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by Thomas Stearns Eliot (T S) Eliot

Gawain and the Green Knight

THEN the sege and the assaut watz sesed at Troye,
The borygh brittened and brent to brondeygh and askez,
The tulk that the trammes of tresoun ther wroyght
Watz tried for his tricherie, the trewest on erthe:
Hit watz Ennias the athel, and his highe kynde,
That sithen depreced prouinces, and patrounes bicome
Welneyghe of al the wele in the west iles.
Fro riche Romulus to Rome ricchis hym swythe, With gret bobbaunce that buryghe he biges vpon fyrst, And neuenes hit his aune nome, as hit now hat; Tirius to Tuskan and teldes bigynnes, Langaberde in Lumbardie lyftes vp homes, And fer ouer the French flod Felix Brutus On mony bonkkes ful brode Bretayn he settez wyth wynne, Where werre and wrake and wonder Bi sythez hatz wont therinne, And oft bothe blysse and blunder Ful skete hatz skyfted synne.
Ande quen this Bretayn watz bigged bi this burn rych, Bolde bredden therinne, baret that lofden, In mony turned tyme tene that wroyghten.
Mo ferlyes on this folde han fallen here oft Then in any other that I wot, syn that ilk tyme.
Bot of alle that here bult, of Bretaygne kynges, Ay watz Arthur the hendest, as I haf herde telle.
Forthi an aunter in erde I attle to schawe, That a selly in siyght summe men hit holden, And an outtrage awenture of Arthurez wonderez.
If yghe wyl lysten this laye bot on littel quile, I schal telle hit as-tit, as I in toun herde, with tonge, As hit is stad and stoken In stori stif and stronge, With lel letteres loken, In londe so hatz ben longe.
This kyng lay at Camylot vpon Krystmasse With mony luflych lorde, ledez of the best, Rekenly of the Rounde Table alle tho rich brether, With rych reuel oryyght and rechles merthes.
Ther tournayed tulkes by tymez ful mony, Justed ful jolilŽ thise gentyle kniyghtes, Sythen kayred to the court caroles to make.
For ther the fest watz ilyche ful fiften dayes, With alle the mete and the mirthe that men couthe avyse; Such glaum ande gle glorious to here, Dere dyn vpon day, daunsyng on nyyghtes, Al watz hap vpon heyghe in hallez and chambrez With lordez and ladies, as leuest him thoyght.
With all the wele of the worlde thay woned ther samen, The most kyd knyyghtez vnder Krystes seluen, And the louelokkest ladies that euer lif haden, And he the comlokest kyng that the court haldes; For al watz this fayre folk in her first age, on sille, The hapnest vnder heuen, Kyng hyyghest mon of wylle; Hit were now gret nye to neuen So hardy a here on hille.
Wyle Nw Ygher watz so yghep that hit watz nwe cummen, That day doubble on the dece watz the douth serued.
Fro the kyng watz cummen with knyyghtes into the halle, The chauntrŽ of the chapel cheued to an ende, Loude crye watz ther kest of clerkez and other, Nowel nayted onewe, neuened ful ofte; And sythen riche forth runnen to reche hondeselle, Ygheyghed ygheres-yghiftes on hiygh, yghelde hem bi hond, Debated busyly aboute tho giftes; Ladies layghed ful loude, thoygh thay lost haden, And he that wan watz not wrothe, that may yghe wel trawe.
Alle this mirthe thay maden to the mete tyme; When thay had waschen worthyly thay wenten to sete, The best burne ay abof, as hit best semed, Whene Guenore, ful gay, graythed in the myddes, Dressed on the dere des, dubbed al aboute, Smal sendal bisides, a selure hir ouer Of tryed tolouse, and tars tapites innoghe, That were enbrawded and beten wyth the best gemmes That myyght be preued of prys wyth penyes to bye, in daye.
The comlokest to discrye Ther glent with yyghen gray, A semloker that euer he syyghe Soth moyght no mon say.
Bot Arthure wolde not ete til al were serued, He watz so joly of his joyfnes, and sumquat childgered: His lif liked hym lyyght, he louied the lasse Auther to longe lye or to longe sitte, So bisied him his yghonge blod and his brayn wylde.
And also an other maner meued him eke That he thurygh nobelay had nomen, he wolde neuer ete Vpon such a dere day er hym deuised were Of sum auenturus thyng an vncouthe tale, Of sum mayn meruayle, that he myyght trawe, Of alderes, of armes, of other auenturus, Other sum segg hym bisoyght of sum siker knyyght To joyne wyth hym in iustyng, in jopardŽ to lay, Lede, lif for lyf, leue vchon other, As fortune wolde fulsun hom, the fayrer to haue.
This watz the kynges countenaunce where he in court were, At vch farand fest among his fre meny in halle.
Therfore of face so fere He stiyghtlez stif in stalle, Ful yghep in that Nw Yghere Much mirthe he mas withalle.
Thus ther stondes in stale the stif kyng hisseluen, Talkkande bifore the hyyghe table of trifles ful hende.
There gode Gawan watz graythed Gwenore bisyde, And Agrauayn a la dure mayn on that other syde sittes, Bothe the kynges sistersunes and ful siker kniyghtes; Bischop Bawdewyn abof biginez the table, And Ywan, Vryn son, ette with hymseluen.
Thise were diyght on the des and derworthly serued, And sithen mony siker segge at the sidbordez.
Then the first cors come with crakkyng of trumpes, Wyth mony baner ful bryyght that therbi henged; Nwe nakryn noyse with the noble pipes, Wylde werbles and wyyght wakned lote, That mony hert ful hiyghe hef at her towches.
DayntŽs dryuen therwyth of ful dere metes, Foysoun of the fresche, and on so fele disches That pine to fynde the place the peple biforne For to sette the sylueren that sere sewes halden on clothe.
Iche lede as he loued hymselue Ther laght withouten lothe; Ay two had disches twelue, Good ber and bryyght wyn bothe.
Now wyl I of hor seruise say yow no more, For vch wyyghe may wel wit no wont that ther were.
An other noyse ful newe neyghed biliue, That the lude myyght haf leue liflode to cach; For vnethe watz the noyce not a whyle sesed, And the fyrst cource in the court kyndely serued, Ther hales in at the halle dor an aghlich mayster, On the most on the molde on mesure hyghe; Fro the swyre to the swange so sware and so thik, And his lyndes and his lymes so longe and so grete, Half etayn in erde I hope that he were, Bot mon most I algate mynn hym to bene, And that the myriest in his muckel that myyght ride; For of bak and of brest al were his bodi sturne, Both his wombe and his wast were worthily smale, And alle his fetures folyghande, in forme that he hade, ful clene; For wonder of his hwe men hade, Set in his semblaunt sene; He ferde as freke were fade, And oueral enker-grene.
Ande al graythed in grene this gome and his wedes: A strayte cote ful streyght, that stek on his sides, A merŽ mantile abof, mensked withinne With pelure pured apert, the pane ful clene With blythe blaunner ful bryyght, and his hod bothe, That watz layght fro his lokkez and layde on his schulderes; Heme wel-haled hose of that same, That spenet on his sparlyr, and clene spures vnder Of bryyght golde, vpon silk bordes barred ful ryche, And scholes vnder schankes there the schalk rides; And alle his vesture uerayly watz clene verdure, Bothe the barres of his belt and other blythe stones, That were richely rayled in his aray clene Aboutte hymself and his sadel, vpon silk werkez.
That were to tor for to telle of tryfles the halue That were enbrauded abof, wyth bryddes and flyyghes, With gay gaudi of grene, the golde ay inmyddes.
The pendauntes of his payttrure, the proude cropure, His molaynes, and alle the metail anamayld was thenne, The steropes that he stod on stayned of the same, And his arsounz al after and his athel skyrtes, That euer glemered and glent al of grene stones; The fole that he ferkkes on fyn of that ilke, sertayn, A grene hors gret and thikke, A stede ful stif to strayne, In brawden brydel quik-- To the gome he watz ful gayn.
Wel gay watz this gome gered in grene, And the here of his hed of his hors swete.
Fayre fannand fax vmbefoldes his schulderes; A much berd as a busk ouer his brest henges, That wyth his hiyghlich here that of his hed reches Watz euesed al vmbetorne abof his elbowes, That half his armes ther-vnder were halched in the wyse Of a kyngez capados that closes his swyre; The mane of that mayn hors much to hit lyke, Wel cresped and cemmed, wyth knottes ful mony Folden in wyth fildore aboute the fayre grene, Ay a herle of the here, an other of golde; The tayl and his toppyng twynnen of a sute, And bounden bothe wyth a bande of a bryyght grene, Dubbed wyth ful dere stonez, as the dok lasted, Sythen thrawen wyth a thwong a thwarle knot alofte, Ther mony bellez ful bryyght of brende golde rungen.
Such a fole vpon folde, ne freke that hym rydes, Watz neuer sene in that sale wyth syyght er that tyme, with yyghe.
He loked as layt so lyyght, So sayd al that hym syyghe; Hit semed as no mon myyght Vnder his dynttez dryyghe.
Whether hade he no helme ne hawbergh nauther, Ne no pysan ne no plate that pented to armes, Ne no schafte ne no schelde to schwue ne to smyte, Bot in his on honde he hade a holyn bobbe, That is grattest in grene when greuez ar bare, And an ax in his other, a hoge and vnmete, A spetos sparthe to expoun in spelle, quoso myyght.
The lenkthe of an elnygherde the large hede hade, The grayn al of grene stele and of golde hewen, The bit burnyst bryyght, with a brod egge As wel schapen to schere as scharp rasores, The stele of a stif staf the sturne hit bi grypte, That watz wounden wyth yrn to the wandez ende, And al bigrauen with grene in gracios werkes; A lace lapped aboute, that louked at the hede, And so after the halme halched ful ofte, Wyth tryed tasselez therto tacched innoghe On botounz of the bryyght grene brayden ful ryche.
This hathel heldez hym in and the halle entres, Driuande to the heyghe dece, dut he no wothe, Haylsed he neuer one, bot heyghe he ouer loked.
The fyrst word that he warp, "Wher is," he sayd, "The gouernour of this gyng? Gladly I wolde Se that segg in syyght, and with hymself speke raysoun.
" To knyyghtez he kest his yyghe, And reled hym vp and doun; He stemmed, and con studie Quo walt ther most renoun.
Ther watz lokyng on lenthe the lude to beholde, For vch mon had meruayle quat hit mene myyght That a hathel and a horse myyght such a hwe lach, As growe grene as the gres and grener hit semed, Then grene aumayl on golde glowande bryyghter.
Al studied that ther stod, and stalked hym nerre Wyth al the wonder of the worlde what he worch schulde.
For fele sellyez had thay sen, bot such neuer are; Forthi for fantoum and fayryyghe the folk there hit demed.
Therfore to answare watz aryghe mony athel freke, And al stouned at his steuen and stonstil seten In a swoghe sylence thurygh the sale riche; As al were slypped vpon slepe so slaked hor lotez in hyyghe-- I deme hit not al for doute, Bot sum for cortaysye-- Bot let hym that al schulde loute Cast vnto that wyyghe.
Thenn Arthour bifore the hiygh dece that auenture byholdez, And rekenly hym reuerenced, for rad was he neuer, And sayde, "Wyyghe, welcum iwys to this place, The hede of this ostel Arthour I hat; Liyght luflych adoun and lenge, I the praye, And quat-so thy wylle is we schal wyt after.
" "Nay, as help me," quoth the hathel, "he that on hyyghe syttes, To wone any quyle in this won, hit watz not myn ernde; Bot for the los of the, lede, is lyft vp so hyyghe, And thy burygh and thy burnes best ar holden, Stifest vnder stel-gere on stedes to ryde, The wyyghtest and the worthyest of the worldes kynde, Preue for to play wyth in other pure laykez, And here is kydde cortaysye, as I haf herd carp, And that hatz wayned me hider, iwyis, at this tyme.
Yghe may be seker bi this braunch that I bere here That I passe as in pes, and no plyyght seche; For had I founded in fere in feyghtyng wyse, I haue a hauberghe at home and a helme bothe, A schelde and a scharp spere, schinande bryyght, Ande other weppenes to welde, I wene wel, als; Bot for I wolde no were, my wedez ar softer.
Bot if thou be so bold as alle burnez tellen, Thou wyl grant me godly the gomen that I ask bi ryyght.
" Arthour con onsware, And sayd, "Sir cortays knyyght, If thou craue batayl bare, Here faylez thou not to fyyght.
" "Nay, frayst I no fyyght, in fayth I the telle, Hit arn aboute on this bench bot berdlez chylder.
If I were hasped in armes on a heyghe stede, Here is no mon me to mach, for myyghtez so wayke.
Forthy I craue in this court a Crystemas gomen, For hit is Yghol and Nwe Ygher, and here ar yghep mony: If any so hardy in this hous holdez hymseluen, Be so bolde in his blod, brayn in hys hede, That dar stifly strike a strok for an other, I schal gif hym of my gyft thys giserne ryche, This ax, that is heuŽ innogh, to hondele as hym lykes, And I schal bide the fyrst bur as bare as I sitte.
If any freke be so felle to fonde that I telle, Lepe lyyghtly me to, and lach this weppen, I quit-clayme hit for euer, kepe hit as his auen, And I schal stonde hym a strok, stif on this flet, Ellez thou wyl diyght me the dom to dele hym an other barlay, And yghet gif hym respite, A twelmonyth and a day; Now hyyghe, and let se tite Dar any herinne oyght say.
" If he hem stowned vpon fyrst, stiller were thanne Alle the heredmen in halle, the hyygh and the loyghe.
The renk on his rouncŽ hym ruched in his sadel, And runischly his rede yyghen he reled aboute, Bende his bresed broyghez, blycande grene, Wayued his berde for to wayte quo-so wolde ryse.
When non wolde kepe hym with carp he coyghed ful hyyghe, Ande rimed hym ful richly, and ryyght hym to speke: "What, is this Arthures hous," quoth the hathel thenne, "That al the rous rennes of thurygh ryalmes so mony? Where is now your sourquydrye and your conquestes, Your gryndellayk and your greme, and your grete wordes? Now is the reuel and the renoun of the Rounde Table Ouerwalt wyth a worde of on wyyghes speche, For al dares for drede withoute dynt schewed!" Wyth this he layghes so loude that the lorde greued; The blod schot for scham into his schyre face and lere; He wex as wroth as wynde, So did alle that ther were.
The kyng as kene bi kynde Then stod that stif mon nere, Ande sayde, "Hathel, by heuen, thyn askyng is nys, And as thou foly hatz frayst, fynde the behoues.
I know no gome that is gast of thy grete wordes; Gif me now thy geserne, vpon Godez halue, And I schal baythen thy bone that thou boden habbes.
" Lyyghtly lepez he hym to, and layght at his honde.
Then feersly that other freke vpon fote lyyghtis.
Now hatz Arthure his axe, and the halme grypez, And sturnely sturez hit aboute, that stryke wyth hit thoyght.
The stif mon hym bifore stod vpon hyyght, Herre then ani in the hous by the hede and more.
Wyth sturne schere ther he stod he stroked his berde, And wyth a countenaunce dryyghe he droygh doun his cote, No more mate ne dismayd for hys mayn dintez Then any burne vpon bench hade broyght hym to drynk of wyne.
Gawan, that sate bi the quene, To the kyng he can enclyne: "I beseche now with sayghez sene This melly mot be myne.
"Wolde yghe, worthilych lorde," quoth Wawan to the kyng, "Bid me boyghe fro this benche, and stonde by yow there, That I wythoute vylanye myyght voyde this table, And that my legge lady lyked not ille, I wolde com to your counseyl bifore your cort ryche.
For me think hit not semly, as hit is soth knawen, Ther such an askyng is heuened so hyyghe in your sale, Thaygh yghe yghourself be talenttyf, to take hit to yourseluen, Whil mony so bolde yow aboute vpon bench sytten, That vnder heuen I hope non haygherer of wylle, Ne better bodyes on bent ther baret is rered.
I am the wakkest, I wot, and of wyt feblest, And lest lur of my lyf, quo laytes the sothe-- Bot for as much as yghe ar myn em I am only to prayse, No bountŽ bot your blod I in my bodŽ knowe; And sythen this note is so nys that noyght hit yow falles, And I haue frayned hit at yow fyrst, foldez hit to me; And if I carp not comlyly, let alle this cort rych bout blame.
" Ryche togeder con roun, And sythen thay redden alle same To ryd the kyng wyth croun, And gif Gawan the game.
Then comaunded the kyng the knyyght for to ryse; And he ful radly vpros, and ruchched hym fayre, Kneled doun bifore the kyng, and cachez that weppen; And he luflyly hit hym laft, and lyfte vp his honde, And gef hym Goddez blessyng, and gladly hym biddes That his hert and his honde schulde hardi be bothe.
"Kepe the cosyn," quoth the kyng, "that thou on kyrf sette, And if thou redeygh hym ryyght, redly I trowe That thou schal byden the bur that he schal bede after.
" Gawan gotz to the gome with giserne in honde, And he baldly hym bydez, he bayst neuer the helder.
Then carppez to Sir Gawan the knyyght in the grene, "Refourme we oure forwardes, er we fyrre passe.
Fyrst I ethe the, hathel, how that thou hattes That thou me telle truly, as I tryst may.
" "In god fayth," quoth the goode knyyght, "Gawan I hatte, That bede the this buffet, quat-so bifallez after, And at this tyme twelmonyth take at the an other Wyth what weppen so thou wylt, and wyth no wyygh ellez on lyue.
" That other onswarez agayn, "Sir Gawan, so mot I thryue As I am ferly fayn This dint that thou schal dryue.
"Bigog," quoth the grene knyyght, "Sir Gawan, me lykes That I schal fange at thy fust that I haf frayst here.
And thou hatz redily rehersed, bi resoun ful trwe, Clanly al the couenaunt that I the kynge asked, Saf that thou schal siker me, segge, bi thi trawthe, That thou schal seche me thiself, where-so thou hopes I may be funde vpon folde, and foch the such wages As thou deles me to-day bifore this douthe ryche.
" "Where schulde I wale the," quoth Gauan, "where is thy place? I wot neuer where thou wonyes, bi hym that me wroyght, Ne I know not the, knyyght, by cort ne thi name.
Bot teche me truly therto, and telle me how thou hattes, And I schal ware alle my wyt to wynne me theder, And that I swere the for sothe, and by my seker traweth.
" "That is innogh in Nwe Ygher, hit nedes no more," Quoth the gome in the grene to Gawan the hende; "Yghif I the telle trwly, quen I the tape haue And thou me smothely hatz smyten, smartly I the teche Of my hous and my home and myn owen nome, Then may thou frayst my fare and forwardez holde; And if I spende no speche, thenne spedez thou the better, For thou may leng in thy londe and layt no fyrre-- bot slokes! Ta now thy grymme tole to the, And let se how thou cnokez.
" "Gladly, sir, for sothe," Quoth Gawan; his ax he strokes.
The grene knyyght vpon grounde graythely hym dresses, A littel lut with the hede, the lere he discouerez, His longe louelych lokkez he layd ouer his croun, Let the naked nec to the note schewe.
Gauan gripped to his ax, and gederes hit on hyyght, The kay fot on the folde he before sette, Let him doun lyyghtly lyyght on the naked, That the scharp of the schalk schyndered the bones, And schrank thurygh the schyire grece, and schade hit in twynne, That the bit of the broun stel bot on the grounde.
The fayre hede fro the halce hit to the erthe, That fele hit foyned wyth her fete, there hit forth roled; The blod brayd fro the body, that blykked on the grene; And nawther faltered ne fel the freke neuer the helder, Bot stythly he start forth vpon styf schonkes, And runyschly he rayght out, there as renkkez stoden, Layght to his lufly hed, and lyft hit vp sone; And sythen boyghez to his blonk, the brydel he cachchez, Steppez into stelbawe and strydez alofte, And his hede by the here in his honde haldez; And as sadly the segge hym in his sadel sette As non vnhap had hym ayled, thaygh hedlez he were in stedde.
He brayde his bulk aboute, That vgly bodi that bledde; Moni on of hym had doute, Bi that his resounz were redde.
For the hede in his honde he haldez vp euen, Toward the derrest on the dece he dressez the face, And hit lyfte vp the yyghe-lyddez and loked ful brode, And meled thus much with his muthe, as yghe may now here: "Loke, Gawan, thou be graythe to go as thou hettez, And layte as lelly til thou me, lude, fynde, As thou hatz hette in this halle, herande thise knyyghtes; To the grene chapel thou chose, I charge the, to fotte Such a dunt as thou hatz dalt--disserued thou habbez To be yghederly ygholden on Nw Ygheres morn.
The knyyght of the grene chapel men knowen me mony; Forthi me for to fynde if thou fraystez, faylez thou neuer.
Therfore com, other recreaunt be calde the behoues.
" With a runisch rout the raynez he tornez, Halled out at the hal dor, his hed in his hande, That the fyr of the flynt flayghe fro fole houes.
To quat kyth he becom knwe non there, Neuer more then thay wyste from quethen he watz wonnen.
What thenne? The kyng and Gawen thare At that grene thay layghe and grenne, Yghet breued watz hit ful bare A meruayl among tho menne.
Thaygh Arther the hende kyng at hert hade wonder, He let no semblaunt be sene, bot sayde ful hyyghe To the comlych quene wyth cortays speche, "Dere dame, to-day demay yow neuer; Wel bycommes such craft vpon Cristmasse, Laykyng of enterludez, to layghe and to syng, Among thise kynde caroles of knyyghtez and ladyez.
Neuer the lece to my mete I may me wel dres, For I haf sen a selly, I may not forsake.
" He glent vpon Sir Gawen, and gaynly he sayde, "Now, sir, heng vp thyn ax, that hatz innogh hewen"; And hit watz don abof the dece on doser to henge, Ther alle men for meruayl myyght on hit loke, And bi trwe tytel therof to telle the wonder.
Thenne thay boyghed to a borde thise burnes togeder, The kyng and the gode knyyght, and kene men hem serued Of alle dayntyez double, as derrest myyght falle; Wyth alle maner of mete and mynstralcie bothe, Wyth wele walt thday, til worthed an ende in londe.
Now thenk wel, Sir Gawan, For wothe that thou ne wonde This auenture for to frayn That thou hatz tan on honde.
PART II THIS hanselle hatz Arthur of auenturus on fyrst In yghonge ygher, for he ygherned yghelpyng to here.
Thaygh hym wordez were wane when thay to sete wenten, Now ar thay stoken of sturne werk, stafful her hond.
Gawan watz glad to begynne those gomnez in halle, Bot thaygh the ende be heuy haf yghe no wonder; For thaygh men ben mery in mynde quen thay han mayn drynk, A yghere yghernes ful ygherne, and ygheldez neuer lyke, The forme to the fynisment foldez ful selden.
Forthi this Yghol oueryghede, and the yghere after, And vche sesoun serlepes sued after other: After Crystenmasse com the crabbed lentoun, That fraystez flesch wyth the fysche and fode more symple; Bot thenne the weder of the worlde wyth wynter hit threpez, Colde clengez adoun, cloudez vplyften, Schyre schedez the rayn in schowrez ful warme, Fallez vpon fayre flat, flowrez there schewen, Bothe groundez and the greuez grene ar her wedez, Bryddez busken to bylde, and bremlych syngen For solace of the softe somer that sues therafter bi bonk; And blossumez bolne to blowe Bi rawez rych and ronk, Then notez noble innoyghe Ar herde in wod so wlonk.
After the sesoun of somer wyth the soft wyndez Quen Zeferus syflez hymself on sedez and erbez, Wela wynne is the wort that waxes theroute, When the donkande dewe dropez of the leuez, To bide a blysful blusch of the bryyght sunne.
Bot then hyyghes heruest, and hardenes hym sone, Warnez hym for the wynter to wax ful rype; He dryues wyth droyght the dust for to ryse, Fro the face of the folde to flyyghe ful hyyghe; Wrothe wynde of the welkyn wrastelez with the sunne, The leuez lancen fro the lynde and lyyghten on the grounde, And al grayes the gres that grene watz ere; Thenne al rypez and rotez that ros vpon fyrst, And thus yghirnez the yghere in yghisterdayez mony, And wynter wyndez ayghayn, as the worlde askez, no fage, Til Meyghelmas mone Watygh cumen wyth wynter wage; Then thenkkez Gawan ful sone Of his anious uyage.
Yghet quyl Al-hal-day with Arther he lenges; And he made a fare on that fest for the frekez sake, With much reuel and ryche of the Rounde Table.
Knyyghtez ful cortays and comlych ladies Al for luf of that lede in longynge thay were, Bot neuer the lece ne the later thay neuened bot merthe: Mony ioylez for that ientyle iapez ther maden.
For aftter mete with mournyng he melez to his eme, And spekez of his passage, and pertly he sayde, "Now, lege lorde of my lyf, leue I yow ask; Yghe knowe the cost of this cace, kepe I no more To telle yow tenez therof neuer bot trifel; Bot I am boun to the bur barely to-morne To sech the gome of the grene, as God wyl me wysse.
" Thenne the best of the burygh boyghed togeder, Aywan, and Errik, and other ful mony, Sir Doddinaual de Sauage, the duk of Clarence, Launcelot, and Lyonel, and Lucan the gode, Sir Boos, and Sir Byduer, big men bothe, And mony other menskful, with Mador de la Port.
Alle this compayny of court com the kyng nerre For to counseyl the knyyght, with care at her hert.
There watz much derue doel driuen in the sale That so worthŽ as Wawan schulde wende on that ernde, To dryyghe a delful dynt, and dele no more wyth bronde.
The knyyght mad ay god chere, And sayde, "Quat schuld I wonde? Of destinŽs derf and dere What may mon do bot fonde?" He dowellez ther al that day, and dressez on the morn, Askez erly hys armez, and alle were thay broyght.
Fyrst a tulŽ tapit tyyght ouer the flet, And miche watz the gyld gere that glent theralofte; The stif mon steppez theron, and the stel hondelez, Dubbed in a dublet of a dere tars, And sythen a crafty capados, closed aloft, That wyth a bryyght blaunner was bounden withinne.
Thenne set thay the sabatounz vpon the segge fotez, His legez lapped in stel with luflych greuez, With polaynez piched therto, policed ful clene, Aboute his knez knaged wyth knotez of golde; Queme quyssewes then, that coyntlych closed His thik thrawen thyyghez, with thwonges to tachched; And sythen the brawden brynŽ of bryyght stel ryngez Vmbeweued that wyygh vpon wlonk stuffe, And wel bornyst brace vpon his bothe armes, With gode cowters and gay, and glouez of plate, And alle the godlych gere that hym gayn schulde that tyde; Wyth ryche cote-armure, His gold sporez spend with pryde, Gurde wyth a bront ful sure With silk sayn vmbe his syde.
When he watz hasped in armes, his harnays watz ryche: The lest lachet ouer loupe lemed of golde.
So harnayst as he watz he herknez his masse, Offred and honoured at the heyghe auter.
Sythen he comez to the kyng and to his cort-ferez, Lachez lufly his leue at lordez and ladyez; And thay hym kyst and conueyed, bikende hym to Kryst.
Bi that watz Gryngolet grayth, and gurde with a sadel That glemed ful gayly with mony golde frenges, Ayquere naylet ful nwe, for that note ryched; The brydel barred aboute, with bryyght golde bounden; The apparayl of the payttrure and of the proude skyrtez, The cropore and the couertor, acorded wyth the arsounez; And al watz rayled on red ryche golde naylez, That al glytered and glent as glem of the sunne.
Thenne hentes he the helme, and hastily hit kysses, That watz stapled stifly, and stoffed wythinne.
Hit watz hyyghe on his hede, hasped bihynde, Wyth a lyyghtly vrysoun ouer the auentayle, Enbrawden and bounden wyth the best gemmez On brode sylkyn borde, and bryddez on semez, As papiayez paynted peruyng bitwene, Tortors and trulofez entayled so thyk As mony burde theraboute had ben seuen wynter in toune.
The cercle watz more o prys That vmbeclypped hys croun, Of diamauntez a deuys That bothe were bryyght and broun.
THEN thay schewed hym the schelde, that was of schyr goulez Wyth the pentangel depaynt of pure golde hwez.
He braydez hit by the bauderyk, aboute the hals kestes, That bisemed the segge semlyly fayre.
And quy the pentangel apendez to that prynce noble I am in tent yow to telle, thof tary hyt me schulde: Hit is a syngne that Salamon set sumquyle In bytoknyng of trawthe, bi tytle that hit habbez, For hit is a figure that haldez fyue poyntez, And vche lyne vmbelappez and loukez in other, And ayquere hit is endelez; and Englych hit callen Oueral, as I here, the endeles knot.
Forthy hit acordez to this knyyght and to his cler armez, For ay faythful in fyue and sere fyue sythez Gawan watz for gode knawen, and as golde pured, Voyded of vche vylany, wyth vertuez ennourned in mote; Forthy the pentangel nwe He ber in schelde and cote, As tulk of tale most trwe And gentylest knyyght of lote.
Fyrst he watz funden fautlez in his fyue wyttez, And efte fayled neuer the freke in his fyue fyngres, And alle his afyaunce vpon folde watz in the fyue woundez That Cryst kayght on the croys, as the crede tellez; And quere-so-euer thys mon in melly watz stad, His thro thoyght watz in that, thurygh alle other thyngez, That alle his forsnes he feng at the fyue joyez That the hende heuen-quene had of hir chylde; At this cause the knyyght comlyche hade In the inore half of his schelde hir ymage depaynted, That quen he blusched therto his belde neuer payred.
The fyft fyue that I finde that the frek vsed Watz fraunchyse and felayghschyp forbe al thyng, His clannes and his cortaysye croked were neuer, And pitŽ, that passez alle poyntez, thyse pure fyue Were harder happed on that hathel then on any other.
Now alle these fyue sythez, for sothe, were fetled on this knyyght, And vchone halched in other, that non ende hade, And fyched vpon fyue poyntez, that fayld neuer, Ne samned neuer in no syde, ne sundred nouther, Withouten ende at any noke I oquere fynde, Whereeuer the gomen bygan, or glod to an ende.
Therfore on his schene schelde schapen watz the knot Ryally wyth red golde vpon rede gowlez, That is the pure pentaungel wyth the peple called with lore.
Now graythed is Gawan gay, And layght his launce ryyght thore, And gef hem alle goud day, He wende for euermore.
He sperred the sted with the spurez and sprong on his way, So stif that the ston-fyr stroke out therafter.
Al that seygh that semly syked in hert, And sayde sothly al same segges til other, Carande for that comly: "Bi Kryst, hit is scathe That thou, leude, schal be lost, that art of lyf noble! To fynde hys fere vpon folde, in fayth, is not ethe.
Warloker to haf wroyght had more wyt bene, And haf dyyght yghonder dere a duk to haue worthed; A lowande leder of ledez in londe hym wel semez, And so had better haf ben then britned to noyght, Hadet wyth an aluisch mon, for angardez pryde.
Who knew euer any kyng such counsel to take As knyyghtez in cauelaciounz on Crystmasse gomnez!" Wel much watz the warme water that waltered of yyghen, When that semly syre soyght fro tho wonez thad daye.
He made non abode, Bot wyyghtly went hys way; Mony wylsum way he rode, The bok as I herde say.
Now ridez this renk thurygh the ryalme of Logres, Sir Gauan, on Godez halue, thaygh hym no gomen thoyght.
Oft leudlez alone he lengez on nyyghtez Ther he fonde noyght hym byfore the fare that he lyked.
Hade he no fere bot his fole bi frythez and dounez, Ne no gome bot God bi gate wyth to karp, Til that he neyghed ful neghe into the Northe Walez.
Alle the iles of Anglesay on lyft half he haldez, And farez ouer the fordez by the forlondez, Ouer at the Holy Hede, til he hade eft bonk In the wyldrenesse of Wyrale; wonde ther bot lyte That auther God other gome wyth goud hert louied.
And ay he frayned, as he ferde, at frekez that he met, If thay hade herde any karp of a knyyght grene, In any grounde theraboute, of the grene chapel; And al nykked hym wyth nay, that neuer in her lyue Thay seyghe neuer no segge that watz of suche hwez of grene.
The knyyght tok gates straunge In mony a bonk vnbene, His cher ful oft con chaunge That chapel er he myyght sene.
Mony klyf he ouerclambe in contrayez straunge, Fer floten fro his frendez fremedly he rydez.
At vche warthe other water ther the wyyghe passed He fonde a foo hym byfore, bot ferly hit were, And that so foule and so felle that feyght hym byhode.
So mony meruayl bi mount ther the mon fyndez, Hit were to tore for to telle of the tenthe dole.
Sumwhyle wyth wormez he werrez, and with wolues als, Sumwhyle wyth wodwos, that woned in the knarrez, Bothe wyth bullez and berez, and borez otherquyle, And etaynez, that hym anelede of the heyghe felle; Nade he ben duyghty and dryyghe, and Dryyghtyn had serued, Douteles he hade ben ded and dreped ful ofte.
For werre wrathed hym not so much that wynter nas wors, When the colde cler water fro the cloudez schadde, And fres er hit falle myyght to the fale erthe; Ner slayn wyth the slete he sleped in his yrnes Mo nyyghtez then innoghe in naked rokkez, Ther as claterande fro the crest the colde borne rennez, And henged heyghe ouer his hede in hard iisse-ikkles.
Thus in peryl and payne and plytes ful harde Bi contray cayrez this knyyght, tyl Krystmasse euen, al one; The knyyght wel that tyde To Mary made his mone, That ho hym red to ryde And wysse hym to sum wone.
Bi a mounte on the morne meryly he rydes Into a forest ful dep, that ferly watz wylde, Hiyghe hillez on vche a halue, and holtwodez vnder Of hore okez ful hoge a hundreth togeder; The hasel and the hayghthorne were harled al samen, With royghe raged mosse rayled aywhere, With mony bryddez vnblythe vpon bare twyges, That pitosly ther piped for pyne of the colde.
The gome vpon Gryngolet glydez hem vnder, Thurygh mony misy and myre, mon al hym one, Carande for his costes, lest he ne keuer schulde To se the seruyse of that syre, that on that self nyyght Of a burde watz borne oure baret to quelle; And therfore sykyng he sayde, "I beseche the, lorde, And Mary, that is myldest moder so dere, Of sum herber ther heyghly I myyght here masse, Ande thy matynez to-morne, mekely I ask, And therto prestly I pray my pater and aue and crede.
" He rode in his prayere, And cryed for his mysdede, He sayned hym in sythes sere, And sayde "Cros Kryst me spede!" NADE he sayned hymself, segge, bot thrye, Er he watz war in the wod of a won in a mote, Abof a launde, on a lawe, loken vnder boyghez Of mony borelych bole aboute bi the diches: A castel the comlokest that euer knyyght ayghte, Pyched on a prayere, a park al aboute, With a pyked palays pyned ful thik, That vmbeteyghe mony tre mo then two myle.
That holde on that on syde the hathel auysed, As hit schemered and schon thurygh the schyre okez; Thenne hatz he hendly of his helme, and heyghly he thonkez Jesus and sayn Gilyan, that gentyle ar bothe, That cortaysly had hym kydde, and his cry herkened.
"Now bone hostel," cothe the burne, "I beseche yow yghette!" Thenne gerdez he to Gryngolet with the gilt helez, And he ful chauncely hatz chosen to the chef gate, That broyght bremly the burne to the bryge ende in haste.
The bryge watz breme vpbrayde, The yghatez wer stoken faste, The wallez were wel arayed, Hit dut no wyndez blaste.
The burne bode on blonk, that on bonk houed Of the depe double dich that drof to the place; The walle wod in the water wonderly depe, Ande eft a ful huge heyght hit haled vpon lofte Of harde hewen ston vp to the tablez, Enbaned vnder the abataylment in the best lawe; And sythen garytez ful gaye gered bitwene, Wyth mony luflych loupe that louked ful clene: A better barbican that burne blusched vpon neuer.
And innermore he behelde that halle ful hyyghe, Towres telded bytwene, trochet ful thik, Fayre fylyolez that fyyghed, and ferlyly long, With coruon coprounes craftyly sleyghe.
Chalkwhyt chymnees ther ches he innoyghe Vpon bastel rouez, that blenked ful quyte; So mony pynakle payntet watz poudred ayquere, Among the castel carnelez clambred so thik, That pared out of papure purely hit semed.
The fre freke on the fole hit fayr innoghe thoyght, If he myyght keuer to com the cloyster wythinne, To herber in that hostel whyl halyday lested, auinant.
He calde, and sone ther com A porter pure plesaunt, On the wal his ernd he nome, And haylsed the knyyght erraunt.
"Gode sir," quoth Gawan, "woldez thou go myn ernde To the heygh lorde of this hous, herber to craue?" "Yghe, Peter," quoth the porter, "and purely I trowee That yghe be, wyyghe, welcum to won quyle yow lykez.
" Then yghede the wyyghe ygherne and com ayghayn swythe, And folke frely hym wyth, to fonge the knyyght.
Thay let doun the grete drayght and derely out ygheden, And kneled doun on her knes vpon the colde erthe To welcum this ilk wyygh as worthy hom thoyght; Thay ygholden hym the brode yghate, ygharked vp wyde, And he hem raysed rekenly, and rod ouer the brygge.
Sere seggez hym sesed by sadel, quel he lyyght, And sythen stabeled his stede stif men innoyghe.
Knyyghtez and swyerez comen doun thenne For to bryng this buurne wyth blys into halle; Quen he hef vp his helme, ther hiyghed innoghe For to hent hit at his honde, the hende to seruen; His bronde and his blasoun bothe thay token.
Then haylsed he ful hendly tho hathelez vchone, And mony proud mon ther presed that prynce to honour.
Alle hasped in his heygh wede to halle thay hym wonnen, Ther fayre fyre vpon flet fersly brenned.
Thenne the lorde of the lede loutez fro his chambre For to mete wyth menske the mon on the flor; He sayde, "Yghe ar welcum to welde as yow lykez That here is; al is yowre awen, to haue at yowre wylle and welde.
" "Graunt mercy," quoth Gawayn, "Ther Kryst hit yow foryghelde.
" As frekez that semed fayn Ayther other in armez con felde.
Gawayn glyyght on the gome that godly hym gret, And thuyght hit a bolde burne that the burygh ayghte, A hoge hathel for the nonez, and of hyghe eldee; Brode, bryyght, watz his berde, and al beuer-hwed, Sturne, stif on the stryththe on stalworth schonkez, Felle face as the fyre, and fre of hys speche; And wel hym semed, for sothe, as the segge thuyght, To lede a lortschyp in lee of leudez ful gode.
The lorde hym charred to a chambre, and chefly cumaundez To delyuer hym a leude, hym loyghly to serue; And there were boun at his bode burnez innoyghe, That broyght hym to a bryyght boure, ther beddyng watz noble, Of cortynes of clene sylk wyth cler golde hemmez, And couertorez ful curious with comlych panez Of bryyght blaunner aboue, enbrawded bisydez, Rudelez rennande on ropez, red golde ryngez, Tapitez tyyght to the woyghe of tuly and tars, And vnder fete, on the flet, of folyghande sute.
Ther he watz dispoyled, wyth spechez of myerthe, The burn of his bruny and of his bryyght wedez.
Ryche robes ful rad renkkez hym broyghten, For to charge, and to chaunge, and chose of the best.
Sone as he on hent, and happed therinne, That sete on hym semly wyth saylande skyrtez, The ver by his uisage verayly hit semed Welneygh to vche hathel, alle on hwes Lowande and lufly alle his lymmez vnder, That a comloker knyyght neuer Kryst made hem thoyght.
Whethen in worlde he were, Hit semed as he moyght Be prynce withouten pere In felde ther felle men foyght.
A cheyer byfore the chemnŽ, ther charcole brenned, Watz graythed for Sir Gawan graythely with clothez, Whyssynes vpon queldepoyntes that koynt wer bothe; And thenne a merŽ mantyle watz on that mon cast Of a broun bleeaunt, enbrauded ful ryche And fayre furred wythinne with fellez of the best, Alle of ermyn in erde, his hode of the same; And he sete in that settel semlych ryche, And achaufed hym chefly, and thenne his cher mended.
Sone watz telded vp a tabil on trestez ful fayre, Clad wyth a clene clothe that cler quyt schewed, Sanap, and salure, and syluerin sponez.
The wyyghe wesche at his wylle, and went to his mete.
Seggez hym serued semly innoyghe Wyth sere sewes and sete, sesounde of the best.
Double-felde, as hit fallez, and fele kyn fischez, Summe baken in bred, summe brad on the gledez, Summe sothen, summe in sewe sauered with spyces, And ay sawes so sleyghe that the segge lyked.
The freke calde hit a fest ful frely and ofte Ful hendely, quen alle the hatheles rehayted hym at onez, "As hende, This penaunce now yghe take, And eft hit schal amende.
" That mon much merthe con make, For wyn in his hed that wende.
Thenne watz spyed and spured vpon spare wyse Bi preuŽ poyntez of that prynce, put to hymseluen, That he beknew cortaysly of the court that he were That athel Arthure the hende haldez hym one, That is the ryche ryal kyng of the Rounde Table, And hit watz Wawen hymself that in that won syttez, Comen to that Krystmasse, as case hym then lymped.
When the lorde hade lerned that he the leude hade, Loude layghed he therat, so lef hit hym thoyght, And alle the men in that mote maden much joye To apere in his presense prestly that tyme, That alle prys and prowes and pured thewes Apendes to hys persoun, and praysed is euer; Byfore alle men vpon molde his mensk is the most.
Vch segge ful softly sayde to his fere: "Now schal we semlych se sleyghtez of thewez And the teccheles termes of talkyng noble, Wich spede is in speche vnspurd may we lerne, Syn we haf fonged that fyne fader of nurture.
God hatz geuen vus his grace godly for sothe, That such a gest as Gawan grauntez vus to haue, When burnez blythe of his burthe schal sitte and synge.
In menyng of manerez mere This burne now schal vus bryng, I hope that may hym here Schal lerne of luf-talkyng.
" Bi that the diner watz done and the dere vp Hit watz neygh at the niyyght neyghed the tyme.
Chaplaynez to the chapeles chosen the gate, Rungen ful rychely, ryyght as thay schulden, To the hersum euensong of the hyyghe tyde.
The lorde loutes therto, and the lady als, Into a cumly closet coyntly ho entrez.
Gawan glydez ful gay and gos theder sone; The lorde laches hym by the lappe and ledez hym to sytte, And couthly hym knowez and callez hym his nome, And sayde he watz the welcomest wyyghe of the worlde; And he hym thonkked throly, and ayther halched other, And seten soberly samen the seruise quyle.
Thenne lyst the lady to loke on the knyyght, Thenne com ho of hir closet with mony cler burdez.
Ho watz the fayrest in felle, of flesche and of lyre, And of compas and colour and costes, of alle other, And wener then Wenore, as the wyyghe thoyght.
Ho ches thurygh the chaunsel to cheryche that hende.
An other lady hir lad bi the lyft honde, That watz alder then ho, an auncian hit semed, And heyghly honowred with hathelez aboute.
Bot vnlyke on to loke tho ladyes were, For if the yghonge watz yghep, ygholyghe watz that other; Riche red on that on rayled ayquere, Rugh ronkled chekez that other on rolled; Kerchofes of that on, wyth mony cler perlez, Hir brest and hir bryyght throte bare displayed, Schon schyrer then snawe that schedez on hillez; That other wyth a gorger watz gered ouer the swyre, Chymbled ouer hir blake chyn with chalkquyte vayles, Hir frount folden in sylk, enfoubled ayquere, Toreted and treleted with tryflez aboute, That noyght watz bare of that burde bot the blake broyghes, The tweyne yyghen and the nase, the naked lyppez, And those were soure to se and sellyly blered; A mensk lady on molde mon may hir calle, for Gode! Hir body watz schort and thik, Hir buttokez balygh and brode, More lykkerwys on to lyk Watz that scho hade on lode.
When Gawayn glyyght on that gay, that graciously loked, Wyth leue layght of the lorde he lent hem ayghaynes; The alder he haylses, heldande ful lowe, The loueloker he lappez a lyttel in armez, He kysses hir comlyly, and knyyghtly he melez.
Thay kallen hym of aquoyntaunce, and he hit quyk askez To be her seruaunt sothly, if hemself lyked.
Thay tan hym bytwene hem, wyth talkyng hym leden To chambre, to chemnŽ, and chefly thay asken Spycez, that vnsparely men speded hom to bryng, And the wynnelych wyne therwith vche tyme.
The lorde luflych aloft lepez ful ofte, Mynned merthe to be made vpon mony sythez, Hent heyghly of his hode, and on a spere henged, And wayned hom to wynne the worchip therof, That most myrthe myyght meue that Crystenmas whyle-- "And I schal fonde, bi my fayth, to fylter wyth the best Er me wont the wede, with help of my frendez.
" Thus wyth layghande lotez the lorde hit tayt makez, For to glade Sir Gawayn with gomnez in halle that nyyght, Til that hit watz tyme The lord comaundet lyyght; Sir Gawen his leue con nyme And to his bed hym diyght.
On the morne, as vch mon mynez that tyme That Dryyghtyn for oure destynŽ to deyghe watz borne, Wele waxez in vche a won in worlde for his sake; So did hit there on that day thurygh dayntŽs mony: Bothe at mes and at mele messes ful quaynt Derf men vpon dece drest of the best.
The olde auncian wyf heyghest ho syttez, The lorde lufly her by lent, as I trowe; Gawan and the gay burde togeder thay seten, Euen inmyddez, as the messe metely come, And sythen thurygh al the sale as hem best semed.
Bi vche grome at his degrŽ graythely watz serued Ther watz mete, ther watz myrthe, ther watz much ioye, That for to telle therof hit me tene were, And to poynte hit yghet I pyned me parauenture.
Bot yghet I wot that Wawen and the wale burde Such comfort of her compaynye cayghten togeder Thurygh her dere dalyaunce of her derne wordez, Wyth clene cortays carp closed fro fylthe, That hor play watz passande vche prynce gomen, in vayres.
Trumpez and nakerys, Much pypyng ther repayres; Vche mon tented hys, And thay two tented thayres.
Much dut watz ther dryuen that day and that other, And the thryd as thro thronge in therafter; The ioye of sayn Jonez day watz gentyle to here, And watz the last of the layk, leudez ther thoyghten.
Ther wer gestes to go vpon the gray morne, Forthy wonderly thay woke, and the wyn dronken, Daunsed ful dreyghly wyth dere carolez.
At the last, when hit watz late, thay lachen her leue, Vchon to wende on his way that watz wyyghe stronge.
Gawan gef hym god day, the godmon hym lachchez, Ledes hym to his awen chambre, the chymnŽ bysyde, And there he drayghez hym on dryyghe, and derely hym thonkkez Of the wynne worschip that he hym wayued hade, As to honour his hous on that hyyghe tyde, And enbelyse his burygh with his bele chere: "Iwysse sir, quyl I leue, me worthez the better That Gawayn hatz ben my gest at Goddez awen fest.
" "Grant merci, sir," quoth Gawayn, "in god fayth hit is yowrez, Al the honour is your awen--the heyghe kyng yow yghelde! And I am wyyghe at your wylle to worch youre hest, As I am halden therto, in hyyghe and in loyghe, bi riyght.
" The lorde fast can hym payne To holde lenger the knyyght; To hym answarez Gawayn Bi non way that he myyght.
Then frayned the freke ful fayre at himseluen Quat derue dede had hym dryuen at that dere tyme So kenly fro the kyngez kourt to kayre al his one, Er the halidayez holly were halet out of toun.
"For sothe, sir," quoth the segge, "yghe sayn bot the trawthe, A heyghe ernde and a hasty me hade fro tho wonez, For I am sumned myselfe to sech to a place, I ne wot in worlde whederwarde to wende hit to fynde.
I nolde bot if I hit negh myyght on Nw Ygheres morne For alle the londe inwyth Logres, so me oure lorde help! Forthy, sir, this enquest I require yow here, That yghe me telle with trawthe if euer yghe tale herde Of the grene chapel, quere hit on grounde stondez, And of the knyyght that hit kepes, of colour of grene.
Ther watz stabled bi statut a steuen vus bytwene To mete that mon at that mere, yghif I myyght last; And of that ilk Nw Yghere bot neked now wontez, And I wolde loke on that lede, if God me let wolde, Gladloker, bi Goddez sun, then any god welde! Forthi, iwysse, bi yghowre wylle, wende me bihoues, Naf I now to busy bot bare thre dayez, And me als fayn to falle feye as fayly of myyn ernde.
" Thenne layghande quoth the lorde, "Now leng the byhoues, For I schal teche yow to that terme bi the tymez ende, The grene chapayle vpon grounde greue yow no more; Bot yghe schal be in yowre bed, burne, at thyn ese, Quyle forth dayez, and ferk on the fyrst of the yghere, And cum to that merk at mydmorn, to make quat yow likez in spenne.
Dowellez whyle New Ygheres daye, And rys, and raykez thenne, Mon schal yow sette in waye, Hit is not two myle henne.
" Thenne watz Gawan ful glad, and gomenly he layghed: "Now I thonk yow thryuandely thurygh alle other thynge, Now acheued is my chaunce, I schal at your wylle Dowelle, and ellez do quat yghe demen.
" Thenne sesed hym the syre and set hym bysyde, Let the ladiez be fette to lyke hem the better.
Ther watz seme solace by hemself stille; The lorde let for luf lotez so myry, As wyygh that wolde of his wyte, ne wyst quat he myyght.
Thenne he carped to the knyyght, criande loude, "Yghe han demed to do the dede that I bidde; Wyl yghe halde this hes here at thys onez?" "Yghe, sir, for sothe," sayd the segge trwe, "Whyl I byde in yowre boryghe, be bayn to yghowre hest.
" "For yghe haf trauayled," quoth the tulk, "towen fro ferre, And sythen waked me wyth, yghe arn not wel waryst Nauther of sostnaunce ne of slepe, sothly I knowe; Yghe schal lenge in your lofte, and lyyghe in your ese To-morn quyle the messequyle, and to mete wende When yghe wyl, wyth my wyf, that wyth yow schal sitte And comfort yow with compayny, til I to cort torne; yghe lende, And I schal erly ryse, On huntyng wyl I wende.
" Gauayn grantez alle thyse, Hym heldande, as the hende.
"Yghet firre," quoth the freke, "a forwarde we make: Quat-so-euer I wynne in the wod hit worthez to yourez, And quat chek so yghe acheue chaunge me therforne.
Swete, swap we so, sware with trawthe, Quether, leude, so lymp, lere other better.
" "Bi God," quoth Gawayn the gode, "I grant thertylle, And that yow lyst for to layke, lef hit me thynkes.
" "Who bryngez vus this beuerage, this bargayn is maked": So sayde the lorde of that lede; thay layghed vchone, Thay dronken and daylyeden and dalten vntyyghtel, Thise lordez and ladyez, quyle that hem lyked; And sythen with Frenkysch fare and fele fayre lotez Thay stoden and stemed and stylly speken, Kysten ful comlyly and kayghten her leue.
With mony leude ful lyyght and lemande torches Vche burne to his bed watz broyght at the laste, ful softe.
To bed yghet er thay yghede, Recorded couenauntez ofte; The olde lorde of that leude Cowthe wel halde layk alofte.
PART III Ful erly bifore the day the folk vprysen, Gestes that go wolde hor gromez thay calden, And thay busken vp bilyue blonkkez to sadel, Tyffen her takles, trussen her males, Richen hem the rychest, to ryde alle arayde, Lepen vp lyyghtly, lachen her brydeles, Vche wyyghe on his way ther hym wel lyked.
The leue lorde of the londe watz not the last Arayed for the rydyng, with renkkez ful mony; Ete a sop hastyly, when he hade herde masse, With bugle to bent-felde he buskez bylyue.
By that any daylyyght lemed vpon erthe He with his hatheles on hyyghe horsses weren.
Thenne thise cacheres that couthe cowpled hor houndez, Vnclosed the kenel dore and calde hem theroute, Blwe bygly in buglez thre bare mote; Braches bayed therfore and breme noyse maked; And thay chastysed and charred on chasyng that went, A hundreth of hunteres, as I haf herde telle, of the best.
To trystors vewters yghod, Couples huntes of kest; Ther ros for blastez gode Gret rurd in that forest.
At the fyrst quethe of the quest quaked the wylde; Der drof in the dale, doted for drede, Hiyghed to the hyyghe, bot heterly thay were Restayed with the stablye, that stoutly ascryed.
Thay let the herttez haf the gate, with the hyyghe hedes, The breme bukkez also with hor brode paumez; For the fre lorde hade defende in fermysoun tyme That ther schulde no mon meue to the male dere.
The hindez were halden in with hay! and war! The does dryuen with gret dyn to the depe sladez; Ther myyght mon se, as thay slypte, slentyng of arwes-- At vche wende vnder wande wapped a flone-- That bigly bote on the broun with ful brode hedez.
What! thay brayen, and bleden, bi bonkkez thay deyghen, And ay rachches in a res radly hem folyghes, Hunterez wyth hyyghe horne hasted hem after Wyth such a crakkande kry as klyffes haden brusten.
What wylde so atwaped wyyghes that schotten Watz al toraced and rent at the resayt, Bi thay were tened at the hyyghe and taysed to the wattrez; The ledez were so lerned at the loyghe trysteres, And the grehoundez so grete, that geten hem bylyue And hem tofylched, as fast as frekez myyght loke, ther-ryyght.
The lorde for blys abloy Ful oft con launce and lyyght, And drof that day wyth joy Thus to the derk nyyght.
Thus laykez this lorde by lynde-wodez euez, And Gawayn the god mon in gay bed lygez, Lurkkez quyl the daylyyght lemed on the wowes, Vnder couertour ful clere, cortyned aboute; And as in slomeryng he slode, sleyghly he herde A littel dyn at his dor, and dernly vpon; And he heuez vp his hed out of the clothes, A corner of the cortyn he cayght vp a lyttel, And waytez warly thiderwarde quat hit be myyght.
Hit watz the ladi, loflyest to beholde, That droygh the dor after hir ful dernly and stylle, And boyghed towarde the bed; and the burne schamed, And layde hym doun lystyly, and let as he slepte; And ho stepped stilly and stel to his bedde, Kest vp the cortyn and creped withinne, And set hir ful softly on the bed-syde, And lenged there selly longe to loke quen he wakened.
The lede lay lurked a ful longe quyle, Compast in his concience to quat that cace myyght Meue other amount--to meruayle hym thoyght, Bot yghet he sayde in hymself, "More semly hit were To aspye wyth my spelle in space quat ho wolde.
" Then he wakenede, and wroth, and to hir warde torned, And vnlouked his yyghe-lyddez, and let as hym wondered, And sayned hym, as bi his sayghe the sauer to worthe, with hande.
Wyth chynne and cheke ful swete, Bothe quit and red in blande, Ful lufly con ho lete Wyth lyppez smal layghande.
"God moroun, Sir Gawayn," sayde that gay lady, "Yghe ar a sleper vnslyyghe, that mon may slyde hider; Now ar yghe tan as-tyt! Bot true vus may schape, I schal bynde yow in your bedde, that be yghe trayst": Al layghande the lady lanced tho bourdez.
"Goud moroun, gay," quoth Gawayn the blythe, "Me schal worthe at your wille, and that me wel lykez, For I yghelde me yghederly, and ygheyghe after grace, And that is the best, be my dome, for me byhouez nede": And thus he bourded ayghayn with mony a blythe layghter.
"Bot wolde yghe, lady louely, then leue me grante, And deprece your prysoun, and pray hym to ryse, I wolde boyghe of this bed, and busk me better; I schulde keuer the more comfort to karp yow wyth.
" "Nay for sothe, beau sir," sayd that swete, "Yghe schal not rise of your bedde, I rych yow better, I schal happe yow here that other half als, And sythen karp wyth my knyyght that I kayght haue; For I wene wel, iwysse, Sir Wowen yghe are, That alle the worlde worchipez quere-so yghe ride; Your honour, your hendelayk is hendely praysed With lordez, wyth ladyes, with alle that lyf bere.
And now yghe ar here, iwysse, and we bot oure one; My lorde and his ledez ar on lenthe faren, Other burnez in her bedde, and my burdez als, The dor drawen and dit with a derf haspe; And sythen I haue in this hous hym that al lykez, I schal ware my whyle wel, quyl hit lastez, with tale.
Yghe ar welcum to my cors, Yowre awen won to wale, Me behouez of fyne force Your seruaunt be, and schale.
" "In god fayth," quoth Gawayn, "gayn hit me thynkkez, Thaygh I be not now he that yghe of speken; To reche to such reuerence as yghe reherce here I am wyyghe vnworthy, I wot wel myseluen.
Bi God, I were glad, and yow god thoyght, At sayghe other at seruyce that I sette myyght To the plesaunce of your prys--hit were a pure ioye.
" "In god fayth, Sir Gawayn," quoth the gay lady, "The prys and the prowes that plesez al other, If I hit lakked other set at lyyght, hit were littel dayntŽ; Bot hit ar ladyes innoyghe that leuer wer nowthe Haf the, hende, in hor holde, as I the habbe here, To daly with derely your dayntŽ wordez, Keuer hem comfort and colen her carez, Then much of the garysoun other golde that thay hauen.
Bot I louue that ilk lorde that the lyfte haldez, I haf hit holly in my honde that al desyres, thuryghe grace.
" Scho made hym so gret chere, That watz so fayr of face, The knyyght with speches skere Answared to vche a cace.
"Madame," quoth the myry mon, "Mary yow yghelde, For I haf founden, in god fayth, yowre fraunchis nobele, And other ful much of other folk fongen bi hor dedez, Bot the dayntŽ that thay delen, for my disert nys euen, Hit is the worchyp of yourself, that noyght bot wel connez.
" "Bi Mary," quoth the menskful, "me thynk hit an other; For were I worth al the wone of wymmen alyue, And al the wele of the worlde were in my honde, And I schulde chepen and chose to cheue me a lorde, For the costes that I haf knowen vpon the, knyyght, here, Of bewtŽ and debonertŽ and blythe semblaunt, And that I haf er herkkened and halde hit here trwee, Ther schulde no freke vpon folde bifore yow be chosen.
" "Iwysse, worthy," quoth the wyyghe, "yghe haf waled wel better, Bot I am proude of the prys that yghe put on me, And, soberly your seruaunt, my souerayn I holde yow, And yowre knyyght I becom, and Kryst yow foryghelde.
" Thus thay meled of muchquat til mydmorn paste, And ay the lady let lyk as hym loued mych; The freke ferde with defence, and feted ful fayre-- "Thaygh I were burde bryyghtest," the burde in mynde hade.
The lasse luf in his lode for lur that he soyght boute hone, The dunte that schulde hym deue, And nedez hit most be done.
The lady thenn spek of leue, He granted hir ful sone.
Thenne ho gef hym god day, and wyth a glent layghed, And as ho stod, ho stonyed hym wyth ful stor wordez: "Now he that spedez vche spech this disport yghelde yow! Bot that yghe be Gawan, hit gotz in mynde.
" "Querfore?" quoth the freke, and freschly he askez, Ferde lest he hade fayled in fourme of his castes; Bot the burde hym blessed, and "Bi this skyl" sayde: "So god as Gawayn gaynly is halden, And cortaysye is closed so clene in hymseluen, Couth not lyyghtly haf lenged so long wyth a lady, Bot he had craued a cosse, bi his courtaysye, Bi sum towch of summe tryfle at sum talez ende.
" Then quoth Wowen: "Iwysse, worthe as yow lykez; I schal kysse at your comaundement, as a knyyght fallez, And fire, lest he displese yow, so plede hit no more.
" Ho comes nerre with that, and cachez hym in armez, Loutez luflych adoun and the leude kyssez.
Thay comly bykennen to Kryst ayther other; Ho dos hir forth at the dore withouten dyn more; And he ryches hym to ryse and rapes hym sone, Clepes to his chamberlayn, choses his wede, Boyghez forth, quen he watz boun, blythely to masse; And thenne he meued to his mete that menskly hym keped, And made myry al day, til the mone rysed, with game.
Watz neuer freke fayrer fonge Bitwene two so dyngne dame, The alder and the yghonge; Much solace set thay same.
And ay the lorde of the londe is lent on his gamnez, To hunt in holtez and hethe at hyndez barayne; Such a sowme he ther slowe bi that the sunne heldet, Of dos and of other dere, to deme were wonder.
Thenne fersly thay flokked in folk at the laste, And quykly of the quelled dere a querrŽ thay maked.
The best boyghed therto with burnez innoghe, Gedered the grattest of gres that ther were, And didden hem derely vndo as the dede askez; Serched hem at the asay summe that ther were, Two fyngeres thay fonde of the fowlest of alle.
Sythen thay slyt the slot, sesed the erber, Schaued wyth a scharp knyf, and the schyre knitten; Sythen rytte thay the foure lymmes, and rent of the hyde, Then brek thay the balŽ, the bowelez out token Lystily for laucyng the lere of the knot; Thay gryped to the gargulun, and graythely departed The wesaunt fro the wynt-hole, and walt out the guttez; Then scher thay out the schulderez with her scharp knyuez, Haled hem by a lyttel hole to haue hole sydes.
Sithen britned thay the brest and brayden hit in twynne, And eft at the gargulun bigynez on thenne, Ryuez hit vp radly ryyght to the byyght, Voydez out the avanters, and verayly therafter Alle the rymez by the rybbez radly thay lance; So ryde thay of by resoun bi the rygge bonez, Euenden to the haunche, that henged alle samen, And heuen hit vp al hole, and hwen hit of there, And that thay neme for the noumbles bi nome, as I trowe, bi kynde; Bi the byyght al of the thyyghes The lappez thay lance bihynde; To hewe hit in two thay hyyghes, Bi the bakbon to vnbynde.
Bothe the hede and the hals thay hwen of thenne, And sythen sunder thay the sydez swyft fro the chyne, And the corbeles fee thay kest in a greue; Thenn thurled thay ayther thik side thurygh bi the rybbe, And henged thenne ayther bi hoyghez of the fourchez, Vche freke for his fee, as fallez for to haue.
Vpon a felle of the fayre best fede thay thayr houndes Wyth the lyuer and the lyyghtez, the lether of the paunchez, And bred bathed in blod blende theramongez.
Baldely thay blw prys, bayed thayr rachchez, Sythen fonge thay her flesche, folden to home, Strakande ful stoutly mony stif motez.
Bi that the daylyyght watz done the douthe watz al wonen Into the comly castel, ther the knyyght bidez ful stille, Wyth blys and bryyght fyr bette.
The lorde is comen thertylle; When Gawayn wyth hym mette Ther watz bot wele at wylle.
Thenne comaunded the lorde in that sale to samen alle the meny, Bothe the ladyes on loghe to lyyght with her burdes Bifore alle the folk on the flette, frekez he beddez Verayly his venysoun to fech hym byforne, And al godly in gomen Gawayn he called, Techez hym to the tayles of ful tayt bestes, Schewez hym the schyree grece schorne vpon rybbes.
"How payez yow this play? Haf I prys wonnen? Haue I thryuandely thonk thurygh my craft serued?" "Yghe iwysse," quoth that other wyyghe, "here is wayth fayrest That I seygh this seuen yghere in sesoun of wynter.
" "And al I gif yow, Gawayn," quoth the gome thenne, "For by acorde of couenaunt yghe craue hit as your awen.
" "This is soth," quoth the segge, "I say yow that ilke: That I haf worthyly wonnen this wonez wythinne, Iwysse with as god wylle hit worthez to yghourez.
" He hasppez his fayre hals his armez wythinne, And kysses hym as comlyly as he couthe awyse: "Tas yow there my cheuicaunce, I cheued no more; I wowche hit saf fynly, thaygh feler hit were.
" "Hit is god," quoth the godmon, "grant mercy therfore.
Hit may be such hit is the better, and yghe me breue wolde Where yghe wan this ilk wele bi wytte of yorseluen.
" "That watz not forward," quoth he, "frayst me no more.
For yghe haf tan that yow tydez, trawe non other yghe mowe.
" Thay layghed, and made hem blythe Wyth lotez that were to lowe; To soper thay yghede as-swythe, Wyth dayntŽs nwe innowe.
And sythen by the chymnŽ in chamber thay seten, Wyyghez the walle wyn weyghed to hem oft, And efte in her bourdyng thay baythen in the morn To fylle the same forwardez that thay byfore maden: Wat chaunce so bytydez hor cheuysaunce to chaunge, What nwez so thay nome, at nayght quen thay metten.
Thay acorded of the couenauntez byfore the court alle; The beuerage watz broyght forth in bourde at that tyme, Thenne thay louelych leyghten leue at the last, Vche burne to his bedde busked bylyue.
Bi that the coke hade crowen and cakled bot thryse, The lorde watz lopen of his bedde, the leudez vchone; So that the mete and the masse watz metely delyuered, The douthe dressed to the wod, er any day sprenged, to chace; Heygh with hunte and hornez Thurygh playnez thay passe in space, Vncoupled among tho thornez Rachez that ran on race.
SONE thay calle of a quest in a ker syde, The hunt rehayted the houndez that hit fyrst mynged, Wylde wordez hym warp wyth a wrast noyce; The howndez that hit herde hastid thider swythe, And fellen as fast to the fuyt, fourty at ones; Thenne such a glauer ande glam of gedered rachchez Ros, that the rocherez rungen aboute; Hunterez hem hardened with horne and wyth muthe.
Then al in a semblŽ sweyed togeder, Bitwene a flosche in that fryth and a foo cragge; In a knot bi a clyffe, at the kerre syde, Ther as the rogh rocher vnrydely watz fallen, Thay ferden to the fyndyng, and frekez hem after; Thay vmbekesten the knarre and the knot bothe, Wyyghez, whyl thay wysten wel wythinne hem hit were, The best that ther breued watz wyth the blodhoundez.
Thenne thay beten on the buskez, and bede hym vpryse, And he vnsoundyly out soyght seggez ouerthwert; On the sellokest swyn swenged out there, Long sythen fro the sounder that siyghed for olde, For he watz breme, bor alther-grattest, Ful grymme quen he gronyed; thenne greued mony, For thre at the fyrst thrast he thryyght to the erthe, And sparred forth good sped boute spyt more.
Thise other halowed hyghe! ful hyyghe, and hay! hay! cryed, Haden hornez to mouthe, heterly rechated; Mony watz the myry mouthe of men and of houndez That buskkez after this bor with bost and wyth noyse to quelle.
Ful oft he bydez the baye, And maymez the mute inn melle; He hurtez of the houndez, and thay Ful yghomerly yghaule and yghelle.
Schalkez to schote at hym schowen to thenne, Haled to hym of her arewez, hitten hym oft; Bot the poyntez payred at the pyth that pyyght in his scheldez, And the barbez of his browe bite non wolde-- Thaygh the schauen schaft schyndered in pecez, The hede hypped ayghayn were-so-euer hit hitte.
Bot quen the dyntez hym dered of her dryyghe strokez, Then, braynwod for bate, on burnez he rasez, Hurtez hem ful heterly ther he forth hyyghez, And mony aryghed therat, and on lyte droyghen.
Bot the lorde on a lyyght horce launces hym after, As burne bolde vpon bent his bugle he blowez, He rechated, and rode thurygh ronez ful thyk, Suande this wylde swyn til the sunne schafted.
This day wyth this ilk dede thay dryuen on this wyse, Whyle oure luflych lede lys in his bedde, Gawayn graythely at home, in gerez ful ryche of hewe.
The lady noyght foryghate, Com to hym to salue; Ful erly ho watz hym ate His mode for to remwe.
Ho commes to the cortyn, and at the knyyght totes.
Sir Wawen her welcumed worthy on fyrst, And ho hym ygheldez ayghayn ful ygherne of hir wordez, Settez hir softly by his syde, and swythely ho layghez, And wyth a luflych loke ho layde hym thyse wordez: "Sir, yghif yghe be Wawen, wonder me thynkkez, Wyyghe that is so wel wrast alway to god, And connez not of compaynye the costez vndertake, And if mon kennes yow hom to knowe, yghe kest hom of your mynde; Thou hatz forygheten yghederly that yghisterday I tayghtte Bi alder-truest token of talk that I cowthe.
" "What is that?" quoth the wyghe, "Iwysse I wot neuer; If hit be sothe that yghe breue, the blame is myn awen.
" "Yghet I kende yow of kyssyng," quoth the clere thenne, "Quere-so countenaunce is couthe quikly to clayme; That bicumes vche a knyyght that cortaysy vses.
" "Do way," quoth that derf mon, "my dere, that speche, For that durst I not do, lest I deuayed were; If I were werned, I were wrang, iwysse, yghif I profered.
" "Ma fay," quoth the merŽ wyf, "yghe may not be werned, Yghe ar stif innoghe to constrayne wyth strenkthe, yghif yow lykez, Yghif any were so vilanous that yow devaye wolde.
" "Yghe, be God," quoth Gawayn, "good is your speche, Bot threte is vnthryuande in thede ther I lende, And vche gift that is geuen not with goud wylle.
I am at your comaundement, to kysse quen yow lykez, Yghe may lach quen yow lyst, and leue quen yow thynkkez, in space.
" The lady loutez adoun, And comlyly kysses his face, Much speche thay ther expoun Of druryes greme and grace.
"I woled wyt at yow, wyyghe," that worthy ther sayde, "And yow wrathed not therwyth, what were the skylle That so yghong and so yghepe as yghe at this tyme, So cortayse, so knyyghtly, as yghe ar knowen oute-- And of alle cheualry to chose, the chef thyng alosed Is the lel layk of luf, the lettrure of armes; For to telle of this teuelyng of this trwe knyyghtez, Hit is the tytelet token and tyxt of her werkkez, How ledes for her lele luf hor lyuez han auntered, Endured for her drury dulful stoundez, And after wenged with her walour and voyded her care, And broyght blysse into boure with bountees hor awen-- And yghe ar knyyght comlokest kyd of your elde, Your worde and your worchip walkez ayquere, And I haf seten by yourself here sere twyes, Yghet herde I neuer of your hed helde no wordez That euer longed to luf, lasse ne more; And yghe, that ar so cortays and coynt of your hetes, Oghe to a yghonke thynk yghern to schewe And teche sum tokenez of trweluf craftes.
Why! ar yghe lewed, that alle the los weldez? Other elles yghe demen me to dille your dalyaunce to herken? For schame! I com hider sengel, and sitte To lerne at yow sum game; Dos, techez me of your wytte, Whil my lorde is fro hame.
" "In goud faythe," quoth Gawayn, "God yow foryghelde! Gret is the gode gle, and gomen to me huge, That so worthy as yghe wolde wynne hidere, And pyne yow with so pouer a mon, as play wyth your knyyght With anyskynnez countenaunce, hit keuerez me ese; Bot to take the toruayle to myself to trwluf expoun, And towche the temez of tyxt and talez of armez To yow that, I wot wel, weldez more slyyght Of that art, bi the half, or a hundreth of seche As I am, other euer schal, in erde ther I leue, Hit were a folŽ felefolde, my fre, by my trawthe.
I wolde yowre wylnyng worche at my myyght, As I am hyyghly bihalden, and euermore wylle Be seruaunt to yourseluen, so saue me Dryyghtyn!" Thus hym frayned that fre, and fondet hym ofte, For to haf wonnen hym to woyghe, what-so scho thoyght ellez; Bot he defended hym so fayr that no faut semed, Ne non euel on nawther halue, nawther thay wysten bot blysse.
Thay layghed and layked longe; At the last scho con hym kysse, Hir leue fayre con scho fonge And went hir waye, iwysse.
The ruthes hym the renk and ryses to the masse, And sithen hor diner watz dyyght and derely serued.
The lede with the ladyez layked alle day, Bot the lorde ouer the londez launced ful ofte, Swez his vncely swyn, that swyngez bi the bonkkez And bote the best of his brachez the bakkez in sunder Ther he bode in his bay, tel bawemen hit breken, And madee hym mawgref his hed for to mwe vtter, So felle flonez ther flete when the folk gedered.
Bot yghet the styffest to start bi stoundez he made, Til at the last he watz so mat he myyght no more renne, Bot in the hast that he myyght he to a hole wynnez Of a rasse bi a rokk ther rennez the boerne.
He gete the bonk at his bak, bigynez to scrape, The frothe femed at his mouth vnfayre bi the wykez, Whettez his whyte tuschez; with hym then irked Alle the burnez so bolde that hym by stoden To nye hym on-ferum, bot neyghe hym non durst for wothe; He hade hurt so mony byforne That al thuyght thenne ful lothe Be more wyth his tusches torne, That breme watz and braynwod bothe, Til the knyyght com hymself, kachande his blonk, Syygh hym byde at the bay, his burnez bysyde; He lyyghtes luflych adoun, leuez his corsour, Braydez out a bryyght bront and bigly forth strydez, Foundez fast thurygh the forth ther the felle bydez.
The wylde watz war of the wyyghe with weppen in honde, Hef hyyghly the here, so hetterly he fnast That fele ferde for the freke, lest felle hym the worre.
The swyn settez hym out on the segge euen, That the burne and the bor were bothe vpon hepez In the wyyghtest of the water; the worre hade that other, For the mon merkkez hym wel, as thay mette fyrst, Set sadly the scharp in the slot euen, Hit hym vp to the hult, that the hert schyndered, And he ygharrande hym yghelde, and yghedoun the water ful tyt.
A hundreth houndez hym hent, That bremely con hym bite, Burnez him broyght to bent, And doggez to dethe endite.
There watz blawyng of prys in mony breme horne, Heyghe halowing on hiyghe with hathelez that myyght; Brachetes bayed that best, as bidden the maysterez Of that chargeaunt chace that were chef huntes.
Thenne a wyyghe that watz wys vpon wodcraftez To vnlace this bor lufly bigynnez.
Fyrst he hewes of his hed and on hiyghe settez, And sythen rendez him al roghe bi the rygge after, Braydez out the boweles, brennez hom on glede, With bred blent therwith his braches rewardez.
Sythen he britnez out the brawen in bryyght brode cheldez, And hatz out the hastlettez, as hiyghtly bisemez; And yghet hem halchez al hole the haluez togeder, And sythen on a stif stange stoutly hem henges.
Now with this ilk swyn thay swengen to home; The bores hed watz borne bifore the burnes seluen That him forferde in the forthe thurygh forse of his honde so stronge.
Til he seygh Sir Gawayne In halle hym poyght ful longe; He calde, and he com gayn His feez ther for to fonge.
The lorde ful lowde with lote and layghter myry, When he seyghe Sir Gawayn, with solace he spekez; The goude ladyez were geten, and gedered the meyny, He schewez hem the scheldez, and schapes hem the tale Of the largesse and the lenthe, the lithernez alse Of the were of the wylde swyn in wod ther he fled.
That other knyyght ful comly comended his dedez, And praysed hit as gret prys that he proued hade, For suche a brawne of a best, the bolde burne sayde, Ne such sydes of a swyn segh he neuer are.
Thenne hondeled thay the hoge hed, the hende mon hit praysed, And let lodly therat the lorde for to here.
"Now, Gawayn," quoth the godmon, "this gomen is your awen Bi fyn forwarde and faste, faythely yghe knowe.
" "Hit is sothe," quoth the segge, "and as siker trwe Alle my get I schal yow gif agayn, bi my trawthe.
" He hent the hathel aboute the halse, and hendely hym kysses, And eftersones of the same he serued hym there.
"Now ar we euen," quoth the hathel, "in this euentide Of alle the couenauntes that we knyt, sythen I com hider, bi lawe.
" The lorde sayde, "Bi saynt Gile, Yghe ar the best that I knowe! Yghe ben ryche in a whyle, Such chaffer and yghe drowe.
" Thenne thay teldet tablez trestes alofte, Kesten clothen vpon; clere lyyght thenne Wakned bi woyghez, waxen torches; Seggez sette and serued in sale al aboute; Much glam and gle glent vp therinne Aboute the fyre vpon flet, and on fele wyse At the soper and after, mony athel songez, As coundutes of Krystmasse and carolez newe With al the manerly merthe that mon may of telle, And euer oure luflych knyyght the lady bisyde.
Such semblaunt to that segge semly ho made Wyth stille stollen countenaunce, that stalworth to plese, That al forwondered watz the wyyghe, and wroth with hymseluen, Bot he nolde not for his nurture nurne hir ayghaynez, Bot dalt with hir al in dayntŽ, how-se-euer the dede turned towrast.
Quen thay hade played in halle As longe as hor wylle hom last, To chambre he con hym calle, And to the chemnŽ thay past.
Andre ther thay dronken, and dalten, and demed eft nwe To norne on the same note on Nwe Ygherez euen; Bot the knyyght craued leue to kayre on the morn, For hit watz neygh at the terme that he to schulde.
The lorde hym letted of that, to lenge hym resteyed, And sayde, "As I am trwe segge, I siker my trawthe Thou schal cheue to the grene chapel thy charres to make, Leude, on Nw Ygherez lyyght, longe bifore pryme.
Forthy thow lye in thy loft and lach thyn ese, And I schal hunt in this holt, and halde the towchez, Chaunge wyth the cheuisaunce, bi that I charre hider; For I haf fraysted the twys, and faythful I fynde the.
Now 'thrid tyme throwe best' thenk on the morne, Make we mery quyl we may and mynne vpon joye, For the lur may mon lach when-so mon lykez.
" This watz graythely graunted, and Gawayn is lenged, Blithe broyght watz hym drynk, and thay to bedde ygheden with liyght.
Sir Gawayn lis and slepes Ful stille and softe al niyght; The lorde that his craftez kepes, Ful erly he watz diyght.
After messe a morsel he and his men token; Miry watz the mornyng, his mounture he askes.
Alle the hatheles that on horse schulde helden hym after Were boun busked on hor blonkkez bifore the halle yghatez.
Ferly fayre watz the folde, for the forst clenged; In rede rudede vpon rak rises the sunne, And ful clere costez the clowdes of the welkyn.
Hunteres vnhardeled bi a holt syde, Rocheres roungen bi rys for rurde of her hornes; Summe fel in the fute ther the fox bade, Traylez ofte a traueres bi traunt of her wyles; A kenet kyres therof, the hunt on hym calles; His felayghes fallen hym to, that fnasted ful thike, Runnen forth in a rabel in his ryyght fare, And he fyskez hem byfore; thay founden hym sone, And quen thay seghe hym with syyght thay sued hym fast, Wreyghande hym ful weterly with a wroth noyse; And he trantes and tornayeez thurygh mony tene greue, Hauilounez, and herkenez bi heggez ful ofte.
At the last bi a littel dich he lepez ouer a spenne, Stelez out ful stilly bi a strothe rande, Went haf wylt of the wode with wylez fro the houndes; Thenne watz he went, er he wyst, to a wale tryster, Ther thre thro at a thrich thrat hym at ones, al graye.
He blenched ayghayn bilyue And stifly start on-stray, With alle the wo on lyue To the wod he went away.
Thenne watz hit list vpon lif to lythen the houndez, When alle the mute hade hym met, menged togeder: Suche a soryghe at that syyght thay sette on his hede As alle the clamberande clyffes hade clatered on hepes; Here he watz halawed, when hathelez hym metten, Loude he watz yghayned with ygharande speche; Ther he watz threted and ofte thef called, And ay the titleres at his tayl, that tary he ne myyght; Ofte he watz runnen at, when he out rayked, And ofte reled in ayghayn, so Reniarde watz wylŽ.
And yghe he lad hem bi lagmon, the lorde and his meyny, On this maner bi the mountes quyle myd-ouer-vnder, Whyle the hende knyyght at home holsumly slepes Withinne the comly cortynes, on the colde morne.
Bot the lady for luf let not to slepe, Ne the purpose to payre that pyyght in hir hert, Bot ros hir vp radly, rayked hir theder In a mery mantyle, mete to the erthe, That watz furred ful fyne with fellez wel pured, No hwef goud on hir hede bot the haygher stones Trased aboute hir tressour be twenty in clusteres; Hir thryuen face and hir throte throwen al naked, Hir brest bare bifore, and bihinde eke.
Ho comez withinne the chambre dore, and closes hit hir after, Wayuez vp a wyndow, and on the wyyghe callez, And radly thus rehayted hym with hir riche wordes, with chere: "A! mon, how may thou slepe, This morning is so clere?" He watz in drowping depe, Bot thenne he con hir here.
In dreygh droupyng of dreme draueled that noble, As mon that watz in mornyng of mony thro thoyghtes, How that destinŽ schulde that day dele hym his wyrde At the grene chapel, when he the gome metes, And bihoues his buffet abide withoute debate more; Bot quen that comly com he keuered his wyttes, Swenges out of the sweuenes, and swarez with hast.
The lady luflych com layghande swete, Felle ouer his fayre face, and fetly hym kyssed; He welcumez hir worthily with a wale chere.
He seygh hir so glorious and gayly atyred, So fautles of hir fetures and of so fyne hewes, Wiyght wallande joye warmed his hert.
With smothe smylyng and smolt thay smeten into merthe, That al watz blis and bonchef that breke hem bitwene, and wynne.
Thay lanced wordes gode, Much wele then watz therinne; Gret perile bitwene hem stod, Nif MarŽ of hir knyyght mynne.
For that prynces of pris depresed hym so thikke, Nurned hym so neyghe the thred, that nede hym bihoued Other lach ther hir luf, other lodly refuse.
He cared for his cortaysye, lest crathayn he were, And more for his meschef yghif he schulde make synne, And be traytor to that tolke that that telde ayght.
"God schylde," quoth the schalk, "that schal not befalle!" With luf-layghyng a lyt he layd hym bysyde Alle the spechez of specialtŽ that sprange of her mouthe.
Quoth that burde to the burne, "Blame yghe disserue, Yghif yghe luf not that lyf that yghe lye nexte, Bifore alle the wyyghez in the worlde wounded in hert, Bot if yghe haf a lemman, a leuer, that yow lykez better, And folden fayth to that fre, festned so harde That yow lausen ne lyst--and that I leue nouthe; And that yghe telle me that now trwly I pray yow, For alle the lufez vpon lyue layne not the sothe for gile.
" The knyyght sayde, "Be sayn Jon," And smethely con he smyle, "In fayth I welde riyght non, Ne non wil welde the quile.
" "That is a worde," quoth that wyyght, "that worst is of alle, Bot I am swared for sothe, that sore me thinkkez.
Kysse me now comly, and I schal cach hethen, I may bot mourne vpon molde, as may that much louyes.
" Sykande ho sweyghe doun and semly hym kyssed, And sithen ho seueres hym fro, and says as ho stondes, "Now, dere, at this departyng do me this ese, Gif me sumquat of thy gifte, thi gloue if hit were, That I may mynne on the, mon, my mournyng to lassen.
" "Now iwysse," quoth that wyyghe, "I wolde I hade here The leuest thing for thy luf that I in londe welde, For yghe haf deserued, for sothe, sellyly ofte More rewarde bi resoun then I reche myyght; Bot to dele yow for drurye that dawed bot neked, Hit is not your honour to haf at this tyme A gloue for a garysoun of Gawaynez giftez, And I am here an erande in erdez vncouthe, And haue no men wyth no malez with menskful thingez; That mislykez me, ladŽ, for luf at this tyme, Iche tolke mon do as he is tan, tas to non ille ne pine.
" "Nay, hende of hyyghe honours," Quoth that lufsum vnder lyne, "Thaygh I hade noyght of yourez, Yghet schulde yghe haue of myne.
" Ho rayght hym a riche rynk of red golde werkez, Wyth a starande ston stondande alofte That bere blusschande bemez as the bryyght sunne; Wyt yghe wel, hit watz worth wele ful hoge.
Bot the renk hit renayed, and redyly he sayde, "I wil no giftez, for Gode, my gay, at this tyme; I haf none yow to norne, ne noyght wyl I take.
" Ho bede hit hym ful bysily, and he hir bode wernes, And swere swyfte by his sothe that he hit sese nolde, And ho sorŽ that he forsoke, and sayde therafter, "If yghe renay my rynk, to ryche for hit semez, Yghe wolde not so hyyghly halden be to me, I schal gif yow my girdel, that gaynes yow lasse.
" Ho layght a lace lyyghtly that leke vmbe hir sydez, Knit vpon hir kyrtel vnder the clere mantyle, Gered hit watz with grene sylke and with golde schaped, Noyght bot arounde brayden, beten with fyngrez; And that ho bede to the burne, and blythely bisoyght, Thaygh hit vnworthi were, that he hit take wolde.
And he nay that he nolde neghe in no wyse Nauther golde ne garysoun, er God hym grace sende To acheue to the chaunce that he hade chosen there.
"And therfore, I pray yow, displese yow noyght, And lettez be your bisinesse, for I baythe hit yow neuer to graunte; I am derely to yow biholde Bicause of your sembelaunt, And euer in hot and colde To be your trwe seruaunt.
" "Now forsake yghe this silke," sayde the burde thenne, "For hit is symple in hitself? And so hit wel semez.
Lo! so hit is littel, and lasse hit is worthy; Bot who-so knew the costes that knit ar therinne, He wolde hit prayse at more prys, parauenture; For quat gome so is gorde with this grene lace, While he hit hade hemely halched aboute, Ther is no hathel vnder heuen tohewe hym that myyght, For he myyght not be slayn for slyyght vpon erthe.
" Then kest the knyyght, and hit come to his hert Hit were a juel for the jopardŽ that hym iugged were: When he acheued to the chapel his chek for to fech, Myyght he haf slypped to be vnslayn, the sleyght were noble.
Thenne he thulged with hir threpe and tholed hir to speke, And ho bere on hym the belt and bede hit hym swythe-- And he granted and hym gafe with a goud wylle-- And bisoyght hym, for hir sake, disceuer hit neuer, Bot to lelly layne fro hir lorde; the leude hym acordez That neuer wyyghe schulde hit wyt, iwysse, bot thay twayne for noyghte; He thonkked hir oft ful swythe, Ful thro with hert and thoyght.
Bi that on thrynne sythe Ho hatz kyst the knyyght so toyght.
Thenne lachchez ho hir leue, and leuez hym there, For more myrthe of that mon moyght ho not gete.
When ho watz gon, Sir Gawayn gerez hym sone, Rises and riches hym in araye noble, Lays vp the luf-lace the lady hym rayght, Hid hit ful holdely, ther he hit eft fonde.
Sythen cheuely to the chapel choses he the waye, PreuŽly aproched to a prest, and prayed hym there That he wolde lyste his lyf and lern hym better How his sawle schulde be saued when he schuld seye hethen.
There he schrof hym schyrly and schewed his mysdedez, Of the more and the mynne, and merci besechez, And of absolucioun he on the segge calles; And he asoyled hym surely and sette hym so clene As domezday schulde haf ben diyght on the morn.
And sythen he mace hym as mery among the fre ladyes, With comlych caroles and alle kynnes ioye, As neuer he did bot that daye, to the derk nyyght, with blys.
Vche mon hade dayntŽ thare Of hym, and sayde, "Iwysse, Thus myry he watz neuer are, Syn he com hider, er this.
" Now hym lenge in that lee, ther luf hym bityde! Yghet is the lorde on the launde ledande his gomnes.
He hatz forfaren this fox that he folyghed longe; As he sprent ouer a spenne to spye the schrewe, Ther as he herd the howndes that hasted hym swythe, Renaud com richchande thurygh a royghe greue, And alle the rabel in a res ryyght at his helez.
The wyyghe watz war of the wylde, and warly abides, And braydez out the bryyght bronde, and at the best castez.
And he schunt for the scharp, and schulde haf arered; A rach rapes hym to, ryyght er he myyght, And ryyght bifore the hors fete thay fel on hym alle, And woried me this wyly wyth a wroth noyse.
The lorde lyyghtez bilyue, and lachez hym sone, Rased hym ful radly out of the rach mouthes, Haldez heyghe ouer his hede, halowez faste, And ther bayen hym mony brath houndez.
Huntes hyyghed hem theder with hornez ful mony, Ay rechatande aryyght til thay the renk seyghen.
Bi that watz comen his compeyny noble, Alle that euer ber bugle blowed at ones, And alle thise other halowed that hade no hornes; Hit watz the myriest mute that euer men herde, The rich rurd that ther watz raysed for Renaude saule with lote.
Hor houndez thay ther rewarde, Her hedez thay fawne and frote, And sythen thay tan Reynarde, And tyruen of his cote.
And thenne thay helden to home, for hit watz nieygh nyyght, Strakande ful stoutly in hor store hornez.
The lorde is lyyght at the laste at hys lef home, Fyndez fire vpon flet, the freke ther-byside, Sir Gawayn the gode, that glad watz withalle, Among the ladies for luf he ladde much ioye; He were a bleaunt of blwe that bradde to the erthe, His surkot semed hym wel that softe watz forred, And his hode of that ilke henged on his schulder, Blande al of blaunner were bothe al aboute.
He metez me this godmon inmyddez the flore, And al with gomen he hym gret, and goudly he sayde, "I schal fylle vpon fyrst oure forwardez nouthe, That we spedly han spoken, ther spared watz no drynk.
" Then acoles he the knyyght and kysses hym thryes, As sauerly and sadly as he hem sette couthe.
"Bi Kryst," quoth that other knyyght, "Yghe cach much sele In cheuisaunce of this chaffer, yghif yghe hade goud chepez.
" "Yghe, of the chepe no charg," quoth chefly that other, "As is pertly payed the chepez that I ayghte.
" "Mary," quoth that other mon, "myn is bihynde, For I haf hunted al this day, and noyght haf I geten Bot this foule fox felle--the fende haf the godez!-- And that is ful pore for to pay for suche prys thinges As yghe haf thryyght me here thro, suche thre cosses so gode.
" "Inoygh," quoth Sir Gawayn, "I thonk yow, bi the rode," And how the fox watz slayn He tolde hym as thay stode.
With merthe and mynstralsye, with metez at hor wylle, Thay maden as mery as any men moyghten-- With layghyne of ladies, with lotez of bordes Gawayn and the godemon so glad were thay bothe-- Bot if the douthe had doted, other dronken ben other.
Bothe the mon and the meyny maden mony iapez, Til the sesoun watz seyghen that thay seuer moste; Burnez to hor bedde behoued at the laste.
Thenne loyghly his leue at the lorde fyrst Fochchez this fre mon, and fayre he hym thonkkez: "Of such a selly soiorne as I haf hade here, Your honour at this hyyghe fest, the hyyghe kyng yow yghelde! I yghef yow me for on of yourez, if yowreself lykez, For I mot nedes, as yghe wot, meue to-morne, And yghe me take sum tolke to teche, as yghe hyyght, The gate to the grene chapel, as God wyl me suffer To dele on Nw Ygherez day the dome of my wyrdes.
" "In god faythe," quoth the godmon, "wyth a goud wylle Al that euer I yow hyyght halde schal I redŽ.
" Ther asyngnes he a seruaunt to sett hym in the waye, And coundue hym by the downez, that he no drechch had, For to ferk thurygh the fryth and fare at the gaynest bi greue.
The lorde Gawayn con thonk, Such worchip he wolde hym weue.
Then at tho ladyez wlonk The knyyght hatz tan his leue.
With care and wyth kyssyng he carppez hem tille, And fele thryuande thonkkez he thrat hom to haue, And thay yghelden hym ayghayn ygheply that ilk; Thay bikende hym to Kryst with ful colde sykyngez.
Sythen fro the meyny he menskly departes; Vche mon that he mette, he made hem a thonke For his seruyse and his solace and his sere pyne, That thay wyth busynes had ben aboute hym to serue; And vche segge as sorŽ to seuer with hym there As thay hade wonde worthyly with that wlonk euer.
Then with ledes and lyyght he watz ladde to his chambre And blythely broyght to his bedde to be at his rest.
Yghif he ne slepe soundyly say ne dar I, For he hade muche on the morn to mynne, yghif he wolde, in thoyght.
Let hym lyyghe there stille, He hatz nere that he soyght; And yghe wyl a whyle be stylle I schal telle yow how thay wroyght.
PART IV Now neyghez the Nw Yghere, and the nyyght passez, The day dryuez to the derk, as Dryyghtyn biddez; Bot wylde wederez of the worlde wakned theroute, Clowdes kesten kenly the colde to the erthe, Wyth nyyghe innoghe of the northe, the naked to tene; The snawe snitered ful snart, that snayped the wylde; The werbelande wynde wapped fro the hyyghe, And drof vche dale ful of dryftes ful grete.
The leude lystened ful wel that leygh in his bedde, Thaygh he lowkez his liddez, ful lyttel he slepes; Bi vch kok that crue he knwe wel the steuen.
Deliuerly he dressed vp, er the day sprenged, For there watz lyyght of a laumpe that lemed in his chambre; He called to his chamberlayn, that cofly hym swared, And bede hym bryng hym his bruny and his blonk sadel; That other ferkez hym vp and fechez hym his wedez, And graythez me Sir Gawayn vpon a grett wyse.
Fyrst he clad hym in his clothez the colde for to were, And sythen his other harnays, that holdely watz keped, Bothe his paunce and his platez, piked ful clene, The ryngez rokked of the roust of his riche bruny; And al watz fresch as vpon fyrst, and he watz fayn thenne to thonk; He hade vpon vche pece, Wypped ful wel and wlonk; The gayest into Grece, The burne bede bryng his blonk.
Whyle the wlonkest wedes he warp on hymseluen-- His cote wyth the conysaunce of the clere werkez Ennurned vpon veluet, vertuus stonez Aboute beten and bounden, enbrauded semez, And fayre furred withinne wyth fayre pelures-- Yghet laft he not the lace, the ladiez gifte, That forgat not Gawayn for gode of hymseluen.
Bi he hade belted the bronde vpon his balyghe haunchez, Thenn dressed he his drurye double hym aboute, Swythe swethled vmbe his swange swetely that knyyght The gordel of the grene silke, that gay wel bisemed, Vpon that ryol red clothe that ryche watz to schewe.
Bot wered not this ilk wyyghe for wele this gordel, For pryde of the pendauntez, thaygh polyst thay were, And thaygh the glyterande golde glent vpon endez, Bot for to sauen hymself, when suffer hym byhoued, To byde bale withoute dabate of bronde hym to were other knyffe.
Bi that the bolde mon boun Wynnez theroute bilyue, Alle the meyny of renoun He thonkkez ofte ful ryue.
Thenne watz Gryngolet graythe, that gret watz and huge, And hade ben soiourned sauerly and in a siker wyse, Hym lyst prik for poynt, that proude hors thenne.
The wyyghe wynnez hym to and wytez on his lyre, And sayde soberly hymself and by his soth swerez: "Here is a meyny in this mote that on menske thenkkez, The mon hem maynteines, ioy mot thay haue; The leue lady on lyue luf hir bityde; Yghif thay for charytŽ cherysen a gest, And halden honour in her honde, the hathel hem yghelde That haldez the heuen vpon hyyghe, and also yow alle! And yghif I myyght lyf vpon londe lede any quyle, I schuld rech yow sum rewarde redyly, if I myyght.
" Thenn steppez he into stirop and strydez alofte; His schalk schewed hym his schelde, on schulder he hit layght, Gordez to Gryngolet with his gilt helez, And he startez on the ston, stod he no lenger to praunce.
His hathel on hors watz thenne, That bere his spere and launce.
"This kastel to Kryst I kenne": He gef hit ay god chaunce.
The brygge watz brayde doun, and the brode yghatez Vnbarred and born open vpon bothe halue.
The burne blessed hym bilyue, and the bredez passed-- Prayses the porter bifore the prynce kneled, Gef hym God and goud day, that Gawayn he saue-- And went on his way with his wyyghe one, That schulde teche hym to tourne to that tene place Ther the ruful race he schulde resayue.
Thay boyghen bi bonkkez ther boyghez ar bare, Thay clomben bi clyffez ther clengez the colde.
The heuen watz vphalt, bot vgly ther-vnder; Mist muged on the mor, malt on the mountez, Vch hille hade a hatte, a myst-hakel huge.
Brokez byled and breke bi bonkkez aboute, Schyre schaterande on schorez, ther thay doun schowued.
Wela wylle watz the way ther thay bi wod schulden, Til hit watz sone sesoun that the sunne ryses that tyde.
Thay were on a hille ful hyyghe, The quyte snaw lay bisyde; The burne that rod hym by Bede his mayster abide.
"For I haf wonnen yow hider, wyyghe, at this tyme, And now nar yghe not fer fro that note place That yghe han spied and spuryed so specially after; Bot I schal say yow for sothe, sythen I yow knowe, And yghe ar a lede vpon lyue that I wel louy, Wolde yghe worch bi my wytte, yghe worthed the better.
The place that yghe prece to ful perelous is halden; Ther wonez a wyyghe in that waste, the worst vpon erthe, For he is stiffe and sturne, and to strike louies, And more he is then any mon vpon myddelerde, And his body bigger then the best fowre That ar in Arthurez hous, Hestor, other other.
He cheuez that chaunce at the chapel grene, Ther passes non bi that place so proude in his armes That he ne dyngez hym to dethe with dynt of his honde; For he is a mon methles, and mercy non vses, For be hit chorle other chaplayn that bi the chapel rydes, Monk other masseprest, other any mon elles, Hym thynk as queme hym to quelle as quyk go hymseluen.
Forthy I say the, as sothe as yghe in sadel sitte, Com yghe there, yghe be kylled, may the knyyght rede, Trawe yghe me that trwely, thaygh yghe had twenty lyues to spende.
He hatz wonyd here ful yghore, On bent much baret bende, Ayghayn his dyntez sore Yghe may not yow defende.
"Forthy, goude Sir Gawayn, let the gome one, And gotz away sum other gate, vpon Goddez halue! Cayrez bi sum other kyth, ther Kryst mot yow spede, And I schal hyygh me hom ayghayn, and hete yow fyrre That I schal swere bi God and alle his gode halyghez, As help me God and the halydam, and othez innoghe, That I schal lelly yow layne, and lance neuer tale That euer yghe fondet to fle for freke that I wyst.
" "Grant merci," quoth Gawayn, and gruchyng he sayde: "Wel worth the, wyyghe, that woldez my gode, And that lelly me layne I leue wel thou woldez.
Bot helde thou hit neuer so holde, and I here passed, Founded for ferde for to fle, in fourme that thou tellez, I were a knyyght kowarde, I myyght not be excused.
Bot I wyl to the chapel, for chaunce that may falle, And talk wyth that ilk tulk the tale that me lyste, Worthe hit wele other wo, as the wyrde lykez hit hafe.
Thayghe he be a sturn knape To stiyghtel, and stad with staue, Ful wel con Dryyghtyn schape His seruauntez for to saue.
" "Mary!" quoth that other mon, "now thou so much spellez, That thou wylt thyn awen nye nyme to thyseluen, And the lyst lese thy lyf, the lette I ne kepe.
Haf here thi helme on thy hede, thi spere in thi honde, And ryde me doun this ilk rake bi yghon rokke syde, Til thou be broyght to the bothem of the brem valay; Thenne loke a littel on the launde, on thi lyfte honde, And thou schal se in that slade the self chapel, And the borelych burne on bent that hit kepez.
Now farez wel, on Godez half, Gawayn the noble! For alle the golde vpon grounde I nolde go wyth the, Ne bere the felayghschip thurygh this fryth on fote fyrre.
" Bi that the wyyghe in the wod wendez his brydel, Hit the hors with the helez as harde as he myyght, Lepez hym ouer the launde, and leuez the knyyght there al one.
"Bi Goddez self," quoth Gawayn, "I wyl nauther grete ne grone; To Goddez wylle I am ful bayn, And to hym I haf me tone.
" Thenne gyrdez he to Gryngolet, and gederez the rake, Schowuez in bi a schore at a schayghe syde, Ridez thurygh the royghe bonk ryyght to the dale; And thenne he wayted hym aboute, and wylde hit hym thoyght, And seyghe no syngne of resette bisydez nowhere, Bot hyyghe bonkkez and brent vpon bothe halue, And ruyghe knokled knarrez with knorned stonez; The skwez of the scowtes skayned hym thoyght.
Thenne he houed, and wythhylde his hors at that tyde, And ofte chaunged his cher the chapel to seche: He seygh non suche in no syde, and selly hym thoyght, Saue, a lyttel on a launde, a lawe as hit were; A balygh berygh bi a bonke the brymme bysyde, Bi a forygh of a flode that ferked thare; The borne blubred therinne as hit boyled hade.
The knyyght kachez his caple, and com to the lawe, Liyghtez doun luflyly, and at a lynde tachez The rayne and his riche with a royghe braunche.
Thenne he boyghez to the beryghe, aboute hit he walkez, Debatande with hymself quat hit be myyght.
Hit hade a hole on the ende and on ayther syde, And ouergrowen with gresse in glodes aywhere, And al watz holygh inwith, nobot an olde caue, Or a creuisse of an olde cragge, he couthe hit noyght deme with spelle.
"We! Lorde," quoth the gentyle knyyght, "Whether this be the grene chapelle? Here myyght aboute mydnyyght The dele his matynnes telle! "Now iwysse," quoth Wowayn, "wysty is here; This oritore is vgly, with erbez ouergrowen; Wel bisemez the wyyghe wruxled in grene Dele here his deuocioun on the deuelez wyse.
Now I fele hit is the fende, in my fyue wyttez, That hatz stoken me this steuen to strye me here.
This is a chapel of meschaunce, that chekke hit bytyde! Hit is the corsedest kyrk that euer I com inne!" With heyghe helme on his hede, his launce in his honde, He romez vp to the roffe of the roygh wonez.
Thene herde he of that hyyghe hil, in a harde roche Biyghonde the broke, in a bonk, a wonder breme noyse, Quat! hit clatered in the clyff, as hit cleue schulde, As one vpon a gryndelston hade grounden a sythe.
What! hit wharred and whette, as water at a mulne; What! hit rusched and ronge, rawthe to here.
Thenne "Bi Godde," quoth Gawayn, "that gere, as I trowe, Is ryched at the reuerence me, renk, to mete bi rote.
Let God worche! 'We loo'-- Hit helppez me not a mote.
My lif thaygh I forgoo, Drede dotz me no lote.
" Thenne the knyyght con calle ful hyyghe: "Who stiyghtlez in this sted me steuen to holde? For now is gode Gawayn goande ryyght here.
If any wyyghe oyght wyl, wynne hider fast, Other now other neuer, his nedez to spede.
" "Abyde," quoth on on the bonke abouen ouer his hede, "And thou schal haf al in hast that I the hyyght ones.
" Yghet he rusched on that rurde rapely a throwe.
And wyth quettyng awharf, er he wolde lyyght; And sythen he keuerez bi a cragge, and comez of a hole, Whyrlande out of a wro wyth a felle weppen, A denez ax nwe dyyght, the dynt with to yghelde, With a borelych bytte bende by the halme, Fyled in a fylor, fowre fote large-- Hit watz no lasse bi that lace that lemed ful bryyght-- And the gome in the grene gered as fyrst, Bothe the lyre and the leggez, lokkez and berde, Saue that fayre on his fote he foundez on the erthe, Sette the stele to the stone, and stalked bysyde.
When he wan to the watter, ther he wade nolde, He hypped ouer on hys ax, and orpedly strydez, Bremly brothe on a bent that brode watz aboute, on snawe.
Sir Gawayn the knyyght con mete, He ne lutte hym nothyng lowe; That other sayde, "Now, sir swete, Of steuen mon may the trowe.
" "Gawayn," quoth that grene gome, "God the mot loke! Iwysse thou art welcom, wyyghe, to my place, And thou hatz tymed thi trauayl as truee mon schulde, And thou knowez the couenauntez kest vus bytwene: At this tyme twelmonyth thou toke that the falled, And I schulde at this Nwe Yghere ygheply the quyte.
And we ar in this valay verayly oure one; Here ar no renkes vs to rydde, rele as vus likez.
Haf thy helme of thy hede, and haf here thy pay.
Busk no more debate then I the bede thenne When thou wypped of my hede at a wap one.
" "Nay, bi God," quoth Gawayn, "that me gost lante, I schal gruch the no grwe for grem that fallez.
Bot styyghtel the vpon on strok, and I schal stonde stylle And warp the no wernyng to worch as the lykez, nowhare.
" He lened with the nek, and lutte, And schewed that schyre al bare, And lette as he noyght dutte; For drede he wolde not dare.
THEN the gome in the grene graythed hym swythe, Gederez vp hys grymme tole Gawayn to smyte; With alle the bur in his body he ber hit on lofte, Munt as mayghtyly as marre hym he wolde; Hade hit dryuen adoun as dreygh as he atled, Ther hade ben ded of his dynt that doyghty watz euer.
Bot Gawayn on that giserne glyfte hym bysyde, As hit com glydande adoun on glode hym to schende, And schranke a lytel with the schulderes for the scharp yrne.
That other schalk wyth a schunt the schene wythhaldez, And thenne repreued he the prynce with mony prowde wordez: "Thou art not Gawayn," quoth the gome, "that is so goud halden, That neuer aryghed for no here by hylle ne be vale, And now thou fles for ferde er thou fele harmez! Such cowardise of that knyyght cowthe I neuer here.
Nawther fyked I ne flayghe, freke, quen thou myntest, Ne kest no kauelacion in kyngez hous Arthor.
My hede flaygh to my fote, and yghet flaygh I neuer; And thou, er any harme hent, aryghez in hert; Wherfore the better burne me burde be called therfore.
" Quoth Gawayn, "I schunt onez, And so wyl I no more; Bot thaygh my hede falle on the stonez, I con not hit restore.
"Bot busk, burne, bi thi fayth, and bryng me to the poynt.
Dele to me my destinŽ, and do hit out of honde, For I schal stonde the a strok, and start no more Til thyn ax haue me hitte: haf here my trawthe.
" "Haf at the thenne!" quoth that other, and heuez hit alofte, And waytez as wrothely as he wode were.
He myntez at hym mayghtyly, bot not the mon rynez, Withhelde heterly his honde, er hit hurt myyght.
Gawayn graythely hit bydez, and glent with no membre, Bot stode stylle as the ston, other a stubbe auther That ratheled is in rochŽ grounde with rotez a hundreth.
Then muryly efte con he mele, the mon in the grene: "So, now thou hatz thi hert holle, hitte me bihous.
Halde the now the hyyghe hode that Arthur the rayght, And kepe thy kanel at this kest, yghif hit keuer may.
" Gawayn ful gryndelly with greme thenne sayde: "Wy! thresch on, thou thro mon, thou thretez to longe; I hope that thi hert aryghe wyth thyn awen seluen.
" "For sothe," quoth that other freke, "so felly thou spekez, I wyl no lenger on lyte lette thin ernde riyght nowe.
" Thenne tas he hym strythe to stryke, And frounsez bothe lyppe and browe; No meruayle thaygh hym myslyke That hoped of no rescowe.
He lyftes lyyghtly his lome, and let hit doun fayre With the barbe of the bitte bi the bare nek; Thaygh he homered heterly, hurt hym no more Bot snyrt hym on that on syde, that seuered the hyde.
The scharp schrank to the flesche thurygh the schyre grece, That the schene blod ouer his schulderes schot to the erthe; And quen the burne seygh the blode blenk on the snawe, He sprit forth spenne-fote more then a spere lenthe, Hent heterly his helme, and on his hed cast, Schot with his schulderez his fayre schelde vnder, Braydez out a bryyght sworde, and bremely he spekez-- Neuer syn that he watz burne borne of his moder Watz he neuer in this worlde wyyghe half so blythe-- "Blynne, burne, of thy bur, bede me no mo! I haf a stroke in this sted withoute stryf hent, And if thow rechez me any mo, I redyly schal quyte, And yghelde yghederly ayghayn--and therto yghe tryst-- and foo.
Bot on stroke here me fallez-- The couenaunt schop ryyght so, Fermed in Arthurez hallez-- And therfore, hende, now hoo!" The hathel heldet hym fro, and on his ax rested, Sette the schaft vpon schore, and to the scharp lened, And loked to the leude that on the launde yghede, How that doyghty, dredles, deruely ther stondez Armed, ful ayghlez: in hert hit hym lykez.
Thenn he melez muryly wyth a much steuen, And wyth a rynkande rurde he to the renk sayde: "Bolde burne, on this bent be not so gryndel.
No mon here vnmanerly the mysboden habbez, Ne kyd bot as couenaunde at kyngez kort schaped.
I hyyght the a strok and thou hit hatz, halde the wel payed; I relece the of the remnaunt of ryyghtes alle other.
Iif I deliuer had bene, a boffet paraunter I couthe wrotheloker haf waret, to the haf wroyght anger.
Fyrst I mansed the muryly with a mynt one, And roue the wyth no rof-sore, with ryyght I the profered For the forwarde that we fest in the fyrst nyyght, And thou trystyly the trawthe and trwly me haldez, Al the gayne thow me gef, as god mon schulde.
That other munt for the morne, mon, I the profered, Thou kyssedes my clere wyf--the cossez me rayghtez.
For bothe two here I the bede bot two bare myntes boute scathe.
Trwe mon trwe restore, Thenne thar mon drede no wathe.
At the thrid thou fayled thore, And therfor that tappe ta the.
"For hit is my wede that thou werez, that ilke wouen girdel, Myn owen wyf hit the weued, I wot wel for sothe.
Now know I wel thy cosses, and thy costes als, And the wowyng of my wyf: I wroyght hit myseluen.
I sende hir to asay the, and sothly me thynkkez On the fautlest freke that euer on fote yghede; As perle bi the quite pese is of prys more, So is Gawayn, in god fayth, bi other gay knyyghtez.
Bot here yow lakked a lyttel, sir, and lewtŽ yow wonted; Bot that watz for no wylyde werke, ne wowyng nauther, Bot for yghe lufed your lyf; the lasse I yow blame.
" That other stif mon in study stod a gret whyle, So agreued for greme he gryed withinne; Alle the blode of his brest blende in his face, That al he schrank for schome that the schalk talked.
The forme worde vpon folde that the freke meled: "Corsed worth cowarddyse and couetyse bothe! In yow is vylany and vyse that vertue disstryez.
" Thenne he kayght to the knot, and the kest lawsez, Brayde brothely the belt to the burne seluen: "Lo! ther the falssyng, foule mot hit falle! For care of thy knokke cowardyse me tayght To acorde me with couetyse, my kynde to forsake, That is larges and lewtŽ that longez to knyyghtez.
Now am I fawty and falce, and ferde haf ben euer Of trecherye and vntrawthe: bothe bityde soryghe and care! I biknowe yow, knyyght, here stylle, Al fawty is my fare; Letez me ouertake your wylle And efte I schal be ware.
" Thenn loyghe that other leude and luflyly sayde: "I halde hit hardily hole, the harme that I hade.
Thou art confessed so clene, beknowen of thy mysses, And hatz the penaunce apert of the poynt of myn egge, I halde the polysed of that plyyght, and pured as clene As thou hadez neuer forfeted sythen thou watz fyrst borne; And I gif the, sir, the gurdel that is golde-hemmed, For hit is grene as my goune.
Sir Gawayn, yghe maye Thenk vpon this ilke threpe, ther thou forth thryngez Among prynces of prys, and this a pure token Of the chaunce of the grene chapel at cheualrous knyyghtez.
And yghe schal in this Nwe Ygher ayghayn to my wonez, And we schyn reuel the remnaunt of this ryche fest ful bene.
" Ther lathed hym fast the lorde And sayde: "With my wyf, I wene, We schal yow wel acorde, That watz your enmy kene.
" "Nay, for sothe," quoth the segge, and sesed hys helme, And hatz hit of hendely, and the hathel thonkkez, "I haf soiorned sadly; sele yow bytyde, And he yghelde hit yow yghare that ygharkkez al menskes! And comaundez me to that cortays, your comlych fere, Bothe that on and that other, myn honoured ladyez, That thus hor knyyght wyth hor kest han koyntly bigyled.
Bot hit is no ferly thaygh a fole madde, And thurygh wyles of wymmen be wonen to soryghe, For so watz Adam in erde with one bygyled, And Salamon with fele sere, and Samson eftsonez-- Dalyda dalt hym hys wyrde--and Dauyth therafter Watz blended with Barsabe, that much bale tholed.
Now these were wrathed wyth her wyles, hit were a wynne huge To luf hom wel, and leue hem not, a leude that couthe.
For thes wer forne the freest, that folyghed alle the sele Exellently of alle thyse other, vnder heuenryche that mused; And alle thay were biwyled With wymmen that thay vsed.
Thaygh I be now bigyled, Me think me burde be excused.
"Bot your gordel," quoth Gawayn, "God yow foryghelde! That wyl I welde wyth guod wylle, not for the wynne golde, Ne the saynt, ne the sylk, ne the syde pendaundes, For wele ne for worchyp, ne for the wlonk werkkez, Bot in syngne of my surfet I schal se hit ofte, When I ride in renoun, remorde to myseluen The faut and the fayntyse of the flesche crabbed, How tender hit is to entyse teches of fylthe; And thus, quen pryde schal me pryk for prowes of armes, The loke to this luf-lace schal lethe my hert.
Bot on I wolde yow pray, displeses yow neuer: Syn yghe be lorde of the yghonder londe ther I haf lent inne Wyth yow wyth worschyp--the wyyghe hit yow yghelde That vphaldez the heuen and on hyygh sittez-- How norne yghe yowre ryyght nome, and thenne no more?" "That schal I telle the trwly," quoth that other thenne, "Bertilak de Hautdesert I hat in this londe.
Thurygh myyght of Morgne la Faye, that in my hous lenges, And koyntyse of clergye, bi craftes wel lerned, The maystrŽs of Merlyn mony hatz taken-- For ho hatz dalt drwry ful dere sumtyme With that conable klerk, that knowes alle your knyyghtez at hame; Morgne the goddes Therfore hit is hir name: Weldez non so hyyghe hawtesse That ho ne con make ful tame-- "Ho wayned me vpon this wyse to your wynne halle For to assay the surquidrŽ, yghif hit soth were That rennes of the grete renoun of the Rounde Table; Ho wayned me this wonder your wyttez to reue, For to haf greued Gaynour and gart hir to dyyghe With glopnyng of that ilke gome that gostlych speked With his hede in his honde bifore the hyyghe table.
That is ho that is at home, the auncian lady; Ho is euen thyn aunt, Arthurez half-suster, The duches doyghter of Tyntagelle, that dere Vter after Hade Arthur vpon, that athel is nowthe.
Therfore I ethe the, hathel, to com to thyn aunt, Make myry in my hous; my meny the louies, And I wol the as wel, wyyghe, bi my faythe, As any gome vnder God for thy grete trauthe.
" And he nikked hym naye, he nolde bi no wayes.
Thay acolen and kyssen and kennen ayther other To the prynce of paradise, and parten ryyght there on coolde; Gawayn on blonk ful bene To the knygez burygh buskez bolde, And the knyyght in the enker-grene Whiderwarde-so-euer he wolde.
Wylde wayez in the worlde Wowen now rydez On Gryngolet, that the grace hade geten of his lyue; Ofte he herbered in house and ofte al theroute, And mony aventure in vale, and venquyst ofte, That I ne tyyght at this tyme in tale to remene.
The hurt watz hole that he hade hent in his nek, And the blykkande belt he bere theraboute Abelef as a bauderyk bounden bi his syde, Loken vnder his lyfte arme, the lace, with a knot, In tokenyng he watz tane in tech of a faute.
And thus he commes to the court, knyyght al in sounde.
Ther wakned wele in that wone when wyst the grete That gode Gawayn watz commen; gayn hit hym thoyght.
The kyng kyssez the knyyght, and the whene alce, And sythen mony syker knyyght that soyght hym to haylce, Of his fare that hym frayned; and ferlyly he telles, Biknowez alle the costes of care that he hade, The chaunce of the chapel, the chere of the knyyght, The luf of the ladi, the lace at the last.
The nirt in the nek he naked hem schewed That he layght for his vnleutŽ at the leudes hondes for blame.
He tened quen he schulde telle, He groned for gref and grame; The blod in his face con melle, When he hit schulde schewe, for schame.
"Lo! lorde," quoth the leude, and the lace hondeled, "This is the bende of this blame I bere in my nek, This is the lathe and the losse that I layght haue Of couardise and couetyse that I haf cayght thare; This is the token of vntrawthe that I am tan inne, And I mot nedez hit were wyle I may last; For mon may hyden his harme, bot vnhap ne may hit, For ther hit onez is tachched twynne wil hit neuer.
" The kyng comfortez the knyyght, and alle the court als Layghen loude therat, and luflyly acorden That lordes and ladis that longed to the Table, Vche burne of the brotherhede, a bauderyk schulde haue, A bende abelef hym aboute of a bryyght grene, And that, for sake of that segge, in swete to were.
For that watz acorded the renoun of the Rounde Table, And he honoured that hit hade euermore after, As hit is breued in the best boke of romaunce.
Thus in Arthurus day this aunter bitidde, The Brutus bokez therof beres wyttenesse; Syphen Brutus, the bolde burne, boyghed hider fyrst, After the segge and the asaute watz sesed at Troye, iwysse, Mony aunterez here-biforne Haf fallen suche er this.
Now that here the croun of thorne, He bryng vus to his blysse! AMEN.
HONY SOYT QUI MAL PENCE.


