The Knight's Tale

Here begins the Knight's Tale

Iamque domos patrias, Scithice post aspera gentis prelia, laurigero, &c.*
(And now Theseus, returning to his native land in laurelled car after fierce battling with the Scithian folk, etc. is hearlded with cheers of the happy populace that war is ended)

Once, as old stories tell us,
There was a duke who was called Theseus; (860)
Of Athens he was lord and governor,
And in his time such a conqueror
That there was none greater under the sun.
Full many a rich country had he won;
Such that with his wisdom and his chivalry, (865)
He conquered all the reign of Femenye*, (The land of the Amazons)
That was then called Scithia,
And wedded the queen Hipolita,
And brought her home with him in his country
With much glory and great ceremony, (870)
And also her young sister Emily.
And thus with victory and with melody
I tell this noble duke to Athens did ride,
And all his host in arms him beside.

And certainly, if it were not to long to hear, (875)
I would have told you fully the manner
By which was won the reign of Femenye
By Theseus and his chivalry;
And of the great battle of the occasion
Between Athens and the Amazons; (880)
And how besieged was Hipolita,
The fair, hardy queen of Scithia;
And of the feast that was at her wedding,
And of the tempest upon her homecoming;
But all those things I must forbear. (885)
I have, God knows, a large field to turn,
And weak be the oxen pulling my plow.
The remnant of the tale is long enough.
I will not hinder beside any of this company;
Let every fellow tell his tale in time, (890)
And let say now who shall the supper win;
And there I left, I will again begin.

This duke, of whom I make mention,
When he was come almost onto the town,
In all his wealth and in his most pride, (895)
He was aware, as he cast his eyes to the side,
Indeed that there knelt in the high way
A company of ladies, two by two,
Each after the other clad in clothes black;
And such a cry and such woe they made (900)
That in this world is no creature living
That heard such another lamenting;
And of this cry they would never stint
Till they the reins of his bridle held.

"What fold are you, that my homecoming (905)
Disturb so my festivities with crying?"
Quoth Theseus. "Have you so great envy
Of my honor, that you thus complain and cry?
Or who hath injured you or you offended?
And tell me if it may be amended, (910)
And why that you are clothed thus in black."

The eldest lady of them all spoke,
When she had swooned with a death-grim face,
That it was pity to see and hear;
She said, "Lord, to whom Fortune has given (915)
Victory, and as a conqueror to live,
We are not grieved by your glory and your honor,
But we are seeking mercy and succor.
Have mercy on our woe and our distress!
Some drop of pity, through thy gentleness, (920)
Upon us wretched women let you fall,
For, certainly, lord, there is not one of us all
That has not been a duchess or a queen.
Now be we vulgar wretches, as it is well seen,
Thanks to Fortune and her false wheel, (925)
That not one estate is assured to be well.
And certainly, lord, to abide until your presence,
Here in this temple of the goddess Clemence
We have been waiting all this fortnight.
Now help us, lord, since it is in your might. (930)

"I, wretch, who weeps and wails thus,
Was once wife to King Cappaneus,
That died at Thebes - cursed be that day! -
And all of us that are in this array
And make all these lamentations, (935)
We lost all our husbands at that town,
While the siege there lay.
And yet now the old Creon - alas! -
That is now lord of Thebes the city,
Full of ire and iniquity, (940)
He, for spite and for his tyranny,
Does to the dead bodies villainy
Of all our lords who were slain,
He has all the bodies into a heap drawn,
And will not suffer them by his assent, (945)
Neither to be buried or burnt,
But lets hounds eat them out of spite."

And with that word, without more respite,
Their faces fell and they cried piteously,
"Have on us wretched women some mercy, (950)
And let our sorrow sink in your heart."

This gentle duke down from his courser started,
With heart piteous, when he heard them speak.
He thought that his heart would break,
When he saw them so piteous and so low, (955)
That once were of so great estate;
And in his arms he them all up lifted,
And them comforted in full good intent,
And swore his oath, as he was a true knight,
He would do so completely his might (960)
Upon the tyrant Creon him to wreak
That all the people of Greece should speak
How Creon was of Theseus served
As he that had his death full well deserved.
And right away, without more abode, (965)
His banner he displayed, and forth he rode
Toward Thebes, and all his host beside.
No nearer to Athens would he go or ride,
Or take his ease fully half a day,
But onward on his way that night he lay, (970)
And sent at once Hipolita the queen,
And Emily, her young sister bright,
To the town of Athens to dwell,
And forth he rode; there is no more to tell.

The red statue of Mars, with spear and shield, (975)
So shone in his white banner large
That all the fields glittered up and down;
And by his banner borne is his pennant
Of gold full rich, in which there was stitched
The Minotaur, which Theseus had bested in Crete. (980)
Thus rode this duke, thus rode this conqueror,
And in his host of chivalry the flower,
Until he came to Thebes and alighted
Fair in a field, as it was there he thought to fight.
But shortly to speak of this thing, (985)
With Creon, who was of Thebes the king,
He fought, and slew him manly as a knight
In open battle, and put the people to flight;
And by that assault he won the city after,
And tore down both walls and beams and rafters; (990)
And to the ladies he restored again
The bones of their friends that were slain,
To do observances, as was then the way.
But it was too long to describe
The great clamor and the lamenting (995)
That the ladies made at the burning
Of the bodies, and the great honor
That Theseus, the noble conqueror,
Did to the ladies, when they from him went;
But shortly to tell this is my intent. (1000)

When this worthy duke, this Theseus,
Had Creon slain and won Thebes thus,
Still in that field he took all night his rest,
And did with all the country as he liked.

To ransack the pile of bodies dead, (1005)
Them to strip of armor and clothes,
The scavengers did through business and hard work
After the battle and the defeat.
And so it befell that in the pile they found,
Run through and with many a grievous bloody wound, (1010)
Two young knights lying side by side,
Both in the same arms, wrought full richly,
Of which two Arcite was one,
And the other knight called Palamon.
Not fully quick, nor fully dead they were, (1015)
But by their coat of arms and by their gear
The heralds knew them best particularly
As they were of the blood royal
Of Thebes, and of two sisters born.
Out of the heap the scavengers had them torn, (1020)
And had them carried gently into the tent
Of Theseus; and he full soon them sent
To Athens, to dwell in prison
Perpetually - he would take no ransom.

And when this worthy duke had this thing done, (1025)
He took his host, and home he rode at once
With a laurel crowned as a conqueror;
And there he lived in joy and in honor
The term of his life; what need words more?
And in a tower, in anguish and in woe, (1030)
This Palamon and his fellow Arcite
Were forevermore; there would no gold them requite.

This passed year by year and day by day,
Until it fell once, on a morn in May,
That Emily, who fairer was to have seen (1035)
Than is the lily upon his stalk green,
And fresher than May with flowers new -
For the color of the rose strove to her hue,
I know not which was the finer of the two -
Before it was day, as it was her wont to do, (1040)
She was arisen and already prepared,
For May will have no sluggardry at night.
The season pricks every gentle heart,
And makes it out of its sleep to start,
And says "Arise, and do your observance." (1045)
This made Emily have remembrance
To do honor to May, and to rise.
She was clothed fresh, as to devise:
Her yellow hair was braided in a tress
Behind her back, a yard long I guess. (1050)
And in the garden, as the sun did rise,
She walked up and down, and as she liked
Se gathered flowers, party white and red,
To make a delicate garland for her head;
And as an angel heavenly she sung. (1055)
The great tower, that was so thick and strong,
Which of the castle was the chief dungeon
(There the knights were in prison
Of which I have told you and tell more I shall),
Was evenly joined to the garden wall (1060)
Where this Emily had her playing.
Bright was the sun and clear that morning,
And Palamon, this woeful prisoner,
As was his wont, by leave of his jailer,
Was risen and roamed in a chamber on high, (1065)
In which he all the noble city saw,
And also the garden, full of branches green,
Where this fresh Emily the bright
Was in her walk, and roamed up and down.
This sorrowful prisoner, this Palamon, (1070)
Went in the chamber roaming to and fro
And to himself complained of his woe.
That he was born, full oft he said, "alas!"
And so befell, by adventure or fate,
That through a window, thick of many a bar (1075)
Of iron great and square as any beam,
He cast his eyes upon Emily,
And there with all he blanched and cried, "Ah!"
As though he were stung into his heart.
With that cry Arcite at once did start (1080)
And said, "Cousin mine, what ails you,
That you are so pale and deadly to see?
What cried you? Who hath done to you offense?
For God's love, take all in patience
Our prison, for it may nothing other be. (1085)
Fortune has given us this adversity.
Some wicked aspect or disposition
Of Saturn, by some constellation,
Has given us this, although we had it forsworn:
So stood the heaven when that we were born. (1090)
We must endure it; this is the short and plain."

This Palamon answered and said again,
"Cousin, for truth, of this opinion
You have a vain imagination.
This prison caused me not to cry, (1095)
But I was hurt right now through my eye

Into my heart, what will my bane be.
The fairness of that lady that I see
Yonder in the garden roaming to and fro
Is cause of all my crying and my woe. (1100)
I know not whether she is woman or goddess,
But Venus is she truly, as I guess."
And thereby on knees down he fell,
And said, "Venus, if it be thy will
You in this guarded to thus transfigure (1105)
Before me, sorrowful, wretched creature,
Out of this prison help that we may escape.
And if so my destiny be shaped
By eternal word to die in prison,
Of our lineage have some compassion, (1110)
That is brought so low by tyranny."
And with that word Arcite began to spy
Where the lady roamed to and fro,
And with that sight her beauty hurt him so,
That, if Palamon was wounded sore, (1115)
Arcite is hurt as much as he or more.
And with a sigh he said piteously,
"The fresh beauty slays me suddenly
Of her that roams in yonder place;
And unless I have her mercy and her grace, (1120)
That I may see her in the least way,
I am only dead; there is no more to say."

This Palamon, when he those words heard,
Dispiteously he looked and answered,
"Tell me whether you are in earnest or in play?" (1125)

"Nay," quoth Arcite, "In earnest by my faith!
God help me so, I like very little play."

