Geoffrey Chaucer.

The student's Chaucer, being a complete edition of his works; online

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Now, er I finde a man thus trewe and

And wol for love his deeth so freely

I pray god lat our hedes never ake ! 705

Explicit Legenda Cleopatrie. Martiris.


Incipit Legenda Tesbe Babilonie, Martiris.

AT Babiloine whylom fil it thus,
The whiche toun the queen Semiramus
Leet dichen al about, and walles make
Ful hye, of harde tyles wel y-bake.
Ther weren dwellinge in this noble toun
Two lordes, which that were of greet

renoun, ^ u

And woneden so nigh, upon a grene,
That ther nas but a stoon-wal hem bi-


As ofte in grete toiines is the wone.
And sooth to seyn, that o man hadde

a sone, 7I5

Of al that londe oon of the lustieste. (n)
That other hadde a doghter, the faireste,

That estward in the world was tho dwel-

The name of everich gan toother springe
By wommen, that were neighebores
aboute. 720

For in that contree yit, withouten doute,
Maidens been y-kept, for jelosye,
Ful streite, lest they diden som folye.

This yonge man was cleped Piramus,
And Tisbe hight the maid, Naso seith
thus ; 725

And thus by report was hir name y-shove
That, as they wexe in age, wex hir
love ; (22)

And certein, as by reson of hir age,
Ther mighte have been bitwix hem
mariage, 729

Begenb of


But that hir fadres nolde hit nat assente ;
And bothe in love y-lyko sore they brente,
That noon of alle hir frendes mighte hit


But prively somtyme yit they mette

By sleighte, and speken som of hir desyr ;

As, wry the gleed, and hotter is the fyr ;

Forbede a love, and it is ten so wood. 736

This wal, which that bitwix hem bothe

stood, (32)

Was cloven a-two, right fro the toppe


Of olde tyme of his fundacioun ;
But yit this clifte waaf so narwe and
lyte, 740

It nas nat sene, dere y-nogh a myte.
But what is that, that love can nat espye?
Ye lovers two, if that I shal nat lye,
Ye founden first this litel narwe clifte ;
And, with a soun as softe as any shrifte,
They lete hir wordes through the clifte
pace, (41) 746

And tolden, whyl that they stode in the


Al hir compleynt of love, and al hir wo,
At every tyme whan they dorste so.

Upon that o syde of the wal stood he,
And on that other syde stood Tisbe, 751
The swote soun of other to receyve,
And thus hir wardeins wolde they de-


And every day this wal they wolde threte,

And wisshe to god, that it were doun

y-bete. (50) 755

Thus wolde they seyn ' alias ! thou

wikked wal,

Through thyn envye thou ITS lettest al !
Why nilt thou cleve, or fallen al a-two ?
Or, at the leste, but thou woldest so,
Yit woldestow but ones lete us mete, 760
Or ones that we mighte kissen swete,
Than were we covered of our cares colde.
But natheles, yit be we to thee holde
In as muche as thou suffrest for to goon
Our wordes through thy lyme and eek
thy stoon. (60) 765

Yit oghte we with thee ben wel apayd.'

And whan thise ydel wordes weren sayd,

The colde wal they wolden kisse of stoon,

And take hir leve, and forth they wolden


And this was gladly in the even-tyde 770
Or wonder erly, lest men hit espyde ;
And longe tyme they wroghte in this


Til on a day, whan Phebus gan to clere,
Aurora with the stremes of hir hete
Had dryed up the dew of herbes wete; 775
Unto this clifte, as it was wont to be, (71;
Com Pyramus, and after com Tisbe,
And plighten trouthe fully in hir fey
That ilke same night to stele awey,
And to begyle hir wardeins everichoon, 780
And forth out of the citee for to goon ;
And, for the feldes been so brode and


For to mete in o place at o tyde,
They sette mark hir meting sholde be
Ther king Ninus was graven, under a
tree ; (80) 785

For olde payens that ydoles heried
Useden tho in feldes to ben beried ;
And faste by this grave was a welle.
And, shortly of this tale for to telle,
This covenant was aifermed wonder
faste ; 790

And longe hem thoughte that the sonne

That hit nere goon under the see adoun.