by Sir Philip Sidney

Astrophel and Stella

I 

Ouing in trueth, and fayne in verse my loue to show,
That she, deare Shee, might take som pleasure of my paine,
Pleasure might cause her reade, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pittie winne, and pity grace obtaine,
I sought fit wordes to paint the blackest face of woe;
Studying inuentions fine, her wits to entertaine,
Oft turning others leaues, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitfull showers vpon my sun-burnd brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting Inuentions stay; Inuention, Natures childe, fledde step-dame Studies blowes; And others feet still seemde but strangers in my way.
Thus, great with childe to speak, and helplesse in my throwes, Biting my trewand pen, beating myselfe for spite, Fool, said my Muse to me, looke in thy heart, and write.
II Not at the first sight, nor with a dribbed shot, Loue gaue the wound, which, while I breathe, will bleede; But knowne worth did in tract of time proceed, Till by degrees, it had full conquest got.
I saw and lik'd; I lik'd but loued not; I lou'd, but straight did not what Loue decreed: At length, to Loues decrees I, forc'd, agreed, Yet with repining at so partiall lot.
Now, euen that footstep of lost libertie Is gone; and now, like slaue-borne Muscouite, I call it praise to suffer tyrannie; And nowe imploy the remnant of my wit To make myselfe beleeue that all is well, While, with a feeling skill, I paint my hell.
III Let dainty wits crie on the Sisters nine, That, brauely maskt, their fancies may be told; Or, Pindars apes, flaunt they in phrases fine, Enam'ling with pied flowers their thoughts of gold; Or else let them in statlier glorie shine, Ennobling new-found tropes with problemes old; Or with strange similes enrich each line, Of herbes or beasts which Inde or Affrick hold.
For me, in sooth, no Muse but one I know, Phrases and problems from my reach do grow; And strange things cost too deare for my poor sprites.
How then? euen thus: in Stellaes face I reed What Loue and Beautie be; then all my deed But copying is, what in her Nature writes.
IV Vertue, alas, now let me take some rest; Thou setst a bate betweene my will and wit; If vaine Loue haue my simple soule opprest, Leaue what thou lik'st not, deale thou not with it.
Thy scepter vse in some old Catoes brest, Churches or Schooles are for thy seat more fit; I do confesse (pardon a fault confest) My mouth too tender is for thy hard bit.
But if that needes thou wilt vsurping be The little reason that is left in me, And still th'effect of thy perswasions prooue, I sweare, my heart such one shall show to thee, That shrines in flesh so true a deitie, That, Virtue, thou thyself shalt be in loue.
V It is most true that eyes are form'd to serue The inward light, and that the heauenly part Ought to be King, from whose rules who do swerue, Rebels to nature, striue for their owne smart.
It is most true, what we call Cupids dart An image is, which for ourselues we carue, And, foolse, adore in temple of our hart, Till that good god make church and churchmen starue.
True, that true beautie virtue is indeed, Whereof this beautie can be but a shade, Which, elements with mortal mixture breed.
True, that on earth we are but pilgrims made, And should in soule up to our countrey moue: True, and yet true that I must Stella loue.
VI Some louers speake, when they their Muses entertaine, Of hopes begot by feare, of wot not what desires, Of force of heau'nly beames infusing hellish paine, Of liuing deaths, dere wounds, faire storms, and freesing fires: Some one his song in Ioue and Ioues strange tales attires, Bordred with buls and swans, powdred with golden raine: Another, humbler wit, to shepherds pipe retires, Yet hiding royall bloud full oft in rurall vaine.
To some a sweetest plaint a sweetest stile affords: While teares poure out his inke, and sighes breathe out his words, His paper pale despaire, and pain his pen doth moue.
I can speake what I feele, and feele as much as they, But thinke that all the map of my state I display When trembling voyce brings forth, that I do Stella loue.
VII When Nature made her chief worke, Stellas eyes, In colour blacke why wrapt she beames so bright? Would she in beamy blacke, like Painter wise, Frame daintiest lustre, mixt of shades and light? Or did she else that sober hue deuise, In obiect best to knitt and strength our sight; Least, if no vaile these braue gleames did disguise, They, sunlike, should more dazle then delight? Or would she her miraculous power show, That, whereas blacke seems Beauties contrary, She euen in black doth make all beauties flow? Both so, and thus, she, minding Loue should be Plac'd euer there, gaue him this mourning weede To honour all their deaths who for her bleed.
VIII Loue, borne in Greece, of late fled from his natiue place, Forc't, by a tedious proof, that Turkish hardned heart Is not fit mark to pierce with his fine-pointed dart, And pleas'd with our soft peace, staide here his flying race: But, finding these north clymes too coldly him embrace, Not vsde to frozen clips, he straue to find some part Where with most ease and warmth he might employ his art; At length he perch'd himself in Stellaes ioyful face, Whose faire skin, beamy eyes, like morning sun on snow, Deceiu'd the quaking boy, who thought, from so pure light, Effects of liuely heat must needs in nature grow: But she, most faire, most cold, made him thence take his flight To my close heart, where, while some firebrands he did lay, He burnt vn'wares his wings, and cannot flie away.
IX Queen Virtues Court, which some call Stellaes face, Prepar'd by Natures choicest furniture, Hath his front built of alabaster pure; Gold is the couering of that stately place.
The door, by which sometimes comes forth her grace, Red porphir is, which locke of pearl makes sure, Whose porches rich (which name of chekes indure) Marble, mixt red and white, doe interlace.
The windowes now, through which this heau'nly guest Looks ouer the world, and can find nothing such, Which dare claime from those lights the name of best, Of touch they are, that without touch do touch, Which Cupids self, from Beauties mine did draw: Of touch they are, and poore I am their straw.
X Reason, in faith thou art well seru'd that still Wouldst brabbling be with Sense and Loue in me; I rather wisht thee clime the Muses hill; Or reach the fruite of Natures choycest tree; Or seek heau'ns course or heau'ns inside to see: Why shouldst thou toil our thorny soile to till? Leaue Sense, and those which Senses obiects be; Deale thou with powers of thoughts, leaue Loue to Will.
But thou wouldst needs fight with both Loue and Sence, With sword of wit giuing wounds of dispraise, Till downe-right blowes did foyle thy cunning fence; For, soone as they strake thee with Stellas rayes, Reason, thou kneeld'st, and offred'st straight to proue, By reason good, good reason her to loue.
XI In truth, O Loue, with what a boyish kind Thou doest proceed in thy most serious ways, That when the heau'n to thee his best displayes, Yet of that best thou leau'st the best behinde! For, like a childe that some faire booke doth find, With gilded leaues or colour'd vellum playes, Or, at the most, on some fine picture stayes, But neuer heeds the fruit of Writers mind; So when thou saw'st, in Natures cabinet, Stella, thou straight lookst babies in her eyes: In her chekes pit thou didst thy pitfold set, And in her breast bo-peepe or crouching lies, Playing and shining in each outward part; But, fool, seekst not to get into her heart.
XII Cupid, because thou shin'st in Stellaes eyes That from her locks thy day-nets none scapes free That those lips sweld so full of thee they be That her sweet breath makes oft thy flames to rise That in her breast thy pap well sugred lies That her grace gracious makes thy wrongsthat she, What words soere shee speake, perswades for thee That her clere voice lifts thy fame to the skies, Thou countest Stella thine, like those whose pow'rs Hauing got vp a breach by fighting well, Crie Victorie, this faire day all is ours! O no; her heart is such a cittadell, So fortified with wit, stor'd with disdaine, That to win it is all the skill and paine.
XIII Phoebus was iudge betweene Ioue, Mars, and Loue, Of those three gods, whose armes the fairest were.
Ioues golden shield did sable eagles beare, Whose talons held young Ganimed aboue: But in vert field Mars bare a golden speare, Which through a bleeding heart his point did shoue: Each had his creast; Mars carried Venus gloue, Ioue on his helmet the thunderbolt did reare.
Cupid then smiles, for on his crest there lies Stellas faire haire; her face he makes his shield, Where roses gules are borne in siluer field.
Phoebus drew wide the curtaines of the skies, To blaze these last, and sware deuoutly then, The first, thus matcht, were scantly gentlemen.
XIV Alas, haue I not pain enough, my friend, Vpon whose breast a fiecer Gripe doth tire Than did on him who first stale down the fire, While Loue on me doth all his quiuer spend, But with your rhubarbe words ye must contend To grieue me worse, in saying that Desire Doth plunge my wel-form'd soul euen in the mire Of sinfull thoughts, which do in ruin end? If that be sinne which doth the manners frame, Well staid with truth in word and faith of deede, Ready of wit, and fearing nought but shame; If that be sin which in fixt hearts doth breed A loathing of all loose vnchastitie, Then loue is sin, and let me sinfull be.
XV You that do search for euery purling spring Which from the ribs of old Parnassus flowes, And euery flower, not sweet perhaps, which growes Neere thereabouts, into your poesie wring; Ye that do dictionaries methode bring Into your rimes, running in rattling rowes; You that poore Petrarchs long deceased woes With new-borne sighes and denisen'd wit do sing; You take wrong wayes; those far-fet helps be such As do bewray a want of inward tuch, And sure, at length stol'n goods doe come to light: But if, both for your loue and skill, your name You seek to nurse at fullest breasts of Fame, Stella behold, and then begin to indite.
XVI In nature, apt to like, when I did see Beauties which were of many carrets fine, My boiling sprites did thither then incline, And, Loue, I thought that I was full of thee: But finding not those restlesse flames in mee, Which others said did make their souls to pine, I thought those babes of some pinnes hurt did whine, By my soul iudging what Loues paine might be.
But while I thus with this young lion plaid, Mine eyes (shall I say curst or blest?) beheld Stella: now she is nam'd, neede more be said? In her sight I a lesson new haue speld.
I now haue learnd loue right, and learnd euen so As they that being poysond poyson know.
XVII His mother deere, Cupid offended late, Because that Mars, growne slacker in her loue, With pricking shot he did not throughly moue To keepe the place of their first louing state.
The boy refusde for fear of Marses hate, Who threatned stripes if he his wrath did proue; But she, in chafe, him from her lap did shoue, Brake bowe, brake shafts, while Cupid weeping sate; Till that his grandame Nature, pitying it, Of Stellaes brows made him two better bowes, And in her eyes of arrows infinit.
O how for ioy he leaps! O how he crowes! And straight therewith, like wags new got to play, Falls to shrewd turnes! And I was in his way.
XVIII With what sharp checkes I in myself am shent When into Reasons audite I do goe, And by iust counts my selfe a bankrout know Of all those goods which heauen to me hath lent; Vnable quite to pay euen Natures rent, Which vnto it by birthright I do ow; And, which is worse, no good excuse can showe, But that my wealth I haue most idly spent! My youth doth waste, my knowledge brings forth toyes, My wit doth striue those passions to defende, Which, for reward, spoil it with vain annoyes.
I see, my course to lose myself doth bend; I see: and yet no greater sorrow take Than that I lose no more for Stellas sake.
XIX On Cupids bowe how are my heart-strings bent, That see my wracke, and yet embrace the same! When most I glory, then I feele most shame; I willing run, yet while I run repent; My best wits still their own disgrace inuent: My very inke turns straight to Stellas name; And yet my words, as them my pen doth frame, Auise them selues that they are vainely spent: For though she passe all things, yet what is all That vnto me, who fare like him that both Lookes to the skies and in a ditch doth fall? O let me prop my mind, yet in his growth, And not in nature for best fruits vnfit.
Scholler, saith Loue, bend hitherward your wit.
XX Fly, fly, my friends; I haue my deaths wound, fly; See there that Boy, that murthring Boy I say, Who like a theefe hid in dark bush doth ly, Till bloudy bullet get him wrongfull pray.
So, tyran he no fitter place could spie, Nor so faire leuell in so secret stay, As that sweet black which veils the heau'nly eye; There with his shot himself he close doth lay.
Poore passenger, pass now thereby I did, And staid, pleas'd with the prospect of the place, While that black hue from me the the bad guest hid: But straight I saw the motions of lightning grace, And then descried the glistrings of his dart: But ere I could flie thence, it pierc'd my heart.
XXI Your words, my friend, (right healthfull caustiks), blame My young mind marde, whom Loue doth windlas so; That mine owne writings, like bad seruants, show My wits quicke in vaine thoughts, in vertue lame; That Plato I read for nought but if he tame Such coltish yeeres; that to my birth I owe Nobler desires, lest else that friendly foe, Great expectation, wear a train of shame: For since mad March great promise made of mee, If now the May of my yeeres much decline, What can be hop'd my haruest-time will be? Sure, you say well, Your wisedomes golden myne Dig deepe with Learnings spade.
Now tell me this: Hath this world aught so fair as Stella is? XXII In highest way of heau'n the Sun did ride, Progressing then from fair Twinnes golden place, Hauing no mask of clouds before his face, But streaming forth of heate in his chiefe pride; When some fair ladies, by hard promise tied, On horsebacke met him in his furious race; Yet each prepar'd with fannes wel-shading grace From that foes wounds their tender skinnes to hide.
Stella alone with face vnarmed marcht, Either to do like him which open shone, Or carelesse of the wealth, because her owne.
Yet were the hid and meaner beauties parcht; Her dainties bare went free: the cause was this: The sun, that others burn'd, did her but kisse.
XXIII The curious wits, seeing dull pensiuenesse Bewray it self in my long-settl'd eies Whence those same fumes of melancholy rise, With idle paines and missing ayme do guesse.
Some, that know how my spring I did addresse, Deem that my Muse some fruit of knowledge plies; Others, because the prince my seruice tries, Thinke that I think State errours to redress: But harder iudges iudge ambitions rage: Scourge of itselfe, still climbing slipperie place: Holds my young brain captiu'd in golden cage.
O fooles, or ouer-wise.
alas, the race Of all my thoughts hath neither stop nor start But only Stellaes eyes and Stellaes heart.
XXIV Rich fooles there be whose base and filthy heart Lies hatching still the goods wherein they flow, And damning their own selues to Tantals smart, Wealth breeding want; more rich, more wretched growe: Yet to those fooles Heau'n doth such wit impart As what their hands do hold, their heads do know, And knowing loue, and louing lay apart As sacred things, far from all dangers show.
But that rich foole, who by blind Fortunes lot The richest gemme of loue and life enioys, And can with foule abuse such beauties blot; Let him, depriu'd of sweet but vnfelt ioys, Exild for ay from those high treasures which He knowes not, grow in only folly rich! XXV The wisest scholler of the wight most wise By Phoebus doom, with sugred sentence sayes, That vertue, if it once met with our eyes, Strange flames of loue it in our souls would raise; But for that man with paine this truth descries, Whiles he each thing in Senses balance wayes, And so nor will nor can behold those skies Which inward sunne to heroick mind displaies Vertue of late, with vertuous care to ster Loue of herself, tooke Stellas shape, that she To mortall eyes might sweetly shine in her.
It is most true; for since I her did see, Vertues great beauty in that face I proue, And find th' effect, for I do burn in loue.
XXVI Though dustie wits dare scorne Astrologie, And fooles can thinke those lampes of purest light Whose numbers, waies, greatnesse, eternity, Promising wonders, wonder do inuite To haue for no cause birthright in the sky But for to spangle the black weeds of Night; Or for some brawl which in that chamber hie, They should still dance to please a gazers sight.
For me, I do Nature vnidle know, And know great causes great effects procure; And know those bodies high raigne on the low.
And if these rules did fail, proof makes me sure, Who oft fore-see my after-following race, By only those two starres in Stellaes face.
XXVII Because I oft in darke abstracted guise Seeme most alone in greatest company, With dearth of words, or answers quite awrie, To them that would make speech of speech arise; They deeme, and of their doome the runour flies, That poison foul of bubbling pride doth lie So in my swelling breast, that only I Fawne on my selfe, and others do despise.
Yet pride I thinke doth not my soule possesse (Which looks too oft in his vnflatt'ring glasse): But one worse fault, ambition, I confesse, That makes me oft my best friends ouerpasse, Vnseene, vnheard, while thought to highest place Bends all his powers, euen vnto Stellaes grace.
XXVIII You that with Allegories curious frame Of others children changelings vse to make, With me those pains, for Gods sake, do not take: I list not dig so deep for brazen fame, When I say Stella I do meane the same Princesse of beauty for whose only sake The raines of Loue I loue, though neuer slake, And ioy therein, though nations count it shame.
I beg no subiect to vse eloquence, Nor in hid wayes to guide philosophy: Looke at my hands for no such quintessence; But know that I in pure simplicitie Breathe out the flames which burn within my heart, Loue onely reading vnto me this arte.
XXIX Like some weak lords neighbord by mighty kings, To keep themselues and their chief cities free, Do easily yeeld that all their coasts may be Ready to store their campes of needfull things; So Stellas heart, finding what power Loue brings To keep it selfe in life and liberty, Doth willing graunt that in the frontiers he Vse all to helpe his other conquerings.
And thus her heart escapes; but thus her eyes Serue him with shot, her lips his heralds are, Her breasts his tents, legs his triumphall car, Her flesh his food, her skin his armour braue.
And I, but for because my prospect lies Vpon that coast, am given vp for slaue.
XXX Whether the Turkish new moone minded be To fill her hornes this yeere on Christian coast; How Poles right king means without leaue of host To warm with ill-made fire cold Muscouy; If French can yet three parts in one agree: What now the Dutch in their full diets boast; How Holland hearts, now so good townes be lost, Trust in the shade of pleasant Orange-tree; How Vlster likes of that same golden bit Wherewith my father once made it half tame; If in the Scotch Court be no weltring yet; These questions busy wits to me do frame: I, cumbred with good manners, answer doe, But know not how; for still I thinke of you.
XXXI With how sad steps, O Moone, thou climbst the skies! How silently, and with how wanne a face! What, may it be that euen in heau'nly place That busie archer his sharpe arrowes tries? Sure, if that long-with-loue-acquainted eyes Can iudge of loue, thou feel'st a louers case, I reade it in thy lookes: thy languist grace, To me that feele the like, thy state discries.
Then, eu'n of fellowship, O Moone, tell me, Is constant loue deem'd there but want of wit? Are beauties there as proud as here they be? Do they aboue loue to be lou'd, and yet Those louers scorn whom that loue doth possesse? Do they call vertue there vngratefulnesse? XXXII Morpheus, the liuely sonne of deadly Sleepe, Witnesse of life to them that liuing die, A prophet oft, and oft an historie, A poet eke, as humours fly or creepe; Since thou in me so sure a pow'r dost keepe, That neuer I with clos'd-vp sense do lie, But by thy worke my Stella I descrie, Teaching blind eyes both how to smile and weepe; Vouchsafe, of all acquaintance, this to tell, Whence hast thou ivory, rubies, pearl, and gold, To shew her skin, lips, teeth, and head so well? Foole! answers he; no Indes such treasures hold; But from thy heart, while my sire charmeth thee, Sweet Stellas image I do steal to mee.
XXXIII I might (vnhappy word!) O me, I might, And then I would not, or could not, see my blisse, Till now wrapt in a most infernall night, I find how heau'nly day, wretch! I did misse.
Hart, rend thyself, thou dost thyself but right; No louely Paris made thy Hellen his; No force, no fraud robd thee of thy delight, Nor Fortune of thy fortune author is, But to my selfe my selfe did giue the blow, While too much wit, forsooth, so troubled me That I respects for both our sakes must show: And yet could not, by rysing morne fore-see How fair a day was near: O punisht eyes, That I had bene more foolish, or more wise! XXXIV Come, let me write.
And to what end? To ease A burthen'd heart.
How can words ease, which are The glasses of thy dayly-vexing care? Oft cruel fights well pictur'd-forth do please.
Art not asham'd to publish thy disease? Nay, that may breed my fame, it is so rare.
But will not wise men thinke thy words fond ware? Then be they close, and so none shall displease.
What idler thing then speake and not be hard? What harder thing then smart and not to speake? Peace, foolish wit! with wit my wit is mard.
Thus write I, while I doubt to write, and wreake My harmes in inks poor losse.
Perhaps some find Stellas great pow'rs, that so confuse my mind.
XXXV What may words say, or what may words not say, Where Truth itself must speake like Flatterie? Within what bounds can one his liking stay, Where Nature doth with infinite agree? What Nestors counsell can my flames alay, Since Reasons self doth blow the coale in me? And, ah, what hope that Hope should once see day, Where Cupid is sworn page to Chastity? Honour is honour'd that thou dost possesse Him as thy slaue, and now long-needy Fame Doth euen grow rich, meaning my Stellaes name.
Wit learnes in thee perfection to expresse: Not thou by praise, but praise in thee is raisde: It is a praise to praise, when thou art praisde.
XXXVI Stella, whence doth these new assaults arise, A conquerd yeelding ransackt heart to winne, Whereto long since, through my long-battred eyes, Whole armies of thy beauties entred in? And there, long since, Loue, thy lieutenant, lies; My forces razde, thy banners raisd within: Of conquest, do not these effects suffice, But wilt new warre vpon thine own begin? With so sweet voice, and by sweet Nature so In sweetest stratagems sweete Art can show, That not my soul, which at thy foot did fall Long since, forc'd by thy beams, but stone nor tree, By Sences priviledge, can scape from thee! XXXVII My mouth doth water, and my breast doth swell, My tongue doth itch, my thoughts in labour be: Listen then, lordings, with good ear to me, For of my life I must a riddle tell.
Toward Auroras Court a nymph doth dwell, Rich in all beauties which mans eye can see; Beauties so farre from reach of words that we Abase her praise saying she doth excell; Rich in the treasure of deseru'd renowne, Rich in the riches of a royall heart, Rich in those gifts which giue th'eternall crowne; Who, though most rich in these and eu'ry part Which make the patents of true worldy blisse, Hath no misfortune but that Rich she is.
XXXVIII This night, while sleepe begins with heauy wings To hatch mine eyes, and that vnbitted thought Doth fall to stray, and my chief powres are brought To leaue the scepter of all subiect things; The first that straight my fancys errour brings Vnto my mind is Stellas image, wrought By Loues own selfe, but with so curious drought That she, methinks, not onley shines but sings.
I start, look, hearke: but in what closde-vp sence Was held, in opend sense it flies away, Leauing me nought but wayling eloquence.
I, seeing better sights in sights decay, Cald it anew, and wooed Sleepe again; But him, her host, that vnkind guest had slain.
XXXIX Come, Sleepe! O Sleepe, the certaine knot of peace, The baiting-place of wit, the balme of woe, The poor mans wealth, the prisoners release, Th' indifferent iudge betweene the high and low! With shield of proofe shield me from out the prease Of those fierce darts Despaire at me doth throw.
O make in me those ciuil wars to cease; I will good tribute pay, if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillowes, sweetest bed, A chamber deafe of noise and blind of light, A rosie garland and a weary hed: And if these things, as being thine in right, Moue not thy heauy grace, thou shalt in me, Liuelier then else-where, Stellaes image see.
XL As good to write, as for to lie and grone.
O Stella deare, how much thy powre hath wrought, That hast my mind (now of the basest) brought My still-kept course, while others sleepe, to mone! Alas, if from the height of Vertues throne Thou canst vouchsafe the influence of a thought Vpon a wretch that long thy grace hath sought, Weigh then how I by thee am ouerthrowne, And then thinke thus: although thy beautie be Made manifest by such a victorie, Yet noble conquerours do wreckes auoid.
Since then thou hast so farre subdued me That in my heart I offer still to thee, O do not let thy temple be destroyd! XLI Hauing this day my horse, my hand, my launce Guided so well that I obtain'd the prize, Both by the iudgement of the English eyes And of some sent from that sweet enemy Fraunce; Horsemen my skill in horsemanship aduaunce, Towne folkes my strength; a daintier iudge applies His praise to sleight which from good vse doth rise; Some luckie wits impute it but to chance; Others, because of both sides I doe take My blood from them who did excell in this, Thinke Nature me a man-at-armes did make.
How farre they shot awrie! The true cause is, Stella lookt on, and from her heau'nly face Sent forth the beames which made so faire my race.
XLII O eyes, which do the spheres of beauty moue; Whose beames be ioyes, whose ioyes all vertues be, Who, while they make Loue conquer, conquer Loue; The schooles where Venus hath learnd chastitie: O eyes, where humble lookes most glorious proue, Onely lou'd Tyrans, iust in cruelty, Do not, O doe not, from poore me remoue: Keep still my zenith, euer shine on me; For though I neuer see them, but straightwayes My life forgets to nourish languisht sprites, Yet still on me, O eyes, dart down your rayes! And if from majestie of sacred lights Oppressing mortal sense my death proceed, Wraceks triumphs be which Loue hie set doth breed.
XLIII Faire eyes, sweet lips, dear heart, that foolish I Could hope, by Cupids help, on you to pray, Since to himselfe he doth your gifts apply, As his maine force, choise sport, and easefull stay! For when he will see who dare him gain-say, Then with those eyes he looeks: lo, by and by Each soule doth at Loues feet his weapons lay, Glad if for her he giue them leaue to die.
When he will play, then in her lips he is, Where, blushing red, that Loues selfe them doe loue, With either lip he doth the other kisse; But when he will, for quiets sake, remoue From all the world, her heart is then his rome, Where well he knowes no man to him can come.
XLIV My words I know do well set forth my minde; My mind bemones his sense of inward smart; Such smart may pitie claim of any hart; Her heart, sweet heart, is of no tygres kind: And yet she heares and yet no pitie I find, But more I cry, less grace she doth impart.
Alas, what cause is there so ouerthwart That Nobleness it selfe makes thus vnkind? I much do ghesse, yet finde no truth saue this, That when the breath of my complaints doth tuch Those dainty doors vnto the Court of Blisse, The heau'nly nature of that place is such, That, once come there, the sobs of mine annoyes Are metamorphos'd straight to tunes of ioyes.
XLV Stella oft sees the very face of wo Painted in my beclowded stormie face, But cannot skill to pitie my disgrace, Not though thereof the cause herself she know: Yet, hearing late a fable which did show Of louers neuer knowne, a grieuous case, Pitie thereof gate in her breast such place, That, from that sea deriu'd, teares spring did flow.
Alas, if Fancie, drawne by imag'd things Though false, yet with free scope, more grace doth breed Than seruants wracke, where new doubts honour brings; Then thinke, my deare, that you in me do reed Of louers ruine some thrise-sad tragedie.
I am not I: pitie the tale of me.
XLVI I curst thee oft, I pitie now thy case, Blind-hitting Boy, since she that thee and me Rules with a becke, so tyranniseth thee, That thou must want or food or dwelling-place, For she protests to banish thee her face.
Her face! O Loue, a roge thou then shouldst be, If Loue learne not alone to loue and see, Without desire to feed of further grace.
Alas, poor wag, that now a scholler art To such a schoolmistresse, whose lessons new Thou needs must misse, and so thou needs must smart.
Yet, deare, let me his pardon get of you, So long, though he from book myche to desire, Till without fewell you can make hot fire.
XLVII What, haue I thus betray'd my libertie? Can those blacke beames such burning markes engraue In my free side, or am I borne a slaue, Whose necke becomes such yoke of tyrannie? Or want I sense to feel my misery, Or sprite, disdaine of such disdaine to haue, Who for long faith, tho' daily helpe I craue, May get no almes, but scorne of beggarie.
Vertue, awake! Beautie but beautie is; I may, I must, I can, I will, I do Leaue following that which it is gain to misse.
Let her goe! Soft, but here she comes! Goe to, Vnkind, I loue you not! O me, that eye Doth make my heart to giue my tongue the lie! XLVIII Soules ioy, bend not those morning starres from me Where Vertue is made strong by Beauties might; Where Loue is chasteness, Paine doth learn delight, And Humbleness growes one with Maiesty.
Whateuer may ensue, O let me be Copartner of the riches of that sight.
Let not mine eyes be hel-driu'n from that light; O look, O shine, O let me die, and see.
For though I oft myself of them bemone That through my heart their beamie darts be gone, Whose cureless wounds euen now most freshly bleed, Yet since my death-wound is already got, Deere killer, spare not thy sweete-cruell shot: A kinde of grace it is to slaye with speed.
XLIX I on my horse, and Loue on me, doth trie Our horsemanships, while by strange worke I proue A horsman to my horse, a horse to Loue, And now mans wrongs in me, poor beast! descrie.
The raines wherewith my rider doth me tie Are humbled thoughts, which bit of reuerence moue, Curb'd-in with feare, but with gilt bosse aboue Of hope, which makes it seem fair to the eye: The wand is will; thou, Fancie, saddle art, Girt fast by Memorie; and while I spurre My horse, he spurres with sharpe desire my hart.
He sits me fast, howeuer I do sturre, And now hath made me to his hand so right, That in the manage my selfe take delight.
L Stella, the fullnesse of my thoughts of thee Cannot be staid within my panting breast, But they do swell and struggle forth of me, Till that in words thy figure be exprest: And yet, as soone as they so formed be, According to my lord Loues oene behest, With sad eies I their weak proportion see To portrait that which in this world is best.
So that I cannot chuse but write my mind, And cannot chuse but put out what I write, While these poor babes their death in birth do find; And now my pen these lines had dashed quite But that they stopt his fury from the same, Because their forefront bare sweet Stellas name.
LI Pardon mine ears, both I and they do pray, So may your tongue still flauntingly proceed To them that do such entertainment need, So may you still haue somewhat new to say.
On silly me do not the burthen lay Of all the graue conceits your braine doth breed, But find some Hercules to beare, insteed Of Atlas tyrd, your wisedoms heau'nly sway.
For me, while you discourse of courtly tides, Of cunningest fishers in most troubled streames, Of straying waies, when valiant Errour guides, Meanewhile my heart confers with Stellas beames, And is e'en woe that so sweet comedie By such vnsuted speech should hindred be.
LII A strife is growne between Vertue and Loue, While each pretends that Stella must be his: Her eyes, her lips, her all, saith Loue, do this, Since they do weare his badge, most firmly proue.
But Virtue thus that title doth disproue, That Stella (O dear name!) that Stella is That vertuous soule, sure heire of heau'nly blisse.
Not this faire outside, which our heart doth moue.
And therefore, though her beautie and her grace Be Loues indeed, in Stellas selfe he may By no pretence claime any manner place.
Well, Loue, since this demurre our sute doth stay, Let Vertue haue that Stellaes selfe, yet thus, That Vertue but that body graunt to vs.
LIII In martiall sports I had my cunning tride, And yet to breake more staues did mee addresse, While, with the peoples shouts, I must confesse, Youth, lucke, and praise euen fil'd my veines with pride; When Cupid, hauing me, his slaue, descride In Marses livery prauncing in the presse, What now, Sir Foole! said he, (I would no lesse:) Looke here, I say! I look'd, and Stella spide, Who, hard by, made a window send forth light.
My heart then quak'd, then dazled were mine eyes, One hand forgat to rule, th'other to fight, Nor trumpets sound I heard, nor friendly cries: My foe came on, and beate the air for me, Till that her blush taught me my shame to see.
LIV Because I breathe not loue to euery one, Nor doe not vse sette colours for to weare, Nor nourish speciall locks of vowed haire, Nor giue each speech a full point of a grone, The Courtly Nymphes, acquainted with the mone Of them wich in their lips Loues Standard beare: What, he! (say they of me): now I dare sweare He cannot loue; no,no, let him alone.
And thinke so still, so Stella know my minde; Profess in deede I do not Cupids art; But you, fair maides, at length this true shall find, That his right badge is but worne in the hart: Dumbe Swans, not chattering Pyes, do louers proue; They loue indeed who quake to say they loue.
LV Muses, I oft inuoked your holy ayde, With choisest flowers my speech t' engarland so, That it, despisde, in true but naked shew Might winne some grace in your sweet grace arraid; And oft whole troupes of saddest words I staid, Striuing abroad a-foraging to go, Vntill by your inspiring I might know How their blacke banner might be best displaid.
But now I meane no more your helpe to try, Nor other sugring of my speech to proue, But on her name incessantly to cry; For let me but name her whom I doe loue, So sweet sounds straight mine eare and heart do hit, That I well finde no eloquence like it.
LVI Fy, schoole of Patience, fy! your Lesson is Far, far too long to learne it without booke: What, a whole weeke without one peece of looke, And thinke I should not your large precepts misse! When I might reade those Letters faire of blisse Which in her face teach vertue, I could brooke Somwhat thy leaden counsels, which I tooke As of a friend that meant not much amisse.
But now that I, alas, doe want her sight, What, dost thou thinke that I can euer take In thy cold stuffe a flegmatike delight? No, Patience; if thou wilt my good, then make Her come and heare with patience my desire, And then with patience bid me beare my fire.
LVII Who hauing made, with many fights, his owne Each sence of mine, each gift, each pow'r of mind; Growne now his slaues, he forst them out to find The thorowest words fit for Woes selfe to grone, Hoping that when they might finde Stella alone, Before she could prepare to be vnkind, Her soule, arm'd but with such a dainty rind, Should soone be pierc'd with sharpnesse of the mone.
She heard my plaints, and did not onely heare, But them, so sweet is she, most sweetly sing, With that faire breast making Woes darknesse cleare.
A pretie case; I hoped her to bring To feele my griefe; and she, with face and voyce, So sweets my paines that my paines me reioyce.
LVIII Doubt there hath beene when with his golden chaine The orator so farre mens hearts doth bind, That no pace else their guided steps can find But as he them more short or slack doth raine; Whether with words this soueraignty he gaine, Cloth'd with fine tropes, with strongest reasons lin'd, Or else pronouncing grace, wherewith his mind Prints his owne liuely forme in rudest braine.
Now iudge by this: in piercing phrases late Th' Anatomie of all my woes I wrate; Stellas sweet breath the same to me did reed.
O voyce, O face! maugre my speeches might, Which wooed wo, most rauishing delight Euen those sad words euen in sad me did breed.
LIX Deere, why make you more of a dog then me? If he doe loue, I burne, I burne in loue; If he waite well, I neuer thence would moue; If he be faire, yet but a dog can be; Little he is, so little worth is he; He barks, my songs thine owne voyce oft doth proue; Bidden, perhaps he fetched thee a gloue, But I, vnbid, fetch euen my soule to thee.
Yet, while I languish, him that bosome clips, That lap doth lap, nay lets, in spite of spite, This sowre-breath'd mate taste of those sugred lips.
Alas, if you graunt onely such delight To witlesse things, then Loue, I hope (since wit Becomes a clog) will soone ease me of it.
LX When my good Angell guides me to the place Where all my good I doe in Stella see, That heau'n of ioyes throwes onely downe on me Thundring disdaines and lightnings of disgrace; But when the ruggedst step of Fortunes race Makes me fall from her sight, then sweetly she, With words wherein the Muses treasures be, Shewes loue and pitie to my absent case.
Now I, wit-beaten long by hardest fate, So dull am, that I cannot looke into The ground of this fierce loue and louely hate.
Then, some good body, tell me how I do, Whose presence absence, absence presence is; Blest in my curse, and cursed in my blisse.
LXI Oft with true sighs, oft with vncalled teares, Now with slow words, now with dumbe eloquence, I Stellas eyes assaid, inuade her eares; But this, at last, is her sweet breath'd defence: That who indeed in-felt affection beares, So captiues to his Saint both soule and sence, That, wholly hers, all selfenesse he forbeares, Then his desires he learnes, his liues course thence.
Now, since her chast mind hates this loue in me, With chastned mind I straight must shew that she Shall quickly me from what she hates remoue.
O Doctor Cupid, thou for me reply; Driu'n else to graunt, by Angels Sophistrie, That I loue not without I leaue to loue.
LXII Late tyr'd with wo, euen ready for to pine With rage of loue, I cald my Loue vnkind; She in whose eyes loue, though vnfelt, doth shine, Sweet said, that I true loue in her should find.
I ioyed; but straight thus watred was my wine; That loue she did, but lou'd a loue not blind; Which would not let me, whom shee lou'd, decline From nobler course, fit for my birth and mind: And therefore, by her loues Authority, Wild me these tempests of vaine loue to flie, And anchor fast my selfe on Vertues shore.
Alas, if this the only mettall be Of loue new-coin'd to help my beggary, Deere, loue me not, that you may loue me more.
LXIII O grammer-rules, O now your vertues show; So children still reade you with awfull eyes, As my young doue may, in your precepts wise, Her graunt to me by her owne vertue know: For late, with heart most hie, with eyes most lowe, I crau'd the thing which euer she denies; Shee, lightning loue, displaying Venus skies, Least once should not be heard, twise said, No, no.
Sing then, my Muse, now Io Pæn sing; Heau'ns enuy not at my high triumphing, But grammers force with sweete successe confirme: For grammer says, (O this, deare Stella , say,) For grammer sayes, (to grammer who sayes nay?) That in one speech two negatiues affirme! LXIV No more, my deare, no more these counsels trie; O giue my passions leaue to run their race; Let Fortune lay on me her worst disgrace; Let folke orecharg'd with braine against me crie; Let clouds bedimme my face, breake in mine eye; Let me no steps but of lost labour trace; Let all the earth with scorne recount my case, But do not will me from my loue to flie.
I do not enuie Aristotless wit, Nor do aspire to Cæsars bleeding fame; Nor ought do care though some aboue me sit; Nor hope, nor wish another course to frame But that which once may win thy cruell hart: Thou art my wit, and thou my vertue art.
LXV Loue, by sure proofe I may call thee vnkind, That giu'st no better ear to my iust cries; Thou whom to me such good turnes should bind, As I may well recount, but none can prize: For when, nak'd Boy, thou couldst no harbour finde In this old world, growne now so too, too wise, I lodgd thee in my heart, and being blind By nature borne, I gaue to thee mine eyes; Mine eyes! my light, my heart, my life, alas! If so great seruices may scorned be, Yet let this thought thy Tygrish courage passe, That I perhaps am somewhat kinne to thee; Since in thine armes, if learnd fame truth hath spread, Thou bear'st the Arrow, I the Arrow-head.
LXVI And do I see some cause a hope to feede, Or doth the tedious burden of long wo In weaken'd minds quick apprehending breed Of euerie image which may comfort shew? I cannot brag of word, much lesse of deed, Fortune wheeles still with me in one sort slow; My wealth no more, and no whit lesse my need; Desier still on stilts of Feare doth go.
And yet amid all feares a hope there is, Stolne to my hart since last faire night, nay day, Stellas eyes sent to me the beames of blisse, Looking on me while I lookt other way: But when mine eyes backe to their heau'n did moue, They fled with blush which guiltie seem'd of loue.
LXVII Hope, art thou true, or doest thou flatter me? Doth Stella now beginne with piteous eye The ruines of her conquest to espie? Will she take time before all wracked be? Her eyes-speech is translated thus by thee, But failst thou not in phrases so heau'nly hye? Looke on againe, the faire text better prie; What blushing notes dost thou in Margent see? What sighes stolne out, or kild before full-borne? Hast thou found such and such-like arguments, Or art thou else to comfort me forsworne? Well, how-so thou interpret the contents, I am resolu'd thy errour to maintaine, Rather then by more truth to get more paine.
LXVIII Stella, the onely planet of my light, Light of my life, and life of my desire, Chiefe good whereto my hope doth only aspire, World of my wealth, and heau'n of my delight; Why dost thou spend the treasures of thy sprite With voice more fit to wed Amphions lyre, Seeking to quench in me the noble fire Fed by thy worth, and kindled by thy sight? And all in vaine: for while thy breath most sweet With choisest words, thy words with reasons rare, Thy reasons firmly set on Vertues feet, Labour to kill in me this killing care: O thinke I then, what paradise of ioy It is, so faire a vertue to enioy! LXIX O ioy to high for my low stile to show! O blisse fit for a nobler seat then me! Enuie, put out thine eyes, least thou do see What oceans of delight in me do flowe! My friend, that oft saw through all maskes my wo, Come, come, and let me powre my selfe on thee.
Gone is the Winter of my miserie! My Spring appeares; O see what here doth grow: For Stella hath, with words where faith doth shine, Of her high heart giu'n me the Monarchie: I, I, O I, may say that she is mine! And though she giue but thus conditionly, This realme of blisse while vertuous course I take, No kings be crown'd but they some couenants make.
LXX My Muse may well grudge at my heau'nly ioy, Yf still I force her in sad rimes to creepe: She oft hath drunk my teares, now hopes to enioy Nectar of mirth, since I Ioues cup do keepe.
Sonets be not bound Prentice to annoy; Trebles sing high, so well as bases deepe; Griefe but Loues winter-liuerie is; the boy Hath cheekes to smile, so well as eyes to weepe.
Come then, my Muse, shew thou height of delight In well-raisde notes; my pen, the best it may, Shall paint out ioy, though in but blacke and white.
Cease, eager Muse; peace, pen, for my sake stay, I giue you here my hand for truth of this, Wise silence is best musicke vnto blisse.
LXXI Who will in fairest booke of Nature know How vertue may best lodg'd in Beautie be, Let him but learne of Loue to reade in thee, Stella, those faire lines which true goodnesse show.
There shall he find all vices ouerthrow, Not by rude force, but sweetest soueraigntie Of reason, from whose light those night-birds flie, That inward sunne in thine eyes shineth so.
And, not content to be Perfections heire Thy selfe, doest striue all minds that way to moue, Who marke in thee what is in thee most faire: So while thy beautie drawes the heart to loue, As fast thy vertue bends that loue to good: But, ah, Desire still cries, Giue me some food.
LXXII Desire, though thou my old companion art, And oft so clings to my pure loue that I One from the other scarcely can discrie, While each doth blowe the fier of my hart; Now from thy fellowship I needs must part; Venus is taught with Dians wings to flie; I must no more in thy sweet passions lie; Vertues gold must now head my Cupids dart.
Seruice and honour, wonder with delight, Feare to offend, will worthie to appeare, Care shining in mine eyes, faith in my sprite; These things are left me by my onely Deare: But thou, Desire, because thou wouldst haue all, Now banisht art; but yet, alas, how shall? LXXIII Loue, still a Boy, and oft a wanton is, School'd onely by his mothers tender eye; What wonder then if he his lesson misse, When for so soft a rodde deare play he trye? And yet my Starre, because a sugred kisse In sport I suckt while she asleepe did lye, Doth lowre, nay chide, nay threat for only this.
Sweet, it was saucie Loue, not humble I.
But no scuse serues; she makes her wrath appeare In beauties throne: see now, who dares come neare Those scarlet Iudges, thretning bloudie paine.
O heau'nly foole, thy most kisse-worthy face Anger inuests with such a louely grace, That Angers selfe I needs must kisse againe.
LXXIV I neuer dranke of Aganippe well, Nor euer did in shade of Tempe sit, And Muses scorne with vulgar brains to dwell; Poore Layman I, for sacred rites vnfit.
Some doe I heare of Poets fury tell, But, God wot, wot not what they meane by it; And this I sweare by blackest brooke of hell, I am no pick-purse of anothers wit.
How falles it then, that with so smooth an ease My thoughts I speake; and what I speake doth flow In verse, and that my verse best wits doth please? Ghesse we the cause? What, is it this? Fie, no.
Or so? Much lesse.
How then? Sure thus it is, My lips are sweet, inspir'd with Stellas kisse.
LXXV Of all the Kings that euer here did raigne, Edward, nam'd fourth, as first in praise I name: Not for his faire outside, nor well-lin'd braine, Although lesse gifts impe feathers oft on fame.
Nor that he could, young-wise, wise-valiant, frame His sires reuenge, ioyn'd with a kingdomes gaine; And gain'd by Mars, could yet mad Mars so tame, That balance weigh'd, what sword did late obtaine.
Nor that he made the floure-de-luce so 'fraid, (Though strongly hedg'd) of bloudy lyons pawes, That wittie Lewes to him a tribute paid: Nor this, nor that, nor any such small cause; But only for this worthy King durst proue To lose his crowne, rather than faile his loue.
LXXVI She comes, and streight therewith her shining twins do moue Their rayes to me, who in their tedious absence lay Benighted in cold wo; but now appears my day, The only light of ioy, the only warmth of loue.
She comes with light and warmth, which, like Aurora, proue Of gentle force, so that mine eyes dare gladly play With such a rosie Morne, whose beames, most freshly gay, Scorch not, but onely doe dark chilling sprites remoue.
But lo, while I do speake, it groweth noone with me, Her flamie-glistring lights increse with time and place, My heart cries, oh! it burnes, mine eyes now dazl'd be; No wind, no shade can coole: what helpe then in my case? But with short breath, long looks, staid feet, and aching hed, Pray that my Sunne goe downe with meeker beames to bed.
LXXVII Those lookes, whose beames be ioy, whose motion is delight; That face, whose lecture shews what perfect beauty is; That presence, which doth giue darke hearts a liuing light; That grace, which Venus weeps that she her selfe doth misse; That hand, which without touch holds more then Atlas might; Those lips, which make deaths pay a meane price for a kisse; That skin, whose passe-praise hue scornes this poor tearm of white; Those words, which do sublime the quintessence of bliss; That voyce, which makes the soule plant himselfe in the ears, That conuersation sweet, where such high comforts be, As, consterd in true speech, the name of heaun it beares; Makes me in my best thoughts and quietst iudgments see That in no more but these I might be fully blest: Yet, ah, my mayd'n Muse doth blush to tell the best.
LXXVIII O how the pleasant ayres of true loue be Infected by those vapours which arise From out that noysome gulfe, which gaping lies Betweene the iawes of hellish Ielousie! A monster, others harme, selfe-miserie, Beauties plague, Vertues scourge, succour of lies; Who his owne ioy to his owne hurt applies, And onely cherish doth with iniurie: Who since he hath, by Natures speciall grace, So piercing pawes as spoyle when they embrace; So nimble feet as stirre still, though on thornes; So many eyes, ay seeking their owne woe; So ample eares as neuer good newes know: Is it not euill that such a deuil wants hornes? LXXIX Sweet kisse, thy sweets I faine would sweetly endite, Which, euen of sweetnesse sweetest sweetner art; Pleasingst consort, where each sence holds a part; Which, coupling Doues, guides Venus chariot right.
Best charge, and brauest retrait in Cupids fight; A double key, which opens to the heart, Most rich when most riches it impart; Nest of young ioyes, Schoolemaster of delight, Teaching the meane at once to take and giue; The friendly fray, where blowes both wound and heale, The prettie death, while each in other liue.
Poore hopes first wealth, ostage of promist weale; Breakfast of loue.
But lo, lo, where she is, Cease we to praise; now pray we for a kisse.
LXXX Sweet-swelling lip, well maist thou swell in pride, Since best wits thinke it wit thee to admire; Natures praise, Vertues stall; Cupids cold fire, Whence words, not words but heau'nly graces slide; The new Parnassus, where the Muses bide; Sweetner of Musicke, Wisedomes beautifier, Breather of life, and fastner of desire, Where Beauties blush in Honors graine is dide.
Thus much my heart compeld my mouth to say; But now, spite of my heart, my mouth will stay, Loathing all lies, doubting this flatterie is: And no spurre can his resty race renewe, Without, how farre this praise is short of you, Sweet Lipp, you teach my mouth with one sweet kisse.
LXXXI O kisse, which dost those ruddie gemmes impart, Or gemmes or fruits of new-found Paradise, Breathing all blisse, and sweetning to the heart, Teaching dumbe lips a nobler exercise; O kisse, which soules, euen soules, together ties By linkes of loue and only Natures art, How faine would I paint thee to all mens eyes.
Or of thy gifts at least shade out some part! But she forbids; with blushing words she sayes She builds her fame on higher-seated praise.
But my heart burnes; I cannot silent be.
Then, since, dear life, you faine would haue me peace, And I, mad with delight, want wit to cease, Stop you my mouth with still still kissing me.
LXXXII Nymph of the garden where all beauties be, Beauties which do in excellencie passe His who till death lookt in a watrie glasse, Or hers whom nakd the Troian boy did see; Sweet-gard'n-nymph, which keepes the Cherrie-tree Whose fruit doth farre the Hesperian tast surpasse, Most sweet-faire, most faire-sweete, do not, alas, From comming neare those Cherries banish mee.
For though, full of desire, empty of wit, Admitted late by your best-graced grace, I caught at one of them, and hungry bit; Pardon that fault; once more grant me the place; And I do sweare, euen by the same delight, I will but kisse; I neuer more will bite.
LXXXIII Good brother Philip, I haue borne you long; I was content you should in fauour creepe, While craftely you seem'd your cut to keepe, As though that faire soft hand did you great wrong: I bare with enuie, yet I bare your song, When in her necke you did loue-ditties peepe; Nay (more foole I) oft suffred you to sleepe In lillies neast where Loues selfe lies along.
What, doth high place ambitious thoughts augment? Is sawcinesse reward of curtesie? Cannot such grace your silly selfe content, But you must needs with those lips billing be, And through those lips drinke nectar from that toong? Leaue that, Syr Phip, least off your neck be wroong! LXXXIV High way, since you my chiefe Pernassus be, And that my Muse, to some eares not vnsweet, Tempers her words to trampling horses feete More oft then to a chamber-melodie.
Now, blessed you beare onward blessed me To her, where I my heart, safe-left, shall meet; My Muse and I must you of dutie greet With thankes and wishes, wishing thankfully.
Be you still faire, honord by publicke heede; By no encroachment wrong'd, nor time forgot; Nor blam'd for bloud, nor sham'd for sinfull deed; And that you know I enuy you no lot Of highest wish, I wish you so much bliss, Hundreds of yeares you Stellaes feet may kisse.
LXXXV I see the house, (my heart thy selfe containe!) Beware full sailes drowne not thy tottring barge, Least ioy, by nature apt sprites to enlarge, Thee to thy wracke beyond thy limits straine; Nor do like Lords whose weake confused braine Not 'pointing to fit folkes each vndercharge, While euerie office themselues will discharge, With doing all, leaue nothing done but paine.
But giue apt seruants their due place: let eyes See beauties totall summe summ'd in her face; Let eares heare speach which wit to wonder ties; Let breath sucke vp those sweetes; let armes embrace The globe of weale, lips Loues indentures make; Thou but of all the kingly tribute take.
LXXXVI Alas, whence came this change of lookes? If I Haue chang'd desert, let mine owne conscience be A still-felt plague to selfe-condemning mee; Let woe gripe on my heart, shame loade mine eye: But if all faith, like spotlesse Ermine, ly Safe in my soule, which only doth to thee, As his sole obiect of felicitie, With wings of loue in aire of wonder flie, O ease your hand, treate not so hard your slaue; In iustice paines come not till faults do call: Or if I needs, sweet Iudge, must torments haue, Vse something else to chasten me withall Then those blest eyes, where all my hopes do dwell: No doome should make ones Heau'n become his Hell.
LXXXVII When I was forst from Stella euer deere, Stella, food of my thoughts, hart of my hart; Stella, whose eyes make all my tempests cleere, By Stellas lawes of duetie to depart; Alas, I found that she with me did smart; I saw that teares did in her eyes appeare; I sawe that sighes her sweetest lips did part, And her sad words my sadded sense did heare.
For me, I wept to see pearles scatter'd so; I sigh'd her sighes, and wailed for her wo; Yet swam in ioy, such loue in her was seene.
Thus, while th' effect most bitter was to me, And nothing then the cause more sweet could be, I had bene vext, if vext I had not beene.
LXXXVIII Out, traytor Absence, dar'st thou counsell me From my deare captainesse to run away, Because in braue array heere marcheth she, That, to win mee, oft shewes a present pay? Is faith so weake? or is such force in thee? When sun is hid, can starres such beames display? Cannot heau'ns food, once felt, keepe stomakes free From base desire on earthly cates to pray? Tush, Absence; while thy mistes eclipse that light, My orphan sense flies to the inward sight, Where memory sets forth the beames of loue; That, where before hart lou'd and eyes did see, In hart both sight and loue now coupled be: Vnited pow'rs make each the stronger proue.
LXXXIX Now that of absence the most irksom night With darkest shade doth ouercome my day; Since Stellaes eyes, wont to giue me my day, Leauing my hemisphere, leaue me in night; Each day seemes long, and longs for long-staid night; The night, as tedious, wooes th' approch of day: Tired with the dusty toiles of busie day, Languisht with horrors of the silent night, Suff'ring the euils both of day and night, While no night is more darke then is my day, Nor no day hath lesse quiet then my night: With such bad-mixture of my night and day, That liuing thus in blackest Winter night, I feele the flames of hottest Sommer day.
XC Stella, thinke not that I by verse seeke fame, Who seeke, who hope, who loue, who liue but thee; Thine eyes my pride, thy lips mine history: If thou praise not, all other praise is shame.
Nor so ambitious am I, as to frame A nest for my young praise in lawrell tree: In truth, I sweare I wish not there should be Grau'd in my epitaph a Poets name.
Ne, if I would, could I iust title make, That any laud thereof to me should growe, Without my plumes from others wings I take: For nothing from my wit or will doth flow, Since all my words thy beauty doth endite, And Loue doth hold my hand, and makes me write.
XCI Stella, while now, by Honours cruell might, I am from you, light of my life, misled, And whiles, faire you, my sunne, thus ouerspred With Absence vaile, I liue in Sorrowes night; If this darke place yet shewe like candle-light, Some beauties peece, as amber-colour'd hed, Milke hands, rose cheeks, or lips more sweet, more red; Or seeing jets blacke but in blacknesse bright; They please, I do confesse they please mine eyes.
But why? because of you they models be; Models, such be wood-globes of glist'ring skies.
Deere therefore be not iaelous ouer me, If you heare that they seeme my heart to moue; Not them, O no, but you in them I loue.
XCII Be your words made, good Sir, of Indian ware, That you allow me them by so small rate? Or do you curtted Spartanes imitate? Or do you meane my tender eares to spare, That to my questions you so totall are? When I demaund of Phoenix-Stellas state, You say, forsooth, you left her well of late: O God, thinke you that satisfies my care? I would know whether she did sit or walke; How cloth'd; how waited on; sigh'd she, or smilde Whereof, with whom, how often did she talke; With what pastimes Times iourney she beguilde; If her lips daignd to sweeten my poore name.
Saie all; and all well sayd, still say the same.
XCIII O fate, O fault, O curse, child of my blisse! What sobs can giue words grace my griefe to show? What inke is blacke inough to paint my woe? Through me (wretch me) euen Stella vexed is.
Yet, Trueth, if Caitives breath may call thee, this Witnesse with me, that my foule stumbling so, From carelessenesse did in no maner grow; But wit, confus'd with too much care, did misse.
And do I, then, my selfe this vaine scuse giue? I haue (liue I, and know this) harmed thee; Tho' worlds 'quite me, shall I my selfe forgiue? Only with paines my paines thus eased be, That all thy hurts in my harts wracke I reede; I cry thy sighs, my deere, thy teares I bleede.
XCIV Griefe, find the words; for thou hast made my braine So darke with misty vapuors, which arise From out thy heauy mould, that inbent eyes Can scarce discerne the shape of mine owne paine.
Do thou, then (for thou canst) do thou complaine For my poore soule, which now that sicknesse tries, Which euen to sence, sence of it selfe denies, Though harbengers of death lodge there his traine.
Or if thy loue of plaint yet mine forbeares, As of a Caitife worthy so to die; Yet waile thy selfe, and waile with causefull teares, That though in wretchednesse thy life doth lie, Yet growest more wretched then by nature beares By being plac'd in such a wretch as I.
XCV Yet sighes, deare sighs, indeede true friends you are, That do not leaue your best friend at the wurst, But, as you with my breast I oft haue nurst, So, gratefull now, you waite vpon my care.
Faint coward Ioy no longer tarry dare, Seeing Hope yeeld when this wo strake him furst; Delight exclaims he is for my fault curst, Though oft himselfe my mate in Armes he sware; Nay, Sorrow comes with such maine rage, that he Kils his owne children (teares) finding that they By Loue were made apt to consort with me.
Only, true Sighs, you do not goe away: Thanke may you haue for such a thankfull part, Thank-worthiest yet when you shall break my hart.
XCVI Thought, with good cause thou lik'st so well the night, Since kind or chance giues both one liuerie, Both sadly blacke, both blackly darkned be; Night bard from Sunne, thou from thy owne sunlight; Silence in both displaies his sullen might; Slow heauinesse in both holds one degree That full of doubts, thou of perplexity; Thy teares expresse Nights natiue moisture right; In both amazeful solitarinesse: In night, of sprites, the gastly powers do stur; In thee or sprites or sprited gastlinesse.
But, but (alas) Nights side the ods hath fur: For that, at length, yet doth inuite some rest; Thou, though still tired, yet still doost it detest.
XCVII Dian, that faine would cheare her friend the Night, Shewes her oft, at the full, her fairest face, Bringing with her those starry Nymphs, whose chace From heau'nly standing hits each mortall wight.
But ah, poore Night, in loue with Phoebus light, And endlesly dispairing of his grace, Her selfe, to shewe no other ioy hath place; Sylent and sad, in mourning weedes doth dight.
Euen so (alas) a lady, Dians peere, With choise delights and rarest company Would faine driue cloudes from out my heauy cheere; But, wo is me, though Ioy her selfe were she, Shee could not shew my blind braine waies of ioy, While I despaire my sunnes sight to enioy.
XCVIII Ah, bed! the field where Ioyes peace some do see, The field where all my thoughts to warre be train'd, How is thy grace by my strange fortune strain'd! How thy lee-shores by my sighes stormed be! With sweete soft shades thou oft inuitest me To steale some rest; but, wretch, I am constrain'd, Spurd with Loues spur, though gald, and shortly rain'd With Cares hard hand to turne and tosse in thee, While the blacke horrors of the silent night Paint Woes blacke face so liuely to my sight That tedious leasure markes each wrinkled line: But when Aurora leades out Phoebus daunce, Mine eyes then only winke; for spite, perchaunce, That wormes should haue their sun, & I want mine.
XCIX When far-spent Night perswades each mortall eye, To whome nor Art nor Nature graunteth light, To lay his then marke-wanting shafts of sight, Clos'd with their quiuers, in Sleeps armory; With windowes ope, then most my mind doth lie, Viewing the shape of darknesse, and delight Takes in that sad hue, which, with th' inward night Of his mazde powers, keepes perfet harmony: But when birds charme, and that sweete aire which is Mornes messenger, with rose-enameld skies Cals each wight to salute the floure of blisse; In tombe of lids then buried are mine eyes, Forst by their Lord, who is asham'd to find Such light in sense, with such a darkned mind.
C O teares! no teares, but raine, from Beauties skies, Making those lillies and those roses growe, Which ay most faire, now more then most faire shew, While gracefull Pitty Beautie beautifies.
O honied sighs! which from that breast do rise, Whose pants do make vnspilling creame to flow, Wing'd with whose breath, so pleasing Zephires blow.
As might refresh the hell where my soule fries.
O plaints! conseru'd in such a sugred phrase, That Eloquence itself enuies your praise, While sobd-out words a perfect musike giue.
Such teares, sighs, plaints, no sorrow is, but ioy: Or if such heauenly signes must proue annoy, All mirth farewell, let me in sorrow liue.
CI Stella is sicke, and in that sicke-bed lies Sweetnesse, which breathes and pants as oft as she: And Grace, sicke too, such fine conclusion tries, That Sickenesse brags it selfe best grac'd to be.
Beauty is sicke, but sicke in so faire guise, That in that palenesse Beauties white we see; And Ioy, which is inseparate from those eyes, Stella now learnes (strange case) to weepe in me.
Loue mones thy paine, and like a faithfull page, As thy lookes sturre, runs vp and downe, to make All folkes prest at thy will thy paine to swage; Nature with care sweates for hir darlings sake, Knowing worlds passe, ere she enough can finde, Of such heauen-stuffe to cloath so heau'nly minde.
CII Where be those roses gone, which sweetned so our eyes? Where those red cheeks, which oft, with faire encrease, did frame The height of honour in the kindly badge of shame? Who hath the crimson weeds stolne from my morning skies? How doth the colour vade of those vermilion dies, Which Nature self did make, and self-ingrain'd the same? I would know by what right this palenesse ouercame That hue whose force my hart still vnto thraldome ties? Galens adoptiue sonnes, who by a beaten way Their iudgements hackney on, the fault of sicknesse lay; But feeling proofe makes me say they mistake it furre: It is but loue which makes this paper perfit white, To write therein more fresh the storie of delight, Whiles Beauties reddest inke Venus for him doth sturre.
CIII O happie Thames, that didst my Stella beare! I saw thee with full many a smiling line Vpon thy cheerefull face, Ioyes liuery weare, While those faire planets on thy streames did shine.
The boate for ioy could not to daunce forbear, While wanton winds, with beauties so diuine Ravisht, staid not, till in her golden haire They did themselues (O sweetest prison) twine.
And faine those Æols youth there would their stay Haue made, but forst by Nature still to flie, First did with puffing kisse those Lockes display: She, so disheuld blusht: from window I With sight thereof cride out, O faire disgrace, Let Honor selfe to thee grant highest place.
CIV Enuious wits, what hath bene mine offence, That with such poysonous care my lookes you marke, That to each word, nay sigh of mine, you harke, As grudging me my sorrowes eloquence? Ah, is it not enough, that I am thence, Thence, so farre thence, that scantly any sparke Of comfort dare come to this dungeon darke, Where Rigours exile lockes vp al my sense? But if I by a happie window passe, If I but stars vppon mine armour beare; Sicke, thirsty, glad (though but of empty glasse): Your morall notes straight my hid meaning teare From out my ribs, and, puffing, proues that I Doe Stella loue: fooles, who doth it deny? CV Vnhappie sight, and hath shee vanisht by So nere, in so good time, so free a place! Dead Glasse, dost thou thy obiect so imbrace, As what my hart still sees thou canst not spie! I sweare by her I loue and lacke, that I Was not in fault, who bent thy dazling race Onely vnto the heau'n of Stellas face, Counting but dust what in the way did lie.
But cease, mine eyes, your teares do witnesse well That you, guiltlesse thereof, your nectar mist: Curst be the page from whome the bad torch fell: Curst be the night which did your strife resist: Curst be the coachman that did driue so fast, With no lesse curse then absence makes me tast.
CVI O absent presence! Stella is not here; False-flatt'ring hope, that with so faire a face Bare me in hand, that in this orphane place, Stella, I say my Stella, should appeare: What saist thou now? where is that dainty cheere Thou toldst mine eyes should helpe their famisht case? But thou art gone, now that selfe-felt disgrace Doth make me most to wish thy comfort neer.
But heere I do store of faire ladies meet, Who may with charme of conuersation sweete, Make in my heauy mould new thoughts to grow.
Sure they preuaile as much with me, as he That bad his friend, but then new maim'd to be Mery with him, and so forget his woe.
CVII Stella, since thou so right a princesse art Of all the Powers which Life bestowes on me, That ere by them ought vndertaken be, They first resort vnto that soueraigne part; Sweete, for a while giue thy lieutenancie To this great cause, which needes both use and art.
And as a Queene, who from her presence sends Whom she employes, dismisse from thee my wit, Till it haue wrought what thy owne will attends.
On seruants shame oft maisters blame doth sit: O let not fooles in me thy workes reproue, And scorning say, See what it is to loue! CVIII When Sorrow (vsing mine owne fiers might) Melts downe his lead into my boyling brest Through that darke furnace to my hart opprest, There shines a ioy from thee my only light: But soone as thought of thee breeds my delight, And my yong soule flutters to thee his nest, Most rude Despaire, my daily vnbidden guest, Clips streight my wings, streight wraps me in his night, And makes me then bow downe my heade, and say, Ah, what doth Phoebus gold that wretch auaile Whom Iron doores doe keepe from vse of day? So strangely (alas) thy works on me preuaile, That in my woes for thee thou art my ioy, And in my ioyes for thee my onely annoy.
The following two sonnets were added by Grosart as having been intended for the sonnet cycle, though they did not appear here in the early editions: CIX Thou blind mans marke, thou fooles selfe-chosen snare, Fond fancies scum, and dregs of scatter'd thought: Band of all euils, cradle of causelesse care; Thou web of will, whose end is neuer wrought: Desire! Desire! I haue too dearly bought, With prise of mangled mind, thy worthlesse ware; Too long, too long, asleepe thou hast me brought, Who shouldst my mind to higher things prepare.
But yet in vaine thou hast my ruine sought; In vaine thou madest me to vaine things aspire; In vaine thou kindlest all thy smokie fire; For Vertue hath this better lesson taught,-- Within my selfe to seeke my onelie hire, Desiring nought but how to kill Desire.
CX Leaue, me, O loue which reachest but to dust, And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things.
Grow rich in that which neuer taketh rust; Whateuer fades, but fading pleasure brings.
Draw in thy beames, and humble all thy might To that sweet yoke where lasting freedomes be; Which breakes the clowdes, and opens forth the light, That doth both shine and giue us sight to see.
O take fast hold; let that light be thy guide In this small course which birth drawes out to death, And thinke how euill becommeth him to slide, Who seeketh heau'n, and comes of heau'nly breath.
Then farewell world; thy vttermost I see: Eternall Loue, maintaine thy life in me.
spendidis longum valedico nugis.
Songs First Song.
Doubt you to whom my Muse these notes entendeth, Which now my breast, surcharg'd, to musick lendeth! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Only in you my song begins and endeth.
Who hath the eyes which marrie state with pleasure! Who keeps the key of Natures cheifest treasure! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Only for you the heau'n forgate all measure.
Who hath the lips, where wit in fairnesse raigneth! Who womankind at once both deckes and stayneth! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Onely by you Cupid his crowne maintaineth.
Who hath the feet, whose step all sweetnesse planteth! Who else, for whom Fame worthy trumpets wanteth! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Onely to you her scepter Venus granteth.
Who hath the breast, whose milk doth patience nourish! Whose grace is such, that when it chides doth cherish! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Onelie through you the tree of life doth flourish.
Who hath the hand which, without stroke, subdueth! Who long-dead beautie with increase reneueth! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Onely at you all enuie hopelesse rueth.
Who hath the haire, which, loosest, fastest tieth! Who makes a man liue, then glad when he dieth! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Only of you the flatterer neuer lieth.
Who hath the voyce, which soule from sences thunders! Whose force, but yours, the bolts of beautie thunders! To you, to you, all song of praise is due, Only with you not miracles are wonders.
Doubt you, to whome my Muse these notes intendeth, Which now my breast, oercharg'd, to musicke lendeth! To you, to you, all song of praise is due: Only in you my song begins and endeth.
Second Song.
Haue I caught my heau'nly iewell, Teaching Sleepe most faire to be! Now will I teach her that she, When she wakes, is too-too cruell.
Since sweet Sleep her eyes hath charmed, The two only darts of Loue, Now will I, with that Boy, proue, Some play, while he is disamed.
Her tongue, waking, still refuseth, Giuing frankly niggard no: Now will I attempt to know What no her tongue, sleeping, vseth.
See the hand that, waking, gardeth, Sleeping, grants a free resort: Now I will inuade the fort, Cowards Loue with losse rewardeth.
But, O foole, thinke of the danger Of her iust and high disdaine; Now will I, alas, refraine; Loue feares nothing else but anger.
Yet those lips, so sweetly swelling, Do inuite a stealing kisse.
Now will I but venture this; Who will reade, must first learne spelling.
Oh, sweet kisse! but ah, shes waking! Lowring beautie chastens me: Now will I for feare hence flee; Foole, more Foole for no more taking.
Third Song.
If Orpheus voyce had force to breathe such musickes loue Through pores of senceles trees, as it could make them moue; If stones good measure daunc'd, the Theban walles to build To cadence of the tunes which Amphions lyre did yeeld; More cause a like effect at least-wise bringeth: O stones, O trees, learne hearing,--Stella singeth.
If loue might sweeten so a boy of shepheard brood, To make a lyzard dull, to taste loues dainty food; If eagle fierce could so in Grecian mayde delight, As her eyes were his light, her death his endlesse night, Earth gaue that loue; heau'n, I trow, loue refineth, O birds, O beasts, looke loue (lo) Stella shineth.
The beasts, birds, stones, and trees feele this, and, feeling, loue; And if the trees nor stones stirre not the same to proue, Nor beasts nor birds do come vnto this blessed gaze, Know that small loue is quicke, and great loue doth amaze; They are amaz'd, but you with reason armed, O eyes, O eares of men, how you are charmed! Fourth Song.
Onely Ioy, now here you are, Fit to heare and ease my care, Let my whispering voyce obtaine Sweete reward for sharpest paine; Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Night hath closde all in her cloke, Twinkling starres loue-thoughts prouoke, Danger hence, good care doth keepe, Iealouzie hemselfe doth sleepe; Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Better place no wit can finde, Cupids knot to loose or binde; These sweet flowers our fine bed too, Vs in their best language woo: Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
This small light the moone bestowes Serues thy beames but to disclose; So to raise my hap more hie, Feare not else, none vs can spie; Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
That you heard was but a mouse, Dumbe Sleepe holdeth all the house: Yet asleepe, me thinkes they say, Yong fooles take time while you may; Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Niggard time threates, if we misse This large offer of our blisse, Long stay, ere he graunt the same: Sweet, then, while ech thing doth frame, Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Your faire Mother is abed, Candles out and curtaines spred; She thinkes you do letters write; Write, but first let me endite; Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Sweete, alas, why striue you thus? Concord better fitteth vs; Leaue to Mars the force of hands, Your power in your beautie stands; Take me to thee, and thee to mee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Wo to mee, and do you sweare Me to hate, but I forbeare? Cursed be my destines all, That brought me so high to fall; Soone with my death I will please thee: No, no, no, no, my Deare, let bee.
Fift Song.
While fauour fed my hope, delight with hope was brought, Thought waited on delight, and speech did follow thought; Then grew my tongue and pen records vnto thy glory, I thought all words were lost that were not spent of thee, I thought each place was darke but where thy lights would be, And all eares worse than deaf that heard not out thy storie.
I said thou wert most faire, and so indeed thou art; I said thou wert most sweet, sweet poison to my heart; I said my soule was thine, O that I then had lyed; I said thine eyes were starres, thy breast the milken way, Thy fingers Cupids shafts, thy voyce the angels lay: And all I said so well, as no man it denied.
But now that hope is lost, vnkindnesse kils delight; Yet thought and speech do liue, though metamorphos'd quite, For rage now rules the raines which guided were by pleasure; I thinke now of thy faults, who late thought of thy praise, That speech falles now to blame, which did thy honour raise, The same key open can, which can lock vp a treasure.
Then thou, whom partiall heauens conspird in one to frame The proofe of Beauties worth, th'inheritrix of fame, The mansion seat of blisse, and iust excuse of louers; See now those feathers pluckt, wherewith thou flew'st most high: See what cloudes of reproach shall dark thy honours skie: Whose owne fault cast him downe hardly high state recouers.
And, O my muse, though oft you luld her in your lap, And then a heau'nly Child, gaue her Ambrosian pap, And to that braine of hers your kindest gifts infused; Since she, disdaining me, doth you in me disdaine, Suffer not her to laugh, while both we suffer paine.
Princes in subiects wrong must deeme themselues abused.
Your client, poore my selfe, shall Stella handle so! Reuenge! revenge! my Muse! defiance trumpet blow; Threaten what may be done, yet do more then you threaten; Ah, my sute granted is, I feele my breast doth swell; No, child, a lesson new you shall begin to spell, Sweet babes must babies haue, but shrewd gyrles must be beaten.
Thinke now no more to heare of warme fine-odour'd snow, Nor blushing Lillies, nor pearles Ruby-hidden row, Nor of that golden sea, whose waues in curles are broken, But of thy soule, so fraught with such vngratefulnesse, As where thou soone might'st helpe, most faith dost most oppresse; Vngratefull, who is cald, the worst of euils is spoken, Yet worse then worst, I say thou art a Theefe, A theefe! Now God forbid! a theefe! and of wurst theeues the cheefe: Theeues steal for need, and steale but goods which paine recouers, But thou, rich in all ioyes, dost rob my ioyes from me, Which cannot be restord by time or industrie: Of foes the spoyle is euill, far worse of constant louers.
Yet--gentle English theeues do rob, but will not slay, Thou English murdring theefe, wilt haue harts for thy prey: The name of murdrer now on thy faire forehead sitteth, And euen while I do speake, my death wounds bleeding be, Which, I protest, proceed from only cruell thee: Who may, and will not saue, murder in truth committeth.
But murder, priuate fault, seemes but a toy to thee: I lay then to thy charge vniustest tyrannie, If rule by force, without all claim, a Tyran showeth; For thou dost lord my heart, who am not borne thy slaue, And, which is worse, makes me, most guiltlesse, torments haue: A rightfull prince by vnright deeds a Tyran groweth.
Lo, you grow proud with this, for Tyrans make folke bow: Of foule rebellion then I do appeach thee now, Rebell by Natures law, rebell by law of Reason: Thou, sweetest subiect wert, borne in the realme of Loue, And yet against thy prince thy force dost daily proue: No vertue merits praise, once toucht with blot of Treason.
But valiant Rebels oft in fooles mouths purchase fame: I now then staine thy white with vagabonding shame, Both rebell to the sonne and vagrant from the mother; For wearing Venus badge in euery part of thee, Vnto Dianaes traine thou, runnaway, didst flie: Who faileth one is false, though trusty to another.
What, is not this enough! nay, farre worse commeth here; A witch, I say, thou art, though thou so faire appeare; For, I protest, my sight neuer thy face enioyeth, But I in me am chang'd, I am aliue and dead, My feete are turn'd to rootes, my hart becommeth lead: No witchcraft is so euill as which mans mind destroyeth.
Yet witches may repent; thou art farre worse then they: Alas that I am forst such euill of thee to say: I say thou art a diuell, though cloth'd in angels shining; For thy face tempts my soule to leaue the heauens for thee, And thy words of refuse do powre euen hell on mee: Who tempt, and tempting plague, are diuels in true defining.
You, then, vngrateful theefe, you murdring Tyran, you, You rebell runaway, to lord and lady vntrue, You witch, you Diuell (alas) you still of me beloued, You see what I can say; mend yet your froward mind, And such skill in my Muse, you, reconcil'd, shall find, That all these cruell words your praises shalbe proued.
Sixt Song.
O you that heare this voice, O you that see this face, Say whether of the choice Deserues the former place: Feare not to iudge this bate, For it is void of hate.
This side doth Beauty take.
For that doth Musike speake; Fit Oratours to make The strongest iudgements weake: The barre to plead their right Is only true delight.
Thus doth the voice and face, These gentle Lawiers, wage, Like louing brothers case, For fathers heritage; That each, while each contends, It selfe to other lends.
For Beautie beautifies With heau'nly hew and grace The heau'nly harmonies; And in this faultlesse face The perfect beauties be A perfect harmony.
Musick more loftly swels In speeches nobly plac'd; Beauty as farre excels, In action aptly grac'd: A friend each party draws To countenance his cause.
Loue more affected seemes To Beauties louely light; And Wonder more esteemes Of Musickes wondrous might; But both to both so bent, As both in both are spent.
Musicke doth witnesse call The eare his truth to trie; Beauty brings to the hall Eye-iudgement of the eye: Both in their obiects such, As no exceptions tutch.
The common sense, which might Be arbiter of this, To be, forsooth, vpright, To both sides partiall is; He layes on this chiefe praise, Chiefe praise on that he laies.
Then reason, princesse hy, Whose throne is in the minde, Which Musicke can in sky And hidden beauties finde, Say whether thou wilt crowne With limitlesse renowne? Seuenth Song.
Whose senses in so euill consort their stepdame Nature laies, That rauishing delight in them most sweete tunes do not raise; Or if they do delight therein, yet are so closde with wit, As with ententious lips to set a title vaine on it; O let them heare these sacred tunes, and learne in Wonders scholes, To be, in things past bounds of wit, fooles: if they be not fooles.
Who haue so leaden eyes, as not to see sweet Beauties show, Or, seeing, haue so wooden wits, as not that worth to know, Or, knowing, haue so muddy minds, as not to be in loue, Or, louing, haue so frothy thoughts, as eas'ly thence to moue; O let them see these heau'nly beames, and in faire letters reede A lesson fit, both sight and skill, loue and firme loue to breede.
Heare then, but then with wonder heare, see, but adoring, see, No mortall gifts, no earthly fruites, now here descended be: See, doo you see this face? a face, nay, image of the skies, Of which the two life-giuing lights are figur'd in her eyes: Heare you this soule-inuading voice, and count it but a voice? The very essence of their tunes, when angels do reioyce.
Eight Song.
In a groue most rich of shade, Where birds wanton musicke made, Maie, then yong, his pide weedes showing, New-perfum'd with flowers fresh growing: Astrophel with Stella sweet Did for mutual comfort meete, Both within themselues oppressed, But each in the other blessed.
Him great harmes had taught much care, Her faire necke a foule yoke bare; But her sight his cares did banish, In his sight her yoke did vanish: Wept they had, alas, the while, But now teares themselues did smile, While their eyes, by Loue directed, Enterchangeably reflected.
Sigh they did; but now betwixt Sighes of woe were glad sighes mixt; With arms crost, yet testifying restlesse rest, and liuing dying.
Their eares hungrie of each word Which the deare tongue would afford; But their tongues restrain'd from walking, Till their harts had ended talking.
But when their tongues could not speake, Loue it selfe did silence breake; Loue did set his lips asunder, Thus to speake in loue and wonder.
Stella, Soueraigne of my ioy, Faire triumpher of annoy; Stella, Starre of heauenly fier, Stella, loadstar of desier; Stella, in whose shining eyes Are the lights of Cupids skies, Whose beames, where they once are darted, Loue therewith is streight imparted; Stella, whose voice when it speakes Senses all asunder breakes; Stella, whose voice, when it singeth, Angels to acquaintance bringeth; Stella, in whose body is Writ each caracter of blisse; Whose face all, all beauty passeth, Saue thy mind, which it surpasseth.
Graunt, O graunt; but speach, alas, Failes me, fearing on to passe: Graunt, O me: what am I saying? But no fault there is in praying.
Graunt (O Deere) on knees I pray, (Knees on ground he then did stay) That, not I, but since I loue you, Time and place for me may moue you.
Neuer season was more fit; Never roome more apt for it; Smiling ayre allowes my reason; These birds sing, Now vse the season.
This small wind, which so sweete is, See how it the leaues doth kisse; Each tree in his best attiring, Sense of Loue to Loue inspiring.
Loue makes earth the water drink, Loue to earth makes water sinke; And, if dumbe things be so witty, Shall a heauenly Grace want pitty? There his hands, in their speech, faine Would haue made tongues language plaine; But her hands, his hands repelling, Gaue repulse all grace expelling.
Then she spake; her speech was such, So not eares, but hart did tuch: While such-wise she loue denied, And yet loue she signified.
Astrophel, sayd she, my loue, Cease, in these effects, to proue; Now be still, yet still beleeue me, Thy griefe more then death would grieue me.
If that any thought in me Can tast comfort but of thee, Let me, fed with hellish anguish, Ioylesse, hopelesse, endlesse languish.
If those eyes you praised be Halfe so deare as you to me, Let me home returne, starke blinded Of those eyes, and blinder minded; If to secret of my hart, I do any wish impart, Where thou art not formost placed, Be both wish and I defaced.
If more may be sayd, I say, All my blisse in thee I lay; If thou loue, my loue, content thee, For all loue, all faith is meant thee.
Trust me, while I thee deny, In my selfe the smart I try; Tyran Honour doth thus vse thee, Stellas selfe might not refuse thee.
Therefore, deare, this no more moue, Least, though I leaue not thy loue, Which too deep in me is framed, I should blush when thou art named.
Therewithall away she went, Leauing him to passion rent, With what she had done and spoken, That therewith my song is broken.
Ninth Song.
Go, my Flocke, go, get you hence, Seeke a better place of feeding, Where you may haue some defence Fro the stormes in my breast breeding, And showers from mine eyes proceeding.
Leaue a wretch, in whom all wo Can abide to keepe no measure; Merry Flocke, such one forego, Vnto whom mirth is displeasure, Onely rich in mischiefs treasure.
Yet, alas, before you go, Heare your wofull Maisters story, Which to stones I els would show: Sorrow only then hath glory When 'tis excellently sorry.
Stella, fiercest shepherdesse, Fiercest, but yet fairest euer; Stella, whom, O heauens still blesse, Though against me she perseuer, Though I blisse enherit neuer: Stella hath refused me! Stella, who more loue hath proued, In this caitife heart to be, Then can in good eawes be moued Toward Lambkins best beloued.
Stella hath refused me! Astrophell, that so well served In this pleasant Spring must see, While in pride flowers be preserued, Himselfe onely Winter-sterued.
Why (alas) doth she then sweare That she loueth me so dearely, Seeing me so long to beare Coles of loue that burne so cleerly, And yet leaue me helplesse meerely? Is that loue? forsooth, I trow, If I saw my good dog grieued, And a helpe for him did know, My loue should not be beleeued, But he were by me releeued.
No, she hates me, well-away, Faining loue, somewhat to please me: For she knows, if she display All her hate, death soone would seaze me, And of hideous torments ease me.
Then adieu, deare Flocke, adieu; But, alas, if in your straying Heauenly Stella meete with you, Tell her, in your pitious blaying, Her poore Slaues vniust decaying.
Tenth Song.
O deare Life, when shall it bee That mine eyes thine eyes shall see, And in them thy mind discouer Whether absence haue had force thy remembrance to diuorce From the image of thy louer? Or if I my self find not, After parting aught forgot, Nor debar'd from Beauties treasure, Let not tongue aspire to tell In what high ioyes I shall dwell; Only thought aymes at the pleasure.
Thought, therefore, I will send thee To take vp the place for me: Long I will not after tary, There vnseene, thou mayst be bold, Those faire wonders to behold, Which in them my hopes do cary.
Thought, see thou no place forbeare, Enter brauely euerywhere, Seize on all to her belonging; But if thou wouldst garded be, Fearing her beames, take with thee Strength of liking, rage of longing.
Thinke of that most gratefull time When my leaping heart will climb, In thy lips to haue his biding, There those roses for to kisse, Which do breathe a sugred blisse, Opening rubies, pearles diuiding.
Thinke of my most princely pow'r, Which I blessed shall deuow'r With my greedy licorous sences, Beauty, musicke, sweetnesse, loue, While she doth against me proue Her strong darts but weake defences.
Thinke, thinke of those dalyings, When with doue-like murmurings, With glad moning, passed anguish, We change eyes, and hart for hart, Each to other do depart, Ioying till ioy makes vs languish.
O my Thoughts, my Thoughts surcease, Thy delights my woes increse, My life melts with too much thinking; Thinke no more, but die in me, Till thou shalt reuiued be, At her lips my Nectar drinking.
Eleuenth Song.
Who is it that this darke night Vnderneath my window playneth? It is one who from thy sight Being, ah exil'd, disdayneth Euery other vulgar light.
Why, alas, and are you he? Be not yet those fancies changed? Deare, when you find change in me, Though from me you be estranged, Let my chaunge to ruin be.
Well, in absence this will dy; Leaue to see, and leaue to wonder.
Absence sure will helpe, if I Can learne how my selfe to sunder From what in my hart doth ly.
But time will these thoughts remoue; Time doth work what no man knoweth.
Time doth as the subiect proue; With time still the affection groweth In the faithful turtle-doue.
What if we new beauties see, Will they not stir new affection? I will thinke they pictures be, (Image-like, of saints perfection) Poorely counterfeting thee.
But your reasons purest light Bids you leaue such minds to nourish.
Deere, do reason no such spite; Neuer doth thy beauty florish More then in my reasons sight.
But the wrongs Loue beares will make Loue at length leaue vndertaking.
No, the more fooles it doth shake, In a ground of so firme making Deeper still they driue the stake.
Peace, I thinke that some giue eare; Come no more, least I get anger.
Blisse, I will my blisse forbeare; Fearing, sweete, you to endanger; But my soule shall harbour there.
Well, be gone; be gone, I say, Lest that Argus eyes perceiue you.
O vniust is Fortunes sway, Which can make me thus to leaue you, And from lowts to run away.
FINIS.