This Palamon began to knit his brows together.
"It wouldn't be," quoth he, "to you any great honor
To be false, or to become a traitor (1130)
To me, who is your cousin and brother
Sworn full deep, and each of us to the other,
That never, even to die in pain,
Until death shall pull us twain,
Neither of us in love to hinder the other, (1135)
Nor in any other case, my dear brother,
But that you should truly go forth for me
In every case, as I shall go forth for you -
This was your oath, and mine also, certainly;
I know right well, you dare not it deny. (1140)
Thus you are in my confidence, without doubt,
And now you would falsely be about
To love my lady, whom I love and serve,
And ever shall until my heart shall starve.
Nay, certainly, false Arcite, you would not do so. (1145)
I loved her first, and told you my woe
As to my counsel and my brother sworn
To further me, as I have said before.
For which you are bound as a knight
To help me, if it lay in your might, (1150)
Or else you are false, I dare well say."

This Arcite full proudly spoke again:
"Thou shalt," quoth he, "be rather false than I;
And you are false, I tell you flatly,
For earthly feeling I loved her first before you. (1155)
What will you say? You know not even now
Whether she is a woman or goddess!
Your affection is of holiness,
And mine is love for a living thing;
For which I told you my fortune (1160)
As to my cousin and my sworn brother.
I suppose that you loved her before;
Know you not well the old clerks' saw,
That "who shall give a lover any law?"
Love is a greater law, by my skull, (1165)
Than may be given to any earthly man;
And therefore man's law and such decrees
Are broken all day for love in each degree.
A man must love, no matter his mind;
He may not flee it, though he should be dead, (1170)
Whether she is a maid, or widow, or else a wife.
And also it is not likely all your life
To stand in her grace; no more shall I;
For well you know yourself, truly,
That you and I are damned to prison (1175)
Perpetually; for us there is no ransom.
We strive as did the hounds for the boon;
They fought all day, and yet their part was none.
There came a kite, while they were so wrathful,
And bore away the boon from between them both. (1180)
And therefore, at the king's court, my brother,
Each man for himself, there is none other.
Love, if you like, for I love and always shall;
And truly, dear brother, this is all.
Here in this prison must we endure, (1185)
And each of us take his fate."

Great was the strife and long between them two,
If that I had leisure to say;
But to the point. It happened on a day,
To tell you as shortly as I can, (1190)
A worthy duke called Perotheus,
That was fellow to the duke Theseus
Since the same day that they were children small,
Was come to Athens his fellow to visit,
And to play as he was wont to do; (1195)
For in this world he loved no man so,
And he loved him also tenderly in return.
So well they loved, as old books say,
That when one was dead, truly to tell,
His fellow went and sought him down in hell - (1200)
But of that story I like not to write.
Duke Perotheus loved well Arcite,
And had him known at Thebes year after year,
And finally at request and prayer
Of Perotheus, without any ransom, (1205)
Duke Theseus let him out of prison
Freely to go where that he liked over all,
In such a manner as I shall you tell.

This was the agreement, plainly to write,
Between Theseus and this Arcite: (1210)
That if it happened that Arcite were found
Ever in his life, by day or night, at any time
In any country of this Theseus,
And he was caught, it was accorded thus,
That with a sword he should lose his head. (1215)
There was no other remedy or course;
But he took his leave, and homeward he sped.
Let him beware! His neck rests on the pledge.

How great a sorrow suffers now Arcite!
The death he feels through his heart smite; (1220)
He weeps, and wails, and cries piteously;
To slay himself he waits secretly.
He said, "Alas that day that I was born!
Now is my prison worse than before;
Now am I shaped eternally to dwell (1225)
Not in purgatory, but in hell.
Alas that ever knew I Perotheus!
Or else I would have dwelt with Theseus
Fettered in his prison evermore.
Then I should be in bliss and not in woe. (1230)
Only the sight of her whom I serve,
In spite that I might never her grace deserve,
Would have sufficed right enough for me.
O dear cousin Palamon," quoth he,
"Yours is the victory of this course of fate. (1235)
Full blissfully in prison may you endure -
In prison? Certainly no, but in paradise!
Well has Fortune returned you the dice,
That you have the sight of her, and I the absence.
For it is possible, since you have her presence, (1240)
And are a knight, worthy and able,
That by some case, since Fortune is changeable,
You may to your desire sometime attain.
But I, who am exiled and barren
Of all grace, in in such great despair (1245)
That the is no earth, water, fire or air,
Or creature that of them is made,
That may help me or give comfort in this,
Well ought I die in dimmed hope and distress.
Farewell my life, my lust, and my gladness! (1250)

"Alas, why do men play so in commune
On providence of God, or of Fortune,
Which gives them full often in many a guise
Much better than they can themselves devise?
Some men desire to have riches, (1255)
That are cause of his murder or great sickness;
And some men would gladly from prison remove,
That in their house are by their own people slain.
Infinite harms are in this matter.
We know not of the things we pray here; (1260)
We fare as those that are as drunk as a mouse.
A drunk man knows well that he has a house,
But knows not which is the right way thither,
And to a drunk man the way is slippery.
And certainly, in this world so fare we; (1265)
We seek fast after felicity,
But we go wrong full often, truly.
Thus may we say all, and namely I,
That supposed and had a great opinion
That if I might escape from prison, (1270)
Then I would have been in joy and perfect health,
There now I am exiled from all my wealth.
Since I may not see you, Emily,
I am but dead, there is no remedy."

Upon the other side Palamon, (1275)
When he knew that Arcite was gone,
Such sorrow he made that the great tower
Resounded with his yelling and clamor.
The very fetters on his legs great
Were of his bitter, salt tears wet.
"Alas," quoth he, "Arcite, cousin mine, (1280)
Of all our strife, God knows, the fruit is thine.
You walk now in Thebes at large,
And of my woe you give little charge.
You may, since you have wisdom and manhood, (1285)
Assemble all the folk of our kindred,
And make a war so sharp on this city
That by some chance or some treaty
You may have for lady and for wife
She for whom I must lose my life. (1290)
For, as by way of possibility,
Since you are at large, of prison free,
And are a lord, great is your advantage
More than is mine, that starves here in a cage.
For I must weep and wail, while I live, (1295)
With all the woe that prison may me give,
And also with pain that love gives me also,
That doubles all my torment and my woe."
Therewith the fire of jealousy did start
Within his breast, and pricked him by the heart (1300)
So madly that seeing him was like to behold
The boxtree or the ashes dead and cold.

Then said he, "Oh cruel gods that govern
This world with binding of your world eternal,
And written in the table of adamant (1305)
Your decision and your eternal grant,
What is mankind more unto you held
Than is the sheep that cowers in the fold?
For slain is man right as other beasts,
And dwells also in prison and arrest, (1310)
And has sickness and great adversity,
And often times is guiltless, indeed.

"What what governance is in this foreknowing,
That thus torments guiltless innocence?
And yet this increases all my penance, (1315)
That man is bound to his observance,
For God's sake, to let go his will,
Whereas a beast may all his lust fulfill.
And when a beast is dead he has no pain;
But man after his death might weep and complain, (1320)
Though in this world he had care and woe.
Without doubt it may stand so.
The answer of this leave I to devisings,
But well I know that in this world great pain is.
Alas, I see a serpent or a thief, (1325)
That has done many a good man mischief,
Go at large, and where he likes may turn.
But I must be in prison through Saturn,
And also through Juno, jealous and mad,
That destroyed nigh well all the blood (1330)
Of Thebes and with his wasted walls wide;
And Venus slays me on that other side
For jealousy and fear of him Arcite."

Now will I stint of Palamon a little,
And let him in his prison still dwell, (1335)
And of Arcite forth I will you tell.

The summer passes, and the nights long
Increase double wise the pains strong
Both of the lover and the prisoner.
I know not which has the more woeful task. (1340)
For, shortly to say, this Palamon
Perpetually is damned to prison,
In chains and in fetters to be dead;
And Arcite is exiled upon his head
Forevermore, to be out of that country, (1345)
Never more shall he his lady see.

You lovers ask I now this question:
Who has the worse, Arcite or Palamon?
That one may see his lady day by day,
But in prison he must dwell always; (1350)
That other where he likes may ride or go,
But see his lady shall he never more.
Now deem as you like, you that can,
For I will tell forth as I began.

Explicit prima pars*
(End of the first part)
Sequitur pars secunda*
(Follow part the second)

When that Arcite to Thebes come was, (1355)
Full of a day he swooned and said "Alas!"
For see his lady he shall never more.
And shortly to conclude all his woe,
So much sorrow had never creature
That is, or shall, while that the world endures. (1360)
His sleep, his meat, his drink, is by him bereft,
That lean he waxed and as dry as a shaft;
His eyes hollow and grisly to behold,
His hue fallow and pale as ashes cold,
And solitary he was and ever alone, (1365)
And wailing all the night, making his moans;
And if he heard song or instrument,
Then would he weep, he might not be stinted.
So feeble also were his spirits, and so low,
And changed so, that no man could know (1370)
His speech nor his voice, though men it heard.
And in his actions for all the world he fared
Not only like the lover's malady
Of Heroes, but rather like many,
Engendered of humor melancholic (1375)
Before, in his mind's imagination.
And shortly, all was turned upside down
Both habit and also disposition
Of him, this woeful lover sir Arcite.

Why should I all day of his woe write? (1380)
When he had endured a year or two
This cruel torment and this pain and woe,
At Thebes, in his country, as I said,
Upon a night in sleep as he laid,
He thought that the winged god Mercury (1385)
Before him stood and bade him to be merry.
His sleep-staff in hand he bore upright;
A hat he wore upon his hair bright.
Arrayed was this god, as he took keep,
As he was when Argus took his sleep; (1390)
And said to him thus: "To Athens shall you wend,
There is the shape of your woe at an end."
And with that word Arcite awoke and started.
"Now truly, how sore that I may smart,"
Quoth he, "to Athens right now will I fare, (1395)
Not for the dread of death shall I spare
To see my lady, that I love and serve.
In her presence I care not should I die."