This Tisbe hath so greet affeccioun
And so greet lyking Piramus to see,
That, whan she seigh her tyme mighte
be, (90) 795

At night she stal awey ful prively
With her face y- wimpled subtilly ;
For alle her frendes for to save her

She hath for-sake ; alias ! and that ia


That ever woman wolde be so trewe Soo
To trusten man, but she the bet him

knewe !

And to the tree she goth a ful good pas,
For love made her so hardy in this cas ;
And by the welle adoun she gan her
dresse. 804

Alias ! than comth a wilde leonesse (100;
Out of the wode, withouten more areste,
With blody mouthe, of strangling of a


To drinken of the welle, tlicr as she sat ;
And, whan that Tisbe had espyed that,


Begen* of (Boot) QSJowcn.

She rist her up, with aful drery herte, 810

And in a cave with dredful foot she sterte,

For by the mone she seigh hit wel with-

alle. 812

And, as she ran, her wimpel leet she falle,

And took noon heed, so sore she was

a-whaped. ( l 9)

And eek so glad of that she was escaped ;

And thus she sit, and darketh wonder

stille. 816

Whan that this leonesse hath dronke her


Aboute the welle gan she for to winde,
And right anoon the wimpel gan she


And with her blody mouth hit al to-

rente. 820

Whan this was doon, no lenger she ne

But to the wode her wey than hath she


And, at the laste, this Piranras is come,
But al to longe, alias ! at hoom was he.
The mone shoon, men mighte wel y-see, 825
And in his weye, as that he com ful
faste, (121)

His eyen to the grounde adoun he caste,
And in the sonde, as he beheld adoun,
He seigh the steppes brode of a leoun,
And in his herte he sodeinly agroos, 830
And pale he wex, therwith his heer

And neer he com, and fond the wimpel

'Alias!' quod he, 'the day that I was

born !

This o night wol us lovers bothe slee !
How sholde I axen mercy of Tisbe 835
Whan I am he that have yow slain, alias !
My bidding hath yow slain, as in this
cas. (132)

Alias ! to bidde a woman goon by nighte
In place ther as peril fallen mighte,
And I so slow ! alias, I ne hadde be 840
Here in this place a furlong-wey or ye !
Now what leoun that be in this foreste,
My body mote he frenden, or what beste
That wilde is, gnawen mote he now myn

herte ! '

And with that worde he to the wimpel
sterte, (, 4 o) 845

And kiste hit ofte, and weep on hit ful

And seide, ' wimpel, alias ! ther nis no

But thou shalt fele as wel the blood

of me

As thou hast felt the bleding of Tisbe ! '
And with that worde he smoot him to the

herte. 850

The blood out of the wounde as brode


As water, whan the conduit broken is.
Now Tisbe, which that wiste nat of


But sitting in her drede, she thoghte thus,
' If hit so falle that my Piramus 855

Be comen hider, and may me nat y-finde,
He may me holden fals and eek unkinde.'
And out she comth, and after him gan

espy en (153)

Bothe with her herte and with her yen.
And thoghte, ' I wol him tellen of my

drede 860

Bothe of the leonesse and al my dede.'
And at the laste her love than hath she


Beting with his heles on the grounde,
Al blody, and therwith-al a-bak she sterte,
And lyke the wawes quappe gan her

herte, (160) 865

And pale as box she wex, and in a throwe
Avysed her, and gan him wel to knowe,
That hit was Piramus, her herte dere.
Who coude wryte whiche a deedly chere
Hath Tisbe now, and how her heer she

rente, 870

And how she gan her-selve to turmente,
And how she lyth and swowneth on the


And how she weep of teres ful his wounde,
How medeleth she his blood with her

And with his blood her-selven gan she

peynte; (170)875

How clippeth she the dede cors, alias !
How doth this woful Tisbe in this cas !
How kisseth she his frosty mouth so cold !
' Who hath doon this, and who hath

been so bold 879

To sleen my leef ? O spek, my Piramus !
I am thy Tisbe, that thee calleth thus ! '

of too.