by Conrad Aiken

The House Of Dust: Complete (Long)

 THE HOUSE OF DUST
A Symphony

BY
CONRAD AIKEN

To Jessie

NOTE

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Parts of this poem have been printed in "The North American Review, Others, Poetry, Youth, Coterie, The Yale Review".
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I am indebted to Lafcadio Hearn for the episode called "The Screen Maiden" in Part II.
This text comes from the source available at Project Gutenberg, originally prepared by Judy Boss of Omaha, NE.
THE HOUSE OF DUST PART I.
I.
The sun goes down in a cold pale flare of light.
The trees grow dark: the shadows lean to the east: And lights wink out through the windows, one by one.
A clamor of frosty sirens mourns at the night.
Pale slate-grey clouds whirl up from the sunken sun.
And the wandering one, the inquisitive dreamer of dreams, The eternal asker of answers, stands in the street, And lifts his palms for the first cold ghost of rain.
The purple lights leap down the hill before him.
The gorgeous night has begun again.
'I will ask them all, I will ask them all their dreams, I will hold my light above them and seek their faces.
I will hear them whisper, invisible in their veins .
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' The eternal asker of answers becomes as the darkness, Or as a wind blown over a myriad forest, Or as the numberless voices of long-drawn rains.
We hear him and take him among us, like a wind of music, Like the ghost of a music we have somewhere heard; We crowd through the streets in a dazzle of pallid lamplight, We pour in a sinister wave, ascend a stair, With laughter and cry, and word upon murmured word; We flow, we descend, we turn .
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and the eternal dreamer Moves among us like light, like evening air .
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Good-night! Good-night! Good-night! We go our ways, The rain runs over the pavement before our feet, The cold rain falls, the rain sings.
We walk, we run, we ride.
We turn our faces To what the eternal evening brings.
Our hands are hot and raw with the stones we have laid, We have built a tower of stone high into the sky, We have built a city of towers.
Our hands are light, they are singing with emptiness.
Our souls are light; they have shaken a burden of hours .
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What did we build it for? Was it all a dream? .
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Ghostly above us in lamplight the towers gleam .
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And after a while they will fall to dust and rain; Or else we will tear them down with impatient hands; And hew rock out of the earth, and build them again.
II.
One, from his high bright window in a tower, Leans out, as evening falls, And sees the advancing curtain of the shower Splashing its silver on roofs and walls: Sees how, swift as a shadow, it crosses the city, And murmurs beyond far walls to the sea, Leaving a glimmer of water in the dark canyons, And silver falling from eave and tree.
One, from his high bright window, looking down, Peers like a dreamer over the rain-bright town, And thinks its towers are like a dream.
The western windows flame in the sun's last flare, Pale roofs begin to gleam.
Looking down from a window high in a wall He sees us all; Lifting our pallid faces towards the rain, Searching the sky, and going our ways again, Standing in doorways, waiting under the trees .
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There, in the high bright window he dreams, and sees What we are blind to,—we who mass and crowd From wall to wall in the darkening of a cloud.
The gulls drift slowly above the city of towers, Over the roofs to the darkening sea they fly; Night falls swiftly on an evening of rain.
The yellow lamps wink one by one again.
The towers reach higher and blacker against the sky.
III.
One, where the pale sea foamed at the yellow sand, With wave upon slowly shattering wave, Turned to the city of towers as evening fell; And slowly walked by the darkening road toward it; And saw how the towers darkened against the sky; And across the distance heard the toll of a bell.
Along the darkening road he hurried alone, With his eyes cast down, And thought how the streets were hoarse with a tide of people, With clamor of voices, and numberless faces .
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And it seemed to him, of a sudden, that he would drown Here in the quiet of evening air, These empty and voiceless places .
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And he hurried towards the city, to enter there.
Along the darkening road, between tall trees That made a sinister whisper, loudly he walked.
Behind him, sea-gulls dipped over long grey seas.
Before him, numberless lovers smiled and talked.
And death was observed with sudden cries, And birth with laughter and pain.
And the trees grew taller and blacker against the skies And night came down again.
IV.
Up high black walls, up sombre terraces, Clinging like luminous birds to the sides of cliffs, The yellow lights went climbing towards the sky.
From high black walls, gleaming vaguely with rain, Each yellow light looked down like a golden eye.
They trembled from coign to coign, and tower to tower, Along high terraces quicker than dream they flew.
And some of them steadily glowed, and some soon vanished, And some strange shadows threw.
And behind them all the ghosts of thoughts went moving, Restlessly moving in each lamplit room, From chair to mirror, from mirror to fire; From some, the light was scarcely more than a gloom: From some, a dazzling desire.
And there was one, beneath black eaves, who thought, Combing with lifted arms her golden hair, Of the lover who hurried towards her through the night; And there was one who dreamed of a sudden death As she blew out her light.
And there was one who turned from clamoring streets, And walked in lamplit gardens among black trees, And looked at the windy sky, And thought with terror how stones and roots would freeze And birds in the dead boughs cry .
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And she hurried back, as snow fell, mixed with rain, To mingle among the crowds again, To jostle beneath blue lamps along the street; And lost herself in the warm bright coiling dream, With a sound of murmuring voices and shuffling feet.
And one, from his high bright window looking down On luminous chasms that cleft the basalt town, Hearing a sea-like murmur rise, Desired to leave his dream, descend from the tower, And drown in waves of shouts and laughter and cries.
V.
The snow floats down upon us, mingled with rain .
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It eddies around pale lilac lamps, and falls Down golden-windowed walls.
We were all born of flesh, in a flare of pain, We do not remember the red roots whence we rose, But we know that we rose and walked, that after a while We shall lie down again.
The snow floats down upon us, we turn, we turn, Through gorges filled with light we sound and flow .
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One is struck down and hurt, we crowd about him, We bear him away, gaze after his listless body; But whether he lives or dies we do not know.
One of us sings in the street, and we listen to him; The words ring over us like vague bells of sorrow.
He sings of a house he lived in long ago.
It is strange; this house of dust was the house I lived in; The house you lived in, the house that all of us know.
And coiling slowly about him, and laughing at him, And throwing him pennies, we bear away A mournful echo of other times and places, And follow a dream .
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a dream that will not stay.
Down long broad flights of lamplit stairs we flow; Noisy, in scattered waves, crowding and shouting; In broken slow cascades.
The gardens extend before us .
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We spread out swiftly; Trees are above us, and darkness.
The canyon fades .
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And we recall, with a gleaming stab of sadness, Vaguely and incoherently, some dream Of a world we came from, a world of sun-blue hills .
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A black wood whispers around us, green eyes gleam; Someone cries in the forest, and someone kills.
We flow to the east, to the white-lined shivering sea; We reach to the west, where the whirling sun went down; We close our eyes to music in bright cafees.
We diverge from clamorous streets to streets that are silent.
We loaf where the wind-spilled fountain plays.
And, growing tired, we turn aside at last, Remember our secret selves, seek out our towers, Lay weary hands on the banisters, and climb; Climbing, each, to his little four-square dream Of love or lust or beauty or death or crime.
VI.
Over the darkened city, the city of towers, The city of a thousand gates, Over the gleaming terraced roofs, the huddled towers, Over a somnolent whisper of loves and hates, The slow wind flows, drearily streams and falls, With a mournful sound down rain-dark walls.
On one side purples the lustrous dusk of the sea, And dreams in white at the city's feet; On one side sleep the plains, with heaped-up hills.
Oaks and beeches whisper in rings about it.
Above the trees are towers where dread bells beat.
The fisherman draws his streaming net from the sea And sails toward the far-off city, that seems Like one vague tower.
The dark bow plunges to foam on blue-black waves, And shrill rain seethes like a ghostly music about him In a quiet shower.
Rain with a shrill sings on the lapsing waves; Rain thrills over the roofs again; Like a shadow of shifting silver it crosses the city; The lamps in the streets are streamed with rain; And sparrows complain beneath deep eaves, And among whirled leaves The sea-gulls, blowing from tower to lower tower, From wall to remoter wall, Skim with the driven rain to the rising sea-sound And close grey wings and fall .
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Hearing great rain above me, I now remember A girl who stood by the door and shut her eyes: Her pale cheeks glistened with rain, she stood and shivered.
Into a forest of silver she vanished slowly .
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Voices about me rise .
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Voices clear and silvery, voices of raindrops,— 'We struck with silver claws, we struck her down.
We are the ghosts of the singing furies .
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' A chorus of elfin voices blowing about me Weaves to a babel of sound.
Each cries a secret.
I run among them, reach out vain hands, and drown.
'I am the one who stood beside you and smiled, Thinking your face so strangely young .
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' 'I am the one who loved you but did not dare.
' 'I am the one you followed through crowded streets, The one who escaped you, the one with red-gleamed hair.
' 'I am the one you saw to-day, who fell Senseless before you, hearing a certain bell: A bell that broke great memories in my brain.
' 'I am the one who passed unnoticed before you, Invisible, in a cloud of secret pain.
' 'I am the one who suddenly cried, beholding The face of a certain man on the dazzling screen.
They wrote me that he was dead.
It was long ago.
I walked in the streets for a long while, hearing nothing, And returned to see it again.
And it was so.
' Weave, weave, weave, you streaks of rain! I am dissolved and woven again .
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Thousands of faces rise and vanish before me.
Thousands of voices weave in the rain.
'I am the one who rode beside you, blinking At a dazzle of golden lights.
Tempests of music swept me: I was thinking Of the gorgeous promise of certain nights: Of the woman who suddenly smiled at me this day, Smiled in a certain delicious sidelong way, And turned, as she reached the door, To smile once more .
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Her hands are whiter than snow on midnight water.
Her throat is golden and full of golden laughter, Her eyes are strange as the stealth of the moon On a night in June .
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She runs among whistling leaves; I hurry after; She dances in dreams over white-waved water; Her body is white and fragrant and cool, Magnolia petals that float on a white-starred pool .
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I have dreamed of her, dreaming for many nights Of a broken music and golden lights, Of broken webs of silver, heavily falling Between my hands and their white desire: And dark-leaved boughs, edged with a golden radiance, Dipping to screen a fire .
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I dream that I walk with her beneath high trees, But as I lean to kiss her face, She is blown aloft on wind, I catch at leaves, And run in a moonless place; And I hear a crashing of terrible rocks flung down, And shattering trees and cracking walls, And a net of intense white flame roars over the town, And someone cries; and darkness falls .
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But now she has leaned and smiled at me, My veins are afire with music, Her eyes have kissed me, my body is turned to light; I shall dream to her secret heart tonight .
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' He rises and moves away, he says no word, He folds his evening paper and turns away; I rush through the dark with rows of lamplit faces; Fire bells peal, and some of us turn to listen, And some sit motionless in their accustomed places.
Cold rain lashes the car-roof, scurries in gusts, Streams down the windows in waves and ripples of lustre; The lamps in the streets are distorted and strange.
Someone takes his watch from his pocket and yawns.
One peers out in the night for the place to change.
Rain .
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rain .
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rain .
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we are buried in rain, It will rain forever, the swift wheels hiss through water, Pale sheets of water gleam in the windy street.
The pealing of bells is lost in a drive of rain-drops.
Remote and hurried the great bells beat.
'I am the one whom life so shrewdly betrayed, Misfortune dogs me, it always hunted me down.
And to-day the woman I love lies dead.
I gave her roses, a ring with opals; These hands have touched her head.
'I bound her to me in all soft ways, I bound her to me in a net of days, Yet now she has gone in silence and said no word.
How can we face these dazzling things, I ask you? There is no use: we cry: and are not heard.
'They cover a body with roses .
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I shall not see it .
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Must one return to the lifeless walls of a city Whose soul is charred by fire? .
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' His eyes are closed, his lips press tightly together.
Wheels hiss beneath us.
He yields us our desire.
'No, do not stare so—he is weak with grief, He cannot face you, he turns his eyes aside; He is confused with pain.
I suffered this.
I know.
It was long ago .
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He closes his eyes and drowns in death again.
' The wind hurls blows at the rain-starred glistening windows, The wind shrills down from the half-seen walls.
We flow on the mournful wind in a dream of dying; And at last a silence falls.
VII.
Midnight; bells toll, and along the cloud-high towers The golden lights go out .
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The yellow windows darken, the shades are drawn, In thousands of rooms we sleep, we await the dawn, We lie face down, we dream, We cry aloud with terror, half rise, or seem To stare at the ceiling or walls .
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Midnight .
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the last of shattering bell-notes falls.
A rush of silence whirls over the cloud-high towers, A vortex of soundless hours.
'The bells have just struck twelve: I should be sleeping.
But I cannot delay any longer to write and tell you.
The woman is dead.
She died—you know the way.
Just as we planned.
Smiling, with open sunlit eyes.
Smiling upon the outstretched fatal hand .
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' He folds his letter, steps softly down the stairs.
The doors are closed and silent.
A gas-jet flares.
His shadow disturbs a shadow of balustrades.
The door swings shut behind.
Night roars above him.
Into the night he fades.
Wind; wind; wind; carving the walls; Blowing the water that gleams in the street; Blowing the rain, the sleet.
In the dark alley, an old tree cracks and falls, Oak-boughs moan in the haunted air; Lamps blow down with a crash and tinkle of glass .
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Darkness whistles .
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Wild hours pass .
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And those whom sleep eludes lie wide-eyed, hearing Above their heads a goblin night go by; Children are waked, and cry, The young girl hears the roar in her sleep, and dreams That her lover is caught in a burning tower, She clutches the pillow, she gasps for breath, she screams .
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And then by degrees her breath grows quiet and slow, She dreams of an evening, long ago: Of colored lanterns balancing under trees, Some of them softly catching afire; And beneath the lanterns a motionless face she sees, Golden with lamplight, smiling, serene .
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The leaves are a pale and glittering green, The sound of horns blows over the trampled grass, Shadows of dancers pass .
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The face smiles closer to hers, she tries to lean Backward, away, the eyes burn close and strange, The face is beginning to change,— It is her lover, she no longer desires to resist, She is held and kissed.
She closes her eyes, and melts in a seethe of flame .
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With a smoking ghost of shame .
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Wind, wind, wind .
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Wind in an enormous brain Blowing dark thoughts like fallen leaves .
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The wind shrieks, the wind grieves; It dashes the leaves on walls, it whirls then again; And the enormous sleeper vaguely and stupidly dreams And desires to stir, to resist a ghost of pain.
One, whom the city imprisoned because of his cunning, Who dreamed for years in a tower, Seizes this hour Of tumult and wind.
He files through the rusted bar, Leans his face to the rain, laughs up at the night, Slides down the knotted sheet, swings over the wall, To fall to the street with a cat-like fall, Slinks round a quavering rim of windy light, And at last is gone, Leaving his empty cell for the pallor of dawn .
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The mother whose child was buried to-day Turns her face to the window; her face is grey; And all her body is cold with the coldness of rain.
He would have grown as easily as a tree, He would have spread a pleasure of shade above her, He would have been his father again .
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His growth was ended by a freezing invisible shadow.
She lies, and does not move, and is stabbed by the rain.
Wind, wind, wind; we toss and dream; We dream we are clouds and stars, blown in a stream: Windows rattle above our beds; We reach vague-gesturing hands, we lift our heads, Hear sounds far off,—and dream, with quivering breath, Our curious separate ways through life and death.
VIII.
The white fog creeps from the cold sea over the city, Over the pale grey tumbled towers,— And settles among the roofs, the pale grey walls.
Along damp sinuous streets it crawls, Curls like a dream among the motionless trees And seems to freeze.
The fog slips ghostlike into a thousand rooms, Whirls over sleeping faces, Spins in an atomy dance round misty street lamps; And blows in cloudy waves over open spaces .
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And one from his high window, looking down, Peers at the cloud-white town, And thinks its island towers are like a dream .
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It seems an enormous sleeper, within whose brain Laborious shadows revolve and break and gleam.
PART II.
I.
The round red sun heaves darkly out of the sea.
The walls and towers are warmed and gleam.
Sounds go drowsily up from streets and wharves.
The city stirs like one that is half in dream.
And the mist flows up by dazzling walls and windows, Where one by one we wake and rise.
We gaze at the pale grey lustrous sea a moment, We rub the darkness from our eyes, And face our thousand devious secret mornings .
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And do not see how the pale mist, slowly ascending, Shaped by the sun, shines like a white-robed dreamer Compassionate over our towers bending.
There, like one who gazes into a crystal, He broods upon our city with sombre eyes; He sees our secret fears vaguely unfolding, Sees cloudy symbols shape to rise.
Each gleaming point of light is like a seed Dilating swiftly to coiling fires.
Each cloud becomes a rapidly dimming face, Each hurrying face records its strange desires.
We descend our separate stairs toward the day, Merge in the somnolent mass that fills the street, Lift our eyes to the soft blue space of sky, And walk by the well-known walls with accustomed feet.
II.
THE FULFILLED DREAM More towers must yet be built—more towers destroyed— Great rocks hoisted in air; And he must seek his bread in high pale sunlight With gulls about him, and clouds just over his eyes .
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And so he did not mention his dream of falling But drank his coffee in silence, and heard in his ears That horrible whistle of wind, and felt his breath Sucked out of him, and saw the tower flash by And the small tree swell beneath him .
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He patted his boy on the head, and kissed his wife, Looked quickly around the room, to remember it,— And so went out .
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For once, he forgot his pail.
Something had changed—but it was not the street— The street was just the same—it was himself.
Puddles flashed in the sun.
In the pawn-shop door The same old black cat winked green amber eyes; The butcher stood by his window tying his apron; The same men walked beside him, smoking pipes, Reading the morning paper .
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He would not yield, he thought, and walk more slowly, As if he knew for certain he walked to death: But with his usual pace,—deliberate, firm, Looking about him calmly, watching the world, Taking his ease .
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Yet, when he thought again Of the same dream, now dreamed three separate times, Always the same, and heard that whistling wind, And saw the windows flashing upward past him,— He slowed his pace a little, and thought with horror How monstrously that small tree thrust to meet him! .
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He slowed his pace a little and remembered his wife.
Was forty, then, too old for work like this? Why should it be? He'd never been afraid— His eye was sure, his hand was steady .
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But dreams had meanings.
He walked more slowly, and looked along the roofs, All built by men, and saw the pale blue sky; And suddenly he was dizzy with looking at it, It seemed to whirl and swim, It seemed the color of terror, of speed, of death .
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He lowered his eyes to the stones, he walked more slowly; His thoughts were blown and scattered like leaves; He thought of the pail .
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Why, then, was it forgotten? Because he would not need it? Then, just as he was grouping his thoughts again About that drug-store corner, under an arc-lamp, Where first he met the girl whom he would marry,— That blue-eyed innocent girl, in a soft blouse,— He waved his hand for signal, and up he went In the dusty chute that hugged the wall; Above the tree; from girdered floor to floor; Above the flattening roofs, until the sea Lay wide and waved before him .
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And then he stepped Giddily out, from that security, To the red rib of iron against the sky, And walked along it, feeling it sing and tremble; And looking down one instant, saw the tree Just as he dreamed it was; and looked away, And up again, feeling his blood go wild.
He gave the signal; the long girder swung Closer to him, dropped clanging into place, Almost pushing him off.
Pneumatic hammers Began their madhouse clatter, the white-hot rivets Were tossed from below and deftly caught in pails; He signalled again, and wiped his mouth, and thought A place so high in the air should be more quiet.
The tree, far down below, teased at his eyes, Teased at the corners of them, until he looked, And felt his body go suddenly small and light; Felt his brain float off like a dwindling vapor; And heard a whistle of wind, and saw a tree Come plunging up to him, and thought to himself, 'By God—I'm done for now, the dream was right .
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' III.
INTERLUDE The warm sun dreams in the dust, the warm sun falls On bright red roofs and walls; The trees in the park exhale a ghost of rain; We go from door to door in the streets again, Talking, laughing, dreaming, turning our faces, Recalling other times and places .
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We crowd, not knowing why, around a gate, We crowd together and wait, A stretcher is carried out, voices are stilled, The ambulance drives away.
We watch its roof flash by, hear someone say 'A man fell off the building and was killed— Fell right into a barrel .
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' We turn again Among the frightened eyes of white-faced men, And go our separate ways, each bearing with him A thing he tries, but vainly, to forget,— A sickened crowd, a stretcher red and wet.
A hurdy-gurdy sings in the crowded street, The golden notes skip over the sunlit stones, Wings are upon our feet.
The sun seems warmer, the winding street more bright, Sparrows come whirring down in a cloud of light.
We bear our dreams among us, bear them all, Like hurdy-gurdy music they rise and fall, Climb to beauty and die.
The wandering lover dreams of his lover's mouth, And smiles at the hostile sky.
The broker smokes his pipe, and sees a fortune.
The murderer hears a cry.
IV.
NIGHTMARE 'Draw three cards, and I will tell your future .
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Draw three cards, and lay them down, Rest your palms upon them, stare at the crystal, And think of time .
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My father was a clown, My mother was a gypsy out of Egypt; And she was gotten with child in a strange way; And I was born in a cold eclipse of the moon, With the future in my eyes as clear as day.
' I sit before the gold-embroidered curtain And think her face is like a wrinkled desert.
The crystal burns in lamplight beneath my eyes.
A dragon slowly coils on the scaly curtain.
Upon a scarlet cloth a white skull lies.
'Your hand is on the hand that holds three lilies.
You will live long, love many times.
I see a dark girl here who once betrayed you.
I see a shadow of secret crimes.
'There was a man who came intent to kill you, And hid behind a door and waited for you; There was a woman who smiled at you and lied.
There was a golden girl who loved you, begged you, Crawled after you, and died.
'There is a ghost of murder in your blood— Coming or past, I know not which.
And here is danger—a woman with sea-green eyes, And white-skinned as a witch .
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' The words hiss into me, like raindrops falling On sleepy fire .
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She smiles a meaning smile.
Suspicion eats my brain; I ask a question; Something is creeping at me, something vile; And suddenly on the wall behind her head I see a monstrous shadow strike and spread, The lamp puffs out, a great blow crashes down.
I plunge through the curtain, run through dark to the street, And hear swift steps retreat .
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The shades are drawn, the door is locked behind me.
Behind the door I hear a hammer sounding.
I walk in a cloud of wonder; I am glad.
I mingle among the crowds; my heart is pounding; You do not guess the adventure I have had! .
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Yet you, too, all have had your dark adventures, Your sudden adventures, or strange, or sweet .
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My peril goes out from me, is blown among you.
We loiter, dreaming together, along the street.
V.
RETROSPECT Round white clouds roll slowly above the housetops, Over the clear red roofs they flow and pass.
A flock of pigeons rises with blue wings flashing, Rises with whistle of wings, hovers an instant, And settles slowly again on the tarnished grass.
And one old man looks down from a dusty window And sees the pigeons circling about the fountain And desires once more to walk among those trees.
Lovers walk in the noontime by that fountain.
Pigeons dip their beaks to drink from the water.
And soon the pond must freeze.
The light wind blows to his ears a sound of laughter, Young men shuffle their feet, loaf in the sunlight; A girl's laugh rings like a silver bell.
But clearer than all these sounds is a sound he hears More in his secret heart than in his ears,— A hammer's steady crescendo, like a knell.
He hears the snarl of pineboards under the plane, The rhythmic saw, and then the hammer again,— Playing with delicate strokes that sombre scale .
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And the fountain dwindles, the sunlight seems to pale.
Time is a dream, he thinks, a destroying dream; It lays great cities in dust, it fills the seas; It covers the face of beauty, and tumbles walls.
Where was the woman he loved? Where was his youth? Where was the dream that burned his brain like fire? Even a dream grows grey at last and falls.
He opened his book once more, beside the window, And read the printed words upon that page.
The sunlight touched his hand; his eyes moved slowly, The quiet words enchanted time and age.
'Death is never an ending, death is a change; Death is beautiful, for death is strange; Death is one dream out of another flowing; Death is a chorded music, softly going By sweet transition from key to richer key.
Death is a meeting place of sea and sea.
' VI.
ADELE AND DAVIS She turned her head on the pillow, and cried once more.
And drawing a shaken breath, and closing her eyes, To shut out, if she could, this dingy room, The wigs and costumes scattered around the floor,— Yellows and greens in the dark,—she walked again Those nightmare streets which she had walked so often .
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Here, at a certain corner, under an arc-lamp, Blown by a bitter wind, she stopped and looked In through the brilliant windows of a drug-store, And wondered if she dared to ask for poison: But it was late, few customers were there, The eyes of all the clerks would freeze upon her, And she would wilt, and cry .
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Here, by the river, She listened to the water slapping the wall, And felt queer fascination in its blackness: But it was cold, the little waves looked cruel, The stars were keen, and a windy dash of spray Struck her cheek, and withered her veins .
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And so She dragged herself once more to home, and bed.
Paul hadn't guessed it yet—though twice, already, She'd fainted—once, the first time, on the stage.
So she must tell him soon—or else—get out .
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How could she say it? That was the hideous thing.
She'd rather die than say it! .
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and all the trouble, Months when she couldn't earn a cent, and then, If he refused to marry her .
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well, what? She saw him laughing, making a foolish joke, His grey eyes turning quickly; and the words Fled from her tongue .
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She saw him sitting silent, Brooding over his morning coffee, maybe, And tried again .
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she bit her lips, and trembled, And looked away, and said .
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'Say Paul, boy,—listen— There's something I must tell you .
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' There she stopped, Wondering what he'd say .
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What would he say? 'Spring it, kid! Don't look so serious!' 'But what I've got to say—IS—serious!' Then she could see how, suddenly, he would sober, His eyes would darken, he'd look so terrifying— He always did—and what could she do but cry? Perhaps, then, he would guess—perhaps he wouldn't.
And if he didn't, but asked her 'What's the matter?'— She knew she'd never tell—just say she was sick .
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And after that, when would she dare again? And what would he do—even suppose she told him? If it were Felix! If it were only Felix!— She wouldn't mind so much.
But as it was, Bitterness choked her, she had half a mind To pay out Felix for never having liked her, By making people think that it was he .
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She'd write a letter to someone, before she died,— Just saying 'Felix did it—and wouldn't marry.
' And then she'd die .
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But that was hard on Paul .
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Paul would never forgive her—he'd never forgive her! Sometimes she almost thought Paul really loved her .
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She saw him look reproachfully at her coffin.
And then she closed her eyes and walked again Those nightmare streets that she had walked so often: Under an arc-lamp swinging in the wind She stood, and stared in through a drug-store window, Watching a clerk wrap up a little pill-box.
But it was late.
No customers were there,— Pitiless eyes would freeze her secret in her! And then—what poison would she dare to ask for? And if they asked her why, what would she say? VII.
TWO LOVERS: OVERTONES Two lovers, here at the corner, by the steeple, Two lovers blow together like music blowing: And the crowd dissolves about them like a sea.
Recurring waves of sound break vaguely about them, They drift from wall to wall, from tree to tree.
'Well, am I late?' Upward they look and laugh, They look at the great clock's golden hands, They laugh and talk, not knowing what they say: Only, their words like music seem to play; And seeming to walk, they tread strange sarabands.
'I brought you this .
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' the soft words float like stars Down the smooth heaven of her memory.
She stands again by a garden wall, The peach tree is in bloom, pink blossoms fall, Water sings from an opened tap, the bees Glisten and murmur among the trees.
Someone calls from the house.
She does not answer.
Backward she leans her head, And dreamily smiles at the peach-tree leaves, wherethrough She sees an infinite May sky spread A vault profoundly blue.
The voice from the house fades far away, The glistening leaves more vaguely ripple and sway .
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The tap is closed, the water ceases to hiss .
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Silence .
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blue sky .
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and then, 'I brought you this .
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' She turns again, and smiles .
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He does not know She smiles from long ago .
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She turns to him and smiles .
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Sunlight above him Roars like a vast invisible sea, Gold is beaten before him, shrill bells of silver; He is released of weight, his body is free, He lifts his arms to swim, Dark years like sinister tides coil under him .
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The lazy sea-waves crumble along the beach With a whirring sound like wind in bells, He lies outstretched on the yellow wind-worn sands Reaching his lazy hands Among the golden grains and sea-white shells .
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'One white rose .
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or is it pink, to-day?' They pause and smile, not caring what they say, If only they may talk.
The crowd flows past them like dividing waters.
Dreaming they stand, dreaming they walk.
'Pink,—to-day!'—Face turns to dream-bright face, Green leaves rise round them, sunshine settles upon them, Water, in drops of silver, falls from the rose.
She smiles at a face that smiles through leaves from the mirror.
She breathes the fragrance; her dark eyes close .
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Time is dissolved, it blows like a little dust: Time, like a flurry of rain, Patters and passes, starring the window-pane.
Once, long ago, one night, She saw the lightning, with long blue quiver of light, Ripping the darkness .
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and as she turned in terror A soft face leaned above her, leaned softly down, Softly around her a breath of roses was blown, She sank in waves of quiet, she seemed to float In a sea of silence .
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and soft steps grew remote .
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'Well, let us walk in the park .
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The sun is warm, We'll sit on a bench and talk .
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' They turn and glide, The crowd of faces wavers and breaks and flows.
'Look how the oak-tops turn to gold in the sunlight! Look how the tower is changed and glows!' Two lovers move in the crowd like a link of music, We press upon them, we hold them, and let them pass; A chord of music strikes us and straight we tremble; We tremble like wind-blown grass.
What was this dream we had, a dream of music, Music that rose from the opening earth like magic And shook its beauty upon us and died away? The long cold streets extend once more before us.
The red sun drops, the walls grow grey.
VIII.
THE BOX WITH SILVER HANDLES Well,—it was two days after my husband died— Two days! And the earth still raw above him.
And I was sweeping the carpet in their hall.
In number four—the room with the red wall-paper— Some chorus girls and men were singing that song 'They'll soon be lighting candles Round a box with silver handles'—and hearing them sing it I started to cry.
Just then he came along And stopped on the stairs and turned and looked at me, And took the cigar from his mouth and sort of smiled And said, 'Say, what's the matter?' and then came down Where I was leaning against the wall, And touched my shoulder, and put his arm around me .
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And I was so sad, thinking about it,— Thinking that it was raining, and a cold night, With Jim so unaccustomed to being dead,— That I was happy to have him sympathize, To feel his arm, and leaned against him and cried.
And before I knew it, he got me into a room Where a table was set, and no one there, And sat me down on a sofa, and held me close, And talked to me, telling me not to cry, That it was all right, he'd look after me,— But not to cry, my eyes were getting red, Which didn't make me pretty.
And he was so nice, That when he turned my face between his hands, And looked at me, with those blue eyes of his, And smiled, and leaned, and kissed me— Somehow I couldn't tell him not to do it, Somehow I didn't mind, I let him kiss me, And closed my eyes! .
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Well, that was how it started.
For when my heart was eased with crying, and grief Had passed and left me quiet, somehow it seemed As if it wasn't honest to change my mind, To send him away, or say I hadn't meant it— And, anyway, it seemed so hard to explain! And so we sat and talked, not talking much, But meaning as much in silence as in words, There in that empty room with palms about us, That private dining-room .
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And as we sat there I felt my future changing, day by day, With unknown streets opening left and right, New streets with farther lights, new taller houses, Doors swinging into hallways filled with light, Half-opened luminous windows, with white curtains Streaming out in the night, and sudden music,— And thinking of this, and through it half remembering A quick and horrible death, my husband's eyes, The broken-plastered walls, my boy asleep,— It seemed as if my brain would break in two.
My voice began to tremble .
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and when I stood, And told him I must go, and said good-night— I couldn't see the end.
How would it end? Would he return to-morrow? Or would he not? And did I want him to—or would I rather Look for another job?—He took my shoulders Between his hands, and looked down into my eyes, And smiled, and said good-night.
If he had kissed me, That would have—well, I don't know; but he didn't .
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And so I went downstairs, then, half elated, Hoping to close the door before that party In number four should sing that song again— 'They'll soon be lighting candles round a box with silver handles'— And sure enough, I did.
I faced the darkness.
And my eyes were filled with tears.
And I was happy.
IX.
INTERLUDE The days, the nights, flow one by one above us, The hours go silently over our lifted faces, We are like dreamers who walk beneath a sea.
Beneath high walls we flow in the sun together.
We sleep, we wake, we laugh, we pursue, we flee.
We sit at tables and sip our morning coffee, We read the papers for tales of lust or crime.
The door swings shut behind the latest comer.
We set our watches, regard the time.
What have we done? I close my eyes, remember The great machine whose sinister brain before me Smote and smote with a rhythmic beat.
My hands have torn down walls, the stone and plaster.
I dropped great beams to the dusty street.
My eyes are worn with measuring cloths of purple, And golden cloths, and wavering cloths, and pale.
I dream of a crowd of faces, white with menace.
Hands reach up to tear me.
My brain will fail.
Here, where the walls go down beneath our picks, These walls whose windows gap against the sky, Atom by atom of flesh and brain and marble Will build a glittering tower before we die .
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The young boy whistles, hurrying down the street, The young girl hums beneath her breath.
One goes out to beauty, and does not know it.
And one goes out to death.
X.
SUDDEN DEATH 'Number four—the girl who died on the table— The girl with golden hair—' The purpling body lies on the polished marble.
We open the throat, and lay the thyroid bare .
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One, who held the ether-cone, remembers Her dark blue frightened eyes.
He heard the sharp breath quiver, and saw her breast More hurriedly fall and rise.
Her hands made futile gestures, she turned her head Fighting for breath; her cheeks were flushed to scarlet,— And, suddenly, she lay dead.
And all the dreams that hurried along her veins Came to the darkness of a sudden wall.
Confusion ran among them, they whirled and clamored, They fell, they rose, they struck, they shouted, Till at last a pallor of silence hushed them all.
What was her name? Where had she walked that morning? Through what dark forest came her feet? Along what sunlit walls, what peopled street? Backward he dreamed along a chain of days, He saw her go her strange and secret ways, Waking and sleeping, noon and night.
She sat by a mirror, braiding her golden hair.
She read a story by candlelight.
Her shadow ran before her along the street, She walked with rhythmic feet, Turned a corner, descended a stair.
She bought a paper, held it to scan the headlines, Smiled for a moment at sea-gulls high in sunlight, And drew deep breaths of air.
Days passed, bright clouds of days.
Nights passed.
And music Murmured within the walls of lighted windows.
She lifted her face to the light and danced.
The dancers wreathed and grouped in moving patterns, Clustered, receded, streamed, advanced.
Her dress was purple, her slippers were golden, Her eyes were blue; and a purple orchid Opened its golden heart on her breast .
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She leaned to the surly languor of lazy music, Leaned on her partner's arm to rest.
The violins were weaving a weft of silver, The horns were weaving a lustrous brede of gold, And time was caught in a glistening pattern, Time, too elusive to hold .
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Shadows of leaves fell over her face,—and sunlight: She turned her face away.
Nearer she moved to a crouching darkness With every step and day.
Death, who at first had thought of her only an instant, At a great distance, across the night, Smiled from a window upon her, and followed her slowly From purple light to light.
Once, in her dreams, he spoke out clearly, crying, 'I am the murderer, death.
I am the lover who keeps his appointment At the doors of breath!' She rose and stared at her own reflection, Half dreading there to find The dark-eyed ghost, waiting beside her, Or reaching from behind To lay pale hands upon her shoulders .
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Or was this in her mind? .
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She combed her hair.
The sunlight glimmered Along the tossing strands.
Was there a stillness in this hair,— A quiet in these hands? Death was a dream.
It could not change these eyes, Blow out their light, or turn this mouth to dust.
She combed her hair and sang.
She would live forever.
Leaves flew past her window along a gust .
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And graves were dug in the earth, and coffins passed, And music ebbed with the ebbing hours.
And dreams went along her veins, and scattering clouds Threw streaming shadows on walls and towers.
XI.
Snow falls.
The sky is grey, and sullenly glares With purple lights in the canyoned street.
The fiery sign on the dark tower wreathes and flares .
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The trodden grass in the park is covered with white, The streets grow silent beneath our feet .
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The city dreams, it forgets its past to-night.
And one, from his high bright window looking down Over the enchanted whiteness of the town, Seeing through whirls of white the vague grey towers, Desires like this to forget what will not pass, The littered papers, the dust, the tarnished grass, Grey death, stale ugliness, and sodden hours.
Deep in his heart old bells are beaten again, Slurred bells of grief and pain, Dull echoes of hideous times and poisonous places.
He desires to drown in a cold white peace of snow.
He desires to forget a million faces .
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In one room breathes a woman who dies of hunger.
The clock ticks slowly and stops.
And no one winds it.
In one room fade grey violets in a vase.
Snow flakes faintly hiss and melt on the window.
In one room, minute by minute, the flutist plays The lamplit page of music, the tireless scales.
His hands are trembling, his short breath fails.
In one room, silently, lover looks upon lover, And thinks the air is fire.
The drunkard swears and touches the harlot's heartstrings With the sudden hand of desire.
And one goes late in the streets, and thinks of murder; And one lies staring, and thinks of death.
And one, who has suffered, clenches her hands despairing, And holds her breath .
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Who are all these, who flow in the veins of the city, Coil and revolve and dream, Vanish or gleam? Some mount up to the brain and flower in fire.
Some are destroyed; some die; some slowly stream.
And the new are born who desire to destroy the old; And fires are kindled and quenched; and dreams are broken, And walls flung down .
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And the slow night whirls in snow over towers of dreamers, And whiteness hushes the town.
PART III I As evening falls, And the yellow lights leap one by one Along high walls; And along black streets that glisten as if with rain, The muted city seems Like one in a restless sleep, who lies and dreams Of vague desires, and memories, and half-forgotten pain .
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Along dark veins, like lights the quick dreams run, Flash, are extinguished, flash again, To mingle and glow at last in the enormous brain And die away .
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As evening falls, A dream dissolves these insubstantial walls,— A myriad secretly gliding lights lie bare .
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The lovers rise, the harlot combs her hair, The dead man's face grows blue in the dizzy lamplight, The watchman climbs the stair .
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The bank defaulter leers at a chaos of figures, And runs among them, and is beaten down; The sick man coughs and hears the chisels ringing; The tired clown Sees the enormous crowd, a million faces, Motionless in their places, Ready to laugh, and seize, and crush and tear .
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The dancer smooths her hair, Laces her golden slippers, and runs through the door To dance once more, Hearing swift music like an enchantment rise, Feeling the praise of a thousand eyes.
As darkness falls The walls grow luminous and warm, the walls Tremble and glow with the lives within them moving, Moving like music, secret and rich and warm.
How shall we live tonight? Where shall we turn? To what new light or darkness yearn? A thousand winding stairs lead down before us; And one by one in myriads we descend By lamplit flowered walls, long balustrades, Through half-lit halls which reach no end.
II.
THE SCREEN MAIDEN You read—what is it, then that you are reading? What music moves so silently in your mind? Your bright hand turns the page.
I watch you from my window, unsuspected: You move in an alien land, a silent age .
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The poet—what was his name—? Tokkei—Tokkei— The poet walked alone in a cold late rain, And thought his grief was like the crying of sea-birds; For his lover was dead, he never would love again.
Rain in the dreams of the mind—rain forever— Rain in the sky of the heart—rain in the willows— But then he saw this face, this face like flame, This quiet lady, this portrait by Hiroshigi; And took it home with him; and with it came What unexpected changes, subtle as weather! The dark room, cold as rain, Grew faintly fragrant, stirred with a stir of April, Warmed its corners with light again, And smoke of incense whirled about this portrait, And the quiet lady there, So young, so quietly smiling, with calm hands, Seemed ready to loose her hair, And smile, and lean from the picture, or say one word, The word already clear, Which seemed to rise like light between her eyelids .
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He held his breath to hear, And smiled for shame, and drank a cup of wine, And held a candle, and searched her face Through all the little shadows, to see what secret Might give so warm a grace .
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Was it the quiet mouth, restrained a little? The eyes, half-turned aside? The jade ring on her wrist, still almost swinging? .
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The secret was denied, He chose his favorite pen and drew these verses, And slept; and as he slept A dream came into his heart, his lover entered, And chided him, and wept.
And in the morning, waking, he remembered, And thought the dream was strange.
Why did his darkened lover rise from the garden? He turned, and felt a change, As if a someone hidden smiled and watched him .
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Yet there was only sunlight there.
Until he saw those young eyes, quietly smiling, And held his breath to stare, And could have sworn her cheek had turned—a little .
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Had slightly turned away .
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Sunlight dozed on the floor .
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He sat and wondered, Nor left his room that day.
And that day, and for many days thereafter, He sat alone, and thought No lady had ever lived so beautiful As Hiroshigi wrought .
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Or if she lived, no matter in what country, By what far river or hill or lonely sea, He would look in every face until he found her .
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There was no other as fair as she.
And before her quiet face he burned soft incense, And brought her every day Boughs of the peach, or almond, or snow-white cherry, And somehow, she seemed to say, That silent lady, young, and quietly smiling, That she was happy there; And sometimes, seeing this, he started to tremble, And desired to touch her hair, To lay his palm along her hand, touch faintly With delicate finger-tips The ghostly smile that seemed to hover and vanish Upon her lips .
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Until he knew he loved this quiet lady; And night by night a dread Leered at his dreams, for he knew that Hiroshigi Was many centuries dead,— And the lady, too, was dead, and all who knew her .
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Dead, and long turned to dust .
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The thin moon waxed and waned, and left him paler, The peach leaves flew in a gust, And he would surely have died; but there one day A wise man, white with age, Stared at the portrait, and said, 'This Hiroshigi Knew more than archimage,— Cunningly drew the body, and called the spirit, Till partly it entered there .
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Sometimes, at death, it entered the portrait wholly .
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Do all I say with care, And she you love may come to you when you call her .
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' So then this ghost, Tokkei, Ran in the sun, bought wine of a hundred merchants, And alone at the end of day Entered the darkening room, and faced the portrait, And saw the quiet eyes Gleaming and young in the dusk, and held the wine-cup, And knelt, and did not rise, And said, aloud, 'Lo-san, will you drink this wine?' Said it three times aloud.
And at the third the faint blue smoke of incense Rose to the walls in a cloud, And the lips moved faintly, and the eyes, and the calm hands stirred; And suddenly, with a sigh, The quiet lady came slowly down from the portrait, And stood, while worlds went by, And lifted her young white hands and took the wine cup; And the poet trembled, and said, 'Lo-san, will you stay forever?'—'Yes, I will stay.
'— 'But what when I am dead?' 'When you are dead your spirit will find my spirit, And then we shall die no more.
' Music came down upon them, and spring returning, They remembered worlds before, And years went over the earth, and over the sea, And lovers were born and spoke and died, But forever in sunlight went these two immortal, Tokkei and the quiet bride .
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III.
HAUNTED CHAMBERS The lamplit page is turned, the dream forgotten; The music changes tone, you wake, remember Deep worlds you lived before,—deep worlds hereafter Of leaf on falling leaf, music on music, Rain and sorrow and wind and dust and laughter.
Helen was late and Miriam came too soon.
Joseph was dead, his wife and children starving.
Elaine was married and soon to have a child.
You dreamed last night of fiddler-crabs with fiddles; They played a buzzing melody, and you smiled.
To-morrow—what? And what of yesterday? Through soundless labyrinths of dream you pass, Through many doors to the one door of all.
Soon as it's opened we shall hear a music: Or see a skeleton fall .
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We walk with you.
Where is it that you lead us? We climb the muffled stairs beneath high lanterns.
We descend again.
We grope through darkened cells.
You say: this darkness, here, will slowly kill me.
It creeps and weighs upon me .
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Is full of bells.
This is the thing remembered I would forget— No matter where I go, how soft I tread, This windy gesture menaces me with death.
Fatigue! it says, and points its finger at me; Touches my throat and stops my breath.
My fans—my jewels—the portrait of my husband— The torn certificate for my daughter's grave— These are but mortal seconds in immortal time.
They brush me, fade away: like drops of water.
They signify no crime.
Let us retrace our steps: I have deceived you: Nothing is here I could not frankly tell you: No hint of guilt, or faithlessness, or threat.
Dreams—they are madness.
Staring eyes—illusion.
Let us return, hear music, and forget .
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IV.
ILLICIT Of what she said to me that night—no matter.
The strange thing came next day.
My brain was full of music—something she played me—; I couldn't remember it all, but phrases of it Wreathed and wreathed among faint memories, Seeking for something, trying to tell me something, Urging to restlessness: verging on grief.
I tried to play the tune, from memory,— But memory failed: the chords and discords climbed And found no resolution—only hung there, And left me morbid .
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Where, then, had I heard it? .
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What secret dusty chamber was it hinting? 'Dust', it said, 'dust .
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and dust .
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and sunlight .
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A cold clear April evening .
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snow, bedraggled, Rain-worn snow, dappling the hideous grass .
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And someone walking alone; and someone saying That all must end, for the time had come to go .
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' These were the phrases .
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but behind, beneath them A greater shadow moved: and in this shadow I stood and guessed .
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Was it the blue-eyed lady? The one who always danced in golden slippers— And had I danced with her,—upon this music? Or was it further back—the unplumbed twilight Of childhood?—No—much recenter than that.
You know, without my telling you, how sometimes A word or name eludes you, and you seek it Through running ghosts of shadow,—leaping at it, Lying in wait for it to spring upon it, Spreading faint snares for it of sense or sound: Until, of a sudden, as if in a phantom forest, You hear it, see it flash among the branches, And scarcely knowing how, suddenly have it— Well, it was so I followed down this music, Glimpsing a face in darkness, hearing a cry, Remembering days forgotten, moods exhausted, Corners in sunlight, puddles reflecting stars—; Until, of a sudden, and least of all suspected, The thing resolved itself: and I remembered An April afternoon, eight years ago— Or was it nine?—no matter—call it nine— A room in which the last of sunlight faded; A vase of violets, fragrance in white curtains; And, she who played the same thing later, playing.
She played this tune.
And in the middle of it Abruptly broke it off, letting her hands Fall in her lap.
She sat there so a moment, With shoulders drooped, then lifted up a rose, One great white rose, wide opened like a lotos, And pressed it to her cheek, and closed her eyes.
'You know—we've got to end this—Miriam loves you .
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If she should ever know, or even guess it,— What would she do?—Listen!—I'm not absurd .
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I'm sure of it.
If you had eyes, for women— To understand them—which you've never had— You'd know it too .
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' So went this colloquy, Half humorous, with undertones of pathos, Half grave, half flippant .
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while her fingers, softly, Felt for this tune, played it and let it fall, Now note by singing note, now chord by chord, Repeating phrases with a kind of pleasure .
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Was it symbolic of the woman's weakness That she could neither break it—nor conclude? It paused .
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and wandered .
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paused again; while she, Perplexed and tired, half told me I must go,— Half asked me if I thought I ought to go .
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Well, April passed with many other evenings, Evenings like this, with later suns and warmer, With violets always there, and fragrant curtains .
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And she was right: and Miriam found it out .
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And after that, when eight deep years had passed— Or nine—we met once more,—by accident .
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But was it just by accident, I wonder, She played this tune?—Or what, then, was intended? .
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V.
MELODY IN A RESTAURANT The cigarette-smoke loops and slides above us, Dipping and swirling as the waiter passes; You strike a match and stare upon the flame.
The tiny fire leaps in your eyes a moment, And dwindles away as silently as it came.
This melody, you say, has certain voices— They rise like nereids from a river, singing, Lift white faces, and dive to darkness again.
Wherever you go you bear this river with you: A leaf falls,—and it flows, and you have pain.
So says the tune to you—but what to me? What to the waiter, as he pours your coffee, The violinist who suavely draws his bow? That man, who folds his paper, overhears it.
A thousand dreams revolve and fall and flow.
Some one there is who sees a virgin stepping Down marble stairs to a deep tomb of roses: At the last moment she lifts remembering eyes.
Green leaves blow down.
The place is checked with shadows.
A long-drawn murmur of rain goes down the skies.
And oaks are stripped and bare, and smoke with lightning: And clouds are blown and torn upon high forests, And the great sea shakes its walls.
And then falls silence .
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And through long silence falls This melody once more: 'Down endless stairs she goes, as once before.
' So says the tune to him—but what to me? What are the worlds I see? What shapes fantastic, terrible dreams? .
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I go my secret way, down secret alleys; My errand is not so simple as it seems.
VI.
PORTRAIT OF ONE DEAD This is the house.
On one side there is darkness, On one side there is light.
Into the darkness you may lift your lanterns— O, any number—it will still be night.
And here are echoing stairs to lead you downward To long sonorous halls.
And here is spring forever at these windows, With roses on the walls.
This is her room.
On one side there is music— On one side not a sound.
At one step she could move from love to silence, Feel myriad darkness coiling round.
And here are balconies from which she heard you, Your steady footsteps on the stair.
And here the glass in which she saw your shadow As she unbound her hair.
Here is the room—with ghostly walls dissolving— The twilight room in which she called you 'lover'; And the floorless room in which she called you 'friend.
' So many times, in doubt, she ran between them!— Through windy corridors of darkening end.
Here she could stand with one dim light above her And hear far music, like a sea in caverns, Murmur away at hollowed walls of stone.
And here, in a roofless room where it was raining, She bore the patient sorrow of rain alone.
Your words were walls which suddenly froze around her.
Your words were windows,—large enough for moonlight, Too small to let her through.
Your letters—fragrant cloisters faint with music.
The music that assuaged her there was you.
How many times she heard your step ascending Yet never saw your face! She heard them turn again, ring slowly fainter, Till silence swept the place.
Why had you gone? .
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The door, perhaps, mistaken .
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You would go elsewhere.
The deep walls were shaken.
A certain rose-leaf—sent without intention— Became, with time, a woven web of fire— She wore it, and was warm.
A certain hurried glance, let fall at parting, Became, with time, the flashings of a storm.
Yet, there was nothing asked, no hint to tell you Of secret idols carved in secret chambers From all you did and said.
Nothing was done, until at last she knew you.
Nothing was known, till, somehow, she was dead.
How did she die?—You say, she died of poison.
Simple and swift.
And much to be regretted.
You did not see her pass So many thousand times from light to darkness, Pausing so many times before her glass; You did not see how many times she hurried To lean from certain windows, vainly hoping, Passionate still for beauty, remembered spring.
You did not know how long she clung to music, You did not hear her sing.
Did she, then, make the choice, and step out bravely From sound to silence—close, herself, those windows? Or was it true, instead, That darkness moved,—for once,—and so possessed her? .
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We'll never know, you say, for she is dead.
VII.
PORCELAIN You see that porcelain ranged there in the window— Platters and soup-plates done with pale pink rosebuds, And tiny violets, and wreaths of ivy? See how the pattern clings to the gleaming edges! They're works of art—minutely seen and felt, Each petal done devoutly.
Is it failure To spend your blood like this? Study them .
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you will see there, in the porcelain, If you stare hard enough, a sort of swimming Of lights and shadows, ghosts within a crystal— My brain unfolding! There you'll see me sitting Day after day, close to a certain window, Looking down, sometimes, to see the people .
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Sometimes my wife comes there to speak to me .
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Sometimes the grey cat waves his tail around me .
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Goldfish swim in a bowl, glisten in sunlight, Dilate to a gorgeous size, blow delicate bubbles, Drowse among dark green weeds.
On rainy days, You'll see a gas-light shedding light behind me— An eye-shade round my forehead.
There I sit, Twirling the tiny brushes in my paint-cups, Painting the pale pink rosebuds, minute violets, Exquisite wreaths of dark green ivy leaves.
On this leaf, goes a dream I dreamed last night Of two soft-patterned toads—I thought them stones, Until they hopped! And then a great black spider,— Tarantula, perhaps, a hideous thing,— It crossed the room in one tremendous leap.
Here,—as I coil the stems between two leaves,— It is as if, dwindling to atomy size, I cried the secret between two universes .
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A friend of mine took hasheesh once, and said Just as he fell asleep he had a dream,— Though with his eyes wide open,— And felt, or saw, or knew himself a part Of marvelous slowly-wreathing intricate patterns, Plane upon plane, depth upon coiling depth, Amazing leaves, folding one on another, Voluted grasses, twists and curves and spirals— All of it darkly moving .
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as for me, I need no hasheesh for it—it's too easy! Soon as I shut my eyes I set out walking In a monstrous jungle of monstrous pale pink roseleaves, Violets purple as death, dripping with water, And ivy-leaves as big as clouds above me.
Here, in a simple pattern of separate violets— With scalloped edges gilded—here you have me Thinking of something else.
My wife, you know,— There's something lacking—force, or will, or passion, I don't know what it is—and so, sometimes, When I am tired, or haven't slept three nights, Or it is cloudy, with low threat of rain, I get uneasy—just like poplar trees Ruffling their leaves—and I begin to think Of poor Pauline, so many years ago, And that delicious night.
Where is she now? I meant to write—but she has moved, by this time, And then, besides, she might find out I'm married.
Well, there is more—I'm getting old and timid— The years have gnawed my will.
I've lost my nerve! I never strike out boldly as I used to— But sit here, painting violets, and remember That thrilling night.
Photographers, she said, Asked her to pose for them; her eyes and forehead,— Dark brown eyes, and a smooth and pallid forehead,— Were thought so beautiful.
—And so they were.
Pauline .
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These violets are like words remembered .
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Darling! she whispered .
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Darling! .
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Darling! .
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Darling! Well, I suppose such days can come but once.
Lord, how happy we were! .
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Here, if you only knew it, is a story— Here, in these leaves.
I stopped my work to tell it, And then, when I had finished, went on thinking: A man I saw on a train .
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I was still a boy .
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Who killed himself by diving against a wall.
Here is a recollection of my wife, When she was still my sweetheart, years ago.
It's funny how things change,—just change, by growing, Without an effort .
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And here are trivial things,— A chill, an errand forgotten, a cut while shaving; A friend of mine who tells me he is married .
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Or is that last so trivial? Well, no matter! This is the sort of thing you'll see of me, If you look hard enough.
This, in its way, Is a kind of fame.
My life arranged before you In scrolls of leaves, rosebuds, violets, ivy, Clustered or wreathed on plate and cup and platter .
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Sometimes, I say, I'm just like John the Baptist— You have my head before you .
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on a platter.
VIII.
COFFINS: INTERLUDE Wind blows.
Snow falls.
The great clock in its tower Ticks with reverberant coil and tolls the hour: At the deep sudden stroke the pigeons fly .
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The fine snow flutes the cracks between the flagstones.
We close our coats, and hurry, and


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie

 This is the forest primeval.
The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic, Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,-- Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands, Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven? Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed! Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pre.
Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient, Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion, List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest; List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.
PART THE FIRST I In the Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin of Minas, Distant, secluded, still, the little village of Grand-Pre Lay in the fruitful valley.
Vast meadows stretched to the eastward, Giving the village its name, and pasture to flocks without number.
Dikes, that the hands of the farmers had raised with labor incessant, Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated seasons the flood-gates Opened, and welcomed the sea to wander at will o'er the meadows.
West and south there were fields of flax, and orchards and cornfields Spreading afar and unfenced o'er the plain; and away to the northward Blomidon rose, and the forests old, and aloft on the mountains Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty Atlantic Looked on the happy valley, but ne'er from their station descended There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village.
Strongly built were the houses, with frames of oak and of hemlock, Such as the peasants of Normandy built in the reign of the Henries.
Thatched were the roofs, with dormer-windows; and gables projecting Over the basement below protected and shaded the doorway.
There in the tranquil evenings of summer, when brightly the sunset Lighted the village street and gilded the vanes on the chimneys, Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white caps and in kirtles Scarlet and blue and green, with distaffs spinning the golden Flax for the gossiping looms, whose noisy shuttles within doors Mingled their sound with the whir of the wheels and the songs of the maidens, Solemnly down the street came the parish priest, and the children Paused in their play to kiss the hand he extended to bless them.
Reverend walked he among them; and up rose matrons and maidens, Hailing his slow approach with words of affectionate welcome.
Then came the laborers home from the field, and serenely the sun sank Down to his rest, and twilight prevailed.
Anon from the belfry Softly the Angelus sounded, and over the roofs of the village Columns of pale blue smoke, like clouds of incense ascending, Rose from a hundred hearths, the homes of peace and contentment.
Thus dwelt together in love these simple Acadian farmers,-- Dwelt in the love of God and of man.
Alike were they free from Fear, that reigns with the tyrant, and envy, the vice of republics.
Neither locks had they to their doors, nor bars to their windows; But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of their owners; There the richest was poor, and the poorest lived in abundance.
Somewhat apart from the village, and nearer the Basin of Minas, Benedict Bellefontaine, the wealthiest farmer of Grand-Pre, Dwelt on his goodly acres: and with him, directing his household, Gentle Evangeline lived, his child, and the pride of the village.
Stalworth and stately in form was the man of seventy winters; Hearty and hale was he, an oak that is covered with snow-flakes; White as the snow were his locks, and his cheeks as brown as the oak-leaves.
Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers.
Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the wayside, Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses! Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that feed in the meadows.
When in the harvest heat she bore to the reapers at noontide Flagons of home-brewed ale, ah! fair in sooth was the maiden, Fairer was she when, on Sunday morn, while the bell from its turret Sprinkled with holy sounds the air, as the priest with his hyssop Sprinkles the congregation, and scatters blessings upon them, Down the long street she passed, with her chaplet of beads and her missal, Wearing her Norman cap and her kirtle of blue, and the ear-rings, Brought in the olden time from France, and since, as an heirloom, Handed down from mother to child, through long generations.
But a celestial brightness--a more ethereal beauty-- Shone on her face and encircled her form, when, after confession, Homeward serenely she walked with God's benediction upon her.
When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.
Firmly builded with rafters of oak, the house of the farmer Stood on the side of a hill commanding the sea; and a shady Sycamore grew by the door, with a woodbine wreathing around it.
Rudely carved was the porch, with seats beneath; and a footpath Led through an orchard wide, and disappeared in the meadow.
Under the sycamore-tree were hives overhung by a penthouse, Such as the traveller sees in regions remote by the roadside, Built o'er a box for the poor, or the blessed image of Mary.
Farther down, on the slope of the hill, was the well with its moss-grown Bucket, fastened with iron, and near it a trough for the horses.
Shielding the house from storms, on the north, were the barns and the farm-yard, There stood the broad-wheeled wains and the antique ploughs and the harrows; There were the folds for the sheep; and there, in his feathered seraglio, Strutted the lordly turkey, and crowed the cock, with the selfsame Voice that in ages of old had startled the penitent Peter.
Bursting with hay were the barns, themselves a village.
In each one Far o'er the gable projected a roof of thatch; and a staircase, Under the sheltering eaves, led up to the odorous corn-loft.
There too the dove-cot stood, with its meek and innocent inmates Murmuring ever of love; while above in the variant breezes Numberless noisy weathercocks rattled and sang of mutation.
Thus, at peace with God and the world, the farmer of Grand-Pre Lived on his sunny farm, and Evangeline governed his household.
Many a youth, as he knelt in the church and opened his missal, Fixed his eyes upon her as the saint of his deepest devotion; Happy was he who might touch her hand or the hem of her garment! Many a suitor came to her door, by the darkness befriended, And, as he knocked and waited to hear the sound of her footsteps, Knew not which beat the louder, his heart or the knocker of iron; Or at the joyous feast of the Patron Saint of the village, Bolder grew, and pressed her hand in the dance as he whispered Hurried words of love, that seemed a part of the music.
But, among all who came, young Gabriel only was welcome; Gabriel Lajeunesse, the son of Basil the blacksmith, Who was a mighty man in the village, and honored of all men; For, since the birth of time, throughout all ages and nations, Has the craft of the smith been held in repute by the people.
Basil was Benedict's friend.
Their children from earliest childhood Grew up together as brother and sister; and Father Felician, Priest and pedagogue both in the village, had taught them their letters Out of the selfsame book, with the hymns of the church and the plain-song.
But when the hymn was sung, and the daily lesson completed, Swiftly they hurried away to the forge of Basil the blacksmith.
There at the door they stood, with wondering eyes to behold him Take in his leathern lap the hoof of the horse as a plaything, Nailing the shoe in its place; while near him the tire of the cart-wheel Lay like a fiery snake, coiled round in a circle of cinders.
Oft on autumnal eves, when without in the gathering darkness Bursting with light seemed the smithy, through every cranny and crevice, Warm by the forge within they watched the laboring bellows, And as its panting ceased, and the sparks expired in the ashes, Merrily laughed, and said they were nuns going into the chapel.
Oft on sledges in winter, as swift as the swoop of the eagle, Down the hillside hounding, they glided away o'er the meadow.
Oft in the barns they climbed to the populous nests on the rafters, Seeking with eager eyes that wondrous stone, which the swallow Brings from the shore of the sea to restore the sight of its fledglings; Lucky was he who found that stone in the nest of the swallow! Thus passed a few swift years, and they no longer were children.
He was a valiant youth, and his face, like the face of the morning, Gladdened the earth with its light, and ripened thought into action.
She was a woman now, with the heart and hopes of a woman.
"Sunshine of Saint Eulalie" was she called; for that was the sunshine Which, as the farmers believed, would load their orchards with apples She, too, would bring to her husband's house delight and abundance, Filling it full of love and the ruddy faces of children.
II Now had the season returned, when the nights grow colder and longer, And the retreating sun the sign of the Scorpion enters.
Birds of passage sailed through the leaden air, from the ice-bound, Desolate northern bays to the shores of tropical islands, Harvests were gathered in; and wild with the winds of September Wrestled the trees of the forest, as Jacob of old with the angel.
All the signs foretold a winter long and inclement.
Bees, with prophetic instinct of want, had hoarded their honey Till the hives overflowed; and the Indian bunters asserted Cold would the winter be, for thick was the fur of the foxes.
Such was the advent of autumn.
Then followed that beautiful season, Called by the pious Acadian peasants the Summer of All-Saints! Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape Lay as if new-created in all the freshness of childhood.
Peace seemed to reign upon earth, and the restless heart of the ocean Was for a moment consoled.
All sounds were in harmony blended.
Voices of children at play, the crowing of cocks in the farm-yards, Whir of wings in the drowsy air, and the cooing of pigeons, All were subdued and low as the murmurs of love, and the great sun Looked with the eye of love through the golden vapors around him; While arrayed in its robes of russet and scarlet and yellow, Bright with the sheen of the dew, each glittering tree of the forest Flashed like the plane-tree the Persian adorned with mantles and jewels.
Now recommenced the reign of rest and affection and stillness.
Day with its burden and heat had departed, and twilight descending Brought back the evening star to the sky, and the herds to the homestead.
Pawing the ground they came, and resting their necks on each other, And with their nostrils distended inhaling the freshness of evening.
Foremost, bearing the bell, Evangeline's beautiful heifer, Proud of her snow-white hide, and the ribbon that waved from her collar, Quietly paced and slow, as if conscious of human affection.
Then came the shepherd back with his bleating flocks from the seaside, Where was their favorite pasture.
Behind them followed the watch-dog, Patient, full of importance, and grand in the pride of his instinct, Walking from side to side with a lordly air, and superbly Waving his bushy tail, and urging forward the stragglers; Regent of flocks was he when the shepherd slept; their protector, When from the forest at night, through the starry silence, the wolves howled.
Late, with the rising moon, returned the wains from the marshes, Laden with briny hay, that filled the air with its odor.
Cheerily neighed the steeds, with dew on their manes and their fetlocks, While aloft on their shoulders the wooden and ponderous saddles, Painted with brilliant dyes, and adorned with tassels of crimson, Nodded in bright array, like hollyhocks heavy with blossoms.
Patiently stood the cows meanwhile, and yielded their udders Unto the milkmaid's hand; whilst loud and in regular cadence Into the sounding pails the foaming streamlets descended.
Lowing of cattle and peals of laughter were heard in the farm-yard, Echoed back by the barns.
Anon they sank into stillness; Heavily closed, with a jarring sound, the valves of the barn-doors, Rattled the wooden bars, and all for a season was silent.
In-doors, warm by the wide-mouthed fireplace, idly the farmer Sat in his elbow-chair, and watched how the flames and the smoke-wreaths Struggled together like foes in a burning city.
Behind him, Nodding and mocking along the wall, with gestures fantastic, Darted his own huge shadow, and vanished away into darkness.
Faces, clumsily carved in oak, on the back of his arm-chair Laughed in the flickering light, and the pewter plates on the dresser Caught and reflected the flame, as shields of armies the sunshine.
Fragments of song the old man sang, and carols of Christmas, Such as at home, in the olden time, his fathers before him Sang in their Norman orchards and bright Burgundian vineyards.
Close at her father's side was the gentle Evangeline seated, Spinning flax for the loom, that stood in the corner behind her.
Silent awhile were its treadles, at rest was its diligent shuttle, While the monotonous drone of the wheel, like the drone of a bagpipe, Followed the old man's songs and united the fragments together.
As in a church, when the chant of the choir at intervals ceases, Footfalls are heard in the aisles, or words of the priest at the altar, So, in each pause of the song, with measured motion the clock clicked.
Thus as they sat, there were footsteps heard, and, suddenly lifted, Sounded the wooden latch, and the door swung back on its hinges.
Benedict knew by the hob-nailed shoes it was Basil the blacksmith, And by her beating heart Evangeline knew who was with him.
"Welcome!" the farmer exclaimed, as their footsteps paused of the threshold.
"Welcome, Basil, my friend! Come, take thy place on the settle Close by the chimney-side, which is always empty without thee; Take from the shelf overhead thy pipe and the box of tobacco; Never so much thyself art thou as when through the curling Smoke of the pipe or the forge thy friendly and jovial face gleams Round and red as the harvest moon through the mist of the marshes.
" Then, with a smile of content, thus answered Basil the blacksmith, Taking with easy air the accustomed seat by the fireside:-- "Benedict Bellefontaine, thou hast ever thy jest and thy ballad! Ever in cheerfullest mood art thou, when others are filled with Gloomy forebodings of ill, and see only ruin before them.
Happy art thou, as if every day thou hadst picked up a horseshoe.
" Pausing a moment, to take the pipe that Evangeline brought him, And with a coal from the embers had lighted, he slowly continued:-- "Four days now are passed since the English ships at their anchors Ride in the Gaspereau's mouth, with their cannon pointed against us.
What their design may be is unknown; but all are commanded On the morrow to meet in the church, where his Majesty's mandate Will be proclaimed as law in the land.
Alas! in the mean time Many surmises of evil alarm the hearts of the people.
" Then made answer the farmer:--"Perhaps some friendlier purpose Brings these ships to our shores.
Perhaps the harvests in England By untimely rains or untimelier heat have been blighted, And from our bursting barns they would feed their cattle and children.
" "Not so thinketh the folk in the village," said, warmly, the blacksmith, Shaking his head, as in doubt; then, heaving a sigh, he continued:-- "Louisburg is not forgotten, nor Beau Sejour, nor Port Royal.
Many already have fled to the forest, and lurk on its outskirts, Waiting with anxious hearts the dubious fate of to-morrow.
Arms have been taken from us, and warlike weapons of all kinds; Nothing is left but the blacksmith's sledge and the scythe of the mower.
" Then with a pleasant smile made answer the jovial farmer:-- "Safer are we unarmed, in the midst of our flocks and our cornfields, Safer within these peaceful dikes, besieged by the ocean, Than our fathers in forts, besieged by the enemy's cannon.
Fear no evil, my friend, and to-night may no shadow of sorrow Fall on this house and hearth; for this is the night of the contract.
Built are the house and the barn.
The merry lads of the village Strongly have built them and well; and, breaking the glebe round about them, Filled the barn with hay, and the house with food for a twelvemonth.
Rene Leblanc will be here anon, with his papers and inkhorn.
Shall we not then be glad, and rejoice in the joy of our children?" As apart by the window she stood, with her hand in her lover's, Blushing Evangeline heard the words that her father had spoken, And, as they died on his lips, the worthy notary entered.
III Bent like a laboring oar, that toils in the surf of the ocean, Bent, but not broken, by age was the form of the notary public; Shocks of yellow hair, like the silken floss of the maize, hung Over his shoulders; his forehead was high; and glasses with horn bows Sat astride on his nose, with a look of wisdom supernal.
Father of twenty children was he, and more than a hundred Children's children rode on his knee, and heard his great watch tick.
Four long years in the times of the war had he languished a captive, Suffering much in an old French fort as the friend of the English.
Now, though warier grown, without all guile or suspicion, Ripe in wisdom was he, but patient, and simple, and childlike.
He was beloved by all, and most of all by the children; For he told them tales of the Loup-garou in the forest, And of the goblin that came in the night to water the horses, And of the white Letiche, the ghost of a child who unchristened Died, and was doomed to haunt unseen the chambers of children; And how on Christmas eve the oxen talked in the stable, And how the fever was cured by a spider shut up in a nutshell, And of the marvellous powers of four-leaved clover and horseshoes, With whatsoever else was writ in the lore of the village.
Then up rose from his seat by the fireside Basil the blacksmith, Knocked from his pipe the ashes, and slowly extending his right hand, "Father Leblanc," he exclaimed, "thou hast heard the talk in the village, And, perchance, canst tell us some news of these ships and their errand.
" Then with modest demeanor made answer the notary public,-- "Gossip enough have I heard, in sooth, yet am never the wiser; And what their errand may be I know not better than others.
Yet am I not of those who imagine some evil intention Brings them here, for we are at peace; and why then molest us?" "God's name!" shouted the hasty and somewhat irascible blacksmith; "Must we in all things look for the how, and the why, and the wherefore? Daily injustice is done, and might is the right of the strongest!" But, without heeding his warmth, continued the notary public,-- "Man is unjust, but God is just; and finally justice Triumphs; and well I remember a story, that often consoled me, When as a captive I lay in the old French fort at Port Royal.
" This was the old man's favorite tale, and he loved to repeat it When his neighbors complained that any injustice was done them.
"Once in an ancient city, whose name I no longer remember, Raised aloft on a column, a brazen statue of Justice Stood in the public square, upholding the scales in its left hand, And in its right a sword, as an emblem that justice presided Over the laws of the land, and the hearts and homes of the people.
Even the birds had built their nests in the scales of the balance, Having no fear of the sword that flashed in the sunshine above them.
But in the course of time the laws of the land were corrupted; Might took the place of right, and the weak were oppressed, and the mighty Ruled with an iron rod.
Then it chanced in a nobleman's palace That a necklace of pearls was lost, and erelong a suspicion Fell on an orphan girl who lived as maid in the household.
She, after form of trial condemned to die on the scaffold, Patiently met her doom at the foot of the statue of Justice.
As to her Father in heaven her innocent spirit ascended, Lo! o'er the city a tempest rose; and the bolts of the thunder Smote the statue of bronze, and hurled in wrath from its left hand Down on the pavement below the clattering scales of the balance, And in the hollow thereof was found the nest of a magpie, Into whose clay-built walls the necklace of pearls was inwoven.
" Silenced, but not convinced, when the story was ended, the blacksmith Stood like a man who fain would speak, but findeth no language; All his thoughts were congealed into lines on his face, as the vapors Freeze in fantastic shapes on the window-panes in the winter.
Then Evangeline lighted the brazen lamp on the table, Filled, till it overflowed, the pewter tankard with home-brewed Nut-brown ale, that was famed for its strength in the village of Grand-Pre; While from his pocket the notary drew his papers and inkhorn, Wrote with a steady hand the date and the age of the parties, Naming the dower of the bride in flocks of sheep and in cattle.
Orderly all things proceeded, and duly and well were completed, And the great seal of the law was set like a sun on the margin.
Then from his leathern pouch the farmer threw on the table Three times the old man's fee in solid pieces of silver; And the notary rising, and blessing the bride and the bridegroom, Lifted aloft the tankard of ale and drank to their welfare.
Wiping the foam from his lip, he solemnly bowed and departed, While in silence the others sat and mused by the fireside, Till Evangeline brought the draught-board out of its corner.
Soon was the game begun.
In friendly contention the old men Laughed at each lucky hit, or unsuccessful manoeuver, Laughed when a man was crowned, or a breach was made in the king-row Meanwhile apart, in the twilight gloom of a window's embrasure, Sat the lovers, and whispered together, beholding the moon rise Over the pallid sea and the silvery mist of the meadows.
Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
Thus was the evening passed.
Anon the bell from the belfry Rang out the hour of nine, the village curfew, and straightway Rose the guests and departed; and silence reigned in the household.
Many a farewell word and sweet good-night on the door-step Lingered long in Evangeline's heart, and filled it with gladness.
Carefully then were covered the embers that glowed on the hearth-stone, And on the oaken stairs resounded the tread of the farmer.
Soon with a soundless step the foot of Evangeline followed.
Up the staircase moved a luminous space in the darkness, Lighted less by the lamp than the shining face of the maiden.
Silent she passed the hall, and entered the door of her chamber.
Simple that chamber was, with its curtains of white, and its clothes-press Ample and high, on whose spacious shelves were carefully folded Linen and woollen stuffs, by the hand of Evangeline woven.
This was the precious dower she would bring to her husband in marriage, Better than flocks and herds, being proofs of her skill as a housewife.
Soon she extinguished her lamp, for the mellow and radiant moonlight Streamed through the windows, and lighted the room, till the heart of the maiden Swelled and obeyed its power, like the tremulous tides of the ocean.
Ah! she was fair, exceeding fair to behold, as she stood with Naked snow-white feet on the gleaming floor of her chamber! Little she dreamed that below, among the trees of the orchard, Waited her lover and watched for the gleam of her lamp and her shadow.
Yet were her thoughts of him, and at times a feeling of sadness Passed o'er her soul, as the sailing shade of clouds in the moonlight Flitted across the floor and darkened the room for a moment.
And, as she gazed from the window, she saw serenely the moon pass Forth from the folds of a cloud, and one star follow her footsteps, As out of Abraham's tent young Ishmael wandered with Hagar! IV Pleasantly rose next morn the sun on the village of Grand-Pre.
Pleasantly gleamed in the soft, sweet air the Basin of Minas, Where the ships, with their wavering shadows, were riding at anchor.
Life had long been astir in the village, and clamorous labor Knocked with its hundred hands at the golden gates of the morning.
Now from the country around, from the farms and neighboring hamlets, Came in their holiday dresses the blithe Acadian peasants.
Many a glad good-morrow and jocund laugh from the young folk Made the bright air brighter, as up from the numerous meadows, Where no path could be seen but the track of wheels in the greensward, Group after group appeared, and joined, or passed on the highway.
Long ere noon, in the village all sounds of labor were silenced.
Thronged were the streets with people; and noisy groups at the house-doors Sat in the cheerful sun, and rejoiced and gossiped together.
Every house was an inn, where all were welcomed and feasted; For with this simple people, who lived like brothers together, All things were held in common, and what one had was another's.
Yet under Benedict's roof hospitality seemed more abundant: For Evangeline stood among the guests of her father; Bright was her face with smiles, and words of welcome and gladness Fell from her beautiful lips, and blessed the cup as she gave it.
Under the open sky, in the odorous air of the orchard, Stript of its golden fruit, was spread the feast of betrothal.
There in the shade of the porch were the priest and the notary seated; There good Benedict sat, and sturdy Basil the blacksmith.
Not far withdrawn from these, by the cider-press and the beehives, Michael the fiddler was placed, with the gayest of hearts and of waistcoats.
Shadow and light from the leaves alternately played on his snow-white Hair, as it waved in the wind; and the jolly face of the fiddler Glowed like a living coal when the ashes are blown from the embers.
Gayly the old man sang to the vibrant sound of his fiddle, Tous les Bourgeois de Chartres, and Le Carillon de Dunkerque, And anon with his wooden shoes beat time to the music.
Merrily, merrily whirled the wheels of the dizzying dances Under the orchard-trees and down the path to the meadows; Old folk and young together, and children mingled among them.
Fairest of all the maids was Evangeline, Benedict's daughter! Noblest of all the youths was Gabriel, son of the blacksmith! So passed the morning away.
And lo! with a summons sonorous Sounded the bell from its tower, and over the meadows a drum beat.
Thronged erelong was the church with men.
Without, in the churchyard, Waited the women.
They stood by the graves, and hung on the headstones Garlands of autumn-leaves and evergreens fresh from the forest.
Then came the guard from the ships, and marching proudly among them Entered the sacred portal.
With loud and dissonant clangor Echoed the sound of their brazen drums from ceiling and casement,-- Echoed a moment only, and slowly the ponderous portal Closed, and in silence the crowd awaited the will of the soldiers.
Then uprose their commander, and spoke from the steps of the altar, Holding aloft in his hands, with its seals, the royal commission.
"You are convened this day," he said, "by his Majesty's orders.
Clement and kind has he been; but how you have answered his kindness, Let your own hearts reply! To my natural make and my temper Painful the task is I do, which to you I know must be grievous.
Yet must I bow and obey, and deliver the will of our monarch; Namely, that all your lands, and dwellings, and cattle of all kinds Forfeited be to the crown; and that you yourselves from this province Be transported to other lands.
God grant you may dwell there Ever as faithful subjects, a happy and peaceable people! Prisoners now I declare you; for such is his Majesty's pleasure!" As, when the air is serene in the sultry solstice of summer, Suddenly gathers a storm, and the deadly sling of the hailstones Beats down the farmer's corn in the field and shatters his windows, Hiding the sun, and strewing the ground with thatch from the house-roofs, Bellowing fly the herds, and seek to break their enclosures; So on the hearts of the people descended the words of the speaker.
Silent a moment they stood in speechless wonder, and then rose Louder and ever louder a wail of sorrow and anger, And, by one impulse moved, they madly rushed to the door-way.
Vain was the hope of escape; and cries and fierce imprecations Rang through the house of prayer; and high o'er the heads of the others Rose, with his arms uplifted, the figure of Basil the blacksmith, As, on a stormy sea, a spar is tossed by the billows.
Flushed was his face and distorted with passion; and wildly he shouted,-- "Down with the tyrants of England! we never have sworn them allegiance! Death to these foreign soldiers, who seize on our homes and our harvests!" More he fain would have said, but the merciless hand of a soldier Smote him upon the mouth, and dragged him down to the pavement.
In the midst of the strife and tumult of angry contention, Lo! the door of the chancel opened, and Father Felician Entered, with serious mien, and ascended the steps of the altar.
Raising his reverend hand, with a gesture he awed into silence All that clamorous throng; and thus he spake to his people; Deep were his tones and solemn; in accents measured and mournful Spake he, as, after the tocsin's alarum, distinctly the clock strikes.
"What is this that ye do, my children? what madness has seized you? Forty years of my life have I labored among you, and taught you, Not in word alone, but in deed, to love one another! Is this the fruit of my toils, of my vigils and prayers and privations? Have you so soon forgotten all lessons of love and forgiveness? This is the house of the Prince of Peace, and would you profane it Thus with violent deeds and hearts overflowing with hatred? Lo! where the crucified Christ from his cross is gazing upon you! See! in those sorrowful eyes what meekness and holy compassion! Hark! how those lips still repeat the prayer, 'O Father, forgive them!' Let us repeat that prayer in the hour when the wicked assail us, Let us repeat it now, and say, 'O Father, forgive them!'" Few were his words of rebuke, but deep in the hearts of his people Sank they, and sobs of contrition succeeded the passionate outbreak, While they repeated his prayer, and said, "O Father, forgive them!" Then came the evening service.
The tapers gleamed from the altar.
Fervent and deep was the voice of the priest and the people responded, Not with their lips alone, but their hearts; and the Ave Maria Sang they, and fell on their knees, and their souls, with devotion translated, Rose on the ardor of prayer, like Elijah ascending to heaven.
Meanwhile had spread in the village the tidings of ill, and on all sides Wandered, wailing, from house to house the women and children.
Long at her father's door Evangeline stood, with her right hand Shielding her eyes from the level rays of the sun, that, descending, Lighted the village street with mysterious splendor, and roofed each Peasant's cottage with golden thatch, and emblazoned its windows.
Long within had been spread the snow-white cloth on the table; There stood the wheaten loaf, and the honey fragrant with wild-flowers; There stood the tankard of ale, and the cheese fresh brought from the dairy; And, at the head of the board, the great arm-chair of the farmer.
Thus did Evangeline wait at her father's door, as the sunset Threw the long shadows of trees o'er the broad ambrosial meadows.
Ah! on her spirit within a deeper shadow had fallen, And from the fields of her soul a fragrance celestial ascended,-- Charity, meekness, love, and hope, and forgiveness, and patience! Then, all-forgetful of self, she wandered into the village, Cheering with looks and words the mournful hearts of the women, As o'er the darkening fields with lingering steps they departed, Urged by their household cares, and the weary feet of their children.
Down sank the great red sun, and in golden, glimmering vapors Veiled the light of his face, like the Prophet descending from Sinai.
Sweetly over the village the bell of the Angelus sounded.
Meanwhile, amid the gloom, by the church Evangeline lingered.
All was silent within; and in vain at the door and the windows Stood she, and listened and looked, till, overcome by emotion, "Gabriel!" cried she aloud with tremulous voice; but no answer Came from the graves of the dead, nor the gloomier grave of the living.
Slowly at length she returned to the tenantless house of her father.
Smouldered the fire on the hearth, on the board was the supper untasted, Empty and drear was each room, and haunted with phantoms of terror.
Sadly echoed her step on the stair and the floor of her chamber.
In the dead of the night she heard the disconsolate rain fall Loud on the withered leaves of the sycamore-tree by the window.
Keenly the lightning flashed; and the voice of the echoing thunder Told her that God was in heaven, and governed the world he created! Then she remembered the tale she had heard of the justice of Heaven; Soothed was her troubled soul, and she peacefully slumbered till morning.
V Four times the sun had risen and set; and now on the fifth day Cheerily called the cock to the sleeping maids of the farm-house.
Soon o'er the yellow fields, in silent and mournful procession, Came from the neighboring hamlets and farms the Acadian women, Driving in ponderous wains their household goods to the sea-shore, Pausing and looking back to gaze once more on their dwellings, Ere they were shut from sight by the winding road and the woodland.
Close at their sides their children ran, and urged on the oxen, While in their little hands they clasped some fragments of playthings.
Thus to the Gaspereau's mouth they hurried; and there on the sea-beach Piled in confusion lay the household goods of the peasants.
All day long between the shore and the ships did the boats ply; All day long the wains came laboring down from the village.
Late in the afternoon, when the sun was near to his setting, Echoed far o'er the fields came the roll of drums from the churchyard.
Thither the women and children thronged.
On a sudden the church-doors Opened, and forth came the guard, and marching in gloomy procession Followed the long-imprisoned, but patient, Acadian farmers.
Even as pilgrims, who journey afar from their homes and their country, Sing as they go, and in singing forget they are weary and wayworn, So with songs on their lips the Acadian peasants descended Down from the church to the shore, amid their wives and their daughters.
Foremost the young men came; and, raising together their voices, Sang with tremulous lips a chant of the Catholic Missions:-- "Sacred heart of the Saviour! O inexhaustible fountain! Fill our hearts this day with strength and submission and patience!" Then the old men, as they marched, and the women that stood by the wayside Joined in the sacred psalm, and the birds in the sunshine above them Mingled their notes therewith, like voices of spirits departed.
Half-way down to the shore Evangeline waited in silence, Not overcome with grief, but strong in the hour of affliction,-- Calmly and sadly she waited, until the procession approached her, And she beheld the face of Gabriel pale with emotion.
Team then filled her eyes, and, eagerly running to meet him, Clasped she his hands, and laid her head on his shoulder, and whispered,-- "Gabriel! be of good cheer! for if we love one another Nothing, in truth, can harm us, whatever mischances may happen!" Smiling she spake these words; then suddenly paused, for her father Saw she slowly advancing.
Alas! how changed was his aspect! Gone was the glow from his cheek, and the fire from his eye, and his footstep Heavier seemed with the weight of the heavy heart in his bosom.
But with a smile and a sigh, she clasped his neck and embraced him, Speaking words of endearment where words of comfort availed not.
Thus to the Gaspereau's mouth moved on that mournful procession.
There disorder prevailed, and the tumult and stir of embarking.
Busily plied the freighted boats; and in the confusion Wives were torn from their husbands, and mothers, too late, saw their children Left on the land, extending their arms, with wildest entreaties.
So unto separate ships were Basil and Gabriel carried, While in despair on the shore Evangeline stood with her father.
Half the task was not done when the sun went down, and the twilight Deepened and darkened around; and in haste the refluent ocean Fled away from the shore, and left the line of the sand-beach Covered with waifs of the tide, with kelp and the slippery sea-weed.
Farther back in the midst of the household goods and the wagons, Like to a gypsy camp, or a leaguer after a battle, All escape cut off by the sea, and the sentinels near them, Lay encamped for the night the houseless Acadian farmers.
Back to its nethermost caves retreated the bellowing ocean, Dragging adown the beach the rattling pebbles, and leaving Inland and far up the shore the stranded boats of the sailors.
Then, as the night descended, the herds returned from their pastures; Sweet was the moist still air with the odor of milk from their udders; Lowing they waited, and long, at the well-known bars of the farm-yard,-- Waited and looked in vain for the voice and the hand of the milkmaid.
Silence reigned in the streets; from the church no Angelus sounded, Rose no smoke from the roofs, and gleamed no lights from the windows.
But on the shores meanwhile the evening fires had been kindled, Built of the drift-wood thrown on the sands from wrecks in the tempest.
Round them shapes of gloom and sorrowful faces were gathered, Voices of women were heard, and of men, and the crying of children.
Onward from fire to fire, as from hearth to hearth in his parish, Wandered the faithful priest, consoling and blessing and cheering, Like unto shipwrecked Paul on Melita's desolate sea-shore.
Thus he approached the place where Evangeline sat with her father, And in the flickering light beheld the face of the old man, Haggard and hollow and wan, and without either thought or emotion, E'en as the face of a clock from which the hands have been taken.
Vainly Evangeline strove with words and caresses to cheer him, Vainly offered him food; yet he moved not, he looked not, he spake not But, with a vacant stare, ever gazed at the flickering fire-light.
"Benedicite!" murmured the priest, in tones of compassion.
More he fain would have said, but his heart was full, and his accents Faltered and paused on his lips, as the feet of a child on a threshold, Hushed by the scene he beholds, and the awful presence of sorrow.
Silently, therefore, he laid his hand on the head of the maiden, Raising his tearful eyes to the silent stars that above them Moved on their way, unperturbed by the wrongs and sorrows of mortals.
Then sat he down at her side, and they wept together in silence.
Suddenly rose from the south a light, as in autumn the blood-red Moon climbs the crystal walls of heaven, and o'er the horizon Titan-like stretches its hundred hands upon mountain and meadow, Seizing the rocks and the rivers, and piling huge shadows together.
Broader and ever broader it gleamed on the roofs of the village, Gleamed on the sky and the sea, and the ships that lay in the roadstead.
Columns of shining smoke uprose, and flashes of flame were Thrust through their folds and withdrawn, like the quivering hands of a martyr.
Then as the wind seized the gleeds and the burning thatch, and, uplifting, Whirled them aloft through the air, at once from a hundred house-tops Started the sheeted smoke with flashes of flame intermingled.
These things beheld in dismay the crowd on the shore and on shipboard.
Speechless at first they stood, then cried aloud in their anguish, "We shall behold no more our homes in the village of Grand-Pre!" Loud on a sudden the cocks began to crow in the farm-yards, Thinking the day had dawned; and anon the lowing of cattle Came on the evening breeze, by the barking of dogs interrupted.
Then rose a sound of dread, such as startles the sleeping encampments Far in the western prairies or forests that skirt the Nebraska, When the wild horses affrighted sweep by with the speed of the whirlwind, Or the loud bellowing herds of buffaloes rush to the river.
Such was the sound that arose on the night, as the herds and the horses Broke through their folds and fences, and madly rushed o'er the meadows.
Overwhelmed with the sight, yet speechless, the priest and the maiden Gazed on the scene of terror that reddened and widened before them; And as they turned at length to speak to their silent companion, Lo! from his seat he had fallen, and stretched abroad on the sea-shore Motionless lay his form, from which the soul had departed.
Slowly the priest uplifted the lifeless head, and the maiden Knelt at her father's side, and wailed aloud in her terror.
Then in a swoon she sank, and lay with her head on his bosom.
Through the long night she lay in deep, oblivious slumber; And when she woke from the trance, she beheld a multitude near her.
Faces of friends she beheld, that were mournfully gazing upon her, Pallid, with tearful eyes, and looks of saddest compassion.
Still the blaze of the burning village illumined the landscape, Reddened the sky overhead, and gleamed on the faces around her, And like the day of doom it seemed to her wavering senses.
Then a familiar voice she heard, as it said to the people,-- "Let us bury him here by the sea.
When a happier season Brings us again to our homes from the unknown land of our exile, Then shall his sacred dust be piously laid in the churchyard.
" Such were the words of the priest.
And there in haste by the sea-side, Having the glare of the burning village for funeral torches, But without bell or book, they buried the farmer of Grand-Pre.
And as the voice of the priest repeated the service of sorrow, Lo! with a mournful sound, like the voice of a vast congregation, Solemnly answered the sea, and mingled its roar with the dirges.
'T was the returning tide, that afar from the waste of the ocean, With the first dawn of the day, came heaving and hurrying landward.
Then recommenced once more the stir and noise of embarking; And with the ebb of the tide the ships sailed out of the harbor, Leaving behind them the dead on the shore, and the village in ruins.
PART THE SECOND I Many a weary year had passed since the burning of Grand-Pre, When on the falling tide the freighted vessels departed, Bearing a nation, with all its household gods, into exile.
Exile without an end, and without an example in story.
Far asunder, on separate coasts, the Acadians landed; Scattered were they, like flakes of snow, when the wind from the northeast Strikes aslant through the fogs that darken the Banks of Newfoundland.
Friendless, homeless, hopeless, they wandered from city to city, From the cold lakes of the North to sultry Southern savannas,-- From the bleak shores of the sea to the lands where the Father of Waters Seizes the hills in his hands, and drags them down to the ocean, Deep in their sands to bury the scattered bones of the mammoth.
Friends they sought and homes; and many, despairing, heart-broken, Asked of the earth but a grave, and no longer a friend nor a fireside.
Written their history stands on tablets of stone in the churchyards.
Long among them was seen a maiden who waited and wandered, Lowly and meek in spirit, and patiently suffering all things.
Fair was she and young; but, alas! before her extended, Dreary and vast and silent, the desert of life, with its pathway Marked by the graves of those who had sorrowed and suffered before her, Passions long extinguished, and hopes long dead and abandoned, As the emigrant's way o'er the Western desert is marked by Camp-fires long consumed, and bones that bleach in the sunshine.
Something there was in her life incomplete, imperfect, unfinished; As if a morning of June, with all its music and sunshine, Suddenly paused in the sky, and, fading, slowly descended Into the east again, from whence it late had arisen.
Sometimes she lingered in towns, till, urged by the fever within her, Urged by a restless longing, the hunger and thirst of the spirit, She would commence again her endless search and endeavor; Sometimes in churchyards strayed, and gazed on the crosses and tombstones, Sat by some nameless grave, and thought that perhaps in its bosom He was already at rest, and she longed to slumber beside him.
Sometimes a rumor, a hearsay, an inarticulate whisper, Came with its airy hand to point and beckon her forward.
Sometimes she spake with those who had seen her beloved and known him, But it was long ago, in some far-off place or forgotten.
"Gabriel Lajeunesse!" they said; yes! we have seen him.
He was with Basil the blacksmith, and both have gone to the prairies; Coureurs-des-Bois are they, and famous hunters and trappers.
" "Gabriel Lajeunesse!" said others; "O yes! we have seen him.
He is a Voyageur in the lowlands of Louisiana.
" Then would they say, "Dear child! why dream and wait for him longer? Are there not other youths as fair as Gabriel? others Who have hearts as tender and true, and spirits as loyal? Here is Baptiste Leblanc, the notary's son, who has loved thee Many a tedious year; come, give him thy hand and be happy! Thou art too fair to be left to braid St.
Catherine's tresses.
" Then would Evangeline answer, serenely but sadly, "I cannot! Whither my heart has gone, there follows my hand, and not elsewhere.
For when the heart goes before, like a lamp, and illumines the pathway, Many things are made clear, that else lie hidden in darkness.
" Thereupon the priest, her friend and father-confessor, Said, with a smile, "O daughter! thy God thus speaketh within thee! Talk not of wasted affection, affection never was wasted; If it enrich not the heart of another, its waters, returning Back to their springs, like the rain, shall fill them full of refreshment; That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain.
Patience; accomplish thy labor; accomplish thy work of affection! Sorrow and silence are strong, and patient endurance is godlike.
Therefore accomplish thy labor of love, till the heart is made godlike, Purified, strengthened, perfected, and rendered more worthy of heaven!" Cheered by the good man's words, Evangeline labored and waited.
Still in her heart she heard the funeral dirge of the ocean, But with its sound there was mingled a voice that whispered, "Despair not?" Thus did that poor soul wander in want and cheerless discomfort Bleeding, barefooted, over the shards and thorns of existence.
Let me essay, O Muse! to follow the wanderer's footsteps;-- Not through each devious path, each changeful year of existence; But as a traveller follows a streamlet's course through the valley: Far from its margin at times, and seeing the gleam of its water Here and there, in some open space, and at intervals only; Then drawing nearer its banks, through sylvan glooms that conceal it, Though he behold it not, he can hear its continuous murmur; Happy, at length, if he find the spot where it reaches an outlet.
II It was the month of May.
Far down the Beautiful River, Past the Ohio shore and past the mouth of the Wabash, Into the golden stream of the broad and swift Mississippi, Floated a cumbrous boat, that was rowed by Acadian boatmen.
It was a band of exiles: a raft, as it were, from the shipwrecked Nation, scattered along the coast, now floating together, Bound by the bonds of a common belief and a common misfortune; Men and women and children, who, guided by hope or by hearsay, Sought for their kith and their kin among the few-acred farmers On the Acadian coast, and the prairies of fair Opelousas.
With them Evangeline went, and her guide, the Father Felician.
Onward o'er sunken sands, through a wilderness sombre with forests, Day after day they glided adown the turbulent river; Night after night, by their blazing fires, encamped on its borders.
Now through rushing chutes, among green islands, where plumelike Cotton-trees nodded their shadowy crests, they swept with the current, Then emerged into broad lagoons, where silvery sand-bars Lay in the stream, and along the wimpling waves of their margin, Shining with snow-white plumes, large flocks of pelicans waded.
Level the landscape grew, and along the shores of the river, Shaded by china-trees, in the midst of luxuriant gardens, Stood the houses of planters, with negro-cabins and dove-cots.
They were approaching the region where reigns perpetual summer, Where through the Golden Coast, and groves of orange and citron, Sweeps with majestic curve the river away to the eastward.
They, too, swerved from their course; and, entering the Bayou of Plaquemine, Soon were lost in a maze of sluggish and devious waters, Which, like a network of steel, extended in every direction.
Over their heads the towering and tenebrous boughs of the cypress Met in a dusky arch, and trailing mosses in mid-air Waved like banners that hang on the walls of ancient cathedrals.
Deathlike the silence seemed, and unbroken, save by the herons Home to their roasts in the cedar-trees returning at sunset, Or by the owl, as he greeted the moon with demoniac laughter.
Lovely the moonlight was as it glanced and gleamed on the water, Gleamed on the columns of cypress and cedar sustaining the arches, Down through whose broken vaults it fell as through chinks in a ruin.
Dreamlike, and indistinct, and strange were all things around them; And o'er their spirits there came a feeling of wonder and sadness,-- Strange forebodings of ill, unseen and that cannot be compassed.
As, at the tramp of a horse's hoof on the turf of the prairies, Far in advance are closed the leaves of the shrinking mimosa, So, at the hoof-beats of fate, with sad forebodings of evil, Shrinks and closes the heart, ere the stroke of doom has attained it.
But Evangeline's heart was sustained by a vision, that faintly Floated before her eyes, and beckoned her on through the moonlight.
It was the thought of her brain that assumed the shape of a phantom.
Through those shadowy aisles had Gabriel wandered before her, And every stroke of the oar now brought him nearer and nearer.
Then in his place, at the prow of the boat, rose one of the oarsmen, And, as a signal sound, if others like them peradventure Sailed on those gloomy and midnight streams, blew a blast on his bugle.
Wild through the dark colonnades and corridors leafy the blast rang, Breaking the seal of silence, and giving tongues to the forest.
Soundless above them the banners of moss just stirred to the music.
Multitudinous echoes awoke and died in the distance, Over the watery floor, and beneath the reverberant branches; But not a voice replied; no answer came from the darkness; And, when the echoes had ceased, like a sense of pain was the silence.
Then Evangeline slept; but the boatmen rowed through the midnight, Silent at times, then singing familiar Canadian boat-songs, Such as they sang of old on their own Acadian rivers, While through the night were heard the mysterious sounds of the desert, Far off,--indistinct,--as of wave or wind in the forest, Mixed with the whoop of the crane and the roar of the grim alligator.
Thus ere another noon they emerged from the shades; and before them Lay, in the golden sun, the lakes of the Atchafalaya.
Water-lilies in myriads rocked on the slight undulations Made by the passing oars, and, resplendent in beauty, the lotus Lifted her golden crown above the heads of the boatmen.
Faint was the air with the odorous breath of magnolia blossoms, And with the heat of noon; and numberless sylvan islands, Fragrant and thickly embowered with blossoming hedges of roses, Near to whose shores they glided along, invited to slumber.
Soon by the fairest of these their weary oars were suspended.
Under the boughs of Wachita willows, that grew by the margin, Safely their boat was moored; and scattered about on the greensward, Tired with their midnight toil, the weary travellers slumbered.
Over them vast and high extended the cope of a cedar.
Swinging from its great arms, the trumpet-flower and the grapevine Hung their ladder of ropes aloft like the ladder of Jacob, On whose pendulous stairs the angels ascending, descending, Were the swift humming-birds, that flitted from blossom to blossom.
Such was the vision Evangeline saw as she slumbered beneath it.
Filled was her heart with love, and the dawn of an opening heaven Lighted her soul in sleep with the glory of regions celestial.
Nearer, ever nearer, among the numberless islands, Darted a light, swift boat, that sped away o'er the water, Urged on its course by the sinewy arms of hunters and trappers.
Northward its prow was turned, to the land of the bison and beaver.
At the helm sat a youth, with countenance thoughtful and careworn.
Dark and neglected locks overshadowed his brow, and a sadness Somewhat beyond his years on his face was legibly written.
Gabriel was it, who, weary with waiting, unhappy and restless, Sought in the Western wilds oblivion of self and of sorrow.
Swiftly they glided along, close under the lee of the island, But by the opposite bank, and behind a screen of palmettos, So that they saw not the boat, where it lay concealed in the willows, All undisturbed by the dash of their oars, and unseen, were the sleepers, Angel of God was there none to awaken the slumbering maiden.
Swiftly they glided away, like the shade of a cloud on the prairie.
After the sound of their oars on the tholes had died in the distance, As from a magic trance the sleepers awoke, and the maiden Said with a sigh to the friendly priest, "O Father Felician! Something says in my heart that near me Gabriel wanders.
Is it a foolish dream, an idle and vague superstition? Or has an angel passed, and revealed the truth to my spirit?" Then, with a blush, she added, "Alas for my credulous fancy! Unto ears like thine such words as these have no meaning.
" But made answer the reverend man, and he smiled as he answered,-- "Daughter, thy words are not idle; nor are they to me without meaning.
Feeling is deep and still; and the word that floats on the surface Is as the tossing buoy, that betrays where the anchor is hidden.
Therefore trust to thy heart, and to what the world calls illusions.
Gabriel truly is near thee; for not far away to the southward, On the banks of the Teche, are the towns of St.
Maur and St.
Martin.
There the long-wandering bride shall be given again to her bridegroom, There the long-absent pastor regain his flock and his sheepfold.
Beautiful is the land, with its prairies and forests of fruit-trees; Under the feet a garden of flowers, and the bluest of heavens Bending above, and resting its dome on the walls of the forest.
They who dwell there have named it the Eden of Louisiana.
" With these words of cheer they arose and continued their journey.
Softly the evening came.
The sun from the western horizon Like a magician extended his golden wand o'er the landscape; Twinkling vapors arose; and sky and water and forest Seemed all on fire at the touch, and melted and mingled together.
Hanging between two skies, a cloud with edges of silver, Floated the boat, with its dripping oars, on the motionless water.
Filled was Evangeline's heart with inexpressible sweetness.
Touched by the magic spell, the sacred fountains of feeling Glowed with the light of love, as the skies and waters around her.
Then from a neighboring thicket the mocking-bird, wildest of singers, Swinging aloft on a willow spray that hung o'er the water, Shook from his little throat such floods of delirious music, That the whole air and the woods and the waves seemed silent to listen.
Plaintive at first were the tones and sad; then soaring to madness Seemed they to follow or guide the revel of frenzied Bacchantes.
Single notes were then heard, in sorrowful, low lamentation; Till, having gathered them all, he flung them abroad in derision, As when, after a storm, a gust of wind through the tree-tops Shakes down the rattling rain in a crystal shower on the branches.
With such a prelude as this, and hearts that throbbed with emotion, Slowly they entered the Teche, where it flows through the green Opelousas, And, through the amber air, above the crest of the woodland, Saw the column of smoke that arose from a neighboring dwelling;-- Sounds of a horn they heard, and the distant lowing of cattle.
III Near to the bank of the river, o'ershadowed by oaks, from whose branches Garlands of Spanish moss and of mystic mistletoe flaunted, Such as the Druids cut down with golden hatchets at Yule-tide, Stood, secluded and still, the house of the herdsman.
A garden Girded it round about with a belt of luxuriant blossoms, Filling the air with fragrance.
The house itself was of timbers Hewn from the cypress-tree, and carefully fitted together.
Large and low was the roof; and on slender columns supported, Rose-wreathed, vine-encircled, a broad and spacious veranda, Haunt of the humming-bird and the bee, extended around it.
At each end of the house, amid the flowers of the garden, Stationed the dove-cots were, as love's perpetual symbol, Scenes of endless wooing, and endless contentions of rivals.
Silence reigned o'er the place.
The line of shadow and sunshine Ran near the tops of the trees; but the house itself was in shadow, And from its chimney-top, ascending and slowly expanding Into the evening air, a thin blue column of smoke rose.
In the rear of the house, from the garden gate, ran a pathway Through the great groves of oak to the skirts of the limitless prairie, Into whose sea of flowers the sun was slowly descending.
Full in his track of light, like ships with shadowy canvas Hanging loose from their spars in a motionless calm in the tropics, Stood a cluster of trees, with tangled cordage of grapevines.
Just where the woodlands met the flowery surf of the prairie, Mounted upon his horse, with Spanish saddle and stirrups, Sat a herdsman, arrayed in gaiters and doublet of deerskin.
Broad and brown was the face that from under the Spanish sombrero Gazed on the peaceful scene, with the lordly look of its master.
Round about him were numberless herds of kine, that were grazing Quietly in the meadows, and breathing the vapory freshness That uprose from the river, and spread itself over the landscape.
Slowly lifting the horn that hung at his side, and expanding Fully his broad, deep chest, he blew a blast, that resounded Wildly and sweet and far, through the still damp air of the evening.
Suddenly out of the grass the long white horns of the cattle Rose like flakes of foam on the adverse currents of ocean.
Silent a moment they gazed, then bellowing rushed o'er the prairie, And the whole mass became a cloud, a shade in the distance.
Then, as the herdsman turned to the house, through the gate of the garden Saw he the forms of the priest and the maiden advancing to meet him.
Suddenly down from his horse he sprang in amazement, and forward Rushed with extended arms and exclamations of wonder; When they beheld his face, they recognized Basil the blacksmith.
Hearty his welcome was, as he led his guests to the garden.
There in an arbor of roses with endless question and answer Gave they vent to their hearts, and renewed their friendly embraces, Laughing and weeping by turns, or sitting silent and thoughtful.
Thoughtful, for Gabriel came not; and now dark doubts and misgivings Stole o'er the maiden's heart; and Basil, somewhat embarrassed, Broke the silence and said, "If you came by the Atchafalaya, How have you nowhere encountered my Gabriel's boat on the bayous?" Over Evangeline's face at the words of Basil a shade passed.
Tears came into her eyes, and she said, with a tremulous accent, "Gone? is Gabriel gone?" and, concealing her face on his shoulder, All her o'erburdened heart gave way, and she wept and lamented.
Then the good Basil said,--and his voice grew blithe as he said it,-- "Be of good cheer, my child; it is only to-day he departed.
Foolish boy! he has left me alone with my herds and my horses.
Moody and restless grown, and tried and troubled, his spirit Could no longer endure the calm of this quiet existence.
Thinking ever of thee, uncertain and sorrowful ever, Ever silent, or speaking only of thee and his troubles, He at length had become so tedious to men and to maidens, Tedious even to me, that at length I bethought me, and sent him Unto the town of Adayes to trade for mules with the Spaniards.
Thence he will follow the Indian trails to the Ozark Mountains, Hunting for furs in the forests, on rivers trapping the beaver.
Therefore be of good cheer; we will follow the fugitive lover; He is not far on his way, and the Fates and the streams are against him.
Up and away to-morrow, and through the red dew of the morning We will follow him fast, and bring him back to his prison.
" Then glad voices were heard, and up from the banks of the river, Borne aloft on his comrades' arms, came Michael the fiddler.
Long under Basil's roof had he lived like a god on Olympus, Having no other care than dispensing music to mortals.
Far renowned was he for his silver locks and his fiddle.
"Long live Michael," they cried, "our brave Acadian minstrel!" As they bore him aloft in triumphal procession; and straightway Father Felician advanced with Evangeline, greeting the old man Kindly and oft, and recalling the past, while Basil, enraptured, Hailed with hilarious joy his old companions and gossips, Laughing loud and long, and embracing mothers and daughters.
Much they marvelled to see the wealth of the cidevant blacksmith, All his domains and his herds, and his patriarchal demeanor; Much they marvelled to hear his tales of the soil and the climate, And of the prairie; whose numberless herds were his who would take them; Each one thought in his heart, that he, too, would go and do likewise.
Thus they ascended the steps, and, crossing the breezy veranda, Entered the hall of the house, where already the supper of Basil Waited his late return; and they rested and feasted together.
Over the joyous feast the sudden darkness descended.
All was silent without, and, illuming the landscape with silver, Fair rose the dewy moon and the myriad stars; but within doors, Brighter than these, shone the faces of friends in the glimmering lamplight.
Then from his station aloft, at the head of the table, the herdsman Poured forth his heart and his wine together in endless profusion.
Lighting his pipe, that was filled with sweet Natchitoches tobacco, Thus he spake to his guests, who listened, and smiled as they listened:-- "Welcome once more, my friends, who long have been friendless and homeless, Welcome once more to a home, that is better perchance than the old one! Here no hungry winter congeals our blood like the rivers; Here no stony ground provokes the wrath of the farmer.
Smoothly the ploughshare runs through the soil, as a keel through the water.
All the year round the orange-groves are in blossom; and grass grows More in a single night than a whole Canadian summer.
Here, too, numberless herds run wild and unclaimed in the prairies; Here, too, lands may be had for the asking, and forests of timber With a few blows of the axe are hewn and framed into houses.
After your houses are built, and your fields are yellow with harvests, No King George of England shall drive you away from your homesteads, Burning your dwellings and barns, and stealing your farms and your cattle.
" Speaking these words, he blew a wrathful cloud from his nostrils, While his huge, brown hand came thundering down on the table, So that the guests all started; and


