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And to the herber side was adjoyning
As of grete perles, round and orient, This faire tre, of which I have you told,
And diamondes fine, and rubys red, And, at the last, the bird began to sing
And many other stone, of which I went (When he had eten what he eten wold)
The names now; and everich on hire hede So passing swetely, that, by many fold,
A rich fret of gold, which, withouten drede, It was more pleasaunt than I coud devise :
Was full of stately rich stonys set; And whan his song was ended in this wise, And every lady had a chapelet,
The nightingale, with so mery a note,
Answered him, that alle the wode yrong
So sodainly, that, as it were a sote,
I stode astonied, and was, with the song,
Thorow ravished; that, till late and long,
I ne wist in what place I was, ne where;
And ayen, methought, she song even by mine ere.
On hir hedes, of braunches fresh and grene,
So wele ywrought, and so marvelously,
That it was a right noble sight to sene;
Some of laurer, and some full plesauntly,
Had chapelets of wodebind; and, sadly,
Some of agnus castus weren also,
Chaplets fresh. But there were many of tho
That daunced and, eke, song full soberly;
But all they yede in maner of compace.
But one there yede, in mid the company,
Sole, by herself: (but all follow'd the pace
That she kept :) whose hevenly figured face
So plesaunt was, and hire wele shape person,
That of beauty she past hem everichone.
Wherefore I waited about busily
On every side, if I hire might se ;
And, at the last, I gan full well aspy
Where she sate in a fresh grene laurer tre,
On the further side, even right by me,
That gave so passing a delicious smell,
According to the eglentere full well.
Whereof I had so inly grete plesure,
As methought, I surely ravished was
Into Paradise, wherein my desire
Was for to be, and no ferther passe
As for that day, and on the sote grass
I sat me down; for, as for mine entent,
The birdes song was more convenient,
And more pleasaunt to me by many fold,
Than mete or drink, or any other thing.
Thereto, the herber was so fresh and cold,
The wholsome savours eke so comforting,
That (as I demed) sith the beginning
Of the worlde, was never seen, er than,
So pleasaunt a ground of none erthly man.
And she began a raundell, lustily,
That Sus le feuille devert moy (men call)
Sine ( Sous) et mon joly coeur est endormy.
And than the company answerid, all,
With voices swete entuned, and so small,
That methought it the swetest melody
That ever I herd in my life, sothly,
And as I sat, the birdes herkening thus,
Methought that I herd voices, suddainly,
The most swetest, the most delicious
That ever any wight, I trow trewly,
Herden in hir life; for the armony,
And swete accord, was in so gode musike,
That the voices to angels most were like.
And thus they all came dauncing and singing
Into the middes of the mede, echone,
Before the herber where I was sitting.
And, God wote, I thought I was well bigone;
For than I might avise hem, one by one,
Who fairest was, who best could dance or sing,
Or who most womanly was in all thing.
Of hir array, whoso list to here more,
A fresh chaplet upon his haires bright; I shall reherse, so as I can, a lite:
And clokes white of fine velvet they were, Out of the grove, that I speke of before,
Hir stedes trapped and arrayed right, 1 se come first, all in hir clokes white,
Without difference, as hir lordes were; A company that wore, for hir delite,
And after hem, on many a fresh coursere, Chapelets fresh of okes cerial
There came, of armed knightes, such a rout, But newly sprong; and trumpets were they all. That they besprad the large field about.
On every trump hanging a broad bannere,
Of fine tartarium, full richly bete;
Every trumpet his lordes armes bere;
About 'hir neckes, with grete perles sete,
Collares brode; for cost they woud not lete,
As it would seem, for hir scochons echone
Were set about with many a precious stone :
And all they weren, after hir degrees,
Chappelets new, or made of laurer grene,
Or some of oke, or some of other trees;
Some in hir hondes baren boughes shene,
Some laurer, and some of okes bene,
Some of hawthorne, and some of wodebind,
And many mo which I have not in mind.
And so they came hir horses freshly stirring
With bloudy sownes of hir trompes loud.
There se 1 many an uncouth disguising,
In the array of thilke knightes proud.
And, at the last, as evenly as they coud
They take hir place, in middes of the mede;
And every knight turned his horses hede
Hir horses harneis was all white also.
And, after him next, in one company,
Camen kinges at armes, and no mo,
In clokes of white cloth with gold richly;
Chaplets of grene on hir heds on hye;
The crownes, that they on his scotchons bere,
Were set with perl, and ruby, and saphere,
And, eke, grete diamondes many one:
But all hir horse harneis, and other gere,
Was in a sute, according everichone,
As ye have herd the forsaid trumpets were ;
And by seming they were nothing to lere,
And hir guiding they did so manerly.
