was glad, and seyde, "Frend so deere,
Now far aright, for Joves name in hevene.
Love hath byset the wel; be of good cheere!
For of good name and wisdom and manere
She hath ynough, and ek of gentilesse.
If she be fayr, thow woost thyself, I gesse,

"Ne nevere saugh a more bountevous
Of hire estat, n' a gladder, ne of speche
A frendlyer, n' a more gracious
For to do wel, ne lasse hadde nede to seche
What for to don; and al this bet to eche,
In honour, to as fer as she may strecche,
A kynges herte semeth by hyrs a wrecche.

"And forthi loke of good comfort thow be;
For certeinly, the ferste poynt is this
Of noble corage and wel ordeyne,
A man to have pees with hymself, ywis.
So oghtist thow, for noht but good it is
To love wel, and in a worthy place;
The oghte not to clepe it hap, but grace.

"And also thynk, and therwith glade the,
That sith thy lady vertuous is al,
So foloweth it that there is some pitee
Amonges alle thise other in general;
And forthi se that thow, in special,
Requere naught that is ayeyns hyre name;
For vertu streccheth naught hymself to shame.

"But wel is me that evere that I was born,
That thow biset art in so good a place;
For by my trouthe, in love I dorste have sworn
The sholde nevere han tid thus fayr a grace.
And wostow why? For thow were wont to chace
At Love in scorn, and for despit him calle
`Seynt Idiot, lord of thise foles alle.'

"How often hastow maad thi nyce japes,
And seyd that Loves servantz everichone
Of nycete ben verray Goddes apes;
And some wolde mucche hire mete allone,
Liggyng abedde, and make hem for to grone;
And som, thow seydest, hadde a blaunche fevere,
And preydest God he sholde nevere kevere.

"And som of hem took on hym, for the cold,
More than ynough, so seydestow ful ofte.
And som han feyned ofte tyme, and told
How that they waken, whan thei slepen softe;
And thus they wolde han brought hemself alofte,
And natheles were under at the laste.
Thus seydestow, and japedest ful faste.

"Yet seydestow that for the moore part
Thise loveres wolden speke in general,
And thoughten that it was a siker art,
For faylyng, for t' assaien overal.
Now may I jape of the, if that I shal;
But natheles, though that I sholde deye,
That thow art non of tho, I dorste saye.

"Now bet thi brest, and sey to God of Love,
`Thy grace, lord, for now I me repente,
If I mysspak, for now myself I love.'
Thus sey with al thyn herte in good entente."
Quod Troilus, "A, lord! I me consente,
And preye to the my japes thow foryive,
And I shal nevere more whyle I live."

"Thow seist wel," quod Pandare, "and now I hope
That thow the goddes wrathe hast al apesed;
And sithen thow hast wopen many a drope,
And seyd swych thyng wherwith thi god is plesed,
Now wolde nevere god but thow were esed!
And thynk wel, she of whom rist al thi wo
Hereafter may thy comfort be also.

"For thilke grownd that bereth the wedes wikke
Bereth ek thise holsom herbes, as ful ofte
Next the foule netle, rough and thikke,
The rose waxeth swoote and smothe and softe;
And next the valeye is the hil o-lofte;
And next the derke nyght the glade morwe;
And also joie is next the fyn of sorwe.

"Now loke that atempre be thi bridel,
And for the beste ay suffre to the tyde,
Or elles al oure labour is on ydel:
He hasteth wel that wisely kan abyde.
Be diligent and trewe, and ay wel hide;
Be lusty, fre; persevere in thy servyse,
And al is wel, if thow werke in this wyse.

"But he that departed is in everi place
Is nowher hol, as writen clerkes wyse.
What wonder is, though swich oon have no grace?
Ek wostow how it fareth of som servise,
As plaunte a tree or herbe, in sondry wyse,
And on the morwe pulle it up as blyve!
No wonder is, though it may nevere thryve.

"And sith that God of Love hath the bistowed
In place digne unto thi worthinesse,
Stond faste, for to good port hastow rowed;
And of thiself, for any hevynesse,
Hope alwey wel; for, but if drerinesse
Or over-haste oure bothe labour shende,
I hope of this to maken a good ende.

"And wostow why I am the lasse afered
Of this matere with my nece trete?
For this have I herd seyd of wyse lered,
Was nevere man or womman yet bigete
That was unapt to suffren loves hete,
Celestial, or elles love of kynde;
Forthy som grace I hope in hire to fynde.

"And for to speke of hire in specyal,
Hire beaute to bithynken and hire youthe,
It sit hire naught to ben celestial
As yet, though that hire liste bothe and kowthe;
But trewely, it sate hire wel right nowthe
A worthi knyght to loven and cherice,
And but she do, I holde it for a vice.

"Wherfore I am, and wol ben, ay redy
To peyne me to do yow this servyse;
For bothe yow to plese thus hope I
Herafterward; for ye ben bothe wyse,
And konne it counseil kepe in swych a wyse
That no man shal the wiser of it be;
And so we may ben gladed alle thre.