by John Masefield

The Everlasting Mercy

 Thy place is biggyd above the sterrys cleer, 
Noon erthely paleys wrouhte in so statly wyse, 
Com on my freend, my brothir moost enteer, 
For the I offryd my blood in sacrifise.
John Lydgate.
From '41 to '51 I was folk's contrary son; I bit my father's hand right through And broke my mother's heart in two.
I sometimes go without my dinner Now that I know the times I've gi'n her.
From '51 to '61 I cut my teeth and took to fun.
I learned what not to be afraid of And what stuff women's lips are made of; I learned with what a rosy feeling Good ale makes floors seem like the ceiling, And how the moon give shiny light To lads as roll home singing by't.
My blood did leap, my flesh did revel, Saul Kane was tokened to the devil.
From '61 to'71 I lived in disbelief of Heaven.
I drunk, I fought, I poached, I whored, I did despite unto the Lord.
I cursed, 'would make a man look pale, And nineteen times I went to gaol Now, friends, observe and look upon me, Mark how the Lord took pity on me.
By Dead Man's Thorn, while setting wires, Who should come up but Billy Myers, A friend of mine, who used to be As black a sprig of hell as me, With whom I'd planned, to save encroachin', Which fields and coverts each should poach in.
Now when he saw me set my snare, He tells me "Get to hell from there.
This field is mine," he says, "by right; If you poach here, there'll be a fight.
Out now," he says, "and leave your wire; It's mine.
" "It ain't.
" "You put.
" "You liar.
" "You closhy put.
" "You bloody liar.
" "This is my field.
" "This is my wire.
" "I'm ruler here.
" "You ain't.
" "I am.
" "I'll fight you for it.
" "Right, by damn.
Not now, though, I've a-sprained my thumb, We'll fight after the harvest hum.
And Silas Jones, that bookie wide, Will make a purse five pounds a side.
" Those were the words, that was the place By which God brought me into grace.
On Wood Top Field the peewits go Mewing and wheeling ever so; And like the shaking of a timbrel Cackles the laughter of the whimbrel.
.
In the old quarry-pit they say Head-keeper Pike was made away.
He walks, head-keeper Pike, for harm, He taps the windows of the farm; The blood drips from his broken chin, He taps and begs to be let in.
On Wood Top, nights, I've shaked to hark The peewits wambling in the dark Lest in the dark the old man might Creep up to me to beg a light.
But Wood Top grass is short and sweet And springy to a boxer's feet; At harvest hum the moon so bright Did shine on Wood Top for the fight.
When Bill was stripped down to his bends I thought how long we two'd been friends, And in my mind, about that wire, I thought "He's right, I am a liar.
As sure as skilly's made in prison The right to poach that copse is his'n.
I'll have no luck tonight," thinks I.
"I'm fighting to defend a lie.
And this moonshiny evening's fun Is worse than aught I've ever done.
" And thinking that way my heart bled so I almost stept to Bill and said so.
And now Bill's dead I would be glad If I could only think I had.
But no.
I put the thought away For fear of what my friends would say.
They'd backed me, see? O Lord, the sin Done for things there's money in.
The stakes were drove, the ropes were hitched, Into the ring my hat I pitched.
My corner faced the Squire's park Just where the fir trees make it dark; The place where I begun poor Nell Upon the woman's road to hell.
I thought of't, sitting in my corner After the time-keep struck his warner (Two brandy flasks, for fear of noise, Clinked out the time to us two boys).
And while the seconds chafed and gloved me I thought of Nell's eyes when she loved me, And wondered how my tot would end, First Nell cast off and now my friend; And in the moonlight dim and wan I knew quite well my luck was gone; And looking round I felt a spite At all who'd come to see me fight; The five and forty human faces Inflamed by drink and going to races, Faces of men who'd never been Merry or true or live or clean; Who'd never felt the boxer's trim Of brain divinely knit to limb, Nor felt the whole live body go One tingling health from top to toe; Nor took a punch nor given a swing, But just soaked dead round the ring Until their brains and bloods were foul Enough to make their throttles howl, While we whom Jesus died to teach Fought round on round, three minutes each.
And think that, you'll understand I thought, "I'll go and take Bill's hand.
I'll up and say the fault was mine, He shan't make play for these here swine.
" And then I thought that that was silly, They'd think I was afraid of Billy; They'd think (I thought it, God forgive me) I funked the hiding Bill could give me.
And that thought made me mad and hot.
"Think that, will they? Well, they shall not.
They shan't think that.
I will not.
I'm Damned if I will.
I will not.
" Time! From the beginning of the bout My luck was gone, my hand was out.
Right from the start Bill called the play, But I was quick and kept away Till the fourth round, when work got mixed, And then I knew Bill had me fixed.
My hand was out, why, Heaven knows; Bill punched me when and where he chose.
Through two more rounds we quartered wide, And all the time my hands seemed tied; Bill punched me when and where he pleased.
The cheering from my backers eased, But every punch I heard a yell Of "That's the style, Bill, give him hell.
" No one for me, but Jimmy's light "Straight left! Straight left!" and "Watch his right.
" I don't know how a boxer goes When all his body hums from blows; I know I seemed to rock and spin, I don't know how I saved my chin; I know I thought my only friend Was that clinked flash at each round's end When my two seconds, Ed and Jimmy, Had sixty seconds help to gimme.
But in the ninth, with pain and knocks I stopped: I couldn't fight nor box.
Bill missed his swing, the light was tricky, But I went down, and stayed down, dicky.
"Get up," cried Jim.
I said, "I will.
" Then all the gang yelled, "Out him, bill.
Out him.
" Bill rushed .
.
.
and Clink, Clink, Clink.
Time! And Jim's knee, and rum to drink.
And round the ring there ran a titter: "Saved by the call, the bloody quitter.
" They drove (a dodge that never fails) A pin beneath my finger nails.
They poured what seemed a running beck Of cold spring water down my neck; Jim with a lancet quick as flies Lowered the swelling round my eyes.
They sluiced my legs and fanned my face Through all that blessed minute's grace; They gave my calves a thorough kneading, They salved my cuts and stopped the bleeding.
A gulp of liquor dulled the pain, And then the flasks clinked again.
Time! There was Bill as grim as death, He rushed, I clinched, to get more breath, And breath I got, though Billy bats Some stinging short-arms in my slats.
And when we broke, as I foresaw, He swung his right in for the jaw.
I stopped it on my shoulder bone, And at the shock I heard Bill groan A little groan or moan or grunt As though I'd hit his wind a bunt.
At that, I clinched, and while we clinched, His old time right arm dig was flinched, And when we broke he hit me light As though he didn't trust his right, He flapped me somehow with his wrist As though he couldn't use his fist, And when he hit he winced with pain.
I thought, "Your sprained thumb's crocked again.
" So I got strength and Bill gave ground, And that round was an easy round.
During the wait my Jimmy said, What's making Billy fight so dead? He's all to pieces.
Is he blown?" "His thumb's out.
" "No? Then it's your own.
It's all your own, but don't be rash He's got the goods if you've got the cash, And what one hand can do he'll do.
Be careful this next round or two.
" Time.
There was Bill, and I felt sick That luck should play so mean a trick And give me leave to knock him out After he'd plainly won the bout.
But by the way the man came at me He made it plain he meant to bat me; If you'd a seen the way he come You wouldn't think he'd crocked a thumb.
With all his skill and all his might He clipped me dizzy left and right; The Lord knows what the effort cost, but he was mad to think he'd lost, And knowing nothing else could save him He didn't care what pain it gave him.
He called the music and the dance For five rounds more and gave no chance.
Try to imagine if you can The kind of manhood in the man, And if you'd like to feel his pain You sprain your thumb and hit the sprain.
And hit it hard with all your power On something hard for half-an-hour, While someone thumps you black and blue, And then you'll know what Billy knew.
Bill took that pain without a sound Till halfway through the eighteenth round, And then I sent him down and out, And Silas said, "Kane wins the bout.
" When Bill came to, you understand, I ripped the mitten from my hand And across to ask Bill shake, My limbs were all one pain and ache, I was so weary and so sore I don't think I'd a stood much more.
Bill in his corner bathed his thumb, Buttoned his shirt and glowered glum.
"I'll never shake your hand" he said.
"I'd rather see my children dead.
I've been about had some fun with you, But you're a liar and I've done with you.
You've knocked me out, you didn't beat me; Look out the next time that you meet me, There'll be no friend to watch the clock for you And no convenient thumb to crock for you, And I'll take care, with much delight, You'll get what you'd a got tonight; That puts my meaning clear, I guess, Now get to hell; I want to dress.
" I dressed.
My backers one and all Said, "Well done you" or "Good old Saul.
" "Saul is a wonder and a fly 'un, What'll you have, Saul, at the Lion?" With merry oaths they helped me down The stony wood path to the town.
The moonlight shone on Cabbage Walk, It made the limestone look like chalk.
It was too late for any people, Twelve struck as we went by the steeple.
A dog barked, and an owl was calling, The squire's brook was still a-falling, The carved heads on the church looked down On "Russell, Blacksmith of this Town," And all the graves of all the ghosts Who rise on Christmas Eve in hosts To dance and carol in festivity For joy of Jesus Christ's Nativity (Bell-ringer Dawe and his two sons Beheld 'em from the bell-tower once}, To and two about about Singing the end of Advent out, Dwindling down to windlestraws When the glittering peacock craws, As craw the glittering peacock should When Christ's own star come over the wood.
Lamb of the sky comes out of fold Wandering windy heavens cold.
So they shone and sang till twelve When all the bells ring out of theirselve.
Rang a peal for Christmas morn, Glory, men, for Christ is born.
All the old monks' singing places Glimmered quick with flitting faces, Singing anthems, singing hymns Under carven cherubims.
Ringer Dave aloft could mark Faces at the window dark Crowding, crowding, row on row, Till all the church began to glow.
The chapel glowed, the nave, the choir, All he faces became fire Below the eastern window high To see Christ's star come up the sky.
Then they lifted hands and turned, And all their lifted fingers burned, Burned like the golden altar tallows, Burned like a troop of God's own Hallows, Bringing to mind the burning time When all the bells will rock and chime And burning saints on burning horses Will sweep the planets from their courses And loose the stars to burn up night.
Lord, give us eyes to bear the light.
We all went quiet down the Scallenge Lest Police Inspector Drew should challenge.
But 'Spector Drew was sleeping sweet, His head upon a charges sheet, Under the gas jet flaring full, Snorting and snoring like a bull, His bull cheeks puffed, his bull lips plowing, His ugly yellow front teeth showing.
Just as we peeped we saw him fumble And scratch his head, and shift, and mumble.
Down in the lane so thick and dark The tan-yards stank of bitter bark, The curate's pigeons gave a flutter, A cart went courting down the gutter, And none else stirred a foot or feather.
The houses put their heads together, Talking, perhaps, so dark and sly, Of all the folk they'd seen go by, Children, and men and women, merry all, Who'd some day pass that way to burial.
It was all dark, but at the turning The Lion had a window burning.
So in we went and up the stairs, Treading as still as cats and hares.
The way the stairs creaked made you wonder If dead men's bones were hidden under.
At head of stairs upon the landing A woman with a lamp was standing; she greet each gent at head of stairs, With "Step in, gents, and take your chairs.
The punch'll come when kettle bubble, But don't make noise or there'll be trouble.
" 'Twas Doxy Jane, a bouncing girl With eyes all sparks and hair all curl, And cheeks all red and lips all coal, And thirst for men instead of soul.
She's trod her pathway to the fire.
Old Rivers had his nephew by her.
I step aside from Tom and Jimmy To find if she'd a kiss to gimme.
I blew out lamp 'fore she could speak.
She said, "If you ain't got a cheek," And then beside me in the dim, "Did he beat you or you beat him?" "Why, I beat him" (though that was wrong).
She said, "You must be turble strong, I'd be afraid you'd beat me, too.
" "You'd not," I said, "I wouldn't do.
" "Never?" "No, never.
" "Never?" "No.
" "O Saul.
Here's missus.
Let me go.
" It wasn't missus, so I didn't, Whether I mid do or I midn't, Until she'd promised we should meet Next evening, six, at top of street, When we could have a quiet talk On that low wall up Worcester Walk.
And while we whispered there together I give her silver for a feather And felt a drunkenness like wine And shut out Christ in husks and swine.
I felt the dart strike through my liver.
God punish me for't and forgive her.
Each one could be a Jesus mild, Each one has been a little child, A little child with laughing look, A lovely white unwritten book; A book that God will take, my friend, As each goes out a journey's end.
The Lord Who gave us Earth and Heaven Takes that as thanks for all He's given.
The book He lent is given back All blotted red and smutted black.
"Open the door," said Jim, "and call.
" Jane gasped "They'll see me.
Loose me, Saul.
" She pushed me by, and ducked downstair With half the pins out of her hair.
I went inside the lit room rollen Her scented handkerchief I'd stolen.
"What would you fancy, Saul?" they said.
"A gin punch hot and then to bed.
" "Jane, fetch the punch bowl to the gemmen; And mind you don't put too much lemon.
Our good friend Saul has had a fight of it, Now smoke up, boys, and make a night of it.
" The room was full of men and stink Of bad cigars and heavy drink.
Riley was nodding to the floor And gurgling as he wanted more.
His mouth was wide, his face was pale, His swollen face was sweating ale; And one of those assembled Greeks Had corked black crosses on his cheeks.
Thomas was having words with Goss, He "wouldn't pay, the fight was cross.
" And Goss told Tom that "cross or no, The bets go as the verdicts go, By all I've ever heard or read of.
So pay, or else I'll knock your head off.
" Jim Gurvil said his smutty say About a girl down Bye Street way, And how the girl from Froggatt's circus Died giving birth in Newent work'us.
And Dick told how the Dymock wench Bore twins, poor things, on Dog Hill bench; And how he'd owned to one Court And how Judge made him sorry for't.
Jack set a jew's harp twanging drily; "gimme another cup," said Riley.
A dozen more were in their glories With laughs and smokes and smutty stories; And Jimmy joked and took his sup And sang his song of "Up, come up.
" Jane brought the bowl of stewing gin And poured the egg and lemon in, And whisked it up and served it out While bawdy questions went about.
Jack chucked her chin, and Jim accost her With bits out of the "Maid of Gloster.
" And fifteen arms went round her waist.
(And then men ask, Are Barmaids chaste?} O young men, pray to be kept whole from bringing down a weaker soul.
Your minute's joy so meet in doin' May be the woman's door to ruin; The door to wandering up and down, A painted whore with half a crown.
The bright mind fouled, the beauty gay All eaten out and fallen away, By drunken days and weary tramps From pub to pub by city lamps Till men despise the game they started Till health and beauty are departed, and in a slum the reeking hag Mumbles a crust with toothy jag, Or gets the river's help to end The life too wrecked for man to mend.
We spat and smoked and took our swipe Till Silas up and tap his pipe, And begged us all to pay attention Because he'd several things to mention.
We'd seen the fight (Hear, hear.
That's you); But still one task remained to do.
That task was his, he didn't shun it, To give the purse to him as won it.
With this remark, from start to out He'd never seen a brisker bout.
There was the purse.
At that he'd leave it.
Let Kane come forward to receive it.
I took the purse and hemmed and bowed, And called for gin punch for the crowd; And when the second bowl was done, I called, "Let's have another one.
" Si's wife come in and sipped and sipped (As women will) till she was pipped.
And Si hit Dicky Twot a clouter Because he put his arms about her; But after Si got overtasked She sat and kissed whoever asked.
My Doxy Jane was splashed by this, I took her on my knee to kiss.
And Tom cried out, "O damn the gin; Why can't we all have women in? Bess Evans now, or Sister Polly, Or those two housemaids at the Folly? Let someone nip to Biddy Price's, They'd all come in a brace of trices.
Rose Davies, Sue, and Betsy Perks; One man, one girl, and damn all Turks.
" But, no.
"More gin," they cried; "Come on.
We'll have the girls in when it's gone.
" So round the g in went, hot and heady, Hot Hollands punch on top of deady.
Hot Hollands punch on top of stout Puts madness in and wisdom out.
From drunken man to drunken man The drunken madness raged and ran.
"I'm climber Joe who climbed the spire.
" "You're climber Joe the bloody liar.
" "Who says I lie?" "I do.
" "You lie, I climbed the spire and had a fly.
" "I'm French Suzanne, the Circus Dancer, I'm going to dance a bloody Lancer.
" "If I'd my rights I'm Squire's heir.
" "By rights I'd be a millionaire.
" "By rights I'd be the lord of you, But Farmer Scriggins had his do, He done me, so I've had to hoove it, I've got it all wrote down to prove it.
And one of these dark winter nights He'll learn I mean to have my rights; I'll bloody him a bloody fix, I'll bloody burn his bloody ricks.
" From three long hours of gin and smokes, And two girls' breath and fifteen blokes, A warmish night, and windows shut, The room stank like a fox's gut.
The heat and smell and drinking deep Began to stun the gang to sleep.
Some fell downstairs to sleep on mat, Some snored it sodden where they sat.
Dick Twot had lost a tooth and wept; But all the drunken others slept.
Jane slept beside me in the chair, And I got up; I wanted air.
I opened window wide and leaned Out of that pigstye of the fiend And felt a cool wind go like grace About the sleeping market-place.
The clock struck three, and sweetly, slowly, The bells chimed Holy, Holy, Holy; And in a second's pause there fell The cold note of the chapel bell.
And then a cock crew, flapping wings, And summat made me think of things.
How long those ticking clocks had gone From church to chapel, on and on, Ticking the time out, ticking slow To men and girls who'd come and go, And how they ticked in belfry dark When half the town was bishop's park, And how they'd run a chime full tilt The night after the church was built, And that night was Lambert's Feast, The night I'd fought and been a beast.
And how a change had come.
And then I thought, "You tick to different men.
" What with the fight and what with drinking And being awake alone there thinking, My mind began to carp and tetter, "If this life's all, the beasts are better.
" And then I thought, "I wish I'd seen The many towns this town has been; I wish I knew if they'd a got A kind of summat we've a-not, If them as built the church so fair Were half the chaps folk say they were; For they'd the skill to draw their plan, And skill's a joy to any man; And they'd the strength, not skill alone, To build it beautiful in stone; And strength and skill together thus O, they were happier men than us.
But if they were, they had to die The same as every one and I.
And no one lives again, but dies, And all the bright goes out of eyes, and all the skill goes out of hands, And all the wise brain understands, And all the beauty, all the power Is cut down like a withered flower.
In all the show from birth to rest I give the poor dumb cattle best.
" I wondered, then, why life should be, And what would be the end of me When youth and health and strength were gone And cold old age came creeping on? A keeper's gun? The Union ward? Or that new quod at Hereford? And looking round I felt disgust At all the nights of drink and lust, And all the looks of all the swine Who'd said that they were friends of mine; And yet I knew, when morning came, The morning would be just the same, for I'd have drinks and Jane would meet me And drunken Silas Jones would greet me, And I'd risk quod and keeper's gun Till all the silly game was done.
"For parson chaps are mad, supposin' A chap can change the road he's chosen.
" And then the Devil whispered, "Saul, Why should you want to live at all? Why fret and sweat and try to mend? It's all the same thing in the end.
But when it's done," he said, "it's ended.
Why stand it , since it can't be mended?" And in my heart I heard him plain, "Throw yourself down and end it, Kane.
" "Why not?" said I.
"Why not? But no.
I won't.
I've never had my go.
I've not had all the world can give.
Death by and by, but first I'll live.
The world owes me my time of times, And that time's coming now, by crimes.
" A madness took me then.
I felt I'd like to hit the world a belt.
I felt that I could fly through air, A screaming star with blazing hair, A rushing comet, crackling, numbing The folk with fear of judgment coming, A 'Lijah in a fiery car, Coming to tell folk what they are.
"That's what I'll do," I shouted loud.
"I'll tell this sanctimonious crowd This town of window peeping, prying, Maligning, peering, hinting, lying, Male and female human blots Who would, but daren't be, whores and sots, That they're so steeped in petty vice That they're less excellent than lice, That touching one of them will dirt you, Dirt you with the stain of mean Cheating trade and going between, Pinching, starving, scraping, hoarding To see if Sue, the prentice lean, Dares to touch the margarine.
Fawning, cringing, oiling boots, Raging in the crowd's pursuits, Flinging stones at all the Stephens, Standing firm with all the evens Making hell for all the odd, All the lonely ones of God, Those poor lonely ones who find Dogs more mild than human kind.
For dogs," I said, "are nobles born To most of you, you cockled corn.
I've known dogs to leave their dinner, Nosing a kind heart in a sinner.
Poor old Crafty wagged his tail The day I first came home from jail.
When all my folk, so primly clad, Glowered black and thought me mad,.
And muttered how they'd all expected.
(I've thought of that old dog for years, And of how near I come to tears.
) But you, you minds of bread and cheese, Are less divine tha[n] that dog's fleas, You suck blood from kindly friends, And kill them when it serves your ends.
, Double traitors, double black, Stabbing only in the back, Stabbing with the knives you borrow From the friends you bring to sorrow.
You stab all that's true and strong, Truth and strength you say are wrong, Meek and mild, and sweet and creeping, Repeating, canting cadging, peeping, That's the art and that's the life To win a man his neighbour's wife.
All that's good and all that's true, You kill that, so I'll kill you.
" At that I tore my clothes in shreds And hurled them on the window leads; I flung my boots through both the winders And knocked the glass to little flinders; The punch bowl and the tumblers followed, and then I seized the lamps and holloed, And down the stairs, and tore back bolts, As mad as twenty blooded colts; And out into the street I pass, As mad as two-year-olds at grass A naked madman saving grand A blazing lamp in either hand.
I yelled like twenty drunken sailors, :The devil's come among the tailors.
" A blaze of flame behind me streamed, And then I clashed the lamps and screamed "I'm Satan, newly come from hell.
" And then I spied the fire bell.
I've been a ringer, so I know How best to make a big bell go.
So on to bell-rope swift swoop, And stick my one foot in the loop And heave a down-swig till I groan "Awake, you swine, you devil's own.
" I made the fire-bell awake, I felt the bell-rope throb and shake; I felt the air mingle and clang And beat the walls a muffled bang, And stifle back and boom and bay Like muffled peals on Boxing Day, And then surge up and gather shape, And spread great pinions and escape; And each great bird of clanging shrieks O Fire! Fire, from iron beaks.
My shoulders cracked to send around Those shrieking birds made out of sound With news of fire in their bills.
(They heard 'em plain beyond Wall Hills.
).
Up go the winders, out come heads, I heard the springs go creak in beds; But still I heave and sweat and tire, And still the clang goes "Fire, Fire!" "Where is it, then? Who is it, there? You ringer, stop, and tell us where.
" "Run round and let the Captain know.
" "It must be bad, he's ringing so," "It's in the town, I see the flame; Look there! Look there, how red it came.
" "Where is it, then? O stop the bell.
" I stopped and called: "It's fire of hell; And this is Sodom and Gomorrah, And now I'll burn you up, begorra.
" By this time firemen were mustering, The half-dressed stable men were flustering, Backing the horses out of stalls While this man swears and that man bawls, "Don't take th'old mare.
Back, Toby, back.
Back, Lincoln.
Where's the fire, Jack?" "Damned if I know.
Out Preston way.
" "No.
It's at Chancey's Pitch, they say.
" "It's sixteen ricks at Pauntley burnt.
" "You back old Darby out, I durn't.
" They ran the big red engine out, And put 'em to with damn and shout.
And then they start to raise the shire, "Who brought the news, and where's the fire?" They's moonlight, lamps, and gas to light 'em.
I give a screech-owl's screech to fright 'em, And snatch from underneath their noses The nozzles of the fire hoses.
"I am the fire.
Back, stand back, Or else I'll fetch your skulls a crack; D'you see these copper nozzles here? They weigh ten pounds a piece, my dear; I'm fire of hell come up this minute To burn this town and burn you clean, You cogwheels in a stopped machine, You hearts of snakes, and brains of pigeons, You dead devout of dead religions, You offspring of the hen and ass, By Pilate ruled, and Caiaphas.
Now your account is totted.
Learn Hell's flames are loose and you shall burn.
" At that I leaped and screamed and ran, I heard their cries go, "Catch him, man.
" "Who was it?" "Down him.
" "Out him, Em.
" "Duck him at pump, we'll see who'll burn.
" A policeman clutched, a fireman clutched, A dozen others snatched and touched.
"By God, he's stripped down to his buff.
" "By God, we'll make him warm enough.
" "After him," "Catch him," "Out him," " Scrob him.
" "We'll give him hell.
" "By God, we'll mob him.
" "We'll duck him, scrout him, flog him, fratch him.
" "All right," I said.
"But first you'll catch him.
" The men who don't know to the root The joy of being swift of foot, Have never known divine and fresh The glory of the gift of flesh, Nor felt the feet exult, not gone Along a dim road, on and on, Knowing again the bursting glows, the mating hare in April knows, Who tingles to the pads with mirth At being the swiftest thing on earth.
O, if you want to know delight, Run naked in an autumn night, And laugh, as I laughed then, to find A running rabble drop behind, and whang, on ever door you pass, Two copper nozzles, tipped with brass, And double whang at every turning, And yell, "All hell's loose, and burning.
" I beat my brass and shouted fire At doors of parson, lawyer, squire, at all three doors I threshed and slammed And yelled aloud that they were damned.
I clodded squire's glass with turves Because he spring-gunned his preserves.
Through parson's glass my nozzle swishes Because he stood for loaves and fishes, but parson's glass I spared a tittle.
He give me a orange once when little, And he who gives a child a treat Makes joy-bells ring in Heaven's street, And he who gives a child a home Build palaces in Kingdom come and she who gives a baby birth Brings Saviour Christ again to Earth, For life is joy, and mind is fruit, And body's precious earth and root.
But lawyer's glass-well, never mind, Th' old Adam's strong in me, I find.
God pardon man, and may God's son Forgive the evil things I've done.
What more? By Dirty Lane I crept Back to the Lion, where I slept.
The raging madness hot and floodin' Boiled itself out and left me sudden, Left me worn out and sick and cold, Aching as though I'd all grown old; So there I lay, and there they found me On door-mat, with a curtain round me.
Si took my heels and Jane my head And laughed, and carried me to bed.
And from the neighbouring street they reskied My boots and trousers, coat and weskit; They bath-bricked both the nozzles bright To be mementoes of the night, And knowing what I should awake with, They flanelled me a quart to slake with And sat and shook till half past two Expecting Police Inspector Drew.
I woke and drank, nd went to meat In clothes still dirty from the street.
Down in the bar I hear 'em tell How someone rang the fire bell, And how th'inspector's search had thriven, And how five pounds reward was given.
And shepherd Boyce, of Marley, glad us By saying was blokes from mad'us.
Or two young rips lodged at the Prince Whom none had seen nor heard of since, Or that young blade from Worcester Walk (You know how country people talk).
Young Joe the ostler come in sad, He said th'old mare had bit his dad.
He said there'd come a blazing screeching Daft Bible-prophet chap a-preaching, Had put th'old mare in such a taking she'd thought the bloody earth was quaking.
And others come and spread a tale Of cut-throats out of Gloucester jail, And how we needed extra cops With all them Welsh come picking hops: With drunken Welsh in all our sheds We might be murdered in our beds.
By all accounts, both men and wives Had had the scare up of their lives.
I ate and drank and gathered strength, And stretched along the bench full length, Or crossed to window seat to pat Black Silas Jones's little cat.
At four I called, "You devil's own, The second trumpet shall be blown.
The second trump, the second blast; Hell's flames are loosed, and judgment's passed.
Too late for mercy now.
Take warning.
I'm death and hell and Judgment morning.
" I hurled the bench into the settle, I banged the table on the kettle, I sent Joe's quart of cider spinning.
"Lo, here begins my second inning.
" Each bottle, mug, and jug and pot I smashed to crocks in half a tot; And Joe, and Si, and Nick, and Percy I rolled together topsy versy.
And as I ran I heard 'em call, "Now damn to hell, what's gone with Saul?" Out into street I ran uproarious The devil dancing in me glorious.
And as I ran I yell and shriek "Come on, now, turn the other cheek.
" Across the way by almshouse pump I see old puffing parson stump.
Old parson, red-eyed as a ferret From nightly wrestlings with the spirit; I ran acrosss, and barred his path.
His turkey gills went red as wrath And then he froze as parsons can.
"The police will deal with you, my man.
" "Not yet, "said I, "not yet they won't; And now you'll hear me, like or don't.
The English Church both is and was A subsidy of Caiaphas.
I don't believe in Prayer or Bible, They're lies all through, and you're a libel, A libel on the Devil's plan When first he miscreated man.
You mumble through a formal code To get which martyrs burned and blowed.
I look on martyrs as mistakes, But still they burned for it at stakes; Your only fire's the jolly fire Where you can guzzle port with Squire, And back and praise his damned opinions About his temporal dominions.
You let him give the man who digs, A filthy hut unfit for pigs, Without a well, without a drain, With mossy thatch that lets in rain, Without a 'lotment, 'less he rent it, And never meat, unless he scent it, But weekly doles of 'leven shilling To make a grown man strong and willing, To do the hardest work on earth And feed his wife when she gives birth, And feed his little children's bones.
I tell you, man, the Devil groans.
With all your main and all your might You back what is against what's right; You let the Squire do things like these, You back him in't and give him ease, You take his hand and drink his wine, And he's a hog, but you're a swine.
For you take gold to teach God's ways And teach man how to sing God's praise.
And now I'll tell you what you teach In downright honest English speech.
"You teach the ground-down starving man That Squire's greed's Jehovah's plan.
You get his learning circumvented Lest it should make him discontented (Better a brutal, starving nation Than men with thoughts above their station), You let him neither read nor think, You goad his wretched soul to drink And then to jail, the drunken boor; O sad intemperance of the poor.
You starve his soul till it's rapscallion, Then blame his flesh for being stallion.
You send your wife around to paint The golden glories of "restraint.
" How moral exercise bewild'rin' Would soon result in fewer children.
You work a day in Squire's fields And see what sweet restraint it yields, A woman's day at turnip picking, Your hearts too fat for plough or ricking.
"And you whom luck taught French and Greek Have purple flaps on either cheek, A stately house, and time for knowledge, And gold to send your sons to college, That pleasant place, where getting learning Is also key to money earning.
But quite your damndest want of grace Is what you do to save your face; The way you sit astride the gates By padding wages out of rates; Your Christmas gifts of shoddy blankets That every working soul may thank its Loving parson, loving squire Through whom he can't afford a fire.
Your well-packed bench, your prison pen, To keep them something less than men; Your friendly clubs to help 'em bury.
Your charities of midwifery.
Your bidding children duck and cap To them who give them workhouse pap.
O, what you are, and what you preach, And what you do, and what you teach Is not God's Word, nor honest schism, But Devil's scant and pauperism.
" By this time many folk had gathered To listen to me while I blathered; I said my piece, and when I'd said it, I'll do the purple parson credit, He sunk (as sometimes parsons can) His coat's excuses in the man.
"You'd think the Squire and I are kings Who made the existing state of things, And made it ill.
I answer, No, States are not made, nor patched; they grow, Grow slow through centuries of pain And grow correctly in the main, But only grow by certain laws Of certain bits in certain jaws.
You want to doctor that.
Let be.
You cannot patch a growing tree.
Put these two words beneath your hat, These two: securus judicat.
The social states of human kinds Are made by multitudes of minds, And after multitudes of years A little human growth appears Worth having, even to the soul Who sees most plain it's not the whole.
This state is dull and evil, both, I keep it in the path of growth; You think the Church an outworn fetter; Kane, keep it, till you've built a better.
And keep the existing social state; I quite agree it's out of date, One does too much, another shirks, Unjust, I grant; but still.
.
.
it works.
To get the whole world out of bed And washed, and dressed, and warmed, and fed, To work, and back to bed again, Believe me, Saul, costs worlds of pain.
Then, as to whether true or sham That book of Christ, Whose priest I am; The Bible is a lie, say you, where do you stand, suppose it true? Goodbye.
But if you've more to say My doors are open night and day.
Meanwhile, my friend, 'twould be no sin To mix more water in your gin.
We're neither saints nor Philip Sidneys, But mortal men with mortal kidneys.
" He took his snuff, and wheezed a greeting, And waddled off to mother's meeting; I hung my head upon my chest, I give old purple parson best.
For while the Plough tips round the Pole The trained mind outs the upright soul, As Jesus said the trained mind might, Being wiser than the sons of light, But trained men's minds are spread so thin They let all sorts of darkness in; Whatever light man finds they doubt it They love, not light, but talk about it.
But parson'd proved to people's eyes That I was drunk, and he was wise; And people grinned and women tittered, And little children mocked and twittered.
So, blazing mad, I stalked to bar To show how noble drunkards are, And guzzled spirits like a beast, To show contempt for Church and priest, Until, by six, my wits went round Like hungry pigs in parish pound.
At half past six, rememb'ring Jane, I staggered into street again With mind made up (or primed for gin) To bash the coop who'd run me in; For well I knew I'd have to cock up My legs that night inside the lock-up, And it was my most fixed intent To have a fight before I went.
Our Fates are strange, and no one now his; Our lovely Saviour Christ disposes.
Jane wasn't where we'd planned, the jade.
She'd thought me drunk and hadn't stayed.
So I went up the Walk to look for her And lingered by the little brook for her, And dowsed my face, and drank at spring, And watched two wild ducks on the wing, The moon come pale, the wind come cool, A big pike leapt in Lower Pool, The Peacock screamed, the clouds were straking, My cut cheek felt the weather breaking; An orange sunset waned and thinned Foretelling rain and western wind, And while I watched I heard distinct The metals on the railway clinked.
The blood-edged clouds were all in tatters, The sky and earth seemed mad as hatters; they had a death look, wild and odd, Of something dark foretold by God.
And seeing it so, I felt so shaken I wouldn't keep the road I'd taken, But wandered back towards the inn Resolved to brace myself with gin.
And as I walked, I said, "It's strange, There's Death let loose to-night, and Change.
" In Cabbage Walk, I made a haul Of two big pears from lawyer's wall, And, munching one, I took the lane Back into Market-place again.
Lamp-lighter Dick had passed the turning.
And all the Homend lamps were burning, The windows shone, the shops were busy, But that strange Heaven made me dizzy.
The sky had all God's warning writ In bloody marks all over it, And over all I thought there was A ghastly light besides the gas.
The Devil's tasks and Devil's rages Were giving me the Devil's wages.
In Market-place it's always light, The big shop windows make it bright; And in the press of people buying I spied a little fellow crying Because his mother'd gone inside And left him there, and so he cried.
And mother'd beat him when she found him, And mother's whip would curl right round him, And mother'd say h'ed done to crost her, Though there being crowds about he'd lost her.
Lord, give to men who are old and rougher The things that little children suffer, And let keep bright and undefiled The young years of the little child.
I pat his head at edge of street And gi'm my second pear to eat.
Right under lamp I pat his head, "I'll stay till mother come," I said, And stay I did, and joked and talked, And shoppers wondered as they walked, "There's that Saul Kane, the drunken blaggard, Talking to little Jimmy Jaggard.
The drunken blaggard reeks of drink.
" "Whatever will his mother think?" "Wherever has his mother gone? Nip round to Mrs.
Jaggard's, John, And say her Jimmy's out again, In Market-place with boozer Kane.
" "When he come out to-day he staggered.
O, Jimmy Jaggard, Jimmy Jaggard.
" "His mother's gone inside to bargain, Run in and tell her , Polly Margin, And tell her poacher Kane is tipsy And selling Jimmy to a gipsy.
" "Run in to Mrs.
Jaggard, Ellen, Or else, dear knows, there'll be no tellin', And don't dare leave yer till you've fount her, You'll find her at the linen counter.
" I told a tale, to Jim's delight Of where the tom-cats go by night, And how when moonlight came they went Among the chimneys black and bent, From roof to roof, from house to house, With little baskets full of mouse All red and white, both joint and chnop Like meat out of a butcher's shop; Then all along the wall they creep And everyone is fast asleep, And honey-hunting moths go by, And by the bread-batch crickets cry; Then on they hurry, never waiting To lawyer's backyard cellar grating where Jaggard's cat, with clever paw,' Unhooks a broke-brick's secret door; Then down into the cellar black, Across the wood slug's slimy track, Into an old cask's quiet hollow, Where they've got seats for what's to follow; Then each tom-cats light little candles, And O, the stories and the scandals, And O, the songs and Christmas carols, And O, the milk from little barrels.
They light a fire fit for roasting (And how good mouse-meat smells when toasting), Then down they sit to merry feast While moon goes west and sun comes east.
Sometimes they make so merry there Old lawyer comes to head of stair To 'fend with fist and poker took firm His parchments channeled by the bookworm, And all his deeds, and all his packs Of withered ink and sealing wax; And there he stands, with candle raised, And listens like a man amazed, Or like ghost a man stands dumb at, He says, "Hush! Hush! I'm sure there's summat.
" He hears outside the brown owl call, He hears the death-tick tap the wall, the gnawing of the wainscot mouse, The creaking ujp and down the house, The unhooked window's hinges ranging, The sounds that say the wind is changing.
At last he turns and shakes his head, "It's nothing.
I'll go back to bed.
" And just then Mrs.
Jaggard came To view and end her Jimmy's shame.
She made on rush and gi'm a bat And shook him like a dog a rat.
"I can't turn round but what you're straying.
I'll give you tales and gipsy playing.
I'll give you wand'ring off like this And listening to whatever 'tis, You'll laugh the little side of the can, You'll have the whip for his, my man; And not a bite of meat nor bread You'll touch before you go to bed.
Some day you'll break your mother's heart, After God knows she done her part, Working her arms off day and night Trying to keep your collars white.
Look at your face, too, in the street.
What dirty filth've you found to eat? Now don't you blubber here, boy, or I'll give you sum't to blubber for.
" She snatched him off from where we stand And knocked the pear-core from his hand, and looked at me, "You Devil's limb, How dare you talk to Jaggard's Jim; You drunken, poaching, boozing brute, you, If Jaggard was a man, he'd shoot you.
" She glared all this, but didn't speak, she gasped, white hollows in her cheek; Jimmy was writhing, screaming wild, The shoppers thought I'd killed the child.
I had to speak, so I begun.
"You oughtn't beat your little son; He did no harm, but seeing him there I talked to him and gi'm a pear; I'm sure the poor child meant no wrong, It's all my fault he stayed so long, He'd not have stayed, mum, I'll be bound If I'd not chanced to come around.
It's all my fault he stayed, not his.
I kept him here, that's how it is.
" "Oh!" And how dare you, then?" says she, How dare yo tempt my boy from me? How dare you do't, you drunken swine, Is he your child or is he mine? A drunken sot they've had the beak to, Has got his dirty whores to speak to, His dirty mates with home he drink, Not little children, one would think.
"Look on him, there," she says, "Look on him And smell the stinking gin upon him, The lowest sot, the drunknest liar, The dirtiest dog in all the shire: Nice friends for any woman's son After ten years, and all she's done.
"For I've had eight, and buried five, And only three are left alive.
I've given them all we could afford.
I've taught them all to fear the Lord.
They've had the best we had to give, The only three the Lord let live.
"For Minnie whom I love the worst Died mad in childbirth with her first.
And John and Mary died of measles, And Rob was drowned at the Teasels.
And little Nan, dear little sweet, A cart run over in the street; Her little shift was all one stain, I prayed God put her out of pain.
And all the rest are gone or going The road to hell, and there's no knowing For all I've done and all I've made them I'd better not have overlaid them.
For Susan went the ways of shame The time the 'till'ry regiment came, And t'have her child without a father I think I'd have her buried father.
And Dicky boozes, God forgimme, And now't's to be the same with Jimmy.
And all I've done and all I've bore Has made a drunkard and a whore,, A bastard boy who wasn't meant, And Jimmy gwine where Dicky went; For Dick began the self-same way And my old hairs are going gray, And my poor man's a withered knee, And all the burden falls on me.
"I've washed eight little children's limbs, I've taught eight little souls their hymns, I've risen sick and lain down pinched And borne it all and never flinched; But to see him, the town's disgrace, With God's commandments broke in's face, Who never worked, not he, nor earned, Nor will do till the seas are burned, Who never did since he was whole A hand's turn for a human soul, But poached and stole and gone with women, And swilled down gin enough to swim in, To see him only lift a finger To make my little Jimmy linger.
In spite of all his mother's prayers, And all her ten long years of cares, and all her broken spirit's cry That drunkard's finger puts them by, And Jimmy turns.
And now I see That just as Dick was, Jim will be, And all my life will have been in vain.
I might have spared myself the pain, And done the world a blessed riddance If I'd a drowned 'em all like kittens.
And he the sot, so strong and proud, Who'd make white shirts of a mother's shroud, He laughs now, it's a joke to him, Though it's the gates of hell for Jim.
"I've had my heart burnt out like coal, And drops of blood wrung from my soul Day in, day out, in pain and tears, For five and twenty wretched years; And he, he's ate the fat and sweet, And loafed and spat at top of street, And drunk and leched from day till morrow, And never known a moment's sorrow.
He come out drunk from th'inn to look the day my little Nan was took; He sat there drinking, glad and gay, The night my girl was led astray; He praised my Dick for singing well, The night Dick took the road to hell; And when my corpse goes stiff and blind, Leaving four helpless souls behind, He will be there still, drunk and strong.
It do seem hard.
It do seem wring.
But "Woe to him by whom the offense," Says our Lord Jesus' Testaments.
Whatever seems, God doth not slumber Though he lets pass times without number.
He'll come with trump to call his own, And t his world's way'll be overthrown.
He'll come with glory and with fire To cast great darkness on the liar, To burn the drunkard and the treacher, And do his judgment on the lecher, To glorify the spirit's faces Of those whose ways were stony places Who chose with Ruth the better part; O Lord, i see Thee as Thou are, O God, the fiery, four-edged sword, The thunder of the wrath outpoured, The fiery four-faced creatures burning, And all the four-faced wheels all turning, Coming with trump and fiery saint.
Jim, take me home, I'm turning faint.
" They went, and some cried, "Good old sod.
" "She put it to him straight, by God.
" Summat, whe was, or looked, or said, Went home and made me hang my head.
I slunk away into the night Knowing deep down that she was right.
I'd often hear[d] religious ranters, And put them down as windy canters, But this old mother made me see the harm I done by being me.
Being both strong and given to sin I 'stracted weaker vessels in.
So back to bar to get more drink, I didn't dare begin to think, And there were drinks and drunken singing, As though this life were dice for flinging; Dice to be flung, and nothing furder, And Christ's blood just another murder.
"Come on, drinks round, salue, drink hearty, Now, Jane, the punch-bowl for the party.
If any here won't drink with me I'll knock his bloody eyes out.
See? Come on, cigars round, rum for mine, Sing us a smutty song, some swine.
" But though the drinks and songs went round That thought remained, it was not drowned.
And when I'd rise to get a light I'd think, "What's come to me tonight?" There's always crowds when drinks are standing.
The house doors slammed along the landing, The rising wind was gusty yet, And those who cam in late were wet; And all my body's nerves were snappin' With sense of summat 'bout to happen, And music seemed to come and go And seven lights danced in a row.
There used be a custom then, Miss Bourne, the Friend, went round at ten To all the pubs in all the place, To bring the drunkards' souls to grace; Some sulked, of course, and some were stirred, But none give her a dirty word.
A tall pale woman, grey and bent, Folk said of her that she was sent She wore Friend's clothes, and women smiled, But she'd a heart just like a child.
She come to us near closing time when we were at some smutty rhyme, And I was mad, and ripe for fun; I wouldn't a minded what I done.
So when she come so prim and grey I pound the bar and sing, "Hooray, Here's Quaker come to bless and kiss us, Come, have a gin and bitters, missus, Or may be Quaker girls so prim Would rather start a bloody hymn.
Now Dick, oblige.
A hymn, you swine, Pipe up the 'Officer of the Line,' A song to make one's belly ache, Or 'Nell and Roger at the Wake,' Or that sweet song, the talk in town, 'The lady fair and Abel Brown.
' 'O, who's that knocking at the door,' Miss Bourne'll play the music score.
" The men stood dumb as cattle are, They grinned, but thought I'd gone too far, There come a hush and no one break it, They wondered how Miss Bourne would take it.
She up to me with black eyes wide, She looked as though her spirit cried; She took my tumbler from the bar Beside where all the matches are And poured it out upon the floor dust, Among the fag-ends, spit and saw-dust.
"Saul Kane," she said, "when next you drink, Do me the gentleness to think That every drop of drink accursed Makes Christ within you die of thirst, That every dirty word you say Is one more flint upon his way, Another thorn about His head, Another mock by where He tread, Another nail, another cross.
All that you are is that Christ's loss.
" The clock run down and struck a chime And Mrs.
Si said, "Closing time.
" The wet was pelting on the pane And something broke inside my brain, I heard the rain drip from the gutters And Silas putting up the shutters, While one by one the drinkers went; I got a glimpse of what it meant, How she and I had stood before In some old town by some old door Waiting intent while someone knocked Before the door for ever locked; She was so white that I was scared, A gas jet, turned the wrong way, flared, And Silas snapped the bars in place.
Miss Bourne stood white and searched my face.
When Silas done, with ends of tunes He 'gan a gathering the spittoons, His wife primmed lips and took the till.
Miss Bourne stood still and I stood still.
Miss Bourne stood still and I stood still, And "Tick.
Slow.
Tick.
Slow" went the clock.
She said, "He waits until you knock.
" She turned at that and went out swift, Si grinned and winked, his missus sniffed.
I heard her clang the Lion door, I marked a drink-drop roll to floor; It took up scraps of sawdust, furry, And crinkled on, a half inch, blurry; A drop from my last glass of gin; And someone waiting to come in, A hand upon the door latch gropen Knocking the man inside to open.
I know the very words I said, They bayed like bloodhounds in my head.
"The water's going out to sea And there's a great moon calling me; But there's a great sun calls the moon, And all God's bells will carol soon For joy and glory and delight Of someone coming home to-night.
" Out into darkness, out to night, My flaring heart gave plenty light, So wild it was there was no knowing Whether the clouds or stars were blowing; Blown chimney pots and folk blown blind, And puddles glimmering in my mind, And chinking glass from windows banging, And inn signs swung like people hanging, And in my heart the drink unpriced, The burning cataracts of Christ.
I did not think, I did not strive, The deep peace burnt my me alive; The bolted door had broken in, I knew that I had done with sin.
I knew that Christ had given me birth To brother all the souls on earth, And every bird and every beast Should share the crumbs broke at the feast.
O glory of the lighted mind.
How dead I'd been, how dumb, how blind.
The station brook, to my new eyes, Was babbling out of Paradise, The waters rushing from the rain Were singing Christ has risen again.
I thought all earthly creatures knelt From rapture of the joy I felt.
The narrow station-wall's brick ledge, The wild hop withering in the hedge, The lights in huntsmans' upper storey Were parts of an eternal glory, Were God's eternal garden flowers.
I stood in bliss at this for hours.
O glory of the lighted soul.
The dawn came up on Bradlow Knoll, The dawn with glittering on the grasses, The dawn which pass and never passes.
"It's dawn," I said, "And chimney's smoking, And all the blessed fields are soaking.
' It's dawn, and there's an engine shunting; And hounds, for huntsman's going hunting.
It's dawn, and I must wander north Along the road Christ led me forth.
" So up the road I wander slow Past where the snowdrops used to grow With celandines in early springs, When rainbows were triumphant things And dew so bright and flowers so glad, Eternal joy to lass and lad.
And past the lovely brook I paced, The brook whose source I never traced, The brook, the one of two which rise In my green dream in Paradise, In wells where heavenly buckets clink To give God's wandering thirsty drink By those clean cots of carven stone Where the clear water sings alone.
Then down, past that white-blossomed pond, And past the chestnut trees beyond, And past the bridge the fishers knew, Where yellow flag flowers once grew, Where we'd go gathering cops of clover, In sunny June times long since over.
O clover-cops half white, half red, O beauty from beyond the dead.
O blossom, key to earth and heaven, O souls that Christ has new forgiven.
Then down the hill to gipsies' pitch By where the brook clucks in the ditch.
A gipsy's camp was in the copse, Three felted tents, with beehive tops, And round black marks where fires had been, And one old waggon painted green, And three ribbed horses wrenching grass, And three wild boys to watch me pass, And one old woman by the fire Hulking a rabbit warm from wire.
I loved to see the horses bait, I felt I walked at Heaven's gate, That Heaven's gate was opened wide Yet still the gipsies camped outside.
The waste souls will prefer the wild, Long after life is meek and mild.
Perhaps when man has entered in' His perfect city free from sin, The campers will come past the walls With old lame horses full of galls, And waggons hung about with withies, And burning coke in tinker's stithies, And see the golden town, and choose, And think the wild to good to lose.
And camp outside, as these camped then With wonder at the entering men.
So past, and past the stone heap white That dewberry trailers hid from sight, And down the field so full of springs, Where mewing peewits clap their wings, And past the trap made for the mill Into the field below the hill.
There was a mist along the stream, A wet mist, dim, like in a dream; I heard the heavy breath of cows And waterdrops from th'alder boughs; And eels, or snakes, in dripping grass, Whipping aside to let me pass.
The gate was backed against the ryme To pass the cows at milking time.
And by the gate as I went out A moldwarp rooted earth wi's snout.
A few steps up the Callow's Lane Brought me above the mist again, The two great fields arose like death Above the mists of human breath.
All earthly things that bless?d morning Were everlasting joy and warning, The gate was Jesus'way made plain, the mole was Satan foiled again, black blinded Satan snouting way Along the red of Adam's clay; The mist was error and damnatiion, The lane the road unto salvation.
Out of the mist into the light, O bless?d gift of inner sight.
The past was faded like a dream; There come the jingling of a team, A ploughman's voice, a clink of chain, Slow hoofs, and harness under strain.
Up the slow slope a team came bowing, Old Callow at his autumn ploughing, Old Callow, stooped above the hales, Ploughing the stubble into wales.
His grave eyes looking straight ahead, Shearing a long straight furrow red; His plough-foot high to give it earth To bring new food for men to birth.
O wet red swathe of earth laid bare, O truth, O strength, O gleaming share, O patient eyes that watch the goal, O ploughman of the sinner's soul.
O Jesus, drive the coulter deep To plough my living man from sleep.
Slow up the hill the plough team plod, Old Callow at the task of God, Helped by man's wit, helped by the brute, Turning a stubborn clay to fruit, His eyes forever on some sign To help him plough a perfect line.
At top of rise the plough team stopped, The fore-horse bent his head and cropped.
Then the chains chack, the brasses jingle, The lean reins gather through the cringle, The figures move against the sky, The clay wave breaks as they go by.
I kneeled there in the muddy fallow, I knew that Christ was there with Callow, That Christ was standing there with me, That Christ had taught me what to be, That I should plough, and as I ploughed My Saviour Christ would sing aloud, And as I drove the clods apart Christ would be ploughing in my heart, Through rest-harrow and bitter roots, Through all my bad life's rotten fruits.
O Christ who holds the open gate, O Christ who drives the furrow straight, O Christ, the plough, O Christ, the laughter Of holy white birds flying after, Lo, all my heart's field red and torn, And Thou wilt bring the young green corn, The young green corn divinely springing, The young green corn forever singing; And when the field is fresh and fair Thy bless?d feet shall glitter there, And we will walk the weeded field, And tell the holden harvests's yield, The corn that makes the holy bread By which the soul of man is fed, The holy bread, the food unpriced, Thy everlasting mercy, Christ.
The share will jar on many a stone, Thou wilt not let me stand alone; And I shall feel (thou wilt not fail), Thy hand on mine upon the hale.
Near Bullen Bank, on Gloucester Road, Thy everlasting mercy showed The ploughman patient on the hill Forever there, forever still, Ploughing the hill with steady yoke Of pine-trees lightning-struck and broke.
I've marked the May Hill ploughman stay There on his hill, day after day Driving his team against the sky, While men and women live and die.
And now and then he seems to stoop To clear the coulter with the scoop, Or touch an ox to haw or gee While Severn stream goes out to sea.
The sea with all her ships and sails, And that great smoky port in Wales, And Gloucester tower bright i' the sun, All know that patient wandering one.
And sometimes when they burn the leaves The bonfires' smoking trails and heaves, And girt red flam?s twink and twire As though he ploughed the hill afire.
And in men's hearts in many lands A spiritual ploughman stands Forever waiting, waiting now, The heart's "Put in, man, zook the plough.
" By this the sun was all one glitter, The little birds were all atwitter; Out of a tuft a little lark Went higher up than I could mark, His little throat was all one thirst To sing until his heart should burst To sing aloft in golden light His song from blue air out of sight.
The mist drove by, and now the cows Came plodding up to milking house.
Followed by Frank, the Callow's cowman, Who whistled, "Adam was a ploughman.
" There came such cawing from the rooks, Such running chuck from little brooks, One thought it March, just budding green, With hedgerows full of celandine.
An otter' out of stream and played, Two hares come loping up and stayed; Wide-eyed and tender-eared but bold.
Sheep bleated up from Penny's fold.
I heard a partridge covey call, The morning sun was bright on all.
Down the long slope the plough team drove The tossing rooks arose and hove.
A stone struck on the share.
A word Came to the team.
The red earth stirred.
I crossed the hedge by shooter's gap, I hitched my boxer's belt a strap, I jumped the ditch and crossed the fallow: I took the hales from framer Callow.
How swift the summer goes, Forget-me-not, pink, rose.
The young grass when I started And now the hay is carted, And now my song is ended, And all the summer splended; The blackbirds' second brood Routs beech leaves in the wood; The pink and rose have speeded, Forget-me-not has seeded.
Only the winds that blew, The rain that makes things new, The earth that hides things old, And blessings manifold.
O lovely lily clean, O lily springing green, O lily bursting white, Dear lily of delight, Spring my heart agen That I may flower to men.


by Geoffrey Chaucer

Troilus And Criseyde: Book 05

 Incipit Liber Quintus.
Aprochen gan the fatal destinee That Ioves hath in disposicioun, And to yow, angry Parcas, sustren three, Committeth, to don execucioun; For which Criseyde moste out of the toun, And Troilus shal dwelle forth in pyne Til Lachesis his threed no lenger twyne.
-- The golden-tressed Phebus heighe on-lofte Thryes hadde alle with his bemes shene The snowes molte, and Zephirus as ofte Y-brought ayein the tendre leves grene, Sin that the sone of Ecuba the quene Bigan to love hir first, for whom his sorwe Was al, that she departe sholde a-morwe.
Ful redy was at pryme Dyomede, Criseyde un-to the Grekes ost to lede, For sorwe of which she felt hir herte blede, As she that niste what was best to rede.
And trewely, as men in bokes rede, Men wiste never womman han the care, Ne was so looth out of a toun to fare.
This Troilus, with-outen reed or lore, As man that hath his Ioyes eek forlore, Was waytinge on his lady ever-more As she that was the soothfast crop and more Of al his lust, or Ioyes here-tofore.
But Troilus, now farewel al thy Ioye, For shaltow never seen hir eft in Troye! Soth is, that whyl he bood in this manere, He gan his wo ful manly for to hyde.
That wel unnethe it seen was in his chere; But at the yate ther she sholde oute ryde With certeyn folk, he hoved hir tabyde, So wo bigoon, al wolde he nought him pleyne, That on his hors unnethe he sat for peyne.
For ire he quook, so gan his herte gnawe, Whan Diomede on horse gan him dresse, And seyde un-to him-self this ilke sawe, 'Allas,' quod he, 'thus foul a wrecchednesse Why suffre ich it, why nil ich it redresse? Were it not bet at ones for to dye Than ever-more in langour thus to drye? 'Why nil I make at ones riche and pore To have y-nough to done, er that she go? Why nil I bringe al Troye upon a rore? Why nil I sleen this Diomede also? Why nil I rather with a man or two Stele hir a-way? Why wol I this endure? Why nil I helpen to myn owene cure?' But why he nolde doon so fel a dede, That shal I seyn, and why him liste it spare; He hadde in herte alweyes a maner drede, Lest that Criseyde, in rumour of this fare, Sholde han ben slayn; lo, this was al his care.
And ellis, certeyn, as I seyde yore, He hadde it doon, with-outen wordes more.
Criseyde, whan she redy was to ryde, Ful sorwfully she sighte, and seyde 'Allas!' But forth she moot, for ought that may bityde, And forth she rit ful sorwfully a pas.
Ther nis non other remedie in this cas.
What wonder is though that hir sore smerte, Whan she forgoth hir owene swete herte? This Troilus, in wyse of curteisye, With hauke on hond, and with an huge route Of knightes, rood and dide hir companye, Passinge al the valey fer with-oute, And ferther wolde han riden, out of doute, Ful fayn, and wo was him to goon so sone; But torne he moste, and it was eek to done.
And right with that was Antenor y-come Out of the Grekes ost, and every wight Was of it glad, and seyde he was wel-come.
And Troilus, al nere his herte light, He peyned him with al his fulle might Him to with-holde of wepinge at the leste, And Antenor he kiste, and made feste.
And ther-with-al he moste his leve take, And caste his eye upon hir pitously, And neer he rood, his cause for to make, To take hir by the honde al sobrely.
And lord! So she gan wepen tendrely! And he ful softe and sleighly gan hir seye, 'Now hold your day, and dooth me not to deye.
' With that his courser torned he a-boute With face pale, and un-to Diomede No word he spak, ne noon of al his route; Of which the sone of Tydeus took hede, As he that coude more than the crede In swich a craft, and by the reyne hir hente; And Troilus to Troye homwarde he wente.
This Diomede, that ladde hir by the brydel, Whan that he saw the folk of Troye aweye, Thoughte, 'Al my labour shal not been on ydel, If that I may, for somwhat shal I seye, For at the worste it may yet shorte our weye.
I have herd seyd, eek tymes twyes twelve, "He is a fool that wol for-yete him-selve.
"' But natheles this thoughte he wel ynough, 'That certaynly I am aboute nought, If that I speke of love, or make it tough; For douteles, if she have in hir thought Him that I gesse, he may not been y-brought So sone awey; but I shal finde a mene, That she not wite as yet shal what I mene.
' This Diomede, as he that coude his good, Whan this was doon, gan fallen forth in speche Of this and that, and asked why she stood In swich disese, and gan hir eek biseche, That if that he encrese mighte or eche With any thing hir ese, that she sholde Comaunde it him, and seyde he doon it wolde.
For trewely he swoor hir, as a knight, That ther nas thing with whiche he mighte hir plese, That he nolde doon his peyne and al his might To doon it, for to doon hir herte an ese.
And preyede hir, she wolde hir sorwe apese, And seyde, 'Y-wis, we Grekes con have Ioye To honouren yow, as wel as folk of Troye.
' He seyde eek thus, 'I woot, yow thinketh straunge, No wonder is, for it is to yow newe, Thaqueintaunce of these Troianis to chaunge, For folk of Grece, that ye never knewe.
But wolde never god but-if as trewe A Greek ye shulde among us alle finde As any Troian is, and eek as kinde.
'And by the cause I swoor yow right, lo, now, To been your freend, and helply, to my might, And for that more aqueintaunce eek of yow Have ich had than another straunger wight, So fro this forth, I pray yow, day and night, Comaundeth me, how sore that me smerte, To doon al that may lyke un-to your herte; 'And that ye me wolde as your brother trete, And taketh not my frendship in despyt; And though your sorwes be for thinges grete, Noot I not why, but out of more respyt, Myn herte hath for to amende it greet delyt.
And if I may your harmes not redresse, I am right sory for your hevinesse, 'And though ye Troians with us Grekes wrothe Han many a day be, alwey yet, pardee, O god of love in sooth we serven bothe.
And, for the love of god, my lady free, Whom so ye hate, as beth not wroth with me.
For trewely, ther can no wight yow serve, That half so looth your wraththe wolde deserve.
'And nere it that we been so neigh the tente Of Calkas, which that seen us bothe may, I wolde of this yow telle al myn entente; But this enseled til another day.
Yeve me your hond, I am, and shal ben ay, God help me so, whyl that my lyf may dure, Your owene aboven every creature.
'Thus seyde I never er now to womman born; For god myn herte as wisly glade so, I lovede never womman here-biforn As paramours, ne never shal no mo.
And, for the love of god, beth not my fo; Al can I not to yow, my lady dere, Compleyne aright, for I am yet to lere.
'And wondreth not, myn owene lady bright, Though that I speke of love to you thus blyve; For I have herd or this of many a wight, Hath loved thing he never saugh his lyve.
Eek I am not of power for to stryve Ayens the god of love, but him obeye I wol alwey, and mercy I yow preye.
'Ther been so worthy knightes in this place, And ye so fair, that everich of hem alle Wol peynen him to stonden in your grace.
But mighte me so fair a grace falle, That ye me for your servaunt wolde calle, So lowly ne so trewely you serve Nil noon of hem, as I shal, til I sterve.
' Criseide un-to that purpos lyte answerde, As she that was with sorwe oppressed so That, in effect, she nought his tales herde, But here and there, now here a word or two.
Hir thoughte hir sorwful herte brast a-two.
For whan she gan hir fader fer aspye, Wel neigh doun of hir hors she gan to sye.
But natheles she thonked Diomede Of al his travaile, and his goode chere, And that him liste his friendship hir to bede; And she accepteth it in good manere, And wolde do fayn that is him leef and dere; And trusten him she wolde, and wel she mighte, As seyde she, and from hir hors she alighte.
Hir fader hath hir in his armes nome, And tweynty tyme he kiste his doughter swete, And seyde, 'O dere doughter myn, wel-come!' She seyde eek, she was fayn with him to mete, And stood forth mewet, milde, and mansuete.
But here I leve hir with hir fader dwelle, And forth I wol of Troilus yow telle.
To Troye is come this woful Troilus, In sorwe aboven alle sorwes smerte, With felon look, and face dispitous.
Tho sodeinly doun from his hors he sterte, And thorugh his paleys, with a swollen herte, To chambre he wente; of no-thing took he hede, Ne noon to him dar speke a word for drede.
And there his sorwes that he spared hadde He yaf an issue large, and 'Deeth!' he cryde; And in his throwes frenetyk and madde He cursed Iove, Appollo, and eek Cupyde, He cursed Ceres, Bacus, and Cipryde, His burthe, him-self, his fate, and eek nature, And, save his lady, every creature.
To bedde he goth, and weyleth there and torneth In furie, as dooth he, Ixion in helle; And in this wyse he neigh til day soiorneth.
But tho bigan his herte a lyte unswelle Thorugh teres which that gonnen up to welle; And pitously he cryde up-on Criseyde, And to him-self right thus he spak, and seyde: -- 'Wher is myn owene lady lief and dere, Wher is hir whyte brest, wher is it, where? Wher ben hir armes and hir eyen clere, That yesternight this tyme with me were? Now may I wepe allone many a tere, And graspe aboute I may, but in this place, Save a pilowe, I finde nought tenbrace.
'How shal I do? Whan shal she com ayeyn? I noot, allas! Why leet ich hir to go? As wolde god, ich hadde as tho be sleyn! O herte myn, Criseyde, O swete fo! O lady myn, that I love and no mo! To whom for ever-mo myn herte I dowe; See how I deye, ye nil me not rescowe! 'Who seeth yow now, my righte lode-sterre? Who sit right now or stant in your presence? Who can conforten now your hertes werre? Now I am gon, whom yeve ye audience? Who speketh for me right now in myn absence? Allas, no wight; and that is al my care; For wel wot I, as yvel as I ye fare.
'How sholde I thus ten dayes ful endure, Whan I the firste night have al this tene? How shal she doon eek, sorwful creature? For tendernesse, how shal she this sustene, Swich wo for me? O pitous, pale, and grene Shal been your fresshe wommanliche face For langour, er ye torne un-to this place.
' And whan he fil in any slomeringes, Anoon biginne he sholde for to grone, And dremen of the dredfulleste thinges That mighte been; as, mete he were allone In place horrible, makinge ay his mone, Or meten that he was amonges alle His enemys, and in hir hondes falle.
And ther-with-al his body sholde sterte, And with the stert al sodeinliche awake, And swich a tremour fele aboute his herte, That of the feer his body sholde quake; And there-with-al he sholde a noyse make, And seme as though he sholde falle depe From heighe a-lofte; and than he wolde wepe, And rewen on him-self so pitously, That wonder was to here his fantasye.
Another tyme he sholde mightily Conforte him-self, and seyn it was folye, So causeles swich drede for to drye, And eft biginne his aspre sorwes newe, That every man mighte on his sorwes rewe.
Who coude telle aright or ful discryve His wo, his pleynt, his langour, and his pyne? Nought al the men that han or been on-lyve.
Thou, redere, mayst thy-self ful wel devyne That swich a wo my wit can not defyne.
On ydel for to wryte it sholde I swinke, Whan that my wit is wery it to thinke.
On hevene yet the sterres were sene, Al-though ful pale y-waxen was the mone; And whyten gan the orisonte shene Al estward, as it woned is for to done.
And Phebus with his rosy carte sone Gan after that to dresse him up to fare, Whan Troilus hath sent after Pandare.
This Pandare, that of al the day biforn Ne mighte han comen Troilus to see, Al-though he on his heed it hadde y-sworn, For with the king Pryam alday was he, So that it lay not in his libertee No-wher to gon, but on the morwe he wente To Troilus, whan that he for him sente.
For in his herte he coude wel devyne, That Troilus al night for sorwe wook; And that he wolde telle him of his pyne, This knew he wel y-nough, with-oute book.
For which to chaumbre streight the wey he took, And Troilus tho sobreliche he grette, And on the bed ful sone he gan him sette.
'My Pandarus,' quod Troilus, 'the sorwe Which that I drye, I may not longe endure.
I trowe I shal not liven til to-morwe; For whiche I wolde alwey, on aventure, To thee devysen of my sepulture The forme, and of my moeble thou dispone Right as thee semeth best is for to done.
'But of the fyr and flaumbe funeral In whiche my body brenne shal to glede, And of the feste and pleyes palestral At my vigile, I prey thee tak good hede That be wel; and offre Mars my stede, My swerd, myn helm, and, leve brother dere, My sheld to Pallas yef, that shyneth clere.
'The poudre in which myn herte y-brend shal torne, That preye I thee thou take and it conserve In a vessel, that men clepeth an urne, Of gold, and to my lady that I serve, For love of whom thus pitously I sterve, So yeve it hir, and do me this plesaunce, To preye hir kepe it for a remembraunce.
'For wel I fele, by my maladye, And by my dremes now and yore ago, Al certeinly, that I mot nedes dye.
The owle eek, which that hight Ascaphilo, Hath after me shright alle thise nightes two.
And, god Mercurie! Of me now, woful wrecche, The soule gyde, and, whan thee list, it fecche!' Pandare answerde, and seyde, 'Troilus, My dere freend, as I have told thee yore, That it is folye for to sorwen thus, And causeles, for whiche I can no-more.
But who-so wol not trowen reed ne lore, I can not seen in him no remedye, But lete him worthen with his fantasye.
'But Troilus, I pray thee tel me now, If that thou trowe, er this, that any wight Hath loved paramours as wel as thou? Ye, god wot, and fro many a worthy knight Hath his lady goon a fourtenight, And he not yet made halvendel the fare.
What nede is thee to maken al this care? 'Sin day by day thou mayst thy-selven see That from his love, or elles from his wyf, A man mot twinnen of necessitee, Ye, though he love hir as his owene lyf; Yet nil he with him-self thus maken stryf.
For wel thow wost, my leve brother dere, That alwey freendes may nought been y-fere.
'How doon this folk that seen hir loves wedded By freendes might, as it bi-tit ful ofte, And seen hem in hir spouses bed y-bedded? God woot, they take it wysly, faire and softe.
For-why good hope halt up hir herte on-lofte, And for they can a tyme of sorwe endure; As tyme hem hurt, a tyme doth hem cure.
'So sholdestow endure, and late slyde The tyme, and fonde to ben glad and light.
Ten dayes nis so longe not tabyde.
And sin she thee to comen hath bihight, She nil hir hestes breken for no wight.
For dred thee not that she nil finden weye To come ayein, my lyf that dorste I leye.
'Thy swevenes eek and al swich fantasye Dryf out, and lat hem faren to mischaunce; For they procede of thy malencolye, That doth thee fele in sleep al this penaunce.
A straw for alle swevenes signifiaunce! God helpe me so, I counte hem not a bene, Ther woot no man aright what dremes mene.
'For prestes of the temple tellen this, That dremes been the revelaciouns Of goddes, and as wel they telle, y-wis, That they ben infernals illusiouns; And leches seyn, that of complexiouns Proceden they, or fast, or glotonye.
Who woot in sooth thus what they signifye? 'Eek othere seyn that thorugh impressiouns, As if a wight hath faste a thing in minde, That ther-of cometh swiche avisiouns; And othere seyn, as they in bokes finde, That, after tymes of the yeer by kinde, Men dreme, and that theffect goth by the mone; But leve no dreem, for it is nought to done.
'Wel worth of dremes ay thise olde wyves, And treweliche eek augurie of thise foules; For fere of which men wenen lese her lyves, As ravenes qualm, or shryking of thise oules.
To trowen on it bothe fals and foul is.
Allas, allas, so noble a creature As is a man, shal drede swich ordure! 'For which with al myn herte I thee beseche, Un-to thy-self that al this thou foryive; And rys up now with-oute more speche, And lat us caste how forth may best be drive This tyme, and eek how freshly we may live Whan that she cometh, the which shal be right sone; God help me so, the beste is thus to done.
'Rys, lat us speke of lusty lyf in Troye That we han lad, and forth the tyme dryve; And eek of tyme cominge us reioye, That bringen shal our blisse now so blyve; And langour of these twyes dayes fyve We shal ther-with so foryete or oppresse, That wel unnethe it doon shal us duresse.
'This toun is ful of lordes al aboute, And trewes lasten al this mene whyle.
Go we pleye us in som lusty route To Sarpedon, not hennes but a myle.
And thus thou shalt the tyme wel bigyle, And dryve it forth un-to that blisful morwe, That thou hir see, that cause is of thy sorwe.
'Now rys, my dere brother Troilus; For certes, it noon honour is to thee To wepe, and in thy bedde to iouken thus.
For trewely, of o thing trust to me, If thou thus ligge a day, or two, or three, The folk wol wene that thou, for cowardyse, Thee feynest syk, and that thou darst not ryse.
' This Troilus answerde, 'O brother dere, This knowen folk that han y-suffred peyne, That though he wepe and make sorwful chere, That feleth harm and smert in every veyne, No wonder is; and though I ever pleyne, Or alwey wepe, I am no-thing to blame, Sin I have lost the cause of al my game.
'But sin of fyne force I moot aryse, I shal aryse as sone as ever I may; And god, to whom myn herte I sacrifyse, So sende us hastely the tenthe day! For was ther never fowl so fayn of May, As I shal been, whan that she cometh in Troye, That cause is of my torment and my Ioye.
'But whider is thy reed,' quod Troilus, 'That we may pleye us best in al this toun?' 'Bi god, my conseil is,' quod Pandarus, 'To ryde and pleye us with king Sarpedoun.
' So longe of this they speken up and doun, Til Troilus gan at the laste assente To ryse, and forth to Sarpedoun they wente.
This Sarpedoun, as he that honourable Was ever his lyve, and ful of heigh prowesse, With al that mighte y-served been on table, That deyntee was, al coste it greet richesse, He fedde hem day by day, that swich noblesse, As seyden bothe the moste and eek the leste, Was never er that day wist at any feste.
Nor in this world ther is non instrument Delicious, through wind, or touche, of corde, As fer as any wight hath ever y-went, That tonge telle or herte may recorde, That at that feste it nas wel herd acorde; Ne of ladies eek so fayr a companye On daunce, er tho, was never y-seyn with ye.
But what avayleth this to Troilus, That for his sorwe no-thing of it roughte? For ever in oon his herte pietous Ful bisily Criseyde his lady soughte.
On hir was ever al that his herte thoughte, Now this, now that, so faste imagininge, That glade, y-wis, can him no festeyinge.
These ladies eek that at this feste been, Sin that he saw his lady was a-weye, It was his sorwe upon hem for to seen, Or for to here on instrumentz so pleye.
For she, that of his herte berth the keye, Was absent, lo, this was his fantasye, That no wight sholde make melodye.
Nor ther nas houre in al the day or night, Whan he was ther-as no wight mighte him here, That he ne seyde, 'O lufsom lady bright, How have ye faren, sin that ye were here? Wel-come, y-wis, myn owene lady dere.
' But welaway, al this nas but a mase; Fortune his howve entended bet to glase.
The lettres eek, that she of olde tyme Hadde him y-sent, he wolde allone rede, An hundred sythe, a-twixen noon and pryme; Refiguringe hir shap, hir womanhede, With-inne his herte, and every word and dede That passed was, and thus he droof to an ende The ferthe day, and seyde, he wolde wende.
And seyde, 'Leve brother Pandarus, Intendestow that we shal here bleve Til Sarpedoun wol forth congeyen us? Yet were it fairer that we toke our leve.
For goddes love, lat us now sone at eve Our leve take, and homward lat us torne; For trewely, I nil not thus soiourne.
' Pandare answerde, 'Be we comen hider To fecchen fyr, and rennen hoom ayeyn? God helpe me so, I can not tellen whider We mighten goon, if I shal soothly seyn, Ther any wight is of us more fayn Than Sarpedoun; and if we hennes hye Thus sodeinly, I holde it vilanye.
'Sin that we seyden that we wolde bleve With him a wouke; and now, thus sodeinly, The ferthe day to take of him oure leve, He wolde wondren on it, trewely! Lat us holde forth our purpos fermely; And sin that ye bihighten him to byde, Hold forward now, and after lat us ryde.
' Thus Pandarus, with alle peyne and wo, Made him to dwelle; and at the woukes ende, Of Sarpedoun they toke hir leve tho, And on hir wey they spedden hem to wende.
Quod Troilus, 'Now god me grace sende, That I may finden, at myn hom-cominge, Criseyde comen!' And ther-with gan he singe.
'Ye, hasel-wode!' thoughte this Pandare, And to him-self ful softely he seyde, 'God woot, refreyden may this hote fare, Er Calkas sende Troilus Criseyde!' But natheles, he Iaped thus, and seyde, And swor, y-wis, his herte him wel bihighte, She wolde come as sone as ever she mighte.
Whan they un-to the paleys were y-comen Of Troilus, they doun of hors alighte, And to the chambre hir wey than han they nomen.
And in-to tyme that it gan to nighte, They spaken of Crysede the brighte.
And after this, whan that hem bothe leste, They spedde hem fro the soper un-to reste.
On morwe, as sone as day bigan to clere, This Troilus gan of his sleep tabrayde, And to Pandare, his owene brother dere, 'For love of god,' ful pitously he seyde, 'As go we seen the paleys of Criseyde; For sin we yet may have namore feste, So lat us seen hir paleys at the leste.
' And ther-with-al, his meyne for to blende, A cause he fond in toune for to go, And to Criseydes hous they gonnen wende.
But lord! This sely Troilus was wo! Him thoughte his sorweful herte braste a-two.
For whan he saugh hir dores sperred alle, Wel neigh for sorwe a-doun he gan to falle.
Therwith, whan he was war and gan biholde How shet was every windowe of the place, As frost, him thoughte, his herte gan to colde; For which with chaunged deedlich pale face, With-outen word, he forth bigan to pace; And, as god wolde, he gan so faste ryde, That no wight of his contenance aspyde.
Than seyde he thus; 'O paleys desolat, O hous, of houses whylom best y-hight, O paleys empty and disconsolat, O thou lanterne, of which queynt is the light, O paleys, whylom day, that now art night, Wel oughtestow to falle, and I to dye, Sin she is went that wont was us to gye! 'O paleys, whylom croune of houses alle, Enlumined with sonne of alle blisse! O ring, fro which the ruby is out-falle, O cause of wo, that cause hast been of lisse! Yet, sin I may no bet, fayn wolde I kisse Thy colde dores, dorste I for this route; And fare-wel shryne, of which the seynt is oute!' Ther-with he caste on Pandarus his ye With chaunged face, and pitous to biholde; And whan he mighte his tyme aright aspye, Ay as he rood, to Pandarus he tolde His newe sorwe, and eek his Ioyes olde, So pitously and with so dede an hewe, That every wight mighte on his sorwe rewe.
Fro thennesforth he rydeth up and doun, And every thing com him to remembraunce As he rood forbi places of the toun In whiche he whylom hadde al his plesaunce.
'Lo, yond saugh I myn owene lady daunce; And in that temple, with hir eyen clere, Me coughte first my righte lady dere.
'And yonder have I herd ful lustily My dere herte laugh, and yonder pleye Saugh I hir ones eek ful blisfully.
And yonder ones to me gan she seye, "Now goode swete, love me wel, I preye.
" And yond so goodly gan she me biholde, That to the deeth myn herte is to hir holde.
'And at that corner, in the yonder hous, Herde I myn alderlevest lady dere So wommanly, with voys melodious, Singen so wel, so goodly, and so clere, That in my soule yet me thinketh I here The blisful soun; and, in that yonder place, My lady first me took un-to hir grace.
' Thanne thoughte he thus, 'O blisful lord Cupyde, Whanne I the proces have in my memorie, How thou me hast wereyed on every syde, Men might a book make of it, lyk a storie.
What nede is thee to seke on me victorie, Sin I am thyn, and hoolly at thy wille? What Ioye hastow thyn owene folk to spille? 'Wel hastow, lord, y-wroke on me thyn ire, Thou mighty god, and dredful for to greve! Now mercy, lord, thou wost wel I desire Thy grace most, of alle lustes leve, And live and deye I wol in thy bileve, For which I naxe in guerdon but a bone, That thou Criseyde ayein me sende sone.
'Distreyne hir herte as faste to retorne As thou dost myn to longen hir to see; Than woot I wel, that she nil nought soiorne.
Now, blisful lord, so cruel thou ne be Un-to the blood of Troye, I preye thee, As Iuno was un-to the blood Thebane, For which the folk of Thebes caughte hir bane.
' And after this he to the yates wente Ther-as Criseyde out-rood a ful good paas, And up and doun ther made he many a wente, And to him-self ful ofte he seyde 'Allas! From hennes rood my blisse and my solas! As wolde blisful god now, for his Ioye, I mighte hir seen ayein come in-to Troye! 'And to the yonder hille I gan hir gyde, Allas! And there I took of hir my leve! And yond I saugh hir to hir fader ryde, For sorwe of which myn herte shal to-cleve.
And hider hoom I com whan it was eve; And here I dwelle out-cast from alle Ioye, And shal, til I may seen hir eft in Troye.
' And of him-self imagened he ofte To ben defet, and pale, and waxen lesse Than he was wont, and that men seyden softe, 'What may it be? Who can the sothe gesse Why Troilus hath al this hevinesse?' And al this nas but his malencolye, That he hadde of him-self swich fantasye.
Another tyme imaginen he wolde That every wight that wente by the weye Had of him routhe, and that they seyen sholde, 'I am right sory Troilus wole deye.
' And thus he droof a day yet forth or tweye.
As ye have herd, swich lyf right gan he lede, As he that stood bitwixen hope and drede.
For which him lyked in his songes shewe Thencheson of his wo, as he best mighte, And made a song of wordes but a fewe, Somwhat his woful herte for to lighte.
And whan he was from every mannes sighte, With softe voys he, of his lady dere, That was absent, gan singe as ye may here.
'O sterre, of which I lost have al the light, With herte soor wel oughte I to bewayle, That ever derk in torment, night by night, Toward my deeth with wind in stere I sayle; For which the tenthe night if that I fayle The gyding of thy bemes brighte an houre, My ship and me Caribdis wole devoure.
' This song whan he thus songen hadde, sone He fil ayein in-to his sykes olde; And every night, as was his wone to done, He stood the brighte mone to beholde, And al his sorwe he to the mone tolde; And seyde, 'Y-wis, whan thou art horned newe, I shal be glad, if al the world be trewe! 'I saugh thyn hornes olde eek by the morwe, Whan hennes rood my righte lady dere, That cause is of my torment and my sorwe; For whiche, O brighte Lucina the clere, For love of god, ren faste aboute thy spere! For whan thyn hornes newe ginne springe, Than shal she come, that may my blisse bringe!' The day is more, and lenger every night, Than they be wont to be, him thoughte tho; And that the sonne wente his course unright By lenger wey than it was wont to go; And seyde, 'Y-wis, me dredeth ever-mo, The sonnes sone, Pheton, be on-lyve, And that his fadres cart amis he dryve.
' Upon the walles faste eek wolde he walke, And on the Grekes ost he wolde see, And to him-self right thus he wolde talke, 'Lo, yonder is myn owene lady free, Or elles yonder, ther tho tentes be! And thennes comth this eyr, that is so sote, That in my soule I fele it doth me bote.
'And hardely this wind, that more and more Thus stoundemele encreseth in my face, Is of my ladyes depe sykes sore.
I preve it thus, for in non othere place Of al this toun, save onliche in this space, Fele I no wind that souneth so lyk peyne; It seyth, "Allas! Why twinned be we tweyne?"' This longe tyme he dryveth forth right thus, Til fully passed was the nynthe night; And ay bi-syde him was this Pandarus, That bisily dide alle his fulle might Him to comforte, and make his herte light; Yevinge him hope alwey, the tenthe morwe That she shal come, and stinten al his sorwe.
Up-on that other syde eek was Criseyde, With wommen fewe, among the Grekes stronge; For which ful ofte a day 'Allas,' she seyde, 'That I was born! Wel may myn herte longe After my deeth; for now live I to longe! Allas! And I ne may it not amende; For now is wors than ever yet I wende.
'My fader nil for no-thing do me grace To goon ayein, for nought I can him queme; And if so be that I my terme passe, My Troilus shal in his herte deme That I am fals, and so it may wel seme.
Thus shal I have unthank on every syde; That I was born, so weylaway the tyde! 'And if that I me putte in Iupartye, To stele awey by nighte, and it bifalle That I be caught, I shal be holde a spye; Or elles, lo, this drede I most of alle, If in the hondes of som wrecche I falle, I am but lost, al be myn herte trewe; Now mighty god, thou on my sorwe rewe!' Ful pale y-waxen was hir brighte face, Hir limes lene, as she that al the day Stood whan she dorste, and loked on the place Ther she was born, and ther she dwelt hadde ay.
And al the night wepinge, allas! she lay.
And thus despeired, out of alle cure, She ladde hir lyf, this woful creature.
Ful ofte a day she sighte eek for destresse, And in hir-self she wente ay portrayinge Of Troilus the grete worthinesse, And alle his goodly wordes recordinge Sin first that day hir love bigan to springe.
And thus she sette hir woful herte a-fyre Through remembraunce of that she gan desyre.
In al this world ther nis so cruel herte That hir hadde herd compleynen in hir sorwe, That nolde han wopen for hir peynes smerte, So tendrely she weep, bothe eve and morwe.
Hir nedede no teres for to borwe.
And this was yet the worste of al hir peyne, Ther was no wight to whom she dorste hir pleyne.
Ful rewfully she loked up-on Troye, Biheld the toures heighe and eek the halles; 'Allas!' quod she, 'The plesaunce and the Ioye The whiche that now al torned in-to galle is, Have I had ofte with-inne yonder walles! O Troilus, what dostow now,' she seyde; 'Lord! Whether yet thou thenke up-on Criseyde? 'Allas! I ne hadde trowed on your lore, And went with yow, as ye me radde er this! Thanne hadde I now not syked half so sore.
Who mighte han seyd, that I had doon a-mis To stele awey with swich on as he is? But al to late cometh the letuarie, Whan men the cors un-to the grave carie.
'To late is now to speke of this matere; Prudence, allas! Oon of thyn eyen three Me lakked alwey, er that I come here; On tyme y-passed, wel remembred me; And present tyme eek coude I wel y-see.
But futur tyme, er I was in the snare, Coude I not seen; that causeth now my care.
'But natheles, bityde what bityde, I shal to-morwe at night, by est or weste, Out of this ost stele on som maner syde, And go with Troilus wher-as him leste.
This purpos wol I holde, and this is beste.
No fors of wikked tonges Ianglerye, For ever on love han wrecches had envye.
'For who-so wole of every word take hede, Or rewlen him by every wightes wit, Ne shal he never thryven, out of drede.
For that that som men blamen ever yit, Lo, other maner folk commenden it.
And as for me, for al swich variaunce, Felicitee clepe I my suffisaunce.
'For which, with-outen any wordes mo, To Troye I wol, as for conclusioun.
' But god it wot, er fully monthes two, She was ful fer fro that entencioun.
For bothe Troilus and Troye toun Shal knotteles through-out hir herte slyde; For she wol take a purpos for tabyde.
This Diomede, of whom yow telle I gan, Goth now, with-inne him-self ay arguinge With al the sleighte and al that ever he can, How he may best, with shortest taryinge, In-to his net Criseydes herte bringe.
To this entente he coude never fyne; To fisshen hir, he leyde out hook and lyne.
But natheles, wel in his herte he thoughte, That she nas nat with-oute a love in Troye, For never, sithen he hir thennes broughte, Ne coude he seen her laughe or make Ioye.
He nist how best hir herte for tacoye.
'But for to assaye,' he seyde, 'it nought ne greveth; For he that nought nassayeth, nought nacheveth.
' Yet seide he to him-self upon a night, 'Now am I not a fool, that woot wel how Hir wo for love is of another wight, And here-up-on to goon assaye hir now? I may wel wite, it nil not been my prow.
For wyse folk in bokes it expresse, "Men shal not wowe a wight in hevinesse.
" 'But who-so mighte winnen swich a flour From him, for whom she morneth night and day, He mighte seyn, he were a conquerour.
' And right anoon, as he that bold was ay, Thoughte in his herte, 'Happe how happe may, Al sholde I deye, I wole hir herte seche; I shal no more lesen but my speche.
' This Diomede, as bokes us declare, Was in his nedes prest and corageous; With sterne voys and mighty limes square, Hardy, testif, strong, and chevalrous Of dedes, lyk his fader Tideus.
And som men seyn, he was of tunge large; And heir he was of Calidoine and Arge.
Criseyde mene was of hir stature, Ther-to of shap, of face, and eek of chere, Ther mighte been no fairer creature.
And ofte tyme this was hir manere, To gon y-tressed with hir heres clere Doun by hir coler at hir bak bihinde, Which with a threde of gold she wolde binde.
And, save hir browes ioyneden y-fere, Ther nas no lak, in ought I can espyen; But for to speken of hir eyen clere, Lo, trewely, they writen that hir syen, That Paradys stood formed in hir yen.
And with hir riche beautee ever-more Strof love in hir, ay which of hem was more.
She sobre was, eek simple, and wys with-al, The beste y-norisshed eek that mighte be, And goodly of hir speche in general, Charitable, estatliche, lusty, and free; Ne never-mo ne lakkede hir pitee; Tendre-herted, slydinge of corage; But trewely, I can not telle hir age.
And Troilus wel waxen was in highte, And complet formed by proporcioun So wel, that kinde it not amenden mighte; Yong, fresshe, strong, and hardy as lyoun; Trewe as steel in ech condicioun; On of the beste enteched creature, That is, or shal, whyl that the world may dure.
And certainly in storie it is y-founde, That Troilus was never un-to no wight, As in his tyme, in no degree secounde In durring don that longeth to a knight.
Al mighte a geaunt passen him of might, His herte ay with the firste and with the beste Stood paregal, to durre don that him leste.
But for to tellen forth of Diomede: -- It fil that after, on the tenthe day, Sin that Criseyde out of the citee yede, This Diomede, as fresshe as braunche in May, Com to the tente ther-as Calkas lay, And feyned him with Calkas han to done; But what he mente, I shal yow telle sone.
Criseyde, at shorte wordes for to telle, Welcomed him, and doun by hir him sette; And he was ethe y-nough to maken dwelle.
And after this, with-outen longe lette, The spyces and the wyn men forth hem fette; And forth they speke of this and that y-fere, As freendes doon, of which som shal ye here.
He gan first fallen of the werre in speche Bitwixe hem and the folk of Troye toun; And of thassege he gan hir eek byseche, To telle him what was hir opinioun.
Fro that demaunde he so descendeth doun To asken hir, if that hir straunge thoughte The Grekes gyse, and werkes that they wroughte? And why hir fader tarieth so longe To wedden hir un-to som worthy wight? Criseyde, that was in hir peynes stronge For love of Troilus, hir owene knight, As fer-forth as she conning hadde or might, Answerde him tho; but, as of his entente, It semed not she wiste what he mente.
But natheles, this ilke Diomede Gan in him-self assure, and thus he seyde, 'If ich aright have taken of yow hede, Me thinketh thus, O lady myn, Criseyde, That sin I first hond on your brydel leyde, Whan ye out come of Troye by the morwe, Ne coude I never seen yow but in sorwe.
'Can I not seyn what may the cause be But-if for love of som Troyan it were, The which right sore wolde athinken me That ye, for any wight that dwelleth there, Sholden spille a quarter of a tere, Or pitously your-selven so bigyle; For dredelees, it is nought worth the whyle.
'The folk of Troye, as who seyth, alle and some In preson been, as ye your-selven see; Nor thennes shal not oon on-lyve come For al the gold bitwixen sonne and see.
Trusteth wel, and understondeth me.
Ther shal not oon to mercy goon on-lyve, Al were he lord of worldes twyes fyve! 'Swich wreche on hem, for fecching of Eleyne, Ther shal be take, er that we hennes wende, That Manes, which that goddes ben of peyne, Shal been agast that Grekes wol hem shende.
And men shul drede, un-to the worldes ende, From hennes-forth to ravisshe any quene, So cruel shal our wreche on hem be sene.
'And but-if Calkas lede us with ambages, That is to seyn, with double wordes slye, Swich as men clepe a "word with two visages," Ye shal wel knowen that I nought ne lye, And al this thing right seen it with your ye, And that anoon; ye nil not trowe how sone; Now taketh heed, for it is for to done.
'What wene ye your wyse fader wolde Han yeven Antenor for yow anoon, If he ne wiste that the citee sholde Destroyed been? Why, nay, so mote I goon! He knew ful wel ther shal not scapen oon That Troyan is; and for the grete fere, He dorste not, ye dwelte lenger there.
'What wole ye more, lufsom lady dere? Lat Troye and Troyan fro your herte pace! Dryf out that bittre hope, and make good chere, And clepe ayein the beautee of your face, That ye with salte teres so deface.
For Troye is brought in swich a Iupartye, That, it to save, is now no remedye.
'And thenketh wel, ye shal in Grekes finde, A more parfit love, er it be night, Than any Troian is, and more kinde, And bet to serven yow wol doon his might.
And if ye vouche sauf, my lady bright, I wol ben he to serven yow my-selve, Yee, lever than he lord of Greces twelve!' And with that word he gan to waxen reed, And in his speche a litel wight he quook, And caste a-syde a litel wight his heed, And stinte a whyle; and afterward awook, And sobreliche on hir he threw his look, And seyde, 'I am, al be it yow no Ioye, As gentil man as any wight in Troye.
'For if my fader Tydeus,' he seyde, 'Y-lived hadde, I hadde been, er this, Of Calidoine and Arge a king, Criseyde! And so hope I that I shal yet, y-wis.
But he was slayn, allas! The more harm is, Unhappily at Thebes al to rathe, Polymites and many a man to scathe.
'But herte myn, sin that I am your man, And been the ferste of whom I seche grace, To serven you as hertely as I can, And ever shal, whyl I to live have space, So, er that I departe out of this place, Ye wol me graunte, that I may to-morwe, At bettre leyser, telle yow my sorwe.
' What shold I telle his wordes that he seyde? He spak y-now, for o day at the meste; It preveth wel, he spak so that Criseyde Graunted, on the morwe, at his requeste, For to speken with him at the leste, So that he nolde speke of swich matere; And thus to him she seyde, as ye may here: As she that hadde hir herte on Troilus So faste, that ther may it noon arace; And straungely she spak, and seyde thus; 'O Diomede, I love that ilke place Ther I was born; and Ioves, for his grace, Delivere it sone of al that doth it care! God, for thy might, so leve it wel to fare! 'That Grekes wolde hir wraththe on Troye wreke, If that they mighte, I knowe it wel, y-wis.
But it shal not bifallen as ye speke; And god to-forn, and ferther over this, I wot my fader wys and redy is; And that he me hath bought, as ye me tolde, So dere, I am the more un-to him holde.
'That Grekes been of heigh condicioun, I woot eek wel; but certein, men shal finde As worthy folk with-inne Troye toun, As conning, and as parfit and as kinde, As been bitwixen Orcades and Inde.
And that ye coude wel your lady serve, I trowe eek wel, hir thank for to deserve.
'But as to speke of love, y-wis,' she seyde, 'I hadde a lord, to whom I wedded was, The whos myn herte al was, til that he deyde; And other love, as helpe me now Pallas, Ther in myn herte nis, ne nevere was.
And that ye been of noble and heigh kinrede, I have wel herd it tellen, out of drede.
'And that doth me to han so gret a wonder, That ye wol scornen any womman so.
Eek, god wot, love and I be fer a-sonder! I am disposed bet, so mote I go, Un-to my deeth, to pleyne and maken wo.
What I shal after doon, I can not seye; But trewely, as yet me list not pleye.
'Myn herte is now in tribulacioun, And ye in armes bisy, day by day.
Here-after, whan ye wonnen han the toun, Paraunter, thanne so it happen may, That whan I see that I never er say, Than wole I werke that I never wroughte! This word to yow y-nough suffysen oughte.
'To-morwe eek wol I speken with yow fayn, So that ye touchen nought of this matere.
And whan yow list, ye may come here ayeyn; And, er ye gon, thus muche I seye yow here; As help me Pallas with hir heres clere, If that I sholde of any Greek han routhe, It sholde be your-selven, by my trouthe! 'I sey not therfore that I wol yow love, Ne I sey not nay, but in conclusioun, I mene wel, by god that sit above:' -- And ther-with-al she caste hir eyen doun, And gan to syke, and seyde, 'O Troye toun, Yet bidde I god, in quiete and in reste I may yow seen, or do myn herte breste.
' But in effect, and shortly for to seye, This Diomede al freshly newe ayeyn Gan pressen on, and faste hir mercy preye; And after this, the sothe for to seyn, Hir glove he took, of which he was ful fayn.
And fynally, whan it was waxen eve, And al was wel, he roos and took his leve.
The brighte Venus folwede and ay taughte The wey, ther brode Phebus doun alighte; And Cynthea hir char-hors over-raughte To whirle out of the Lyon, if she mighte; And Signifer his candelse shewed brighte, Whan that Criseyde un-to hir bedde wente In-with hir fadres faire brighte tente.
Retorning in hir soule ay up and doun The wordes of this sodein Diomede, His greet estat, and peril of the toun, And that she was allone and hadde nede Of freendes help; and thus bigan to brede The cause why, the sothe for to telle, That she tok fully purpos for to dwelle.
The morwe com, and goostly for to speke, This Diomede is come un-to Criseyde, And shortly, lest that ye my tale breke, So wel he for him-selve spak and seyde, That alle hir sykes sore adoun he leyde.
And fynally, the sothe for to seyne, He refte hir of the grete of al hir peyne.
And after this the story telleth us, That she him yaf the faire baye stede, The which he ones wan of Troilus; And eek a broche (and that was litel nede) That Troilus was, she yaf this Diomede.
And eek, the bet from sorwe him to releve, She made him were a pencel of hir sleve.
I finde eek in stories elles-where, Whan through the body hurt was Diomede Of Troilus, tho weep she many a tere, Whan that she saugh his wyde woundes blede; And that she took to kepen him good hede, And for to hele him of his sorwes smerte.
Men seyn, I not, that she yaf him hir herte.
But trewely, the story telleth us, Ther made never womman more wo Than she, whan that she falsed Troilus.
She seyde, 'Allas! For now is clene a-go My name of trouthe in love, for ever-mo! For I have falsed oon, the gentileste That ever was, and oon the worthieste! 'Allas, of me, un-to the worldes ende, Shal neither been y-writen nor y-songe No good word, for thise bokes wol me shende.
O, rolled shal I been on many a tonge; Through-out the world my belle shal be ronge; And wommen most wol hate me of alle.
Allas, that swich a cas me sholde falle! 'They wol seyn, in as muche as in me is, I have hem don dishonour, weylawey! Al be I not the first that dide amis, What helpeth that to do my blame awey? But sin I see there is no bettre way, And that to late is now for me to rewe, To Diomede algate I wol be trewe.
'But Troilus, sin I no better may, And sin that thus departen ye and I, Yet preye I god, so yeve yow right good day As for the gentileste, trewely, That ever I say, to serven feithfully, And best can ay his lady honour kepe:' -- And with that word she brast anon to wepe.
'And certes yow ne haten shal I never, And freendes love, that shal ye han of me, And my good word, al mighte I liven ever.
And, trewely, I wolde sory be For to seen yow in adversitee.
And giltelees, I woot wel, I yow leve; But al shal passe; and thus take I my leve.
' But trewely, how longe it was bitwene, That she for-sook him for this Diomede, Ther is non auctor telleth it, I wene.
Take every man now to his bokes hede; He shal no terme finden, out of drede.
For though that he bigan to wowe hir sone, Er he hir wan, yet was ther more to done.
Ne me ne list this sely womman chyde Ferther than the story wol devyse.
Hir name, allas! Is publisshed so wyde, That for hir gilt it oughte y-noe suffyse.
And if I mighte excuse hir any wyse, For she so sory was for hir untrouthe, Y-wis, I wolde excuse hir yet for routhe.
This Troilus, as I biforn have told, Thus dryveth forth, as wel as he hath might.
But often was his herte hoot and cold, And namely, that ilke nynthe night, Which on the morwe she hadde him byhight To come ayein: god wot, ful litel reste Hadde he that night; no-thing to slepe him leste.
The laurer-crouned Phebus, with his hete, Gan, in his course ay upward as he wente, To warmen of the est see the wawes wete, And Nisus doughter song with fresh entente, Whan Troilus his Pandare after sente; And on the walles of the toun they pleyde, To loke if they can seen ought of Criseyde.
Til it was noon, they stoden for to see Who that ther come; and every maner wight, That cam fro fer, they seyden it was she, Til that they coude knowen him a-right.
Now was his herte dul, now was it light; And thus by-iaped stonden for to stare Aboute nought, this Troilus and Pandare.
To Pandarus this Troilus tho seyde, 'For ought I wot, bi-for noon, sikerly, In-to this toun ne comth nought here Criseyde.
She hath y-now to done, hardily, To winnen from hir fader, so trowe I; Hir olde fader wol yet make hir dyne Er that she go; god yeve his herte pyne!' Pandare answerde, 'It may wel be, certeyn; And for-thy lat us dyne, I thee biseche; And after noon than maystw thou come ayeyn.
' And hoom they go, with-oute more speche; And comen ayein, but longe may they seche Er that they finde that they after cape; Fortune hem bothe thenketh for to Iape.
Quod Troilus, 'I see wel now, that she Is taried with hir olde fader so, That er she come, it wole neigh even be.
Com forth, I wol un-to the yate go.
Thise portours been unkonninge ever-mo; And I wol doon hem holden up the yate As nought ne were, al-though she come late.
' The day goth faste, and after that comth eve, And yet com nought to Troilus Criseyde.
He loketh forth by hegge, by tree, by greve, And fer his heed over the wal he leyde.
And at the laste he torned him, and seyde.
'By god, I woot hir mening now, Pandare! Al-most, y-wis, al newe was my care.
'Now douteles, this lady can hir good; I woot, she meneth ryden prively.
I comende hir wysdom, by myn hood! She wol not maken peple nycely Gaure on hir, whan she comth; but softely By nighte in-to the toun she thenketh ryde.
And, dere brother, thenk not longe to abyde.
'We han nought elles for to don, y-wis.
And Pandarus, now woltow trowen me? Have here my trouthe, I see hir! Yond she is.
Heve up thyn eyen, man! Maystow not see?' Pandare answerde, 'Nay, so mote I thee! Al wrong, by god; what seystow, man, wher art? That I see yond nis but a fare-cart.
' 'Allas, thou seist right sooth,' quod Troilus; 'But, hardely, it is not al for nought That in myn herte I now reioyse thus.
It is ayein som good I have a thought.
Noot I not how, but sin that I was wrought, Ne felte I swich a confort, dar I seye; She comth to-night, my lyf, that dorste I leye!' Pandare answerde, 'It may be wel, y-nough'; And held with him of al that ever he seyde; But in his herte he thoughte, and softe lough, And to him-self ful sobrely he seyde: 'From hasel-wode, ther Ioly Robin pleyde, Shal come al that thou abydest here; Ye, fare-wel al the snow of ferne yere!' The wardein of the yates gan to calle The folk which that with-oute the yates were, And bad hem dryven in hir bestes alle, Or al the night they moste bleven there.
And fer with-in the night, with many a tere, This Troilus gan hoomward for to ryde; For wel he seeth it helpeth nought tabyde.
But natheles, he gladded him in this; He thoughte he misacounted hadde his day, And seyde, 'I understonde have al a-mis.
For thilke night I last Criseyde say, She seyde, "I shal ben here, if that I may, Er that the mone, O dere herte swete! The Lyon passe, out of this Ariete.
" 'For which she may yet holde al hir biheste.
' And on the morwe un-to the yate he wente, And up and down, by west and eek by este, Up-on the walles made he many a wente.
But al for nought; his hope alwey him blente; For which at night, in sorwe and sykes sore, He wente him hoom, with-outen any more.
This hope al clene out of his herte fledde, He nath wher-on now lenger for to honge; But for the peyne him thoughte his herte bledde, So were his throwes sharpe and wonder stronge.
For when he saugh that she abood so longe, He niste what he iuggen of it mighte, Sin she hath broken that she him bihighte.
The thridde, ferthe, fifte, sixte day After tho dayes ten, of which I tolde, Bitwixen hope and drede his herte lay, Yet som-what trustinge on hir hestes olde.
But whan he saugh she nolde hir terme holde, He can now seen non other remedye, But for to shape him sone for to dye.
Ther-with the wikked spirit, god us blesse, Which that men clepeth wode Ialousye, Gan in him crepe, in al this hevinesse; For which, by-cause he wolde sone dye, He ne eet ne dronk, for his malencolye, And eek from every companye he fledde; This was the lyf that al the tyme he ledde.
He so defet was, that no maner man Unneth mighte him knowe ther he wente; So was he lene, and ther-to pale and wan, And feble, that he walketh by potente; And with his ire he thus himselven shente.
But who-so axed him wher-of him smerte, He seyde, his harm was al aboute his herte.
Pryam ful ofte, and eek his moder dere, His bretheren and his sustren gonne him freyne Why he so sorwful was in al his chere, And what thing was the cause of al his peyne? But al for nought; he nolde his cause pleyne, But seyde, he felte a grevous maladye A-boute his herte, and fayn he wolde dye.
So on a day he leyde him doun to slepe, And so bifel that in his sleep him thoughte, That in a forest faste he welk to wepe For love of hir that him these peynes wroughte; And up and doun as he the forest soughte, He mette he saugh a boor with tuskes grete, That sleep ayein the brighte sonnes hete.
And by this boor, faste in his armes folde, Lay kissing ay his lady bright Criseyde: For sorwe of which, whan he it gan biholde, And for despyt, out of his slepe he breyde, And loude he cryde on Pandarus, and seyde, 'O Pandarus, now knowe I crop and rote! I nam but deed; ther nis non other bote! 'My lady bright Criseyde hath me bitrayed, In whom I trusted most of any wight, She elles-where hath now hir herte apayed; The blisful goddes, through hir grete might, Han in my dreem y-shewed it ful right.
Thus in my dreem Criseyde I have biholde' -- And al this thing to Pandarus he tolde.
'O my Criseyde, allas! What subtiltee.
What newe lust, what beautee, what science, What wratthe of iuste cause have ye to me? What gilt of me, what fel experience Hath fro me raft, allas! Thyn advertence? O trust, O feyth, O depe aseuraunce, Who hath me reft Criseyde, al my plesaunce? 'Allas! Why leet I you from hennes go, For which wel neigh out of my wit I breyde? Who shal now trowe on any othes mo? God wot I wende, O lady bright, Criseyde, That every word was gospel that ye seyde! But who may bet bigylen, yf him liste, Than he on whom men weneth best to triste? 'What shal I doon, my Pandarus, allas! I fele now so sharpe a newe peyne, Sin that ther is no remedie in this cas, That bet were it I with myn hondes tweyne My-selven slow, than alwey thus to pleyne.
For through my deeth my wo sholde han an ende, Ther every day with lyf my-self I shende.
' Pandare answerde and seyde, 'Allas the whyle That I was born; have I not seyd er this, That dremes many a maner man bigyle? And why? For folk expounden hem a-mis.
How darstow seyn that fals thy lady is, For any dreem, right for thyn owene drede? Lat be this thought, thou canst no dremes rede.
'Paraunter, ther thou dremest of this boor, It may so be that it may signifye Hir fader, which that old is and eek hoor, Ayein the sonne lyth, on poynt to dye, And she for sorwe ginneth wepe and crye, And kisseth him, ther he lyth on the grounde; Thus shuldestow thy dreem a-right expounde.
' 'How mighte I thanne do?' quod Troilus, 'To knowe of this, ye, were it never so lyte?' 'Now seystow wysly,' quod this Pandarus, 'My reed is this, sin thou canst wel endyte, That hastely a lettre thou hir wryte, Thorugh which thou shalt wel bringen it aboute, To knowe a sooth of that thou art in doute.
'And see now why; for this I dar wel seyn, That if so is that she untrewe be, I can not trowe that she wol wryte ayeyn.
And if she wryte, thou shalt ful sone see, As whether she hath any libertee To come ayein, or ellis in som clause, If she be let, she wol assigne a cause.
'Thou hast not writen hir sin that she wente, Nor she to thee, and this I dorste leye, Ther may swich cause been in hir entente, That hardely thou wolt thy-selven seye, That hir a-bood the beste is for yow tweye.
Now wryte hir thanne, and thou shalt fele sone A sothe of al; ther is no more to done.
' Acorded been to this conclusioun, And that anoon, these ilke lordes two; And hastely sit Troilus adoun, And rolleth in his herte to and fro, How he may best discryven hir his wo.
And to Criseyde, his owene lady dere, He wroot right thus, and seyde as ye may here.
'Right fresshe flour, whos I have been and shal, With-outen part of elles-where servyse, With herte, body, lyf, lust, thought, and al; I, woful wight, in every humble wyse That tonge telle or herte may devyse, As ofte as matere occupyeth place, Me recomaunde un-to your noble grace.
'Lyketh it yow to witen, swete herte, As ye wel knowe how longe tyme agoon That ye me lefte in aspre peynes smerte, Whan that ye wente, of which yet bote noon Have I non had, but ever wers bigoon Fro day to day am I, and so mot dwelle, While it yow list, of wele and wo my welle.
'For which to yow, with dredful herte trewe, I wryte, as he that sorwe dryfth to wryte, My wo, that every houre encreseth newe, Compleyninge as I dar or can endyte.
And that defaced is, that may ye wyte The teres, which that fro myn eyen reyne, That wolde speke, if that they coude, and pleyne.
'Yow first biseche I, that your eyen clere To look on this defouled ye not holde; And over al this, that ye, my lady dere, Wol vouche-sauf this lettre to biholde.
And by the cause eek of my cares colde, That sleeth my wit, if ought amis me asterte, For-yeve it me, myn owene swete herte.
'If any servant dorste or oughte of right Up-on his lady pitously compleyne, Than wene I, that ich oughte be that wight, Considered this, that ye these monthes tweyne Han taried, ther ye seyden, sooth to seyne, But dayes ten ye nolde in ost soiourne, But in two monthes yet ye not retourne.
'But for-as-muche as me mot nedes lyke Al that yow list, I dar not pleyne more, But humbely with sorwful sykes syke; Yow wryte ich myn unresty sorwes sore, Fro day to day desyring ever-more To knowen fully, if your wil it were, How ye han ferd and doon, whyl ye be there.
'The whos wel-fare and hele eek god encresse In honour swich, that upward in degree It growe alwey, so that it never cesse; Right as your herte ay can, my lady free, Devyse, I prey to god so mote it be.
And graunte it that ye sone up-on me rewe As wisly as in al I am yow trewe.
'And if yow lyketh knowen of the fare Of me, whos wo ther may no wight discryve, I can no more but, cheste of every care, At wrytinge of this lettre I was on-lyve, Al redy out my woful gost to dryve; Which I delaye, and holde him yet in honde, Upon the sight of matere of your sonde.
'Myn eyen two, in veyn with which I see, Of sorweful teres salte arn waxen welles; My song, in pleynte of myn adversitee; My good, in harm; myn ese eek waxen helle is.
My Ioye, in wo; I can sey yow nought elles, But turned is, for which my lyf I warie, Everich Ioye or ese in his contrarie.
'Which with your cominge hoom ayein to Troye Ye may redresse, and, more a thousand sythe Than ever ich hadde, encressen in me Ioye.
For was ther never herte yet so blythe To han his lyf, as I shal been as swythe As I yow see; and, though no maner routhe Commeve yow, yet thinketh on your trouthe.
'And if so be my gilt hath deeth deserved, Or if yow list no more up-on me see, In guerdon yet of that I have you served, Biseche I yow, myn hertes lady free, That here-upon ye wolden wryte me, For love of god, my righte lode-sterre, Ther deeth may make an ende of al my werre.
'If other cause aught doth yow for to dwelle, That with your lettre ye me recomforte; For though to me your absence is an helle, With pacience I wol my wo comporte, And with your lettre of hope I wol desporte.
Now wryteth, swete, and lat me thus not pleyne; With hope, or deeth, delivereth me fro peyne.
'Y-wis, myn owene dere herte trewe, I woot that, whan ye next up-on me see, So lost have I myn hele and eek myn hewe, Criseyde shal nought conne knowe me! Y-wis, myn hertes day, my lady free, So thursteth ay myn herte to biholde Your beautee, that my lyf unnethe I holde.
'I sey no more, al have I for to seye To you wel more than I telle may; But whether that ye do me live or deye, Yet pray I god, so yeve yow right good day.
And fareth wel, goodly fayre fresshe may, As ye that lyf or deeth me may comaunde; And to your trouthe ay I me recomaunde 'With hele swich that, but ye yeven me The same hele, I shal noon hele have.
In you lyth, whan yow liste that it so be, The day in which me clothen shal my grave.
In yow my lyf, in yow might for to save Me from disese of alle peynes smerte; And fare now wel, myn owene swete herte! Le vostre T.
' This lettre forth was sent un-to Criseyde, Of which hir answere in effect was this; Ful pitously she wroot ayein, and seyde, That also sone as that she might, y-wis, She wolde come, and mende al that was mis.
And fynally she wroot and seyde him thanne, She wolde come, ye, but she niste whenne.
But in hir lettre made she swich festes, That wonder was, and swereth she loveth him best, Of which he fond but botmelees bihestes.
But Troilus, thou mayst now, est or west, Pype in an ivy leef, if that thee lest; Thus gooth the world; god shilde us fro mischaunce, And every wight that meneth trouthe avaunce! Encresen gan the wo fro day to night Of Troilus, for taryinge of Criseyde; And lessen gan his hope and eek his might, For which al doun he in his bed him leyde; He ne eet, ne dronk, ne sleep, ne word he seyde, Imagininge ay that she was unkinde; For which wel neigh he wex out of his minde.
This dreem, of which I told have eek biforn, May never come out of his remembraunce; He thoughte ay wel he hadde his lady lorn, And that Ioves, of his purveyaunce, Him shewed hadde in sleep the signifiaunce Of hir untrouthe and his disaventure, And that the boor was shewed him in figure.
For which he for Sibille his suster sente, That called was Cassandre eek al aboute; And al his dreem he tolde hir er he stente, And hir bisoughte assoilen him the doute Of the stronge boor, with tuskes stoute; And fynally, with-inne a litel stounde, Cassandre him gan right thus his dreem expounde.
She gan first smyle, and seyde, 'O brother dere, If thou a sooth of this desyrest knowe, Thou most a fewe of olde stories here, To purpos, how that fortune over-throwe Hath lordes olde; through which, with-inne a throwe, Thou wel this boor shalt knowe, and of what kinde He comen is, as men in bokes finde.
'Diane, which that wrooth was and in ire For Grekes nolde doon hir sacrifyse, Ne encens up-on hir auter sette a-fyre, She, for that Grekes gonne hir so dispyse, Wrak hir in a wonder cruel wyse.
For with a boor as greet as oxe in stalle She made up frete hir corn and vynes alle.
'To slee this boor was al the contree reysed, A-monges which ther com, this boor to see, A mayde, oon of this world the best y-preysed; And Meleagre, lord of that contree, He lovede so this fresshe mayden free That with his manhod, er he wolde stente, This boor he slow, and hir the heed he sente; 'Of which, as olde bokes tellen us, Ther roos a contek and a greet envye; And of this lord descended Tydeus By ligne, or elles olde bokes lye; But how this Meleagre gan to dye Thorugh his moder, wol I yow not telle, For al to long it were for to dwelle.
' [Argument of the 12 Books of Statius' "Thebais"] Associat profugum Tideo primus Polimitem; Tidea legatum docet insidiasque secundus; Tercius Hemoniden canit et vates latitantes; Quartus habet reges ineuntes prelia septem; Mox furie Lenne quinto narratur et anguis; Archimori bustum sexto ludique leguntur; Dat Graios Thebes et vatem septimus vmbria; Octauo cecidit Tideus, spes, vita Pelasgia; Ypomedon nono moritur cum Parthonopeo; Fulmine percussus, decimo Capaneus superatur; Vndecimo sese perimunt per vulnera fratres; Argiuam flentem narrat duodenus et igneum.
She tolde eek how Tydeus, er she stente, Un-to the stronge citee of Thebes, To cleyme kingdom of the citee, wente, For his felawe, daun Polymites, Of which the brother, daun Ethyocles, Ful wrongfully of Thebes held the strengthe; This tolde she by proces, al by lengthe.
She tolde eek how Hemonides asterte, Whan Tydeus slough fifty knightes stoute.
She tolde eek al the prophesyes by herte, And how that sevene kinges, with hir route, Bisegeden the citee al aboute; And of the holy serpent, and the welle, And of the furies, al she gan him telle.
Of Archimoris buryinge and the pleyes, And how Amphiorax fil through the grounde, How Tydeus was slayn, lord of Argeyes, And how Ypomedoun in litel stounde Was dreynt, and deed Parthonope of wounde; And also how Cappaneus the proude With thonder-dint was slayn, that cryde loude.
She gan eek telle him how that either brother, Ethyocles and Polimyte also, At a scarmyche, eche of hem slough other, And of Argyves wepinge and hir wo; And how the town was brent she tolde eek tho.
And so descendeth doun from gestes olde To Diomede, and thus she spak and tolde.
'This ilke boor bitokneth Diomede, Tydeus sone, that doun descended is Fro Meleagre, that made the boor to blede.
And thy lady, wher-so she be, y-wis, This Diomede hir herte hath, and she his.
Weep if thou wolt, or leef; for, out of doute, This Diomede is inne, and thou art oute.
' 'Thou seyst nat sooth,' quod he, 'thou sorceresse, With al thy false goost of prophesye! Thou wenest been a greet devyneresse; Now seestow not this fool of fantasye Peyneth hir on ladyes for to lye? Awey!' quod he.
'Ther Ioves yeve thee sorwe! Thou shalt be fals, paraunter, yet to-morwe! 'As wel thou mightest lyen on Alceste, That was of creatures, but men lye, That ever weren, kindest and the beste.
For whanne hir housbonde was in Iupartye To dye him-self, but-if she wolde dye, She che