And with that word he caught a great mirror,
And saw that all changed was his color, (1400)
And saw his visage all in another kind.
And right away it ran him in his mind,
That, since his face was so disfigured
By the malady that he had endured,
He might well, if he bore himself low, (1405)
Live in Athens evermore unknown,
And see his lady well nigh day by day.
And right at once he changed his array,
And clad himself as a poor laborer,
And all alone, save only a squire (1410)
That knew his secret and all his case,
Who was disguised as poor as he was,
To Athens was he gone right away.
And to the court he went upon a day,
And at the gate he proffered his service (1415)
To drudge and draw, whatever men would devise.
And shortly of this matter to say,
He fell in service with a chamberlain
Who was dwelling with Emily,
For wise he was and could soon understand, (1420)
Every servant, who served there.
Well could he hew wood, and water bear,
For he was young and mighty indeed,
And also he was long and big of bones
To do what any man could him devise. (1425)
A year or two he was in this service,
Page of the chamber of Emily the bright,
And Philostrate he said that he was called.
But half so well beloved a man as he
Never there was in court of his degree; (1430)
He was so gentle of disposition
That throughout all the court was he renowned.
They said that it would be a charity
If Theseus would enhance his degree,
And put him in honorable service, (1435)
Where he might his virtue exercise.
And thus within a while his reputation was sprung,
Both of his deeds and his good tongue,
That Theseus had taken him so near
That of his chamber he made him a squire, (1440)
And gave him gold to maintain his degree.
And also men brought him out of his country,
From year to year, full secretly his rent;
But honestly and slyly he it spent,
That no man wondered how that he it had. (1445)
And three years in this way his life he led,
And bore himself so well, in peace and also in war,
There was no man that Theseus had so dear.
And in this bliss leave I now Arcite,
And speak of Palamon will I a little. (1450)

In darkness and in horror and strong prison
These seven years had sat Palamon
Pining, what for woe and for distress.
Who feels double sore and heaviness
But Palamon, that love afflicts so (1455)
That mad out of his wits he went for woe?
And also thereto he is a prisoner
Perpetually, not only for a year.

Who could rhyme in English properly
His martyrdom? Sore truth it is not I; (1460)
Therefore I pass as lightly as I may.

If fell that in the seventh year, of May
The third night (as old books say,
That all this story tells more plain,)
Were it by fate or destiny - (1465)
As, when a thing is shaped, it shall be -
That soon after midnight Palamon,
By the helping of a friend, broke his prison
And fled the city as fast as he might go.
Fore he had given his jailer a drink so (1470)
Of a draught made of a certain wine,
With narcotics and opium of Thebes fine,
That all night, though men would him shake,
The jailer slept; he might not awake.
And thus he fled as fast as ever he might. (1475)
The night was short and fast by was the day
That needs be he had to himself hide,
And till a grove fast was there beside
With dreadful foot then stalked Palamon.
For, shortly, this was his opinion: (1480)
That in the grove would he hide all day,
And in the night then would he take his way
Toward Thebes, his friends for to pray
On Theseus to help him to war;
And shortly, otherwise he would lose his life (1485)
Or win Emily to be his wife.
This is the effect and his intent plain.

Now will I turn to Arcite again,
That little knew how nigh was his care,
Til that Fortune had brought him into the snare. (1490)

The busy lark, messenger of day,
Saluted in her song the morning gray,
And firey Pheobus rose up so bright
hat all the orient laughed with the light,
And with his streams dried in the branches (1495)
The silver drops hanging on the leaves.
And Arcite, who in the court royal
With Theseus is the squire principal,
Was risen and looked upon the merry day.
And for to do his observance to May, (1500)
Remembering on the point of his desire,
He on a courser, leaping around like a fire,
Was ridden into the fields to play,
Out of the court, it was a mile or two.
And to the grove of which I had you told (1505)
By fate his way he began to hold
To make him a garland of the branches,
Were it of woodbine or of hawthorne leaves,
And loud he sang in she sun's sheen:
"May, with all thy flowers and thy green, (1510)
Welcome be thou, fair, fresh May,
In hope that I something green get may."
And from his courser, with a lusty heart,
Into the drove full hastily did he start,
And in a path he roamed up and down, (1515)
There as by fortune this Palamon
Was in a bush, that no man might him see,
For sore afraid of his death was he.
Nothing knew he that it was Arcite;
God knew he would have believed it full little. (1520)
But truly it is said, since gone many years,
That "field has eyes and the wood has ears."
It is full fair a man to bear himself even,
For all a day men meet at unset hours.
Full little knew Arcite of his fellow, (1525)
That was so nigh to hearken all his words,
For in the bush he sat now full still.

When that Arcite had roamed all his fill,
And sung all the verses lustily,
Into a study he fell suddenly, (1530)
As do these lovers in their quaint manner,
Now in the leaves, now down in the briars,
Now up, now down, as a bucket in a well.
Right as the Friday, truly to tell,
Now it shines, now it rains fast, (1535)
Right so can fickle Venus Overcast
The hearts of her folk, right as her day
Is inconstant, right so changes she array.
Seldom is Friday and all the week alike.

When that Arcite had sung, he began to sigh (1540)
And sat himself down without any more.
"Alas," quoth he, "that day that I was born!
How long, Juno, through thy cruelty,
Will you wage war upon Thebes the city?
Alas, brought to confusion (1545)
Is the royal blood of Cadme and Amphion -
Of Cadmus, who was the first man
That built Thebes, or first the town began,
And of the city first was crowned king.
Of his lineage I am and his offspring (1550)
By true line, of the stock royal,
And now I am so captive and so thrall,
That he that is my mortal enemy,
I serve him as his squire meekly.
And yet Juno does me well more shame, (1555)
For I dare not acknowledge my own name;
But where as I was wont to be called Arcite,
Now I am Philostrate, not worth a penny.
Alas, you fierce Mars! Alas Juno!
Thus has your ire our lineage all undone, (1560)
Save only myself and wretched Palamon,
Who Theseus martyrs in prison.
And over all this, to slay me outrightly
Love has his firey dart so burningly
Struck through my true, careful heart (1565)
That shaped was my death before my first shirt.
You slay me with your eyes, Emily!
You are the cause wherefore I die.
Of all the remnant of my other cares,
I set not the equivalent of a weed, (1570)
So that I could do anything to your pleasance."
And with that word he fell down in a trance
A long time, and after up he started.

This Palamon, who thought that through his heart
He felt a cold sword suddenly glide, (1575)
For rage he quaked; no longer would he abide.
And when that he had heard Arcite's tale,
As if he were mad, with face dead and pale,
He stirred himself up out of the bushes thick
And said: "Arcite, false traitor wicked, (1580)
Now are you seized, that loves my lady so,
Because of whom I have all this pain and woe,
And are my blood, and to my counsel sworn,
As I full oft have told you here before,
And has fooled here duke Theseus, (1585)
And falsely has changed your name thus!
I will be dead, or else you shall die.
You shall not love my lady Emily,
But I will love her only and no more;
For I am Palamon, your mortal foe. (1590)
And though I have no weapon in this place,
But out of prison I am escaped by grace,
I doubt not that either you shall die,
Or you shall not love Emily.
Choose what you will, or you shall not escape!" (1595)

This Arcite, with full scorning heart,
When he knew him, and had his tale heard,
As fierce as a lion pulled out his sword,
And said thus: "By got that sits above,
If not that you are sick and mad for love, (1600)
And also that you have no weapon in this place,
You should never out of this grove pace,
But you should not dye of my hand.
For I defy the promise and the bond
Which you say that I have made to you. (1605)
Indeed! True fool, think well that love is free,
And I will love her in spite of all your might!
But for as much you are a worthy knight
And willed to win her by battle,
Hear my oath; Tomorrow I will not fail, (1610)
Without knowledge of any other man,
That here I will be found as a knight,
And bring armor right enough for you;
And choose the best, and leave the worst for me.
And meat and drink this night will I bring (1615)
Enough for you, and clothes for your bedding.
And if it happens that you my lady win,
And slay me in this wood that I am in,
You may well have your lady as for me."

This Palamon answered, "I grant it to you. (1620)
And thus they were departed until the morrow,
When each of them had laid his faith as sworn.

Oh Cupid, out of all charity!
Oh rule, that no fellow will have with you!
Full true it is said that love nor lordship (1625)
Will, gladly, have fellowship.
Well find that Arcite and Palamon.
Arcite was ridden at once unto the town,
And on the morrow, before it was daylight,
Full privately two armors had he acquired, (1630)
Both sufficient and fit to engage
The battle in the field between them two;
And on his horse, alone was he borne,
He carried all the armor him before.
And in the grove, at time and place set, (1635)
This Arcite and this Palamon were met.
To change began the color in their face;
Right as the hunters in the kingdom of Thrace
That stood at the gap with a spear,
When hunted was the lion or the bear, (1640)
And heard him come rushing in the boughs,
And broke both branches and the leaves,
And thought, "Here comes my mortal enemy!
Without fail, he must be dead, or I,
For either I must slay him at the gap, (1645)
Or he must slay me, or that I be misshape."
So fared they in changing of their hue,
As far each of them the other knew.

There was no good day, nor saluting,
But straight, without word or rehearsing, (1650)
Each of them helped to arm the other
As friendly as if he were his own brother;
And after that, with sharp spears strong
They thrust at each other wondrous long.
You might suppose that this Palamon (1655)
In his fighting were a mad lion,
And as cruel as a tiger was Arcite;
As wild boars began they to smite,
And frothed white as foam for wrath crazed.
And up to the ankle they fought in their blood. (1660)
And in this way I let them fighting dwell,
And forth I will of Theseus you tell.

The destiny, minister general,
That executes in the world over all
The providence that God has said before, (1665)
So strong is it that, though the world had sworn
The contrary of a thing, by yay or nay,
Yet sometime it shall fall on a day
That falls not again within a thousand years.
For certainly, our appetites here, (1670)
Be they of war, or peace, or hate, or love,
All is this ruled by the sight above.

This say I now of mighty Theseus,
That to hunt was so desirous,
And namely of the great hart in May, (1675)
That in his bed there dawned him no day
That he is not clad, and ready to ride
With hunt and horn and hounds him beside.
For in his hunting he had such delight
That it was all his joy and appetite (1680)
To be himself the great hart's bane,
For after Mars he served now Diana.

Clear was the day, as I have told you before this,
And Theseus with all joy and bliss,
With his Hipolita, the fair queen, (1685)
And Emily, clothed all in green,
On hunting were they riding royally.
And to the grove that stood full fast by,
In which there was a hart, as men him told,
Duke Theseus the straight way had held. (1690)
And to the land he rode himself full right,
For thither was the hart wont to have his flight,
And over a brook, and so forth on his way.
This duke would have a course at him or two
With hounds such as those he liked to command. (1695)

And when this duke was come unto the land,
Under the sun he looked, and at once
He was aware of Arcite and Palamon,
That fought as fiercely as if they were boars two.
The bright swords went to and fro (1700)
So hideously that with the least stroke
Is seemed as if they would fell an oak.
But who they were, nothing he knew.
This duke his courser with his spurs smote,
And at a start he was between them two, (1705)
And pulled out a sword and cried, "Ho!
No more, upon pain of losing your head!
By mighty Mars, he shall at once be dead
That smites any stroke that I may see.
But tell me what kind of men you be, (1710)
That be so hardy for to fight here
Without judge or other officer,
As if this were in a duel royal."