And therwith-al she lifteth up his heed.
This woful man, that was nat fully

Whan that he herde the name of Tisbe


On her he caste his hevy deedly y6n 885
And doun again, and yeldeth up the

gost. (181)

Tisbe rist up, withouten noise or host,
And seigh her wimpel and his empty

And eek his swerd, that him hath doon

to dethe ;
Than spak she thus : ' My woful hand,'

quod she, 890

'Is strong y-nogh in swiche a werk to

For love shal yive me strengthe and


To make my wounde large y-nogh, I gesse.
I wol thee folwen deed, and I wol be
Felawe and cause eek of thy deeth,' quod

she. (190) 895

'And thogh that nothing save the deeth


Mighte thee fro me departe trewely,
Thou shalt no more departe now fro

Than fro the deeth, for I wol go with


'And now, ye wrecched jelous fadres

oure, 900

We, that weren whylom children youre,
We prayen yow, withouten more envye,
That in o grave y-fere we moten lye,
Sin love hath brought us to this pitous

ende ! ( J 99)

And rightwis god to every lover sende, 905
That loveth trewely, more prosperitee
Than ever hadde Piramus and Tisbe !
And lat no gentil woman her assure
To putten her in swiche an a venture.
But god forbede but a woman can 910
Been as trewe and loving as a man !
And, for my part, I shal anoon it kythe ! '
And, with that worde, his swerd she took

as swythe,
That warm was of her loves blood and

hoot, (209)

And to the herte she her-selven smoot. 915

And thus ar Tisbe and Piramus ago.
Of trewe men I finde but fewe mo
In alle my bokes, save this Piramus,
And therfor have I spoken of him thus.
For hit is deyntee to us men to finde 920
A man that can in love be trewe arid


Heer may ye seen, what lover so he be,
A woman dar and can as wel as he.
Explicit legenda Tesbe.


Incipit Legenda Didonis Martiris^

Cartaginis regine.

GLORY and honour, Virgil Mantuan,
Be to thy name ! and I shal, as I can, 925
Folow thy lantern, as thou gost biforn,
How Eneas to Dido was forsworn.
In thyn Eneld and Naso wol I take
The tenour, and the grete effectes

Whan Troye broght was to destruc-

cioun 930

By Grekes sleighte, and namely by


Feyning the hors y-offred to Minerve,
Through which that many a Troyan

moste sterve ; (10)

And Ector had, after his deeth, appered,
And fyr so wood, it mighte nat be

stered, 935

In al the noble tour of Ilioun,
That of the citee was the cheef dungeoun ;
And al the contree was so lowe y-broght.
And Priamus the king fordoon and

noght ;

And Eneas was charged by Venus 940
To fleen awey, he took Ascanius,
That was his sone, in his right hand, and

fledde ;
And on his bakke he bar and with him

ledde (20)

His olde fader, cleped Anchises,
And by the weye his wyf Creusa he

lees. 945


of (Boob Q3E)omcn.

And mochel sorwe hadde he in his minde
Er that he coude his felawshippe finde.
But, at the laste, whan he had hem

founde, 948

He made him redy in a certein stounde,
And to the see ful faste he gan him hye,
And saileth forth with al his companye
Toward Itaile, as wolde destinee.
But of his aventures in the see (30)

Nis nat to purpos for to speke of here,
For hit acordeth nat to my matere. 955
But, as I seide, of him and of Dido
Shal be my tale, til that I have do.

So longe he sailed in the salte see
Til in Libye unnethe aryved he,
With shippes seven and with no more

navye ; 960

And glad was he to londe for to hye,
So was he with the tempest al to-shake.
And whan that he the haven had y-

take, (40)

He had a knight, was called Achates ; 964
And him of al his felawshippe he chees
To goon with him, the contre for tespye ;
He took with him no more companye.
Bvit forth they goon, and lafte his shippes


His fere and he, with-outen any gyde. 969
So longe he walketh in this wildernesse
Til, at the laste, he mette an hunteresse.
A bowe in honde and arwes hadde she,
Her clothes cutted were unto the knee ; (50)
But she was yit the fairest creature
That ever was y-formed by nature ; 975
And Eneas and Achates she grette,
And thus she to hem spak, whan she hem

'Sawe ye,' quod she, 'as ye han walked


Any of my sustren walke yow besyde,
With any wilde boor or other beste 980
That they han hunted to, in this foreste,
Y-tukked up, with arwes in her cas ? ' (59)