by Geoffrey Chaucer

Troilus And Criseyde: Book 04

 Prohemium.
But al to litel, weylaway the whyle, Lasteth swich Ioye, y-thonked be Fortune! That semeth trewest, whan she wol bygyle, And can to foles so hir song entune, That she hem hent and blent, traytour comune; And whan a wight is from hir wheel y-throwe, Than laugheth she, and maketh him the mowe.
From Troilus she gan hir brighte face Awey to wrythe, and took of him non hede, But caste him clene out of his lady grace, And on hir wheel she sette up Diomede; For which right now myn herte ginneth blede, And now my penne, allas! With which I wryte, Quaketh for drede of that I moot endyte.
For how Criseyde Troilus forsook, Or at the leste, how that she was unkinde, Mot hennes-forth ben matere of my book, As wryten folk through which it is in minde.
Allas! That they sholde ever cause finde To speke hir harm; and if they on hir lye, Y-wis, hem-self sholde han the vilanye.
O ye Herines, Nightes doughtren three, That endelees compleynen ever in pyne, Megera, Alete, and eek Thesiphone; Thou cruel Mars eek, fader to Quiryne, This ilke ferthe book me helpeth fyne, So that the los of lyf and love y-fere Of Troilus be fully shewed here.
Explicit prohemium.
Incipit Quartus Liber.
Ligginge in ost, as I have seyd er this, The Grekes stronge, aboute Troye toun, Bifel that, whan that Phebus shyning is Up-on the brest of Hercules Lyoun, That Ector, with ful many a bold baroun, Caste on a day with Grekes for to fighte, As he was wont to greve hem what he mighte.
Not I how longe or short it was bitwene This purpos and that day they fighte mente; But on a day wel armed, bright and shene, Ector, and many a worthy wight out wente, With spere in hond and bigge bowes bente; And in the herd, with-oute lenger lette, Hir fomen in the feld anoon hem mette.
The longe day, with speres sharpe y-grounde, With arwes, dartes, swerdes, maces felle, They fighte and bringen hors and man to grounde, And with hir axes out the braynes quelle.
But in the laste shour, sooth for to telle, The folk of Troye hem-selven so misledden, That with the worse at night homward they fledden.
At whiche day was taken Antenor, Maugre Polydamas or Monesteo, Santippe, Sarpedon, Polynestor, Polyte, or eek the Troian daun Ripheo, And othere lasse folk, as Phebuseo.
So that, for harm, that day the folk of Troye Dredden to lese a greet part of hir Ioye.
Of Pryamus was yeve, at Greek requeste, A tyme of trewe, and tho they gonnen trete, Hir prisoneres to chaungen, moste and leste, And for the surplus yeven sommes grete.
This thing anoon was couth in every strete, Bothe in thassege, in toune, and every-where, And with the firste it cam to Calkas ere.
Whan Calkas knew this tretis sholde holde, In consistorie, among the Grekes, sone He gan in thringe forth, with lordes olde, And sette him there-as he was wont to done; And with a chaunged face hem bad a bone, For love of god, to don that reverence, To stinte noyse, and yeve him audience.
Thanne seyde he thus, 'Lo! Lordes myne, I was Troian, as it is knowen out of drede; And, if that yow remembre, I am Calkas, That alderfirst yaf comfort to your nede, And tolde wel how that ye sholden spede.
For dredelees, thorugh yow, shal, in a stounde, Ben Troye y-brend, and beten doun to grounde.
'And in what forme, or in what maner wyse This town to shende, and al your lust to acheve, Ye han er this wel herd it me devyse; This knowe ye, my lordes, as I leve.
And for the Grekes weren me so leve, I com my-self in my propre persone, To teche in this how yow was best to done; 'Havinge un-to my tresour ne my rente Right no resport, to respect of your ese.
Thus al my good I loste and to yow wente, Wening in this you, lordes, for to plese.
But al that los ne doth me no disese.
I vouche-sauf, as wisly have I Ioye, For you to lese al that I have in Troye, 'Save of a doughter, that I lafte, allas! Slepinge at hoom, whanne out of Troye I sterte.
O sterne, O cruel fader that I was! How mighte I have in that so hard an herte? Allas! I ne hadde y-brought hir in hir sherte! For sorwe of which I wol not live to morwe, But-if ye lordes rewe up-on my sorwe.
'For, by that cause I say no tyme er now Hir to delivere, I holden have my pees; But now or never, if that it lyke yow, I may hir have right sone, doutelees.
O help and grace! Amonges al this prees, Rewe on this olde caitif in destresse, Sin I through yow have al this hevinesse! 'Ye have now caught and fetered in prisoun Troians y-nowe; and if your willes be, My child with oon may have redempcioun.
Now for the love of god and of bountee, Oon of so fele, allas! So yeve him me.
What nede were it this preyere for to werne, Sin ye shul bothe han folk and toun as yerne? 'On peril of my lyf, I shal nat lye, Appollo hath me told it feithfully; I have eek founde it be astronomye, By sort, and by augurie eek trewely, And dar wel seye, the tyme is faste by, That fyr and flaumbe on al the toun shal sprede; And thus shal Troye turne to asshen dede.
'For certeyn, Phebus and Neptunus bothe, That makeden the walles of the toun, Ben with the folk of Troye alwey so wrothe, That thei wol bringe it to confusioun, Right in despyt of king Lameadoun.
By-cause he nolde payen hem hir hyre, The toun of Troye shal ben set on-fyre.
' Telling his tale alwey, this olde greye, Humble in speche, and in his lokinge eke, The salte teres from his eyen tweye Ful faste ronnen doun by eyther cheke.
So longe he gan of socour hem by-seke That, for to hele him of his sorwes sore, They yave him Antenor, with-oute more.
But who was glad y-nough but Calkas tho? And of this thing ful sone his nedes leyde On hem that sholden for the tretis go, And hem for Antenor ful ofte preyde To bringen hoom king Toas and Criseyde; And whan Pryam his save-garde sente, Thembassadours to Troye streyght they wente.
The cause y-told of hir cominge, the olde Pryam the king ful sone in general Let here-upon his parlement to holde, Of which the effect rehersen yow I shal.
Thembassadours ben answered for fynal, Theschaunge of prisoners and al this nede Hem lyketh wel, and forth in they procede.
This Troilus was present in the place, Whan axed was for Antenor Criseyde, For which ful sone chaungen gan his face, As he that with tho wordes wel neigh deyde.
But nathelees, he no word to it seyde, Lest men sholde his affeccioun espye; With mannes herte he gan his sorwes drye.
And ful of anguissh and of grisly drede Abood what lordes wolde un-to it seye; And if they wolde graunte, as god forbede, Theschaunge of hir, than thoughte he thinges tweye, First, how to save hir honour, and what weye He mighte best theschaunge of hir withstonde; Ful faste he caste how al this mighte stonde.
Love him made al prest to doon hir byde, And rather dye than she sholde go; But resoun seyde him, on that other syde, 'With-oute assent of hir ne do not so, Lest for thy werk she wolde be thy fo, And seyn, that thorugh thy medling is y-blowe Your bother love, there it was erst unknowe.
' For which he gan deliberen, for the beste, That though the lordes wolde that she wente, He wolde lat hem graunte what hem leste, And telle his lady first what that they mente.
And whan that she had seyd him hir entente, Ther-after wolde he werken also blyve, Though al the world ayein it wolde stryve.
Ector, which that wel the Grekes herde, For Antenor how they wolde han Criseyde, Gan it withstonde, and sobrely answerde: -- 'Sires, she nis no prisoner,' he seyde; 'I noot on yow who that this charge leyde, But, on my part, ye may eft-sone hem telle, We usen here no wommen for to selle.
' The noyse of peple up-stirte thanne at ones, As breme as blase of straw y-set on fyre; For infortune it wolde, for the nones, They sholden hir confusioun desyre.
'Ector,' quod they, 'what goost may yow enspyre This womman thus to shilde and doon us lese Daun Antenor? -- a wrong wey now ye chese -- 'That is so wys, and eek so bold baroun, And we han nede to folk, as men may see; He is eek oon, the grettest of this toun; O Ector, lat tho fantasyes be! O king Priam,' quod they, 'thus seggen we, That al our voys is to for-gon Criseyde;' And to deliveren Antenor they preyde.
O Iuvenal, lord! Trewe is thy sentence, That litel witen folk what is to yerne That they ne finde in hir desyr offence; For cloud of errour let hem not descerne What best is; and lo, here ensample as yerne.
This folk desiren now deliveraunce Of Antenor, that broughte hem to mischaunce! For he was after traytour to the toun Of Troye; allas! They quitte him out to rathe; O nyce world, lo, thy discrecioun! Criseyde, which that never dide hem skathe, Shal now no lenger in hir blisse bathe; But Antenor, he shal com hoom to toune, And she shal out; thus seyden here and howne.
For which delibered was by parlement For Antenor to yelden out Criseyde, And it pronounced by the president, Al-theigh that Ector 'nay' ful ofte preyde.
And fynaly, what wight that it with-seyde, It was for nought, it moste been, and sholde; For substaunce of the parlement it wolde.
Departed out of parlement echone, This Troilus, with-oute wordes mo, Un-to his chaumbre spedde him faste allone, But-if it were a man of his or two, The whiche he bad out faste for to go, By-cause he wolde slepen, as he seyde, And hastely up-on his bed him leyde.
And as in winter leves been biraft, Eche after other, til the tree be bare, So that ther nis but bark and braunche y-laft, Lyth Troilus, biraft of ech wel-fare, Y-bounden in the blake bark of care, Disposed wood out of his wit to breyde, So sore him sat the chaunginge of Criseyde.
He rist him up, and every dore he shette And windowe eek, and tho this sorweful man Up-on his beddes syde a-doun him sette, Ful lyk a deed image pale and wan; And in his brest the heped wo bigan Out-breste, and he to werken in this wyse In his woodnesse, as I shal yow devyse.
Right as the wilde bole biginneth springe Now here, now there, y-darted to the herte, And of his deeth roreth in compleyninge, Right so gan he aboute the chaumbre sterte, Smyting his brest ay with his festes smerte; His heed to the wal, his body to the grounde Ful ofte he swapte, him-selven to confounde.
His eyen two, for pitee of his herte, Out stremeden as swifte welles tweye; The heighe sobbes of his sorwes smerte His speche him refte, unnethes mighte he seye, 'O deeth, allas! Why niltow do me deye? A-cursed be the day which that nature Shoop me to ben a lyves creature!' But after, whan the furie and the rage Which that his herte twiste and faste threste, By lengthe of tyme somwhat gan asswage, Up-on his bed he leyde him doun to reste; But tho bigonne his teres more out-breste, That wonder is, the body may suffyse To half this wo, which that I yow devyse.
Than seyde he thus, 'Fortune! Allas the whyle! What have I doon, what have I thus a-gilt? How mightestow for reuthe me bigyle? Is ther no grace, and shal I thus be spilt? Shal thus Criseyde awey, for that thou wilt? Allas! How maystow in thyn herte finde To been to me thus cruel and unkinde? 'Have I thee nought honoured al my lyve, As thou wel wost, above the goddes alle? Why wiltow me fro Ioye thus depryve? O Troilus, what may men now thee calle But wrecche of wrecches, out of honour falle In-to miserie, in which I wol biwayle Criseyde, allas! Til that the breeth me fayle? 'Allas, Fortune! If that my lyf in Ioye Displesed hadde un-to thy foule envye, Why ne haddestow my fader, king of Troye, By-raft the lyf, or doon my bretheren dye, Or slayn my-self, that thus compleyne and crye, I, combre-world, that may of no-thing serve, But ever dye, and never fully sterve? 'If that Criseyde allone were me laft, Nought roughte I whider thou woldest me stere; And hir, allas! Than hastow me biraft.
But ever-more, lo! This is thy manere, To reve a wight that most is to him dere, To preve in that thy gerful violence.
Thus am I lost, ther helpeth no defence! 'O verray lord of love, O god, allas! That knowest best myn herte and al my thought, What shal my sorwful lyf don in this cas If I for-go that I so dere have bought? Sin ye Cryseyde and me han fully brought In-to your grace, and bothe our hertes seled, How may ye suffre, allas! It be repeled? 'What I may doon, I shal, whyl I may dure On lyve in torment and in cruel peyne, This infortune or this disaventure, Allone as I was born, y-wis, compleyne; Ne never wil I seen it shyne or reyne; But ende I wil, as Edippe, in derknesse My sorwful lyf, and dyen in distresse.
'O wery goost, that errest to and fro, Why niltow fleen out of the wofulleste Body, that ever mighte on grounde go? O soule, lurkinge in this wo, unneste, Flee forth out of myn herte, and lat it breste, And folwe alwey Criseyde, thy lady dere; Thy righte place is now no lenger here! 'O wofulle eyen two, sin your disport Was al to seen Criseydes eyen brighte, What shal ye doon but, for my discomfort, Stonden for nought, and wepen out your sighte? Sin she is queynt, that wont was yow to lighte, In veyn fro-this-forth have I eyen tweye Y-formed, sin your vertue is a-weye.
'O my Criseyde, O lady sovereyne Of thilke woful soule that thus cryeth, Who shal now yeven comfort to the peyne? Allas, no wight; but when myn herte dyeth, My spirit, which that so un-to yow hyeth, Receyve in gree, for that shal ay yow serve; For-thy no fors is, though the body sterve.
'O ye loveres, that heighe upon the wheel Ben set of Fortune, in good aventure, God leve that ye finde ay love of steel, And longe mot your lyf in Ioye endure! But whan ye comen by my sepulture, Remembreth that your felawe resteth there; For I lovede eek, though I unworthy were.
'O olde, unholsom, and mislyved man, Calkas I mene, allas! What eyleth thee To been a Greek, sin thou art born Troian? O Calkas, which that wilt my bane be, In cursed tyme was thou born for me! As wolde blisful Iove, for his Ioye, That I thee hadde, where I wolde, in Troye!' A thousand sykes, hottere than the glede, Out of his brest ech after other wente, Medled with pleyntes newe, his wo to fede, For which his woful teres never stente; And shortly, so his peynes him to-rente, And wex so mat, that Ioye nor penaunce He feleth noon, but lyth forth in a traunce.
Pandare, which that in the parlement Hadde herd what every lord and burgeys seyde, And how ful graunted was, by oon assent, For Antenor to yelden so Criseyde, Gan wel neigh wood out of his wit to breyde, So that, for wo, he niste what he mente; But in a rees to Troilus he wente.
A certeyn knight, that for the tyme kepte The chaumbre-dore, un-dide it him anoon; And Pandare, that ful tendreliche wepte, In-to the derke chaumbre, as stille as stoon, Toward the bed gan softely to goon, So confus, that he niste what to seye; For verray wo his wit was neigh aweye.
And with his chere and loking al to-torn, For sorwe of this, and with his armes folden, He stood this woful Troilus biforn, And on his pitous face he gan biholden; But lord, so often gan his herte colden, Seing his freend in wo, whos hevinesse His herte slow, as thoughte him, for distresse.
This woful wight, this Troilus, that felte His freend Pandare y-comen him to see, Gan as the snow ayein the sonne melte, For which this sorwful Pandare, of pitee, Gan for to wepe as tendreliche as he; And specheles thus been thise ilke tweye, That neyther mighte o word for sorwe seye.
But at the laste this woful Troilus, Ney deed for smert, gan bresten out to rore, And with a sorwful noyse he seyde thus, Among his sobbes and his sykes sore, 'Lo! Pandare, I am deed, with-outen more.
Hastow nought herd at parlement,' he seyde, 'For Antenor how lost is my Criseyde?' This Pandarus, ful deed and pale of hewe, Ful pitously answerde and seyde, 'Yis! As wisly were it fals as it is trewe, That I have herd, and wot al how it is.
O mercy, god, who wolde have trowed this? Who wolde have wend that, in so litel a throwe, Fortune our Ioye wolde han over-throwe? 'For in this world ther is no creature, As to my doom, that ever saw ruyne Straungere than this, thorugh cas or aventure.
But who may al eschewe, or al devyne? Swich is this world; for-thy I thus defyne, Ne trust no wight to finden in Fortune Ay propretee; hir yeftes been comune.
'But tel me this, why thou art now so mad To sorwen thus? Why lystow in this wyse, Sin thy desyr al holly hastow had, So that, by right, it oughte y-now suffyse? But I, that never felte in my servyse A frendly chere or loking of an ye, Lat me thus wepe and wayle, til I dye.
'And over al this, as thou wel wost thy-selve, This town is ful of ladies al aboute; And, to my doom, fairer than swiche twelve As ever she was, shal I finde, in som route, Ye, oon or two, with-outen any doute.
For-thy be glad, myn owene dere brother, If she be lost, we shal recovere another.
'What, god for-bede alwey that ech plesaunce In o thing were, and in non other wight! If oon can singe, another can wel daunce; If this be goodly, she is glad and light; And this is fayr, and that can good a-right.
Ech for his vertu holden is for dere, Bothe heroner and faucon for rivere.
'And eek, as writ Zanzis, that was ful wys, "The newe love out chaceth ofte the olde;" And up-on newe cas lyth newe avys.
Thenk eek, thy-self to saven artow holde; Swich fyr, by proces, shal of kinde colde.
For sin it is but casuel plesaunce, Som cas shal putte it out of remembraunce.
'For al-so seur as day cometh after night, The newe love, labour or other wo, Or elles selde seinge of a wight, Don olde affecciouns alle over-go.
And, for thy part, thou shalt have oon of tho To abrigge with thy bittre peynes smerte; Absence of hir shal dryve hir out of herte.
' Thise wordes seyde he for the nones alle, To helpe his freend, lest he for sorwe deyde.
For douteles, to doon his wo to falle, He roughte not what unthrift that he seyde.
But Troilus, that neigh for sorwe deyde, Tok litel hede of al that ever he mente; Oon ere it herde, at the other out it wente: But at the laste answerde and seyde, 'Freend, This lechecraft, or heled thus to be, Were wel sitting, if that I were a feend, To traysen hir that trewe is unto me! I pray god, lat this consayl never y-thee; But do me rather sterve anon-right here Er I thus do as thou me woldest lere.
'She that I serve, y-wis, what so thou seye, To whom myn herte enhabit is by right, Shal han me holly hires til that I deye.
For, Pandarus, sin I have trouthe hir hight, I wol not been untrewe for no wight; But as hir man I wol ay live and sterve, And never other creature serve.
'And ther thou seyst, thou shalt as faire finde As she, lat be, make no comparisoun To creature y-formed here by kinde.
O leve Pandare, in conclusioun, I wol not be of thyn opinioun, Touching al this; for whiche I thee biseche, So hold thy pees; thou sleest me with thy speche.
'Thow biddest me I sholde love an-other Al freshly newe, and lat Criseyde go! It lyth not in my power, leve brother.
And though I mighte, I wolde not do so.
But canstow pleyen raket, to and fro, Netle in, dokke out, now this, now that, Pandare? Now foule falle hir, for thy wo that care! 'Thow farest eek by me, thou Pandarus, As he, that whan a wight is wo bi-goon, He cometh to him a pas, and seyth right thus, "Thenk not on smert, and thou shalt fele noon.
" Thou most me first transmuwen in a stoon, And reve me my passiounes alle, Er thou so lightly do my wo to falle.
'The deeth may wel out of my brest departe The lyf, so longe may this sorwe myne; But fro my soule shal Criseydes darte Out never-mo; but doun with Proserpyne, Whan I am deed, I wol go wone in pyne; And ther I wol eternaly compleyne My wo, and how that twinned be we tweyne.
'Thow hast here maad an argument, for fyn, How that it sholde a lasse peyne be Criseyde to for-goon, for she was myn, And live in ese and in felicitee.
Why gabbestow, that seydest thus to me That "him is wors that is fro wele y-throwe, Than he hadde erst non of that wele y-knowe?" 'But tel me now, sin that thee thinketh so light To chaungen so in love, ay to and fro, Why hastow not don bisily thy might To chaungen hir that doth thee al thy wo? Why niltow lete hir fro thyn herte go? Why niltow love an-other lady swete, That may thyn herte setten in quiete? 'If thou hast had in love ay yet mischaunce, And canst it not out of thyn herte dryve, I, that livede in lust and in plesaunce With hir as muche as creature on-lyve, How sholde I that foryete, and that so blyve? O where hastow ben hid so longe in muwe, That canst so wel and formely arguwe? 'Nay, nay, god wot, nought worth is al thy reed, For which, for what that ever may bifalle, With-outen wordes mo, I wol be deed.
O deeth, that endere art of sorwes alle, Com now, sin I so ofte after thee calle, For sely is that deeth, soth for to seyne, That, ofte y-cleped, cometh and endeth peyne.
'Wel wot I, whyl my lyf was in quiete, Er thou me slowe, I wolde have yeven hyre; But now thy cominge is to me so swete, That in this world I no-thing so desyre.
O deeth, sin with this sorwe I am a-fyre, Thou outher do me anoon yn teres drenche, Or with thy colde strook myn hete quenche! 'Sin that thou sleest so fele in sondry wyse Ayens hir wil, unpreyed, day and night, Do me, at my requeste, this servyse, Delivere now the world, so dostow right, Of me, that am the wofulleste wight That ever was; for tyme is that I sterve, Sin in this world of right nought may I serve.
' This Troilus in teres gan distille, As licour out of alambyk ful faste; And Pandarus gan holde his tunge stille, And to the ground his eyen doun he caste.
But nathelees, thus thoughte he at the laste, 'What, parde, rather than my felawe deye, Yet shal I som-what more un-to him seye:' And seyde, 'Freend, sin thou hast swich distresse, And sin thee list myn arguments to blame, Why nilt thy-selven helpen doon redresse, And with thy manhod letten al this grame? Go ravisshe hir ne canstow not for shame! And outher lat hir out of toune fare, Or hold hir stille, and leve thy nyce fare.
'Artow in Troye, and hast non hardiment To take a womman which that loveth thee, And wolde hir-selven been of thyn assent? Now is not this a nyce vanitee? Rys up anoon, and lat this weping be, And kyth thou art a man, for in this houre I wil be deed, or she shal bleven oure.
' To this answerde him Troilus ful softe, And seyde, 'Parde, leve brother dere, Al this have I my-self yet thought ful ofte, And more thing than thou devysest here.
But why this thing is laft, thou shalt wel here; And whan thou me hast yeve an audience, Ther-after mayst thou telle al thy sentence.
'First, sin thou wost this toun hath al this werre For ravisshing of wommen so by might, It sholde not be suffred me to erre, As it stant now, ne doon so gret unright.
I sholde han also blame of every wight, My fadres graunt if that I so withstode, Sin she is chaunged for the tounes goode.
'I have eek thought, so it were hir assent, To aske hir at my fader, of his grace; Than thenke I, this were hir accusement, Sin wel I woot I may hir not purchace.
For sin my fader, in so heigh a place As parlement, hath hir eschaunge enseled, He nil for me his lettre be repeled.
'Yet drede I most hir herte to pertourbe With violence, if I do swich a game; For if I wolde it openly distourbe, It moste been disclaundre to hir name.
And me were lever deed than hir defame, As nolde god but-if I sholde have Hir honour lever than my lyf to save! 'Thus am I lost, for ought that I can see; For certeyn is, sin that I am hir knight, I moste hir honour levere han than me In every cas, as lovere oughte of right.
Thus am I with desyr and reson twight; Desyr for to destourben hir me redeth, And reson nil not, so myn herte dredeth.
' Thus wepinge that he coude never cesse, He seyde, 'Allas! How shal I, wrecche, fare? For wel fele I alwey my love encresse, And hope is lasse and lasse alwey, Pandare! Encressen eek the causes of my care; So wel-a-wey, why nil myn herte breste? For, as in love, ther is but litel reste.
' Pandare answerde, 'Freend, thou mayst, for me, Don as thee list; but hadde ich it so hote, And thyn estat, she sholde go with me; Though al this toun cryede on this thing by note, I nolde sette at al that noyse a grote.
For when men han wel cryed, than wol they roune; A wonder last but nyne night never in toune.
'Devyne not in reson ay so depe Ne curteysly, but help thy-self anoon; Bet is that othere than thy-selven wepe, And namely, sin ye two been al oon.
Rys up, for by myn heed, she shal not goon; And rather be in blame a lyte y-founde Than sterve here as a gnat, with-oute wounde.
'It is no shame un-to yow, ne no vyce Hir to with-holden, that ye loveth most.
Paraunter, she mighte holden thee for nyce To lete hir go thus to the Grekes ost.
Thenk eek Fortune, as wel thy-selven wost, Helpeth hardy man to his enpryse, And weyveth wrecches, for hir cowardyse.
'And though thy lady wolde a litel hir greve, Thou shalt thy pees ful wel here-after make, But as for me, certayn, I can not leve That she wolde it as now for yvel take.
Why sholde than for ferd thyn herte quake? Thenk eek how Paris hath, that is thy brother, A love; and why shaltow not have another? 'And Troilus, o thing I dar thee swere, That if Criseyde, whiche that is thy leef, Now loveth thee as wel as thou dost here, God helpe me so, she nil nat take a-greef, Though thou do bote a-noon in this mischeef.
And if she wilneth fro thee for to passe, Thanne is she fals; so love hir wel the lasse.
'For-thy tak herte, and thenk, right as a knight, Thourgh love is broken alday every lawe.
Kyth now sumwhat thy corage and thy might, Have mercy on thy-self, for any awe.
Lat not this wrecched wo thin herte gnawe, But manly set the world on sixe and sevene; And, if thou deye a martir, go to hevene.
'I wol my-self be with thee at this dede, Though ich and al my kin, up-on a stounde, Shulle in a strete as dogges liggen dede, Thourgh-girt with many a wyd and blody wounde.
In every cas I wol a freend be founde.
And if thee list here sterven as a wrecche, A-dieu, the devel spede him that it recche!' This Troilus gan with tho wordes quiken, And seyde, 'Freend, graunt mercy, ich assente; But certaynly thou mayst not me so priken, Ne peyne noon ne may me so tormente, That, for no cas, it is not myn entente, At shorte wordes, though I dyen sholde, To ravisshe hir, but-if hir-self it wolde.
' 'Why, so mene I,' quod Pandarus, 'al this day.
But tel me than, hastow hir wil assayed, That sorwest thus?' And he answerde, 'Nay.
' 'Wher-of artow,' quod Pandare, 'than a-mayed, That nost not that she wol ben y-vel apayed To ravisshe hir, sin thou hast not ben there, But-if that Iove tolde it in thyn ere? 'For-thy rys up, as nought ne were, anoon, And wash thy face, and to the king thou wende, Or he may wondren whider thou art goon.
Thou most with wisdom him and othere blende; Or, up-on cas, he may after thee sende Er thou be war; and shortly, brother dere, Be glad, and lat me werke in this matere.
'For I shal shape it so, that sikerly Thou shalt this night som tyme, in som manere, Com speke with thy lady prevely, And by hir wordes eek, and by hir chere, Thou shalt ful sone aperceyve and wel here Al hir entente, and in this cas the beste; And fare now wel, for in this point I reste.
' The swifte Fame, whiche that false thinges Egal reporteth lyk the thinges trewe, Was thorugh-out Troye y-fled with preste winges Fro man to man, and made this tale al newe, How Calkas doughter, with hir brighte hewe, At parlement, with-oute wordes more, I-graunted was in chaunge of Antenore.
The whiche tale anoon-right as Criseyde Had herd, she, which that of hir fader roughte, As in this cas, right nought, ne whanne he deyde, Ful bisily to Iuppiter bisoughte Yeve hem mischaunce that this tretis broughte.
But shortly, lest thise tales sothe were, She dorste at no wight asken it, for fere.
As she that hadde hir herte and al hir minde On Troilus y-set so wonder faste, That al this world ne mighte hir love unbinde, Ne Troilus out of hir herte caste; She wol ben his, whyl that hir lyf may laste.
And thus she brenneth bothe in love and drede, So that she niste what was best to rede.
But as men seen in toune, and al aboute, That wommen usen frendes to visyte, So to Criseyde of wommen com a route For pitous Ioye, and wenden hir delyte; And with hir tales, dere y-nough a myte, These wommen, whiche that in the cite dwelle, They sette hem doun, and seyde as I shal telle.
Quod first that oon, 'I am glad, trewely, By-cause of yow, that shal your fader see.
' A-nother seyde, 'Y-wis, so nam not I, For al to litel hath she with us be.
' Quod tho the thridde, 'I hope, y-wis, that she Shal bringen us the pees on every syde, That, whan she gooth, almighty god hir gyde!' Tho wordes and tho wommanisshe thinges, She herde hem right as though she thennes were; For, god it wot, hir herte on other thing is, Although the body sat among hem there.
Hir advertence is alwey elles-where; For Troilus ful faste hir soule soughte; With-outen word, alwey on him she thoughte.
Thise wommen, that thus wenden hir to plese, Aboute nought gonne alle hir tales spende; Swich vanitee ne can don hir non ese, As she that, al this mene whyle.
brende Of other passioun than that they wende, So that she felte almost hir herte deye For wo, and wery of that companye.
For which no lenger mighte she restreyne Hir teres, so they gonnen up to welle, That yaven signes of the bitter peyne In whiche hir spirit was, and moste dwelle; Remembring hir, fro heven unto which helle She fallen was, sith she forgoth the sighte Of Troilus, and sorowfully she sighte.
And thilke foles sittinge hir aboute Wenden, that she wepte and syked sore By-cause that she sholde out of that route Departe, and never pleye with hem more.
And they that hadde y-knowen hir of yore Seye hir so wepe, and thoughte it kindenesse, And eche of hem wepte eek for hir destresse; And bisily they gonnen hir conforten Of thing, god wot, on which she litel thoughte; And with hir tales wenden hir disporten, And to be glad they often hir bisoughte.
But swich an ese ther-with they hir wroughte Right as a man is esed for to fele, For ache of heed, to clawen him on his hele! But after al this nyce vanitee They took hir leve, and hoom they wenten alle.
Criseyde, ful of sorweful pitee, In-to hir chaumbre up wente out of the halle, And on hir bed she gan for deed to falle, In purpos never thennes for to ryse; And thus she wroughte, as I shal yow devyse.
Hir ounded heer, that sonnish was of hewe, She rente, and eek hir fingres longe and smale She wrong ful ofte, and bad god on hir rewe, And with the deeth to doon bote on hir bale.
Hir hewe, whylom bright, that tho was pale, Bar witnes of hir wo and hir constreynte; And thus she spak, sobbinge, in hir compleynte: 'Alas!' quod she, 'out of this regioun I, woful wrecche and infortuned wight, And born in corsed constellacioun, Mot goon, and thus departen fro my knight; Wo worth, allas! That ilke dayes light On which I saw him first with eyen tweyne, That causeth me, and I him, al this peyne!' Therwith the teres from hir eyen two Doun fille, as shour in Aperill ful swythe; Hir whyte brest she bet, and for the wo After the deeth she cryed a thousand sythe, Sin he that wont hir wo was for to lythe, She mot for-goon; for which disaventure She held hir-self a forlost creature.
She seyde, 'How shal he doon, and I also? How sholde I live, if that I from him twinne? O dere herte eek, that I love so, Who shal that sorwe sleen that ye ben inne? O Calkas, fader, thyn be al this sinne! O moder myn, that cleped were Argyve, Wo worth that day that thou me bere on lyve! 'To what fyn sholde I live and sorwen thus? How sholde a fish with-oute water dure? What is Criseyde worth, from Troilus? How sholde a plaunte or lyves creature Live, with-oute his kinde noriture? For which ful oft a by-word here I seye, That "rotelees, mot grene sone deye.
" 'I shal don thus, sin neither swerd ne darte Dar I non handle, for the crueltee, That ilke day that I from yow departe, If sorwe of that nil not my bane be, Than shal no mete or drinke come in me Til I my soule out of my breste unshethe; And thus my-selven wol I do to dethe.
'And, Troilus, my clothes everichoon Shul blake been, in tokeninge, herte swete, That I am as out of this world agoon, That wont was yow to setten in quiete; And of myn ordre, ay til deeth me mete, The observaunce ever, in your absence, Shal sorwe been, compleynte, and abstinence.
'Myn herte and eek the woful goost ther-inne Biquethe I, with your spirit to compleyne Eternally, for they shal never twinne.
For though in erthe y-twinned be we tweyne, Yet in the feld of pitee, out of peyne, That hight Elysos, shul we been y-fere, As Orpheus and Erudice, his fere.
'Thus, herte myn, for Antenor, allas! I sone shal be chaunged, as I wene.
But how shul ye don in this sorwful cas, How shal youre tendre herte this sustene? But herte myn, for-yet this sorwe and tene, And me also; for, soothly for to seye, So ye wel fare, I recche not to deye.
' How mighte it ever y-red ben or y-songe, The pleynte that she made in hir distresse? I noot; but, as for me, my litel tonge, If I discreven wolde hir hevinesse, It sholde make hir sorwe seme lesse Than that it was, and childishly deface Hir heigh compleynte, and therfore I it pace.
Pandare, which that sent from Troilus Was to Criseyde, as ye han herd devyse, That for the beste it was accorded thus, And he ful glad to doon him that servyse, Un-to Criseyde, in a ful secree wyse, Ther-as she lay in torment and in rage, Com hir to telle al hoolly his message, And fond that she hir-selven gan to trete Ful pitously; for with hir salte teres Hir brest, hir face, y-bathed was ful wete; The mighty tresses of hir sonnish heres, Unbroyden, hangen al aboute hir eres; Which yaf him verray signal of martyre Of deeth, which that hir herte gan desyre.
Whan she him saw, she gan for sorwe anoon Hir tery face a-twixe hir armes hide, For which this Pandare is so wo bi-goon, That in the hous he mighte unnethe abyde, As he that pitee felte on every syde.
For if Criseyde hadde erst compleyned sore, Tho gan she pleyne a thousand tymes more.
And in hir aspre pleynte than she seyde, 'Pandare first of Ioyes mo than two Was cause causinge un-to me, Criseyde, That now transmuwed been in cruel wo.
Wher shal I seye to yow "wel come" or no, That alderfirst me broughte in-to servyse Of love, allas! That endeth in swich wyse? 'Endeth than love in wo? Ye, or men lyeth! And alle worldly blisse, as thinketh me.
The ende of blisse ay sorwe it occupyeth; And who-so troweth not that it so be, Lat him upon me, woful wrecche, y-see, That my-self hate, and ay my birthe acorse, Felinge alwey, fro wikke I go to worse.
'Who-so me seeth, he seeth sorwe al at ones, Peyne, torment, pleynte, wo, distresse.
Out of my woful body harm ther noon is, As anguish, langour, cruel bitternesse, A-noy, smert, drede, fury, and eek siknesse.
I trowe, y-wis, from hevene teres reyne, For pitee of myn aspre and cruel peyne! ' 'And thou, my suster, ful of discomfort,' Quod Pandarus, 'what thenkestow to do? Why ne hastow to thy-selven som resport, Why woltow thus thy-selve, allas, for-do? Leef al this werk and tak now hede to That I shal seyn, and herkne, of good entente, This, which by me thy Troilus thee sente.
' Torned hir tho Criseyde, a wo makinge So greet that it a deeth was for to see: -- 'Allas!' quod she, 'what wordes may ye bringe? What wol my dere herte seyn to me, Which that I drede never-mo to see? Wol he have pleynte or teres, er I wende? I have y-nowe, if he ther-after sende!' She was right swich to seen in hir visage As is that wight that men on bere binde; Hir face, lyk of Paradys the image, Was al y-chaunged in another kinde.
The pleye, the laughtre men was wont to finde On hir, and eek hir Ioyes everychone, Ben fled, and thus lyth now Criseyde allone.
Aboute hir eyen two a purpre ring Bi-trent, in sothfast tokninge of hir peyne, That to biholde it was a dedly thing, For which Pandare mighte not restreyne The teres from his eyen for to reyne.
But nathelees, as he best mighte, he seyde From Troilus thise wordes to Criseyde.
'Lo, nece, I trowe ye han herd al how The king, with othere lordes, for the beste, Hath mad eschaunge of Antenor and yow, That cause is of this sorwe and this unreste.
But how this cas doth Troilus moleste, That may non erthely mannes tonge seye; For verray wo his wit is al aweye.
'For which we han so sorwed, he and I, That in-to litel bothe it hadde us slawe; But thurgh my conseil this day, fynally, He somwhat is fro weping now with-drawe.
And semeth me that he desyreth fawe With yow to been al night, for to devyse Remede in this, if ther were any wyse.
'This, short and pleyne, theffect of my message, As ferforth as my wit can comprehende.
For ye, that been of torment in swich rage, May to no long prologe as now entende; And her-upon ye may answere him sende.
And, for the love of god, my nece dere, So leef this wo er Troilus be here.
' 'Gret is my wo,' quod she, and sighte sore, As she that feleth dedly sharp distresse; 'But yet to me his sorwe is muchel more, That love him bet than he him-self, I gesse.
Allas! For me hath he swich hevinesse? Can he for me so pitously compleyne? Y-wis, his sorwe doubleth al my peyne.
'Grevous to me, god wot, is for to twinne,' Quod she, 'but yet it hardere is to me To seen that sorwe which that he is inne; For wel wot I, it wol my bane be; And deye I wol in certayn,' tho quod she; 'But bidde him come, er deeth, that thus me threteth, Dryve out that goost which in myn herte beteth.
' Thise wordes seyd, she on hir armes two Fil gruf, and gan to wepe pitously.
Quod Pandarus, 'Allas! Why do ye so, Syn wel ye woot the tyme is faste by, That he shal come? Arys up hastely, That he yow nat biwopen thus ne finde, But ye wol have him wood out of his minde! 'For wiste he that ye ferde in this manere, He wolde him-selve slee; and if I wende To han this fare, he sholde not come here For al the good that Pryam may despende.
For to what fyn he wolde anoon pretende, That knowe I wel; and for-thy yet I seye, So leef this sorwe, or platly he wol deye.
'And shapeth yow his sorwe for to abregge, And nought encresse, leve nece swete; Beth rather to him cause of flat than egge, And with som wysdom ye his sorwes bete.
What helpeth it to wepen ful a strete, Or though ye bothe in salte teres dreynte? Bet is a tyme of cure ay than of pleynte.
'I mene thus; whan I him hider bringe, Sin ye ben wyse, and bothe of oon assent, So shapeth how distourbe your goinge, Or come ayen, sone after ye be went.
Wommen ben wyse in short avysement; And lat sen how your wit shal now avayle; And what that I may helpe, it shal not fayle.
' 'Go,' quod Criseyde, 'and uncle, trewely, I shal don al my might, me to restreyne From weping in his sighte, and bisily, Him for to glade, I shal don al my peyne, And in myn herte seken every veyne; If to this soor ther may be founden salve, It shal not lakken, certain, on myn halve.
' Goth Pandarus, and Troilus he soughte, Til in a temple he fond him allone, As he that of his lyf no lenger roughte; But to the pitouse goddes everichone Ful tendrely he preyde, and made his mone, To doon him sone out of this world to pace; For wel he thoughte ther was non other grace.
And shortly, al the sothe for to seye, He was so fallen in despeyr that day, That outrely he shoop him for to deye.
For right thus was his argument alwey: He seyde, he nas but loren, waylawey! 'For al that comth, comth by necessitee; Thus to be lorn, it is my destinee.
'For certaynly, this wot I wel,' he seyde, 'That for-sight of divyne purveyaunce Hath seyn alwey me to for-gon Criseyde, Sin god seeth every thing, out of doutaunce, And hem disponeth, thourgh his ordenaunce, In hir merytes sothly for to be, As they shul comen by predestinee.
'But nathelees, allas! Whom shal I leve? For ther ben grete clerkes many oon, That destinee thorugh argumentes preve; And som men seyn that nedely ther is noon; But that free chois is yeven us everichoon.
O, welaway! So sleye arn clerkes olde, That I not whos opinion I may holde.
'For som men seyn, if god seth al biforn, Ne god may not deceyved ben, pardee, Than moot it fallen, though men hadde it sworn, That purveyaunce hath seyn bifore to be.
Wherfor I seye, that from eterne if he Hath wist biforn our thought eek as our dede, We have no free chois, as these clerkes rede.
'For other thought nor other dede also Might never be, but swich as purveyaunce, Which may not ben deceyved never-mo, Hath feled biforn, with-outen ignoraunce.
For if ther mighte been a variaunce To wrythen out fro goddes purveyinge, Ther nere no prescience of thing cominge; 'But it were rather an opinioun Uncerteyn, and no stedfast forseinge; And certes, that were an abusioun, That god shuld han no parfit cleer witinge More than we men that han doutous weninge.
But swich an errour up-on god to gesse Were fals and foul, and wikked corsednesse.
'Eek this is an opinioun of somme That han hir top ful heighe and smothe y-shore; They seyn right thus, that thing is not to come For that the prescience hath seyn bifore That it shal come; but they seyn that therfore That it shal come, therfore the purveyaunce Wot it biforn with-outen ignoraunce; 'And in this manere this necessitee Retorneth in his part contrarie agayn.
For needfully bihoveth it not to be That thilke thinges fallen in certayn That ben purveyed; but nedely, as they seyn, Bihoveth it that thinges, whiche that falle, That they in certayn ben purveyed alle.
'I mene as though I laboured me in this, To enqueren which thing cause of which thing be; As whether that the prescience of god is The certayn cause of the necessitee Of thinges that to comen been, pardee; Or if necessitee of thing cominge Be cause certeyn of the purveyinge.
'But now ne enforce I me nat in shewinge How the ordre of causes stant; but wel wot I, That it bihoveth that the bifallinge Of thinges wist biforen certeynly Be necessarie, al seme it not ther-by That prescience put falling necessaire To thing to come, al falle it foule or faire.
'For if ther sit a man yond on a see, Than by necessitee bihoveth it That, certes, thyn opinioun soth be, That wenest or coniectest that he sit; And ferther-over now ayenward yit, Lo, right so it is of the part contrarie, As thus; (now herkne, for I wol not tarie): 'I seye, that if the opinioun of thee Be sooth, for that he sit, than seye I this, That he mot sitten by necessitee; And thus necessitee in either is.
For in him nede of sittinge is, y-wis, And in thee nede of sooth; and thus, forsothe, Ther moot necessitee ben in yow bothe.
'But thou mayst seyn, the man sit not therfore, That thyn opinioun of sitting soth is; But rather, for the man sit ther bifore, Therfore is thyn opinioun sooth, y-wis.
And I seye, though the cause of sooth of this Comth of his sitting, yet necessitee Is entrechaunged, bothe in him and thee.
'Thus on this same wyse, out of doutaunce, I may wel maken, as it semeth me, My resoninge of goddes purveyaunce, And of the thinges that to comen be; By whiche reson men may wel y-see, That thilke thinges that in erthe falle, That by necessitee they comen alle.
'For al-though that, for thing shal come, y-wis, Therfore is it purveyed, certaynly, Nat that it comth for it purveyed is: Yet nathelees, bihoveth it nedfully, That thing to come be purveyed, trewely; Or elles, thinges that purveyed be, That they bityden by necessitee.
'And this suffyseth right y-now, certeyn, For to destroye our free chois every del.
-- But now is this abusion, to seyn, That fallinge of the thinges temporel Is cause of goddes prescience eternel.
Now trewely, that is a fals sentence, That thing to come sholde cause his prescience.
'What mighte I wene, and I hadde swich a thought, But that god purveyth thing that is to come For that it is to come, and elles nought? So mighte I wene that thinges alle and some, That whylom been bifalle and over-come, Ben cause of thilke sovereyn purveyaunce, That for-wot al with-outen ignoraunce.
'And over al this, yet seye I more herto, That right as whan I woot ther is a thing, Y-wis, that thing mot nedefully be so; Eek right so, whan I woot a thing coming, So mot it come; and thus the bifalling Of thinges that ben wist bifore the tyde, They mowe not been eschewed on no syde.
' Than seyde he thus, 'Almighty Iove in trone, That wost of al this thing the soothfastnesse, Rewe on my sorwe, or do me deye sone, Or bring Criseyde and me fro this distresse.
' And whyl he was in al this hevinesse, Disputinge with him-self in this matere, Com Pandare in, and seyde as ye may here.
'O mighty god,' quod Pandarus, 'in trone, Ey! Who seigh ever a wys man faren so? Why, Troilus, what thenkestow to done? Hastow swich lust to been thyn owene fo? What, parde, yet is not Criseyde a-go! Why list thee so thy-self for-doon for drede, That in thyn heed thyn eyen semen dede? 'Hastow not lived many a yeer biforn With-outen hir, and ferd ful wel at ese? Artow for hir and for non other born? Hath kinde thee wroughte al-only hir to plese? Lat be, and thenk right thus in thy disese.
That, in the dees right as ther fallen chaunces, Right so in love, ther come and goon plesaunces.
'And yet this is a wonder most of alle, Why thou thus sorwest, sin thou nost not yit, Touching hir goinge, how that it shal falle, Ne if she can hir-self distorben it.
Thou hast not yet assayed al hir wit.
A man may al by tyme his nekke bede Whan it shal of, and sorwen at the nede.
'For-thy take hede of that that I shal seye; I have with hir y-spoke and longe y-be, So as accorded was bitwixe us tweye.
And ever-mor me thinketh thus, that she Hath som-what in hir hertes prevetee, Wher-with she can, if I shal right arede, Distorbe al this, of which thou art in drede.
'For which my counseil is, whan it is night, Thou to hir go, and make of this an ende; And blisful Iuno, thourgh hir grete mighte, Shal, as I hope, hir grace un-to us sende.
Myn herte seyth, "Certeyn, she shal not wende;" And for-thy put thyn herte a whyle in reste; And hold this purpos, for it is the beste.
' This Troilus answerde, and sighte sore, 'Thou seyst right wel, and I wil do right so;' And what him liste, he seyde un-to it more.
And whan that it was tyme for to go, Ful prevely him-self, with-outen mo, Un-to hir com, as he was wont to done; And how they wroughte, I shal yow telle sone.
Soth is, that whan they gonne first to mete, So gan the peyne hir hertes for to twiste, That neither of hem other mighte grete, But hem in armes toke and after kiste.
The lasse wofulle of hem bothe niste Wher that he was, ne mighte o word out-bringe, As I seyde erst, for wo and for sobbinge.
Tho woful teres that they leten falle As bittre weren, out of teres kinde, For peyne, as is ligne aloes or galle.
So bittre teres weep nought, as I finde, The woful Myrra through the bark and rinde.
That in this world ther nis so hard an herte, That nolde han rewed on hir peynes smerte.
But whan hir woful wery gostes tweyne Retorned been ther-as hem oughte dwelle, And that som-what to wayken gan the peyne By lengthe of pleynte, and ebben gan the welle Of hire teres, and the herte unswelle, With broken voys, al hoors for-shright, Criseyde To Troilus thise ilke wordes seyde: 'O Iove, I deye, and mercy I beseche! Help, Troilus!' And ther-with-al hir face Upon his brest she leyde, and loste speche; Hir woful spirit from his propre place, Right with the word, alwey up poynt to pace.
And thus she lyth with hewes pale and grene, That whylom fresh and fairest was to sene.
This Troilus, that on hir gan biholde, Clepinge hir name, (and she lay as for deed, With-oute answere, and felte hir limes colde, Hir eyen throwen upward to hir heed), This sorwful man can now noon other reed, But ofte tyme hir colde mouth he kiste; Wher him was wo, god and him-self it wiste! He rist him up, and long streight he hir leyde; For signe of lyf, for ought he can or may, Can he noon finde in no-thing on Criseyde, For which his song ful ofte is 'weylaway!' But whan he saugh that specheles she lay, With sorwful voys and herte of blisse al bare, He seyde how she was fro this world y-fare! So after that he longe hadde hir compleyned, His hondes wrong, and seyde that was to seye, And with his teres salte hir brest bireyned, He gan tho teris wypen of ful dreye, And pitously gan for the soule preye, And seyde, 'O lord, that set art in thy trone, Rewe eek on me, for I shal folwe hir sone!' She cold was and with-outen sentement, For aught he woot, for breeth ne felte he noon; And this was him a preignant argument That she was forth out of this world agoon; And whan he seigh ther was non other woon, He gan hir limes dresse in swich manere As men don hem that shul be leyd on bere.
And after this, with sterne and cruel herte, His swerd a-noon out of his shethe he twighte, Him-self to sleen, how sore that him smerte, So that his sowle hir sowle folwen mighte, Ther-as the doom of Mynos wolde it dighte; Sin love and cruel Fortune it ne wolde, That in this world he lenger liven sholde.
Thanne seyde he thus, fulfild of heigh desdayn, 'O cruel Iove, and thou, Fortune adverse, This al and som, that falsly have ye slayn Criseyde, and sin ye may do me no werse, Fy on your might and werkes so diverse! Thus cowardly ye shul me never winne; Ther shal no deeth me fro my lady twinne.
'For I this world, sin ye han slayn hir thus, Wol lete, and folowe hir spirit lowe or hye; Shal never lover seyn that Troilus Dar not, for fere, with his lady dye; For certeyn, I wol bere hir companye.
But sin ye wol not suffre us liven here, Yet suffreth that our soules ben y-fere.
'And thou, citee, whiche that I leve in wo, And thou, Pryam, and bretheren al y-fere, And thou, my moder, farwel! For I go; And Attropos, make redy thou my bere! And thou, Criseyde, o swete herte dere, Receyve now my spirit!' wolde he seye, With swerd at herte, al redy for to deye But as god wolde, of swough ther-with she abreyde, And gan to syke, and 'Troilus' she cryde; And he answerde, 'Lady myn Criseyde, Live ye yet?' and leet his swerd doun glyde.
'Ye, herte myn, that thanked be Cupyde!' Quod she, and ther-with-al she sore sighte; And he bigan to glade hir as he mighte; Took hir in armes two, and kiste hir ofte, And hir to glade he dide al his entente; For which hir goost, that flikered ay on-lofte, In-to hir woful herte ayein it wente.
But at the laste, as that hir eyen glente A-syde, anoon she gan his swerd aspye, As it lay bare, and gan for fere crye, And asked him, why he it hadde out-drawe? And Troilus anoon the cause hir tolde, And how himself ther-with he wolde have slawe.
For which Criseyde up-on him gan biholde, And gan him in hir armes faste folde, And seyde, 'O mercy, god, lo, which a dede! Allas! How neigh we were bothe dede! 'Thanne if I ne hadde spoken, as grace was, Ye wolde han slayn your-self anoon?' quod she.
'Ye, douteless;' and she answerde, 'Allas! For, by that ilke lord that made me, I nolde a forlong wey on-lyve han be, After your deeth, to han been crouned quene Of al the lond the sonne on shyneth shene.
'But with this selve swerd, which that here is, My-selve I wolde han slayn!' -- quod she tho; 'But ho, for we han right y-now of this, And late us ryse and streight to bedde go And there lat ys speken of oure wo.
For, by the morter which that I see brenne, Knowe I ful wel that day is not fer henne.
' Whan they were in hir bedde, in armes folde, Nought was it lyk tho nightes here-biforn; For pitously ech other gan biholde, As they that hadden al hir blisse y-lorn, Biwaylinge ay the day that they were born.
Til at the last this sorwful wight Criseyde To Troilus these ilke wordes seyde: -- 'Lo, herte myn, wel wot ye this,' quod she, 'That if a wight alwey his wo compleyne, And seketh nought how holpen for to be, It nis but folye and encrees of peyne; And sin that here assembled be we tweyne To finde bote of wo that we ben inne, It were al tyme sone to biginne.
'I am a womman, as ful wel ye woot, And as I am avysed sodeynly, So wol I telle yow, whyl it is hoot.
Me thinketh thus, that nouther ye nor I Oughte half this wo to make skilfully.
For there is art y-now for to redresse That yet is mis, and sleen this hevinesse.
'Sooth is, the wo, the whiche that we ben inne, For ought I woot, for no-thing elles is But for the cause that we sholden twinne.
Considered al, ther nis no-more amis.
But what is thanne a remede un-to this, But that we shape us sone for to mete? This al and som, my dere herte swete.
'Now that I shal wel bringen it aboute To come ayein, sone after that I go, Ther-of am I no maner thing in doute.
For dredeles, with-inne a wouke or two, I shal ben here; and, that it may be so By alle right, and in a wordes fewe, I shal yow wel an heep of weyes shewe.
'For which I wol not make long sermoun, For tyme y-lost may not recovered be; But I wol gon to my conclusioun, And to the beste, in ought that I can see.
And, for the love of god, for-yeve it me If I speke ought ayein your hertes reste; For trewely, I speke it for the beste; 'Makinge alwey a protestacioun, That now these wordes, whiche that I shal seye, Nis but to shewe yow my mocioun, To finde un-to our helpe the beste weye; And taketh it non other wyse, I preye.
For in effect what-so ye me comaunde, That wol I doon, for that is no demaunde.
'Now herkneth this, ye han wel understonde, My goinge graunted is by parlement So ferforth, that it may not be with-stonde For al this world, as by my Iugement.
And sin ther helpeth noon avysement To letten it, lat it passe out of minde; And lat us shape a bettre wey to finde.
'The sothe is, that the twinninge of us tweyne Wol us disese and cruelliche anoye.
But him bihoveth som-tyme han a peyne, That serveth love, if that he wol have Ioye.
And sin I shal no ferthere out of Troye Than I may ryde ayein on half a morwe, It oughte lesse causen us to sorwe.
'So as I shal not so ben hid in muwe, That day by day, myn owene herte dere, Sin wel ye woot that it is now a trewe, Ye shal ful wel al myn estat y-here.
And er that truwe is doon, I shal ben here, And thanne have ye bothe Antenor y-wonne And me also; beth glad now, if ye conne; 'And thenk right thus, "Criseyde is now agoon, But what! She shal come hastely ayeyn;" And whanne, allas? By god, lo, right anoon, Er dayes ten, this dar I saufly seyn.
And thanne at erste shul we been so fayn, So as we shulle to-gederes ever dwelle, That al this world ne mighte our blisse telle.
'I see that ofte, ther-as we ben now, That for the beste, our counseil for to hyde, Ye speke not with me, nor I with yow In fourtenight; ne see yow go ne ryde.
May ye not ten dayes thanne abyde, For myn honour, in swich an aventure? Y-wis, ye mowen elles lite endure! 'Ye knowe eek how that al my kin is here, But-if that onliche it my fader be; And eek myn othere thinges alle y-fere, And nameliche, my dere herte, ye, Whom that I nolde leven for to see For al this world, as wyd as it hath space; Or elles, see ich never Ioves face! 'Why trowe ye my fader in this wyse Coveiteth so to see me, but for drede Lest in this toun that folkes me dispyse By-cause of him, for his unhappy dede? What woot my fader what lyf that I lede? For if he wiste in Troye how wel I fare, Us neded for my wending nought to care.
'Ye seen that every day eek, more and more, Men trete of pees; and it supposed is, That men the quene Eleyne shal restore, And Grekes us restore that is mis.
So though ther nere comfort noon but this, That men purposen pees on every syde, Ye may the bettre at ese of herte abyde.
'For if that it be pees, myn herte dere, The nature of the pees mot nedes dryve That men moste entrecomunen y-fere, And to and fro eek ryde and gon as blyve Alday as thikke as been flen from an hyve; And every wight han libertee to bleve Where-as him list the bet, with-outen leve.
'And though so be that pees ther may be noon, Yet hider, though ther never pees ne were, I moste come; for whider sholde I goon, Or how mischaunce sholde I dwelle there Among tho men of armes ever in fere? For which, as wisly god my soule rede, I can not seen wher-of ye sholden drede.
'Have here another wey, if it so be That al this thing ne may yow not suffyse.
My fader, as ye knowen wel, pardee, Is old, and elde is ful of coveityse, And I right now have founden al the gyse, With-oute net, wher-with I shal him hente; And herkeneth how, if that ye wole assente.
'Lo, Troilus, men seyn that hard it is The wolf ful, and the wether hool to have; This is to seyn, that men ful ofte, y-wis, Mot spenden part, the remenant for to save.
For ay with gold men may the herte grave Of him that set is up-on coveityse; And how I mene, I shal it yow devyse.
'The moeble which that I have in this toun Un-to my fader shal I take, and seye, That right for trust and for savacioun It sent is from a freend of his or tweye, The whiche freendes ferventliche him preye To senden after more, and that in hye, Whyl that this toun stant thus in Iupartye.
'And that shal been an huge quantitee, Thus shal I seyn, but, lest it folk aspyde, This may be sent by no wight but by me; I shal eek shewen him, if pees bityde, What frendes that ich have on every syde Toward the court, to doon the wrathe pace Of Priamus, and doon him stonde in grace.
'So what for o thing and for other, swete, I shal him so enchaunten with my sawes, That right in hevene his sowle is, shal he mete! For al Appollo, or his clerkes lawes, Or calculinge avayleth nought three hawes; Desyr of gold shal so his sowle blende, That, as me lyst, I shal wel make an ende.
'And if he wolde ought by his sort it preve If that I lye, in certayn I shal fonde Distorben him, and plukke him by the sleve, Makinge his sort, and beren him on honde, He hath not wel the goddes understonde.
For goddes speken in amphibologyes, And, for o sooth they tellen twenty lyes.
'Eek drede fond first goddes, I suppose, Thus shal I seyn, and that his cowarde herte Made him amis the goddes text to glose, Whan he for ferde out of his Delphos sterte.
And but I make him sone to converte, And doon my reed with-inne a day or tweye, I wol to yow oblige me to deye.
' And treweliche, as writen wel I finde, That al this thing was seyd of good entente; And that hir herte trewe was and kinde Towardes him, and spak right as she mente, And that she starf for wo neigh, whan she wente, And was in purpos ever to be trewe; Thus writen they that of hir werkes knewe.
This Troilus, with herte and eres spradde, Herde al this thing devysen to and fro; And verraylich him semed that he hadde The selve wit; but yet to lete hir go His herte misforyaf him ever-mo.
But fynally, he gan his herte wreste To trusten hir, and took it for the beste.
For which the grete furie of his penaunce Was queynt with hope, and ther-with hem bitwene Bigan for Ioye the amorouse daunce.
And as the briddes, whan the sonne is shene, Delyten in hir song in leves grene, Right so the wordes that they spake y-fere Delyted hem, and made hir hertes clere.
But natheles, the wending of Criseyde, For al this world, may nought out of his minde; For which ful ofte he pitously hir preyde, That of hir heste he might hir trewe finde, And seyde hire, 'Certes, if ye be unkinde, And but ye come at day set in-to Troye, Ne shal I never have hele, honour, ne Ioye.
'For al-so sooth as sonne up-rist on morwe, And, god! So wisly thou me, woful wrecche, To reste bringe out of this cruel sorwe, I wol my-selven slee if that ye drecche.
But of my deeth though litel be to recche, Yet, er that ye me cause so to smerte, Dwel rather here, myn owene swete herte! 'For trewely, myn owene lady dere, Tho sleightes yet that I have herd yow stere Ful shaply been to failen alle y-fere.
For thus men seyn, "That oon thenketh the bere, But al another thenketh his ledere.
" Your sire is wys, and seyd is, out of drede, "Men may the wyse at-renne, and not at-rede.
" 'It is ful hard to halten unespyed Bifore a crepul, for he can the craft; Your fader is in sleighte as Argus yed; For al be that his moeble is him biraft, His olde sleighte is yet so with him laft, Ye shal not blende him for your womanhede, Ne feyne a-right, and that is al my drede.
'I noot if pees shal ever-mo bityde; But, pees or no, for ernest ne for game, I woot, sin Calkas on the Grekis syde Hath ones been, and lost so foule his name, He dar no more come here ayein for shame; For which that weye, for ought I can espye, To trusten on, nis but a fantasye.
'Ye shal eek seen, your fader shal yow glose To been a wyf, and as he can wel preche, He shal som Grek so preyse and wel alose, That ravisshen he shal yow with his speche, Or do yow doon by force as he shal teche.
And Troilus, of whom ye nil han routhe, Shal causeles so sterven in his trouthe! 'And over al this, your fader shal despyse Us alle, and seyn this citee nis but lorn; And that thassege never shal aryse, For-why the Grekes han it alle sworn Til we be slayn, and doun our walles torn.
And thus he shal yow with his wordes fere, That ay drede I, that ye wol bleve there.
'Ye shul eek seen so many a lusty knight A-mong the Grekes, ful of worthinesse, And eche of hem with herte, wit, and might To plesen yow don al his besinesse, That ye shul dullen of the rudenesse Of us sely Troianes, but-if routhe Remorde yow, or vertue of your trouthe.
'And this to me so grevous is to thinke, That fro my brest it wol my soule rende; Ne dredeles, in me ther may not sinke A good opinioun, if that ye wende; For-why your faderes sleighte wol us shende.
And if ye goon, as I have told yow yore, So thenk I nam but deed, with-oute more.
'For which, with humble, trewe, and pitous herte, A thousand tymes mercy I yow preye; So reweth on myn aspre peynes smerte, And doth somwhat, as that I shal yow seye, And lat us stele away bitwixe us tweye; And thenk that folye is, whan man may chese, For accident his substaunce ay to lese.
'I mene this, that sin we mowe er day Wel stele away, and been to-gider so, What wit were it to putten in assay, In cas ye sholden to your fader go, If that ye mighte come ayein or no? Thus mene I, that it were a gret folye To putte that sikernesse in Iupertye.
'And vulgarly to speken of substaunce Of tresour, may we bothe with us lede Y-nough to live in honour and plesaunce, Til in-to tyme that we shal ben dede; And thus we may eschewen al this drede.
For everich other wey ye can recorde, Myn herte, y-wis, may not ther-with acorde.
'And hardily, ne dredeth no poverte, For I have kin and freendes elles-where That, though we comen in oure bare sherte, Us sholde neither lakke gold ne gere, But been honured whyl we dwelten there.
And go we anoon, for, as in myn entente, This is the beste, if that ye wole assente.
' Criseyde, with a syk, right in this wyse Answerde, 'Y-wis, my dere herte trewe, We may wel stele away, as ye devyse, And finde swich unthrifty weyes newe; But afterward, ful sore it wol us rewe.
And help me god so at my moste nede As causeles ye suffren al this drede! 'For thilke day that I for cherisshinge Or drede of fader, or of other wight, Or for estat, delyt, or for weddinge, Be fals to yow,