This Palamon answered hastily
And said, "Sire, what need words more? (1715)
We have the death deserved both two.
Two woeful wretches be we, two captives,
That have been encumbered of our own lives;
And as you are a rightful lord and judge,
Give us neither mercy or refuge,
But slay me first, for sainted charity! (1720)
But slay my fellow also as well as me;
Or slay him first, for though you know it little,
This is your mortal foe, this is Arcite,
That from your land is banished on his head, (1725)
For which he has deserved to be dead.
For this is he that came unto your gate
And said that he was called Philostrate.
Thus has he tricked you full many a year,
And you have made him your chief squire; (1730)
And this is he who loves Emily.
For since the day is come that I shall die,
I plainly make my confession
That I am the same woeful Palamon
Who from your prison has broken wickedly. (1735)
I am your mortal foe, and it is I
Who loves so hotly Emily the bright
That I will die present in her sight.
Therefore I ask death and my sentence;
But slay my fellow in the same way, (1740)
For both have we deserved to be slain."

This worthy duke answered at once again,
And said, "This is a short conclusion.
Your own mouth, by your confession,
Has damned you, and I will it record;(1745)
I do not need to pain you with the cord.
You shall be dead, by might Mars the red!"

The queen at once, for true womanhood,
Began to weep, and so did Emily,
And all the ladies in the company. (1750)
Great pity it was, as it thought them all,
That ever such a chance should fall,
For gentle men they were of great estate,
And nothing but love had caused this debate;
And saw their bloody wounds wide and sore, (1755)
And all cried, both less and more,
"Have mercy, Lord, upon us women all!"
And on their bare knees down did they fall
And would have kissed his feet there as he stood;
Until at last slaked was his mood, (1760)
For pity runs soon in gentle hearts.
And though he first for ire quaked and started,
He had considered shortly, in a clause,
The trespass of them both, and also the cause,
And although his ire their guilt accused, (1765)
Yet in his reason he both of them excused,
As thus: he thought well that every man
Would help himself in love, if he can,
And also deliver himself out of prison.
And also his heart had compassion (1770)
Of women, for they wept ever and once,
And in his gentle heart he thought at once,
And soft unto himself he said, "Fie
Upon a lord that will have no mercy,
But be a lion, both in word and deed, (1775)
To them who are in repentance and dread,
As well as to a proud dispiteous man
Who will maintain that he first began.
That lord has little discretion
That in such case knows no division (1780)
But weighs pride and humbleness as one."
And shortly, when his ire was thus gone,
He began to look up with eyes light
And spoke these same words all on high:

"The god of love, a benediction! (1785)
How mighty and how great a lord is he!
Against his might there gain no obstacles.
He may be called a god for his miracles,
For he can make, in his own way,
Of every heart that which he likes. (1790)
Lo here is this Arcite and this Palamon,
That freely were out of my prison,
And might have lived in Thebes royally,
And know that I am their mortal enemy,
And that their death lay in my might also, (1795)
And yet has love, in spite of her eyes two,
Brought them here both to die.
Now look, is not that a high folly?
Who may be a fool but if he love?
Behold, for God's sake that sits above, (1800)
See how they bleed! Are they not well arrayed?
Thus has their lord, the god of love, payed
Their wages and their fees for their service!
And yet they think to be full wise
That serve love, for all that may befall. (1805)
But this is yet the best game of all,
That she for whom they have this feeling
Can them therefore as much thank as me.
She knows no more of all this hot fare,
By God, than knows a cuckoo or a hare! (1810)
But all must be felt, hot and cold;
A man must be a fool, or young or old -
I knew it for myself full long ago,
For in my time as a servant I was one.
And therefore, since I know of love's pain (1815)
And know how sore it can a man strain,
As he that has been caught often in his snare,
I you forgive all the whole of this trespass,
At request of the queen, that kneels here,
And also of Emily, my sister dear. (1820)
And you shall both at once unto me swear
That never more you shall my country dare,
Nor make war upon me night or day,
But be my friends in all that you may,
I you forgive this trespass in every way." (1825)
And they him swore his asking fair and well,
And him of lordship and mercy prayed,
And he them granted grace, and thus he said:

"To speak of royal lineage and riches,
Though that she were a queen or a princess, (1830)
Each of you is worthy, doubtless,
Tho wed when time is; but nonetheless -
I speak as for my sister Emily,
For whom you have this strife and jealousy -
You know yourself she may not wed two (1835)
At once, though you fight evermore,
That one of you, whether he like it or no,
He must go pipe an ivy leaf;
That is to say, she may not now have both,
All be you never so jealous or angry. (1840)
And forth to you I put this degree,
That each of you shall have his destiny
As he is shaped, and hearkens in what way;
Lo, here your end of that I shall devise.

My will is this, for flat conclusion, (1845)
Without any reapplication -
If that you like, take it for the best:
That each of you shall go where he likes
Freely, without harassment or danger,
And this day fifty weeks, or thereabout, (1850)
Each of you shall bring a hundred knights
Armed for lists by all rights,
All ready to dare her by battle.
And this swear I you without fail,
Upon my oath, and as I am a knight, (1855)
That which of you two that has might -
This is to say, that whether he or you
May with his hundred, that I speak of now,
Slay his contrary, or out of lists drive,
Then shall I give Emily as wife (1860)
To whom that Fortune gives so fair a grace.
The lists shall I make in this place,
And God so wisely on my soul rue
As I shall an even judge be and true.
You shall no other end with me make, (1865)
That one of you will not be dead or taken.
And if you think this is well said,
Say your opinion, and hold yourself satisfied.
This is your end and your conclusion."

Who looks lightly now but Palamon? (1870)
Who springs up for joy but Arcite?
Who can tell, or who could it write,
That joy is made in the place
When Thesus has done so fair a grace?
But down on knees went every manner of man, (1875)
And thanked him with all their heart and might,
And namely the Thebians often since,
And thus with good hope and with hearts blithe
The took their leave, and homeward did they ride
To Thebes with his old walls wide. (1880)

Explicit secunda pars*
(End the second part)
Sequitur pars tercia*
(Here follows part the third)

I say true that men would deem it negligence
If I forget to tell the expense
Of Theseus, who went so busily
To make up the lists royally,
That such a noble theater as it was (1885)
I dare well say in this world there none other was.
The circuit was a mile about,
Walled of stone, and by a ditch surrounded.
Round was the shape, in manner of compass,
Full of terraced seats, the height of sixty paces, (1890)
That when a man was set on one degree,
He stopped not his fellow to see.

Eastward there stood a gate of marble white,
Westward right such another in the opposite.
And shortly to conclude, such a place (1895)
Was none in earth, as in so little time;
For in the land there was no crafty man
That geometry or arts-metric knew,
No portrayer, no carver of images,
Who Theseus did not give meat and wages (1900)
The theater for to make and devise.
And to do his rites and sacrifice,
He eastward had, upon the gate above,
In worship of Venus, goddess of love,
Made an altar and an oratory; (1905)
And on the gate westward, in memory
Of Mars, he had made right such another,
That cost largely of gold a cartload.
And northward, in a turret on the wall,
Of alabaster white and red coral, (1910)
An oratory, rich to see,
In worship of Diana of chastity,
Had Theseus made in noble ways.

But still had I forgotten to describe
The noble carving and portraitures, (1915)
The shape, the countenance, and the figures
That were in these oratories three.

First in the temple of Venus could you see
Wrought on the wall, full piteous to behold,
The broken sleeps, and the sighs cold, (1920)
The sacred tears, and the lamenting,
The firey strokes of the desiring
That love's servants in this life endure;
The oaths that her covenants assure;
Pleasance and Hope, Desire, Foolhardiness, (1925)
Beauty and Youth, Bawdiness, Riches,
Charms and Force, Lies, Flattery,
Expense, Attention, and Jealousy,
That wore of yellow gold a garland,
And a cuckoo sitting on her hand; (1930)
Feasts, instruments, carols, dances,
Lust and array, and all the circumstances
Of love, which I reckoned and reckon shall,
By order were painted on the wall,
And more than I know how to make mention. (1935)
For truly all the mount of Cithaeron,
Where Venus had her principal dwelling,
Was shown in the wall in painting,
With all the garden and the pleasance.
Not was forgotten the porter, Idleness, (1940)
Nor Narcissus the fair of long ago,
Nor yet the folly of king Solomon,
Nor yet the great strength of Hercules -
The enchantments of Medea and Circes -
Nor of Turnus, with the hardy fierce courage, (1945)
The rich Croesus, captive in service.
Thus may you see that wisdom nor riches,
Beauty nor tricks, strength nor hardiness,
May not without Venus hold company,
For as she likes the world then may she rule. (1950)
Lo, all these folk were so caught in her trap,
Till they for woe full oft said "alas!"
Suffice here examples one or two,
Although I could reckon a thousand more.

The Statue of Venus, glorious to see, (1955)
Was naked, floating in the large sea,
And from the navel down all covered was
With waves green, and bright as any glass.
A citole in her right hand had she,
And on her head, full seemly to see, (1960)
A rose garland, fresh and well smelling;
Above her head were doves fluttering.
Before her stood her son Cupid;
Upon his shoulders he had wings two,
And blind he was, as is often seen; (1965)
A bow he bore and arrows bright and keen.

Why should I not as well also tell you all
The portraiture that was upon the wall
Within the temple of Mighty mars the red?
All painted was the wall, in length and breadth, (1970)
Like to the center of the grisly place
That was called the great temple of Mars in Trace,
In the same cold, frosty region
Where Mars had his sovereign mansion.

