« ZurückWeiter »
A Dialogue between Araphill and Castara
Love's Anniversarie. To the Sunne
Song. To Lucasta, going beyond the Seas ib.
Song. To Althca. From Prison
line 17. from bottom, for “ Chartres " read “ Chartier."
A. D. 13284-1400.
Some facts have been preserved concerning the Chaucer is not merely the acknowledged father personal history of Chaucer, but there is no detailed of English poetry, he is also one of our greatest information. We learn from himself that he was poets. His proper station is in the first class, born in London, which in those ages was thought with Spenser, and Shakspeare, and Milton; and an honour; and it is certain that he was neither of Shakspeare alone has equalled him in variety and high nor of low birth. His writings afford some versatility of genius. In no other country has any indication that he received part of his education at writer effected so much with a half-formed lanCambridge, and there is a tradition that he studied guage : retaining what was popular, and rejecting at Oxford also, under Wickliffe, when that great what was barbarous, he at once refined and enriched man was Warden of Canterbury College. He had it; and though it is certain that his poetry is written an annuity of twenty marks from Edward III., as rhythmically rather than metrically, his ear led him valet or yeoman of the palace, an intermediate rank to that cadence and those forms of verse, which, between squire and groom. Afterwards he was after all subsequent experiments, have been found made comptroller of the custom of wood, with the most agreeable to the general taste, and may, tarbarous injunction, that “ the said Geoffrey write therefore, be deemed best adapted to the character with his own hand his rolls touching the said office, of our speech. In some of his smaller pieces, he in his own proper person, and not by his substitute.” has condescended to use the ornate style which He was also appointed comptroller of the small began to be affected in his age; but he has only customs of wine in the port of London, and had used it as if to show that he had deliberately rea grant for life of a pitcher of wine daily, which jected it in all his greater and better works. He was subsequently commuted for twenty marks a drew largely from French and Italian authors; but year. John of Gaunt patronised him, and gave in all his translations there is the stamp of his own him Philippa Rouet in marriage, sister to his own power; and his original works are distinguished by mistress, and daughter to a knight of Hainault. a life, and strength, and vivacity, which nothing At this time, his offices and the grants which he but original genius, and that of the highest order, obtained enabled him to live in affluence. In the can impart. Whoever aspires to a lasting name last year of Edward's reign, he was sent on a among the English poets must go to the writings mission to France, and some seven years after, in of Chaucer, and drink at the well-head. consequence of his connection with the Lollards, The Canterbury Tales have been excellently was brought into danger. He fled to the continent; edited by Tyrwhitt ; his other works have been left was imprisoned on his return; and after some ill to chance, and published without any other care usage from his party, and some rigour on the part than what the corrector of the press might please of government, did not escape without loss and to bestow upon them. obloquy. At length he retired to Woodstock, a It should be remembered that Chaucer expresses place to which he was much attached. But though, contrition for such of his writings as “ sounen unto after losing his former offices, he obtained new sin,” and prays Christ of his mercy to forgive him grants from Richard II., which were confirmed by for the guilt he had incurred thereby. He is said the usurper Henry, it is said that his latter days to have cried out repeatedly on his death-bed, were embittered by difficulties. He died on the “ Woe is me, that I cannot recall and annul these 25th of October, 1400, and was buried in that part things! but, alas, they are continued from man to of Westminster Abbey, which has since, in respect man, and I cannot do what I desire.” to him, been consecrated by the remains of many English poets, and the monuments of more.
THE CANTERBURY TALES.
WHANNE that April with his shoures sote
Befelle, that, in that seson on a day,
And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste,
But natheles, while I have time and space,
In listes thries, and ay slain his fo.
This ilke worthy knight hadde ben also
But for to tellen you of his araie,
With him ther was his sone a yonge SQUIER,
Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
Curteis he was, lowly, and servisable, And carf before his fader at the table.
A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man, That fro the time that he firste began To riden out, he loved chevalrie, Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie. Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre, And therto hadde he ridden, no man ferre, As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse, And ever honoured for his worthinesse.
At Alisandre he was whan it was wonne. Ful often time he hadde the bord begonne Aboven alle nations in Pruce. In Lettowe hadde he reysed, and in Ruce, No cristen man so ofte of his degre. In Gernade at the siege eke hadde he be Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie. At Leyes was he, and at Satalie, Whan they were wonne; and in the Grete see At many a noble armee hadde he be. An mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene, And foughten for our faith at Tramissene
A YEMan hadde he, and servantes no mo At that time, for him luste to ride so; And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene A shefe of peacock arwes bright and kene Under his belt he bare ful thriftily. Wel coude he dresse his takel yemanly: His arwes drouped not with fetheres lowe. And in his hond he bare a mighty bowe.
A not-hed hadde he, with a broune visage. Of wood-craft coude he wel alle the usage. Upon his arme he bare a gaie bracer, And by his side a swerd and a bokeler, And on that other side a gaie daggere, Harneised wel, and sharpe as point of spere : A Cristofre on his breste of silver shene. An horne he bare, the baudrik was of grene. A forster was he sothely as I gesse.
Ther was also a Nonne, a PRIORESSE, That of hire smiling was ful simple and coy ; Hire gretest othe n'as but by Seint Eloy ; And she was cleped madame Eglentine. Ful wel she sange the service devine, Entuned in hire nose ful swetely ; And Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisly, After the scole of Stratford atte bowe, For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.
At mete was she wel ytaughte withalle ;
And for to fasten his hood under his chinne,
He hadde of gold ywrought a curious pinne :
A love-knotte in the greter ende ther was.
And eke his face, as it hadde ben anoint.
He was a lord ful fat and in good point.
His eyen stepe, and rolling in his hed,
That stemed as a forneis of a led.
Now certainly he was a fayre prelat.
He was not pale as a forpined gost.
A fat swan loved he best of any rost.
His palfrey was as broune as is a bery.
A Frere ther was, a wanton and a mery,
A Limitour, a ful solempne man.
In all the ordres foure is non that can
So moche of daliance and fayre langage.
Ful wel beloved, and familier was he
With frankeleins over all in his contree,
And eke with worthy wimmen of the toun :
For he had power of confession,
As saide himselfe, more than a curat,
Ful swetely herde he confession,
And plesant was his absolution.
He was an esy man to give penance,
Ther as he wiste to han a good pitance :
For unto a poure ordre for to give
Is signe that a man is wel yshrive.
He wiste that a man was repentant.
For many a man so hard is of his herte,
Men mote give silver to the poure freres.
And pinnes, for to given fayre wives,
And certainly he hadde a mery note.
His nekke was white as the four de lis.
And knew wel the tavernes in every toun,
For unto swiche a worthy man as he
Accordeth nought, as by his faculte,
To haven with sike lazars acquaintance.
It is not honest, it may not avance,
As for to delen with no swiche pouraille,
But all with riche, and sellers of vitaille.
And over all, ther as profit shuld arise,
Curteis he was, and lowly of servise.
Ther n'as no man no wher so vertuous.
And gave a certaine ferme for the grant,
Non of his bretheren came in his haunt.
Yet wold he have a ferthing or he went.
And rage he coude as it hadde ben a whelp,
For ther was he nat like a cloisterere,
With thredbare cope, as is a poure scolere,