by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Gareth And Lynette

 The last tall son of Lot and Bellicent, 
And tallest, Gareth, in a showerful spring 
Stared at the spate.
A slender-shafted Pine Lost footing, fell, and so was whirled away.
'How he went down,' said Gareth, 'as a false knight Or evil king before my lance if lance Were mine to use--O senseless cataract, Bearing all down in thy precipitancy-- And yet thou art but swollen with cold snows And mine is living blood: thou dost His will, The Maker's, and not knowest, and I that know, Have strength and wit, in my good mother's hall Linger with vacillating obedience, Prisoned, and kept and coaxed and whistled to-- Since the good mother holds me still a child! Good mother is bad mother unto me! A worse were better; yet no worse would I.
Heaven yield her for it, but in me put force To weary her ears with one continuous prayer, Until she let me fly discaged to sweep In ever-highering eagle-circles up To the great Sun of Glory, and thence swoop Down upon all things base, and dash them dead, A knight of Arthur, working out his will, To cleanse the world.
Why, Gawain, when he came With Modred hither in the summertime, Asked me to tilt with him, the proven knight.
Modred for want of worthier was the judge.
Then I so shook him in the saddle, he said, "Thou hast half prevailed against me," said so--he-- Though Modred biting his thin lips was mute, For he is alway sullen: what care I?' And Gareth went, and hovering round her chair Asked, 'Mother, though ye count me still the child, Sweet mother, do ye love the child?' She laughed, 'Thou art but a wild-goose to question it.
' 'Then, mother, an ye love the child,' he said, 'Being a goose and rather tame than wild, Hear the child's story.
' 'Yea, my well-beloved, An 'twere but of the goose and golden eggs.
' And Gareth answered her with kindling eyes, 'Nay, nay, good mother, but this egg of mine Was finer gold than any goose can lay; For this an Eagle, a royal Eagle, laid Almost beyond eye-reach, on such a palm As glitters gilded in thy Book of Hours.
And there was ever haunting round the palm A lusty youth, but poor, who often saw The splendour sparkling from aloft, and thought "An I could climb and lay my hand upon it, Then were I wealthier than a leash of kings.
" But ever when he reached a hand to climb, One, that had loved him from his childhood, caught And stayed him, "Climb not lest thou break thy neck, I charge thee by my love," and so the boy, Sweet mother, neither clomb, nor brake his neck, But brake his very heart in pining for it, And past away.
' To whom the mother said, 'True love, sweet son, had risked himself and climbed, And handed down the golden treasure to him.
' And Gareth answered her with kindling eyes, 'Gold?' said I gold?--ay then, why he, or she, Or whosoe'er it was, or half the world Had ventured--HAD the thing I spake of been Mere gold--but this was all of that true steel, Whereof they forged the brand Excalibur, And lightnings played about it in the storm, And all the little fowl were flurried at it, And there were cries and clashings in the nest, That sent him from his senses: let me go.
' Then Bellicent bemoaned herself and said, 'Hast thou no pity upon my loneliness? Lo, where thy father Lot beside the hearth Lies like a log, and all but smouldered out! For ever since when traitor to the King He fought against him in the Barons' war, And Arthur gave him back his territory, His age hath slowly droopt, and now lies there A yet-warm corpse, and yet unburiable, No more; nor sees, nor hears, nor speaks, nor knows.
And both thy brethren are in Arthur's hall, Albeit neither loved with that full love I feel for thee, nor worthy such a love: Stay therefore thou; red berries charm the bird, And thee, mine innocent, the jousts, the wars, Who never knewest finger-ache, nor pang Of wrenched or broken limb--an often chance In those brain-stunning shocks, and tourney-falls, Frights to my heart; but stay: follow the deer By these tall firs and our fast-falling burns; So make thy manhood mightier day by day; Sweet is the chase: and I will seek thee out Some comfortable bride and fair, to grace Thy climbing life, and cherish my prone year, Till falling into Lot's forgetfulness I know not thee, myself, nor anything.
Stay, my best son! ye are yet more boy than man.
' Then Gareth, 'An ye hold me yet for child, Hear yet once more the story of the child.
For, mother, there was once a King, like ours.
The prince his heir, when tall and marriageable, Asked for a bride; and thereupon the King Set two before him.
One was fair, strong, armed-- But to be won by force--and many men Desired her; one good lack, no man desired.
And these were the conditions of the King: That save he won the first by force, he needs Must wed that other, whom no man desired, A red-faced bride who knew herself so vile, That evermore she longed to hide herself, Nor fronted man or woman, eye to eye-- Yea--some she cleaved to, but they died of her.
And one--they called her Fame; and one,--O Mother, How can ye keep me tethered to you--Shame.
Man am I grown, a man's work must I do.
Follow the deer? follow the Christ, the King, Live pure, speak true, right wrong, follow the King-- Else, wherefore born?' To whom the mother said 'Sweet son, for there be many who deem him not, Or will not deem him, wholly proven King-- Albeit in mine own heart I knew him King, When I was frequent with him in my youth, And heard him Kingly speak, and doubted him No more than he, himself; but felt him mine, Of closest kin to me: yet--wilt thou leave Thine easeful biding here, and risk thine all, Life, limbs, for one that is not proven King? Stay, till the cloud that settles round his birth Hath lifted but a little.
Stay, sweet son.
' And Gareth answered quickly, 'Not an hour, So that ye yield me--I will walk through fire, Mother, to gain it--your full leave to go.
Not proven, who swept the dust of ruined Rome From off the threshold of the realm, and crushed The Idolaters, and made the people free? Who should be King save him who makes us free?' So when the Queen, who long had sought in vain To break him from the intent to which he grew, Found her son's will unwaveringly one, She answered craftily, 'Will ye walk through fire? Who walks through fire will hardly heed the smoke.
Ay, go then, an ye must: only one proof, Before thou ask the King to make thee knight, Of thine obedience and thy love to me, Thy mother,--I demand.
And Gareth cried, 'A hard one, or a hundred, so I go.
Nay--quick! the proof to prove me to the quick!' But slowly spake the mother looking at him, 'Prince, thou shalt go disguised to Arthur's hall, And hire thyself to serve for meats and drinks Among the scullions and the kitchen-knaves, And those that hand the dish across the bar.
Nor shalt thou tell thy name to anyone.
And thou shalt serve a twelvemonth and a day.
' For so the Queen believed that when her son Beheld his only way to glory lead Low down through villain kitchen-vassalage, Her own true Gareth was too princely-proud To pass thereby; so should he rest with her, Closed in her castle from the sound of arms.
Silent awhile was Gareth, then replied, 'The thrall in person may be free in soul, And I shall see the jousts.
Thy son am I, And since thou art my mother, must obey.
I therefore yield me freely to thy will; For hence will I, disguised, and hire myself To serve with scullions and with kitchen-knaves; Nor tell my name to any--no, not the King.
' Gareth awhile lingered.
The mother's eye Full of the wistful fear that he would go, And turning toward him wheresoe'er he turned, Perplext his outward purpose, till an hour, When wakened by the wind which with full voice Swept bellowing through the darkness on to dawn, He rose, and out of slumber calling two That still had tended on him from his birth, Before the wakeful mother heard him, went.
The three were clad like tillers of the soil.
Southward they set their faces.
The birds made Melody on branch, and melody in mid air.
The damp hill-slopes were quickened into green, And the live green had kindled into flowers, For it was past the time of Easterday.
So, when their feet were planted on the plain That broadened toward the base of Camelot, Far off they saw the silver-misty morn Rolling her smoke about the Royal mount, That rose between the forest and the field.
At times the summit of the high city flashed; At times the spires and turrets half-way down Pricked through the mist; at times the great gate shone Only, that opened on the field below: Anon, the whole fair city had disappeared.
Then those who went with Gareth were amazed, One crying, 'Let us go no further, lord.
Here is a city of Enchanters, built By fairy Kings.
' The second echoed him, 'Lord, we have heard from our wise man at home To Northward, that this King is not the King, But only changeling out of Fairyland, Who drave the heathen hence by sorcery And Merlin's glamour.
' Then the first again, 'Lord, there is no such city anywhere, But all a vision.
' Gareth answered them With laughter, swearing he had glamour enow In his own blood, his princedom, youth and hopes, To plunge old Merlin in the Arabian sea; So pushed them all unwilling toward the gate.
And there was no gate like it under heaven.
For barefoot on the keystone, which was lined And rippled like an ever-fleeting wave, The Lady of the Lake stood: all her dress Wept from her sides as water flowing away; But like the cross her great and goodly arms Stretched under the cornice and upheld: And drops of water fell from either hand; And down from one a sword was hung, from one A censer, either worn with wind and storm; And o'er her breast floated the sacred fish; And in the space to left of her, and right, Were Arthur's wars in weird devices done, New things and old co-twisted, as if Time Were nothing, so inveterately, that men Were giddy gazing there; and over all High on the top were those three Queens, the friends Of Arthur, who should help him at his need.
Then those with Gareth for so long a space Stared at the figures, that at last it seemed The dragon-boughts and elvish emblemings Began to move, seethe, twine and curl: they called To Gareth, 'Lord, the gateway is alive.
' And Gareth likewise on them fixt his eyes So long, that even to him they seemed to move.
Out of the city a blast of music pealed.
Back from the gate started the three, to whom From out thereunder came an ancient man, Long-bearded, saying, 'Who be ye, my sons?' Then Gareth, 'We be tillers of the soil, Who leaving share in furrow come to see The glories of our King: but these, my men, (Your city moved so weirdly in the mist) Doubt if the King be King at all, or come From Fairyland; and whether this be built By magic, and by fairy Kings and Queens; Or whether there be any city at all, Or all a vision: and this music now Hath scared them both, but tell thou these the truth.
' Then that old Seer made answer playing on him And saying, 'Son, I have seen the good ship sail Keel upward, and mast downward, in the heavens, And solid turrets topsy-turvy in air: And here is truth; but an it please thee not, Take thou the truth as thou hast told it me.
For truly as thou sayest, a Fairy King And Fairy Queens have built the city, son; They came from out a sacred mountain-cleft Toward the sunrise, each with harp in hand, And built it to the music of their harps.
And, as thou sayest, it is enchanted, son, For there is nothing in it as it seems Saving the King; though some there be that hold The King a shadow, and the city real: Yet take thou heed of him, for, so thou pass Beneath this archway, then wilt thou become A thrall to his enchantments, for the King Will bind thee by such vows, as is a shame A man should not be bound by, yet the which No man can keep; but, so thou dread to swear, Pass not beneath this gateway, but abide Without, among the cattle of the field.
For an ye heard a music, like enow They are building still, seeing the city is built To music, therefore never built at all, And therefore built for ever.
' Gareth spake Angered, 'Old master, reverence thine own beard That looks as white as utter truth, and seems Wellnigh as long as thou art statured tall! Why mockest thou the stranger that hath been To thee fair-spoken?' But the Seer replied, 'Know ye not then the Riddling of the Bards? "Confusion, and illusion, and relation, Elusion, and occasion, and evasion"? I mock thee not but as thou mockest me, And all that see thee, for thou art not who Thou seemest, but I know thee who thou art.
And now thou goest up to mock the King, Who cannot brook the shadow of any lie.
' Unmockingly the mocker ending here Turned to the right, and past along the plain; Whom Gareth looking after said, 'My men, Our one white lie sits like a little ghost Here on the threshold of our enterprise.
Let love be blamed for it, not she, nor I: Well, we will make amends.
' With all good cheer He spake and laughed, then entered with his twain Camelot, a city of shadowy palaces And stately, rich in emblem and the work Of ancient kings who did their days in stone; Which Merlin's hand, the Mage at Arthur's court, Knowing all arts, had touched, and everywhere At Arthur's ordinance, tipt with lessening peak And pinnacle, and had made it spire to heaven.
And ever and anon a knight would pass Outward, or inward to the hall: his arms Clashed; and the sound was good to Gareth's ear.
And out of bower and casement shyly glanced Eyes of pure women, wholesome stars of love; And all about a healthful people stept As in the presence of a gracious king.
Then into hall Gareth ascending heard A voice, the voice of Arthur, and beheld Far over heads in that long-vaulted hall The splendour of the presence of the King Throned, and delivering doom--and looked no more-- But felt his young heart hammering in his ears, And thought, 'For this half-shadow of a lie The truthful King will doom me when I speak.
' Yet pressing on, though all in fear to find Sir Gawain or Sir Modred, saw nor one Nor other, but in all the listening eyes Of those tall knights, that ranged about the throne, Clear honour shining like the dewy star Of dawn, and faith in their great King, with pure Affection, and the light of victory, And glory gained, and evermore to gain.
Then came a widow crying to the King, 'A boon, Sir King! Thy father, Uther, reft From my dead lord a field with violence: For howsoe'er at first he proffered gold, Yet, for the field was pleasant in our eyes, We yielded not; and then he reft us of it Perforce, and left us neither gold nor field.
' Said Arthur, 'Whether would ye? gold or field?' To whom the woman weeping, 'Nay, my lord, The field was pleasant in my husband's eye.
' And Arthur, 'Have thy pleasant field again, And thrice the gold for Uther's use thereof, According to the years.
No boon is here, But justice, so thy say be proven true.
Accursed, who from the wrongs his father did Would shape himself a right!' And while she past, Came yet another widow crying to him, 'A boon, Sir King! Thine enemy, King, am I.
With thine own hand thou slewest my dear lord, A knight of Uther in the Barons' war, When Lot and many another rose and fought Against thee, saying thou wert basely born.
I held with these, and loathe to ask thee aught.
Yet lo! my husband's brother had my son Thralled in his castle, and hath starved him dead; And standeth seized of that inheritance Which thou that slewest the sire hast left the son.
So though I scarce can ask it thee for hate, Grant me some knight to do the battle for me, Kill the foul thief, and wreak me for my son.
' Then strode a good knight forward, crying to him, 'A boon, Sir King! I am her kinsman, I.
Give me to right her wrong, and slay the man.
' Then came Sir Kay, the seneschal, and cried, 'A boon, Sir King! even that thou grant her none, This railer, that hath mocked thee in full hall-- None; or the wholesome boon of gyve and gag.
' But Arthur, 'We sit King, to help the wronged Through all our realm.
The woman loves her lord.
Peace to thee, woman, with thy loves and hates! The kings of old had doomed thee to the flames, Aurelius Emrys would have scourged thee dead, And Uther slit thy tongue: but get thee hence-- Lest that rough humour of the kings of old Return upon me! Thou that art her kin, Go likewise; lay him low and slay him not, But bring him here, that I may judge the right, According to the justice of the King: Then, be he guilty, by that deathless King Who lived and died for men, the man shall die.
' Then came in hall the messenger of Mark, A name of evil savour in the land, The Cornish king.
In either hand he bore What dazzled all, and shone far-off as shines A field of charlock in the sudden sun Between two showers, a cloth of palest gold, Which down he laid before the throne, and knelt, Delivering, that his lord, the vassal king, Was even upon his way to Camelot; For having heard that Arthur of his grace Had made his goodly cousin, Tristram, knight, And, for himself was of the greater state, Being a king, he trusted his liege-lord Would yield him this large honour all the more; So prayed him well to accept this cloth of gold, In token of true heart and felty.
Then Arthur cried to rend the cloth, to rend In pieces, and so cast it on the hearth.
An oak-tree smouldered there.
'The goodly knight! What! shall the shield of Mark stand among these?' For, midway down the side of that long hall A stately pile,--whereof along the front, Some blazoned, some but carven, and some blank, There ran a treble range of stony shields,-- Rose, and high-arching overbrowed the hearth.
And under every shield a knight was named: For this was Arthur's custom in his hall; When some good knight had done one noble deed, His arms were carven only; but if twain His arms were blazoned also; but if none, The shield was blank and bare without a sign Saving the name beneath; and Gareth saw The shield of Gawain blazoned rich and bright, And Modred's blank as death; and Arthur cried To rend the cloth and cast it on the hearth.
'More like are we to reave him of his crown Than make him knight because men call him king.
The kings we found, ye know we stayed their hands From war among themselves, but left them kings; Of whom were any bounteous, merciful, Truth-speaking, brave, good livers, them we enrolled Among us, and they sit within our hall.
But as Mark hath tarnished the great name of king, As Mark would sully the low state of churl: And, seeing he hath sent us cloth of gold, Return, and meet, and hold him from our eyes, Lest we should lap him up in cloth of lead, Silenced for ever--craven--a man of plots, Craft, poisonous counsels, wayside ambushings-- No fault of thine: let Kay the seneschal Look to thy wants, and send thee satisfied-- Accursed, who strikes nor lets the hand be seen!' And many another suppliant crying came With noise of ravage wrought by beast and man, And evermore a knight would ride away.
Last, Gareth leaning both hands heavily Down on the shoulders of the twain, his men, Approached between them toward the King, and asked, 'A boon, Sir King (his voice was all ashamed), For see ye not how weak and hungerworn I seem--leaning on these? grant me to serve For meat and drink among thy kitchen-knaves A twelvemonth and a day, nor seek my name.
Hereafter I will fight.
' To him the King, 'A goodly youth and worth a goodlier boon! But so thou wilt no goodlier, then must Kay, The master of the meats and drinks, be thine.
' He rose and past; then Kay, a man of mien Wan-sallow as the plant that feels itself Root-bitten by white lichen, 'Lo ye now! This fellow hath broken from some Abbey, where, God wot, he had not beef and brewis enow, However that might chance! but an he work, Like any pigeon will I cram his crop, And sleeker shall he shine than any hog.
' Then Lancelot standing near, 'Sir Seneschal, Sleuth-hound thou knowest, and gray, and all the hounds; A horse thou knowest, a man thou dost not know: Broad brows and fair, a fluent hair and fine, High nose, a nostril large and fine, and hands Large, fair and fine!--Some young lad's mystery-- But, or from sheepcot or king's hall, the boy Is noble-natured.
Treat him with all grace, Lest he should come to shame thy judging of him.
' Then Kay, 'What murmurest thou of mystery? Think ye this fellow will poison the King's dish? Nay, for he spake too fool-like: mystery! Tut, an the lad were noble, he had asked For horse and armour: fair and fine, forsooth! Sir Fine-face, Sir Fair-hands? but see thou to it That thine own fineness, Lancelot, some fine day Undo thee not--and leave my man to me.
' So Gareth all for glory underwent The sooty yoke of kitchen-vassalage; Ate with young lads his portion by the door, And couched at night with grimy kitchen-knaves.
And Lancelot ever spake him pleasantly, But Kay the seneschal, who loved him not, Would hustle and harry him, and labour him Beyond his comrade of the hearth, and set To turn the broach, draw water, or hew wood, Or grosser tasks; and Gareth bowed himself With all obedience to the King, and wrought All kind of service with a noble ease That graced the lowliest act in doing it.
And when the thralls had talk among themselves, And one would praise the love that linkt the King And Lancelot--how the King had saved his life In battle twice, and Lancelot once the King's-- For Lancelot was the first in Tournament, But Arthur mightiest on the battle-field-- Gareth was glad.
Or if some other told, How once the wandering forester at dawn, Far over the blue tarns and hazy seas, On Caer-Eryri's highest found the King, A naked babe, of whom the Prophet spake, 'He passes to the Isle Avilion, He passes and is healed and cannot die'-- Gareth was glad.
But if their talk were foul, Then would he whistle rapid as any lark, Or carol some old roundelay, and so loud That first they mocked, but, after, reverenced him.
Or Gareth telling some prodigious tale Of knights, who sliced a red life-bubbling way Through twenty folds of twisted dragon, held All in a gap-mouthed circle his good mates Lying or sitting round him, idle hands, Charmed; till Sir Kay, the seneschal, would come Blustering upon them, like a sudden wind Among dead leaves, and drive them all apart.
Or when the thralls had sport among themselves, So there were any trial of mastery, He, by two yards in casting bar or stone Was counted best; and if there chanced a joust, So that Sir Kay nodded him leave to go, Would hurry thither, and when he saw the knights Clash like the coming and retiring wave, And the spear spring, and good horse reel, the boy Was half beyond himself for ecstasy.
So for a month he wrought among the thralls; But in the weeks that followed, the good Queen, Repentant of the word she made him swear, And saddening in her childless castle, sent, Between the in-crescent and de-crescent moon, Arms for her son, and loosed him from his vow.
This, Gareth hearing from a squire of Lot With whom he used to play at tourney once, When both were children, and in lonely haunts Would scratch a ragged oval on the sand, And each at either dash from either end-- Shame never made girl redder than Gareth joy.
He laughed; he sprang.
'Out of the smoke, at once I leap from Satan's foot to Peter's knee-- These news be mine, none other's--nay, the King's-- Descend into the city:' whereon he sought The King alone, and found, and told him all.
'I have staggered thy strong Gawain in a tilt For pastime; yea, he said it: joust can I.
Make me thy knight--in secret! let my name Be hidden, and give me the first quest, I spring Like flame from ashes.
' Here the King's calm eye Fell on, and checked, and made him flush, and bow Lowly, to kiss his hand, who answered him, 'Son, the good mother let me know thee here, And sent her wish that I would yield thee thine.
Make thee my knight? my knights are sworn to vows Of utter hardihood, utter gentleness, And, loving, utter faithfulness in love, And uttermost obedience to the King.
' Then Gareth, lightly springing from his knees, 'My King, for hardihood I can promise thee.
For uttermost obedience make demand Of whom ye gave me to, the Seneschal, No mellow master of the meats and drinks! And as for love, God wot, I love not yet, But love I shall, God willing.
' And the King 'Make thee my knight in secret? yea, but he, Our noblest brother, and our truest man, And one with me in all, he needs must know.
' 'Let Lancelot know, my King, let Lancelot know, Thy noblest and thy truest!' And the King-- 'But wherefore would ye men should wonder at you? Nay, rather for the sake of me, their King, And the deed's sake my knighthood do the deed, Than to be noised of.
' Merrily Gareth asked, 'Have I not earned my cake in baking of it? Let be my name until I make my name! My deeds will speak: it is but for a day.
' So with a kindly hand on Gareth's arm Smiled the great King, and half-unwillingly Loving his lusty youthhood yielded to him.
Then, after summoning Lancelot privily, 'I have given him the first quest: he is not proven.
Look therefore when he calls for this in hall, Thou get to horse and follow him far away.
Cover the lions on thy shield, and see Far as thou mayest, he be nor ta'en nor slain.
' Then that same day there past into the hall A damsel of high lineage, and a brow May-blossom, and a cheek of apple-blossom, Hawk-eyes; and lightly was her slender nose Tip-tilted like the petal of a flower; She into hall past with her page and cried, 'O King, for thou hast driven the foe without, See to the foe within! bridge, ford, beset By bandits, everyone that owns a tower The Lord for half a league.
Why sit ye there? Rest would I not, Sir King, an I were king, Till even the lonest hold were all as free From cursd bloodshed, as thine altar-cloth From that best blood it is a sin to spill.
' 'Comfort thyself,' said Arthur.
'I nor mine Rest: so my knighthood keep the vows they swore, The wastest moorland of our realm shall be Safe, damsel, as the centre of this hall.
What is thy name? thy need?' 'My name?' she said-- 'Lynette my name; noble; my need, a knight To combat for my sister, Lyonors, A lady of high lineage, of great lands, And comely, yea, and comelier than myself.
She lives in Castle Perilous: a river Runs in three loops about her living-place; And o'er it are three passings, and three knights Defend the passings, brethren, and a fourth And of that four the mightiest, holds her stayed In her own castle, and so besieges her To break her will, and make her wed with him: And but delays his purport till thou send To do the battle with him, thy chief man Sir Lancelot whom he trusts to overthrow, Then wed, with glory: but she will not wed Save whom she loveth, or a holy life.
Now therefore have I come for Lancelot.
' Then Arthur mindful of Sir Gareth asked, 'Damsel, ye know this Order lives to crush All wrongers of the Realm.
But say, these four, Who be they? What the fashion of the men?' 'They be of foolish fashion, O Sir King, The fashion of that old knight-errantry Who ride abroad, and do but what they will; Courteous or bestial from the moment, such As have nor law nor king; and three of these Proud in their fantasy call themselves the Day, Morning-Star, and Noon-Sun, and Evening-Star, Being strong fools; and never a whit more wise The fourth, who alway rideth armed in black, A huge man-beast of boundless savagery.
He names himself the Night and oftener Death, And wears a helmet mounted with a skull, And bears a skeleton figured on his arms, To show that who may slay or scape the three, Slain by himself, shall enter endless night.
And all these four be fools, but mighty men, And therefore am I come for Lancelot.
' Hereat Sir Gareth called from where he rose, A head with kindling eyes above the throng, 'A boon, Sir King--this quest!' then--for he marked Kay near him groaning like a wounded bull-- 'Yea, King, thou knowest thy kitchen-knave am I, And mighty through thy meats and drinks am I, And I can topple over a hundred such.
Thy promise, King,' and Arthur glancing at him, Brought down a momentary brow.
'Rough, sudden, And pardonable, worthy to be knight-- Go therefore,' and all hearers were amazed.
But on the damsel's forehead shame, pride, wrath Slew the May-white: she lifted either arm, 'Fie on thee, King! I asked for thy chief knight, And thou hast given me but a kitchen-knave.
' Then ere a man in hall could stay her, turned, Fled down the lane of access to the King, Took horse, descended the slope street, and past The weird white gate, and paused without, beside The field of tourney, murmuring 'kitchen-knave.
' Now two great entries opened from the hall, At one end one, that gave upon a range Of level pavement where the King would pace At sunrise, gazing over plain and wood; And down from this a lordly stairway sloped Till lost in blowing trees and tops of towers; And out by this main doorway past the King.
But one was counter to the hearth, and rose High that the highest-crested helm could ride Therethrough nor graze: and by this entry fled The damsel in her wrath, and on to this Sir Gareth strode, and saw without the door King Arthur's gift, the worth of half a town, A warhorse of the best, and near it stood The two that out of north had followed him: This bare a maiden shield, a casque; that held The horse, the spear; whereat Sir Gareth loosed A cloak that dropt from collar-bone to heel, A cloth of roughest web, and cast it down, And from it like a fuel-smothered fire, That lookt half-dead, brake bright, and flashed as those Dull-coated things, that making slide apart Their dusk wing-cases, all beneath there burns A jewelled harness, ere they pass and fly.
So Gareth ere he parted flashed in arms.
Then as he donned the helm, and took the shield And mounted horse and graspt a spear, of grain Storm-strengthened on a windy site, and tipt With trenchant steel, around him slowly prest The people, while from out of kitchen came The thralls in throng, and seeing who had worked Lustier than any, and whom they could but love, Mounted in arms, threw up their caps and cried, 'God bless the King, and all his fellowship!' And on through lanes of shouting Gareth rode Down the slope street, and past without the gate.
So Gareth past with joy; but as the cur Pluckt from the cur he fights with, ere his cause Be cooled by fighting, follows, being named, His owner, but remembers all, and growls Remembering, so Sir Kay beside the door Muttered in scorn of Gareth whom he used To harry and hustle.
'Bound upon a quest With horse and arms--the King hath past his time-- My scullion knave! Thralls to your work again, For an your fire be low ye kindle mine! Will there be dawn in West and eve in East? Begone!--my knave!--belike and like enow Some old head-blow not heeded in his youth So shook his wits they wander in his prime-- Crazed! How the villain lifted up his voice, Nor shamed to bawl himself a kitchen-knave.
Tut: he was tame and meek enow with me, Till peacocked up with Lancelot's noticing.
Well--I will after my loud knave, and learn Whether he know me for his master yet.
Out of the smoke he came, and so my lance Hold, by God's grace, he shall into the mire-- Thence, if the King awaken from his craze, Into the smoke again.
' But Lancelot said, 'Kay, wherefore wilt thou go against the King, For that did never he whereon ye rail, But ever meekly served the King in thee? Abide: take counsel; for this lad is great And lusty, and knowing both of lance and sword.
' 'Tut, tell not me,' said Kay, 'ye are overfine To mar stout knaves with foolish courtesies:' Then mounted, on through silent faces rode Down the slope city, and out beyond the gate.
But by the field of tourney lingering yet Muttered the damsel, 'Wherefore did the King Scorn me? for, were Sir Lancelot lackt, at least He might have yielded to me one of those Who tilt for lady's love and glory here, Rather than--O sweet heaven! O fie upon him-- His kitchen-knave.
' To whom Sir Gareth drew (And there were none but few goodlier than he) Shining in arms, 'Damsel, the quest is mine.
Lead, and I follow.
' She thereat, as one That smells a foul-fleshed agaric in the holt, And deems it carrion of some woodland thing, Or shrew, or weasel, nipt her slender nose With petulant thumb and finger, shrilling, 'Hence! Avoid, thou smellest all of kitchen-grease.
And look who comes behind,' for there was Kay.
'Knowest thou not me? thy master? I am Kay.
We lack thee by the hearth.
' And Gareth to him, 'Master no more! too well I know thee, ay-- The most ungentle knight in Arthur's hall.
' 'Have at thee then,' said Kay: they shocked, and Kay Fell shoulder-slipt, and Gareth cried again, 'Lead, and I follow,' and fast away she fled.
But after sod and shingle ceased to fly Behind her, and the heart of her good horse Was nigh to burst with violence of the beat, Perforce she stayed, and overtaken spoke.
'What doest thou, scullion, in my fellowship? Deem'st thou that I accept thee aught the more Or love thee better, that by some device Full cowardly, or by mere unhappiness, Thou hast overthrown and slain thy master--thou!-- Dish-washer and broach-turner, loon!--to me Thou smellest all of kitchen as before.
' 'Damsel,' Sir Gareth answered gently, 'say Whate'er ye will, but whatsoe'er ye say, I leave not till I finish this fair quest, Or die therefore.
' 'Ay, wilt thou finish it? Sweet lord, how like a noble knight he talks! The listening rogue hath caught the manner of it.
But, knave, anon thou shalt be met with, knave, And then by such a one that thou for all The kitchen brewis that was ever supt Shalt not once dare to look him in the face.
' 'I shall assay,' said Gareth with a smile That maddened her, and away she flashed again Down the long avenues of a boundless wood, And Gareth following was again beknaved.
'Sir Kitchen-knave, I have missed the only way Where Arthur's men are set along the wood; The wood is nigh as full of thieves as leaves: If both be slain, I am rid of thee; but yet, Sir Scullion, canst thou use that spit of thine? Fight, an thou canst: I have missed the only way.
' So till the dusk that followed evensong Rode on the two, reviler and reviled; Then after one long slope was mounted, saw, Bowl-shaped, through tops of many thousand pines A gloomy-gladed hollow slowly sink To westward--in the deeps whereof a mere, Round as the red eye of an Eagle-owl, Under the half-dead sunset glared; and shouts Ascended, and there brake a servingman Flying from out of the black wood, and crying, 'They have bound my lord to cast him in the mere.
' Then Gareth, 'Bound am I to right the wronged, But straitlier bound am I to bide with thee.
' And when the damsel spake contemptuously, 'Lead, and I follow,' Gareth cried again, 'Follow, I lead!' so down among the pines He plunged; and there, blackshadowed nigh the mere, And mid-thigh-deep in bulrushes and reed, Saw six tall men haling a seventh along, A stone about his neck to drown him in it.
Three with good blows he quieted, but three Fled through the pines; and Gareth loosed the stone From off his neck, then in the mere beside Tumbled it; oilily bubbled up the mere.
Last, Gareth loosed his bonds and on free feet Set him, a stalwart Baron, Arthur's friend.
'Well that ye came, or else these caitiff rogues Had wreaked themselves on me; good cause is theirs To hate me, for my wont hath ever been To catch my thief, and then like vermin here Drown him, and with a stone about his neck; And under this wan water many of them Lie rotting, but at night let go the stone, And rise, and flickering in a grimly light Dance on the mere.
Good now, ye have saved a life Worth somewhat as the cleanser of this wood.
And fain would I reward thee worshipfully.
What guerdon will ye?' Gareth sharply spake, 'None! for the deed's sake have I done the deed, In uttermost obedience to the King.
But wilt thou yield this damsel harbourage?' Whereat the Baron saying, 'I well believe You be of Arthur's Table,' a light laugh Broke from Lynette, 'Ay, truly of a truth, And in a sort, being Arthur's kitchen-knave!-- But deem not I accept thee aught the more, Scullion, for running sharply with thy spit Down on a rout of craven foresters.
A thresher with his flail had scattered them.
Nay--for thou smellest of the kitchen still.
But an this lord will yield us harbourage, Well.
' So she spake.
A league beyond the wood, All in a full-fair manor and a rich, His towers where that day a feast had been Held in high hall, and many a viand left, And many a costly cate, received the three.
And there they placed a peacock in his pride Before the damsel, and the Baron set Gareth beside her, but at once she rose.
'Meseems, that here is much discourtesy, Setting this knave, Lord Baron, at my side.
Hear me--this morn I stood in Arthur's hall, And prayed the King would grant me Lancelot To fight the brotherhood of Day and Night-- The last a monster unsubduable Of any save of him for whom I called-- Suddenly bawls this frontless kitchen-knave, "The quest is mine; thy kitchen-knave am I, And mighty through thy meats and drinks am I.
" Then Arthur all at once gone mad replies, "Go therefore," and so gives the quest to him-- Him--here--a villain fitter to stick swine Than ride abroad redressing women's wrong, Or sit beside a noble gentlewoman.
' Then half-ashamed and part-amazed, the lord Now looked at one and now at other, left The damsel by the peacock in his pride, And, seating Gareth at another board, Sat down beside him, ate and then began.
'Friend, whether thou be kitchen-knave, or not, Or whether it be the maiden's fantasy, And whether she be mad, or else the King, Or both or neither, or thyself be mad, I ask not: but thou strikest a strong stroke, For strong thou art and goodly therewithal, And saver of my life; and therefore now, For here be mighty men to joust with, weigh Whether thou wilt not with thy damsel back To crave again Sir Lancelot of the King.
Thy pardon; I but speak for thine avail, The saver of my life.
' And Gareth said, 'Full pardon, but I follow up the quest, Despite of Day and Night and Death and Hell.
' So when, next morn, the lord whose life he saved Had, some brief space, conveyed them on their way And left them with God-speed, Sir Gareth spake, 'Lead, and I follow.
' Haughtily she replied.
'I fly no more: I allow thee for an hour.
Lion and stout have isled together, knave, In time of flood.
Nay, furthermore, methinks Some ruth is mine for thee.
Back wilt thou, fool? For hard by here is one will overthrow And slay thee: then will I to court again, And shame the King for only yielding me My champion from the ashes of his hearth.
' To whom Sir Gareth answered courteously, 'Say thou thy say, and I will do my deed.
Allow me for mine hour, and thou wilt find My fortunes all as fair as hers who lay Among the ashes and wedded the King's son.
' Then to the shore of one of those long loops Wherethrough the serpent river coiled, they came.
Rough-thicketed were the banks and steep; the stream Full, narrow; this a bridge of single arc Took at a leap; and on the further side Arose a silk pavilion, gay with gold In streaks and rays, and all Lent-lily in hue, Save that the dome was purple, and above, Crimson, a slender banneret fluttering.
And therebefore the lawless warrior paced Unarmed, and calling, 'Damsel, is this he, The champion thou hast brought from Arthur's hall? For whom we let thee pass.
' 'Nay, nay,' she said, 'Sir Morning-Star.
The King in utter scorn Of thee and thy much folly hath sent thee here His kitchen-knave: and look thou to thyself: See that he fall not on thee suddenly, And slay thee unarmed: he is not knight but knave.
' Then at his call, 'O daughters of the Dawn, And servants of the Morning-Star, approach, Arm me,' from out the silken curtain-folds Bare-footed and bare-headed three fair girls In gilt and rosy raiment came: their feet In dewy grasses glistened; and the hair All over glanced with dewdrop or with gem Like sparkles in the stone Avanturine.
These armed him in blue arms, and gave a shield Blue also, and thereon the morning star.
And Gareth silent gazed upon the knight, Who stood a moment, ere his horse was brought, Glorying; and in the stream beneath him, shone Immingled with Heaven's azure waveringly, The gay pavilion and the naked feet, His arms, the rosy raiment, and the star.
Then she that watched him, 'Wherefore stare ye so? Thou shakest in thy fear: there yet is time: Flee down the valley before he get to horse.
Who will cry shame? Thou art not knight but knave.
' Said Gareth, 'Damsel, whether knave or knight, Far liefer had I fight a score of times Than hear thee so missay me and revile.
Fair words were best for him who fights for thee; But truly foul are better, for they send That strength of anger through mine arms, I know That I shall overthrow him.
' And he that bore The star, when mounted, cried from o'er the bridge, 'A kitchen-knave, and sent in scorn of me! Such fight not I, but answer scorn with scorn.
For this were shame to do him further wrong Than set him on his feet, and take his horse And arms, and so return him to the King.
Come, therefore, leave thy lady lightly, knave.
Avoid: for it beseemeth not a knave To ride with such a lady.
' 'Dog, thou liest.
I spring from loftier lineage than thine own.
' He spake; and all at fiery speed the two Shocked on the central bridge, and either spear Bent but not brake, and either knight at once, Hurled as a stone from out of a catapult Beyond his horse's crupper and the bridge, Fell, as if dead; but quickly rose and drew, And Gareth lashed so fiercely with his brand He drave his enemy backward down the bridge, The damsel crying, 'Well-stricken, kitchen-knave!' Till Gareth's shield was cloven; but one stroke Laid him that clove it grovelling on the ground.
Then cried the fallen, 'Take not my life: I yield.
' And Gareth, 'So this damsel ask it of me Good--I accord it easily as a grace.
' She reddening, 'Insolent scullion: I of thee? I bound to thee for any favour asked!' 'Then he shall die.
' And Gareth there unlaced His helmet as to slay him, but she shrieked, 'Be not so hardy, scullion, as to slay One nobler than thyself.
' 'Damsel, thy charge Is an abounding pleasure to me.
Knight, Thy life is thine at her command.
Arise And quickly pass to Arthur's hall, and say His kitchen-knave hath sent thee.
See thou crave His pardon for thy breaking of his laws.
Myself, when I return, will plead for thee.
Thy shield is mine--farewell; and, damsel, thou, Lead, and I follow.
' And fast away she fled.
Then when he came upon her, spake, 'Methought, Knave, when I watched thee striking on the bridge The savour of thy kitchen came upon me A little faintlier: but the wind hath changed: I scent it twenty-fold.
' And then she sang, '"O morning star" (not that tall felon there Whom thou by sorcery or unhappiness Or some device, hast foully overthrown), "O morning star that smilest in the blue, O star, my morning dream hath proven true, Smile sweetly, thou! my love hath smiled on me.
" 'But thou begone, take counsel, and away, For hard by here is one that guards a ford-- The second brother in their fool's parable-- Will pay thee all thy wages, and to boot.
Care not for shame: thou art not knight but knave.
' To whom Sir Gareth answered, laughingly, 'Parables? Hear a parable of the knave.
When I was kitchen-knave among the rest Fierce was the hearth, and one of my co-mates Owned a rough dog, to whom he cast his coat, "Guard it," and there was none to meddle with it.
And such a coat art thou, and thee the King Gave me to guard, and such a dog am I, To worry, and not to flee--and--knight or knave-- The knave that doth thee service as full knight Is all as good, meseems, as any knight Toward thy sister's freeing.
' 'Ay, Sir Knave! Ay, knave, because thou strikest as a knight, Being but knave, I hate thee all the more.
' 'Fair damsel, you should worship me the more, That, being but knave, I throw thine enemies.
' 'Ay, ay,' she said, 'but thou shalt meet thy match.
' So when they touched the second river-loop, Huge on a huge red horse, and all in mail Burnished to blinding, shone the Noonday Sun Beyond a raging shallow.
As if the flower, That blows a globe of after arrowlets, Ten thousand-fold had grown, flashed the fierce shield, All sun; and Gareth's eyes had flying blots Before them when he turned from watching him.
He from beyond the roaring shallow roared, 'What doest thou, brother, in my marches here?' And she athwart the shallow shrilled again, 'Here is a kitchen-knave from Arthur's hall Hath overthrown thy brother, and hath his arms.
' 'Ugh!' cried the Sun, and vizoring up a red And cipher face of rounded foolishness, Pushed horse across the foamings of the ford, Whom Gareth met midstream: no room was there For lance or tourney-skill: four strokes they struck With sword, and these were mighty; the new knight Had fear he might be shamed; but as the Sun Heaved up a ponderous arm to strike the fifth, The hoof of his horse slipt in the stream, the stream Descended, and the Sun was washed away.
Then Gareth laid his lance athwart the ford; So drew him home; but he that fought no more, As being all bone-battered on the rock, Yielded; and Gareth sent him to the King, 'Myself when I return will plead for thee.
' 'Lead, and I follow.
' Quietly she led.
'Hath not the good wind, damsel, changed again?' 'Nay, not a point: nor art thou victor here.
There lies a ridge of slate across the ford; His horse thereon stumbled--ay, for I saw it.
'"O Sun" (not this strong fool whom thou, Sir Knave, Hast overthrown through mere unhappiness), "O Sun, that wakenest all to bliss or pain, O moon, that layest all to sleep again, Shine sweetly: twice my love hath smiled on me.
" What knowest thou of lovesong or of love? Nay, nay, God wot, so thou wert nobly born, Thou hast a pleasant presence.
Yea, perchance,-- '"O dewy flowers that open to the sun, O dewy flowers that close when day is done, Blow sweetly: twice my love hath smiled on me.
" 'What knowest thou of flowers, except, belike, To garnish meats with? hath not our good King Who lent me thee, the flower of kitchendom, A foolish love for flowers? what stick ye round The pasty? wherewithal deck the boar's head? Flowers? nay, the boar hath rosemaries and bay.
'"O birds, that warble to the morning sky, O birds that warble as the day goes by, Sing sweetly: twice my love hath smiled on me.
" 'What knowest thou of birds, lark, mavis, merle, Linnet? what dream ye when they utter forth May-music growing with the growing light, Their sweet sun-worship? these be for the snare (So runs thy fancy) these be for the spit, Larding and basting.
See thou have not now Larded thy last, except thou turn and fly.
There stands the third fool of their allegory.
' For there beyond a bridge of treble bow, All in a rose-red from the west, and all Naked it seemed, and glowing in the broad Deep-dimpled current underneath, the knight, That named himself the Star of Evening, stood.
And Gareth, 'Wherefore waits the madman there Naked in open dayshine?' 'Nay,' she cried, 'Not naked, only wrapt in hardened skins That fit him like his own; and so ye cleave His armour off him, these will turn the blade.
' Then the third brother shouted o'er the bridge, 'O brother-star, why shine ye here so low? Thy ward is higher up: but have ye slain The damsel's champion?' and the damsel cried, 'No star of thine, but shot from Arthur's heaven With all disaster unto thine and thee! For both thy younger brethren have gone down Before this youth; and so wilt thou, Sir Star; Art thou not old?' 'Old, damsel, old and hard, Old, with the might and breath of twenty boys.
' Said Gareth, 'Old, and over-bold in brag! But that same strength which threw the Morning Star Can throw the Evening.
' Then that other blew A hard and deadly note upon the horn.
'Approach and arm me!' With slow steps from out An old storm-beaten, russet, many-stained Pavilion, forth a grizzled damsel came, And armed him in old arms, and brought a helm With but a drying evergreen for crest, And gave a shield whereon the Star of Even Half-tarnished and half-bright, his emblem, shone.
But when it glittered o'er the saddle-bow, They madly hurled together on the bridge; And Gareth overthrew him, lighted, drew, There met him drawn, and overthrew him again, But up like fire he started: and as oft As Gareth brought him grovelling on his knees, So many a time he vaulted up again; Till Gareth panted hard, and his great heart, Foredooming all his trouble was in vain, Laboured within him, for he seemed as one That all in later, sadder age begins To war against ill uses of a life, But these from all his life arise, and cry, 'Thou hast made us lords, and canst not put us down!' He half despairs; so Gareth seemed to strike Vainly, the damsel clamouring all the while, 'Well done, knave-knight, well-stricken, O good knight-knave-- O knave, as noble as any of all the knights-- Shame me not, shame me not.
I have prophesied-- Strike, thou art worthy of the Table Round-- His arms are old, he trusts the hardened skin-- Strike--strike--the wind will never change again.
' And Gareth hearing ever stronglier smote, And hewed great pieces of his armour off him, But lashed in vain against the hardened skin, And could not wholly bring him under, more Than loud Southwesterns, rolling ridge on ridge, The buoy that rides at sea, and dips and springs For ever; till at length Sir Gareth's brand Clashed his, and brake it utterly to the hilt.
'I have thee now;' but forth that other sprang, And, all unknightlike, writhed his wiry arms Around him, till he felt, despite his mail, Strangled, but straining even his uttermost Cast, and so hurled him headlong o'er the bridge Down to the river, sink or swim, and cried, 'Lead, and I follow.
' But the damsel said, 'I lead no longer; ride thou at my side; Thou art the kingliest of all kitchen-knaves.
'"O trefoil, sparkling on the rainy plain, O rainbow with three colours after rain, Shine sweetly: thrice my love hath smiled on me.
" 'Sir,--and, good faith, I fain had added--Knight, But that I heard thee call thyself a knave,-- Shamed am I that I so rebuked, reviled, Missaid thee; noble I am; and thought the King Scorned me and mine; and now thy pardon, friend, For thou hast ever answered courteously, And wholly bold thou art, and meek withal As any of Arthur's best, but, being knave, Hast mazed my wit: I marvel what thou art.
' 'Damsel,' he said, 'you be not all to blame, Saving that you mistrusted our good King Would handle scorn, or yield you, asking, one Not fit to cope your quest.
You said your say; Mine answer was my deed.
Good sooth! I hold He scarce is knight, yea but half-man, nor meet To fight for gentle damsel, he, who lets His heart be stirred with any foolish heat At any gentle damsel's waywardness.
Shamed? care not! thy foul sayings fought for me: And seeing now thy words are fair, methinks There rides no knight, not Lancelot, his great self, Hath force to quell me.
' Nigh upon that hour When the lone hern forgets his melancholy, Lets down his other leg, and stretching, dreams Of goodly supper in the distant pool, Then turned the noble damsel smiling at him, And told him of a cavern hard at hand, Where bread and baken meats and good red wine Of Southland, which the Lady Lyonors Had sent her coming champion, waited him.
Anon they past a narrow comb wherein Where slabs of rock with figures, knights on horse Sculptured, and deckt in slowly-waning hues.
'Sir Knave, my knight, a hermit once was here, Whose holy hand hath fashioned on the rock The war of Time against the soul of man.
And yon four fools have sucked their allegory From these damp walls, and taken but the form.
Know ye not these?' and Gareth lookt and read-- In letters like to those the vexillary Hath left crag-carven o'er the streaming Gelt-- 'PHOSPHORUS,' then 'MERIDIES'--'HESPERUS'-- 'NOX'--'MORS,' beneath five figures, armd men, Slab after slab, their faces forward all, And running down the Soul, a Shape that fled With broken wings, torn raiment and loose hair, For help and shelter to the hermit's cave.
'Follow the faces, and we find it.
Look, Who comes behind?' For one--delayed at first Through helping back the dislocated Kay To Camelot, then by what thereafter chanced, The damsel's headlong error through the wood-- Sir Lancelot, having swum the river-loops-- His blue shield-lions covered--softly drew Behind the twain, and when he saw the star Gleam, on Sir Gareth's turning to him, cried, 'Stay, felon knight, I avenge me for my friend.
' And Gareth crying pricked against the cry; But when they closed--in a moment--at one touch Of that skilled spear, the wonder of the world-- Went sliding down so easily, and fell, That when he found the grass within his hands He laughed; the laughter jarred upon Lynette: Harshly she asked him, 'Shamed and overthrown, And tumbled back into the kitchen-knave, Why laugh ye? that ye blew your boast in vain?' 'Nay, noble damsel, but that I, the son Of old King Lot and good Queen Bellicent, And victor of the bridges and the ford, And knight of Arthur, here lie thrown by whom I know not, all through mere unhappiness-- Device and sorcery and unhappiness-- Out, sword; we are thrown!' And Lancelot answered, 'Prince, O Gareth--through the mere unhappiness Of one who came to help thee, not to harm, Lancelot, and all as glad to find thee whole, As on the day when Arthur knighted him.
' Then Gareth, 'Thou--Lancelot!--thine the hand That threw me? An some chance to mar the boast Thy brethren of thee make--which could not chance-- Had sent thee down before a lesser spear, Shamed had I been, and sad--O Lancelot--thou!' Whereat the maiden, petulant, 'Lancelot, Why came ye not, when called? and wherefore now Come ye, not called? I gloried in my knave, Who being still rebuked, would answer still Courteous as any knight--but now, if knight, The marvel dies, and leaves me fooled and tricked, And only wondering wherefore played upon: And doubtful whether I and mine be scorned.
Where should be truth if not in Arthur's hall, In Arthur's presence? Knight, knave, prince and fool, I hate thee and for ever.
' And Lancelot said, 'Blessd be thou, Sir Gareth! knight art thou To the King's best wish.
O damsel, be you wise To call him shamed, who is but overthrown? Thrown have I been, nor once, but many a time.
Victor from vanquished issues at the last, And overthrower from being overthrown.
With sword we have not striven; and thy good horse And thou are weary; yet not less I felt Thy manhood through that wearied lance of thine.
Well hast thou done; for all the stream is freed, And thou hast wreaked his justice on his foes, And when reviled, hast answered graciously, And makest merry when overthrown.
Prince, Knight Hail, Knight and Prince, and of our Table Round!' And then when turning to Lynette he told The tale of Gareth, petulantly she said, 'Ay well--ay well--for worse than being fooled Of others, is to fool one's self.
A cave, Sir Lancelot, is hard by, with meats and drinks And forage for the horse, and flint for fire.
But all about it flies a honeysuckle.
Seek, till we find.
' And when they sought and found, Sir Gareth drank and ate, and all his life Past into sleep; on whom the maiden gazed.
'Sound sleep be thine! sound cause to sleep hast thou.
Wake lusty! Seem I not as tender to him As any mother? Ay, but such a one As all day long hath rated at her child, And vext his day, but blesses him asleep-- Good lord, how sweetly smells the honeysuckle In the hushed night, as if the world were one Of utter peace, and love, and gentleness! O Lancelot, Lancelot'--and she clapt her hands-- 'Full merry am I to find my goodly knave Is knight and noble.
See now, sworn have I, Else yon black felon had not let me pass, To bring thee back to do the battle with him.
Thus an thou goest, he will fight thee first; Who doubts thee victor? so will my knight-knave Miss the full flower of this accomplishment.
' Said Lancelot, 'Peradventure he, you name, May know my shield.
Let Gareth, an he will, Change his for mine, and take my charger, fresh, Not to be spurred, loving the battle as well As he that rides him.
' 'Lancelot-like,' she said, 'Courteous in this, Lord Lancelot, as in all.
' And Gareth, wakening, fiercely clutched the shield; 'Ramp ye lance-splintering lions, on whom all spears Are rotten sticks! ye seem agape to roar! Yea, ramp and roar at leaving of your lord!-- Care not, good beasts, so well I care for you.
O noble Lancelot, from my hold on these Streams virtue--fire--through one that will not shame Even the shadow of Lancelot under shield.
Hence: let us go.
' Silent the silent field They traversed.
Arthur's harp though summer-wan, In counter motion to the clouds, allured The glance of Gareth dreaming on his liege.
A star shot: 'Lo,' said Gareth, 'the foe falls!' An owl whoopt: 'Hark the victor pealing there!' Suddenly she that rode upon his left Clung to the shield that Lancelot lent him, crying, 'Yield, yield him this again: 'tis he must fight: I curse the tongue that all through yesterday Reviled thee, and hath wrought on Lancelot now To lend thee horse and shield: wonders ye have done; Miracles ye cannot: here is glory enow In having flung the three: I see thee maimed, Mangled: I swear thou canst not fling the fourth.
' 'And wherefore, damsel? tell me all ye know.
You cannot scare me; nor rough face, or voice, Brute bulk of limb, or boundless savagery Appal me from the quest.
' 'Nay, Prince,' she cried, 'God wot, I never looked upon the face, Seeing he never rides abroad by day; But watched him have I like a phantom pass Chilling the night: nor have I heard the voice.
Always he made his mouthpiece of a page Who came and went, and still reported him As closing in himself the strength of ten, And when his anger tare him, massacring Man, woman, lad and girl--yea, the soft babe! Some hold that he hath swallowed infant flesh, Monster! O Prince, I went for Lancelot first, The quest is Lancelot's: give him back the shield.
' Said Gareth laughing, 'An he fight for this, Belike he wins it as the better man: Thus--and not else!' But Lancelot on him urged All the devisings of their chivalry When one might meet a mightier than himself; How best to manage horse, lance, sword and shield, And so fill up the gap where force might fail With skill and fineness.
Instant were his words.
Then Gareth, 'Here be rules.
I know but one-- To dash against mine enemy and win.
Yet have I seen thee victor in the joust, And seen thy way.
' 'Heaven help thee,' sighed Lynette.
Then for a space, and under cloud that grew To thunder-gloom palling all stars, they rode In converse till she made her palfrey halt, Lifted an arm, and softly whispered, 'There.
' And all the three were silent seeing, pitched Beside the Castle Perilous on flat field, A huge pavilion like a mountain peak Sunder the glooming crimson on the marge, Black, with black banner, and a long black horn Beside it hanging; which Sir Gareth graspt, And so, before the two could hinder him, Sent all his heart and breath through all the horn.
Echoed the walls; a light twinkled; anon Came lights and lights, and once again he blew; Whereon were hollow tramplings up and down And muffled voices heard, and shadows past; Till high above him, circled with her maids, The Lady Lyonors at a window stood, Beautiful among lights, and waving to him White hands, and courtesy; but when the Prince Three times had blown--after long hush--at last-- The huge pavilion slowly yielded up, Through those black foldings, that which housed therein.
High on a nightblack horse, in nightblack arms, With white breast-bone, and barren ribs of Death, And crowned with fleshless laughter--some ten steps-- In the half-light--through the dim dawn--advanced The monster, and then paused, and spake no word.
But Gareth spake and all indignantly, 'Fool, for thou hast, men say, the strength of ten, Canst thou not trust the limbs thy God hath given, But must, to make the terror of thee more, Trick thyself out in ghastly imageries Of that which Life hath done with, and the clod, Less dull than thou, will hide with mantling flowers As if for pity?' But he spake no word; Which set the horror higher: a maiden swooned; The Lady Lyonors wrung her hands and wept, As doomed to be the bride of Night and Death; Sir Gareth's head prickled beneath his helm; And even Sir Lancelot through his warm blood felt Ice strike, and all that marked him were aghast.
At once Sir Lancelot's charger fiercely neighed, And Death's dark war-horse bounded forward with him.
Then those that did not blink the terror, saw That Death was cast to ground, and slowly rose.
But with one stroke Sir Gareth split the skull.
Half fell to right and half to left and lay.
Then with a stronger buffet he clove the helm As throughly as the skull; and out from this Issued the bright face of a blooming boy Fresh as a flower new-born, and crying, 'Knight, Slay me not: my three brethren bad me do it, To make a horror all about the house, And stay the world from Lady Lyonors.
They never dreamed the passes would be past.
' Answered Sir Gareth graciously to one Not many a moon his younger, 'My fair child, What madness made thee challenge the chief knight Of Arthur's hall?' 'Fair Sir, they bad me do it.
They hate the King, and Lancelot, the King's friend, They hoped to slay him somewhere on the stream, They never dreamed the passes could be past.
' Then sprang the happier day from underground; And Lady Lyonors and her house, with dance And revel and song, made merry over Death, As being after all their foolish fears And horrors only proven a blooming boy.
So large mirth lived and Gareth won the quest.
And he that told the tale in older times Says that Sir Gareth wedded Lyonors, But he, that told it later, says Lynette.


by G K Chesterton

The Ballad of the White Horse

 DEDICATION 

Of great limbs gone to chaos,
A great face turned to night--
Why bend above a shapeless shroud
Seeking in such archaic cloud
Sight of strong lords and light?

Where seven sunken Englands
Lie buried one by one,
Why should one idle spade, I wonder,
Shake up the dust of thanes like thunder
To smoke and choke the sun?

In cloud of clay so cast to heaven
What shape shall man discern?
These lords may light the mystery
Of mastery or victory,
And these ride high in history,
But these shall not return.
Gored on the Norman gonfalon The Golden Dragon died: We shall not wake with ballad strings The good time of the smaller things, We shall not see the holy kings Ride down by Severn side.
Stiff, strange, and quaintly coloured As the broidery of Bayeux The England of that dawn remains, And this of Alfred and the Danes Seems like the tales a whole tribe feigns Too English to be true.
Of a good king on an island That ruled once on a time; And as he walked by an apple tree There came green devils out of the sea With sea-plants trailing heavily And tracks of opal slime.
Yet Alfred is no fairy tale; His days as our days ran, He also looked forth for an hour On peopled plains and skies that lower, From those few windows in the tower That is the head of a man.
But who shall look from Alfred's hood Or breathe his breath alive? His century like a small dark cloud Drifts far; it is an eyeless crowd, Where the tortured trumpets scream aloud And the dense arrows drive.
Lady, by one light only We look from Alfred's eyes, We know he saw athwart the wreck The sign that hangs about your neck, Where One more than Melchizedek Is dead and never dies.
Therefore I bring these rhymes to you Who brought the cross to me, Since on you flaming without flaw I saw the sign that Guthrum saw When he let break his ships of awe, And laid peace on the sea.
Do you remember when we went Under a dragon moon, And `mid volcanic tints of night Walked where they fought the unknown fight And saw black trees on the battle-height, Black thorn on Ethandune? And I thought, "I will go with you, As man with God has gone, And wander with a wandering star, The wandering heart of things that are, The fiery cross of love and war That like yourself, goes on.
" O go you onward; where you are Shall honour and laughter be, Past purpled forest and pearled foam, God's winged pavilion free to roam, Your face, that is a wandering home, A flying home for me.
Ride through the silent earthquake lands, Wide as a waste is wide, Across these days like deserts, when Pride and a little scratching pen Have dried and split the hearts of men, Heart of the heroes, ride.
Up through an empty house of stars, Being what heart you are, Up the inhuman steeps of space As on a staircase go in grace, Carrying the firelight on your face Beyond the loneliest star.
Take these; in memory of the hour We strayed a space from home And saw the smoke-hued hamlets, quaint With Westland king and Westland saint, And watched the western glory faint Along the road to Frome.
BOOK I THE VISION OF THE KING Before the gods that made the gods Had seen their sunrise pass, The White Horse of the White Horse Vale Was cut out of the grass.
Before the gods that made the gods Had drunk at dawn their fill, The White Horse of the White Horse Vale Was hoary on the hill.
Age beyond age on British land, Aeons on aeons gone, Was peace and war in western hills, And the White Horse looked on.
For the White Horse knew England When there was none to know; He saw the first oar break or bend, He saw heaven fall and the world end, O God, how long ago.
For the end of the world was long ago, And all we dwell to-day As children of some second birth, Like a strange people left on earth After a judgment day.
For the end of the world was long ago, When the ends of the world waxed free, When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves, And the sun drowned in the sea.
When Caesar's sun fell out of the sky And whoso hearkened right Could only hear the plunging Of the nations in the night.
When the ends of the earth came marching in To torch and cresset gleam.
And the roads of the world that lead to Rome Were filled with faces that moved like foam, Like faces in a dream.
And men rode out of the eastern lands, Broad river and burning plain; Trees that are Titan flowers to see, And tiger skies, striped horribly, With tints of tropic rain.
Where Ind's enamelled peaks arise Around that inmost one, Where ancient eagles on its brink, Vast as archangels, gather and drink The sacrament of the sun.
And men brake out of the northern lands, Enormous lands alone, Where a spell is laid upon life and lust And the rain is changed to a silver dust And the sea to a great green stone.
And a Shape that moveth murkily In mirrors of ice and night, Hath blanched with fear all beasts and birds, As death and a shock of evil words Blast a man's hair with white.
And the cry of the palms and the purple moons, Or the cry of the frost and foam, Swept ever around an inmost place, And the din of distant race on race Cried and replied round Rome.
And there was death on the Emperor And night upon the Pope: And Alfred, hiding in deep grass, Hardened his heart with hope.
A sea-folk blinder than the sea Broke all about his land, But Alfred up against them bare And gripped the ground and grasped the air, Staggered, and strove to stand.
He bent them back with spear and spade, With desperate dyke and wall, With foemen leaning on his shield And roaring on him when he reeled; And no help came at all.
He broke them with a broken sword A little towards the sea, And for one hour of panting peace, Ringed with a roar that would not cease, With golden crown and girded fleece Made laws under a tree.
The Northmen came about our land A Christless chivalry: Who knew not of the arch or pen, Great, beautiful half-witted men From the sunrise and the sea.
Misshapen ships stood on the deep Full of strange gold and fire, And hairy men, as huge as sin With horned heads, came wading in Through the long, low sea-mire.
Our towns were shaken of tall kings With scarlet beards like blood: The world turned empty where they trod, They took the kindly cross of God And cut it up for wood.
Their souls were drifting as the sea, And all good towns and lands They only saw with heavy eyes, And broke with heavy hands, Their gods were sadder than the sea, Gods of a wandering will, Who cried for blood like beasts at night, Sadly, from hill to hill.
They seemed as trees walking the earth, As witless and as tall, Yet they took hold upon the heavens And no help came at all.
They bred like birds in English woods, They rooted like the rose, When Alfred came to Athelney To hide him from their bows There was not English armour left, Nor any English thing, When Alfred came to Athelney To be an English king.
For earthquake swallowing earthquake Uprent the Wessex tree; The whirlpool of the pagan sway Had swirled his sires as sticks away When a flood smites the sea.
And the great kings of Wessex Wearied and sank in gore, And even their ghosts in that great stress Grew greyer and greyer, less and less, With the lords that died in Lyonesse And the king that comes no more.
And the God of the Golden Dragon Was dumb upon his throne, And the lord of the Golden Dragon Ran in the woods alone.
And if ever he climbed the crest of luck And set the flag before, Returning as a wheel returns, Came ruin and the rain that burns, And all began once more.
And naught was left King Alfred But shameful tears of rage, In the island in the river In the end of all his age.
In the island in the river He was broken to his knee: And he read, writ with an iron pen, That God had wearied of Wessex men And given their country, field and fen, To the devils of the sea.
And he saw in a little picture, Tiny and far away, His mother sitting in Egbert's hall, And a book she showed him, very small, Where a sapphire Mary sat in stall With a golden Christ at play.
It was wrought in the monk's slow manner, From silver and sanguine shell, Where the scenes are little and terrible, Keyholes of heaven and hell.
In the river island of Athelney, With the river running past, In colours of such simple creed All things sprang at him, sun and weed, Till the grass grew to be grass indeed And the tree was a tree at last.
Fearfully plain the flowers grew, Like the child's book to read, Or like a friend's face seen in a glass; He looked; and there Our Lady was, She stood and stroked the tall live grass As a man strokes his steed.
Her face was like an open word When brave men speak and choose, The very colours of her coat Were better than good news.
She spoke not, nor turned not, Nor any sign she cast, Only she stood up straight and free, Between the flowers in Athelney, And the river running past.
One dim ancestral jewel hung On his ruined armour grey, He rent and cast it at her feet: Where, after centuries, with slow feet, Men came from hall and school and street And found it where it lay.
"Mother of God," the wanderer said, "I am but a common king, Nor will I ask what saints may ask, To see a secret thing.
"The gates of heaven are fearful gates Worse than the gates of hell; Not I would break the splendours barred Or seek to know the thing they guard, Which is too good to tell.
"But for this earth most pitiful, This little land I know, If that which is for ever is, Or if our hearts shall break with bliss, Seeing the stranger go? "When our last bow is broken, Queen, And our last javelin cast, Under some sad, green evening sky, Holding a ruined cross on high, Under warm westland grass to lie, Shall we come home at last?" And a voice came human but high up, Like a cottage climbed among The clouds; or a serf of hut and croft That sits by his hovel fire as oft, But hears on his old bare roof aloft A belfry burst in song.
"The gates of heaven are lightly locked, We do not guard our gain, The heaviest hind may easily Come silently and suddenly Upon me in a lane.
"And any little maid that walks In good thoughts apart, May break the guard of the Three Kings And see the dear and dreadful things I hid within my heart.
"The meanest man in grey fields gone Behind the set of sun, Heareth between star and other star, Through the door of the darkness fallen ajar, The council, eldest of things that are, The talk of the Three in One.
"The gates of heaven are lightly locked, We do not guard our gold, Men may uproot where worlds begin, Or read the name of the nameless sin; But if he fail or if he win To no good man is told.
"The men of the East may spell the stars, And times and triumphs mark, But the men signed of the cross of Christ Go gaily in the dark.
"The men of the East may search the scrolls For sure fates and fame, But the men that drink the blood of God Go singing to their shame.
"The wise men know what wicked things Are written on the sky, They trim sad lamps, they touch sad strings, Hearing the heavy purple wings, Where the forgotten seraph kings Still plot how God shall die.
"The wise men know all evil things Under the twisted trees, Where the perverse in pleasure pine And men are weary of green wine And sick of crimson seas.
"But you and all the kind of Christ Are ignorant and brave, And you have wars you hardly win And souls you hardly save.
"I tell you naught for your comfort, Yea, naught for your desire, Save that the sky grows darker yet And the sea rises higher.
"Night shall be thrice night over you, And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause, Yea, faith without a hope?" Even as she spoke she was not, Nor any word said he, He only heard, still as he stood Under the old night's nodding hood, The sea-folk breaking down the wood Like a high tide from sea.
He only heard the heathen men, Whose eyes are blue and bleak, Singing about some cruel thing Done by a great and smiling king In daylight on a deck.
He only heard the heathen men, Whose eyes are blue and blind, Singing what shameful things are done Between the sunlit sea and the sun When the land is left behind.
BOOK II THE GATHERING OF THE CHIEFS Up across windy wastes and up Went Alfred over the shaws, Shaken of the joy of giants, The joy without a cause.
In the slopes away to the western bays, Where blows not ever a tree, He washed his soul in the west wind And his body in the sea.
And he set to rhyme his ale-measures, And he sang aloud his laws, Because of the joy of the giants, The joy without a cause.
The King went gathering Wessex men, As grain out of the chaff The few that were alive to die, Laughing, as littered skulls that lie After lost battles turn to the sky An everlasting laugh.
The King went gathering Christian men, As wheat out of the husk; Eldred, the Franklin by the sea, And Mark, the man from Italy, And Colan of the Sacred Tree, From the old tribe on Usk.
The rook croaked homeward heavily, The west was clear and warm, The smoke of evening food and ease Rose like a blue tree in the trees When he came to Eldred's farm.
But Eldred's farm was fallen awry, Like an old cripple's bones, And Eldred's tools were red with rust, And on his well was a green crust, And purple thistles upward thrust, Between the kitchen stones.
But smoke of some good feasting Went upwards evermore, And Eldred's doors stood wide apart For loitering foot or labouring cart, And Eldred's great and foolish heart Stood open like his door.
A mighty man was Eldred, A bulk for casks to fill, His face a dreaming furnace, His body a walking hill.
In the old wars of Wessex His sword had sunken deep, But all his friends, he signed and said, Were broken about Ethelred; And between the deep drink and the dead He had fallen upon sleep.
"Come not to me, King Alfred, Save always for the ale: Why should my harmless hinds be slain Because the chiefs cry once again, As in all fights, that we shall gain, And in all fights we fail? "Your scalds still thunder and prophesy That crown that never comes; Friend, I will watch the certain things, Swine, and slow moons like silver rings, And the ripening of the plums.
" And Alfred answered, drinking, And gravely, without blame, "Nor bear I boast of scald or king, The thing I bear is a lesser thing, But comes in a better name.
"Out of the mouth of the Mother of God, More than the doors of doom, I call the muster of Wessex men From grassy hamlet or ditch or den, To break and be broken, God knows when, But I have seen for whom.
Out of the mouth of the Mother of God Like a little word come I; For I go gathering Christian men From sunken paving and ford and fen, To die in a battle, God knows when, By God, but I know why.
"And this is the word of Mary, The word of the world's desire `No more of comfort shall ye get, Save that the sky grows darker yet And the sea rises higher.
' " Then silence sank.
And slowly Arose the sea-land lord, Like some vast beast for mystery, He filled the room and porch and sky, And from a cobwebbed nail on high Unhooked his heavy sword.
Up on the shrill sea-downs and up Went Alfred all alone, Turning but once e'er the door was shut, Shouting to Eldred over his butt, That he bring all spears to the woodman's hut Hewn under Egbert's Stone.
And he turned his back and broke the fern, And fought the moths of dusk, And went on his way for other friends Friends fallen of all the wide world's ends, From Rome that wrath and pardon sends And the grey tribes on Usk.
He saw gigantic tracks of death And many a shape of doom, Good steadings to grey ashes gone And a monk's house white like a skeleton In the green crypt of the combe.
And in many a Roman villa Earth and her ivies eat, Saw coloured pavements sink and fade In flowers, and the windy colonnade Like the spectre of a street.
But the cold stars clustered Among the cold pines Ere he was half on his pilgrimage Over the western lines.
And the white dawn widened Ere he came to the last pine, Where Mark, the man from Italy, Still made the Christian sign.
The long farm lay on the large hill-side, Flat like a painted plan, And by the side the low white house, Where dwelt the southland man.
A bronzed man, with a bird's bright eye, And a strong bird's beak and brow, His skin was brown like buried gold, And of certain of his sires was told That they came in the shining ship of old, With Caesar in the prow.
His fruit trees stood like soldiers Drilled in a straight line, His strange, stiff olives did not fail, And all the kings of the earth drank ale, But he drank wine.
Wide over wasted British plains Stood never an arch or dome, Only the trees to toss and reel, The tribes to bicker, the beasts to squeal; But the eyes in his head were strong like steel, And his soul remembered Rome.
Then Alfred of the lonely spear Lifted his lion head; And fronted with the Italian's eye, Asking him of his whence and why, King Alfred stood and said: "I am that oft-defeated King Whose failure fills the land, Who fled before the Danes of old, Who chaffered with the Danes with gold, Who now upon the Wessex wold Hardly has feet to stand.
"But out of the mouth of the Mother of God I have seen the truth like fire, This--that the sky grows darker yet And the sea rises higher.
" Long looked the Roman on the land; The trees as golden crowns Blazed, drenched with dawn and dew-empearled While faintlier coloured, freshlier curled, The clouds from underneath the world Stood up over the downs.
"These vines be ropes that drag me hard," He said.
"I go not far; Where would you meet? For you must hold Half Wiltshire and the White Horse wold, And the Thames bank to Owsenfold, If Wessex goes to war.
"Guthrum sits strong on either bank And you must press his lines Inwards, and eastward drive him down; I doubt if you shall take the crown Till you have taken London town.
For me, I have the vines.
" "If each man on the Judgment Day Meet God on a plain alone," Said Alfred, "I will speak for you As for myself, and call it true That you brought all fighting folk you knew Lined under Egbert's Stone.
"Though I be in the dust ere then, I know where you will be.
" And shouldering suddenly his spear He faded like some elfin fear, Where the tall pines ran up, tier on tier Tree overtoppling tree.
He shouldered his spear at morning And laughed to lay it on, But he leaned on his spear as on a staff, With might and little mood to laugh, Or ever he sighted chick or calf Of Colan of Caerleon.
For the man dwelt in a lost land Of boulders and broken men, In a great grey cave far off to the south Where a thick green forest stopped the mouth, Giving darkness in his den.
And the man was come like a shadow, From the shadow of Druid trees, Where Usk, with mighty murmurings, Past Caerleon of the fallen kings, Goes out to ghostly seas.
Last of a race in ruin-- He spoke the speech of the Gaels; His kin were in holy Ireland, Or up in the crags of Wales.
But his soul stood with his mother's folk, That were of the rain-wrapped isle, Where Patrick and Brandan westerly Looked out at last on a landless sea And the sun's last smile.
His harp was carved and cunning, As the Celtic craftsman makes, Graven all over with twisting shapes Like many headless snakes.
His harp was carved and cunning, His sword prompt and sharp, And he was gay when he held the sword, Sad when he held the harp.
For the great Gaels of Ireland Are the men that God made mad, For all their wars are merry, And all their songs are sad.
He kept the Roman order, He made the Christian sign; But his eyes grew often blind and bright, And the sea that rose in the rocks at night Rose to his head like wine.
He made the sign of the cross of God, He knew the Roman prayer, But he had unreason in his heart Because of the gods that were.
Even they that walked on the high cliffs, High as the clouds were then, Gods of unbearable beauty, That broke the hearts of men.
And whether in seat or saddle, Whether with frown or smile, Whether at feast or fight was he, He heard the noise of a nameless sea On an undiscovered isle.
Lifting the great green ivy And the great spear lowering, One said, "I am Alfred of Wessex, And I am a conquered king.
" And the man of the cave made answer, And his eyes were stars of scorn, "And better kings were conquered Or ever your sires were born.
"What goddess was your mother, What fay your breed begot, That you should not die with Uther And Arthur and Lancelot? "But when you win you brag and blow, And when you lose you rail, Army of eastland yokels Not strong enough to fail.
" "I bring not boast or railing," Spake Alfred not in ire, "I bring of Our Lady a lesson set, This--that the sky grows darker yet And the sea rises higher.
" Then Colan of the Sacred Tree Tossed his black mane on high, And cried, as rigidly he rose, "And if the sea and sky be foes, We will tame the sea and sky.
" Smiled Alfred, "Seek ye a fable More dizzy and more dread Than all your mad barbarian tales Where the sky stands on its head ? "A tale where a man looks down on the sky That has long looked down on him; A tale where a man can swallow a sea That might swallow the seraphim.
"Bring to the hut by Egbert's Stone All bills and bows ye have.
" And Alfred strode off rapidly, And Colan of the Sacred Tree Went slowly to his cave.
BOOK III THE HARP OF ALFRED In a tree that yawned and twisted The King's few goods were flung, A mass-book mildewed, line by line, And weapons and a skin of wine, And an old harp unstrung.
By the yawning tree in the twilight The King unbound his sword, Severed the harp of all his goods, And there in the cool and soundless woods Sounded a single chord.
Then laughed; and watched the finches flash, The sullen flies in swarm, And went unarmed over the hills, With the harp upon his arm, Until he came to the White Horse Vale And saw across the plains, In the twilight high and far and fell, Like the fiery terraces of hell, The camp fires of the Danes-- The fires of the Great Army That was made of iron men, Whose lights of sacrilege and scorn Ran around England red as morn, Fires over Glastonbury Thorn-- Fires out on Ely Fen.
And as he went by White Horse Vale He saw lie wan and wide The old horse graven, God knows when, By gods or beasts or what things then Walked a new world instead of men And scrawled on the hill-side.
And when he came to White Horse Down The great White Horse was grey, For it was ill scoured of the weed, And lichen and thorn could crawl and feed, Since the foes of settled house and creed Had swept old works away.
King Alfred gazed all sorrowful At thistle and mosses grey, Then laughed; and watched the finches flash, Till a rally of Danes with shield and bill Rolled drunk over the dome of the hill, And, hearing of his harp and skill, They dragged him to their play.
And as they went through the high green grass They roared like the great green sea; But when they came to the red camp fire They were silent suddenly.
And as they went up the wastes away They went reeling to and fro; But when they came to the red camp fire They stood all in a row.
For golden in the firelight, With a smile carved on his lips, And a beard curled right cunningly, Was Guthrum of the Northern Sea, The emperor of the ships-- With three great earls King Guthrum Went the rounds from fire to fire, With Harold, nephew of the King, And Ogier of the Stone and Sling, And Elf, whose gold lute had a string That sighed like all desire.
The Earls of the Great Army That no men born could tire, Whose flames anear him or aloof Took hold of towers or walls of proof, Fire over Glastonbury roof And out on Ely, fire.
And Guthrum heard the soldiers' tale And bade the stranger play; Not harshly, but as one on high, On a marble pillar in the sky, Who sees all folk that live and die-- Pigmy and far away.
And Alfred, King of Wessex, Looked on his conqueror-- And his hands hardened; but he played, And leaving all later hates unsaid, He sang of some old British raid On the wild west march of yore.
He sang of war in the warm wet shires, Where rain nor fruitage fails, Where England of the motley states Deepens like a garden to the gates In the purple walls of Wales.
He sang of the seas of savage heads And the seas and seas of spears, Boiling all over Offa's Dyke, What time a Wessex club could strike The kings of the mountaineers.
Till Harold laughed and snatched the harp, The kinsman of the King, A big youth, beardless like a child, Whom the new wine of war sent wild, Smote, and began to sing-- And he cried of the ships as eagles That circle fiercely and fly, And sweep the seas and strike the towns From Cyprus round to Skye.
How swiftly and with peril They gather all good things, The high horns of the forest beasts, Or the secret stones of kings.
"For Rome was given to rule the world, And gat of it little joy-- But we, but we shall enjoy the world, The whole huge world a toy.
"Great wine like blood from Burgundy, Cloaks like the clouds from Tyre, And marble like solid moonlight, And gold like frozen fire.
"Smells that a man might swill in a cup, Stones that a man might eat, And the great smooth women like ivory That the Turks sell in the street.
" He sang the song of the thief of the world, And the gods that love the thief; And he yelled aloud at the cloister-yards, Where men go gathering grief.
"Well have you sung, O stranger, Of death on the dyke in Wales, Your chief was a bracelet-giver; But the red unbroken river Of a race runs not for ever, But suddenly it fails.
"Doubtless your sires were sword-swingers When they waded fresh from foam, Before they were turned to women By the god of the nails from Rome; "But since you bent to the shaven men, Who neither lust nor smite, Thunder of Thor, we hunt you A hare on the mountain height.
" King Guthrum smiled a little, And said, "It is enough, Nephew, let Elf retune the string; A boy must needs like bellowing, But the old ears of a careful king Are glad of songs less rough.
" Blue-eyed was Elf the minstrel, With womanish hair and ring, Yet heavy was his hand on sword, Though light upon the string.
And as he stirred the strings of the harp To notes but four or five, The heart of each man moved in him Like a babe buried alive.
And they felt the land of the folk-songs Spread southward of the Dane, And they heard the good Rhine flowing In the heart of all Allemagne.
They felt the land of the folk-songs, Where the gifts hang on the tree, Where the girls give ale at morning And the tears come easily.
The mighty people, womanlike, That have pleasure in their pain As he sang of Balder beautiful, Whom the heavens loved in vain.
As he sang of Balder beautiful, Whom the heavens could not save, Till the world was like a sea of tears And every soul a wave.
"There is always a thing forgotten When all the world goes well; A thing forgotten, as long ago, When the gods forgot the mistletoe, And soundless as an arrow of snow The arrow of anguish fell.
"The thing on the blind side of the heart, On the wrong side of the door, The green plant groweth, menacing Almighty lovers in the spring; There is always a forgotten thing, And love is not secure.
" And all that sat by the fire were sad, Save Ogier, who was stern, And his eyes hardened, even to stones, As he took the harp in turn; Earl Ogier of the Stone and Sling Was odd to ear and sight, Old he was, but his locks were red, And jests were all the words he said Yet he was sad at board and bed And savage in the fight.
"You sing of the young gods easily In the days when you are young; But I go smelling yew and sods, And I know there are gods behind the gods, Gods that are best unsung.
"And a man grows ugly for women, And a man grows dull with ale, Well if he find in his soul at last Fury, that does not fail.
"The wrath of the gods behind the gods Who would rend all gods and men, Well if the old man's heart hath still Wheels sped of rage and roaring will, Like cataracts to break down and kill, Well for the old man then-- "While there is one tall shrine to shake, Or one live man to rend; For the wrath of the gods behind the gods Who are weary to make an end.
"There lives one moment for a man When the door at his shoulder shakes, When the taut rope parts under the pull, And the barest branch is beautiful One moment, while it breaks.
"So rides my soul upon the sea That drinks the howling ships, Though in black jest it bows and nods Under the moons with silver rods, I know it is roaring at the gods, Waiting the last eclipse.
"And in the last eclipse the sea Shall stand up like a tower, Above all moons made dark and riven, Hold up its foaming head in heaven, And laugh, knowing its hour.
"And the high ones in the happy town Propped of the planets seven, Shall know a new light in the mind, A noise about them and behind, Shall hear an awful voice, and find Foam in the courts of heaven.
"And you that sit by the fire are young, And true love waits for you; But the king and I grow old, grow old, And hate alone is true.
" And Guthrum shook his head but smiled, For he was a mighty clerk, And had read lines in the Latin books When all the north was dark.
He said, "I am older than you, Ogier; Not all things would I rend, For whether life be bad or good It is best to abide the end.
" He took the great harp wearily, Even Guthrum of the Danes, With wide eyes bright as the one long day On the long polar plains.
For he sang of a wheel returning, And the mire trod back to mire, And how red hells and golden heavens Are castles in the fire.
"It is good to sit where the good tales go, To sit as our fathers sat; But the hour shall come after his youth, When a man shall know not tales but truth, And his heart fail thereat.
"When he shall read what is written So plain in clouds and clods, When he shall hunger without hope Even for evil gods.
"For this is a heavy matter, And the truth is cold to tell; Do we not know, have we not heard, The soul is like a lost bird, The body a broken shell.
"And a man hopes, being ignorant, Till in white woods apart He finds at last the lost bird dead: And a man may still lift up his head But never more his heart.
"There comes no noise but weeping Out of the ancient sky, And a tear is in the tiniest flower Because the gods must die.
"The little brooks are very sweet, Like a girl's ribbons curled, But the great sea is bitter That washes all the world.
"Strong are the Roman roses, Or the free flowers of the heath, But every flower, like a flower of the sea, Smelleth with the salt of death.
"And the heart of the locked battle Is the happiest place for men; When shrieking souls as shafts go by And many have died and all may die; Though this word be a mystery, Death is most distant then.
"Death blazes bright above the cup, And clear above the crown; But in that dream of battle We seem to tread it down.
"Wherefore I am a great king, And waste the world in vain, Because man hath not other power, Save that in dealing death for dower, He may forget it for an hour To remember it again.
" And slowly his hands and thoughtfully Fell from the lifted lyre, And the owls moaned from the mighty trees Till Alfred caught it to his knees And smote it as in ire.
He heaved the head of the harp on high And swept the framework barred, And his stroke had all the rattle and spark Of horses flying hard.
"When God put man in a garden He girt him with a sword, And sent him forth a free knight That might betray his lord; "He brake Him and betrayed Him, And fast and far he fell, Till you and I may stretch our necks And burn our beards in hell.
"But though I lie on the floor of the world, With the seven sins for rods, I would rather fall with Adam Than rise with all your gods.
"What have the strong gods given? Where have the glad gods led? When Guthrum sits on a hero's throne And asks if he is dead? "Sirs, I am but a nameless man, A rhymester without home, Yet since I come of the Wessex clay And carry the cross of Rome, "I will even answer the mighty earl That asked of Wessex men Why they be meek and monkish folk, And bow to the White Lord's broken yoke; What sign have we save blood and smoke? Here is my answer then.
"That on you is fallen the shadow, And not upon the Name; That though we scatter and though we fly, And you hang over us like the sky, You are more tired of victory, Than we are tired of shame.
"That though you hunt the Christian man Like a hare on the hill-side, The hare has still more heart to run Than you have heart to ride.
"That though all lances split on you, All swords be heaved in vain, We have more lust again to lose Than you to win again.
"Your lord sits high in the saddle, A broken-hearted king, But our king Alfred, lost from fame, Fallen among foes or bonds of shame, In I know not what mean trade or name, Has still some song to sing; "Our monks go robed in rain and snow, But the heart of flame therein, But you go clothed in feasts and flames, When all is ice within; "Nor shall all iron dooms make dumb Men wondering ceaselessly, If it be not better to fast for joy Than feast for misery.
"Nor monkish order only Slides down, as field to fen, All things achieved and chosen pass, As the White Horse fades in the grass, No work of Christian men.
"Ere the sad gods that made your gods Saw their sad sunrise pass, The White Horse of the White Horse Vale, That you have left to darken and fail, Was cut out of the grass.
"Therefore your end is on you, Is on you and your kings, Not for a fire in Ely fen, Not that your gods are nine or ten, But because it is only Christian men Guard even heathen things.
"For our God hath blessed creation, Calling it good.
I know What spirit with whom you blindly band Hath blessed destruction with his hand; Yet by God's death the stars shall stand And the small apples grow.
" And the King, with harp on shoulder, Stood up and ceased his song; And the owls moaned from the mighty trees, And the Danes laughed loud and long.
BOOK IV THE WOMAN IN THE FOREST Thick thunder of the snorting swine, Enormous in the gloam, Rending among all roots that cling, And the wild horses whinnying, Were the night's noises when the King Shouldering his harp, went home.
With eyes of owl and feet of fox, Full of all thoughts he went; He marked the tilt of the pagan camp, The paling of pine, the sentries' tramp, And the one great stolen altar-lamp Over Guthrum in his tent.
By scrub and thorn in Ethandune That night the foe had lain; Whence ran across the heather grey The old stones of a Roman way; And in a wood not far away The pale road split in twain.
He marked the wood and the cloven ways With an old captain's eyes, And he thought how many a time had he Sought to see Doom he could not see; How ruin had come and victory, And both were a surprise.
Even so he had watched and wondered Under Ashdown from the plains; With Ethelred praying in his tent, Till the white hawthorn swung and bent, As Alfred rushed his spears and rent The shield-wall of the Danes.
Even so he had watched and wondered, Knowing neither less nor more, Till all his lords lay dying, And axes on axes plying, Flung him, and drove him flying Like a pirate to the shore.
Wise he had been before defeat, And wise before success; Wise in both hours and ignorant, Knowing neither more nor less.
As he went down to the river-hut He knew a night-shade scent, Owls did as evil cherubs rise, With little wings and lantern eyes, As though he sank through the under-skies; But down and down he went.
As he went down to the river-hut He went as one that fell; Seeing the high forest domes and spars.
Dim green or torn with golden scars, As the proud look up at the evil stars, In the red heavens of hell.
For he must meet by the river-hut Them he had bidden to arm, Mark from the towers of Italy, And Colan of the Sacred Tree, And Eldred who beside the sea Held heavily his farm.
The roof leaned gaping to the grass, As a monstrous mushroom lies; Echoing and empty seemed the place; But opened in a little space A great grey woman with scarred face And strong and humbled eyes.
King Alfred was but a meagre man, Bright eyed, but lean and pale: And swordless, with his harp and rags, He seemed a beggar, such as lags Looking for crusts and ale.
And the woman, with a woman's eyes Of pity at once and ire, Said, when that she had glared a span, "There is a cake for any man If he will watch the fire.
" And Alfred, bowing heavily, Sat down the fire to stir, And even as the woman pitied him So did he pity her.
Saying, "O great heart in the night, O best cast forth for worst, Twilight shall melt and morning stir, And no kind thing shall come to her, Till God shall turn the world over And all the last are first.
"And well may God with the serving-folk Cast in His dreadful lot; Is not He too a servant, And is not He forgot ? "For was not God my gardener And silent like a slave; That opened oaks on the uplands Or thicket in graveyard gave? "And was not God my armourer, All patient and unpaid, That sealed my skull as a helmet, And ribs for hauberk made? "Did not a great grey servant Of all my sires and me, Build this pavilion of the pines, And herd the fowls and fill the vines, And labour and pass and leave no signs Save mercy and mystery? "For God is a great servant, And rose before the day, From some primordial slumber torn; But all we living later born Sleep on, and rise after the morn, And the Lord has gone away.
"On things half sprung from sleeping, All sleepy suns have shone, They stretch stiff arms, the yawning trees, The beasts blink upon hands and knees, Man is awake and does and sees-- But Heaven has done and gone.
For who shall guess the good riddle Or speak of the Holiest, Save in faint figures and failing words, Who loves, yet laughs among the swords, Labours, and is at rest? "But some see God like Guthrum, Crowned, with a great beard curled, But I see God like a good giant, That, labouring, lifts the world.
"Wherefore was God in Golgotha, Slain as a serf is slain; And hate He had of prince and peer, And love He had and made good cheer, Of them that, like this woman here, Go powerfully in pain.
"But in this grey morn of man's life, Cometh sometime to the mind A little light that leaps and flies, Like a star blown on the wind.
"A star of nowhere, a nameless star, A light that spins and swirls, And cries that even in hedge and hill, Even on earth, it may go ill At last with the evil earls.
"A dancing sparkle, a doubtful star, On the waste wind whirled and driven; But it seems to sing of a wilder worth, A time discrowned of doom and birth, And the kingdom of the poor on earth Come, as it is in heaven.
"But even though such days endure, How shall it profit her? Who shall go groaning to the grave, With many a meek and mighty slave, Field-breaker and fisher on the wave, And woodman and waggoner.
"Bake ye the big world all again A cake with kinder leaven; Yet these are sorry evermore-- Unless there be a little door, A little door in heaven.
" And as he wept for the woman He let her business be, And like his royal oath and rash The good food fell upon the ash And blackened instantly.
Screaming, the woman caught a cake Yet burning from the bar, And struck him suddenly on the face, Leaving a scarlet scar.
King Alfred stood up wordless, A man dead with surprise, And torture stood and the evil things That are in the childish hearts of kings An instant in his eyes.
And even as he stood and stared Drew round him in the dusk Those friends creeping from far-off farms, Marcus with all his slaves in arms, And the strange spears hung with ancient charms Of Colan of the Usk.
With one whole farm marching afoot The trampled road resounds, Farm-hands and farm-beasts blundering by And jars of mead and stores of rye, Where Eldred strode above his high And thunder-throated hounds.
And grey cattle and silver lowed Against the unlifted morn, And straw clung to the spear-shafts tall.
And a boy went before them all Blowing a ram's horn.
As mocking such rude revelry, The dim clan of the Gael Came like a bad king's burial-end, With dismal robes that drop and rend And demon pipes that wail-- In long, outlandish garments, Torn, though of antique worth, With Druid beards and Druid spears, As a resurrected race appears Out of an elder earth.
And though the King had called them forth And knew them for his own, So still each eye stood like a gem, So spectral hung each broidered hem, Grey carven men he fancied them, Hewn in an age of stone.
And the two wild peoples of the north Stood fronting in the gloam, And heard and knew each in its mind The third great thunder on the wind, The living walls that hedge mankind, The walking walls of Rome.
Mark's were the mixed tribes of the west, Of many a hue and strain, Gurth, with rank hair like yellow grass, And the Cornish fisher, Gorlias, And Halmer, come from his first mass, Lately baptized, a Dane.
But like one man in armour Those hundreds trod the field, From red Arabia to the Tyne The earth had heard that marching-line, Since the cry on the hill Capitoline, And the fall of the golden shield.
And the earth shook and the King stood still Under the greenwood bough, And the smoking cake lay at his feet And the blow was on his brow.
Then Alfred laughed out suddenly, Like thunder in the spring, Till shook aloud the lintel-beams, And the squirrels stirred in dusty dreams, And the startled birds went up in streams, For the laughter of the King.
And the beasts of the earth and the birds looked down, In a wild solemnity, On a stranger sight than a sylph or elf, On one man laughing at himself Under the greenwood tree-- The giant laughter of Christian men That roars through a thousand tales, Where greed is an ape and pride is an ass, And Jack's away with his master's lass, And the miser is banged with all his brass, The farmer with all his flails; Tales that tumble and tales that trick, Yet end not all in scorning-- Of kings and clowns in a merry plight, And the clock gone wrong and the world gone right, That the mummers sing upon Christmas night And Christmas Day in the morning.
"Now here is a good warrant," Cried Alfred, "by my sword; For he that is struck for an ill servant Should be a kind lord.
"He that has been a servant Knows more than priests and kings, But he that has been an ill servant, He knows all earthly things.
"Pride flings frail palaces at the sky, As a man flings up sand, But the firm feet of humility Take hold of heavy land.
"Pride juggles with her toppling towers, They strike the sun and cease, But the firm feet of humility They grip the ground like trees.
"He that hath failed in a little thing Hath a sign upon the brow; And the Earls of the Great Army Have no such seal to show.
"The red print on my forehead, Small flame for a red star, In the van of the violent marching, then When the sky is torn of the trumpets ten, And the hands of the happy howling men Fling wide the gates of war.
"This blow that I return not Ten times will I return On kings and earls of all degree, And armies wide as empires be Shall slide like landslips to the sea If the red star burn.
"One man shall drive a hundred, As the dead kings drave; Before me rocking hosts be riven, And battering cohorts backwards driven, For I am the first king known of Heaven That has been struck like a slave.
"Up on the old white road, brothers, Up on the Roman walls! For this is the night of the drawing of swords, And the tainted tower of the heathen hordes Leans to our hammers, fires and cords, Leans a little and falls.
"Follow the star that lives and leaps, Follow the sword that sings, For we go gathering heathen men, A terrible harvest, ten by ten, As the wrath of the last red autumn--then When Christ reaps down the kings.
"Follow a light that leaps and spins, Follow the fire unfurled! For riseth up against realm and rod, A thing forgotten, a thing downtrod, The last lost giant, even God, Is risen against the world.
" Roaring they went o'er the Roman wall, And roaring up the lane, Their torches tossed a ladder of fire, Higher their hymn was heard and higher, More sweet for hate and for heart's desire, And up in the northern scrub and brier, They fell upon the Dane.
BOOK V ETHANDUNE: THE FIRST STROKE King Guthrum was a dread king, Like death out of the north; Shrines without name or number He rent and rolled as lumber, From Chester to the Humber He drove his foemen forth.
The Roman villas heard him In the valley of the Thames, Come over the hills roaring Above their roofs, and pouring On spire and stair and flooring Brimstone and pitch and flames.
Sheer o'er the great chalk uplands And the hill of the Horse went he, Till high on Hampshire beacons He saw the southern sea.
High on the heights of Wessex He saw the southern brine, And turned him to a conquered land, And where the northern thornwoods stand, And the road parts on either hand, There came to him a sign.
King Guthrum was a war-chief, A wise man in the field, And though he prospered well, and knew How Alfred's folk were sad and few, Not less with weighty care he drew Long lines for pike and shield.
King Guthrum lay on the upper land, On a single road at gaze, And his foe must come with lean array, Up the left arm of the cloven way, To the meeting of the ways.
And long ere the noise of armour, An hour ere the break of light, The woods awoke with crash and cry, And the birds sprang clamouring harsh and high, And the rabbits ran like an elves' army Ere Alfred came in sight.
The live wood came at Guthrum, On foot and claw and wing, The nests were noisy overhead, For Alfred and the star of red, All life went forth, and the forest fled Before the face of the King.
But halted in the woodways Christ's few were grim and grey, And each with a small, far, bird-like sight Saw the high folly of the fight; And though strange joys had grown in the night, Despair grew with the day.
And when white dawn crawled through the wood, Like cold foam of a flood, Then weakened every warrior's mood, In hope, though not in hardihood; And each man sorrowed as he stood In the fashion of his blood.
For the Saxon Franklin sorrowed For the things that had been fair; For the dear dead woman, crimson-clad, And the great feasts and the friends he had; But the Celtic prince's soul was sad For the things that never were.
In the eyes Italian all things But a black laughter died; And Alfred flung his shield to earth And smote his breast and cried-- "I wronged a man to his slaying, And a woman to her shame, And once I looked on a sworn maid That was wed to the Holy Name.
"And once I took my neighbour's wife, That was bound to an eastland man, In the starkness of my evil youth, Before my griefs began.
"People, if you have any prayers, Say prayers for me: And lay me under a Christian stone In that lost land I thought my own, To wait till the holy horn is blown, And all poor men are free.
" Then Eldred of the idle farm Leaned on his ancient sword, As fell his heavy words and few; And his eyes were of such alien blue As gleams where the Northman saileth new Into an unknown fiord.
"I was a fool and wasted ale-- My slaves found it sweet; I was a fool and wasted bread, And the birds had bread to eat.
"The kings go up and the kings go down, And who knows who shall rule; Next night a king may starve or sleep, But men and birds and beasts shall weep At the burial of a fool.
"O, drunkards in my cellar, Boys in my apple tree, The world grows stern and strange and new, And wise men shall govern you, And you shall weep for me.
"But yoke me my own oxen, Down to my own farm; My own dog will whine for me, My own friends will bend the knee, And the foes I slew openly Have never wished me harm.
" And all were moved a little, But Colan stood apart, Having first pity, and after Hearing, like rat in rafter, That little worm of laughter That eats the Irish heart.
And his grey-green eyes were cruel, And the smile of his mouth waxed hard, And he said, "And when did Britain Become your burying-yard? "Before the Romans lit the land, When schools and monks were none, We reared such stones to the sun-god As might put out the sun.
"The tall trees of Britain We worshipped and were wise, But you shall raid the whole land through And never a tree shall talk to you, Though every leaf is a tongue taught true And the forest is full of eyes.
"On one round hill to the seaward The trees grow tall and grey And the trees talk together When all men are away.
"O'er a few round hills forgotten The trees grow tall in rings, And the trees talk together Of many pagan things.
"Yet I could lie and listen With a cross upon my clay, And hear unhurt for ever What the trees of Britain say.
" A proud man was the Roman, His speech a single one, But his eyes were like an eagle's eyes That is staring at the sun.
"Dig for me where I die," he said, "If first or last I fall-- Dead on the fell at the first charge, Or dead by Wantage wall; "Lift not my head from bloody ground, Bear not my body home, For all the earth is Roman earth And I shall die in Rome.
" Then Alfred, King of England, Bade blow the horns of war, And fling the Golden Dragon out, With crackle and acclaim and shout, Scrolled and aflame and far.
And under the Golden Dragon Went Wessex all along, Past the sharp point of the cloven ways, Out from the black wood into the blaze Of sun and steel and song.
And when they came to the open land They wheeled, deployed and stood; Midmost were Marcus and the King, And Eldred on the right-hand wing, And leftwards Colan darkling, In the last shade of the wood.
But the Earls of the Great Army Lay like a long half moon, Ten poles before their palisades, With wide-winged helms and runic blades Red giants of an age of raids, In the thornland of Ethandune.
Midmost the saddles rose and swayed, And a stir of horses' manes, Where Guthrum and a few rode high On horses seized in victory; But Ogier went on foot to die, In the old way of the Danes.
Far to the King's left Elf the bard Led on the eastern wing With songs and spells that change the blood; And on the King's right Harold stood, The kinsman of the King.
Young Harold, coarse, with colours gay, Smoking with oil and musk, And the pleasant violence of the young, Pushed through his people, giving tongue Foewards, where, grey as cobwebs hung, The banners of the Usk.
But as he came before his line A little space along, His beardless face broke into mirth, And he cried: "What broken bits of earth Are here? For what their clothes are worth I would sell them for a song.
" For Colan was hung with raiment Tattered like autumn leaves, And his men were all as thin as saints, And all as poor as thieves.
No bows nor slings nor bolts they bore, But bills and pikes ill-made; And none but Colan bore a sword, And rusty was its blade.
And Colan's eyes with mystery And iron laughter stirred, And he spoke aloud, but lightly Not labouring to be heard.
"Oh, truly we be broken hearts, For that cause, it is said, We light our candles to that Lord That broke Himself for bread.
"But though we hold but bitterly What land the Saxon leaves, Though Ireland be but a land of saints, And Wales a land of thieves, "I say you yet shall weary Of the working of your word, That stricken spirits never strike Nor lean hands hold a sword.
"And if ever ye ride in Ireland, The jest may yet be said, There is the land of broken hearts, And the land of broken heads.
" Not less barbarian laughter Choked Harold like a flood, "And shall I fight with scarecrows That am of Guthrum's blood? "Meeting may be of war-men, Where the best war-man wins; But all this carrion a man shoots Before the fight begins.
" And stopping in his onward strides, He snatched a bow in scorn From some mean slave, and bent it on Colan, whose doom grew dark; and shone Stars evil over Caerleon, In the place where he was born.
For Colan had not bow nor sling, On a lonely sword leaned he, Like Arthur on Excalibur In the battle by the sea.
To his great gold ear-ring Harold Tugged back the feathered tail, And swift had sprung the arrow, But swifter sprang the Gael.
Whirling the one sword round his head, A great wheel in the sun, He sent it splendid through the sky, Flying before the shaft could fly-- It smote Earl Harold over the eye, And blood began to run.
Colan stood bare and weaponless, Earl Harold, as in pain, Strove for a smile, put hand to head, Stumbled and suddenly fell dead; And the small white daisies all waxed red With blood out of his brain.
And all at that marvel of the sword, Cast like a stone to slay, Cried out.
Said Alfred: "Who would see Signs, must give all things.
Verily Man shall not taste of victory Till he throws his sword away.
" Then Alfred, prince of England, And all the Christian earls, Unhooked their swords and held them up, Each offered to Colan, like a cup Of chrysolite and pearls.
And the King said, "Do thou take my sword Who have done this deed of fire, For this is the manner of Christian men, Whether of steel or priestly pen, That they cast their hearts out of their ken To get their heart's desire.
"And whether ye swear a hive of monks, Or one fair wife to friend, This is the manner of Christian men, That their oath endures the end.
"For love, our Lord, at the end of the world, Sits a red horse like a throne, With a brazen helm and an iron bow, But one arrow alone.
"Love with the shield of the Broken Heart Ever his bow doth bend, With a single shaft for a single prize, And the ultimate bolt that parts and flies Comes with a thunder of split skies, And a sound of souls that rend.
"So shall you earn a king's sword, Who cast your sword away.
" And the King took, with a random eye, A rude axe from a hind hard by And turned him to the fray.
For the swords of the Earls of Daneland Flamed round the fallen lord.
The first blood woke the trumpet-tune, As in monk's rhyme or wizard's rune, Beginneth the battle of Ethandune With the throwing of the sword.
BOOK VI ETHANDUNE: THE SLAYING OF THE CHIEFS As the sea flooding the flat sands Flew on the sea-born horde, The two hosts shocked with dust and din, Left of the Latian paladin, Clanged all Prince Harold's howling kin On Colan and the sword.
Crashed in the midst on Marcus, Ogier with Guthrum by, And eastward of such central stir, Far to the right and faintlier, The house of Elf the harp-player, Struck Eldred's with a cry.
The centre swat for weariness, Stemming the screaming horde, And wearily went Colan's hands That swung King Alfred's sword.
But like a cloud of morning To eastward easily, Tall Eldred broke the sea of spears As a tall ship breaks the sea.
His face like a sanguine sunset, His shoulder a Wessex down, His hand like a windy hammer-stroke; Men could not count the crests he broke, So fast the crests went down.
As the tall white devil of the Plague Moves out of Asian skies, With his foot on a waste of cities And his head in a cloud of flies; Or purple and peacock skies grow dark With a moving locust-tower; Or tawny sand-winds tall and dry, Like hell's red banners beat and fly, When death comes out of Araby, Was Eldred in his hour.
But while he moved like a massacre He murmured as in sleep, And his words were all of low hedges And little fields and sheep.
Even as he strode like a pestilence, That strides from Rhine to Rome, He thought how tall his beans might be If ever he went home.
Spoke some stiff piece of childish prayer, Dull as the distant chimes, That thanked our God for good eating And corn and quiet times-- Till on the helm of a high chief Fell shatteringly his brand, And the helm broke and the bone broke And the sword broke in his hand.
Then from the yelling Northmen Driven splintering on him ran Full seven spears, and the seventh Was never made by man.
Seven spears, and the seventh Was wrought as the faerie blades, And given to Elf the minstrel By the monstrous water-maids; By them that dwell where luridly Lost waters of the Rhine Move among roots of nations, Being sunken for a sign.
Under all graves they murmur, They murmur and rebel, Down to the buried kingdoms creep, And like a lost rain roar and weep O'er the red heavens of hell.
Thrice drowned was Elf the minstrel, And washed as dead on sand; And the third time men found him The spear was in his hand.
Seven spears went about Eldred, Like stays about a mast; But there was sorrow by the sea For the driving of the last.
Six spears thrust upon Eldred Were splintered while he laughed; One spear thrust into Eldred, Three feet of blade and shaft.
And from the great heart grievously Came forth the shaft and blade, And he stood with the face of a dead man, Stood a little, and swayed-- Then fell, as falls a battle-tower, On smashed and struggling spears.
Cast down from some unconquered town That, rushing earthward, carries down Loads of live men of all renown-- Archers and engineers.
And a great clamour of Christian men Went up in agony, Crying, "Fallen is the tower of Wessex That stood beside the sea.
" Centre and right the Wessex guard Grew pale for doubt and fear, And the flank failed at the advance, For the death-light on the wizard lance-- The star of the evil spear.
"Stand like an oak," cried Marcus, "Stand like a Roman wall! Eldred the Good is fallen-- Are you too good to fall? "When we were wan and bloodless He gave you ale enow; The pirates deal with him as dung, God! are you bloodless now?" "Grip, Wulf and Gorlias, grip the ash! Slaves, and I make you free! Stamp, Hildred hard in English land, Stand Gurth, stand Gorlias, Gawen stand! Hold, Halfgar, with the other hand, Halmer, hold up on knee! "The lamps are dying in your homes, The fruits upon your bough; Even now your old thatch smoulders, Gurth, Now is the judgment of the earth, Now is the death-grip, now!" For thunder of the captain, Not less the Wessex line, Leaned back and reeled a space to rear As Elf charged with the Rhine maids' spear, And roaring like the Rhine.
For the men were borne by the waving walls Of woods and clouds that pass, By dizzy plains and drifting sea, And they mixed God with glamoury, God with the gods of the burning tree And the wizard's tower and glass.
But Mark was come of the glittering towns Where hot white details show, Where men can number and expound, And his faith grew in a hard ground Of doubt and reason and falsehood found, Where no faith else could grow.
Belief that grew of all beliefs One moment back was blown And belief that stood on unbelief Stood up iron and alone.
The Wessex crescent backwards Crushed, as with bloody spear Went Elf roaring and routing, And Mark against Elf yet shouting, Shocked, in his mid-career.
Right on the Roman shield and sword Did spear of the Rhine maids run; But the shield shifted never, The sword rang down to sever, The great Rhine sang for ever, And the songs of Elf were done.
And a great thunder of Christian men Went up against the sky, Saying, "God hath broken the evil spear Ere the good man's blood was dry.
" "Spears at the charge!" yelled Mark amain.
"Death on the gods of death! Over the thrones of doom and blood Goeth God that is a craftsman good, And gold and iron, earth and wood, Loveth and laboureth.
"The fruits leap up in all your farms, The lamps in each abode; God of all good things done on earth, All wheels or webs of any worth, The God that makes the roof, Gurth, The God that makes the road.
"The God that heweth kings in oak Writeth songs on vellum, God of gold and flaming glass, Confregit potentias Acrcuum, scutum, Gorlias, Gladium et bellum.
" Steel and lightning broke about him, Battle-bays and palm, All the sea-kings swayed among Woods of the Wessex arms upflung, The trumpet of the Roman tongue, The thunder of the psalm.
And midmost of that rolling field Ran Ogier ragingly, Lashing at Mark, who turned his blow, And brake the helm about his brow, And broke him to his knee.
Then Ogier heaved over his head His huge round shield of proof; But Mark set one foot on the shield, One on some sundered rock upheeled, And towered above the tossing field, A statue on a roof.
Dealing far blows about the fight, Like thunder-bolts a-roam, Like birds about the battle-field, While Ogier writhed under his shield Like a tortoise in his dome.
But hate in the buried Ogier Was strong as pain in hell, With bare brute hand from the inside He burst the shield of brass and hide, And a death-stroke to the Roman's side Sent suddenly and well.
Then the great statue on the shield Looked his last look around With level and imperial eye; And Mark, the man from Italy, Fell in the sea of agony, And died without a sound.
And Ogier, leaping up alive, Hurled his huge shield away Flying, as when a juggler flings A whizzing plate in play.
And held two arms up rigidly, And roared to all the Danes: "Fallen is Rome, yea, fallen The city of the plains! "Shall no man born remember, That breaketh wood or weald, How long she stood on the roof of the world As he stood on my shield.
"The new wild world forgetteth her As foam fades on the sea, How long she stood with her foot on Man As he with his foot on me.
"No more shall the brown men of the south Move like the ants in lines, To quiet men with olives Or madden men with vines.
"No more shall the white towns of the south, Where Tiber and Nilus run, Sitting around a secret sea Worship a secret sun.
"The blind gods roar for Rome fallen, And forum and garland gone, For the ice of the north is broken, And the sea of the north comes on.
"The blind gods roar and rave and dream Of all cities under the sea, For the heart of the north is broken, And the blood of the north is free.
"Down from the dome of the world we come, Rivers on rivers down, Under us swirl the sects and hordes And the high dooms we drown.
"Down from the dome of the world and down, Struck flying as a skiff On a river in spate is spun and swirled Until we come to the end of the world That breaks short, like a cliff.
"And when we come to the end of the world For me, I count it fit To take the leap like a good river, Shot shrieking over it.
"But whatso hap at the end of the world, Where Nothing is struck and sounds, It is not, by Thor, these monkish men These humbled Wessex hounds-- "Not this pale line of Christian hinds, This one white string of men, Shall keep us back from the end of the world, And the things that happen then.
"It is not Alfred's dwarfish sword, Nor Egbert's pigmy crown, Shall stay us now that descend in thunder, Rending the realms and the realms thereunder, Down through the world and down.
" There was that in the wild men back of him, There was that in his own wild song, A dizzy throbbing, a drunkard smoke, That dazed to death all Wessex folk, And swept their spears along.
Vainly the sword of Colan And the axe of Alfred plied-- The Danes poured in like a brainless plague, And knew not when they died.
Prince Colan slew a score of them, And was stricken to his knee; King Alfred slew a score and seven And was borne back on a tree.
Back to the black gate of the woods, Back up the single way, Back by the place of the parting ways Christ