First on the wall was painted a forest, (1975)
In which there dwelt neither man nor beast,
With knotty, gnarled, barren trees old,
Of stumps sharp and hideous to behold,
In which there ran a rumbling in the wind,
As though a storm should burst every bough. (1980)
And downward from a hill, under a slope,
There stood the temple of Mars potent of arms,
Wrought all of burnished steel, of which the entry
Was long and tight, and ghastly to see.
And from there came a rage and such a blast (1985)
That it made all the gate to shake.
The northern light at the doors in shone,
For windows on the wall there were none,
Through which men might any light discern.
The door was all of adamant eternal, (1990)
Cinched side to side and top to bottom
With iron tough, and to make it strong,
Every pillar, the temple to sustain,
Was barrel-sized, of iron bright and shining.

There saw I first the dark imagining (1995)
Of Felony, and all the compassing;
The cruel Ire, red as any heated coal;
The pick-purse, and also the pale Dread;
The smiling man with the knife under his cloak;
The stable burning with the black smoke; (2000)
The treason of the murder in the bed;
The open war, all with wounds that bled;
Strife, with bloody knife and sharp menace.
All full of creaking was that sorry place.
The slayer himself yet saw I there - (2005)
His heart-blood had bathed all his hair -
The nail driven in the temple at night;
The cold death, with mouth gaping upright.
In the middle of the temple sat Mischance,
With discomfort and sorry countenance. (2010)
Yet saw I Madness, laughing in his rage,
Armed Complaint, Outcry, and fierce Outrage;
The corpse in the woods, with throat carved;
A thousand slain, and not of plague starved;
The tyrant, with the prey by force bereft; (2015)
The town destroyed, there was nothing left.
Yet saw I the burnt ships tossed by the sea;
The hunter killed of the wild bears;
The sow devouring the child right in the citadel;
The cook scalded, for all his long ladle. (2020)
Nothing was forgotten by the misfortune of Mars.
The carter over-ridden by his cart -
Under the wheel full low lay he down.
There also, of Mars' division,
The barber, and the butcher, and the smith, (2025)
That forgets sharp swords on his anvil.
And above all, depicted in a tower,
Saw I Conquest, sitting in great honor,
With the sharp sword over his head
Hanging by a subtle twine thread. (2030)
Painted was the slaughter of Julius,
Of great Nero, and of Antonius;
And by that same time they were unborn,
Yet here was their death painted before
By menacing of Mars, right by astral configuration; (2035)
So was it shown in that portraiture,
As is painted in the stars above
Who shall be slain or else dead for love.
Suffice one example in stories old;
I may not reckon them all though I would. (2040)

The statue of Mars upon a chariot stood
Armed, and looked as grim as if he were mad;
And over his head there shone two figures
Of stars, that were named in literature,
That one Puella, that other Rubeus - (2045)
This god of arms was arrayed thus.
A wolf there stood before him at his feet
With eyes red, and of a man did he eat;
With subtle pencil was painted this story
In reverence of Mars and of his glory. (2050)

Now to the temple of Diana the chaste,
As shortly as I can, I will myself hasten,
To tell you all the description.
Painted were the walls up and down
Of hunting and of modest chastity. (2055)
There I saw how woeful Callisto,
When Diana aggrieved was with her,
Was turned from a woman into a bear,
And after was she made the north-star.
Thus was it painted; I can tell you no further. (2060)
Her son was also a star, as men may see,
There saw I Dane, turned into a tree -
I mean not the goddess Diana,
But Penneus' daughter, who was named Daphne.
There saw I Actaeon a hart made, (2065)
For vengeance that he saw Diana naked;
I saw how his hounds had him caught
And devoured him, for they knew him not.
Yet painted was a little further more
How Atalanta hunted the wild boar, (2070)
And Meleager, and many another more,
For which Diana wrought him care and woe.
There saw I many another wondrous story,
Of which I like not to draw to memory.

This goddess on a hart full high sat, (2075)
With small hounds all about her feet,
And underneath her feet she had a moon -
Waxing it was and should wane soon.
In yellow green her statue clothed was,
With bow in hand and arrows in a case. (2080)
Her eyes she cast full low down
Where Pluto had his dark region.
A woman in labor was her before;
But for her child was so long unborn,
Full piteously Lucina began she to call (2085)
And said, "Help, for you are the best of all!"
Well could he paint lively that it wrought;
With many a florin he the hues bought.

Now were these lists made, and Theseus,
That at his great cost arrayed thus (2090)
The temples and the theater in every detail,
When it was done, he liked wondrous well,
But stint I will of Theseus a little,
And speak of Palamon and of Arcite.

The day approached of their returning, (2095)
That each should a hundred knights bring
The battle to dare, as I you told.
And until Athens, their covenant to hold,
Each of them had brought a hundred knights,
Well armed for the war at all rights. (2100)
And truly there believed many a man
That never, since the world began,
To speak of knighthood and the works of their hands,
As far as God had made sea or land,
Was of so few so noble a company. (2105)
For every man that loved chivalry
And would, willingly, have an outstanding name,
Had prayed that he might be of that game;
And well was he that thereto chosen was,
For if there fell tomorrow such a case, (2110)
You know well that every lusty knight
That loves passionately and has his might,
Were it in England or elsewhere,
The would, gladly, wish to be there -
To fight for a lady, a blessing! (2115)
It was a pleasant sight to see.

And right so fared they with Palamon.
With him there went knights many on;
One was armed in a coat of mail,
And in a breastplate and a light tunic; (2120)
And one had a set of plate mail large;
And one had a Prussian shield or guard;
One was armed on his legs well,
And had an axe, and one a mace of steel -
There is no new guise that it was not old. (2125)
Armed were they as I have you told,
Each after his opinion.

There could be seen, coming with Palamon,
Lycurgus himself, the great king of Trace.
Black was his beard, and manly his face; (2130)
The circles of his eyes in his head,
They glowed between yellow and red,
And like a griffin he looked about,
With unkempt hair on his brows stout;
His limbs great, his brawn hard and strong, (2135)
His shoulders broad, his arms round and long;
And as the guise was in his country,
Full high upon a chariot of gold stood he,
With four white bulls in the traces.
Instead of coat-armor over his harness, (2140)
With nails yellow and bright as any gold,
He had a bear's skin, coal-black because it was old.
His long hair was combed behind his back;
As any raven's feather it shone black;
A wreath of gold, as thick as an arm, of huge weight, (2145)
Upon his head, set full of stones bright,
Of fine rubies and of diamonds.
About his chariot there went white wolfhounds,
Twenty and more, as large as any steer,
To hunt at the lion or the deer, (2150)
And followed him with muzzles fast bound,
Collared with gold, and turrets filed round.
A hundred lords had he in his group,
Armed full well, with hearts stern and stout.

With Arcite, in stories as men find, (2155)
The great Emetreus, The king of India,
Upon a bay steed trapped in steel,
Covered in cloth of gold, dressed well,
Came riding like the god of arms, Mars.
His coat-armor was of silk of Tarsia (2160)
Covered with pearls white and round and great;
His saddle was of pure gold new and adorned;
A short cloak upon his shoulder hanging,
Brimming with rubies red as fire sparkling;
His crisp hair like rings was run, (2165)
And that was yellow, and glittered as the sun.
His nose was high, his eyes bright citron,
His lips round, his color was sanguine;
A few freckles in his face were sprayed,
Between yellow and somewhat black mingled; (2170)
And as a lion he his looking cast.
Of five and twenty years his age I cast.
His beard was well begun to spring;
His voice was as a trumpet thundering.
Upon his head he wore a laurel green (2175)
A garland, fresh and lusty to see.
Upon his hand he bore for his delight
An eagle tame, as any lily white.
A hundred lords had he with him there,
All armed, save their heads, in all their gear, (2180)
Full richly in all manner of things.
For trust well that dukes, earls, kings
Were gathered in this noble company,
For love and for increase of chivalry.
About this king there ran on every part (2185)
Full many a tame lion and leopard.
And in this way these lords, all and one,
Were on the Sunday to the city come
About nine, and in the town did they alight.

This Theseus, this duke, this worthy knight, (2190)
When he had brought them into his city,
And housed them, each at his degree,
He feasted them, and did so great labor
To ease them and do them all honor
That yet men suppose that no man's wit (2195)
Of no estate could amend it.

The minstralry, the service at the feast,
The great gifts to the most and least,
The rich array of Theseus' palace,
Not who sat first or last upon the dais, (2200)
What ladies were fairest or best dancing,
Or which of them could dance best and sing,
Nor who most feelingly spoke of love;
What hawks sat on the perch above,
What hounds lay on the floor down - (2205)
Of all this I make now no mention,
But all the effect; that I think was the best.
Now we come to the point, and listen if you like.

The Sunday night, before day began to spring,
When Palamon heard the lark sing (2210)
(Although it was not day by hours two,
Yet sang the lark) and Palamon right then
With holy heart and with a high courage,
He rose to go on his pilgrimage
Unto the blissful Citherea benign - (2215)
I mean Venus, honorable and dignified.
And in her hour he walked forth a pace
Unto the lists where her temple was,
And down he knelt, with humble look
And heart sore he said as you shall hear: (2220)

"Fairest of the fair, Oh my lady Venus,
Daughter to Jove and spouse of Vulcanus,
You joy-bringer of Mount Citheron,
For the same love you had to Adonis,
Have pity of my bitter tears that smart, (2225)
And take my humble prayer to your heart.
Alas! I have no language to tell
The effects or the torments of my hell;
My heart may my harms not betray;
I am so confused that I can not say (2230)
But 'Mercy, lady bright, that knows well
My thought and see the harms that I feel!'
Consider all this and have pity upon my sore,
As sure as I shall forevermore,
According to my might, your true servant be, (2235)
And hold war always with chastity.
That I make my vow, if you me help!
I take not keep of arms for to boast or yelp,
Nor ask I tomorrow to have victory,
Nor renown in this case, nor vain glory, (2240)
Of praise of arms blown up and down;
But I would have full possession
Of Emily, and die in your service.
Find you the manner how and in what way:
I care not if it may better be (2245)
To have victory over them, or they over me,
So that I have my lady in my arms.
For though it is that Mars is god of arms,
Your virtue is so great in heaven above
That if you like, I shall well have my love. (2250)
Thy temple will I worship evermore,
And on thine altar, where I ride or go,
I will do sacrifice and your fires heat.
And if you will not, my lady sweet,
Then I pray you, tomorrow with a spear (2255)
That Arcite may through my heart bear.
Then care I not, when I have lost my life,
Though that Arcite win her to his wife.
This is the effect and the end of my prayer:
Give me my love, you blissful lady dear." (2260)