' Nay, soothly, lady,' quod this Eneas ;
' But, by thy beaute, as hit thinketh me,
Thou mightest never erthely womman be,
But Phebus suster artow, as I gesse. 986
And, if so be that tliou be a goddesse,
Have mercy on our labour and our wo.'
' I nam no goddes, soothly,' quod she


' For maidens walken in this contree here,
With arwes and with bowe, in this

manere. 991

This is the regne of Libie, ther ye been,
Of which that Dido lady is and queen '
And shortly tolde him al the occasioun (71)
Why Dido com into that regioun, 995
Of which as now me lusteth nat to ryme ;
Hit nedeth nat ; hit nere but los of tyme.
For this is al .and som, it was Venus,
His owne moder, that spak with him thus ;
And to Cartage she bad he sholde him

dighte, looo

And vanished anoon out of his sighte.
I coude folwe, word for word, Virgyle,
But it wolde lasten al to longe a whyle. (80)
This noble queen, that cleped was Dido,
That whylom was the wyf of Sitheo, 1005
That fairer was then is the brighte sonne,
This noble toun of Cartage hath begonne ;
In which she regneth in so greet honour,
That she was holde of alle quenes flour,
Of gentilesse, of freedom, of beautee ; 1010
That wel was him that mighte her ones

' see;

Of kinges and of lordes so desyred, (89)
That al the world her beaute hadde y-


She stood so wel in every wightes grace.
Whan Eneas was come un-to that

Unto the maister-temple of al the toun
Ther Dido was in her devooioun,
Ful prively his wey than hath he nome.
Whan he was in the large temple come,
I can nat seyn if that hit be possible, 1020
But Venus hadde him maked invisible
Thus seith the book, with-outen any lees.
And whan this Eneas and Achates (100)
Hadden in this temple been over-al,
Than founde they, depeynted on a wal.
How Troye and al the lond destroyed was.
'Alias ! that I was born,' quod Eneas, 1027
' Through-out the world our shame is kid

so wyde,

Now it is peynted upon every syde !
We, that weren in prosperitee, 1030

Be now disslaundred, and in swich degree,
No lenger for to liven I ne kepe ! '
And, with that worde, lie brast out for to

wepe (no)

of tto.


So tendrely, that routhe hit was to


Tliis fresshe lady, of the citee queue, 1035
Stood in the temple, in her estat royal,
So richely, and eek so fair with-al,
So yong, so lusty, with her eyen glade,
That, if that god, that heven and erthe

Wolde han a love, for beaute and good-

nesse, 1040

And womanhod, and trouthe, and seemli-

Whom sholde he loven but this lady

swete ?
There iiis no womman to him half so

mete. (120)

Fortune, that hath the world in govern-

Hath sodeinly broght in so newe a

chaunce, 1045

That never was ther yit so fremd a cas.
For al the companye of Eneas,
Which that he wende han loren in the


Aryved is, nat fer fro that citee ;
For which, the grettest of his lordes some
By aventure ben to the citee come, 1051
Unto that same temple, for to seke
The quene, and of her socour her beseke ;
Swich renoun was ther spronge of her

goodnesse. ( I 3 I )

And, whan they hadden told al hir dis-

tresse, 1055

And al hir tempest and hir harde cas,
Unto the queue appered Eneas,
And openly beknew that hit was he.
Who hadde joye than but his meynee,
That hadden founde hir lord, hir gover-

nour ? 1060

The quene saw they dide him swich


And had herd ofte of Eneas, er tho,
And in her herte she hadde routhe and

wo (140)

That ever swich a noble man as he
Shal beendisherited in swich degree; 1065
And saw the man, that he was lyk a


And suffisaunt of persone and of might,
And lyk to been a veray gentil man ;
And wel his wordes he besette can,

And had a noble visage for the nones, 1070
And formed wel of braunes and of bones.
For, after Venus, hadde he swich fair-

That no man might be half so fair, I

gesse. (150;

And wel a lord he semed for to be.
And, for he was a straunger, somwhat

she 1075

Lyked him the bet, as, god do bote,
To som folk ofte newe thing is swote.
Anoon her herte hath pitee of his wo,
And, with that pitee, love com in also ;
And thus, for pitee and for gentilesse, 1080
Refresshed moste he been of his distresse.
She seide, certes, that she sory was
That he hath had swich peril and swich

cas ; (160)

And, in her frendly speche, in this manere
She to him spak, and seide as ye may

here. 1085

' Be ye nat Venus sone and Anchises ?