by Geoffrey Chaucer

Troilus And Criseyde: Book 02

 Incipit Prohemium Secundi Libri.
Out of these blake wawes for to sayle, O wind, O wind, the weder ginneth clere; For in this see the boot hath swich travayle, Of my conning, that unnethe I it stere: This see clepe I the tempestous matere Of desespeyr that Troilus was inne: But now of hope the calendes biginne.
O lady myn, that called art Cleo, Thou be my speed fro this forth, and my muse, To ryme wel this book, til I have do; Me nedeth here noon other art to use.
For-why to every lovere I me excuse, That of no sentement I this endyte, But out of Latin in my tonge it wryte.
Wherfore I nil have neither thank ne blame Of al this werk, but prey yow mekely, Disblameth me if any word be lame, For as myn auctor seyde, so seye I.
Eek though I speke of love unfelingly, No wondre is, for it no-thing of newe is; A blind man can nat Iuggen wel in hewis.
Ye knowe eek, that in forme of speche is chaunge With-inne a thousand yeer, and wordes tho That hadden prys, now wonder nyce and straunge Us thinketh hem; and yet they spake hem so, And spedde as wel in love as men now do; Eek for to winne love in sondry ages, In sondry londes, sondry ben usages.
And for-thy if it happe in any wyse, That here be any lovere in this place That herkneth, as the storie wol devyse, How Troilus com to his lady grace, And thenketh, so nolde I nat love purchace, Or wondreth on his speche or his doinge, I noot; but it is me no wonderinge; For every wight which that to Rome went, Halt nat o path, or alwey o manere; Eek in som lond were al the gamen shent, If that they ferde in love as men don here, As thus, in open doing or in chere, In visitinge, in forme, or seyde hire sawes; For-thy men seyn, ech contree hath his lawes.
Eek scarsly been ther in this place three That han in love seid lyk and doon in al; For to thy purpos this may lyken thee, And thee right nought, yet al is seyd or shal; Eek som men grave in tree, som in stoon wal, As it bitit; but sin I have begonne, Myn auctor shal I folwen, if I conne.
Exclipit prohemium Secundi Libri.
Incipit Liber Secundus.
In May, that moder is of monthes glade, That fresshe floures, blewe, and whyte, and rede, Ben quike agayn, that winter dede made, And ful of bawme is fleting every mede; Whan Phebus doth his brighte bemes sprede Right in the whyte Bole, it so bitidde As I shal singe, on Mayes day the thridde, That Pandarus, for al his wyse speche, Felt eek his part of loves shottes kene, That, coude he never so wel of loving preche, It made his hewe a-day ful ofte grene; So shoop it, that hym fil that day a tene In love, for which in wo to bedde he wente, And made, er it was day, ful many a wente.
The swalwe Proigne, with a sorwful lay, Whan morwe com, gan make hir waymentinge, Why she forshapen was; and ever lay Pandare a-bedde, half in a slomeringe, Til she so neigh him made hir chiteringe How Tereus gan forth hir suster take, That with the noyse of hir he gan a-wake; And gan to calle, and dresse him up to ryse, Remembringe him his erand was to done From Troilus, and eek his greet empryse; And caste and knew in good plyt was the mone To doon viage, and took his wey ful sone Un-to his neces paleys ther bi-syde; Now Ianus, god of entree, thou him gyde! Whan he was come un-to his neces place, 'Wher is my lady?' to hir folk seyde he; And they him tolde; and he forth in gan pace, And fond, two othere ladyes sete and she, With-inne a paved parlour; and they three Herden a mayden reden hem the geste Of the Sege of Thebes, whyl hem leste.
Quod Pandarus, 'Ma dame, god yow see, With al your book and al the companye!' 'Ey, uncle myn, welcome y-wis,' quod she, And up she roos, and by the hond in hye She took him faste, and seyde, 'This night thrye, To goode mote it turne, of yow I mette!' And with that word she doun on bench him sette.
'Ye, nece, ye shal fare wel the bet, If god wole, al this yeer,' quod Pandarus; 'But I am sory that I have yow let To herknen of your book ye preysen thus; For goddes love, what seith it? tel it us.
Is it of love? O, som good ye me lere!' 'Uncle,' quod she, 'your maistresse is not here!' With that they gonnen laughe, and tho she seyde, 'This romaunce is of Thebes, that we rede; And we han herd how that king Laius deyde Thurgh Edippus his sone, and al that dede; And here we stenten at these lettres rede, How the bisshop, as the book can telle, Amphiorax, fil thurgh the ground to helle.
' Quod Pandarus, 'Al this knowe I my-selve, And al the assege of Thebes and the care; For her-of been ther maked bokes twelve: -- But lat be this, and tel me how ye fare; Do wey your barbe, and shew your face bare; Do wey your book, rys up, and lat us daunce, And lat us don to May som observaunce.
' 'A! God forbede!' quod she.
'Be ye mad? Is that a widewes lyf, so god you save? By god, ye maken me right sore a-drad, Ye ben so wilde, it semeth as ye rave! It sete me wel bet ay in a cave To bidde, and rede on holy seyntes lyves; Lat maydens gon to daunce, and yonge wyves.
' 'As ever thryve I,' quod this Pandarus, 'Yet coude I telle a thing to doon you pleye.
' 'Now, uncle dere,' quod she, 'tel it us For goddes love; is than the assege aweye? I am of Grekes so ferd that I deye.
' 'Nay, nay,' quod he, 'as ever mote I thryve! It is a thing wel bet than swiche fyve.
' 'Ye, holy god,' quod she, 'what thing is that? What! Bet than swiche fyve? Ey, nay, y-wis! For al this world ne can I reden what It sholde been; som Iape, I trowe, is this; And but your-selven telle us what it is, My wit is for to arede it al to lene; As help me god, I noot nat what ye meene.
' 'And I your borow, ne never shal, for me, This thing be told to yow, as mote I thryve!' 'And why so, uncle myn? Why so?' quod she.
'By god,' quod he, 'that wole I telle as blyve; For prouder womman were ther noon on-lyve, And ye it wiste, in al the toun of Troye; I iape nought, as ever have I Ioye!' Tho gan she wondren more than biforn A thousand fold, and doun hir eyen caste; For never, sith the tyme that she was born, To knowe thing desired she so faste; And with a syk she seyde him at the laste, 'Now, uncle myn, I nil yow nought displese, Nor axen more, that may do yow disese.
' So after this, with many wordes glade, And freendly tales, and with mery chere, Of this and that they pleyde, and gunnen wade In many an unkouth glad and deep matere, As freendes doon, whan they ben met y-fere; Til she gan axen him how Ector ferde, That was the tounes wal and Grekes yerde.
'Ful wel, I thanke it god,' quod Pandarus, 'Save in his arm he hath a litel wounde; And eek his fresshe brother Troilus, The wyse worthy Ector the secounde, In whom that ever vertu list abounde, As alle trouthe and alle gentillesse, Wysdom, honour, fredom, and worthinesse.
' 'In good feith, eem,' quod she, 'that lyketh me; They faren wel, god save hem bothe two! For trewely I holde it greet deyntee A kinges sone in armes wel to do, And been of good condiciouns ther-to; For greet power and moral vertu here Is selde y-seye in o persone y-fere.
' 'In good feith, that is sooth,' quod Pandarus; 'But, by my trouthe, the king hath sones tweye, That is to mene, Ector and Troilus, That certainly, though that I sholde deye, They been as voyde of vyces, dar I seye, As any men that liveth under the sonne, Hir might is wyde y-knowe, and what they conne.
'Of Ector nedeth it nought for to telle: In al this world ther nis a bettre knight Than he, that is of worthinesse welle; And he wel more vertu hath than might.
This knoweth many a wys and worthy wight.
The same prys of Troilus I seye, God help me so, I knowe not swiche tweye.
' 'By god,' quod she, 'of Ector that is sooth; Of Troilus the same thing trowe I; For, dredelees, men tellen that he dooth In armes day by day so worthily, And bereth him here at hoom so gentilly To every wight, that al the prys hath he Of hem that me were levest preysed be.
' 'Ye sey right sooth, y-wis,' quod Pandarus; 'For yesterday, who-so hadde with him been, He might have wondred up-on Troilus; For never yet so thikke a swarm of been Ne fleigh, as Grekes fro him gonne fleen; And thorugh the feld, in everi wightes ere, Ther nas no cry but "Troilus is there!" 'Now here, now there, he hunted hem so faste, Ther nas but Grekes blood; and Troilus, Now hem he hurte, and hem alle doun he caste; Ay where he wente, it was arayed thus: He was hir deeth, and sheld and lyf for us; That as that day ther dorste noon with-stonde, Whyl that he held his blody swerd in honde.
'Therto he is the freendlieste man Of grete estat, that ever I saw my lyve; And wher him list, best felawshipe can To suche as him thinketh able for to thryve.
' And with that word tho Pandarus, as blyve, He took his leve, and seyde, 'I wol go henne.
' 'Nay, blame have I, myn uncle,' quod she thenne.
'What eyleth yow to be thus wery sone, And namelich of wommen? Wol ye so? Nay, sitteth down; by god, I have to done With yow, to speke of wisdom er ye go.
' And every wight that was a-boute hem tho, That herde that, gan fer a-wey to stonde, Whyl they two hadde al that hem liste in honde.
Whan that hir tale al brought was to an ende, Of hire estat and of hir governaunce, Quod Pandarus, 'Now is it tyme I wende; But yet, I seye, aryseth, lat us daunce, And cast your widwes habit to mischaunce: What list yow thus your-self to disfigure, Sith yow is tid thus fair an aventure?' 'A! Wel bithought! For love of god,' quod she, 'Shal I not witen what ye mene of this?' 'No, this thing axeth layser,' tho quod he, 'And eek me wolde muche greve, y-wis, If I it tolde, and ye it toke amis.
Yet were it bet my tonge for to stille Than seye a sooth that were ayeins your wille.
'For, nece, by the goddesse Minerve, And Iuppiter, that maketh the thonder ringe, And by the blisful Venus that I serve, Ye been the womman in this world livinge, With-oute paramours, to my wittinge, That I best love, and lothest am to greve, And that ye witen wel your-self, I leve.
' 'Y-wis, myn uncle,' quod she, 'grant mercy; Your freendship have I founden ever yit; I am to no man holden trewely, So muche as yow, and have so litel quit; And, with the grace of god, emforth my wit, As in my gilt I shal you never offende; And if I have er this, I wol amende.
'But, for the love of god, I yow beseche, As ye ben he that I love most and triste, Lat be to me your fremde manere speche, And sey to me, your nece, what yow liste:' And with that word hir uncle anoon hir kiste, And seyde, 'Gladly, leve nece dere, Tak it for good that I shal seye yow here.
' With that she gan hir eiyen doun to caste, And Pandarus to coghe gan a lyte, And seyde, 'Nece, alwey, lo! To the laste, How-so it be that som men hem delyte With subtil art hir tales for to endyte, Yet for al that, in hir entencioun Hir tale is al for som conclusioun.
'And sithen thende is every tales strengthe, And this matere is so bihovely, What sholde I peynte or drawen it on lengthe To yow, that been my freend so feithfully?' And with that word he gan right inwardly Biholden hir, and loken on hir face, And seyde, 'On suche a mirour goode grace!' Than thoughte he thus: 'If I my tale endyte Ought hard, or make a proces any whyle, She shal no savour han ther-in but lyte, And trowe I wolde hir in my wil bigyle.
For tendre wittes wenen al be wyle Ther-as they can nat pleynly understonde; For-thy hir wit to serven wol I fonde --' And loked on hir in a besy wyse, And she was war that he byheld hir so, And seyde, 'Lord! So faste ye me avyse! Sey ye me never er now? What sey ye, no?' 'Yes, yes,' quod he, 'and bet wole er I go; But, by my trouthe, I thoughte now if ye Be fortunat, for now men shal it see.
'For to every wight som goodly aventure Som tyme is shape, if he it can receyven; And if that he wol take of it no cure, Whan that it commeth, but wilfully it weyven, Lo, neither cas nor fortune him deceyven, But right his verray slouthe and wrecchednesse; And swich a wight is for to blame, I gesse.
'Good aventure, O bele nece, have ye Ful lightly founden, and ye conne it take; And, for the love of god, and eek of me, Cacche it anoon, lest aventure slake.
What sholde I lenger proces of it make? Yif me your hond, for in this world is noon, If that yow list, a wight so wel begoon.
'And sith I speke of good entencioun, As I to yow have told wel here-biforn, And love as wel your honour and renoun As creature in al this world y-born; By alle the othes that I have yow sworn, And ye be wrooth therfore, or wene I lye, Ne shal I never seen yow eft with ye.
'Beth nought agast, ne quaketh nat; wher-to? Ne chaungeth nat for fere so your hewe; For hardely the werste of this is do; And though my tale as now be to yow newe, Yet trist alwey, ye shal me finde trewe; And were it thing that me thoughte unsittinge, To yow nolde I no swiche tales bringe.
' 'Now, my good eem, for goddes love, I preye,' Quod she, 'com of, and tel me what it is; For bothe I am agast what ye wol seye, And eek me longeth it to wite, y-wis.
For whether it be wel or be amis, Say on, lat me not in this fere dwelle:' 'So wol I doon; now herkneth, I shal telle: 'Now, nece myn, the kinges dere sone, The goode, wyse, worthy, fresshe, and free, Which alwey for to do wel is his wone, The noble Troilus, so loveth thee, That, bot ye helpe, it wol his bane be.
Lo, here is al, what sholde I more seye? Doth what yow list, to make him live or deye.
'But if ye lete him deye, I wol sterve; Have her my trouthe, nece, I nil not lyen; Al sholde I with this knyf my throte kerve --' With that the teres braste out of his yen, And seyde, 'If that ye doon us bothe dyen, Thus giltelees, than have ye fisshed faire; What mende ye, though that we bothe apeyre? 'Allas! He which that is my lord so dere, That trewe man, that noble gentil knight, That nought desireth but your freendly chere, I see him deye, ther he goth up-right, And hasteth him, with al his fulle might, For to be slayn, if fortune wol assente; Allas! That god yow swich a beautee sente! 'If it be so that ye so cruel be, That of his deeth yow liste nought to recche, That is so trewe and worthy, as ye see, No more than of a Iapere or a wrecche, If ye be swich, your beautee may not strecche To make amendes of so cruel a dede; Avysement is good bifore the nede.
'Wo worth the faire gemme vertulees! Wo worth that herbe also that dooth no bote! Wo worth that beautee that is routhelees! Wo worth that wight that tret ech under fote! And ye, that been of beautee crop and rote, If therwith-al in you ther be no routhe, Than is it harm ye liven, by my trouthe! 'And also thenk wel that this is no gaude; For me were lever, thou and I and he Were hanged, than I sholde been his baude, As heyghe, as men mighte on us alle y-see: I am thyn eem, the shame were to me, As wel as thee, if that I sholde assente, Thorugh myn abet, that he thyn honour shente.
'Now understond, for I yow nought requere, To binde yow to him thorugh no beheste, But only that ye make him bettre chere Than ye han doon er this, and more feste, So that his lyf be saved, at the leste; This al and som, and playnly our entente; God help me so, I never other mente.
'Lo, this request is not but skile, y-wis, Ne doute of reson, pardee, is ther noon.
I sette the worste that ye dredden this, Men wolden wondren seen him come or goon: Ther-ayeins answere I thus a-noon, That every wight, but he be fool of kinde, Wol deme it love of freendship in his minde.
'What? Who wol deme, though he see a man To temple go, that he the images eteth? Thenk eek how wel and wysly that he can Governe him-self, that he no-thing foryeteth, That, wher he cometh, he prys and thank him geteth; And eek ther-to, he shal come here so selde, What fors were it though al the toun behelde? 'Swich love of freendes regneth al this toun; And wrye yow in that mantel ever-mo; And god so wis be my savacioun, As I have seyd, your beste is to do so.
But alwey, goode nece, to stinte his wo, So lat your daunger sucred ben a lyte, That of his deeth ye be nought for to wyte.
' Criseyde, which that herde him in this wyse, Thoughte, 'I shal fele what he meneth, y-wis.
' 'Now, eem,' quod she, 'what wolde ye devyse? What is your reed I sholde doon of this?' 'That is wel seyd,' quod be.
'certayn, best is That ye him love ayein for his lovinge, As love for love is skilful guerdoninge.
'Thenk eek, how elde wasteth every houre In eche of yow a party of beautee; And therfore, er that age thee devoure, Go love, for, olde, ther wol no wight of thee.
Lat this proverbe a lore un-to yow be; "To late y-war, quod Beautee, whan it paste;" And elde daunteth daunger at the laste.
'The kinges fool is woned to cryen loude, Whan that him thinketh a womman bereth hir hye, "So longe mote ye live, and alle proude, Til crowes feet be growe under your ye, And sende yow thanne a mirour in to prye In whiche that ye may see your face a-morwe!" Nece, I bidde wisshe yow no more sorwe.
' With this he stente, and caste adoun the heed, And she bigan to breste a-wepe anoon, And seyde, 'Allas, for wo! Why nere I deed? For of this world the feith is al agoon! Allas! What sholden straunge to me doon, Whan he, that for my beste freend I wende, Ret me to love, and sholde it me defende? 'Allas! I wolde han trusted, doutelees, That if that I, thurgh my disaventure, Had loved other him or Achilles, Ector, or any mannes creature, Ye nolde han had no mercy ne mesure On me, but alwey had me in repreve; This false world, allas! Who may it leve? 'What? Is this al the Ioye and al the feste? Is this your reed, is this my blisful cas? Is this the verray mede of your beheste? Is al this peynted proces seyd, allas! Right for this fyn? O lady myn, Pallas! Thou in this dredful cas for me purveye; For so astonied am I that I deye!' With that she gan ful sorwfully to syke; 'A! May it be no bet?' quod Pandarus; 'By god, I shal no-more come here this wyke, And god to-forn, that am mistrusted thus; I see ful wel that ye sette lyte of us, Or of our deeth! Allas! I woful wrecche! Mighte he yet live, of me is nought to recche.
'O cruel god, O dispitouse Marte, O Furies three of helle, on yow I crye! So lat me never out of this hous departe, If that I mente harm or vilanye! But sith I see my lord mot nedes dye, And I with him, here I me shryve, and seye That wikkedly ye doon us bothe deye.
'But sith it lyketh yow that I be deed, By Neptunus, that god is of the see, Fro this forth shal I never eten breed Til I myn owene herte blood may see; For certayn, I wole deye as sone as he --' And up he sterte, and on his wey he raughte, Til she agayn him by the lappe caughte.
Criseyde, which that wel neigh starf for fere, So as she was the ferfulleste wight That mighte be, and herde eek with hir ere, And saw the sorwful ernest of the knight, And in his preyere eek saw noon unright, And for the harm that mighte eek fallen more, She gan to rewe and dredde hir wonder sore; And thoughte thus, 'Unhappes fallen thikke Alday for love, and in swich maner cas, As men ben cruel in hem-self and wikke; And if this man slee here him-self, allas! In my presence, it wol be no solas.
What men wolde of hit deme I can nat seye; It nedeth me ful sleyly for to pleye.
' And with a sorwful syk she seyde thrye, 'A! Lord! What me is tid a sory chaunce! For myn estat lyth in Iupartye, And eek myn emes lyf lyth in balaunce; But nathelees, with goddes governaunce, I shal so doon, myn honour shal I kepe, And eek his lyf;' and stinte for to wepe.
'Of harmes two, the lesse is for to chese; Yet have I lever maken him good chere In honour, than myn emes lyf to lese; Ye seyn, ye no-thing elles me requere?' 'No, wis,' quod he, 'myn owene nece dere.
' 'Now wel,' quod she, 'and I wol doon my peyne; I shal myn herte ayeins my lust constreyne.
'But that I nil not holden him in honde, Ne love a man, ne can I not, ne may Ayeins my wil; but elles wol I fonde, Myn honour sauf, plese him fro day to day; Ther-to nolde I nought ones have seyd nay, But that I dredde, as in my fantasye; But cesse cause, ay cesseth maladye.
'And here I make a protestacioun, That in this proces if ye depper go, That certaynly, for no savacioun Of yow, though that ye sterve bothe two, Though al the world on o day be my fo, Ne shal I never on him han other routhe.
--' 'I graunte wel,' quod Pandare, 'by my trouthe.
'But may I truste wel ther-to,' quod he, 'That of this thing that ye han hight me here, Ye wol it holden trewly un-to me?' 'Ye, doutelees,' quod she, 'myn uncle dere.
' 'Ne that I shal han cause in this matere,' Quod he, 'to pleyne, or after yow to preche?' 'Why, no, parde; what nedeth more speche?' Tho fillen they in othere tales glade, Til at the laste, 'O good eem,' quod she tho, 'For love of god, which that us bothe made, Tel me how first ye wisten of his wo: Wot noon of hit but ye?' He seyde, 'No.
' 'Can he wel speke of love?' quod she, 'I preye, Tel me, for I the bet me shal purveye.
' Tho Pandarus a litel gan to smyle, And seyde, 'By my trouthe, I shal yow telle.
This other day, nought gon ful longe whyle, In-with the paleys-gardyn, by a welle, Gan he and I wel half a day to dwelle, Right for to speken of an ordenaunce, How we the Grekes myghte disavaunce.
'Sone after that bigonne we to lepe, And casten with our dartes to and fro, Til at the laste he seyde he wolde slepe, And on the gres a-doun he leyde him tho; And I after gan rome to and fro Til that I herde, as that I welk allone, How he bigan ful wofully to grone.
'Tho gan I stalke him softely bihinde, And sikerly, the sothe for to seyne, As I can clepe ayein now to my minde, Right thus to Love he gan him for to pleyne; He seyde, "Lord! Have routhe up-on my peyne, Al have I been rebel in myn entente; Now, MEA CULPA, lord! I me repente.
'"O god, that at thy disposicioun Ledest the fyn by Iuste purveyaunce, Of every wight, my lowe confessioun Accepte in gree, and send me swich penaunce As lyketh thee, but from desesperaunce, That may my goost departe awey fro thee, Thou be my sheld, for thy benignitee.
'"For certes, lord, so soore hath she me wounded, That stod in blak, with loking of hir yen, That to myn hertes botme it is y-sounded, Thorugh which I woot that I mot nedes dyen; This is the worste, I dar me not bi-wryen; And wel the hotter been the gledes rede, That men hem wryen with asshen pale and dede.
" 'With that he smoot his heed adoun anoon, And gan to motre, I noot what, trewely.
And I with that gan stille awey to goon, And leet ther-of as no-thing wist hadde I, And come ayein anoon and stood him by, And seyde, "A-wake, ye slepen al to longe; It semeth nat that love dooth yow longe, '"That slepen so that no man may yow wake.
Who sey ever or this so dul a man?" "Ye, freend," quod he, "do ye your hedes ake For love, and lat me liven as I can.
" But though that he for wo was pale and wan, Yet made he tho as freshe a countenaunce As though he shulde have led the newe daunce.
'This passed forth, til now, this other day, It fel that I com roming al allone Into his chaumbre, and fond how that he lay Up-on his bed; but man so sore grone Ne herde I never, and what that was his mone, Ne wist I nought; for, as I was cominge, Al sodeynly he lefte his compleyninge.
'Of which I took somwat suspecioun, And neer I com, and fond he wepte sore; And god so wis be my savacioun, As never of thing hadde I no routhe more.
For neither with engyn, ne with no lore, Unethes mighte I fro the deeth him kepe; That yet fele I myn herte for him wepe.
'And god wot, never, sith that I was born, Was I so bisy no man for to preche, Ne never was to wight so depe y-sworn, Or he me tolde who mighte been his leche.
But now to yow rehersen al his speche, Or alle his woful wordes for to soune, Ne bid me not, but ye wol see me swowne.
'But for to save his lyf, and elles nought, And to non harm of yow, thus am I driven; And for the love of god that us hath wrought, Swich chere him dooth, that he and I may liven.
Now have I plat to yow myn herte shriven; And sin ye woot that myn entente is clene, Tak hede ther-of, for I non yvel mene.
'And right good thrift, I prey to god, have ye, That han swich oon y-caught with-oute net; And be ye wys, as ye ben fair to see, Wel in the ring than is the ruby set.
Ther were never two so wel y-met, Whan ye ben his al hool, as he is youre: Ther mighty god yet graunte us see that houre!' 'Nay, therof spak I not, a, ha!' quod she, 'As helpe me god, ye shenden every deel!' 'O mercy, dere nece,' anoon quod he, 'What-so I spak, I mente nought but weel, By Mars the god, that helmed is of steel; Now beth nought wrooth, my blood, my nece dere.
' 'Now wel,' quod she, 'foryeven be it here!' With this he took his leve, and hoom he wente; And lord, he was glad and wel bigoon! Criseyde aroos, no lenger she ne stente, But straught in-to hir closet wente anoon, And sette here doun as stille as any stoon, And every word gan up and doun to winde, That he hadde seyd, as it com hir to minde; And wex somdel astonied in hir thought, Right for the newe cas; but whan that she Was ful avysed, tho fond she right nought Of peril, why she oughte afered be.
For man may love, of possibilitee, A womman so, his herte may to-breste, And she nought love ayein, but-if hir leste.
But as she sat allone and thoughte thus, Thascry aroos at skarmish al with-oute, And men cryde in the strete, 'See, Troilus Hath right now put to flight the Grekes route!' With that gan al hir meynee for to shoute, 'A! Go we see, caste up the latis wyde; For thurgh this strete he moot to palays ryde; 'For other wey is fro the yate noon Of Dardanus, ther open is the cheyne.
' With that com he and al his folk anoon An esy pas rydinge, in routes tweyne, Right as his happy day was, sooth to seyne, For which, men say, may nought disturbed be That shal bityden of necessitee.
This Troilus sat on his baye stede, Al armed, save his heed, ful richely, And wounded was his hors, and gan to blede, On whiche he rood a pas, ful softely; But swych a knightly sighte, trewely, As was on him, was nought, with-outen faile, To loke on Mars, that god is of batayle.
So lyk a man of armes and a knight He was to seen, fulfild of heigh prowesse; For bothe he hadde a body and a might To doon that thing, as wel as hardinesse; And eek to seen him in his gere him dresse, So fresh, so yong, so weldy semed he, It was an heven up-on him for to see.
His helm to-hewen was in twenty places, That by a tissew heng, his bak bihinde, His sheld to-dasshed was with swerdes and maces, In which men mighte many an arwe finde That thirled hadde horn and nerf and rinde; And ay the peple cryde, 'Here cometh our Ioye, And, next his brother, holdere up of Troye!' For which he wex a litel reed for shame, Whan he the peple up-on him herde cryen, That to biholde it was a noble game, How sobreliche he caste doun his yen.
Cryseyda gan al his chere aspyen, And leet so softe it in hir herte sinke, That to hir-self she seyde, 'Who yaf me drinke?' For of hir owene thought she wex al reed, Remembringe hir right thus, 'Lo, this is he Which that myn uncle swereth he moot be deed, But I on him have mercy and pitee;' And with that thought, for pure a-shamed, she Gan in hir heed to pulle, and that as faste, Whyl he and al the peple for-by paste, And gan to caste and rollen up and doun With-inne hir thought his excellent prowesse, And his estat, and also his renoun, His wit, his shap, and eek his gentillesse; But most hir favour was, for his distresse Was al for hir, and thoughte it was a routhe To sleen swich oon, if that he mente trouthe.
Now mighte som envyous Iangle thus, 'This was a sodeyn love; how mighte it be That she so lightly lovede Troilus Right for the firste sighte; ye, pardee?' Now who-so seyth so, mote he never thee! For every thing, a ginning hath it nede Er al be wrought, with-outen any drede.
For I sey nought that she so sodeynly Yaf him hir love, but that she gan enclyne To lyke him first, and I have told yow why; And after that, his manhod and his pyne Made love with-inne hir for to myne, For which, by proces and by good servyse, He gat hir love, and in no sodeyn wyse.
And also blisful Venus, wel arayed, Sat in hir seventhe hous of hevene tho, Disposed wel, and with aspectes payed, To helpen sely Troilus of his wo.
And, sooth to seyn, she nas not al a fo To Troilus in his nativitee; God woot that wel the soner spedde he.
Now lat us stinte of Troilus a throwe, That rydeth forth, and lat us tourne faste Un-to Criseyde, that heng hir heed ful lowe, Ther-as she sat allone, and gan to caste Wher-on she wolde apoynte hir at the laste, If it so were hir eem ne wolde cesse, For Troilus, up-on hir for to presse.
And, lord! So she gan in hir thought argue In this matere of which I have yow told, And what to doon best were, and what eschue, That plyted she ful ofte in many fold.
Now was hir herte warm, now was it cold, And what she thoughte somwhat shal I wryte, As to myn auctor listeth for to endyte.
She thoughte wel that Troilus persone She knew by sighte and eek his gentillesse, And thus she seyde, 'Al were it nought to done, To graunte him love, yet, for his worthinesse, It were honour, with pley and with gladnesse, In honestee, with swich a lord to dele, For myn estat, and also for his hele.
'Eek, wel wot I my kinges sone is he; And sith he hath to see me swich delyt, If I wolde utterly his sighte flee, Peraunter he mighte have me in dispyt, Thurgh which I mighte stonde in worse plyt; Now were I wys, me hate to purchace, With-outen nede, ther I may stonde in grace? 'In every thing, I woot, ther lyth mesure.
For though a man forbede dronkenesse, He nought for-bet that every creature Be drinkelees for alwey, as I gesse; Eek sith I woot for me is his distresse, I ne oughte not for that thing him despyse, Sith it is so, he meneth in good wyse.
'And eek I knowe, of longe tyme agoon, His thewes goode, and that he is not nyce.
Ne avauntour, seyth men, certein, he is noon; To wys is he to do so gret a vyce; Ne als I nel him never so cheryce, That he may make avaunt, by Iuste cause; He shal me never binde in swiche a clause.
'Now set a cas, the hardest is, y-wis, Men mighten deme that he loveth me; What dishonour were it un-to me, this? May I him lette of that? Why nay, pardee! I knowe also, and alday here and see, Men loven wommen al this toun aboute; Be they the wers? Why, nay, with-outen doute.
'I thenk eek how he able is for to have Of al this noble toun the thriftieste, To been his love, so she hir honour save; For out and out he is the worthieste, Save only Ector, which that is the beste.
And yet his lyf al lyth now in my cure, But swich is love, and eek myn aventure.
'Ne me to love, a wonder is it nought; For wel wot I my-self, so god me spede, Al wolde I that noon wiste of this thought, I am oon the fayreste, out of drede, And goodlieste, who-so taketh hede; And so men seyn in al the toun of Troye.
What wonder is it though he of me have Ioye? 'I am myn owene woman, wel at ese, I thank it god, as after myn estat; Right yong, and stonde unteyd in lusty lese, With-outen Ialousye or swich debat; Shal noon housbonde seyn to me "Chekmat!" For either they ben ful of Ialousye, Or maisterful, or loven novelrye.
'What shal I doon? To what fyn live I thus? Shal I nat loven, in cas if that me leste? What, par dieux! I am nought religious! And though that I myn herte sette at reste Upon this knight, that is the worthieste, And kepe alwey myn honour and my name, By alle right, it may do me no shame.
' But right as whan the sonne shyneth brighte, In March, that chaungeth ofte tyme his face, And that a cloud is put with wind to flighte Which over-sprat the sonne as for a space, A cloudy thought gan thorugh hir soule pace, That over-spradde hir brighte thoughtes alle, So that for fere almost she gan to falle.
That thought was this: 'Allas! Sin I am free, Sholde I now love, and putte in Iupartye My sikernesse, and thrallen libertee? Allas! How dorste I thenken that folye? May I nought wel in other folk aspye Hir dredful Ioye, hir constreynt, and hir peyne? Ther loveth noon, that she nath why to pleyne.
'For love is yet the moste stormy lyf, Right of him-self, that ever was bigonne; For ever som mistrust, or nyce stryf, Ther is in love, som cloud is over that sonne: Ther-to we wrecched wommen no-thing conne, Whan us is wo, but wepe and sitte and thinke; Our wreche is this, our owene wo to drinke.
'Also these wikked tonges been so prest To speke us harm, eek men be so untrewe, That, right anoon as cessed is hir lest, So cesseth love, and forth to love a newe: But harm y-doon, is doon, who-so it rewe.
For though these men for love hem first to-rende, Ful sharp biginning breketh ofte at ende.
'How ofte tyme hath it y-knowen be, The treson, that to womman hath be do? To what fyn is swich love, I can nat see, Or wher bicometh it, whan it is ago; Ther is no wight that woot, I trowe so, Wher it bycomth; lo, no wight on it sporneth; That erst was no-thing, in-to nought it torneth.
'How bisy, if I love, eek moste I be To plesen hem that Iangle of love, and demen, And coye hem, that they sey non harm of me? For though ther be no cause, yet hem semen Al be for harm that folk hir freendes quemen; And who may stoppen every wikked tonge, Or soun of belles whyl that they be ronge?' And after that, hir thought bigan to clere, And seyde, 'He which that no-thing under-taketh, No thing ne acheveth, be him looth or dere.
' And with an other thought hir herte quaketh; Than slepeth hope, and after dreed awaketh; Now hoot, now cold; but thus, bi-twixen tweye, She rist hir up, and went hir for to pleye.
Adoun the steyre anoon-right tho she wente In-to the gardin, with hir neces three, And up and doun ther made many a wente, Flexippe, she, Tharbe, and Antigone, To pleyen, that it Ioye was to see; And othere of hir wommen, a gret route, hir folwede in the gardin al aboute.
This yerd was large, and rayled alle the aleyes, And shadwed wel with blosmy bowes grene, And benched newe, and sonded alle the weyes, In which she walketh arm in arm bi-twene; Til at the laste Antigone the shene Gan on a Troian song to singe clere, That it an heven was hir voys to here.
-- She seyde, 'O love, to whom I have and shal Ben humble subgit, trewe in myn entente, As I best can, to yow, lord, yeve ich al For ever-more, myn hertes lust to rente.
For never yet thy grace no wight sente So blisful cause as me, my lyf to lede In alle Ioye and seurtee, out of drede.
'Ye, blisful god, han me so wel beset In love, y-wis, that al that bereth lyf Imaginen ne cowde how to ben bet; For, lord, with-outen Ialousye or stryf, I love oon which that is most ententyf To serven wel, unwery or unfeyned, That ever was, and leest with harm distreyned.
'As he that is the welle of worthinesse, Of trouthe ground, mirour of goodliheed, Of wit Appollo, stoon of sikernesse, Of vertu rote, of lust findere and heed, Thurgh which is alle sorwe fro me deed, Y-wis, I love him best, so doth he me; Now good thrift have he, wher-so that he be! 'Whom sholde I thanke but yow, god of love, Of al this blisse, in which to bathe I ginne? And thanked be ye, lord, for that I love! This is the righte lyf that I am inne, To flemen alle manere vyce and sinne: This doth me so to vertu for to entende, That day by day I in my wil amende.
'And who-so seyth that for to love is vyce, Or thraldom, though he fele in it distresse, He outher is envyous, or right nyce, Or is unmighty, for his shrewednesse, To loven; for swich maner folk, I gesse, Defamen love, as no-thing of him knowe; Thei speken, but they bente never his bowe.
'What is the sonne wers, of kinde righte, Though that a man, for feblesse of his yen, May nought endure on it to see for brighte? Or love the wers, though wrecches on it cryen? No wele is worth, that may no sorwe dryen.
And for-thy, who that hath an heed of verre, Fro cast of stones war him in the werre! 'But I with al myn herte and al my might, As I have seyd, wol love, un-to my laste, My dere herte, and al myn owene knight, In which myn herte growen is so faste, And his in me, that it shal ever laste.
Al dredde I first to love him to biginne, Now woot I wel, ther is no peril inne.
' And of hir song right with that word she stente, And therwith-al, 'Now, nece,' quod Criseyde, 'Who made this song with so good entente?' Antigone answerde anoon, and seyde, 'Ma dame, y-wis, the goodlieste mayde Of greet estat in al the toun of Troye; And let hir lyf in most honour and Ioye.
' 'Forsothe, so it semeth by hir song,' Quod tho Criseyde, and gan ther-with to syke, And seyde, 'Lord, is there swich blisse among These lovers, as they conne faire endyte?' 'Ye, wis,' quod freshe Antigone the whyte, 'For alle the folk that han or been on lyve Ne conne wel the blisse of love discryve.
'But wene ye that every wrecche woot The parfit blisse of love? Why, nay, y-wis; They wenen al be love, if oon be hoot; Do wey, do wey, they woot no-thing of this! Men mosten axe at seyntes if it is Aught fair in hevene; Why? For they conne telle; And axen fendes, is it foul in helle.
' Criseyde un-to that purpos nought answerde, But seyde, 'Y-wis, it wol be night as faste.
' But every word which that she of hir herde, She gan to prenten in hir herte faste; And ay gan love hir lasse for to agaste Than it dide erst, and sinken in hir herte, That she wex somwhat able to converte.
The dayes honour, and the hevenes ye, The nightes fo, al this clepe I the sonne, Gan westren faste, and dounward for to wrye, As he that hadde his dayes cours y-ronne; And whyte thinges wexen dimme and donne For lak of light, and sterres for to appere, That she and al hir folk in wente y-fere.
So whan it lyked hir to goon to reste, And voyded weren they that voyden oughte, She seyde, that to slepe wel hir leste.
Hir wommen sone til hir bed hir broughte.
Whan al was hust, than lay she stille, and thoughte Of al this thing the manere and the wyse.
Reherce it nedeth nought, for ye ben wyse.
A nightingale, upon a cedre grene, Under the chambre-wal ther as she lay, Ful loude sang ayein the mone shene, Paraunter, in his briddes wyse, a lay Of love, that made hir herte fresh and gay.
That herkned she so longe in good entente, Til at the laste the dede sleep hir hente.
And as she sleep, anoon-right tho hir mette, How that an egle, fethered whyt as boon, Under hir brest his longe clawes sette, And out hir herte he rente, and that a-noon, And dide his herte in-to hir brest to goon, Of which she nought agroos, ne no-thing smerte, And forth he fleigh, with herte left for herte.
Now lat hir slepe, and we our tales holde Of Troilus, that is to paleys riden, Fro the scarmuch, of the whiche I tolde, And in his chaumbre sit, and hath abiden Til two or three of his messages yeden For Pandarus, and soughten him ful faste, Til they him founde and broughte him at the laste.
This Pandarus com leping in at ones, And seiyde thus: 'Who hath ben wel y-bete To-day with swerdes, and with slinge-stones, But Troilus, that hath caught him an hete?' And gan to Iape, and seyde, 'Lord, so ye swete! But rys, and lat us soupe and go to reste;' And he answerde him, 'Do we as thee leste.
' With al the haste goodly that they mighte, They spedde hem fro the souper un-to bedde; And every wight out at the dore him dighte, And wher him liste upon his wey him spedde; But Troilus, that thoughte his herte bledde For wo, til that he herde som tydinge, He seyde, 'Freend, shal I now wepe or singe?' Quod Pandarus, 'Ly stille and lat me slepe, And don thyn hood, thy nedes spedde be; And chese, if thou wolt singe or daunce or lepe; At shorte wordes, thow shal trowe me.
-- Sire, my nece wol do wel by thee, And love thee best, by god and by my trouthe, But lak of pursuit make it in thy slouthe.
'For thus ferforth I have thy work bigonne, Fro day to day, til this day, by the morwe, Hir love of freendship have I to thee wonne, And also hath she leyd hir feyth to borwe.
Algate a foot is hameled of thy sorwe.
' What sholde I lenger sermon of it holde? As ye han herd bifore, al he him tolde.
But right as floures, thorugh the colde of night Y-closed, stoupen on hir stalke lowe, Redressen hem a-yein the sonne bright, And spreden on hir kinde cours by rowe, Right so gan tho his eyen up to throwe This Troilus, and seyde, 'O Venus dere, Thy might, thy grace, y-heried be it here!' And to Pandare he held up bothe his hondes, And seyde, 'Lord, al thyn be that I have; For I am hool, al brosten been my bondes; A thousand Troians who so that me yave, Eche after other, god so wis me save, Ne mighte me so gladen; lo, myn herte, It spredeth so for Ioye, it wol to-sterte! 'But Lord, how shal I doon, how shal I liven? Whan shal I next my dere herte see? How shal this longe tyme a-wey be driven, Til that thou be ayein at hir fro me? Thou mayst answere, "A-byd, a-byd," but he That hangeth by the nekke, sooth to seyne, In grete disese abydeth for the peyne.
' 'Al esily, now, for the love of Marte,' Quod Pandarus, 'for every thing hath tyme; So longe abyd til that the night departe; For al so siker as thow lyst here by me, And god toforn, I wol be there at pryme, And for thy werk somwhat as I shal seye, Or on som other wight this charge leye.
'For pardee, god wot, I have ever yit Ben redy thee to serve, and to this night Have I nought fayned, but emforth my wit Don al thy lust, and shal with al my might.
Do now as I shal seye, and fare a-right; And if thou nilt, wyte al thy-self thy care, On me is nought along thyn yvel fare.
'I woot wel that thow wyser art than I A thousand fold, but if I were as thou, God help me so, as I wolde outrely, Right of myn owene hond, wryte hir right now A lettre, in which I wolde hir tellen how I ferde amis, and hir beseche of routhe; Now help thy-self, and leve it not for slouthe.
'And I my-self shal ther-with to hir goon; And whan thou wost that I am with hir there, Worth thou up-on a courser right anoon, Ye, hardily, right in thy beste gere, And ryd forth by the place, as nought ne were, And thou shalt finde us, if I may, sittinge At som windowe, in-to the strete lokinge.
'And if thee list, than maystow us saluwe, And up-on me make thy contenaunce; But, by thy lyf, be war and faste eschuwe To tarien ought, god shilde us fro mischaunce! Ryd forth thy wey, and hold thy governaunce; And we shal speke of thee som-what, I trowe, Whan Thou art goon, to do thyne eres glowe! 'Touching thy lettre, thou art wys y-nough, I woot thow nilt it digneliche endyte; As make it with thise argumentes tough; Ne scrivenish or craftily thou it wryte; Beblotte it with thy teres eek a lyte; And if thou wryte a goodly word al softe, Though it be good, reherce it not to ofte.
'For though the beste harpour upon lyve Wolde on the beste souned Ioly harpe That ever was, with alle his fingres fyve, Touche ay o streng, or ay o werbul harpe, Were his nayles poynted never so sharpe, It shulde maken every wight to dulle, To here his glee, and of his strokes fulle.
'Ne Iompre eek no discordaunt thing y-fere, As thus, to usen termes of phisyk; In loves termes, hold of thy matere The forme alwey, and do that it be lyk; For if a peyntour wolde peynte a pyk With asses feet, and hede it as an ape, It cordeth nought; so nere it but a Iape.
' This counseyl lyked wel to Troilus; But, as a dreedful lover, he seyde this: -- 'Allas, my dere brother Pandarus, I am ashamed for to wryte, y-wis, Lest of myn innocence I seyde a-mis, Or that she nolde it for despyt receyve; Thanne were I deed, ther mighte it no-thing weyve.
' To that Pandare answerde, 'If thee lest, Do that I seye, and lat me therwith goon; For by that lord that formed est and west, I hope of it to bringe answere anoon Right of hir hond, and if that thou nilt noon, Lat be; and sory mote he been his lyve, Ayeins thy lust that helpeth thee to thryve.
' Quod Troilus, 'Depardieux, I assente; Sin that thee list, I will aryse and wryte; And blisful god preye ich, with good entente, The vyage, and the lettre I shal endyte, So spede it; and thou, Minerva, the whyte, Yif thou me wit my lettre to devyse:' And sette him doun, and wroot right in this wyse.
-- First he gan hir his righte lady calle, His hertes lyf, his lust, his sorwes leche, His blisse, and eek these othere termes alle, That in swich cas these loveres alle seche; And in ful humble wyse, as in his speche, He gan him recomaunde un-to hir grace; To telle al how, it axeth muchel space.
And after this, ful lowly he hir prayde To be nought wrooth, though he, of his folye, So hardy was to hir to wryte, and seyde, That love it made, or elles moste he dye, And pitously gan mercy for to crye; And after that he seyde, and ley ful loude, Him-self was litel worth, and lesse he coude; And that she sholde han his conning excused, That litel was, and eek he dredde hir so, And his unworthinesse he ay acused; And after that, than gan he telle his woo; But that was endeles, with-outen ho; And seyde, he wolde in trouthe alwey him holde; -- And radde it over, and gan the lettre folde.
And with his salte teres gan he bathe The ruby in his signet, and it sette Upon the wex deliverliche and rathe; Ther-with a thousand tymes, er he lette, He kiste tho the lettre that he shette, And seyde, 'Lettre, a blisful destenee Thee shapen is, my lady shal thee see.
' This Pandare took the lettre, and that by tyme A-morwe, and to his neces paleys sterte, And faste he swoor, that it was passed pryme, And gan to Iape, and seyde, 'Y-wis, myn herte, So fresh it is, al-though it sore smerte, I may not slepe never a Mayes morwe; I have a Ioly wo, a lusty sorwe.
' Criseyde, whan that she hir uncle herde, With dreedful herte, and desirous to here The cause of his cominge, thus answerde: 'Now by your feyth, myn uncle,' quod she, 'dere, What maner windes gydeth yow now here? Tel us your Ioly wo and your penaunce, How ferforth be ye put in loves daunce.
' 'By god,' quod he, 'I hoppe alwey bihinde!' And she to-laugh, it thoughte hir herte breste.
Quod Pandarus, 'Loke alwey that ye finde Game in myn hood, but herkneth, if yow leste; Ther is right now come in-to toune a geste, A Greek espye, and telleth newe thinges, For which I come to telle yow tydinges.
'Into the gardin go we, and we shal here, Al prevely, of this a long sermoun.
' With that they wenten arm in arm y-fere In-to the gardin from the chaumbre doun.
And whan that he so fer was that the soun Of that he speke, no man here mighte, He seyde hir thus, and out the lettre plighte, 'Lo, he that is al hoolly youres free Him recomaundeth lowly to your grace, And sent to you this lettre here by me; Avyseth you on it, whan ye han space, And of som goodly answere yow purchace; Or, helpe me god, so pleynly for to seyne, He may not longe liven for his peyne.
' Ful dredfully tho gan she stonde stille, And took it nought, but al hir humble chere Gan for to chaunge, and seyde, 'Scrit ne bille, For love of god, that toucheth swich matere, Ne bring me noon; and also, uncle dere, To myn estat have more reward, I preye, Than to his lust; what sholde I more seye? 'And loketh now if this be resonable, And letteth nought, for favour ne for slouthe, To seyn a sooth; now were it covenable To myn estat, by god, and by your trouthe, To taken it, or to han of him routhe, In harming of my-self or in repreve? Ber it a-yein, for him that ye on leve!' This Pandarus gan on hir for to stare, And seyde, 'Now is this the grettest wonder That ever I sey! Lat be this nyce fare! To deethe mote I smiten be with thonder, If, for the citee which that stondeth yonder, Wolde I a lettre un-to yow bringe or take To harm of yow; what list yow thus it make? 'But thus ye faren, wel neigh alle and some, That he that most desireth yow to serve, Of him ye recche leest wher he bicome, And whether that he live or elles sterve.
But for al that that ever I may deserve, Refuse it nought,' quod he, and hente hir faste, And in hir bosom the lettre doun he thraste, And seyde hire, 'Now cast it awey anoon, That folk may seen and gauren on us tweye.
' Quod she, 'I can abyde til they be goon,' And gan to smyle, and seyde hym, 'Eem, I preye, Swich answere as yow list, your-self purveye, For trewely I nil no lettre wryte.
' 'No? than wol I,' quod he, 'so ye endyte.
' Therwith she lough, and seyde, 'Go we dyne.
' And he gan at him-self to iape faste, And seyde, 'Nece, I have so greet a pyne For love, that every other day I faste' -- And gan his beste Iapes forth to caste; And made hir so to laughe at his folye, That she for laughter wende for to dye.
And whan that she was comen in-to halle, 'Now, eem,' quod she, 'we wol go dine anoon;' And gan some of hir women to hir calle, And streyght in-to hir chaumbre gan she goon; But of hir besinesses, this was oon A-monges othere thinges, out of drede, Ful prively this lettre for to rede; Avysed word by word in every lyne, And fond no lak, she thoughte he coude good; And up it putte, and went hir in to dyne.
But Pandarus, that in a study stood, Er he was war, she took him by the hood, And seyde, 'Ye were caught er that ye wiste;' 'I vouche sauf,' quod he.
'do what yow liste.
' Tho wesshen they, and sette hem doun and ete; And after noon ful sleyly Pandarus Gan drawe him to the window next the strete, And seyde, 'Nece, who hath arayed thus The yonder hous, that stant afor-yeyn us?' 'Which hous?' quod she, and gan for to biholde, And knew it wel, and whos it was him tolde, And fillen forth in speche of thinges smale, And seten in the window bothe tweye.
Whan Pandarus saw tyme un-to his tale, And saw wel that hir folk were alle aweye, 'Now, nece myn, tel on,' quod he; 'I seye, How liketh yow the lettre that ye woot? Can he ther-on? For, by my trouthe, I noot.
' Therwith al rosy hewed tho wex she, And gan to humme, and seyde, 'So I trowe.
' 'Aquyte him wel, for goddes love,' quod he; 'My-self to medes wol the lettre sowe.
' And held his hondes up, and sat on knowe, 'Now, goode nece, be it never so lyte, Yif me the labour, it to sowe and plyte.
' 'Ye, for I can so wryte,' quod she tho; 'And eek I noot what I sholde to him seye.
' 'Nay, nece,' quod Pandare, 'sey nat so; Yet at the leste thanketh him, I preye, Of his good wil, and doth him not to deye.
Now for the love of me, my nece dere, Refuseth not at this tyme my preyere.
' 'Depar-dieux,' quod she, 'God leve al be wel! God help me so, this is the firste lettre That ever I wroot, ye, al or any del.
' And in-to a closet, for to avyse hir bettre, She wente allone, and gan hir herte unfettre Out of disdaynes prison but a lyte; And sette hir doun, and gan a lettre wryte, Of which to telle in short is myn entente Theffect, as fer as I can understonde: -- She thonked him of al that he wel mente Towardes hir, but holden him in honde She nolde nought, ne make hir-selven bonde In love, but as his suster, him to plese, She wolde fayn to doon his herte an ese.
She shette it, and to Pandarus in gan goon, There as he sat and loked in-to the strete, And doun she sette hir by him on a stoon Of Iaspre, up-on a quisshin gold y-bete, And seyde, 'As wisly helpe me god the grete, I never dide a thing with more peyne Than wryte this, to which ye me constreyne;' And took it him: He thonked hir and seyde, 'God woot, of thing ful ofte looth bigonne Cometh ende good; and nece myn, Criseyde, That ye to him of hard now ben y-wonne Oughte he be glad, by god and yonder sonne! For-why men seyth, "Impressiounes lighte Ful lightly been ay redy to the flighte.
' 'But ye han pleyed tyraunt neigh to longe, And hard was it your herte for to grave; Now stint, that ye no longer on it honge, Al wolde ye the forme of daunger save.
But hasteth yow to doon him Ioye have; For trusteth wel, to longe y-doon hardnesse Causeth despyt ful often, for destresse.
' And right as they declamed this matere, Lo, Troilus, right at the stretes ende, Com ryding with his tenthe some y-fere, Al softely, and thiderward gan bende Ther-as they sete, as was his way to wende To paleys-ward; and Pandare him aspyde, And seyde, 'Nece, y-see who cometh here ryde! 'O flee not in, he seeth us, I suppose; Lest he may thinke that ye him eschuwe.
' 'Nay, nay,' quod she, and wex as reed as rose.
With that he gan hir humbly to saluwe With dreedful chere, and oft his hewes muwe; And up his look debonairly he caste, And bekked on Pandare, and forth he paste.
God woot if he sat on his hors a-right, Or goodly was beseyn, that ilke day! God woot wher he was lyk a manly knight! What sholde I drecche, or telle of his aray? Criseyde, which that alle these thinges say, To telle in short, hir lyked al y-fere, His persone, his aray, his look, his chere, His goodly manere, and his gentillesse, So wel, that never, sith that she was born, Ne hadde she swich routhe of his distresse; And how-so she hath hard ben her-biforn, To god hope I, she hath now caught a thorn, She shal not pulle it out this nexte wyke; God sende mo swich thornes on to pyke! Pandare, which that stood hir faste by, Felte iren hoot, and he bigan to smyte, And seyde, 'Nece, I pray yow hertely, Tel me that I shal axen yow a lyte: A womman, that were of his deeth to wyte, With-outen his gilt, but for hir lakked routhe, Were it wel doon?' Quod she, 'Nay, by my trouthe!' 'God help me so,' quod he, 'ye sey me sooth.
Ye felen wel your-self that I not lye; Lo, yond he rit!' Quod she, 'Ye, so he dooth!' 'Wel,' quod Pandare, 'as I have told yow thrye, Lat be youre nyce shame and youre folye, And spek with him in esing of his herte; Lat nycetee not do yow bothe smerte.
' But ther-on was to heven and to done; Considered al thing, it may not be; And why, for shame; and it were eek to sone To graunten him so greet a libertee.
'For playnly hir entente,' as seyde she, 'Was for to love him unwist, if she mighte, And guerdon him with no-thing but with sighte.
' But Pandarus thoughte, 'It shal not be so, If that I may; this nyce opinioun Shal not be holden fully yeres two.
' What sholde I make of this a long sermoun? He moste assente on that conclusioun, As for the tyme; and whan that it was eve, And al was wel, he roos and took his leve.
And on his wey ful faste homward he spedde, And right for Ioye he felte his herte daunce; And Troilus he fond alone a-bedde, That lay as dooth these loveres, in a traunce, Bitwixen hope and derk desesperaunce.
But Pandarus, right at his in-cominge, He song, as who seyth, 'Lo! Sumwhat I bringe,' And seyde, 'Who is in his bed so sone Y-buried thus?' 'It am I, freend,' quod he.
'Who, Troilus? Nay, helpe me so the mone,' Quod Pandarus, 'Thou shalt aryse and see A charme that was sent right now to thee, The which can helen thee of thyn accesse, If thou do forth-with al thy besinesse.
' 'Ye, through the might of god!' quod Troilus.
And Pandarus gan him the lettre take, And seyde, 'Pardee, god hath holpen us; Have here a light, and loke on al this blake.
' But ofte gan the herte glade and quake Of Troilus, whyl that he gan it rede, So as the wordes yave him hope or drede.
But fynally, he took al for the beste That she him wroot, for somwhat he biheld On which, him thoughte, he mighte his herte reste, Al covered she the wordes under sheld.
Thus to the more worthy part he held, That, what for hope and Pandarus biheste, His grete wo for-yede he at the leste.
But as we may alday our-selven see, Through more wode or col, the more fyr; Right so encrees hope, of what it be, Therwith ful ofte encreseth eek desyr; Or, as an ook cometh of a litel spyr, So through this lettre, which that she him sente, Encresen gan desyr, of which he brente.
Wherfore I seye alwey, that day and night This Troilus gan to desiren more Than he dide erst, thurgh hope, and dide his might To pressen on, as by Pandarus lore, And wryten to hir of his sorwes sore Fro day to day; he leet it not refreyde, That by Pandare he wroot somwhat or seyde; And dide also his othere observaunces That to a lovere longeth in this cas; And, after that these dees turnede on chaunces, So was he outher glad or seyde 'Allas!' And held after his gestes ay his pas; And aftir swiche answeres as he hadde, So were his dayes sory outher gladde.
But to Pandare alwey was his recours, And pitously gan ay til him to pleyne, And him bisoughte of rede and som socours; And Pandarus, that sey his wode peyne, Wex wel neigh deed for routhe, sooth to seyne, And bisily with al his herte caste Som of his wo to sleen, and that as faste; And seyde, 'Lord, and freend, and brother dere, God woot that thy disese dooth me wo.
But woltow stinten al this woful chere, And, by my trouthe, or it be dayes two, And god to-forn, yet shal I shape it so, That thou shalt come in-to a certayn place, Ther-as thou mayst thy-self hir preye of grace.
'And certainly, I noot if thou it wost, But tho that been expert in love it seye, It is oon of the thinges that furthereth most, A man to have a leyser for to preye, And siker place his wo for to biwreye; For in good herte it moot som routhe impresse, To here and see the giltles in distresse.
'Paraunter thenkestow: though it be so That kinde wolde doon hir to biginne To han a maner routhe up-on my wo, Seyth Daunger, "Nay, thou shalt me never winne; So reuleth hir hir hertes goost with-inne, That, though she bende, yet she stant on rote; What in effect is this un-to my bote?" 'Thenk here-ayeins, whan that the sturdy ook, On which men hakketh ofte, for the nones, Receyved hath the happy falling strook, The grete sweigh doth it come al at ones, As doon these rokkes or these milne-stones.
For swifter cours cometh thing that is of wighte, Whan it descendeth, than don thinges lighte.
'And reed that boweth doun for every blast, Ful lightly, cesse wind, it wol aryse; But so nil not an ook whan it is cast; It nedeth me nought thee longe to forbyse.
Men shal reioysen of a greet empryse Acheved wel, and stant with-outen doute, Al han men been the lenger ther-aboute.
'But, Troilus, yet tel me, if thee lest, A thing now which that I shal axen thee; Which is thy brother that thou lovest best As in thy verray hertes privetee?' 'Y-wis, my brother Deiphebus,' quod he.
'Now,' quod Pandare, 'er houres twyes twelve, He shal thee ese, unwist of it him-selve.
'Now lat me allone, and werken as I may,' Quod he; and to Deiphebus wente he tho Which hadde his lord and grete freend ben ay; Save Troilus, no man he lovede so.
To telle in short, with-outen wordes mo, Quod Pandarus, 'I pray yow that ye be Freend to a cause which that toucheth me.
' 'Yis, pardee,' quod Deiphebus, 'wel thow wost, In al that ever I may, and god to-fore, Al nere it but for man I love most, My brother Troilus; but sey wherfore It is; for sith that day that I was bore, I nas, ne never-mo to been I thinke, Ayeins a thing that mighte thee for-thinke.
' Pandare gan him thonke, and to him seyde, 'Lo, sire, I have a lady in this toun, That is my nece, and called is Criseyde, Which some men wolden doon oppressioun, And wrongfully have hir possessioun: Wherfor I of your lordship yow biseche To been our freend, with-oute more speche.
' Deiphebus him answerde, 'O, is not this, That thow spekest of to me thus straungely, Criseyda, my freend?' He seyde, 'Yis.
' 'Than nedeth,' quod Deiphebus, 'hardely, Na-more to speke, for trusteth wel, that I Wol be hir champioun with spore and yerde; I roughte nought though alle hir foos it herde.
'But tel me how, thou that woost al this matere, How I might best avaylen? Now lat see.
' Quod Pandarus; 'If ye, my lord so dere, Wolden as now don this honour to me, To preyen hir to-morwe, lo, that she Come un-to yow hir pleyntes to devyse, Hir adversaries wolde of it agryse.
'And if I more dorste preye as now, And chargen yow to have so greet travayle, To han som of your bretheren here with yow, That mighten to hir cause bet avayle, Than, woot I wel, she mighte never fayle For to be holpen, what at your instaunce, What with hir othere freendes governaunce.
' Deiphebus, which that comen was, of kinde, To al honour and bountee to consente, Answerde, 'It shal be doon; and I can finde Yet gretter help to this in myn entente.
What wolt thow seyn, if I for Eleyne sente To speke of this? I trowe it be the beste; For she may leden Paris as hir leste.
'Of Ector, which that is my lord, my brother, It nedeth nought to preye him freend to be; For I have herd him, o tyme and eek other, Speke of Criseyde swich honour, that he May seyn no bet, swich hap to him hath she.
It nedeth nought his helpes for to crave; He shal be swich, right as we wole him have.
'Spek thou thy-self also to Troilus On my bihalve, and pray him with us dyne.
' 'Sire, al this shal be doon,' quod Pandarus; And took his leve, and never gan to fyne, But to his neces hous, as streyt as lyne, He com; and fond hir fro the mete aryse; And sette him doun, and spak right in this wyse.
He seyde, 'O veray god, so have I ronne! Lo, nece myn, see ye nought how I swete? I noot whether ye the more thank me conne.
Be ye nought war how that fals Poliphete Is now aboute eft-sones for to plete, And bringe on yow advocacyes newe?' 'I? No,' quod she, and chaunged al hir hewe.
'What is he more aboute, me to drecche And doon me wrong? What shal I do, allas? Yet of him-self no-thing ne wolde I recche, Nere it for Antenor and Eneas, That been his freendes in swich maner cas; But, for the love of god, myn uncle dere, No fors of that; lat him have al y-fere; 'With-outen that I have ynough for us.
' 'Nay,' quod Pandare, 'it shal no-thing be so.
For I have been right now at Deiphebus, And Ector, and myne othere lordes mo, And shortly maked eche of hem his fo; That, by my thrift, he shal it never winne For ought he can, whan that so he biginne.
' And as they casten what was best to done, Deiphebus, of his owene curtasye, Com hir to preye, in his propre persone, To holde him on the morwe companye At diner, which she nolde not denye, But goodly gan to his preyere obeye.
He thonked hir, and wente up-on his weye.
Whanne this was doon, this Pandare up a-noon, To telle in short, and forth gan for to wende To Troilus, as stille as any stoon; And al this thing he tolde him, word and ende; And how that he Deiphebus gan to blende; And seyde him, 'Now is tyme, if that thou conne, To bere thee wel to-morwe, and al is wonne.
'Now spek, now prey, now pitously compleyne; Lat not for nyce shame, or drede, or slouthe; Som-tyme a man mot telle his owene peyne; Bileve it, and she shal han on thee routhe; Thou shalt be saved by thy feyth, in trouthe.
But wel wot I, thou art now in a drede; And what it is, I leye, I can arede.
'Thow thinkest now, "How sholde I doon al this? For by my cheres mosten folk aspye, That for hir love is that I fare a-mis; Yet hadde I lever unwist for sorwe dye.
" Now thenk not so, for thou dost greet folye.
For I right now have founden o manere Of sleighte, for to coveren al thy chere.
'Thow shalt gon over night, and that as blyve, Un-to Deiphebus hous, as thee to pleye, Thy maladye a-wey the bet to dryve, For-why thou semest syk, soth for to seye.
Sone after that, doun in thy bed thee leye, And sey, thow mayst no lenger up endure, And ly right there, and byde thyn aventure.
'Sey that thy fever is wont thee for to take The same tyme, and lasten til a-morwe; And lat see now how wel thou canst it ma