When the prayer was done of Palamon,
His sacrifice he did, and that at once,
Full piteously, with all proper circumstances,
Though nothing will I tell of his observances;
But at last the statue of Venus shook, (2265)
And made a sign, whereby he took
That his prayer accepted was that day.
For though the sign showed a delay,
Well he knew that granted was his boon,
And with glad heart he went home full soon. (2270)

The third hour inequal that Palamon
Began to Venus's temple to go,
Up rose the sun, and up rose Emily
And to the temple of Diana began to hurry.
Her maidens, that she thither with her led, (2275)
Full readily with them the fire they had,
The incense, the clothes, and the remnant all
That the sacrifice would require;
The horns full of mead, as was the way -
There lacked nothing to do her sacrifice. (2280)
Smoking the temple, full of clothes fair,
This Emily, with a heart full of care,
Her body washed with water from a well.
But how she did her rite I dare not tell,
Except to say anything in general, (2285)
And yet it was a treat to hear it all.
To him that means well it was no charge;
But it is good that a man be at large.
Her bright hair was combed, unbraided all;
A corona of a green oak cerial (2290)
Upon her head was set full fair and fitting.
Two fires on the altar began she to beat,
And did her things, as men may behold
In Stactius of Thebes's and these books old.
When kindled was the fire, with a piteous look (2295)
Unto Diana she spoke as you may hear:

"O chaste goddess of the woods green,
To whom both heaven and earth is seen,
Queen of the reign of Pluto dark and low,
Goddess of maidens, that my heart has known (2300)
Full many a year, and knows what I desire,
Keep from your vengeance and your ire,
Which Actaeon bought cruelly.
Chaste goddess, well you know that I
Desire to be a maiden all my life, (2305)
Never do I wish to be a lover or a wife.
I am, you know, still of your company,
A maid, and love to hunt,
And to walk in the woods wild,
And not to be a wife and be with child.
Not will I know the company of man.
Now help me, lady, since you may and can,
For those three forms that you have in yourself.
And Palamon, that has such love of me,
And also Arcite, who loves me so sore, (2315)
This grace I pray you without more,
To send love and peace between them two,
And from me turn away their hearts so
That all their hot love and their desire,
And all their busy torment, and all their fire (2320)
Is quenched, or turned in another place.
And if you will not do me grace,
Or if my destiny is shaped so
That I shall needs be have one of them two,
Send me he who most desires me. (2325)
Behold, goddess of clean chastity,
The bitter tears that on my cheeks fall.
Since you are a maid and keeper of us all,
My maidenhood you keep and well conserve,
And while I live, a maid I will you serve." (2330)

The fires burned upon the altar clear,
While Emily was thus in her prayer.
But suddenly she saw a sight quaint,
For right away one of the fires quenched
And started again, and after that at once (2335)
The other fire was quenched and all gone;
And as it went out it made a whistling,
As do the wet brands in their burning,
And at the brand's end out ran at once
As if there were bloody drops many of; (2340)
For which so sore aghast was Emily
That she was well nigh mad and began to cry,
For she knew not what it had signified,
But only for the fear had she thus cried,
And wept that it was piteous to hear. (2345)
And with that Diana did appear,
With bow in hand, right as a huntress,
And said, "Daughter, stint you heaviness.
Among the gods high it is affirmed,
And by eternal word written and confirmed, (2350)
You shall be wedded to one of those
That has for you so much care and woe,
But unto which of them I may not tell.
Farewell, for I may no longer dwell.
The fires which on my altar burn (2355)
Shall you declare, before that you go hence,
Your fate of love, as is in this case."
And with that word, the arrows in the case
Of the goddess clattered fast and rang,
And forth she went and made a vanishing; (2360)
For which this Emily astounded was,
And said, "What does this amount to, alas?
I put myself in you protection,
Diana, and in your disposition."
And home she went at once the nearest way. (2365)
This is the effect; there is no more to say.

The next hour of Mars following this,
Arcite unto the temple walked
Of fierce Mars to do his sacrifice,
With all the rights of his pagan ways. (2370)
With piteous heart and high devotion,
Right to Mars he said his prayer:

"Oh strong god, that in the reigns cold
Of Trace is honored and lord held,
And has in every reign and every land (2375)
Of arms all the bridles in your hand,
And their fortunes are left to your device,
Accept of me my piteous sacrifice.
If it is that my youth may deserve,
And that my might is worthy to serve (2380)
Your godhood, that I may be one of yours,
Then I pray you to have pity upon my pain.
For the same pain and the same hot fire
In which you once burned for desire,
When you used the beauty (2385)
Of fair, young, fresh, Venus free,
And had her in your arms at your will -
Although you once upon a time misfell,
When Vulcan had caught you in his trap
And found you lying by his wife, alas! - (2390)
For the same sorrow that was in your heart,
Have pity as well upon my pains smart.
I am young and unknowing, as you know,
And, in truth, by love offended most
That ever was any living creature, (2395)
For she that makes me all this woe endure
Cares not whether I sink or float.
And well I know, before she will me mercy promise,
I must with strength win her in the place,
And well I know, without help or grace (2400)
Of you my strength will not avail.
Then help me, lord, tomorrow in my battle,
For the same fire that once burned you,
As well as the fire now burning me,
And make it so that tomorrow I have victory. (2405)
Mine is the travail, and yours is the glory!
Your sovereign temple well I must honor
Of any place, and always must labor
In your pleasance and in your crafts strong,
And in your temple will I my banner hang (2410)
And all the arms of my company,
And evermore, until the day I die,
Eternal fire will I before you find.
And also to this vow I will myself bind:
My beard, my hair, that hangs long down, (2415)
That never yet felt the invasion
Of razor or shear, I will you give,
And be your true servant while I live.
Now, lord, have pity on my sorrows sore;
Give me victory; I ask you no more." (2420)

The prayer stinted of Arcite the strong,
The rings on the temple door that hung,
And also the doors, clattered full fast,
Of which Arcite was somewhat aghast.
The fires burned upon the altar bright (2425)
That it began all the temple to light;
A sweet smell the ground at once gave,
And Arcite at once his hand up raised,
And more incense into the fire he cast,
With other rites more; and at last (2430)
The statue of Mars began his mail to ring,
And with that sound he heard a murmuring
Full low and dim, and said thus, "Victory!"
For which he gave to Mars honor and glory.
And thus with joy and hope well to fare, (2435)
Arcite at once unto his inn did fare,
As happy as the fowl is of the bright sun.

And right at once such strife was there begun,
For the same granting, in the heavens above,
Between Venus, the goddess of love, (2440)
And Mars, the stern god in war potent,
That Jupiter was busy to stint,
Until the pale Saturn the cold,
That knew so many foretellings of old,
Found in his old experience an art (2445)
That he full soon had pleased every part.
As it truly is said, age has great advantage;
In age is both wisdom and experience,
Men may the old outrun but not out think.
Saturn, at once, to stint strife and dread, (2450)
Albeit that it is against his kind,
Of all this strife he began a remedy to find.

"My dear daughter Venus," quoth Saturn,
"My course, that has so wide to turn,
Has more power than knows any man. (2455)
Mine is the drenching in the sea so dark;
Mine is the prison in the dark cell;
Mine is the strangling and hanging by the throat,
The murmur and the churls rebelling,
The groaning, and the secret poisoning; (2460)
I do vengeance and plain correction
While I dwell in the sign of the lion.
Mine is the ruin of the high halls,
The falling of the towers and of the walls
Upon the miner or the carpenter. (2465)
I slew Sampson, shaking the pillar;
And mine are the maladies cold,
The dark treasons, and the plots old;
My aspect is the father of pestilence.
Now weep no more; I shall do diligence (2470)
That Palamon, who is your own knight,
Shall have his lady, as you have him promised.
Though Mars shall help his knight, nonetheless
Between you there must be some time peace,
Though you are not of one complexion,
Which causes all day such division. (2475)
I am your grandfather, ready at your will;
Weep now no more; I will your desire fulfill."

Now will I stint of the gods above,
Of Mars, and of Venus, goddess of love,
And tell you as plainly as I can (2480)
The great effect, for which I began.

Explicit tercia pars*
(End third part)
Sequitur pars quarta*
(Here follows part the fourth)

Great was the feast in Athens that day,
And also the lusty season of that May
Made every man to be in such pleasance (2485)
That all that Monday they jousted and danced,
And spent it in Venus's high service.
But by the cause that they should rise
Early, to see that great fight,
Unto their rest they went at night. (2490)
And on the morrow, when that day began to spring,
Of horse and harness noise and clattering
There was in hostels all about,
And to the palace rode there many a group
Of lords upon steeds and palfreys. (2495)
There could you see workings of armor
So unknown and so rich, and wrought so well
Of goldsmithery, of embroidering, and of steel;
The shields bright, and armors for horses,
Gold-hued helmets, chain mail, coats of armor, (2500)
Lords in robes on their coursers,
Knights in retainment, and also squires
Nailing the spears, and helmets buckling;
Gearing of shields, with lanyards lacing -
There as need was there was no one idle;
The foamy steeds on the golden bridle
Gnawing, and fast the armorers also
With file and hammer pricking to and fro;
Yeomen on foot, and commons many of
With short staves, as thick as they could go; (2510)
Pipes, trumpets, drums, bugles,
That in the battle blew fearsome sounds;
The palace full of people up and down,
Here three, there ten, holding their question,
Divining of these Thebian knights two. (2515)
Some said thus, some said "it shall be so";
Some held him with the black beard,
Some with the bald, some with the thick hair;
Some said he looked grim, and he would fight:
"He has a battle-axe of twenty pounds of weight." (2520)
Thus was the hall full of divining,
Long after the sun began to spring.