"And, by my trouthe, I have right now of the
A good conceyte in my wit, as I gesse,
And what it is, I wol now that thow se.
I thenke, sith that Love, of his goodnesse,
Hath the converted out of wikkednesse,
That thow shalt ben the beste post, I leve,
Of al his lay, and moost his foos to greve.

"Ensample why, se now thise wise clerkes,
That erren aldermost ayeyn a lawe,
And ben converted from hire wikked werkes
Thorugh grace of God that list hem to hym drawe,
Thanne arn thise folk that han moost God in awe,
And strengest feythed ben, I undirstonde,
And konne an errowr alderbest withstonde."

Whan Troilus hadde herd Pandare assented
To ben his help in lovyng of Cryseyde,
Weex of his wo, as who seith, untormented,
But hotter weex his love, and thus he seyde,
With sobre chere, although his herte pleyde:
"Now blisful Venus helpe, er that I sterve,
Of the, Pandare, I mowe som thank deserve.

"But, deere frend, how shal my wo be lesse
Til this be doon? And good, ek telle me this:
How wiltow seyn of me and my destresse,
Lest she be wroth -- this drede I moost, ywys --
Or nyl nat here or trowen how it is.
Al this drede I, and ek for the manere
Of the, hire em, she nyl no swich thyng here."

Quod Pandarus, "Thow hast a ful gret care
Lest that the cherl may falle out of the moone!
Whi, Lord! I hate of the thi nyce fare!
Whi, entremete of that thow hast to doone!
For Goddes love, I bidde the a boone:
So lat m' alone, and it shal be thi beste."
"Whi, frend," quod he, "now do right as the leste.

"But herke, Pandare, o word, for I nolde
That thow in me wendest so gret folie,
That to my lady I desiren sholde
That toucheth harm or any vilenye;
For dredeles me were levere dye
Than she of me aught elles understode
But that that myghte sownen into goode."

Tho lough this Pandare, and anon answerde,
"And I thi borugh? Fy! No wight doth but so.
I roughte naught though that she stood and herde
How that thow seist! but farewel, I wol go.
Adieu! Be glad! God spede us bothe two!
Yef me this labour and this bisynesse,
And of my spede be thyn al that swetnesse."

Tho Troilus gan doun on knees to falle,
And Pandare in his armes hente faste,
And seyde, "Now, fy on the Grekes alle!
Yet, parde, God shal helpe us atte laste.
And dredelees, if that my lyf may laste,
And God toforn, lo, som of hem shal smerte;
And yet m' athenketh that this avant m' asterte!

"Now, Pandare, I kan na more seye,
But, thow wis, thow woost, thow maist, thow art al!
My lif, my deth, hol in thyn hond I leye.
Help now!" Quod he, "Yis, by mi trowthe, I shal."
"God yelde the, frend, and this in special,"
Quod Troilus, "that thow me recomande
To hire that to the deth me may comande."

This Pandarus, tho desirous to serve
His fulle frend, than seyde in this manere:
"Farwell, and thenk I wol thi thank deserve!
Have here my trowthe, and that thow shalt wel here."
And went his wey, thenkyng on this matere,
And how he best myghte hire biseche of grace,
And fynde a tyme therto, and a place.

For everi wight that hath an hous to founde
Ne renneth naught the werk for to bygynne
With rakel hond, but he wol bide a stounde,
And sende his hertes line out fro withinne
Aldirfirst his purpos for to wynne.
Al this Pandare in his herte thoughte,
And caste his werk ful wisely or he wroughte.

But Troilus lay tho no lenger down,
But up anon upon his stede bay,
And in the feld he pleyde tho leoun;
Wo was that Grek that with hym mette a-day!
And in the town his manere tho forth ay
So goodly was, and gat hym so in grace,
That ecch hym loved that loked on his face.

For he bicom the frendlieste wight,
The gentilest, and ek the mooste fre,
The thriftiest, and oon the beste knyght
That in his tyme was or myghte be;
Dede were his japes and his cruelte,
His heighe port and his manere estraunge,
And ecch of tho gan for a vertu chaunge.

Now lat us stynte of Troilus a stounde,
That fareth lik a man that hurt is soore,
And is somdeel of akyngge of his wownde
Ylissed wel, but heeled no deel moore,
And, as an esy pacyent, the loore
Abit of hym that gooth aboute his cure;
And thus he dryeth forth his aventure.

Explicit liber primus

Go to Troilus and Criseyde, Book II


Much of this research is based on The Pilgrim and the Book: A Study of Dante, Langland and Chaucer (Berne: Peter Lang, 1993), which went into three editions, its Dante sections also published in an Italian edition. See also 'The Asse to the Harpe: Boethian Music in Chaucer', Boethius and the Liberal Arts, ed. Michael Masi (Berne: Peter Lang, 1981). pp. 175-186; republished in Tales within Tales: Apuleius through Time, ed. Constance S. Wright and Julia Bolton Holloway (New York: AMS Press, 2000).






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