In good feith, al the worship and encrees

That I may goodly doon yow, ye shul

Your shippes and your meynee shal I

save ; '

And many a gentil word she spak him to :
And comaunded her messageres go 1091
The same day, with-outen any faile,
His shippes for to seke, and hem vitaile.
She manyabesteto the shippes sente, (171)
And with the wyn she gan hem to pre-

sente ; 1095

And to her royal paleys she her spedde,
And Eneas alwey with her she ledde.
What nedeth yow the feste to descry ve ';
He never beter at ese was his lyve.
Ful was the feste of deyntees and rich-

esse, i loo

Of instruments, of song, and of gladnesse,

And many an amorous loking and devys.

This Eneas is come to Paradys (180

Out of the swolow of helle, and thus in

joye 1104

Remembreth him of his estat in Troye.
To dauncing-chambres ful of parements.
Of riche beddes, and of ornaments,
This Eneas is lad, after the mete.
And with the quene whan that he had



of (Boofc Q8omen.

And spyces parted, and the wyn agoon,
Unto his chambres was he lad anoon 1 1 1 1
To take his ese and for to have his reste,
With al his folk, to doon what so hem

leste. (*9o)

Ther nas coursere wel y-brydled noon,
Ne stede, for the justing wel to goon, 1115
Ne large palfrey, esy for the nones,
Ne juwel, fretted ful of riche stones,
Ne sakkes ful of gold, of large wighte,
Ne ruby noon, that shynede by nighte,
Ne gentil hautein faucon heronere, 1120
Ne hound, for hert or wilde boor or


Ne coupe of gold, with florins newe y-bete,
That in the lond of Libie may be gete,
That Dido ne hath hit Eneas y-sent ; (201)
And al is payed, what that he hath spent.
Thus can this "f noble quene her gestes

calle, 1126

As she that can in freedom passen alle.

Eneas sothly eek, with-outen lees,
Hath sent un-to his shippe, by Achates,
After his sone, and after riche thinges,
Both ceptre, clothes, broches, and eek

ringes, 1131

Som for to were, and som for to presente
To her, that all thise noble thinges him

sente ; (210)

And bad his sone, how that he sholde

' make
The presenting, and to the quene hit

take. 1135

Repaired is this Achates again,
And Eneas ful blisful is and fain
To seen his yonge sone Ascanius.
But natheles, our autour telleth us,
That Cupido, that is the god of love, 1 140
At preyere of his moder, hye above,
Hadde the lyknes of the child y-take,
This noble quene enamoured to make (220)
On Eneas ; but, as of that scripture,
Be as be may, I make of hit no cure. 1 145
But sooth is this, the quene hath mad

swich chere

Un-to this child, that wonder is to here ;
And of the present that his fader sente
She thanked him ful ofte, in good entente.
Thus is this quene in plesaunce and in

Jye, n 5 o

With al this newe lusty folk of Troye.

And of the dedes hath she more en-


Of Eneas, and al the story lered (230)
Of Troye ; and al the longe day they


Entendeden to speken and to pleye ; 1 155
Of which ther gan to breden swich a fyr,
That sely Dido hath now swich desyr
With Eneas, her newe gest, to dele,
That she hath lost her hewe, and eek her


Now to th'effect, now to the fruit of al, 1 160
Why I have told this story, and tellen


Thus I beginne ; hit fil, upon a night,
When that the mone up-reysed had her

light, (240)

This noble quene un-to her reste wente ;
She syketh sore, and gan her-self tur-

mente. 1165

She waketh, walweth, maketh many a


As doon thise loveres, as I have herd sayd.
And at the laste, unto her suster Anne
She made her moon, and right thus spak

she thanne.
' Now, dere suster myn, what may hit

be 1170

That me agasteth in my dreme?' quod


' This ilke Troyan is so in my thoght,
For that me thinketh he is so wel

y-wroght, (250)

And eek so lykly for to be a man,
And therwrthal so mikelgoodhe can, 1175
That al my love and lyf lyth in his cure.
Have ye not herd him telle his aventure?
Now certes, Anne, if that ye rede hit me,
I wolde fain to him y-wedded be ; 1179
This is th'effect; what sholde I more seye?
In him lyth al, to do me live or deye.'
Her suster Anne, as she that coude her

Seide as her thoughte, and somdel hit

with-stood. (260)

But her-of was so long a sermoning,
Hit were to long to make rehersing; 1185
But fynally, hit may not been with-

stonde ;
Love wol love for no wight wol hit


of too.