And, after hem, came a grete company
Of heraudes and pursevauntes eke,
Arrayed in clothes of white velvet;
And, hardely, they were nothing to seke
How they on hem shoulden the harneis set;
And every man had on a chapelet ;
Scotchones, and eke horse harneis in dede
They had, in sute of hem that 'fore hem yede.
To his felow, and lightly laid a spere
Into the rest; and so justes began,
On every part abouten, here and there.
Some brake his spere ; some threw down horse and
About the felde, astray, the stedes ran. [man ;
And to behold hir rule and governaunce,
I you ensure, it was a grete plesaunce.
And so the justes last an hour and more:
But tho that crowned were in laurer grene
Did win the prise; their dintes were so sore,
That there was none agenst hem might sustene:
And the justing alle was left off clene.
And fro hir horse the nine alight anon;
And so did all the remnaunt everichone.
Next after these, appere in armour bright,
All save hir hedes, semely knightes nine ;
And every clasp and nail, as to my sight,
Of hir harneis were of red gold so fine,
With cloth of gold; and furred with ermine,
Were the trappures of hir stedes strong,
Both wide and large, that to the ground did hong.
And forth they yede togeder twain and twain, That to behold it was a worthy sight, Toward the ladies on the grene plain, That sang and daunced, as I said now right. The ladies, as sone as they godely might, They braken off both the song and the daunce, And yede to mete hem with full glad semblaunce. And every lady toke, full womanly, By the hond a knight; and so forth they yede Unto a faire laurer that stode fast by, With leves laid, the boughes of grete brede; And to my dome ther never was indede, A man that had sene half so faire a tre, For underneth it there might well have be
And every boss of bridle, and peytrel
That they had on, was worth, as I would wene,
A thousand pound; and on hir hedes, well
Dressed, were crounes of the laurer grene,
The best ymade that ever I had sene.
And every knight had, after him riding,
Thre henchmen, still upon him awaiting;
Of which every first on a short trunchon
His lordes helmet bore so richly dight,
That the worst of hem was worth the ransaune
any king; the second, a shield, bright,
Bare at his back; the thred baren, upright,
A mighty spere, full sharp yground and kene,
And every child ware, of leves grenc,
An hundred persons, at his own plesaunce,
Shadowed fro the hete of Phæbus bright,
So that they shoulden have felt no grevaunce
Neither for rain, ne haile, that hem hurt miglit;
The savour eke rejoice would any wiglit
That had be sick, or melancholious,
It was so very gode and vertuous.
And with grete rev'rence they cnclined low
And when the storme was clene passed away, Unto tlo tre, so sote and fair of hew,
Tho in the white, that stode under the tre, And after that, within a litel throw,
They felt nothing of all this grete affray They began to sing and daunce of new ;
That they in grene, without, had in ybe; Some song of love, some plaining of untrew, To hem they yede, for routh and for pite, Environing the tre that stode upright;
llem to comfort after hir grete disese, And ever yede a lady and a knight;
So fain they were the helplesse for to esc.
And, at the last, I cast ininc ere asido,
And was ware of a lusty company
That came roming out of the felde wides
And, hond in hond, a knight and a lady;
The ladies all in surcotes, that richly
Purfiled were with many a rich stone;
And every knight of grene, ware mantles on,
Than I was ware, how one of hem, in
Had on a coron rich and well-fitting ;
Wherfore I demed well she was a quene;
And tho in grene on hire were awaiting.
The ladies then iu white, that were coming
Towards hem, and the knightes, in fere,
Began to comfort hem and make hem chere.
Embrouded well, so as the surcots were.
And everich had a chapelet on hire hed,
(Which did right well upon the shining here)
Maked of godely floures white and red s
The knightes eke that they in honde led
In sute of hem, ware chaplets everichone;
And before hem went minstrels many one:
The quene in white, that was of grete beauty,
Toke by the honde the quene that was in grene,
And seide: “ Suster! I have grete pity
Of your annoy, and of your troublous tene,
ye your company have bene
So long, alas ! and if that it you plese
To go with me, I shall do you the ese
* In all the plesure that I can or may."
Whereof that other, humbly as she might,
Thanked hire; for in right evil array
She was, with storme and hete, I you behight.
And every lady, then anon aright,
That were in white, one of hem toke in
By the hond. Which when the knightes had sene,
As harpes, pipes, lutes, and sautry;
Alle in grene; and on hir hedes bare,
Of diverse floures made full craftily,
All in a sute, godely chapelets they ware.
-And so dauncing into the mede they fare,
In mid the which, they found a tust that was
All oversprad with floures in compas.
Whereto they enclined everichone
With grete reverence, and that full humbly.
And, at the last, there tho began anon
A lady for to sing, right womanly,
A bargaret in praising the daisie:
For (as methought) among hir notes swete
She said Si douce est la Marguerite.