The great Theseus, that of his sleep awakened
With minstralry and noise that was made,
Held still the chamber of his palace rich (2525)
Till the Thebian knights, both alike
Honored, were to the palace fetched.
Duke Theseus was at a window set,
Arrayed right as he were a god in throne.
The people pressed toward him full soon (2530)
To see him, and do high reverence,
And also to hear his command and his sentence.
A herald on a scaffold made an "Oh!"
Till all the noise of people was done,
And when he saw the people of noise all still, (2535)
Then showed he the mighty duke's will:

"The lord has of his high discretion
Considered that it would be a destruction
For gentle blood to fight in the guise
Of mortal battle now in this enterprise. (2540)
Therefore, to shape that they shall not die,
He will his first purpose modify.
No man therefore, upon pain of loss of life,
No manner shot, or axe, or short knife
Into the lists send or thither bring; (2545)
Nor short sword, to strike with point biting,
No man may draw, nor bear it by his side.
No man shall unto his fellow ride
On course with a sharp ground spear;
Thrust, if he likes, on foot, himself to be aware. (2550)
And he that is at mischief shall be taken
And not slain, but be brought to the stake
That shall be guarded on either side;
But thither he shall be put by force, and there abide.
And if so fall the chieftan be taken (2555)
On either side, or else slay his opponent,
No longer shall the tournament last.
God speed you! Go forth and lay on fast!
With long sword and with mace fight your fill.
Go now your way; this is the lord's will." (2560)

The voice of the people touched heaven,
So loud cried they with merry tongue,
"God save such a lord, that is so good
He wills no destruction of blood!"
Up went the trumpets and the melody, (2565)
And to the lists rode the company,
By ordinance, throughout the city large,
Hung with cloth of gold, and not with serge.

Full like a lord this noble duke began to ride,
These two Thebians on either side, (2570)
And after rode the queen and Emily,
And after that another company
Of one and another, after their degree.
And thus they passed through the city,
And to the lists came they in time. (2575)
It was not of the day yet fully prime
When set was Theseus full rich and high,
Hipolita the queen, and Emily,
And other ladies in degrees about.
Into the seats pressed all the group. (2580)
And westward, through the gates under Mars,
Arcite, and also the hundred of his party,
With banner red was entered right away;
And in that same moment Palamon
Was under Venus, eastward in that place, (2585)
With banner white and hardy look and face.
In all the world, to seek up and down,
So even, without variation,
There were no such companies two,
For there was none so wise that could say (2590)
That any had of the other advantage
Of worthiness, or of estate, or age,
So evenly were they chosen, for to guess.
And in two ranks fair had they dressed.
When that their names were read every one, (2595)
That in their number guile was there none,
Those gates shut, and cried was loud:
"Do now your duty, young knights proud!"

The heralds left their pricking up and down;
Now ringing trumpets loud and clarion. (2600)
There is no more to say, but east and west
In went the spears full firmly in arrest;
In went the sharp spur into the side.
There were seen men who could joust and ride;
There shivered shafts upon shields thick; (2605)
They felt through the heart-spoon the prick.
Up sprung spears twenty feet of height;
Out went the swords as the silver bright;
The helms they hewed and cut to shreds;
Out burst the blood with stern streams red; (2610)
With mighty maces the bones they did burst.
One through the thickest of the throng began to thrust;
There stumbled steeds strong, and down went all,
They rolled under foot as does a ball;
They stabbed on their feet with their truncheons, (2615)
And they hurtled with their horses down;
One through the body had hurt another and was so taken,
In spite of his care, and brought unto the stake;
As the agreement was, right there he must abide.
Another led to the other side. (2620)
And some time Theseus does make them rest,
Them to refresh and drink, if they like.
Full oft a day have these Thebians two
Together met, and wrought his fellow woe;
Unhorsed has each other of them two. (2625)
There was no tiger in the vale of Galgopheye,
When her whelp is stolen when it is little,
So cruel on the hunt as is Arcite
For jealous heart upon this Palamon.
Nor in Benmarin there is not so fell a lion (2630)
That hunted is, or for his hunger mad,
That of his prey so desires the blood,
As Palamon to slay his foe Arcite.
The jealous strokes on their helmets bite;
Out runs blood on both their sides red. (2635)

Some time an end there is of every deed.
For before the sun unto rest went,
The strong king Emetreus began to strike
This Palamon, as he fought with Arcite,
And made his sword deep in his flesh to bite, (2640)

And by the force of twenty was he taken
Unyielding, and drawn to the stake.
And in the rescue of this Palamon
The strong king Lycurgus was born down,
And king Emetreus, for all his strength, (2645)
Was borne out of his saddle a sword's length,
So hit him Palamon before he was taken.
But all for naught; he was brought to the stake.
His hardy heart might help him not:
He must abide, when that he was caught, (2650)
By force and also by his composition.

Who is sorrowful now but woeful Palamon,
That must no more go again to fight?
And when that Theseus had seen this sight,
Unto the folk that fought thus each one (2655)
He cried, "Ho, no more, for it is done.
I will be a true judge, and no partisan.
Arcite of Thebes shall have Emily,
That by his fortune has her fair won."
At once there was a noise of people begun (2660)
For you of this, so loud and high with all
It seemed that the lists should fall.

What can now fair Venus do above?
What says she now? What does this queen of love,
But weep so, for wanting of her will, (2665)
Until her tears on the lists should fall.
She said, "I am ashamed, doubtless."

Saturn said, "Daughter, hold your peace!
Mars has his will, his knight has all his boon,
And, by my head, you shall be eased soon." (2670)

The trumpeters, with the loud minstralry,
The heralds, that full loud yelled and cried,
Were in their wealth for joy of sir Arcite.
But hear me, and stint of noise a little,
What a miracle there befell at once. (2675)

This fierce Arcite had of his helmet done,
And on a courser, for to show his face,
He rode endlong of the large place
Looking upward upon this Emily;
And she again cast him a friendly eye (2680)
(For women, as to speak of their commune,
They follow all the favor of Fortune)
And was all his cheer, as in his heart.

Out of the ground a fury infernal started,
From Pluto sent at request of Saturn, (2685)
For which his horse for fear began to turn,
And leap aside, and fell as he leapt;
And before Arcite could take keep,
He was thrown on the pommel of his head,
That in the place he lay as though dead, (2690)
His breast busted with his saddle-bow.
As black he lay as any coal or crow,
So was the blood running in his face.
At once he was borne out of the place,
With heart sore, to Theseus's palace. (2695)
Then was he carved out of his harness
And in a bed brought full fair and fast,
For he was yet in memory and alive,
And always crying after Emily.

Duke Theseus, with all his company, (2700)
Was come home to Athens his city,
With all bliss and great solemnity.
Albeit that this fate was fallen,
He could not distress them all.
Men said also that Arcite shall not die; (2705)
He shall be healed of his malady.
And of another thing they were as glad,
That of them all there were none slain,
Although they were sore hurt, and namely one,
That with a spear was pierced his breast through. (2710)
To other wounds and broken arms,
Some had salves, and some had charms;
Pharmacies of herbs, and also sage
They drank, for they would their limbs have.
For which this noble duke, as well he could, (2715)
Comforted and honored every man,
And made revels all the long night
Unto the strange lords, as was right.
Nor was there anything misfitting
But a joust or a tournament; (2720)
For truly there was no dishonor.
For falling is nothing but fate,
Not to be led by force unto the stake
Unyielding, and by twenty knights taken,
One person alone, without more, (2725)
And dragged forth by arm, foot, and toe,
And also his steed driven forth with staves
With footmen, both yeomen and also knaves -
It brought him no villainy;
There may no man call it cowardly. (2730)
For which at once duke Theseus let cry,
To stint all rancor and envy,
The victory as well of one side as of the other,
And either side like as the others brother;
And gave them gifts after their degree, (2735)
And fully held a feast of days three,
And conveyed the kings worthily
Out of his town a day's journey.
And home went every man the right way.
There was no more but "Farewell, have good day!" (2740)
Of this battle I will no more write,
But speak of Palamon and of Arcite.

The breast of Arcite swelled, and the sore
Increased at his heart more and more.
The clotted blood, for any leech-craft, (2745)
Corrupted, and in his trunk was left,
That neither blood-letting, nor cupping,
Nor drinking of herbs was him helping.
The virtue expulsive, or animal,
From the same virtue called natural (2750)
Could not the venom void or expel.
The pipes of his lungs began to swell,
And every muscle of his breast down
Was spent with venom and corruption.
He gained from neither, for to keep his life, (2755)
Vomit upward, nor downward laxative.
All was burst the same region;
Nature had now no domination.
And certainly, where Nature will not work,
Farewell medicine! Bear the man to church! (2760)
This is all and some, that Arcite must die;
For which he sent after Emily,
And Palamon, who was his cousin dear.
Then he said thus, as you shall after hear:
"Not may the woeful spirit in my heart (2765)
Declare one point of all my sorrows smart
To you, my lady, that I love most,
But I bequeath the service of my ghost
To you above every creature,
Since my life may no longer endure. (2770)
Alas, the woe! Alas, the pains strong,
That I for you have suffered, and so long!
Alas, the death! Alas, my Emily!
Alas, departing of our company!
Alas, my heart's queen! Alas, my wife, (2775)
My heart's lady, ender of my life!
What is this world? What ask men to have?
Now with his love, now in his cold grave
Alone, without any company.
Farewell, my sweet foe, my Emily! (2780)
And soft take me in your arms two,
For love of God, and hear what I say.

"I have here with my cousin Palamon
Had strife and rancor many a day gone
For love of you, and for my jealousy. (2785)
And Jupiter so wise my soul guide,
To speak of a servant properly,
With all circumstances truly -
That is to say, truth, honor, knighthood,
Wisdom, humility, estate, and high kindred, (2790)
Freedom, and all that belongs to that art -
So Jupiter has of my soul part,
As in this world right now know I none
So worthy to be loved as Palamon,
That serves you, and will do all his life. (2795)
And if ever you shall be a wife,
Forget not Palamon, the gentle man."
And with that word his speech fell began,
For from his feet up to his breast was come
The cold of death, that had him overcome, (2800)
And yet moreover, for in his arms two
The vital strength was lost and all gone.
Only the intellect, without more,
That dwelt in his heart sick and sore,
Began to fail when the heart felt death. (2805)
His two eyes dimmed, and failed his breath,
But on his lady still cast he his eye;
His last word was, "Mercy, Emily!"
His spirit changed house and went there,
As I came never, I can not tell where. (2810)
Therefore I stint; I am no minister;
Of souls find I not in this register,
And I like not the same opinions to tell
Of them, though that they wrote where they dwell.
Arcite is cold, there Mars his soul guide! (2815)
Now will I speak forth of Emily.

Emily shrieked, and howled Palamon,
And Theseus his sister took at once
Swooning, and bore her from the corpse away.
What helps it to tarry for the day (2820)
To tell how she wept both evening and morrow?
For in such cases women have such sorrow,
When their husbands are from then gone,
That for the greater part they sorrow so,
Or else fall in such a malady (2825)
That at last they certainly die.