The dawening up-rist out of the see ;
This amorous quene chargeth her meyneo
The nettes dresse, and speres brode and

kene ; 1190

An hunting wol this lusty fresshe quene ;
So priketh her this newe joly wo.
To hors is al her lusty folk y-go ; (270)
Un-to the court the houndesbeen y-broght,
And up-on coursers, swift as any thoght,
Her yonge knightes hoven al aboute, 1 196
And of her wommen eek an huge route.
Up-on a thikke palfrey, paper-whyt,
With sadel rede, enbrouded with delyt,
Of gold the barres up-enbossed hye, 1200
Sit Dido, al in gold and perre wrye ;
And she is fair, as is the brighte morwe,
That heleth seke folk of nightes sorwe. (280)

Up-on a courser, startling as the fyr,
Men mighte turne him with a litel wyr,
Sit Eneas, lyk Phebus to devyse ; 1206
So was he fresshe arayed in his wyse.
The foiny brydel with the bit of gold
Governeth he, right as him-self hath

And forth this noble quene thus lat I

ryde 1210

An hunting, with this Troyan by her syde.

The herd of hertes founden is anoon,
With ' hey ! go bet ! prik thou ! lat goon,

lat goon ! (290)

Why nil the leoun comen or the here,
That I mighte ones mete him with this

spere?' 1215

Thus seyn thise yonge folk, and up they

These f hertes wilde, and han hem at hir

. Among al this to-romblen gan the


The thunder rored with a grisly Steven ;
Doun com the rain, with hail and sleet

so faste, i 220

With hevenes fyr, that hit so sore agaste
This noble quene, and also her meynee,
That ech of hem was glad a-wey to flee. (300)
And shortly, fro the tempest her to save,
She fledde her-self into a litel cave, 1225
And with her wente this Eneas al-so ;
I noot, with hem if ther wente any mo ;
The autour maketh of hit no mencioun.
And heer began the depe affecciovux

Betwix hem two ; this was the firste

morwe 1230

Of her gladnesse, and ginning of her


For ther hath Eneas y-kneled so, (309)
And told her al his herte, and al his wo,
And sworn so depe, to her to be trewe,
For wele or wo, and chaunge for no

newe, 1235

And as a fals lover so wel can pleyne,
That sely Dido rewed on his peyne,
And took him for husband, -)-to been his


For ever-mo, whyl that hem laste lyf.
And after this, whan that the tempest

stente, 1240

With mirth out as they comen, hoom

they wente.
The wikked fame up roos, and that

anon, (319)

How Eneas hath with the quene y-gon
In-to the cave ; and demed as hem liste ;
And whan the king, that Yarbas hight,

hit wiste, 1245

As he that had her loved ever his lyf,
And wowed her, to have her to his wyf,
Swich sorwe as he hath maked, and swich


Hit is a routhe and pitee for to here.
But, as in love, al-day hit happeth so, 1250
That oon shal laughen at anothers wo ;
Now laugheth Eneas, and is in joye
And more richesse than ever he was in

Troye. (330)

O sely womman, ful of innocence, 1254
Ful of pitee, of trouthe, and conscience,
What maked yow to men to trusten so ?
Have ye swich routhe upon hir feined wo,
And han swich olde ensamples yow

beforn ?

See ye nat alle, how they been for-sworn ?
Wher see ye oon, that he ne hath laft his

leef, 1260

Or been unkinde, or doon hir Bom mis-


Or pilled her, or bosted of his dede ? (339)
Ye may as wel hit seen, as ye may rede ;
Tak heed now of this grete gentil-man,

Online LibraryGeoffrey ChaucerThe student's Chaucer, being a complete edition of his works; → online text (page 53 of 128)