In like maner, eche of hem take a knight
Clad in the grene; and forth with hem they fare
To an hegge, where that they, anon right,
To maken these justes, they would not spare
Boughes to hew down and, eke, trees to square;
Wherewith they made hem stately fires grete,
To dry hire clothes, that were wringing wete:
And, after that, to all hire company
“ And tho that were chapelets, on hir hede,
She made to purvey horse, and every thing
Of fresh wodebind, be such as never were
That they neded; and then, full hastily,
To Love untrue, in wordi, in thought, ne dede;
Even by the herber, where I was sitting,
But ay stedfast; ne for plesance ne fere,
They passed all, so merrily singing
Tho that they shulde hir hertes all to tere,
That it would have comforted any wight.
Woud never flit, but ever were stedfast,
--But then I se a passing wonder sight;
Till that hir lives there asunder brast."
For then the nightingale, that all the day
Had in the laurer sate, and did hire might
The whole service to sing longing to May ;
All sodainly began to take hire flight;
And to the lady of the Lefe forthright,
She flew, and set hire on hire hand softly;
Which was a thing I mervail'd at gretly.
“ Now, fair Madam!” (quod 1,) yet woud I pray
Your ladiship, (if that it mighten be,)
That I might knowe, by some maner of way,
(Sithen that it hath liked your beaute
The trouth of these ladies for to tell me,)
What that these knightes be in rich armour,
And what tho be in grene and were the Flour :
The goldfinch, eke, that fro the medlar tre
Was fled, for hete, unto the bushes cold,
l'nto the lady of the Flowre gan fle,
And on hire hond he set him, as he wold;
And plesauntly his winges gan to fold.
And for to sing they peine hem both as sore,
As they had do of all the day before.
“ And why that some did rev’rence to the tre,
And some unto the plot of foures faire?" [she)
With right gode will, my daughter fair!” (quod
* Sith your desire is gode and debonaire:
The nine, crouned, be very exemplaire
Of all honour longing to chivalry;
And those, certain, be clept the Nine Worthy,
“ Which that ye may se riding all before,
That in hir time did many a noble dede,
And for hir worthiness full oft have bore
The crown of laurer leves on hir hede,
As ye may in your olde bokes rede;
And how that he, that was a conqueror,
Ilad by laurer alway his most honour.
And so these ladies rode forth a grete pace,
And all the rout of knightes eke in fere,
And I, that had sene all this wonder case,
Thought that I would assay, in some manere,
To know fully the trouth of this matere,
And what they were that rode so plesauntly.
And when they were the herber passed by,
* And tho that baren bowes in hir hond,
Of the precious laurer, so notable,
Be such as were (I woll ye understond)
Most noble Knightes of the Round Table,
And eke the Dousepares honourable;
Which they bere in the sign of victory,
As witness of hir dedes mightily.
I drest me forth ; and happed mete, anon,
A right fair lady, I do you ensure;
And she came riding by hireself, alone,
Alle in white, with semblaunce full demure.
Thire salued, bad hire gode aventure
Mote hire befall, as I coud most humbly.
And she answered, “ My daughter! gramercy!"
“ Madame!" (quoth I) « if that I durst enquere
Of you, I wold, fain, of that company
Wit what they be that passed by this herbere.”
And she ayen answered, right frendly:
* My daughter! all tho, that passed hereby,
In white clothing, be servants everichone,
l'nto the Lefe, and I myself am one.
“ Eke there be Knightes old of the Garter,
That in hir times did right worthily:
And the honour they did to the laurer
Is, for by it they have hir laud wholly,
Hir triumph eke and martial glory:
Which unto himn is more perfite riches
That any wight imagin can or gesse.
* Se ye not hire that crowned is” (quod she)
* Alle in white;" * Madame!" (then quod I)“yes.
* That is Dian, goddess of Chastity,
And, for because that she a maiden is,
Isto hire hond the branch she beareth this,
agnus castus men call properly; And all the ladies, in hire company,
" For one Lefe given of that noble tre
To any wight, that hath done worthily,
(An it be done so as it ought to be,)
Is more honour than any thing erthly;
Witness of Rome, that founder was, truly,
Of all knighthode and dedes marvelous;
Record I take of Titus Livius.
ye se of that herbe chaplets were, Be such as han alway kept maidenhede. And all they that of laurer chaplets bere, Be such as hardy were in manly dede, Victorious names which never may be dede; And all they were so worthy of hir honde, la bir time, that no one might hem withistonde.
* And as for hire that crouned is in grene,
It is Flora, of these floures goddesse.