Infinite were the sorrows and the tears
Of old folk and folk of tender years
In all the town for the death of this Thebian.
For him there wept both child and man; (2830)
So great weeping was their none, certain,
When Hector was brought, all fresh slain,
To Troy. Alas, the pity that was there,
Scratching of cheeks, renting also of hair.
"Why would you be dead," these women cried, (2835)
"You had gold enough, and Emily?"

No man might gladden Theseus,
Saving his old father Egeus,
That knew this world's transmutation,
As he had seen it change both up and down, (2840)
Joy after woe, and woe after gladness,
And shewed him examples and likeness.

"Right as there died never man," quoth he,
"That he lived not in earth in some degree,
Right so there lived never man," he said, (2845)
"In all this world, that some time he was not dead.
This world is nothing but a thoroughfare full of woe,
And we are pilgrims, passing to and fro.
Death is an end of every worldly sore."
And over all this still he said much more (2850)
To this effect, full wisely to enhearten
The people that they should themselves comfort.

Duke Theseus, with all his busy care,
Though now where that the sepulchure
Of good Arcite may best made be, (2855)
And also most honorable in his degree.
And at last he took conclusion
That where as first Arcite and Palamon
Had for love the battle them between,
That in that same grove, sweet and green, (2860)
Where he had his amorous desires,
His complaint, and for love his hot fires,
He would make a fire in which the office
Of funeral he might all accomplish.
And gave command at once to hack and hew (2865)
The oaks old, and lay them in a row
In piles well arranged to burn.
His officers with swift feet they ran
And rode at once at his commandment.
And after this, Theseus had sent (2870)
After a bier, and it all overspread
With cloth of gold, the richest that he had.
And of the same suit he clad Arcite;
Upon his hand he had gloves white,
Also on his head a corona of laurel green, (2875)
And in his hand a sword full bright and keen,
He laid him, bare the visage, on the bier;
Therewith he wept that a pity it was to hear.
And so the people should see him all,
When it was day, he brought him to the hall, (2880)
That roared with the crying and the sound.

Then came this woeful Thebian Palamon,
With fluttery beard and rough, ashy hair,
In clothes black, dropped all with tears;
And, passing the other in weeping, Emily, (2885)
The most rueful of all the company.
In as much as the service should be
The more noble and rich in his degree,
Duke Theseus let forth three steeds be brought,
That were trapped all in steel glittering, (2890)
And covered with the arms of sir Arcite.
Upon these steeds, that were great and white,
There sat folk, of which one bore his shield,
Another his spear up with his hand held,
The third bore with him his bow Turkish (2895)
(Of pure gold was the case and also the harness);
And rode forth at a pace with sorrowful face
Toward the grove, as you shall after hear.
The noblest of the Greeks that there were
Upon their shoulders carried the bier, (2900)
With slack pace and eyes red and wet,
Through the city by the master street,
That was spread all in black, and wonder high
Right of the same was the street covered.
Upon the right hand went old Egeus, (2905)
And on that other side Duke Theseus,
With vessels in their hands of gold full fine,
All full of honey, milk, and blood, and wine;
Also Palamon, with full great company;
And after that came woeful Emily, (2910)
With fire in hand, as was that time the guise,
To do the office of funeral service.

High labor and full great preparing
Was at the service and the fire-making,
That with its green top the heavens reached; (2915)
And twenty fathoms broad its arms stretched -
That is to say, the boughs were so broad.
Of straw there was first laid full many a load.
But how the fire was made on high,
Nor the names that the trees were called, (2920)
Such as oak, fir, birch, aspen, alder, holm, poplar,
Willow, elm pine, ash, box, chesnut, linden, laurel,
Maple, thorn, beech, hazel, yew, dogwood tree -
How they were felled shall not be told by me;
Nor how the gods ran up and down, (2925)
Deserted their habitation,
In which they dwelt in rest and peace,
Nymphs, fauns and hamadryads;
Nor how the beasts and birds all
Fled for fear, when the wood was fallen; (2930)
Nor how the ground aghast was of the light,
That was not wont to see the sun bright;
Nor how the fire was couched first with straw,
And then with dry sticks cloven in threes,
And then with green wood and spicery, (2935)
And then with cloth of gold and with stones rich,
And garlands, hanging with full many a flour;
The myrrh, the incense, with all so great odor;
Nor how Arcite lay among all this,
Nor around his body what riches; (2940)
Nor how Emily, as was the guise,
Put in the fire of funeral service;
Nor how she swooned when men made the fire,
Nor what she spoke, nor what was her desire;
Nor what jewels men in the fire cast, (2945)
When the fire was great and burnt fast;
Nor how some cast their shields, and some their spears,
And some their clothes, such as they were,
And cups full of wine, and milk, and blood,
Into the fire that burned as it were mad; (2950)
Now the Greeks, with a huge group,
Thrice rode all the fire about
Upon the left hand, with a loud shouting,
And thrice with their spears clattering;
And thrice how the ladies did cry; (2955)
And how that led homeward was Emily;
Nor how Arcite was burnt to ashes cold;
Nor how that wake was held
All the same night; nor how the Greeks played
The wake-plays; nor keep I to say (2960)
Who wrestled best naked with oil anointed,
Nor who bore him best, in any disjoint.
I will not tell also how that they went
Home to Athens, when the play was done;
But shortly to the point then will I wend (2965)
And make of my long tale an end.

By process of time and by length of certain years,
All stinted was the mourning and the tears
Of Greeks, and by one general assent.
Then I believe there was a parliament (2970)
At Athens, upon certain points and cases;
Among the points spoken of was,
To have with certain countries alliance,
And have fully of Thebians obeisance.
For which this noble Theseus at once (2975)
Let be sent after gentle Palamon,
Unknown to him what the cause was and why,
But in his black clothes sorrowfully
He came at his commandment in haste.
Then sent Theseus for Emily. (2980)
When they were set, and hushed was all the place,
And Theseus waited had a space
Before any word came form his wise breast,
His eyes set he where as he liked.
And with a sad visage he sighed still, (2985)
And after that right thus he said his will:

"The First Mover of the cause above,
When he first made the fair chain of love,
Great was the effect, and high was his intent.
Well knew he why, and what thereof he meant, (2990)
For with that fair chain of love he bound
The fire, the air, the water, and the land
In certain bonds, that they might not flee.
That same Prince and that Mover," quoth he,
"Has established in this wretched world below (2995)
Certain days and duration
To all that is engendered in this place,
Over which the day they may not pace,
All can they yet those days well abridge.
There needs no decree to allege, (3000)
For it is proved by experience,
But that I like to declare my sentence.
Then may men by this order well discern
That the same Mover is stable and eternal.
Men may well know, be it but a fool, (3005)
That every part derives from the whole,
For nature has not taken his beginning
Of no part or portion of a thing,
But of a thing that is perfect and stable,
Descending so till it is corruptible. (3010)
And therefore, of his wise purveyance,
He has so well beset his ordinance
That species of things and progressions
Shall endure by successions
And not eternal, without any lie. (3015)
This you may understand and see at eye.

"Look the oak, that has so long a nourishing
From time that it first begins to spring,
And has so long a life, as we may see,
Yet at last wasted is the tree. (3020)

"Consider also how that the hard stone
Under our feet, on which we tread and go,
Yet wastes as it lies by the way.
The broad river must some time wax dry;
The great towns we see wane and wend. (3025)
Then may you see that all these things have an end.

"Of man and women see we well also
That needs, in one of these terms two -
That is to say, in youth or else in age -
Must be dead, the king as shall a page; (3030)
Some in their beds, some in the deep sea,
Some in the large field, as men may see;
There helps nothing; all goes that same way
Then may I say that all these things must die.

"What makes this but Jupiter, the king, (3035)
That is prince and cause of all things,
Converting all unto its proper well
From which it is derived, truth to tell?
And here against no creature alive,
Of no degree, avails if it strives. (3040)

"Then is it wisdom, as I think,
To make virtue of necessity,
And take it well that we may not escape,
And namely that to all us is due.
And whoever grouches anything, he does folly, (3045)
And rebel to him is all that may guide.
And certainly a man has most honor
To die in his excellence and flower,
Whan he is secure of his good name;
Then he has not done his friend, or himself, any shame. (3050)
And gladder ought his friend to be of his death,
When with honor upheld is his breath,
Than when his name is appalled for age,
For all forgotten in his ability.
Then is it best, as for a worthy fame, (3055)
To die when that he is best of name.

"The contrary of all this is willfulness.
Why complain we, why have we heaviness,
That good Arcite, of chivalry the flower,
Departed is with duty and honor (3060)
Out of the foul prison of this life?
Why lament here his cousin and his wife
Of his welfare, that loved him so well?
Can he them thank? Nay, God knows, not in any way,
That both his soul and also himself offend, (3065)
And yet they can their lusts not amend.

"What may I conclude of this long thought,
But after woe I read us to be merry
And thank Jupiter of all his grace?
And before that we depart from this place (3070)
I advise that we make of sorrows two
One perfect joy, lasting evermore.
And look now, where most sorrow is herein,
There will we first amend and begin.

"Sister," quoth he, "This is my full assent, (3075)
With all the advice here of my parliament,
That gentle Palamon, your own knight,
That serves you with will, heart, and might,
And ever has done since you first hem knew,
That you shall of your grace upon him rue, (3080)
And take him for husband and for lord.
Lend me your hand, for this is our accord.
Let show now your womanly pity.
He is a king's brother's son, indeed;
And though he were a poor bachelor, (3085)
Since he has served you so many a year,
And had for you so great adversity,
It must be considered, believe me,
For gentle mercy ought to pass right."

Then said he thus to Palamon the knight: (3090)
"I know there needs little sermoning
To make you assent to this thing.
Come near, and take your lady by the hand."

Between them was made at once the bond
That is called matrimony or marriage, (3095)
By all the counsel and the baronage.
And thus with all bliss and melody
Has Palamon wedded Emily.
And God, that all this wide world has wrought,
Sent him what his love has dearly bought; (3100)
For now is Palamon in all wealth,
Living in bliss, in riches, and in health,
And Emily loves him so tenderly,
And he serves her so gently,
That never was there a word them between (3105)
Of jealousy or any other irritation.
Thus ends Palamon and Emily;
And God save all this fair company! Amen.

Here is ended the Knight's Tale.

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