And all that here, on hire awaiting, bene,
It are such folk that loved idlenesse,
And not delite in no kind besinesse
But for to hunt, aud hawke, and play in medes,
And many other such like idle dedes,
“ And for the great delite, and the plesaunce,
They have to the Flour, and so reverently
They unto it doen such obeisaunce,
As ye may se.” “ Now, fair Madame!" (quod I,)
“ If I durst ask what is the cause, and why,
That knightes have the enseigne of honour
Rather by the Lefe than by the Flour?"
“Sothly, doughter," (quod she) “ this is the tronth;
For knightes, ever, should be persevering
To seke honour, without feintise or slouth,
Fro wele to better in all maner thing;
In sign of which, with leves ay lasting
They be rewarded, after hir degre,
Whose lusty grene may not apaired be,
“ But ay keeping hir beauty fresh and grene;
For ther n'is no storme that may hem deface,
Ne hail nor snowe, ne wind nor frostes kene;
Wherfore they have this property and grace.
And, for the Flour, within a litel space,
Wollen be lost, so simple of nature
They be that they no grevaunce may endure:
“ And every storme woll blawe hem sone away, Ne they laste not but for a seson, That is the cause (the very trouth to say) That they may not, by no way of reson, Be put to no such occupation." “ Madame!" (quod I)“ with all mine whole servise I thank you now in my most humble wise ; « For now I am ascertain'd thoroughly Of every thing I desired to knowe.” “ I am right glad that I have said, sothly, Ought to your plesure, if ye will me trow." (Quod she ayen.) “ But to whom do ye owe Your service, and which wollen ye honour (Pray tell me) this year, the Lefe or the Flour 3" “ Madam!" (quod I) “ although I lest worthy, Unto the Lefe I ow mine observaunce." “ That is,” (quod she)“ right well done, certainly; And I pray God to honour you advance, And kepe you fro the wicked remembraunce Of Malebouch, and all his crueltie; And all that gode and well conditioned be.
PART OF THE KNIGHTES TALE.
I trowe men wolde deme it negligence,
If I foryette to tellen the dispence
Of Theseus, that got so besily
To maken up the listes really,
That swiche a noble theatre as it was,
I dare wel sayn, in all this world ther n'as.
The circuite a mile was about,
Walled of stone, and diched all withoute.
Round was the shape, in manere of a compas
Ful of degrees, the hight of sixty pas,
That whan a man was set on o degree
He letted not his felaw for to see.
Estward ther stood a gate of marbel white,
Westward right swiche another in th' opposite.
And shortly to concluden, swiche a place
Was never in erthe, in so litel a space,
For in the lond ther n'as no craftes man,
That geometrie, or ersmetrike can,
Ne portreiour, ne kerver of images,
That Theseus ne yaf him mete and wages
The theatre for to maken and devise.
And for to don his rite and sacrifice,
He estward hath upon the gate above,
In worship of Venus goddesse of love,
Don make an auter and an oratorie;
And westward in the minde and in memorie
Of Mars he maked hath right swiche another,
That coste largely of gold a fother.
And northward, in a touret on the wall,
Of alabastre white and red corall
An oratorie riche for to see,
In worship of Diane of chastitee,
Hath Theseus don wrought in noble wise.
But yet had I foryetten to devise
The noble kerving, and the portreitures,
The shape, the countenance of the figures
That weren in these oratories three.
First in the temple of Venus maist thou see
Wrought on the wall, ful pitous to beholde,
The broken slepes, and the sikes colde,
The sacred teres, and the waimentinges,
The firy strokes of the desiringes,
That Loves servants in this lif enduren;
The othes, that hir covenants assuren.
Plesance and hope, desire, foolhardinesse,
Beaute and youthe, baudrie and richesse,
Charmes and force, lesinges and flaterie,
Dispence, besinesse, and jalousie,
That wered of yelwe goldes a gerlond,
And hadde a cuckow sitting on hire hond,
Festes, instruments, and caroles and dances,
Lust and array, and all the circumstances
Of love, which that I reken and reken shall,
By ordre weren peinted on the wall,
And mo than I can make of mention.
For sothly all the mount of Citheron,
Ther Venus hath hire principal dwelling,
Was shewed on the wall in purtreying,
With all the gardin, and the lustinesse,
Nought was foryetten the porter Idelnesse,
“ For here I may no lenger now abide,
But I must follow the grete company
That ye may se yonder before you ride."
And forthwith, as I couth, most humily
I take my leve of hire. And she
hie After hem as fast as ever she might, And I drew homeward, for it was nigh night,
And put all that I had sene in writing,
Under support of hem that lust it rede.
O little boke! thou art so unconning,
How darst thou put thyself in prees for drede ?
It is wonder that thou wexest not rede,
Sith that thou wost full lite who shall behold
Thy rude langage full boistrously unfold.