by Geoffrey Chaucer

Troilus And Criseyde: Book 03

 Incipit prohemium tercii libri.
O blisful light of whiche the bemes clere Adorneth al the thridde hevene faire! O sonnes lief, O Ioves doughter dere, Plesaunce of love, O goodly debonaire, In gentil hertes ay redy to repaire! O verray cause of hele and of gladnesse, Y-heried be thy might and thy goodnesse! In hevene and helle, in erthe and salte see Is felt thy might, if that I wel descerne; As man, brid, best, fish, herbe and grene tree Thee fele in tymes with vapour eterne.
God loveth, and to love wol nought werne; And in this world no lyves creature, With-outen love, is worth, or may endure.
Ye Ioves first to thilke effectes glade, Thorugh which that thinges liven alle and be, Comeveden, and amorous him made On mortal thing, and as yow list, ay ye Yeve him in love ese or adversitee; And in a thousand formes doun him sente For love in erthe, and whom yow liste, he hente.
Ye fierse Mars apeysen of his ire, And, as yow list, ye maken hertes digne; Algates, hem that ye wol sette a-fyre, They dreden shame, and vices they resigne; Ye do hem corteys be, fresshe and benigne, And hye or lowe, after a wight entendeth; The Ioyes that he hath, your might him sendeth.
Ye holden regne and hous in unitee; Ye soothfast cause of frendship been also; Ye knowe al thilke covered qualitee Of thinges which that folk on wondren so, Whan they can not construe how it may io, She loveth him, or why he loveth here; As why this fish, and nought that, comth to were.
Ye folk a lawe han set in universe, And this knowe I by hem that loveres be, That who-so stryveth with yow hath the werse: Now, lady bright, for thy benignitee, At reverence of hem that serven thee, Whos clerk I am, so techeth me devyse Som Ioye of that is felt in thy servyse.
Ye in my naked herte sentement Inhelde, and do me shewe of thy swetnesse.
-- Caliope, thy vois be now present, For now is nede; sestow not my destresse, How I mot telle anon-right the gladnesse Of Troilus, to Venus heryinge? To which gladnes, who nede hath, god him bringe! Explicit prohemium Tercii Libri.
Incipit Liber Tercius.
Lay al this mene whyle Troilus, Recordinge his lessoun in this manere, 'Ma fey!' thought he, 'Thus wole I seye and thus; Thus wole I pleyne unto my lady dere; That word is good, and this shal be my chere; This nil I not foryeten in no wyse.
' God leve him werken as he can devyse! And, lord, so that his herte gan to quappe, Heringe hir come, and shorte for to syke! And Pandarus, that ledde hir by the lappe, Com ner, and gan in at the curtin pyke, And seyde, 'God do bote on alle syke! See, who is here yow comen to visyte; Lo, here is she that is your deeth to wyte.
' Ther-with it semed as he wepte almost; 'A ha,' quod Troilus so rewfully, 'Wher me be wo, O mighty god, thow wost! Who is al there? I se nought trewely.
' 'Sire,' quod Criseyde, 'it is Pandare and I.
' 'Ye, swete herte? Allas, I may nought ryse To knele, and do yow honour in som wyse.
' And dressede him upward, and she right tho Gan bothe here hondes softe upon him leye, 'O, for the love of god, do ye not so To me,' quod she, 'Ey! What is this to seye? Sire, come am I to yow for causes tweye; First, yow to thonke, and of your lordshipe eke Continuance I wolde yow biseke.
' This Troilus, that herde his lady preye Of lordship him, wex neither quik ne deed, Ne mighte a word for shame to it seye, Al-though men sholde smyten of his heed.
But lord, so he wex sodeinliche reed, And sire, his lesson, that he wende conne, To preyen hir, is thurgh his wit y-ronne.
Cryseyde al this aspyede wel y-nough, For she was wys, and lovede him never-the-lasse, Al nere he malapert, or made it tough, Or was to bold, to singe a fool a masse.
But whan his shame gan somwhat to passe, His resons, as I may my rymes holde, I yow wole telle, as techen bokes olde.
In chaunged vois, right for his verray drede, Which vois eek quook, and ther-to his manere Goodly abayst, and now his hewes rede, Now pale, un-to Criseyde, his lady dere, With look doun cast and humble yolden chere, Lo, the alderfirste word that him asterte Was, twyes, 'Mercy, mercy, swete herte!' And stinte a whyl, and whan he mighte out-bringe, The nexte word was, 'God wot, for I have, As feyfully as I have had konninge, Ben youres, also god so my sowle save; And shal til that I, woful wight, be grave.
And though I dar ne can un-to yow pleyne, Y-wis, I suffre nought the lasse peyne.
'Thus muche as now, O wommanliche wyf, I may out-bringe, and if this yow displese, That shal I wreke upon myn owne lyf Right sone, I trowe, and doon your herte an ese, If with my deeth your herte I may apese.
But sin that ye han herd me som-what seye, Now recche I never how sone that I deye.
' Ther-with his manly sorwe to biholde, It mighte han maad an herte of stoon to rewe; And Pandare weep as he to watre wolde, And poked ever his nece newe and newe, And seyde, 'Wo bigon ben hertes trewe! For love of god, make of this thing an ende, Or slee us bothe at ones, er that ye wende.
' 'I? What?' quod she, 'By god and by my trouthe, I noot nought what ye wilne that I seye.
' 'I? What?' quod he, 'That ye han on him routhe, For goddes love, and doth him nought to deye.
' 'Now thanne thus,' quod she, 'I wolde him preye To telle me the fyn of his entente; Yet wist I never wel what that he mente.
' 'What that I mene, O swete herte dere?' Quod Troilus, 'O goodly, fresshe free! That, with the stremes of your eyen clere, Ye wolde som-tyme freendly on me see, And thanne agreen that I may ben he, With-oute braunche of vyce on any wyse, In trouthe alwey to doon yow my servyse, 'As to my lady right and chief resort, With al my wit and al my diligence, And I to han, right as yow list, comfort, Under your yerde, egal to myn offence, As deeth, if that I breke your defence; And that ye deigne me so muche honoure, Me to comaunden ought in any houre.
'And I to ben your verray humble trewe, Secret, and in my paynes pacient, And ever-mo desire freshly newe, To serven, and been y-lyke ay diligent, And, with good herte, al holly your talent Receyven wel, how sore that me smerte, Lo, this mene I, myn owene swete herte.
' Quod Pandarus, 'Lo, here an hard request, And resonable, a lady for to werne! Now, nece myn, by natal Ioves fest, Were I a god, ye sholde sterve as yerne, That heren wel, this man wol no-thing yerne But your honour, and seen him almost sterve, And been so looth to suffren him yow serve.
' With that she gan hir eyen on him caste Ful esily, and ful debonairly, Avysing hir, and hyed not to faste With never a word, but seyde him softely, 'Myn honour sauf, I wol wel trewely, And in swich forme as he can now devyse, Receyven him fully to my servyse, 'Biseching him, for goddes love, that he Wolde, in honour of trouthe and gentilesse, As I wel mene, eek mene wel to me, And myn honour, with wit and besinesse Ay kepe; and if I may don him gladnesse, From hennes-forth, y-wis, I nil not feyne: Now beeth al hool; no lenger ye ne pleyne.
'But nathelees, this warne I yow,' quod she, 'A kinges sone al-though ye be, y-wis, Ye shal na-more have soverainetee Of me in love, than right in that cas is; Ne I nil forbere, if that ye doon a-mis, To wrathen yow; and whyl that ye me serve, Cherycen yow right after ye deserve.
'And shortly, dere herte and al my knight, Beth glad, and draweth yow to lustinesse, And I shal trewely, with al my might, Your bittre tornen al in-to swetenesse.
If I be she that may yow do gladnesse, For every wo ye shal recovere a blisse'; And him in armes took, and gan him kisse.
Fil Pandarus on knees, and up his eyen To hevene threw, and held his hondes hye, 'Immortal god!' quod he, 'That mayst nought dyen, Cupide I mene, of this mayst glorifye; And Venus, thou mayst maken melodye; With-outen hond, me semeth that in the towne, For this merveyle, I here ech belle sowne.
'But ho! No more as now of this matere, For-why this folk wol comen up anoon, That han the lettre red; lo, I hem here.
But I coniure thee, Criseyde, and oon, And two, thou Troilus, whan thow mayst goon, That at myn hous ye been at my warninge, For I ful wel shal shape youre cominge; 'And eseth ther your hertes right y-nough; And lat see which of yow shal bere the belle To speke of love a-right!' ther-with he lough, 'For ther have ye a layser for to telle.
' Quod Troilus, 'How longe shal I dwelle Er this be doon?' Quod he, 'Whan thou mayst ryse, This thing shal be right as I yow devyse.
' With that Eleyne and also Deiphebus Tho comen upward, right at the steyres ende; And Lord, so than gan grone Troilus, His brother and his suster for to blende.
Quod Pandarus, 'It tyme is that we wende; Tak, nece myn, your leve at alle three, And lat hem speke, and cometh forth with me.
' She took hir leve at hem ful thriftily, As she wel coude, and they hir reverence Un-to the fulle diden hardely, And speken wonder wel, in hir absence, Of hir, in preysing of hir excellence, Hir governaunce, hir wit; and hir manere Commendeden, it Ioye was to here.
Now lat hir wende un-to hir owne place, And torne we to Troilus a-yein, That gan ful lightly of the lettre passe That Deiphebus hadde in the gardin seyn.
And of Eleyne and him he wolde fayn Delivered been, and seyde that him leste To slepe, and after tales have reste.
Eleyne him kiste, and took hir leve blyve, Deiphebus eek, and hoom wente every wight; And Pandarus, as faste as he may dryve, To Troilus tho com, as lyne right; And on a paillet, al that glade night, By Troilus he lay, with mery chere, To tale; and wel was hem they were y-fere.
Whan every wight was voided but they two, And alle the dores were faste y-shette, To telle in short, with-oute wordes mo, This Pandarus, with-outen any lette, Up roos, and on his beddes syde him sette, And gan to speken in a sobre wyse To Troilus, as I shal yow devyse: 'Myn alderlevest lord, and brother dere, God woot, and thou, that it sat me so sore, When I thee saw so languisshing to-yere, For love, of which thy wo wex alwey more; That I, with al my might and al my lore, Have ever sithen doon my bisinesse To bringe thee to Ioye out of distresse, 'And have it brought to swich plyt as thou wost, So that, thorugh me, thow stondest now in weye To fare wel, I seye it for no bost, And wostow which? For shame it is to seye, For thee have I bigonne a gamen pleye Which that I never doon shal eft for other, Al-though he were a thousand fold my brother.
'That is to seye, for thee am I bicomen, Bitwixen game and ernest, swich a mene As maken wommen un-to men to comen; Al sey I nought, thou wost wel what I mene.
For thee have I my nece, of vyces clene, So fully maad thy gentilesse triste, That al shal been right as thy-selve liste.
'But god, that al wot, take I to witnesse, That never I this for coveityse wroughte, But only for to abregge that distresse, For which wel nygh thou deydest, as me thoughte.
But, gode brother, do now as thee oughte, For goddes love, and kep hir out of blame, Sin thou art wys, and save alwey hir name.
'For wel thou wost, the name as yet of here Among the peple, as who seyth, halwed is; For that man is unbore, I dar wel swere, That ever wiste that she dide amis.
But wo is me, that I, that cause al this, May thenken that she is my nece dere, And I hir eem, and trattor eek y-fere! 'And were it wist that I, through myn engyn, Hadde in my nece y-put this fantasye, To do thy lust, and hoolly to be thyn, Why, al the world up-on it wolde crye, And seye, that I the worste trecherye Dide in this cas, that ever was bigonne, And she for-lost, and thou right nought y-wonne.
'Wher-fore, er I wol ferther goon a pas, Yet eft I thee biseche and fully seye, That privetee go with us in this cas; That is to seye, that thou us never wreye; And be nought wrooth, though I thee ofte preye To holden secree swich an heigh matere; For skilful is, thow wost wel, my preyere.
'And thenk what wo ther hath bitid er this, For makinge of avantes, as men rede; And what mischaunce in this world yet ther is, Fro day to day, right for that wikked dede; For which these wyse clerkes that ben dede Han ever yet proverbed to us yonge, That "Firste vertu is to kepe tonge.
" 'And, nere it that I wilne as now tabregge Diffusioun of speche, I coude almost A thousand olde stories thee alegge Of wommen lost, thorugh fals and foles bost; Proverbes canst thy-self y-nowe, and wost, Ayeins that vyce, for to been a labbe, Al seyde men sooth as often as they gabbe.
'O tonge, allas! So often here-biforn Hastow made many a lady bright of hewe Seyd, "Welawey! The day that I was born!" And many a maydes sorwes for to newe; And, for the more part, al is untrewe That men of yelpe, and it were brought to preve; Of kinde non avauntour is to leve.
'Avauntour and a lyere, al is on; As thus: I pose, a womman graunte me Hir love, and seyth that other wol she non, And I am sworn to holden it secree, And after I go telle it two or three; Y-wis, I am avauntour at the leste, And lyere, for I breke my biheste.
'Now loke thanne, if they be nought to blame, Swich maner folk; what shal I clepe hem, what, That hem avaunte of wommen, and by name, That never yet bihighte hem this ne that, Ne knewe hem more than myn olde hat? No wonder is, so god me sende hele, Though wommen drede with us men to dele.
'I sey not this for no mistrust of yow, Ne for no wys man, but for foles nyce, And for the harm that in the world is now, As wel for foly ofte as for malyce; For wel wot I, in wyse folk, that vyce No womman drat, if she be wel avysed; For wyse ben by foles harm chastysed.
'But now to purpos; leve brother dere, Have al this thing that I have seyd in minde, And keep thee clos, and be now of good chere, For at thy day thou shalt me trewe finde.
I shal thy proces sette in swich a kinde, And god to-forn, that it shall thee suffyse, For it shal been right as thou wolt devyse.
'For wel I woot, thou menest wel, parde; Therfore I dar this fully undertake.
Thou wost eek what thy lady graunted thee, And day is set, the chartres up to make.
Have now good night, I may no lenger wake; And bid for me, sin thou art now in blisse, That god me sende deeth or sone lisse.
' Who mighte telle half the Ioye or feste Which that the sowle of Troilus tho felte, Heringe theffect of Pandarus biheste? His olde wo, that made his herte swelte, Gan tho for Ioye wasten and to-melte, And al the richesse of his sykes sore At ones fledde, he felte of hem no more.
But right so as these holtes and these hayes, That han in winter dede been and dreye, Revesten hem in grene, whan that May is, Whan every lusty lyketh best to pleye; Right in that selve wyse, sooth to seye, Wax sodeynliche his herte ful of Ioye, That gladder was ther never man in Troye.
And gan his look on Pandarus up caste Ful sobrely, and frendly for to see, And seyde, 'Freend, in Aprille the laste, As wel thou wost, if it remembre thee, How neigh the deeth for wo thou founde me; And how thou didest al thy bisinesse To knowe of me the cause of my distresse.
'Thou wost how longe I it for-bar to seye To thee, that art the man that I best triste; And peril was it noon to thee by-wreye, That wiste I wel; but tel me, if thee liste, Sith I so looth was that thy-self it wiste, How dorst I mo tellen of this matere, That quake now, and no wight may us here? 'But natheles, by that god I thee swere, That, as him list, may al this world governe, And, if I lye, Achilles with his spere Myn herte cleve, al were my lyf eterne, As I am mortal, if I late or yerne Wolde it biwreye, or dorste, or sholde conne, For al the good that god made under sonne; 'That rather deye I wolde, and determyne, As thinketh me, now stokked in presoun, In wrecchednesse, in filthe, and in vermyne, Caytif to cruel king Agamenoun; And this, in alle the temples of this toun Upon the goddes alle, I wol thee swere, To-morwe day, if that thee lyketh here.
'And that thou hast so muche y-doon for me, That I ne may it never-more deserve, This knowe I wel, al mighte I now for thee A thousand tymes on a morwen sterve.
I can no more, but that I wol thee serve Right as thy sclave, whider-so thou wende, For ever-more, un-to my lyves ende! 'But here, with al myn herte, I thee biseche, That never in me thou deme swich folye As I shal seyn; me thoughte, by thy speche, That this, which thou me dost for companye, I sholde wene it were a bauderye; I am nought wood, al-if I lewed be; It is not so, that woot I wel, pardee.
'But he that goth, for gold or for richesse, On swich message, calle him what thee list; And this that thou dost, calle it gentilesse, Compassioun, and felawship, and trist; Departe it so, for wyde-where is wist How that there is dyversitee requered Bitwixen thinges lyke, as I have lered.
'And, that thou knowe I thenke nought ne wene That this servyse a shame be or Iape, I have my faire suster Polixene, Cassandre, Eleyne, or any of the frape; Be she never so faire or wel y-shape, Tel me, which thou wilt of everichone, To han for thyn, and lat me thanne allone.
'But, sith that thou hast don me this servyse My lyf to save, and for noon hope of mede, So, for the love of god, this grete empryse Performe it out; for now is moste nede.
For high and low, with-outen any drede, I wol alwey thyne hestes alle kepe; Have now good night, and lat us bothe slepe.
' Thus held him ech of other wel apayed, That al the world ne mighte it bet amende; And, on the morwe, whan they were arayed, Ech to his owene nedes gan entende.
But Troilus, though as the fyr he brende For sharp desyr of hope and of plesaunce, He not for-gat his gode governaunce.
But in him-self with manhod gan restreyne Ech rakel dede and ech unbrydled chere, That alle tho that liven, sooth to seyne, Ne sholde han wist, by word or by manere, What that he mente, as touching this matere.
From every wight as fer as is the cloude He was, so wel dissimulen he coude.
And al the whyl which that I yow devyse, This was his lyf; with al his fulle might, By day he was in Martes high servyse, This is to seyn, in armes as a knight; And for the more part, the longe night He lay, and thoughte how that he mighte serve His lady best, hir thank for to deserve.
Nil I nought swere, al-though he lay softe, That in his thought he nas sumwhat disesed, Ne that he tornede on his pilwes ofte, And wolde of that him missed han ben sesed; But in swich cas men is nought alwey plesed, For ought I wot, no more than was he; That can I deme of possibilitee.
But certeyn is, to purpos for to go, That in this whyle, as writen is in geste, He say his lady som-tyme; and also She with him spak, whan that she dorste or leste, And by hir bothe avys, as was the beste, Apoynteden ful warly in this nede, So as they dorste, how they wolde procede.
But it was spoken in so short a wyse, In swich awayt alwey, and in swich fere, Lest any wyght devynen or devyse Wolde of hem two, or to it leye an ere, That al this world so leef to hem ne were As that Cupido wolde hem grace sende To maken of hir speche aright an ende.
But thilke litel that they spake or wroughte, His wyse goost took ay of al swich hede, It semed hir, he wiste what she thoughte With-outen word, so that it was no nede To bidde him ought to done, or ought for-bede; For which she thought that love, al come it late, Of alle Ioye hadde opned hir the yate.
And shortly of this proces for to pace, So wel his werk and wordes he bisette, That he so ful stood in his lady grace, That twenty thousand tymes, or she lette, She thonked god she ever with him mette; So coude he him governe in swich servyse, That al the world ne might it bet devyse.
For-why she fond him so discreet in al, So secret, and of swich obeisaunce, That wel she felte he was to hir a wal Of steel, and sheld from every displesaunce; That, to ben in his gode governaunce, So wys he was, she was no more afered, I mene, as fer as oughte ben requered.
And Pandarus, to quike alwey the fyr, Was evere y-lyke prest and diligent; To ese his frend was set al his desyr.
He shof ay on, he to and fro was sent; He lettres bar whan Troilus was absent.
That never man, as in his freendes nede, Ne bar him bet than he, with-outen drede.
But now, paraunter, som man wayten wolde That every word, or sonde, or look, or chere Of Troilus that I rehersen sholde, In al this whyle un-to his lady dere; I trowe it were a long thing for to here; Or of what wight that stant in swich disioynte, His wordes alle, or every look, to poynte.
For sothe, I have not herd it doon er this, In storye noon, ne no man here, I wene; And though I wolde I coude not, y-wis; For ther was som epistel hem bitwene, That wolde, as seyth myn auctor, wel contene Neigh half this book, of which him list not wryte; How sholde I thanne a lyne of it endyte? But to the grete effect: than sey I thus, That stonding in concord and in quiete, Thise ilke two, Criseyde and Troilus, As I have told, and in this tyme swete, Save only often mighte they not mete, Ne layser have hir speches to fulfelle, That it befel right as I shal yow telle.
That Pandarus, that ever dide his might Right for the fyn that I shal speke of here, As for to bringe to his hous som night His faire nece, and Troilus y-fere, Wher-as at leyser al this heigh matere, Touching hir love, were at the fulle up-bounde, Hadde out of doute a tyme to it founde.
For he with greet deliberacioun Hadde every thing that her-to mighte avayle Forn-cast, and put in execucioun.
And neither laft, for cost ne for travayle; Come if hem list, hem sholde no-thing fayle; And for to been in ought espyed there, That, wiste he wel, an inpossible were.
Dredelees, it cleer was in the wind Of every pye and every lette-game; Now al is wel, for al the world is blind In this matere, bothe fremed and tame.
This timbur is al redy up to frame; Us lakketh nought but that we witen wolde A certein houre, in which she comen sholde.
And Troilus, that al this purveyaunce Knew at the fulle, and waytede on it ay, Hadde here-up-on eek made gret ordenaunce, And founde his cause, and ther-to his aray, If that he were missed, night or day, Ther-whyle he was aboute this servyse, That he was goon to doon his sacrifyse, And moste at swich a temple alone wake, Answered of Appollo for to be; And first to seen the holy laurer quake, Er that Apollo spak out of the tree, To telle him next whan Grekes sholden flee, And forthy lette him no man, god forbede, But preye Apollo helpen in this nede.
Now is ther litel more for to doone, But Pandare up, and shortly for to seyne, Right sone upon the chaunging of the mone, Whan lightles is the world a night or tweyne, And that the welken shoop him for to reyne, He streight a-morwe un-to his nece wente; Ye han wel herd the fyn of his entente.
Whan he was come, he gan anoon to pleye As he was wont, and of him-self to Iape; And fynally, he swor and gan hir seye, By this and that, she sholde him not escape, Ne lengere doon him after hir to gape; But certeynly she moste, by hir leve, Come soupen in his hous with him at eve.
At whiche she lough, and gan hir faste excuse, And seyde, 'It rayneth; lo, how sholde I goon?' 'Lat be,' quod he, 'ne stond not thus to muse; This moot be doon, ye shal be ther anoon.
' So at the laste her-of they felle at oon, Or elles, softe he swor hir in hir ere, He nolde never come ther she were.
Sone after this, to him she gan to rowne, And asked him if Troilus were there? He swor hir, 'Nay, for he was out of towne,' And seyde, 'Nece, I pose that he were, Yow thurfte never have the more fere.
For rather than men mighte him ther aspye, Me were lever a thousand-fold to dye.
' Nought list myn auctor fully to declare What that she thoughte whan he seyde so, That Troilus was out of town y-fare, As if he seyde ther-of sooth or no; But that, with-outen awayt, with him to go, She graunted him, sith he hir that bisoughte And, as his nece, obeyed as hir oughte.
But nathelees, yet gan she him biseche, Al-though with him to goon it was no fere, For to be war of goosish peples speche, That dremen thinges whiche that never were, And wel avyse him whom he broughte there; And seyde him, 'Eem, sin I mot on yow triste, Loke al be wel, and do now as yow liste.
' He swor hire, 'Yis, by stokkes and by stones, And by the goddes that in hevene dwelle, Or elles were him levere, soule and bones, With Pluto king as depe been in helle As Tantalus!' What sholde I more telle? Whan al was wel, he roos and took his leve, And she to souper com, whan it was eve, With a certayn of hir owene men, And with hir faire nece Antigone, And othere of hir wommen nyne or ten; But who was glad now, who, as trowe ye, But Troilus, that stood and mighte it see Thurgh-out a litel windowe in a stewe, Ther he bishet, sin midnight, was in mewe, Unwist of every wight but of Pandare? But to the poynt; now whan that she was y-come With alle Ioye, and alle frendes fare, Hir em anoon in armes hath hir nome, And after to the souper, alle and some, Whan tyme was, ful softe they hem sette; God wot, ther was no deyntee for to fette.
And after souper gonnen they to ryse, At ese wel, with hertes fresshe and glade, And wel was him that coude best devyse To lyken hir, or that hir laughen made.
He song; she pleyde; he tolde tale of Wade.
But at the laste, as every thing hath ende, She took hir leve, and nedes wolde wende.
But O, Fortune, executrice of wierdes, O influences of thise hevenes hye! Soth is, that, under god, ye ben our hierdes, Though to us bestes been the causes wrye.
This mene I now, for she gan hoomward hye, But execut was al bisyde hir leve, At the goddes wil, for which she moste bleve.
The bente mone with hir hornes pale, Saturne, and Iove, in Cancro ioyned were, That swich a rayn from hevene gan avale That every maner womman that was there Hadde of that smoky reyn a verray fere; At which Pandare tho lough, and seyde thenne, 'Now were it tyme a lady to go henne! 'But goode nece, if I mighte ever plese Yow any-thing, than prey I yow,' quod he, 'To doon myn herte as now so greet an ese As for to dwelle here al this night with me, For-why this is your owene hous, pardee.
For, by my trouthe, I sey it nought a-game, To wende as now, it were to me a shame.
' Criseyde, which that coude as muche good As half a world, tok hede of his preyere; And sin it ron, and al was on a flood, She thoughte, as good chep may I dwellen here, And graunte it gladly with a freendes chere, And have a thank, as grucche and thanne abyde; For hoom to goon, it may nought wel bityde.
' 'I wol,' quod she, 'myn uncle leef and dere, Sin that yow list, it skile is to be so; I am right glad with yow to dwellen here; I seyde but a-game, I wolde go.
' 'Y-wis, graunt mercy, nece!' quod he tho; 'Were it a game or no, soth for to telle, Now am I glad, sin that yow list to dwelle.
' Thus al is wel; but tho bigan aright The newe Ioye, and al the feste agayn; But Pandarus, if goodly hadde he might, He wolde han hyed hir to bedde fayn, And seyde, 'Lord, this is an huge rayn! This were a weder for to slepen inne; And that I rede us sonE to biginne.
'And nece, woot ye wher I wol yow leye, For that we shul not liggen fer asonder, And for ye neither shullen, dar I seye, Heren noise of reynes nor of thondre? By god, right in my lyte closet yonder.
And I wol in that outer hous allone Be wardeyn of your wommen everichone.
'And in this middel chaumbre that ye see Shal youre wommen slepen wel and softe; And ther I seyde shal your-selve be; And if ye liggen wel to-night, com ofte, And careth not what weder is on-lofte.
The wyn anon, and whan so that yow leste, So go we slepe, I trowe it be the beste.
' Ther nis no more, but here-after sone, The voyde dronke, and travers drawe anon, Gan every wight, that hadde nought to done More in the place, out of the chaumber gon.
And ever-mo so sternelich it ron, And blew ther-with so wonderliche loude, That wel neigh no man heren other coude.
Tho Pandarus, hir eem, right as him oughte, With women swiche as were hir most aboute, Ful glad un-to hir beddes syde hir broughte, And toke his leve, and gan ful lowe loute, And seyde, 'Here at this closet-dore with-oute, Right over-thwart, your wommen liggen alle, That, whom yow list of hem, ye may here calle.
' So whan that she was in the closet leyd, And alle hir wommen forth by ordenaunce A-bedde weren, ther as I have seyd, There was no more to skippen nor to traunce, But boden go to bedde, with mischaunce, If any wight was steringe any-where, And late hem slepe that a-bedde were.
But Pandarus, that wel coude eche a del The olde daunce, and every poynt ther-inne, Whan that he sey that alle thing was wel, He thoughte he wolde up-on his werk biginne, And gan the stewe-dore al softe un-pinne; And stille as stoon, with-outen lenger lette, By Troilus a-doun right he him sette.
And, shortly to the poynt right for to gon, Of al this werk he tolde him word and ende, And seyde, 'Make thee redy right anon, For thou shalt in-to hevene blisse wende.
' 'Now blisful Venus, thou me grace sende,' Quod Troilus, 'for never yet no nede Hadde I er now, ne halvendel the drede.
' Quod Pandarus, 'Ne drede thee never a del, For it shal been right as thou wilt desyre; So thryve I, this night shal I make it wel, Or casten al the gruwel in the fyre.
' 'Yit blisful Venus, this night thou me enspyre,' Quod Troilus, 'as wis as I thee serve, And ever bet and bet shal, til I sterve.
'And if I hadde, O Venus ful of murthe, Aspectes badde of Mars or of Saturne, Or thou combust or let were in my birthe, Thy fader prey al thilke harm disturne Of grace, and that I glad ayein may turne, For love of him thou lovedest in the shawe, I mene Adoon, that with the boor was slawe.
'O Iove eek, for the love of faire Europe, The whiche in forme of bole awey thou fette; Now help, O Mars, thou with thy blody cope, For love of Cipris, thou me nought ne lette; O Phebus, thenk whan Dane hir-selven shette Under the bark, and laurer wex for drede, Yet for hir love, O help now at this nede! 'Mercurie, for the love of Hierse eke, For which Pallas was with Aglauros wrooth, Now help, and eek Diane, I thee biseke That this viage be not to thee looth.
O fatal sustren, which, er any clooth Me shapen was, my destene me sponne, So helpeth to this werk that is bi-gonne!' Quod Pandarus, 'Thou wrecched mouses herte, Art thou agast so that she wol thee byte? Why, don this furred cloke up-on thy sherte, And folowe me, for I wol have the wyte; But byd, and lat me go bifore a lyte.
' And with that word he gan un-do a trappe, And Troilus he broughte in by the lappe.
The sterne wind so loude gan to route That no wight other noyse mighte here; And they that layen at the dore with-oute, Ful sykerly they slepten alle y-fere; And Pandarus, with a ful sobre chere, Goth to the dore anon with-outen lette, Ther-as they laye, and softely it shette.
And as he com ayeinward prively, His nece awook, and asked, 'Who goth there?' 'My dere nece,' quod he, 'it am I; Ne wondreth not, ne have of it no fere;' And ner he com, and seyde hir in hir ere, 'No word, for love of god I yow biseche; Lat no wight ryse and heren of oure speche.
' 'What! Which wey be ye comen, benedicite?' Quod she; 'And how thus unwist of hem alle?' 'Here at this secre trappe-dore,' quod he.
Quod tho Criseyde, 'Lat me som wight calle.
' 'Ey! God forbede that it sholde falle,' Quod Pandarus, 'that ye swich foly wroughte! They mighte deme thing they never er thoughte! 'It is nought good a sleping hound to wake, Ne yeve a wight a cause to devyne; Your wommen slepen alle, I under-take, So that, for hem, the hous men mighte myne; And slepen wolen til the sonne shyne.
And whan my tale al brought is to an ende, Unwist, right as I com, so wol I wende.
'Now, nece myn, ye shul wel understonde,' Quod he, 'so as ye wommen demen alle, That for to holde in love a man in honde, And him hir "leef" and "dere herte" calle, And maken him an howve above a calle, I mene, as love an other in this whyle, She doth hir-self a shame, and him a gyle.
'Now wherby that I telle yow al this? Ye woot your-self, as wel as any wight, How that your love al fully graunted is To Troilus, the worthieste knight, Oon of this world, and ther-to trouthe plyght, That, but it were on him along, ye nolde Him never falsen, whyle ye liven sholde.
'Now stant it thus, that sith I fro yow wente, This Troilus, right platly for to seyn, Is thurgh a goter, by a prive wente, In-to my chaumbre come in al this reyn, Unwist of every maner wight, certeyn, Save of my-self, as wisly have I Ioye, And by that feith I shal Pryam of Troye! 'And he is come in swich peyne and distresse That, but he be al fully wood by this, He sodeynly mot falle in-to wodnesse, But-if god helpe; and cause why this is, He seyth him told is, of a freend of his, How that ye sholde love oon that hatte Horaste, For sorwe of which this night shalt been his laste.
' Criseyde, which that al this wonder herde, Gan sodeynly aboute hir herte colde, And with a syk she sorwfully answerde, 'Allas! I wende, who-so tales tolde, My dere herte wolde me not holde So lightly fals! Allas! Conceytes wronge, What harm they doon, for now live I to longe! 'Horaste! Allas! And falsen Troilus? I knowe him not, god helpe me so,' quod she; 'Allas! What wikked spirit tolde him thus? Now certes, eem, to-morwe, and I him see, I shal ther-of as ful excusen me As ever dide womman, if him lyke'; And with that word she gan ful sore syke.
'O god!' quod she, 'So worldly selinesse, Which clerkes callen fals felicitee, Y-medled is with many a bitternesse! Ful anguisshous than is, god woot,' quod she, 'Condicioun of veyn prosperitee; For either Ioyes comen nought y-fere, Or elles no wight hath hem alwey here.
'O brotel wele of mannes Ioye unstable! With what wight so thou be, or how thou pleye, Either he woot that thou, Ioye, art muable, Or woot it not, it moot ben oon of tweye; Now if he woot it not, how may he seye That he hath verray Ioye and selinesse, That is of ignoraunce ay in derknesse? 'Now if he woot that Ioye is transitorie, As every Ioye of worldly thing mot flee, Than every tyme he that hath in memorie, The drede of lesing maketh him that he May in no perfit selinesse be.
And if to lese his Ioye he set a myte, Than semeth it that Ioye is worth ful lyte.
'Wherfore I wol deffyne in this matere, That trewely, for ought I can espye, Ther is no verray wele in this world here.
But O, thou wikked serpent, Ialousye, Thou misbeleved and envious folye, Why hastow Troilus me mad untriste, That never yet agilte him, that I wiste?' Quod Pandarus, 'Thus fallen is this cas.
' 'Why, uncle myn,' quod she, 'who tolde him this? Why doth my dere herte thus, allas?' 'Ye woot, ye nece myn,' quod he, 'what is; I hope al shal be wel that is amis, For ye may quenche al this, if that yow leste, And doth right so, for I holde it the beste.
' 'So shal I do to-morwe, y-wis,' quod she, 'And god to-forn, so that it shal suffyse.
' 'To-morwe? Allas, that were a fair!' quod he, 'Nay, nay, it may not stonden in this wyse; For, nece myn, thus wryten clerkes wyse, That peril is with drecching in y-drawe; Nay, swich abodes been nought worth an hawe.
'Nece, al thing hath tyme, I dar avowe; For whan a chaumber a-fyr is, or an halle, Wel more nede is, it sodeynly rescowe Than to dispute, and axe amonges alle How is this candele in the straw y-falle? A! Benedicite! For al among that fare The harm is doon, and fare-wel feldefare! 'And, nece myn, ne take it not a-greef, If that ye suffre him al night in this wo, God help me so, ye hadde him never leef, That dar I seyn, now there is but we two; But wel I woot, that ye wol not do so; Ye been to wys to do so gret folye, To putte his lyf al night in Iupertye.
'Hadde I him never leef? By god, I wene Ye hadde never thing so leef,' quod she.
'Now by my thrift,' quod he, 'that shal be sene; For, sin ye make this ensample of me, If I al night wolde him in sorwe see For al the tresour in the toun of Troye, I bidde god, I never mote have Ioye! 'Now loke thanne, if ye, that been his love, Shul putte al night his lyf in Iupartye For thing of nought! Now, by that god above, Nought only this delay comth of folye, But of malyce, if that I shal nought lye.
What, platly, and ye suffre him in distresse, Ye neither bountee doon ne gentilesse!' Quod tho Criseyde, 'Wole ye doon o thing, And ye therwith shal stinte al his disese? Have here, and bereth him this blewe ringe, For ther is no-thing mighte him bettre plese, Save I my-self, ne more his herte apese; And sey my dere herte, that his sorwe Is causeles, that shal be seen to-morwe.
' 'A ring?' quod he, 'Ye, hasel-wodes shaken! Ye nece myn, that ring moste han a stoon That mighte dede men alyve maken; And swich a ring trowe I that ye have noon.
Discrecioun out of your heed is goon; That fele I now,' quod he, 'and that is routhe; O tyme y-lost, wel maystow cursen slouthe! 'Wot ye not wel that noble and heigh corage Ne sorweth not, ne stinteth eek for lyte? But if a fool were in a Ialous rage, I nolde setten at his sorwe a myte, But feffe him with a fewe wordes whyte Another day, whan that I mighte him finde; But this thing stant al in another kinde.
'This is so gentil and so tendre of herte, That with his deeth he wol his sorwes wreke; For trusteth wel, how sore that him smerte, He wol to yow no Ialouse wordes speke.
And for-thy, nece, er that his herte breke, So spek your-self to him of this matere; For with o word ye may his herte stere.
'Now have I told what peril he is inne, And his coming unwist is to every wight; Ne, pardee, harm may ther be noon, ne sinne; I wol my-self be with yow al this night.
Ye knowe eek how it is your owne knight, And that, by right, ye moste upon him triste, And I al prest to fecche him whan yow liste.
' This accident so pitous was to here, And eek so lyk a sooth, at pryme face, And Troilus hir knight to hir so dere, His prive coming, and the siker place, That, though that she dide him as thanne a grace, Considered alle thinges as they stode, No wonder is, sin she dide al for gode.
Cryseyde answerde, 'As wisly god at reste My sowle bringe, as me is for him wo! And eem, y-wis, fayn wolde I doon the beste, If that I hadde grace to do so.
But whether that ye dwelle or for him go, I am, til god me bettre minde sende, At dulcarnon, right at my wittes ende.
' Quod Pandarus, 'Ye, nece, wol ye here? Dulcarnon called is "fleminge of wrecches"; It semeth hard, for wrecches wol not lere For verray slouthe or othere wilful tecches; This seyd by hem that be not worth two fecches.
But ye ben wys, and that we han on honde Nis neither hard, ne skilful to withstonde.
' 'Thanne, eem,' quod she, 'doth her-of as yow list; But er he come, I wil up first aryse; And, for the love of god, sin al my trist Is on yow two, and ye ben bothe wyse, So wircheth now in so discreet a wyse, That I honour may have, and he plesaunce; For I am here al in your governaunce.
' 'That is wel seyd,' quod he, 'my nece dere' Ther good thrift on that wyse gentil herte! But liggeth stille, and taketh him right here, It nedeth not no ferther for him sterte; And ech of yow ese otheres sorwes smerte, For love of god; and, Venus, I the herie; For sone hope I we shulle ben alle merie.
' This Troilus ful sone on knees him sette Ful sobrely, right be hir beddes heed, And in his beste wyse his lady grette; But lord, so she wex sodeynliche reed! Ne, though men sholden smyten of hir heed, She coude nought a word a-right out-bringe So sodeynly, for his sodeyn cominge.
But Pandarus, that so wel coude fele In every thing, to pleye anoon bigan, And seyde, 'Nece, see how this lord can knele! Now, for your trouthe, seeth this gentil man!' And with that word he for a quisshen ran, And seyde, 'Kneleth now, whyl that yow leste, Ther god your hertes bringe sone at reste!' Can I not seyn, for she bad him not ryse, If sorwe it putte out of hir remembraunce, Or elles that she toke it in the wyse Of duetee, as for his observaunce; But wel finde I she dide him this plesaunce, That she him kiste, al-though she syked sore; And bad him sitte a-doun with-outen more.
Quod Pandarus, 'Now wol ye wel biginne; Now doth him sitte, gode nece dere, Upon your beddes syde al there with-inne, That ech of yow the bet may other here.
' And with that word he drow him to the fere, And took a light, and fond his contenaunce, As for to loke up-on an old romaunce.
Criseyde, that was Troilus lady right, And cleer stood on a ground of sikernesse, Al thoughte she, hir servaunt and hir knight Ne sholde of right non untrouthe in hir gesse, Yet nathelees, considered his distresse, And that love is in cause of swich folye, Thus to him spak she of his Ialousye: 'Lo, herte myn, as wolde the excellence Of love, ayeins the which that no man may, Ne oughte eek goodly maken resistence And eek bycause I felte wel and say Youre grete trouthe, and servyse every day; And that your herte al myn was, sooth to seyne, This droof me for to rewe up-on your peyne.
'And your goodnesse have I founde alwey yit, Of whiche, my dere herte and al my knight, I thonke it yow, as fer as I have wit, Al can I nought as muche as it were right; And I, emforth my conninge and my might, Have and ay shal, how sore that me smerte, Ben to yow trewe and hool, with a myn herte; 'And dredelees, that shal be founde at preve.
-- But, herte myn, what al this is to seyne Shal wel be told, so that ye noght yow greve, Though I to yow right on your-self compleyne.
For ther-with mene I fynally the peyne, That halt your herte and myn in hevinesse, Fully to sleen, and every wrong redresse.
'My goode, myn, not I for-why ne how That Ialousye, allas! That wikked wivere, Thus causelees is cropen in-to yow; The harm of which I wolde fayn delivere! Allas! That he, al hool, or of him slivere, Shuld have his refut in so digne a place, Ther Iove him sone out of your herte arace! 'But O, thou Iove, O auctor of nature, Is this an honour to thy deitee, That folk ungiltif suffren here iniure, And who that giltif is, al quit goth he? O were it leful for to pleyne on thee, That undeserved suffrest Ialousye, Of that I wolde up-on thee pleyne and crye! 'Eek al my wo is this, that folk now usen To seyn right thus, "Ye, Ialousye is love!" And wolde a busshel venim al excusen, For that o greyn of love is on it shove! But that wot heighe god that sit above, If it be lyker love, or hate, or grame; And after that, it oughte bere his name.
'But certeyn is, som maner Ialousye Is excusable more than som, y-wis.
As whan cause is, and som swich fantasye With pietee so wel repressed is, That it unnethe dooth or seyth amis, But goodly drinketh up al his distresse; And that excuse I, for the gentilesse.
'And som so ful of furie is and despyt That it sourmounteth his repressioun; But herte myn, ye be not in that plyt, That thanke I god, for whiche your passioun I wol not calle it but illusioun, Of habundaunce of love and bisy cure, That dooth your herte this disese endure.
'Of which I am right sory but not wrooth; But, for my devoir and your hertes reste, Wher-so yow list, by ordal or by ooth, By sort, or in what wyse so yow leste, For love of god, lat preve it for the beste! And if that I be giltif, do me deye, Allas! What mighte I more doon or seye?' With that a fewe brighte teres newe Owt of hir eyen fille, and thus she seyde, 'Now god, thou wost, in thought ne dede untrewe To Troilus was never yet Criseyde.
' With that hir heed doun in the bed she leyde, And with the shete it wreigh, and syghed sore, And held hir pees; not o word spak she more.
But now help god to quenchen al this sorwe, So hope I that he shal, for he best may; For I have seyn, of a ful misty morwe Folwen ful ofte a mery someres day; And after winter folweth grene May.
Men seen alday, and reden eek in stories, That after sharpe shoures been victories.
This Troilus, whan he hir wordes herde, Have ye no care, him liste not to slepe; For it thoughte him no strokes of a yerde To here or seen Criseyde, his lady wepe; But wel he felte aboute his herte crepe, For every teer which that Criseyde asterte, The crampe of deeth, to streyne him by the herte.
And in his minde he gan the tyme acurse That he cam there, and that that he was born; For now is wikke y-turned in-to worse, And al that labour he hath doon biforn, He wende it lost, he thoughte he nas but lorn.
'O Pandarus,' thoughte he, 'allas! Thy wyle Serveth of nought, so weylaway the whyle!' And therwithal he heng a-doun the heed, And fil on knees, and sorwfully he sighte; What mighte he seyn? He felte he nas but deed, For wrooth was she that shulde his sorwes lighte.
But nathelees, whan that he speken mighte, Than seyde he thus, 'God woot, that of this game, Whan al is wist, than am I not to blame!' Ther-with the sorwe so his herte shette, That from his eyen fil there not a tere, And every spirit his vigour in-knette, So they astoned or oppressed were.
The feling of his sorwe, or of his fere, Or of ought elles, fled was out of towne; And doun he fel al sodeynly a-swowne.
This was no litel sorwe for to see; But al was hust, and Pandare up as faste, 'O nece, pees, or we be lost,' quod he, 'Beth nought agast;' But certeyn, at the laste, For this or that, he in-to bedde him caste, And seyde, 'O theef, is this a mannes herte?' And of he rente al to his bare sherte; And seyde, 'Nece, but ye helpe us now, Allas, your owne Troilus is lorn!' 'Y-wis, so wolde I, and I wiste how, Ful fayn,' quod she; 'Allas! That I was born!' 'Ye, nece, wole ye pullen out the thorn That stiketh in his herte?' quod Pandare; 'Sey "Al foryeve," and stint is al this fare!' 'Ye, that to me,' quod she, 'ful lever were Than al the good the sonne aboute gooth'; And therwith-al she swoor him in his ere, 'Y-wis, my dere herte, I am nought wrooth, Have here my trouthe and many another ooth; Now speek to me, for it am I, Cryseyde!' But al for nought; yet mighte he not a-breyde.
Therwith his pous and pawmes of his hondes They gan to frote, and wete his temples tweyne, And, to deliveren him from bittre bondes, She ofte him kiste; and, shortly for to seyne, Him to revoken she dide al hir peyne.
And at the laste, he gan his breeth to drawe, And of his swough sone after that adawe, And gan bet minde and reson to him take, But wonder sore he was abayst, y-wis.
And with a syk, whan he gan bet a-wake, He seyde, 'O mercy, god, what thing is this?' 'Why do ye with your-selven thus amis?' Quod tho Criseyde, 'Is this a mannes game? What, Troilus! Wol ye do thus, for shame?' And therwith-al hir arm over him she leyde, And al foryaf, and ofte tyme him keste.
He thonked hir, and to hir spak, and seyde As fil to purpos for his herte reste.
And she to that answerde him as hir leste; And with hir goodly wordes him disporte She gan, and ofte his sorwes to comforte.
Quod Pandarus, 'For ought I can espyen, This light, nor I ne serven here of nought; Light is not good for syke folkes yen.
But for the love of god, sin ye be brought In thus good plyt, lat now non hevy thought Ben hanginge in the hertes of yow tweye:' And bar the candele to the chimeneye.
Sone after this, though it no nede were, Whan she swich othes as hir list devyse Hadde of him take, hir thoughte tho no fere, Ne cause eek non, to bidde him thennes ryse.
Yet lesse thing than othes may suffyse In many a cas; for every wight, I gesse, That loveth wel meneth but gentilesse.
But in effect she wolde wite anoon Of what man, and eek where, and also why He Ielous was, sin ther was cause noon; And eek the signe, that he took it by, She bad him that to telle hir bisily, Or elles, certeyn, she bar him on honde, That this was doon of malis, hir to fonde.
With-outen more, shortly for to seyne, He moste obeye un-to his lady heste; And for the lasse harm, he moste feyne.
He seyde hir, whan she was at swiche a feste, She mighte on him han loked at the leste; Not I not what, al dere y-nough a risshe, As he that nedes moste a cause fisshe.
And she answerde, 'Swete, al were it so, What harm was that, sin I non yvel mene? For, by that god that boughte us bothe two, In alle thinge is myn entente clene.
Swich arguments ne been not worth a bene; Wol ye the childish Ialous contrefete? Now were it worthy that ye were y-bete.
' Tho Troilus gan sorwfully to syke, Lest she be wrooth, him thoughte his herte deyde; And seyde, 'Allas! Up-on my sorwes syke Have mercy, swete herte myn, Cryseyde! And if that, in tho wordes that I seyde, Be any wrong, I wol no more trespace; Do what yow list, I am al in your grace.
' And she answerde, 'Of gilt misericorde! That is to seyn, that I foryeve al this; And ever-more on this night yow recorde, And beth wel war ye do no more amis.
' 'Nay, dere herte myn,' quod he, 'y-wis.
' 'And now,' quod she, 'that I have do yow smerte, Foryeve it me, myn owene swete herte.
' This Troilus, with blisse of that supprysed, Put al in goddes hond, as he that mente No-thing but wel; and, sodeynly avysed, He hir in armes faste to him hente.
And Pandarus, with a ful good entente, Leyde him to slepe, and seyde, 'If ye ben wyse, Swowneth not now, lest more folk aryse.
' What mighte or may the sely larke seye, Whan that the sperhauk hath it in his foot? I can no more, but of thise ilke tweye, To whom this tale sucre be or soot, Though that I tarie a yeer, som-tyme I moot, After myn auctor, tellen hir gladnesse, As wel as I have told hir hevinesse.
Criseyde, which that felte hir thus y-take, As writen clerkes in hir bokes olde, Right as an aspes leef she gan to quake, Whan she him felte hir in his armes folde.
But Troilus, al hool of cares colde, Gan thanken tho the blisful goddes sevene; Thus sondry peynes bringen folk in hevene.
This Troilus in armes gan hir streyne, And seyde, 'O swete, as ever mote I goon, Now be ye caught, now is ther but we tweyne; Now yeldeth yow, for other boot is noon.
' To that Criseyde answerde thus anoon, 'Ne hadde I er now, my swete herte dere, Ben yolde, y-wis, I were now not here!' O! Sooth is seyd, that heled for to be As of a fevre or othere greet syknesse, Men moste drinke, as men may often see, Ful bittre drink; and for to han gladnesse, Men drinken often peyne and greet distresse; I mene it here, as for this aventure, That thourgh a peyne hath founden al his cure.
And now swetnesse semeth more sweet, That bitternesse assayed was biforn; For out of wo in blisse now they flete; Non swich they felten, sith they were born; Now is this bet, than bothe two be lorn! For love of god, take every womman hede To werken thus, if it comth to the nede.
Criseyde, al quit from every drede and tene, As she that iuste cause hadde him to triste, Made him swich feste, it Ioye was to sene, Whan she his trouthe and clene entente wiste.
And as aboute a tree, with many a twiste, Bitrent and wryth the sote wode-binde, Gan eche of hem in armes other winde.
And as the newe abaysshed nightingale, That stinteth first whan she biginneth to singe, Whan that she hereth any herde tale, Or in the hegges any wight steringe, And after siker dooth hir voys out-ringe; Right so Criseyde, whan hir drede stente, Opned hir herte and tolde him hir entente.
And right as he that seeth his deeth y-shapen, And deye moot, in ought that he may gesse, And sodeynly rescous doth him escapen, And from his deeth is brought in sikernesse, For al this world, in swich present gladnesse Was Troilus, and hath his lady swete; With worse hap god lat us never mete! Hir armes smale, hir streyghte bak and softe, Hir sydes longe, fleshly, smothe, and whyte He gan to stroke, and good thrift bad ful ofte Hir snowish throte, hir brestes rounde and lyte; Thus in this hevene he gan him to delyte, And ther-with-al a thousand tyme hir kiste; That, what to done, for Ioye unnethe he wiste.
Than seyde he thus, 'O, Love, O, Charitee, Thy moder eek, Citherea the swete, After thy-self next heried be she, Venus mene I, the wel-willy planete; And next that, Imeneus, I thee grete; For never man was to yow goddes holde As I, which ye han brought fro cares colde.
'Benigne Love, thou holy bond of thinges, Who-so wol grace, and list thee nought honouren, Lo, his desyr wol flee with-outen winges.
For, noldestow of bountee hem socouren That serven best and most alwey labouren, Yet were al lost, that dar I wel seyn, certes, But-if thy grace passed our desertes.
'And for thou me, that coude leest deserve Of hem that nombred been un-to thy grace, Hast holpen, ther I lykly was to sterve, And me bistowed in so heygh a place That thilke boundes may no blisse pace, I can no more, but laude and reverence Be to thy bounte and thyn excellence!' And therwith-al Criseyde anoon he kiste, Of which, certeyn, she felte no disese, And thus seyde he, 'Now wolde god I wiste, Myn herte swete, how I yow mighte plese! What man,' quod he, 'was ever thus at ese As I, on whiche the faireste and the beste That ever I say, deyneth hir herte reste.
'Here may men seen that mercy passeth right; The experience of that is felt in me, That am unworthy to so swete a wight.
But herte myn, of your benignitee, So thenketh, though that I unworthy be, Yet mot I nede amenden in som wyse, Right thourgh the vertu of your heyghe servyse.
'And for the love of god, my lady dere, Sin god hath wrought me for I shal yow serve, As thus I mene, that ye wol be my stere, To do me live, if that yow liste, or sterve, So techeth me how that I may deserve Your thank, so that I, thurgh myn ignoraunce, Ne do no-thing that yow be displesaunce.
'For certes, fresshe wommanliche wyf, This dar I seye, that trouthe and diligence, That shal ye finden in me al my lyf, Ne wol not, certeyn, breken your defence; And if I do, present or in absence, For love of god, lat slee me with the dede, If that it lyke un-to your womanhede.
' 'Y-wis,' quod she, 'myn owne hertes list, My ground of ese, and al myn herte dere, Graunt mercy, for on that is al my trist; But late us falle awey fro this matere; For it suffyseth, this that seyd is here.
And at o word, with-outen repentaunce, Wel-come, my knight, my pees, my suffisaunce!' Of hir delyt, or Ioyes oon the leste Were impossible to my wit to seye; But iuggeth, ye that han ben at the feste, Of swich gladnesse, if that hem liste pleye! I can no more, but thus thise ilke tweye That night, be-twixen dreed and sikernesse, Felten in love the grete worthinesse.
O blisful night, of hem so longe y-sought, How blithe un-to hem bothe two thou were! Why ne hadde I swich on with my soule y-bought, Ye, or the leeste Ioye that was there? A-wey, thou foule daunger and thou fere, And lat hem in this hevene blisse dwelle, That is so heygh, that al ne can I telle! But sooth is, though I can not tellen al, As can myn auctor, of his excellence, Yet have I seyd, and, god to-forn, I shal In every thing al hoolly his sentence.
And if that I, at loves reverence, Have any word in eched for the beste, Doth therwith-al right as your-selven leste.
For myne wordes, here and every part, I speke hem alle under correccioun Of yow, that feling han in loves art, And putte it al in your discrecioun To encrese or maken diminucioun Of my langage, and that I yow bi-seche; But now to purpos of my rather speche.
Thise ilke two, that ben in armes laft, So looth to hem a-sonder goon it were, That ech from other wende been biraft, Or elles, lo, this was hir moste fere, That al this thing but nyce dremes were; For which ful ofte ech of hem seyde, 'O swete, Clippe ich yow thus, or elles I it mete?' And, lord! So he gan goodly on hir see, That never his look ne bleynte from hir face, And seyde, 'O dere herte, may it be That it be sooth, that ye ben in this place?' 'Ye, herte myn, god thank I of his grace!' Quod tho Criseyde, and therwith-al him kiste, That where his spirit was, for Ioye he niste.
This Troilus ful ofte hir eyen two Gan for to kisse, and seyde, 'O eyen clere, It were ye that wroughte me swich wo, Ye humble nettes of my lady dere! Though ther be mercy writen in your chere, God wot, the text ful hard is, sooth, to finde, How coude ye with-outen bond me binde?' Therwith he gan hir faste in armes take, And wel an hundred tymes gan he syke, Nought swiche sorwfull sykes as men make For wo, or elles whan that folk ben syke, But esy sykes, swiche as been to lyke, That shewed his affeccioun with-inne; Of swiche sykes coude he nought bilinne.
Sone after this they speke of sondry thinges, As fil to purpos of this aventure, And pleyinge entrechaungeden hir ringes, Of which I can nought tellen no scripture; But wel I woot, a broche, gold and asure, In whiche a ruby set was lyk an herte, Criseyde him yaf, and stak it on his sherte.
Lord! trowe ye, a coveitous, a wreccbe, That blameth love and holt of it despyt, That, of tho pens that he can mokre and kecche, Was ever yet y-yeve him swich delyt, As is in love, in oo poynt, in som plyt? Nay, doutelees, for also god me save, So parfit Ioye may no nigard have! They wol sey 'Yis,' but lord! So that they lye, Tho bisy wrecches, ful of wo and drede! They callen love a woodnesse or folye, But it shal falle hem as I shal yow rede; They shul forgo the whyte and eke the rede, And live in wo, ther god yeve hem mischaunce, And every lover in his trouthe avaunce! As wolde god, tho wrecches, that dispyse Servyse of love, hadde eres al-so longe As hadde Myda, ful of coveityse, And ther-to dronken hadde as hoot and stronge As Crassus dide for his affectis wronge, To techen hem that they ben in the vyce, And loveres nought, al-though they holde hem nyce! Thise ilke two, of whom that I yow seye, Whan that hir hertes wel assured were, Tho gonne they to speken and to pleye, And eek rehercen how, and whanne, and where, They knewe hem first, and every wo and fere That passed was; but al swich hevinesse, I thanke it god, was tourned to gladnesse.
And ever-mo, whan that hem fel to speke Of any thing of swich a tyme agoon, With kissing al that tale sholde breke, And fallen in a newe Ioye anoon, And diden al hir might, sin they were oon, For to recoveren blisse and been at ese, And passed wo with Ioye countrepeyse.
Reson wil not that I speke of sleep, For it accordeth nought to my matere; God woot, they toke of that ful litel keep, But lest this night, that was to hem so dere, Ne sholde in veyn escape in no manere, It was biset in Ioye and bisinesse Of al that souneth in-to gentilnesse.
But whan the cok, comune astrologer, Gan on his brest to bete, and after crowe, And Lucifer, the dayes messager, Gan for to ryse, and out hir bemes throwe; And estward roos, to him that coude it knowe, Fortuna maior, than anoon Criseyde, With herte sore, to Troilus thus seyde: -- 'Myn hertes lyf, my trist and my plesaunce, That I was born, allas! What me is wo, That day of us mot make desseveraunce! For tyme it is to ryse, and hennes go, Or elles I am lost for evermo! O night, allas! Why niltow over us hove, As longe as whanne Almena lay by Iove? 'O blake night, as folk in bokes rede, That shapen art by god this world to hyde At certeyn tymes with thy derke wede, That under that men mighte in reste abyde, Wel oughte bestes pleyne, and folk thee chyde, That there-as day with labour wolde us breste, That thou thus fleest, and deynest us nought reste! 'Thou dost, allas! To shortly thyn offyce, Thou rakel night, ther god, makere of kinde, Thee, for thyn hast and thyn unkinde vyce, So faste ay to our hemi-spere binde.
That never-more under the ground thou winde! For now, for thou so hyest out of Troye, Have I forgon thus hastily my Ioye!' This Troilus, that with tho wordes felte, As thoughte him tho, for pietous distresse, The blody teres from his herte melte, As he that never yet swich hevinesse Assayed hadde, out of so greet gladnesse, Gan therwith-al Criseyde his lady dere In armes streyne, and seyde in this manere: -- 'O cruel day, accusour of the Ioye That night and love han stole and faste y-wryen, A-cursed be thy coming in-to Troye, For every bore hath oon of thy bright yen! Envyous day, what list thee so to spyen? What hastow lost, why sekestow this place, Ther god thy lyght so quenche, for his grace? 'Allas! What han thise loveres thee agilt, Dispitous day? Thyn be the pyne of helle! For many a lovere hastow shent, and wilt; Thy pouring in wol no-wher lete hem dwelle.
What proferestow thy light here for to selle? Go selle it hem that smale seles graven, We wol thee nought, us nedeth no day haven.
' And eek the sonne Tytan gan he chyde, And seyde, 'O fool, wel may men thee dispyse, That hast the Dawing al night by thy syde, And suffrest hir so sone up fro thee ryse, For to disesen loveres in this wyse.
What! Holde your bed ther, thou, and eek thy Morwe! I bidde god, so yeve yow bothe sorwe!' Therwith ful sore he sighte, and thus he seyde, 'My lady right, and of my wele or wo The welle and rote, O goodly myn, Criseyde, And shal I ryse, allas! And shal I go? Now fele I that myn herte moot a-two! For how sholde I my lyf an houre save, Sin that with yow is al the lyf I have? 'What shal I doon, for certes, I not how, Ne whanne, allas! I shal the tyme see, That in this plyt I may be eft with yow; And of my lyf, god woot, how that shal be, Sin that desyr right now so byteth me, That I am deed anoon, but I retourne.
How sholde I longe, allas! Fro yow soiourne? 'But nathelees, myn owene lady bright, Yit were it so that I wiste outrely, That I, your humble servaunt and your knight, Were in your herte set so fermely As ye in myn, the which thing, trewely, Me lever were than thise worldes tweyne, Yet sholde I bet enduren al my peyne.
' To that Cryseyde answerde right anoon, And with a syk she seyde, 'O herte dere, The game, y-wis, so ferforth now is goon, That first shal Phebus falle fro his spere, And every egle been the dowves fere, And every roche out of his place sterte, Er Troilus out of Criseydes herte! 'Ye he so depe in-with myn herte grave, That, though I wolde it turne out of my thought, As wisly verray god my soule save, To dyen in the peyne, I coude nought! And, for the love of god that us bath wrought, Lat in your brayn non other fantasye So crepe, that it cause me to dye! 'And that ye me wolde han as faste in minde As I have yow, that wolde I yow bi-seche; And, if I wiste soothly that to finde, God mighte not a poynt my Ioyes eche! But, herte myn, with-oute more speche, Beth to me trewe, or elles were it routhe; For I am thyn, by god and by my trouthe! 'Beth glad for-thy, and live in sikernesse; Thus seyde I never er this, ne shal to mo; And if to yow it were a gret gladnesse To turne ayein, soone after that ye go, As fayn wolde I as ye, it were so, As wisly god myn herte bringe at reste!' And him in armes took, and ofte keste.
Agayns his wil, sin it mot nedes be, This Troilus up roos, and faste him cledde, And in his armes took his lady free An hundred tyme, and on his wey him spedde, And with swich wordes as his herte bledde, He seyde, 'Farewel, mr dere herte swete, Ther god us graunte sounde and sone to mete!' To which no word for sorwe she answerde, So sore gan his parting hir destreyne; And Troilus un-to his palays ferde, As woo bigon as she was, sooth to seyne; So hard him wrong of sharp desyr the peyne For to ben eft there he was in plesaunce, That it may never out of his


by Dante Alighieri

Purgatorio (Italian)

 LA DIVINA COMMEDIA
di Dante Alighieri
PURGATORIO



Purgatorio: Canto I

 Per correr miglior acque alza le vele
omai la navicella del mio ingegno,
che lascia dietro a sé mar sì crudele;
 e canterò di quel secondo regno
dove l'umano spirito si purga
e di salire al ciel diventa degno.
Ma qui la morta poesì resurga, o sante Muse, poi che vostro sono; e qui Caliopè alquanto surga, seguitando il mio canto con quel suono di cui le Piche misere sentiro lo colpo tal, che disperar perdono.
Dolce color d'oriental zaffiro, che s'accoglieva nel sereno aspetto del mezzo, puro infino al primo giro, a li occhi miei ricominciò diletto, tosto ch'io usci' fuor de l'aura morta che m'avea contristati li occhi e 'l petto.
Lo bel pianeto che d'amar conforta faceva tutto rider l'oriente, velando i Pesci ch'erano in sua scorta.
I' mi volsi a man destra, e puosi mente a l'altro polo, e vidi quattro stelle non viste mai fuor ch'a la prima gente.
Goder pareva 'l ciel di lor fiammelle: oh settentrional vedovo sito, poi che privato se' di mirar quelle! Com'io da loro sguardo fui partito, un poco me volgendo a l 'altro polo, là onde il Carro già era sparito, vidi presso di me un veglio solo, degno di tanta reverenza in vista, che più non dee a padre alcun figliuolo.
Lunga la barba e di pel bianco mista portava, a' suoi capelli simigliante, de' quai cadeva al petto doppia lista.
Li raggi de le quattro luci sante fregiavan sì la sua faccia di lume, ch'i' 'l vedea come 'l sol fosse davante.
«Chi siete voi che contro al cieco fiume fuggita avete la pregione etterna?», diss'el, movendo quelle oneste piume.
«Chi v'ha guidati, o che vi fu lucerna, uscendo fuor de la profonda notte che sempre nera fa la valle inferna? Son le leggi d'abisso così rotte? o è mutato in ciel novo consiglio, che, dannati, venite a le mie grotte?».
Lo duca mio allor mi diè di piglio, e con parole e con mani e con cenni reverenti mi fé le gambe e 'l ciglio.
Poscia rispuose lui: «Da me non venni: donna scese del ciel, per li cui prieghi de la mia compagnia costui sovvenni.
Ma da ch'è tuo voler che più si spieghi di nostra condizion com'ell'è vera, esser non puote il mio che a te si nieghi.
Questi non vide mai l'ultima sera; ma per la sua follia le fu sì presso, che molto poco tempo a volger era.
Sì com'io dissi, fui mandato ad esso per lui campare; e non lì era altra via che questa per la quale i' mi son messo.
Mostrata ho lui tutta la gente ria; e ora intendo mostrar quelli spirti che purgan sé sotto la tua balìa.
Com'io l'ho tratto, saria lungo a dirti; de l'alto scende virtù che m'aiuta conducerlo a vederti e a udirti.
Or ti piaccia gradir la sua venuta: libertà va cercando, ch'è sì cara, come sa chi per lei vita rifiuta.
Tu 'l sai, ché non ti fu per lei amara in Utica la morte, ove lasciasti la vesta ch'al gran dì sarà sì chiara.
Non son li editti etterni per noi guasti, ché questi vive, e Minòs me non lega; ma son del cerchio ove son li occhi casti di Marzia tua, che 'n vista ancor ti priega, o santo petto, che per tua la tegni: per lo suo amore adunque a noi ti piega.
Lasciane andar per li tuoi sette regni; grazie riporterò di te a lei, se d'esser mentovato là giù degni».
«Marzia piacque tanto a li occhi miei mentre ch'i' fu' di là», diss'elli allora, «che quante grazie volse da me, fei.
Or che di là dal mal fiume dimora, più muover non mi può, per quella legge che fatta fu quando me n'usci' fora.
Ma se donna del ciel ti muove e regge, come tu di' , non c'è mestier lusinghe: bastisi ben che per lei mi richegge.
Va dunque, e fa che tu costui ricinghe d'un giunco schietto e che li lavi 'l viso, sì ch'ogne sucidume quindi stinghe; ché non si converria, l'occhio sorpriso d'alcuna nebbia, andar dinanzi al primo ministro, ch'è di quei di paradiso.
Questa isoletta intorno ad imo ad imo, là giù colà dove la batte l'onda, porta di giunchi sovra 'l molle limo; null'altra pianta che facesse fronda o indurasse, vi puote aver vita, però ch'a le percosse non seconda.
Poscia non sia di qua vostra reddita; lo sol vi mosterrà, che surge omai, prendere il monte a più lieve salita».
Così sparì; e io sù mi levai sanza parlare, e tutto mi ritrassi al duca mio, e li occhi a lui drizzai.
El cominciò: «Figliuol, segui i miei passi: volgianci in dietro, ché di qua dichina questa pianura a' suoi termini bassi».
L'alba vinceva l'ora mattutina che fuggia innanzi, sì che di lontano conobbi il tremolar de la marina.
Noi andavam per lo solingo piano com'om che torna a la perduta strada, che 'nfino ad essa li pare ire in vano.
Quando noi fummo là 've la rugiada pugna col sole, per essere in parte dove, ad orezza, poco si dirada, ambo le mani in su l'erbetta sparte soavemente 'l mio maestro pose: ond'io, che fui accorto di sua arte, porsi ver' lui le guance lagrimose: ivi mi fece tutto discoverto quel color che l'inferno mi nascose.
Venimmo poi in sul lito diserto, che mai non vide navicar sue acque omo, che di tornar sia poscia esperto.
Quivi mi cinse sì com'altrui piacque: oh maraviglia! ché qual elli scelse l'umile pianta, cotal si rinacque subitamente là onde l'avelse.
Purgatorio: Canto II Già era 'l sole a l'orizzonte giunto lo cui meridian cerchio coverchia Ierusalèm col suo più alto punto; e la notte, che opposita a lui cerchia, uscia di Gange fuor con le Bilance, che le caggion di man quando soverchia; sì che le bianche e le vermiglie guance, là dov'i' era, de la bella Aurora per troppa etate divenivan rance.
Noi eravam lunghesso mare ancora, come gente che pensa a suo cammino, che va col cuore e col corpo dimora.
Ed ecco, qual, sorpreso dal mattino, per li grossi vapor Marte rosseggia giù nel ponente sovra 'l suol marino, cotal m'apparve, s'io ancor lo veggia, un lume per lo mar venir sì ratto, che 'l muover suo nessun volar pareggia.
Dal qual com'io un poco ebbi ritratto l'occhio per domandar lo duca mio, rividil più lucente e maggior fatto.
Poi d'ogne lato ad esso m'appario un non sapeva che bianco, e di sotto a poco a poco un altro a lui uscio.
Lo mio maestro ancor non facea motto, mentre che i primi bianchi apparver ali; allor che ben conobbe il galeotto, gridò: «Fa, fa che le ginocchia cali.
Ecco l'angel di Dio: piega le mani; omai vedrai di sì fatti officiali.
Vedi che sdegna li argomenti umani, sì che remo non vuol, né altro velo che l'ali sue, tra liti sì lontani.
Vedi come l'ha dritte verso 'l cielo, trattando l'aere con l'etterne penne, che non si mutan come mortal pelo».
Poi, come più e più verso noi venne l'uccel divino, più chiaro appariva: per che l'occhio da presso nol sostenne, ma chinail giuso; e quei sen venne a riva con un vasello snelletto e leggero, tanto che l'acqua nulla ne 'nghiottiva.
Da poppa stava il celestial nocchiero, tal che faria beato pur descripto; e più di cento spirti entro sediero.
'In exitu Israel de Aegypto' cantavan tutti insieme ad una voce con quanto di quel salmo è poscia scripto.
Poi fece il segno lor di santa croce; ond'ei si gittar tutti in su la piaggia; ed el sen gì, come venne, veloce.
La turba che rimase lì, selvaggia parea del loco, rimirando intorno come colui che nove cose assaggia.
Da tutte parti saettava il giorno lo sol, ch'avea con le saette conte di mezzo 'l ciel cacciato Capricorno, quando la nova gente alzò la fronte ver' noi, dicendo a noi: «Se voi sapete, mostratene la via di gire al monte».
E Virgilio rispuose: «Voi credete forse che siamo esperti d'esto loco; ma noi siam peregrin come voi siete.
Dianzi venimmo, innanzi a voi un poco, per altra via, che fu sì aspra e forte, che lo salire omai ne parrà gioco».
L'anime, che si fuor di me accorte, per lo spirare, ch'i' era ancor vivo, maravigliando diventaro smorte.
E come a messagger che porta ulivo tragge la gente per udir novelle, e di calcar nessun si mostra schivo, così al viso mio s'affisar quelle anime fortunate tutte quante, quasi obliando d'ire a farsi belle.
Io vidi una di lor trarresi avante per abbracciarmi con sì grande affetto, che mosse me a far lo somigliante.
Ohi ombre vane, fuor che ne l'aspetto! tre volte dietro a lei le mani avvinsi, e tante mi tornai con esse al petto.
Di maraviglia, credo, mi dipinsi; per che l'ombra sorrise e si ritrasse, e io, seguendo lei, oltre mi pinsi.
Soavemente disse ch'io posasse; allor conobbi chi era, e pregai che, per parlarmi, un poco s'arrestasse.
Rispuosemi: «Così com'io t'amai nel mortal corpo, così t'amo sciolta: però m'arresto; ma tu perché vai?».
«Casella mio, per tornar altra volta là dov'io son, fo io questo viaggio», diss'io; «ma a te com'è tanta ora tolta?».
Ed elli a me: «Nessun m'è fatto oltraggio, se quei che leva quando e cui li piace, più volte m'ha negato esto passaggio; ché di giusto voler lo suo si face: veramente da tre mesi elli ha tolto chi ha voluto intrar, con tutta pace.
Ond'io, ch'era ora a la marina vòlto dove l'acqua di Tevero s'insala, benignamente fu' da lui ricolto.
A quella foce ha elli or dritta l'ala, però che sempre quivi si ricoglie qual verso Acheronte non si cala».
E io: «Se nuova legge non ti toglie memoria o uso a l'amoroso canto che mi solea quetar tutte mie doglie, di ciò ti piaccia consolare alquanto l'anima mia, che, con la sua persona venendo qui, è affannata tanto!».
'Amor che ne la mente mi ragiona' cominciò elli allor sì dolcemente, che la dolcezza ancor dentro mi suona.
Lo mio maestro e io e quella gente ch'eran con lui parevan sì contenti, come a nessun toccasse altro la mente.
Noi eravam tutti fissi e attenti a le sue note; ed ecco il veglio onesto gridando: «Che è ciò, spiriti lenti? qual negligenza, quale stare è questo? Correte al monte a spogliarvi lo scoglio ch'esser non lascia a voi Dio manifesto».
Come quando, cogliendo biado o loglio, li colombi adunati a la pastura, queti, sanza mostrar l'usato orgoglio, se cosa appare ond'elli abbian paura, subitamente lasciano star l'esca, perch'assaliti son da maggior cura; così vid'io quella masnada fresca lasciar lo canto, e fuggir ver' la costa, com'om che va, né sa dove riesca: né la nostra partita fu men tosta.
Purgatorio: Canto III Avvegna che la subitana fuga dispergesse color per la campagna, rivolti al monte ove ragion ne fruga, i' mi ristrinsi a la fida compagna: e come sare' io sanza lui corso? chi m'avria tratto su per la montagna? El mi parea da sé stesso rimorso: o dignitosa coscienza e netta, come t'è picciol fallo amaro morso! Quando li piedi suoi lasciar la fretta, che l'onestade ad ogn'atto dismaga, la mente mia, che prima era ristretta, lo 'ntento rallargò, sì come vaga, e diedi 'l viso mio incontr'al poggio che 'nverso 'l ciel più alto si dislaga.
Lo sol, che dietro fiammeggiava roggio, rotto m'era dinanzi a la figura, ch'avea in me de' suoi raggi l'appoggio.
Io mi volsi dallato con paura d'essere abbandonato, quand'io vidi solo dinanzi a me la terra oscura; e 'l mio conforto: «Perché pur diffidi?», a dir mi cominciò tutto rivolto; «non credi tu me teco e ch'io ti guidi? Vespero è già colà dov'è sepolto lo corpo dentro al quale io facea ombra: Napoli l'ha, e da Brandizio è tolto.
Ora, se innanzi a me nulla s'aombra, non ti maravigliar più che d'i cieli che l'uno a l'altro raggio non ingombra.
A sofferir tormenti, caldi e geli simili corpi la Virtù dispone che, come fa, non vuol ch'a noi si sveli.
Matto è chi spera che nostra ragione possa trascorrer la infinita via che tiene una sustanza in tre persone.
State contenti, umana gente, al quia; ché se potuto aveste veder tutto, mestier non era parturir Maria; e disiar vedeste sanza frutto tai che sarebbe lor disio quetato, ch'etternalmente è dato lor per lutto: io dico d'Aristotile e di Plato e di molt'altri»; e qui chinò la fronte, e più non disse, e rimase turbato.
Noi divenimmo intanto a piè del monte; quivi trovammo la roccia sì erta, che 'ndarno vi sarien le gambe pronte.
Tra Lerice e Turbìa la più diserta, la più rotta ruina è una scala, verso di quella, agevole e aperta.
«Or chi sa da qual man la costa cala», disse 'l maestro mio fermando 'l passo, «sì che possa salir chi va sanz'ala?».
E mentre ch'e' tenendo 'l viso basso essaminava del cammin la mente, e io mirava suso intorno al sasso, da man sinistra m'apparì una gente d'anime, che movieno i piè ver' noi, e non pareva, sì venian lente.
«Leva», diss'io, «maestro, li occhi tuoi: ecco di qua chi ne darà consiglio, se tu da te medesmo aver nol puoi».
Guardò allora, e con libero piglio rispuose: «Andiamo in là, ch'ei vegnon piano; e tu ferma la spene, dolce figlio».
Ancora era quel popol di lontano, i' dico dopo i nostri mille passi, quanto un buon gittator trarria con mano, quando si strinser tutti ai duri massi de l'alta ripa, e stetter fermi e stretti com'a guardar, chi va dubbiando, stassi.
«O ben finiti, o già spiriti eletti», Virgilio incominciò, «per quella pace ch'i' credo che per voi tutti s'aspetti, ditene dove la montagna giace sì che possibil sia l'andare in suso; ché perder tempo a chi più sa più spiace».
Come le pecorelle escon del chiuso a una, a due, a tre, e l'altre stanno timidette atterrando l'occhio e 'l muso; e ciò che fa la prima, e l'altre fanno, addossandosi a lei, s'ella s'arresta, semplici e quete, e lo 'mperché non sanno; sì vid'io muovere a venir la testa di quella mandra fortunata allotta, pudica in faccia e ne l'andare onesta.
Come color dinanzi vider rotta la luce in terra dal mio destro canto, sì che l'ombra era da me a la grotta, restaro, e trasser sé in dietro alquanto, e tutti li altri che venieno appresso, non sappiendo 'l perché, fenno altrettanto.
«Sanza vostra domanda io vi confesso che questo è corpo uman che voi vedete; per che 'l lume del sole in terra è fesso.
Non vi maravigliate, ma credete che non sanza virtù che da ciel vegna cerchi di soverchiar questa parete».
Così 'l maestro; e quella gente degna «Tornate», disse, «intrate innanzi dunque», coi dossi de le man faccendo insegna.
E un di loro incominciò: «Chiunque tu se', così andando, volgi 'l viso: pon mente se di là mi vedesti unque».
Io mi volsi ver lui e guardail fiso: biondo era e bello e di gentile aspetto, ma l'un de' cigli un colpo avea diviso.
Quand'io mi fui umilmente disdetto d'averlo visto mai, el disse: «Or vedi»; e mostrommi una piaga a sommo 'l petto.
Poi sorridendo disse: «Io son Manfredi, nepote di Costanza imperadrice; ond'io ti priego che, quando tu riedi, vadi a mia bella figlia, genitrice de l'onor di Cicilia e d'Aragona, e dichi 'l vero a lei, s'altro si dice.
Poscia ch'io ebbi rotta la persona di due punte mortali, io mi rendei, piangendo, a quei che volontier perdona.
Orribil furon li peccati miei; ma la bontà infinita ha sì gran braccia, che prende ciò che si rivolge a lei.
Se 'l pastor di Cosenza, che a la caccia di me fu messo per Clemente allora, avesse in Dio ben letta questa faccia, l'ossa del corpo mio sarieno ancora in co del ponte presso a Benevento, sotto la guardia de la grave mora.
Or le bagna la pioggia e move il vento di fuor dal regno, quasi lungo 'l Verde, dov'e' le trasmutò a lume spento.
Per lor maladizion sì non si perde, che non possa tornar, l'etterno amore, mentre che la speranza ha fior del verde.
Vero è che quale in contumacia more di Santa Chiesa, ancor ch'al fin si penta, star li convien da questa ripa in fore, per ognun tempo ch'elli è stato, trenta, in sua presunzion, se tal decreto più corto per buon prieghi non diventa.
Vedi oggimai se tu mi puoi far lieto, revelando a la mia buona Costanza come m'hai visto, e anco esto divieto; ché qui per quei di là molto s'avanza».
Purgatorio: Canto IV Quando per dilettanze o ver per doglie, che alcuna virtù nostra comprenda l'anima bene ad essa si raccoglie, par ch'a nulla potenza più intenda; e questo è contra quello error che crede ch'un'anima sovr'altra in noi s'accenda.
E però, quando s'ode cosa o vede che tegna forte a sé l'anima volta, vassene 'l tempo e l'uom non se n'avvede; ch'altra potenza è quella che l'ascolta, e altra è quella c'ha l'anima intera: questa è quasi legata, e quella è sciolta.
Di ciò ebb'io esperienza vera, udendo quello spirto e ammirando; ché ben cinquanta gradi salito era lo sole, e io non m'era accorto, quando venimmo ove quell'anime ad una gridaro a noi: «Qui è vostro dimando».
Maggiore aperta molte volte impruna con una forcatella di sue spine l'uom de la villa quando l'uva imbruna, che non era la calla onde saline lo duca mio, e io appresso, soli, come da noi la schiera si partìne.
Vassi in Sanleo e discendesi in Noli, montasi su in Bismantova 'n Cacume con esso i piè; ma qui convien ch'om voli; dico con l'ale snelle e con le piume del gran disio, di retro a quel condotto che speranza mi dava e facea lume.
Noi salavam per entro 'l sasso rotto, e d'ogne lato ne stringea lo stremo, e piedi e man volea il suol di sotto.
Poi che noi fummo in su l'orlo suppremo de l'alta ripa, a la scoperta piaggia, «Maestro mio», diss'io, «che via faremo?».
Ed elli a me: «Nessun tuo passo caggia; pur su al monte dietro a me acquista, fin che n'appaia alcuna scorta saggia».
Lo sommo er'alto che vincea la vista, e la costa superba più assai che da mezzo quadrante a centro lista.
Io era lasso, quando cominciai: «O dolce padre, volgiti, e rimira com'io rimango sol, se non restai».
«Figliuol mio», disse, «infin quivi ti tira», additandomi un balzo poco in sùe che da quel lato il poggio tutto gira.
Sì mi spronaron le parole sue, ch'i' mi sforzai carpando appresso lui, tanto che 'l cinghio sotto i piè mi fue.
A seder ci ponemmo ivi ambedui vòlti a levante ond'eravam saliti, che suole a riguardar giovare altrui.
Li occhi prima drizzai ai bassi liti; poscia li alzai al sole, e ammirava che da sinistra n'eravam feriti.
Ben s'avvide il poeta ch'io stava stupido tutto al carro de la luce, ove tra noi e Aquilone intrava.
Ond'elli a me: «Se Castore e Poluce fossero in compagnia di quello specchio che sù e giù del suo lume conduce, tu vedresti il Zodiaco rubecchio ancora a l'Orse più stretto rotare, se non uscisse fuor del cammin vecchio.
Come ciò sia, se 'l vuoi poter pensare, dentro raccolto, imagina Siòn con questo monte in su la terra stare sì, ch'amendue hanno un solo orizzòn e diversi emisperi; onde la strada che mal non seppe carreggiar Fetòn, vedrai come a costui convien che vada da l'un, quando a colui da l'altro fianco, se lo 'ntelletto tuo ben chiaro bada».
«Certo, maestro mio,», diss'io, «unquanco non vid'io chiaro sì com'io discerno là dove mio ingegno parea manco, che 'l mezzo cerchio del moto superno, che si chiama Equatore in alcun'arte, e che sempre riman tra 'l sole e 'l verno, per la ragion che di' , quinci si parte verso settentrion, quanto li Ebrei vedevan lui verso la calda parte.
Ma se a te piace, volontier saprei quanto avemo ad andar; ché 'l poggio sale più che salir non posson li occhi miei».
Ed elli a me: «Questa montagna è tale, che sempre al cominciar di sotto è grave; e quant'om più va sù, e men fa male.
Però, quand'ella ti parrà soave tanto, che sù andar ti fia leggero com'a seconda giù andar per nave, allor sarai al fin d'esto sentiero; quivi di riposar l'affanno aspetta.
Più non rispondo, e questo so per vero».
E com'elli ebbe sua parola detta, una voce di presso sonò: «Forse che di sedere in pria avrai distretta!».
Al suon di lei ciascun di noi si torse, e vedemmo a mancina un gran petrone, del qual né io né ei prima s'accorse.
Là ci traemmo; e ivi eran persone che si stavano a l'ombra dietro al sasso come l'uom per negghienza a star si pone.
E un di lor, che mi sembiava lasso, sedeva e abbracciava le ginocchia, tenendo 'l viso giù tra esse basso.
«O dolce segnor mio», diss'io, «adocchia colui che mostra sé più negligente che se pigrizia fosse sua serocchia».
Allor si volse a noi e puose mente, movendo 'l viso pur su per la coscia, e disse: «Or va tu sù, che se' valente!».
Conobbi allor chi era, e quella angoscia che m'avacciava un poco ancor la lena, non m'impedì l'andare a lui; e poscia ch'a lui fu' giunto, alzò la testa a pena, dicendo: «Hai ben veduto come 'l sole da l'omero sinistro il carro mena?».
Li atti suoi pigri e le corte parole mosser le labbra mie un poco a riso; poi cominciai: «Belacqua, a me non dole di te omai; ma dimmi: perché assiso quiritto se'? attendi tu iscorta, o pur lo modo usato t'ha' ripriso?».
Ed elli: «O frate, andar in sù che porta? ché non mi lascerebbe ire a' martìri l'angel di Dio che siede in su la porta.
Prima convien che tanto il ciel m'aggiri di fuor da essa, quanto fece in vita, perch'io 'ndugiai al fine i buon sospiri, se orazione in prima non m'aita che surga sù di cuor che in grazia viva; l'altra che val, che 'n ciel non è udita?».
E già il poeta innanzi mi saliva, e dicea: «Vienne omai; vedi ch'è tocco meridian dal sole e a la riva cuopre la notte già col piè Morrocco».
Purgatorio: Canto V Io era già da quell'ombre partito, e seguitava l'orme del mio duca, quando di retro a me, drizzando 'l dito, una gridò: «Ve' che non par che luca lo raggio da sinistra a quel di sotto, e come vivo par che si conduca!».
Li occhi rivolsi al suon di questo motto, e vidile guardar per maraviglia pur me, pur me, e 'l lume ch'era rotto.
«Perché l'animo tuo tanto s'impiglia», disse 'l maestro, «che l'andare allenti? che ti fa ciò che quivi si pispiglia? Vien dietro a me, e lascia dir le genti: sta come torre ferma, che non crolla già mai la cima per soffiar di venti; ché sempre l'omo in cui pensier rampolla sovra pensier, da sé dilunga il segno, perché la foga l'un de l'altro insolla».
Che potea io ridir, se non «Io vegno»? Dissilo, alquanto del color consperso che fa l'uom di perdon talvolta degno.
E 'ntanto per la costa di traverso venivan genti innanzi a noi un poco, cantando 'Miserere' a verso a verso.
Quando s'accorser ch'i' non dava loco per lo mio corpo al trapassar d'i raggi, mutar lor canto in un «oh!» lungo e roco; e due di loro, in forma di messaggi, corsero incontr'a noi e dimandarne: «Di vostra condizion fatene saggi».
E 'l mio maestro: «Voi potete andarne e ritrarre a color che vi mandaro che 'l corpo di costui è vera carne.
Se per veder la sua ombra restaro, com'io avviso, assai è lor risposto: fàccianli onore, ed essere può lor caro».
Vapori accesi non vid'io sì tosto di prima notte mai fender sereno, né, sol calando, nuvole d'agosto, che color non tornasser suso in meno; e, giunti là, con li altri a noi dier volta come schiera che scorre sanza freno.
«Questa gente che preme a noi è molta, e vegnonti a pregar», disse 'l poeta: «però pur va, e in andando ascolta».
«O anima che vai per esser lieta con quelle membra con le quai nascesti», venian gridando, «un poco il passo queta.
Guarda s'alcun di noi unqua vedesti, sì che di lui di là novella porti: deh, perché vai? deh, perché non t'arresti? Noi fummo tutti già per forza morti, e peccatori infino a l'ultima ora; quivi lume del ciel ne fece accorti, sì che, pentendo e perdonando, fora di vita uscimmo a Dio pacificati, che del disio di sé veder n'accora».
E io: «Perché ne' vostri visi guati, non riconosco alcun; ma s'a voi piace cosa ch'io possa, spiriti ben nati, voi dite, e io farò per quella pace che, dietro a' piedi di sì fatta guida di mondo in mondo cercar mi si face».
E uno incominciò: «Ciascun si fida del beneficio tuo sanza giurarlo, pur che 'l voler nonpossa non ricida.
Ond'io, che solo innanzi a li altri parlo, ti priego, se mai vedi quel paese che siede tra Romagna e quel di Carlo, che tu mi sie di tuoi prieghi cortese in Fano, sì che ben per me s'adori pur ch'i' possa purgar le gravi offese.
Quindi fu' io; ma li profondi fóri ond'uscì 'l sangue in sul quale io sedea, fatti mi fuoro in grembo a li Antenori, là dov'io più sicuro esser credea: quel da Esti il fé far, che m'avea in ira assai più là che dritto non volea.
Ma s'io fosse fuggito inver' la Mira, quando fu' sovragiunto ad Oriaco, ancor sarei di là dove si spira.
Corsi al palude, e le cannucce e 'l braco m'impigliar sì ch'i' caddi; e lì vid'io de le mie vene farsi in terra laco».
Poi disse un altro: «Deh, se quel disio si compia che ti tragge a l'alto monte, con buona pietate aiuta il mio! Io fui di Montefeltro, io son Bonconte; Giovanna o altri non ha di me cura; per ch'io vo tra costor con bassa fronte».
E io a lui: «Qual forza o qual ventura ti traviò sì fuor di Campaldino, che non si seppe mai tua sepultura?».
«Oh!», rispuos'elli, «a piè del Casentino traversa un'acqua c'ha nome l'Archiano, che sovra l'Ermo nasce in Apennino.
Là 've 'l vocabol suo diventa vano, arriva' io forato ne la gola, fuggendo a piede e sanguinando il piano.
Quivi perdei la vista e la parola nel nome di Maria fini', e quivi caddi, e rimase la mia carne sola.
Io dirò vero e tu 'l ridì tra ' vivi: l'angel di Dio mi prese, e quel d'inferno gridava: "O tu del ciel, perché mi privi? Tu te ne porti di costui l'etterno per una lagrimetta che 'l mi toglie; ma io farò de l'altro altro governo!".
Ben sai come ne l'aere si raccoglie quell'umido vapor che in acqua riede, tosto che sale dove 'l freddo il coglie.
Giunse quel mal voler che pur mal chiede con lo 'ntelletto, e mosse il fummo e 'l vento per la virtù che sua natura diede.
Indi la valle, come 'l dì fu spento, da Pratomagno al gran giogo coperse di nebbia; e 'l ciel di sopra fece intento, sì che 'l pregno aere in acqua si converse; la pioggia cadde e a' fossati venne di lei ciò che la terra non sofferse; e come ai rivi grandi si convenne, ver' lo fiume real tanto veloce si ruinò, che nulla la ritenne.
Lo corpo mio gelato in su la foce trovò l'Archian rubesto; e quel sospinse ne l'Arno, e sciolse al mio petto la croce ch'i' fe' di me quando 'l dolor mi vinse; voltòmmi per le ripe e per lo fondo, poi di sua preda mi coperse e cinse».
«Deh, quando tu sarai tornato al mondo, e riposato de la lunga via», seguitò 'l terzo spirito al secondo, «ricorditi di me, che son la Pia: Siena mi fé, disfecemi Maremma: salsi colui che 'nnanellata pria disposando m'avea con la sua gemma».
Purgatorio: Canto VI Quando si parte il gioco de la zara, colui che perde si riman dolente, repetendo le volte, e tristo impara; con l'altro se ne va tutta la gente; qual va dinanzi, e qual di dietro il prende, e qual dallato li si reca a mente; el non s'arresta, e questo e quello intende; a cui porge la man, più non fa pressa; e così da la calca si difende.
Tal era io in quella turba spessa, volgendo a loro, e qua e là, la faccia, e promettendo mi sciogliea da essa.
Quiv'era l'Aretin che da le braccia fiere di Ghin di Tacco ebbe la morte, e l'altro ch'annegò correndo in caccia.
Quivi pregava con le mani sporte Federigo Novello, e quel da Pisa che fé parer lo buon Marzucco forte.
Vidi conte Orso e l'anima divisa dal corpo suo per astio e per inveggia, com'e' dicea, non per colpa commisa; Pier da la Broccia dico; e qui proveggia, mentr'è di qua, la donna di Brabante, sì che però non sia di peggior greggia.
Come libero fui da tutte quante quell'ombre che pregar pur ch'altri prieghi, sì che s'avacci lor divenir sante, io cominciai: «El par che tu mi nieghi, o luce mia, espresso in alcun testo che decreto del cielo orazion pieghi; e questa gente prega pur di questo: sarebbe dunque loro speme vana, o non m'è 'l detto tuo ben manifesto?».
Ed elli a me: «La mia scrittura è piana; e la speranza di costor non falla, se ben si guarda con la mente sana; ché cima di giudicio non s'avvalla perché foco d'amor compia in un punto ciò che de' sodisfar chi qui s'astalla; e là dov'io fermai cotesto punto, non s'ammendava, per pregar, difetto, perché 'l priego da Dio era disgiunto.
Veramente a così alto sospetto non ti fermar, se quella nol ti dice che lume fia tra 'l vero e lo 'ntelletto.
Non so se 'ntendi: io dico di Beatrice; tu la vedrai di sopra, in su la vetta di questo monte, ridere e felice».
E io: «Segnore, andiamo a maggior fretta, ché già non m'affatico come dianzi, e vedi omai che 'l poggio l'ombra getta».
«Noi anderem con questo giorno innanzi», rispuose, «quanto più potremo omai; ma 'l fatto è d'altra forma che non stanzi.
Prima che sie là sù, tornar vedrai colui che già si cuopre de la costa, sì che ' suoi raggi tu romper non fai.
Ma vedi là un'anima che, posta sola soletta, inverso noi riguarda: quella ne 'nsegnerà la via più tosta».
Venimmo a lei: o anima lombarda, come ti stavi altera e disdegnosa e nel mover de li occhi onesta e tarda! Ella non ci dicea alcuna cosa, ma lasciavane gir, solo sguardando a guisa di leon quando si posa.
Pur Virgilio si trasse a lei, pregando che ne mostrasse la miglior salita; e quella non rispuose al suo dimando, ma di nostro paese e de la vita ci 'nchiese; e 'l dolce duca incominciava «Mantua.
.
.
», e l'ombra, tutta in sé romita, surse ver' lui del loco ove pria stava, dicendo: «O Mantoano, io son Sordello de la tua terra!»; e l'un l'altro abbracciava.
Ahi serva Italia, di dolore ostello, nave sanza nocchiere in gran tempesta, non donna di province, ma bordello! Quell'anima gentil fu così presta, sol per lo dolce suon de la sua terra, di fare al cittadin suo quivi festa; e ora in te non stanno sanza guerra li vivi tuoi, e l'un l'altro si rode di quei ch'un muro e una fossa serra.
Cerca, misera, intorno da le prode le tue marine, e poi ti guarda in seno, s'alcuna parte in te di pace gode.
Che val perché ti racconciasse il freno Iustiniano, se la sella è vota? Sanz'esso fora la vergogna meno.
Ahi gente che dovresti esser devota, e lasciar seder Cesare in la sella, se bene intendi ciò che Dio ti nota, guarda come esta fiera è fatta fella per non esser corretta da li sproni, poi che ponesti mano a la predella.
O Alberto tedesco ch'abbandoni costei ch'è fatta indomita e selvaggia, e dovresti inforcar li suoi arcioni, giusto giudicio da le stelle caggia sovra 'l tuo sangue, e sia novo e aperto, tal che 'l tuo successor temenza n'aggia! Ch'avete tu e 'l tuo padre sofferto, per cupidigia di costà distretti, che 'l giardin de lo 'mperio sia diserto.
Vieni a veder Montecchi e Cappelletti, Monaldi e Filippeschi, uom sanza cura: color già tristi, e questi con sospetti! Vien, crudel, vieni, e vedi la pressura d'i tuoi gentili, e cura lor magagne; e vedrai Santafior com'è oscura! Vieni a veder la tua Roma che piagne vedova e sola, e dì e notte chiama: «Cesare mio, perché non m'accompagne?».
Vieni a veder la gente quanto s'ama! e se nulla di noi pietà ti move, a vergognar ti vien de la tua fama.
E se licito m'è, o sommo Giove che fosti in terra per noi crucifisso, son li giusti occhi tuoi rivolti altrove? O è preparazion che ne l'abisso del tuo consiglio fai per alcun bene in tutto de l'accorger nostro scisso? Ché le città d'Italia tutte piene son di tiranni, e un Marcel diventa ogne villan che parteggiando viene.
Fiorenza mia, ben puoi esser contenta di questa digression che non ti tocca, mercé del popol tuo che si argomenta.
Molti han giustizia in cuore, e tardi scocca per non venir sanza consiglio a l'arco; ma il popol tuo l'ha in sommo de la bocca.
Molti rifiutan lo comune incarco; ma il popol tuo solicito risponde sanza chiamare, e grida: «I' mi sobbarco!».
Or ti fa lieta, ché tu hai ben onde: tu ricca, tu con pace, e tu con senno! S'io dico 'l ver, l'effetto nol nasconde.
Atene e Lacedemona, che fenno l'antiche leggi e furon sì civili, fecero al viver bene un picciol cenno verso di te, che fai tanto sottili provedimenti, ch'a mezzo novembre non giugne quel che tu d'ottobre fili.
Quante volte, del tempo che rimembre, legge, moneta, officio e costume hai tu mutato e rinovate membre! E se ben ti ricordi e vedi lume, vedrai te somigliante a quella inferma che non può trovar posa in su le piume, ma con dar volta suo dolore scherma.
Purgatorio: Canto VII Poscia che l'accoglienze oneste e liete furo iterate tre e quattro volte, Sordel si trasse, e disse: «Voi, chi siete?».
«Anzi che a questo monte fosser volte l'anime degne di salire a Dio, fur l'ossa mie per Ottavian sepolte.
Io son Virgilio; e per null'altro rio lo ciel perdei che per non aver fé».
Così rispuose allora il duca mio.
Qual è colui che cosa innanzi sé sùbita vede ond'e' si maraviglia, che crede e non, dicendo «Ella è.
.
.
non è.
.
.
», tal parve quelli; e poi chinò le ciglia, e umilmente ritornò ver' lui, e abbracciòl là 've 'l minor s'appiglia.
«O gloria di Latin», disse, «per cui mostrò ciò che potea la lingua nostra, o pregio etterno del loco ond'io fui, qual merito o qual grazia mi ti mostra? S'io son d'udir le tue parole degno, dimmi se vien d'inferno, e di qual chiostra».
«Per tutt'i cerchi del dolente regno», rispuose lui, «son io di qua venuto; virtù del ciel mi mosse, e con lei vegno.
Non per far, ma per non fare ho perduto a veder l'alto Sol che tu disiri e che fu tardi per me conosciuto.
Luogo è là giù non tristo di martìri, ma di tenebre solo, ove i lamenti non suonan come guai, ma son sospiri.
Quivi sto io coi pargoli innocenti dai denti morsi de la morte avante che fosser da l'umana colpa essenti; quivi sto io con quei che le tre sante virtù non si vestiro, e sanza vizio conobber l'altre e seguir tutte quante.
Ma se tu sai e puoi, alcuno indizio dà noi per che venir possiam più tosto là dove purgatorio ha dritto inizio».
Rispuose: «Loco certo non c'è posto; licito m'è andar suso e intorno; per quanto ir posso, a guida mi t'accosto.
Ma vedi già come dichina il giorno, e andar sù di notte non si puote; però è buon pensar di bel soggiorno.
Anime sono a destra qua remote: se mi consenti, io ti merrò ad esse, e non sanza diletto ti fier note».
«Com'è ciò?», fu risposto.
«Chi volesse salir di notte, fora elli impedito d'altrui, o non sarria ché non potesse?».
E 'l buon Sordello in terra fregò 'l dito, dicendo: «Vedi? sola questa riga non varcheresti dopo 'l sol partito: non però ch'altra cosa desse briga, che la notturna tenebra, ad ir suso; quella col nonpoder la voglia intriga.
Ben si poria con lei tornare in giuso e passeggiar la costa intorno errando, mentre che l'orizzonte il dì tien chiuso».
Allora il mio segnor, quasi ammirando, «Menane», disse, «dunque là 've dici ch'aver si può diletto dimorando».
Poco allungati c'eravam di lici, quand'io m'accorsi che 'l monte era scemo, a guisa che i vallon li sceman quici.
«Colà», disse quell'ombra, «n'anderemo dove la costa face di sé grembo; e là il novo giorno attenderemo».
Tra erto e piano era un sentiero schembo, che ne condusse in fianco de la lacca, là dove più ch'a mezzo muore il lembo.
Oro e argento fine, cocco e biacca, indaco, legno lucido e sereno, fresco smeraldo in l'ora che si fiacca, da l'erba e da li fior, dentr'a quel seno posti, ciascun saria di color vinto, come dal suo maggiore è vinto il meno.
Non avea pur natura ivi dipinto, ma di soavità di mille odori vi facea uno incognito e indistinto.
'Salve, Regina' in sul verde e 'n su' fiori quindi seder cantando anime vidi, che per la valle non parean di fuori.
«Prima che 'l poco sole omai s'annidi», cominciò 'l Mantoan che ci avea vòlti, «tra color non vogliate ch'io vi guidi.
Di questo balzo meglio li atti e ' volti conoscerete voi di tutti quanti, che ne la lama giù tra essi accolti.
Colui che più siede alto e fa sembianti d'aver negletto ciò che far dovea, e che non move bocca a li altrui canti, Rodolfo imperador fu, che potea sanar le piaghe c'hanno Italia morta, sì che tardi per altri si ricrea.
L'altro che ne la vista lui conforta, resse la terra dove l'acqua nasce che Molta in Albia, e Albia in mar ne porta: Ottacchero ebbe nome, e ne le fasce fu meglio assai che Vincislao suo figlio barbuto, cui lussuria e ozio pasce.
E quel nasetto che stretto a consiglio par con colui c'ha sì benigno aspetto, morì fuggendo e disfiorando il giglio: guardate là come si batte il petto! L'altro vedete c'ha fatto a la guancia de la sua palma, sospirando, letto.
Padre e suocero son del mal di Francia: sanno la vita sua viziata e lorda, e quindi viene il duol che sì li lancia.
Quel che par sì membruto e che s'accorda, cantando, con colui dal maschio naso, d'ogne valor portò cinta la corda; e se re dopo lui fosse rimaso lo giovanetto che retro a lui siede, ben andava il valor di vaso in vaso, che non si puote dir de l'altre rede; Iacomo e Federigo hanno i reami; del retaggio miglior nessun possiede.
Rade volte risurge per li rami l'umana probitate; e questo vole quei che la dà, perché da lui si chiami.
Anche al nasuto vanno mie parole non men ch'a l'altro, Pier, che con lui canta, onde Puglia e Proenza già si dole.
Tant'è del seme suo minor la pianta, quanto più che Beatrice e Margherita, Costanza di marito ancor si vanta.
Vedete il re de la semplice vita seder là solo, Arrigo d'Inghilterra: questi ha ne' rami suoi migliore uscita.
Quel che più basso tra costor s'atterra, guardando in suso, è Guiglielmo marchese, per cui e Alessandria e la sua guerra fa pianger Monferrato e Canavese».
Purgatorio: Canto VIII Era già l'ora che volge il disio ai navicanti e 'ntenerisce il core lo dì c'han detto ai dolci amici addio; e che lo novo peregrin d'amore punge, se ode squilla di lontano che paia il giorno pianger che si more; quand'io incominciai a render vano l'udire e a mirare una de l'alme surta, che l'ascoltar chiedea con mano.
Ella giunse e levò ambo le palme, ficcando li occhi verso l'oriente, come dicesse a Dio: 'D'altro non calme'.
'Te lucis ante' sì devotamente le uscìo di bocca e con sì dolci note, che fece me a me uscir di mente; e l'altre poi dolcemente e devote seguitar lei per tutto l'inno intero, avendo li occhi a le superne rote.
Aguzza qui, lettor, ben li occhi al vero, ché 'l velo è ora ben tanto sottile, certo che 'l trapassar dentro è leggero.
Io vidi quello essercito gentile tacito poscia riguardare in sùe quasi aspettando, palido e umìle; e vidi uscir de l'alto e scender giùe due angeli con due spade affocate, tronche e private de le punte sue.
Verdi come fogliette pur mo nate erano in veste, che da verdi penne percosse traean dietro e ventilate.
L'un poco sovra noi a star si venne, e l'altro scese in l'opposita sponda, sì che la gente in mezzo si contenne.
Ben discernea in lor la testa bionda; ma ne la faccia l'occhio si smarria, come virtù ch'a troppo si confonda.
«Ambo vegnon del grembo di Maria», disse Sordello, «a guardia de la valle, per lo serpente che verrà vie via».
Ond'io, che non sapeva per qual calle, mi volsi intorno, e stretto m'accostai, tutto gelato, a le fidate spalle.
E Sordello anco: «Or avvalliamo omai tra le grandi ombre, e parleremo ad esse; grazioso fia lor vedervi assai».
Solo tre passi credo ch'i' scendesse, e fui di sotto, e vidi un che mirava pur me, come conoscer mi volesse.
Temp'era già che l'aere s'annerava, ma non sì che tra li occhi suoi e ' miei non dichiarisse ciò che pria serrava.
Ver' me si fece, e io ver' lui mi fei: giudice Nin gentil, quanto mi piacque quando ti vidi non esser tra ' rei! Nullo bel salutar tra noi si tacque; poi dimandò: «Quant'è che tu venisti a piè del monte per le lontane acque?».
«Oh!», diss'io lui, «per entro i luoghi tristi venni stamane, e sono in prima vita, ancor che l'altra, sì andando, acquisti».
E come fu la mia risposta udita, Sordello ed elli in dietro si raccolse come gente di sùbito smarrita.
L'uno a Virgilio e l'altro a un si volse che sedea lì, gridando:«Sù, Currado! vieni a veder che Dio per grazia volse».
Poi, vòlto a me: «Per quel singular grado che tu dei a colui che sì nasconde lo suo primo perché, che non lì è guado, quando sarai di là da le larghe onde, dì a Giovanna mia che per me chiami là dove a li 'nnocenti si risponde.
Non credo che la sua madre più m'ami, poscia che trasmutò le bianche bende, le quai convien che, misera!, ancor brami.
Per lei assai di lieve si comprende quanto in femmina foco d'amor dura, se l'occhio o 'l tatto spesso non l'accende.
Non le farà sì bella sepultura la vipera che Melanesi accampa, com'avria fatto il gallo di Gallura».
Così dicea, segnato de la stampa, nel suo aspetto, di quel dritto zelo che misuratamente in core avvampa.
Li occhi miei ghiotti andavan pur al cielo, pur là dove le stelle son più tarde, sì come rota più presso a lo stelo.
E 'l duca mio: «Figliuol, che là sù guarde?».
E io a lui: «A quelle tre facelle di che 'l polo di qua tutto quanto arde».
Ond'elli a me: «Le quattro chiare stelle che vedevi staman, son di là basse, e queste son salite ov'eran quelle».
Com'ei parlava, e Sordello a sé il trasse dicendo:«Vedi là 'l nostro avversaro»; e drizzò il dito perché 'n là guardasse.
Da quella parte onde non ha riparo la picciola vallea, era una biscia, forse qual diede ad Eva il cibo amaro.
Tra l'erba e ' fior venìa la mala striscia, volgendo ad ora ad or la testa, e 'l dosso leccando come bestia che si liscia.
Io non vidi, e però dicer non posso, come mosser li astor celestiali; ma vidi bene e l'uno e l'altro mosso.
Sentendo fender l'aere a le verdi ali, fuggì 'l serpente, e li angeli dier volta, suso a le poste rivolando iguali.
L'ombra che s'era al giudice raccolta quando chiamò, per tutto quello assalto punto non fu da me guardare sciolta.
«Se la lucerna che ti mena in alto truovi nel tuo arbitrio tanta cera quant'è mestiere infino al sommo smalto», cominciò ella, «se novella vera di Val di Magra o di parte vicina sai, dillo a me, che già grande là era.
Fui chiamato Currado Malaspina; non son l'antico, ma di lui discesi; a' miei portai l'amor che qui raffina».
«Oh!», diss'io lui, «per li vostri paesi già mai non fui; ma dove si dimora per tutta Europa ch'ei non sien palesi? La fama che la vostra casa onora, grida i segnori e grida la contrada, sì che ne sa chi non vi fu ancora; e io vi giuro, s'io di sopra vada, che vostra gente onrata non si sfregia del pregio de la borsa e de la spada.
Uso e natura sì la privilegia, che, perché il capo reo il mondo torca, sola va dritta e 'l mal cammin dispregia».
Ed elli: «Or va; che 'l sol non si ricorca sette volte nel letto che 'l Montone con tutti e quattro i piè cuopre e inforca, che cotesta cortese oppinione ti fia chiavata in mezzo de la testa con maggior chiovi che d'altrui sermone, se corso di giudicio non s'arresta».
Purgatorio: Canto IX La concubina di Titone antico già s'imbiancava al balco d'oriente, fuor de le braccia del suo dolce amico; di gemme la sua fronte era lucente, poste in figura del freddo animale che con la coda percuote la gente; e la notte, de' passi con che sale, fatti avea due nel loco ov'eravamo, e 'l terzo già chinava in giuso l'ale; quand'io, che meco avea di quel d'Adamo, vinto dal sonno, in su l'erba inchinai là 've già tutti e cinque sedavamo.
Ne l'ora che comincia i tristi lai la rondinella presso a la mattina, forse a memoria de' suo' primi guai, e che la mente nostra, peregrina più da la carne e men da' pensier presa, a le sue vision quasi è divina, in sogno mi parea veder sospesa un'aguglia nel ciel con penne d'oro, con l'ali aperte e a calare intesa; ed esser mi parea là dove fuoro abbandonati i suoi da Ganimede, quando fu ratto al sommo consistoro.
Fra me pensava: 'Forse questa fiede pur qui per uso, e forse d'altro loco disdegna di portarne suso in piede'.
Poi mi parea che, poi rotata un poco, terribil come folgor discendesse, e me rapisse suso infino al foco.
Ivi parea che ella e io ardesse; e sì lo 'ncendio imaginato cosse, che convenne che 'l sonno si rompesse.
Non altrimenti Achille si riscosse, li occhi svegliati rivolgendo in giro e non sappiendo là dove si fosse, quando la madre da Chirón a Schiro trafuggò lui dormendo in le sue braccia, là onde poi li Greci il dipartiro; che mi scoss'io, sì come da la faccia mi fuggì 'l sonno, e diventa' ismorto, come fa l'uom che, spaventato, agghiaccia.
Dallato m'era solo il mio conforto, e 'l sole er'alto già più che due ore, e 'l viso m'era a la marina torto.
«Non aver tema», disse il mio segnore; «fatti sicur, ché noi semo a buon punto; non stringer, ma rallarga ogne vigore.
Tu se' omai al purgatorio giunto: vedi là il balzo che 'l chiude dintorno; vedi l'entrata là 've par digiunto.
Dianzi, ne l'alba che procede al giorno, quando l'anima tua dentro dormia, sovra li fiori ond'è là giù addorno venne una donna, e disse: "I' son Lucia; lasciatemi pigliar costui che dorme; sì l'agevolerò per la sua via".
Sordel rimase e l'altre genti forme; ella ti tolse, e come 'l dì fu chiaro, sen venne suso; e io per le sue orme.
Qui ti posò, ma pria mi dimostraro li occhi suoi belli quella intrata aperta; poi ella e 'l sonno ad una se n'andaro».
A guisa d'uom che 'n dubbio si raccerta e che muta in conforto sua paura, poi che la verità li è discoperta, mi cambia' io; e come sanza cura vide me 'l duca mio, su per lo balzo si mosse, e io di rietro inver' l'altura.
Lettor, tu vedi ben com'io innalzo la mia matera, e però con più arte non ti maravigliar s'io la rincalzo.
Noi ci appressammo, ed eravamo in parte, che là dove pareami prima rotto, pur come un fesso che muro diparte, vidi una porta, e tre gradi di sotto per gire ad essa, di color diversi, e un portier ch'ancor non facea motto.
E come l'occhio più e più v'apersi, vidil seder sovra 'l grado sovrano, tal ne la faccia ch'io non lo soffersi; e una spada nuda avea in mano, che reflettea i raggi sì ver' noi, ch'io drizzava spesso il viso in vano.
«Dite costinci: che volete voi?», cominciò elli a dire, «ov'è la scorta? Guardate che 'l venir sù non vi nòi».
«Donna del ciel, di queste cose accorta», rispuose 'l mio maestro a lui, «pur dianzi ne disse: "Andate là: quivi è la porta"».
«Ed ella i passi vostri in bene avanzi», ricominciò il cortese portinaio: «Venite dunque a' nostri gradi innanzi».
Là ne venimmo; e lo scaglion primaio bianco marmo era sì pulito e terso, ch'io mi specchiai in esso qual io paio.
Era il secondo tinto più che perso, d'una petrina ruvida e arsiccia, crepata per lo lungo e per traverso.
Lo terzo, che di sopra s'ammassiccia, porfido mi parea, sì fiammeggiante, come sangue che fuor di vena spiccia.
Sovra questo tenea ambo le piante l'angel di Dio, sedendo in su la soglia, che mi sembiava pietra di diamante.
Per li tre gradi sù di buona voglia mi trasse il duca mio, dicendo: «Chiedi umilemente che 'l serrame scioglia».
Divoto mi gittai a' santi piedi; misericordia chiesi e ch'el m'aprisse, ma tre volte nel petto pria mi diedi.
Sette P ne la fronte mi descrisse col punton de la spada, e «Fa che lavi, quando se' dentro, queste piaghe», disse.
Cenere, o terra che secca si cavi, d'un color fora col suo vestimento; e di sotto da quel trasse due chiavi.
L'una era d'oro e l'altra era d'argento; pria con la bianca e poscia con la gialla fece a la porta sì, ch'i' fu' contento.
«Quandunque l'una d'este chiavi falla, che non si volga dritta per la toppa», diss'elli a noi, «non s'apre questa calla.
Più cara è l'una; ma l'altra vuol troppa d'arte e d'ingegno avanti che diserri, perch'ella è quella che 'l nodo digroppa.
Da Pier le tegno; e dissemi ch'i' erri anzi ad aprir ch'a tenerla serrata, pur che la gente a' piedi mi s'atterri».
Poi pinse l'uscio a la porta sacrata, dicendo: «Intrate; ma facciovi accorti che di fuor torna chi 'n dietro si guata».
E quando fuor ne' cardini distorti li spigoli di quella regge sacra, che di metallo son sonanti e forti, non rugghiò sì né si mostrò sì acra Tarpea, come tolto le fu il buono Metello, per che poi rimase macra.
Io mi rivolsi attento al primo tuono, e 'Te Deum laudamus' mi parea udire in voce mista al dolce suono.
Tale imagine a punto mi rendea ciò ch'io udiva, qual prender si suole quando a cantar con organi si stea; ch'or sì or no s'intendon le parole.
Purgatorio: Canto X Poi fummo dentro al soglio de la porta che 'l mal amor de l'anime disusa, perché fa parer dritta la via torta, sonando la senti' esser richiusa; e s'io avesse li occhi vòlti ad essa, qual fora stata al fallo degna scusa? Noi salavam per una pietra fessa, che si moveva e d'una e d'altra parte, sì come l'onda che fugge e s'appressa.
«Qui si conviene usare un poco d'arte», cominciò 'l duca mio, «in accostarsi or quinci, or quindi al lato che si parte».
E questo fece i nostri passi scarsi, tanto che pria lo scemo de la luna rigiunse al letto suo per ricorcarsi, che noi fossimo fuor di quella cruna; ma quando fummo liberi e aperti sù dove il monte in dietro si rauna, io stancato e amendue incerti di nostra via, restammo in su un piano solingo più che strade per diserti.
Da la sua sponda, ove confina il vano, al piè de l'alta ripa che pur sale, misurrebbe in tre volte un corpo umano; e quanto l'occhio mio potea trar d'ale, or dal sinistro e or dal destro fianco, questa cornice mi parea cotale.
Là sù non eran mossi i piè nostri anco, quand'io conobbi quella ripa intorno che dritto di salita aveva manco, esser di marmo candido e addorno d'intagli sì, che non pur Policleto, ma la natura lì avrebbe scorno.
L'angel che venne in terra col decreto de la molt'anni lagrimata pace, ch'aperse il ciel del suo lungo divieto, dinanzi a noi pareva sì verace quivi intagliato in un atto soave, che non sembiava imagine che tace.
Giurato si saria ch'el dicesse 'Ave!'; perché iv'era imaginata quella ch'ad aprir l'alto amor volse la chiave; e avea in atto impressa esta favella 'Ecce ancilla Dei', propriamente come figura in cera si suggella.
«Non tener pur ad un loco la mente», disse 'l dolce maestro, che m'avea da quella parte onde 'l cuore ha la gente.
Per ch'i' mi mossi col viso, e vedea di retro da Maria, da quella costa onde m'era colui che mi movea, un'altra storia ne la roccia imposta; per ch'io varcai Virgilio, e fe'mi presso, acciò che fosse a li occhi miei disposta.
Era intagliato lì nel marmo stesso lo carro e ' buoi, traendo l'arca santa, per che si teme officio non commesso.
Dinanzi parea gente; e tutta quanta, partita in sette cori, a' due mie' sensi faceva dir l'un «No», l'altro «Sì, canta».
Similemente al fummo de li 'ncensi che v'era imaginato, li occhi e 'l naso e al sì e al no discordi fensi.
Lì precedeva al benedetto vaso, trescando alzato, l'umile salmista, e più e men che re era in quel caso.
Di contra, effigiata ad una vista d'un gran palazzo, Micòl ammirava sì come donna dispettosa e trista.
I' mossi i piè del loco dov'io stava, per avvisar da presso un'altra istoria, che di dietro a Micòl mi biancheggiava.
Quiv'era storiata l'alta gloria del roman principato, il cui valore mosse Gregorio a la sua gran vittoria; i' dico di Traiano imperadore; e una vedovella li era al freno, di lagrime atteggiata e di dolore.
Intorno a lui parea calcato e pieno di cavalieri, e l'aguglie ne l'oro sovr'essi in vista al vento si movieno.
La miserella intra tutti costoro pareva dir: «Segnor, fammi vendetta di mio figliuol ch'è morto, ond'io m'accoro»; ed elli a lei rispondere: «Or aspetta tanto ch'i' torni»; e quella: «Segnor mio», come persona in cui dolor s'affretta, «se tu non torni?»; ed ei: «Chi fia dov'io, la ti farà»; ed ella: «L'altrui bene a te che fia, se 'l tuo metti in oblio?»; ond'elli: «Or ti conforta; ch'ei convene ch'i' solva il mio dovere anzi ch'i' mova: giustizia vuole e pietà mi ritene».
Colui che mai non vide cosa nova produsse esto visibile parlare, novello a noi perché qui non si trova.
Mentr'io mi dilettava di guardare l'imagini di tante umilitadi, e per lo fabbro loro a veder care, «Ecco di qua, ma fanno i passi radi», mormorava il poeta, «molte genti: questi ne 'nvieranno a li alti gradi».
Li occhi miei ch'a mirare eran contenti per veder novitadi ond'e' son vaghi, volgendosi ver' lui non furon lenti.
Non vo' però, lettor, che tu ti smaghi di buon proponimento per udire come Dio vuol che 'l debito si paghi.
Non attender la forma del martìre: pensa la succession; pensa ch'al peggio, oltre la gran sentenza non può ire.
Io cominciai: «Maestro, quel ch'io veggio muovere a noi, non mi sembian persone, e non so che, sì nel veder vaneggio».
Ed elli a me: «La grave condizione di lor tormento a terra li rannicchia, sì che ' miei occhi pria n'ebber tencione.
Ma guarda fiso là, e disviticchia col viso quel che vien sotto a quei sassi: già scorger puoi come ciascun si picchia».
O superbi cristian, miseri lassi, che, de la vista de la mente infermi, fidanza avete ne' retrosi passi, non v'accorgete voi che noi siam vermi nati a formar l'angelica farfalla, che vola a la giustizia sanza schermi? Di che l'animo vostro in alto galla, poi siete quasi antomata in difetto, sì come vermo in cui formazion falla? Come per sostentar solaio o tetto, per mensola talvolta una figura si vede giugner le ginocchia al petto, la qual fa del non ver vera rancura nascere 'n chi la vede; così fatti vid'io color, quando puosi ben cura.
Vero è che più e meno eran contratti secondo ch'avien più e meno a dosso; e qual più pazienza avea ne li atti, piangendo parea dicer: 'Più non posso'.
Purgatorio: Canto XI «O Padre nostro, che ne' cieli stai, non circunscritto, ma per più amore ch'ai primi effetti di là sù tu hai, laudato sia 'l tuo nome e 'l tuo valore da ogni creatura, com'è degno di render grazie al tuo dolce vapore.
Vegna ver' noi la pace del tuo regno, ché noi ad essa non potem da noi, s'ella non vien, con tutto nostro ingegno.
Come del suo voler li angeli tuoi fan sacrificio a te, cantando osanna, così facciano li uomini de' suoi.
Dà oggi a noi la cotidiana manna, sanza la qual per questo aspro diserto a retro va chi più di gir s'affanna.
E come noi lo mal ch'avem sofferto perdoniamo a ciascuno, e tu perdona benigno, e non guardar lo nostro merto.
Nostra virtù che di legger s'adona, non spermentar con l'antico avversaro, ma libera da lui che sì la sprona.
Quest'ultima preghiera, segnor caro, già non si fa per noi, ché non bisogna, ma per color che dietro a noi restaro».
Così a sé e noi buona ramogna quell'ombre orando, andavan sotto 'l pondo, simile a quel che tal volta si sogna, disparmente angosciate tutte a tondo e lasse su per la prima cornice, purgando la caligine del mondo.
Se di là sempre ben per noi si dice, di qua che dire e far per lor si puote da quei ch'hanno al voler buona radice? Ben si de' loro atar lavar le note che portar quinci, sì che, mondi e lievi, possano uscire a le stellate ruote.
«Deh, se giustizia e pietà vi disgrievi tosto, sì che possiate muover l'ala, che secondo il disio vostro vi lievi, mostrate da qual mano inver' la scala si va più corto; e se c'è più d'un varco, quel ne 'nsegnate che men erto cala; ché questi che vien meco, per lo 'ncarco de la carne d'Adamo onde si veste, al montar sù, contra sua voglia, è parco».
Le lor parole, che rendero a queste che dette avea colui cu' io seguiva, non fur da cui venisser manifeste; ma fu detto: «A man destra per la riva con noi venite, e troverete il passo possibile a salir persona viva.
E s'io non fossi impedito dal sasso che la cervice mia superba doma, onde portar convienmi il viso basso, cotesti, ch'ancor vive e non si noma, guardere' io, per veder s'i' 'l conosco, e per farlo pietoso a questa soma.
Io fui latino e nato d'un gran Tosco: Guiglielmo Aldobrandesco fu mio padre; non so se 'l nome suo già mai fu vosco.
L'antico sangue e l'opere leggiadre d'i miei maggior mi fer sì arrogante, che, non pensando a la comune madre, ogn'uomo ebbi in despetto tanto avante, ch'io ne mori', come i Sanesi sanno e sallo in Campagnatico ogne fante.
Io sono Omberto; e non pur a me danno superbia fa, ché tutti miei consorti ha ella tratti seco nel malanno.
E qui convien ch'io questo peso porti per lei, tanto che a Dio si sodisfaccia, poi ch'io nol fe' tra ' vivi, qui tra ' morti».
Ascoltando chinai in giù la faccia; e un di lor, non questi che parlava, si torse sotto il peso che li 'mpaccia, e videmi e conobbemi e chiamava, tenendo li occhi con fatica fisi a me che tutto chin con loro andava.
«Oh!», diss'io lui, «non se' tu Oderisi, l'onor d'Agobbio e l'onor di quell'arte ch'alluminar chiamata è in Parisi?».
«Frate», diss'elli, «più ridon le carte che pennelleggia Franco Bolognese; l'onore è tutto or suo, e mio in parte.
Ben non sare' io stato sì cortese mentre ch'io vissi, per lo gran disio de l'eccellenza ove mio core intese.
Di tal superbia qui si paga il fio; e ancor non sarei qui, se non fosse che, possendo peccar, mi volsi a Dio.
Oh vana gloria de l'umane posse! com'poco verde in su la cima dura, se non è giunta da l'etati grosse! Credette Cimabue ne la pittura tener lo campo, e ora ha Giotto il grido, sì che la fama di colui è scura: così ha tolto l'uno a l'altro Guido la gloria de la lingua; e forse è nato chi l'uno e l'altro caccerà del nido.
Non è il mondan romore altro ch'un fiato di vento, ch'or vien quinci e or vien quindi, e muta nome perché muta lato.
Che voce avrai tu più, se vecchia scindi da te la carne, che se fossi morto anzi che tu lasciassi il 'pappo' e 'l 'dindi', pria che passin mill'anni? ch'è più corto spazio a l'etterno, ch'un muover di ciglia al cerchio che più tardi in cielo è torto.
Colui che del cammin sì poco piglia dinanzi a me, Toscana sonò tutta; e ora a pena in Siena sen pispiglia, ond'era sire quando fu distrutta la rabbia fiorentina, che superba fu a quel tempo sì com'ora è putta.
La vostra nominanza è color d'erba, che viene e va, e quei la discolora per cui ella esce de la terra acerba».
E io a lui: «Tuo vero dir m'incora bona umiltà, e gran tumor m'appiani; ma chi è quei di cui tu parlavi ora?».
«Quelli è», rispuose, «Provenzan Salvani; ed è qui perché fu presuntuoso a recar Siena tutta a le sue mani.
Ito è così e va, sanza riposo, poi che morì; cotal moneta rende a sodisfar chi è di là troppo oso».
E io: «Se quello spirito ch'attende, pria che si penta, l'orlo de la vita, qua giù dimora e qua sù non ascende, se buona orazion lui non aita, prima che passi tempo quanto visse, come fu la venuta lui largita?».
«Quando vivea più glorioso», disse, «liberamente nel Campo di Siena, ogne vergogna diposta, s'affisse; e lì, per trar l'amico suo di pena ch'e' sostenea ne la prigion di Carlo, si condusse a tremar per ogne vena.
Più non dirò, e scuro so che parlo; ma poco tempo andrà, che ' tuoi vicini faranno sì che tu potrai chiosarlo.
Quest'opera li tolse quei confini».
Purgatorio: Canto XII Di pari, come buoi che vanno a giogo, m'andava io con quell'anima carca, fin che 'l sofferse il dolce pedagogo.
Ma quando disse: «Lascia lui e varca; ché qui è buono con l'ali e coi remi, quantunque può, ciascun pinger sua barca»; dritto sì come andar vuolsi rife'mi con la persona, avvegna che i pensieri mi rimanessero e chinati e scemi.
Io m'era mosso, e seguia volontieri del mio maestro i passi, e amendue già mostravam com'eravam leggeri; ed el mi disse: «Volgi li occhi in giùe: buon ti sarà, per tranquillar la via, veder lo letto de le piante tue».
Come, perché di lor memoria sia, sovra i sepolti le tombe terragne portan segnato quel ch'elli eran pria, onde lì molte volte si ripiagne per la puntura de la rimembranza, che solo a' pii dà de le calcagne; sì vid'io lì, ma di miglior sembianza secondo l'artificio, figurato quanto per via di fuor del monte avanza.
Vedea colui che fu nobil creato più ch'altra creatura, giù dal cielo folgoreggiando scender, da l'un lato.
Vedea Briareo, fitto dal telo celestial giacer, da l'altra parte, grave a la terra per lo mortal gelo.
Vedea Timbreo, vedea Pallade e Marte, armati ancora, intorno al padre loro, mirar le membra d'i Giganti sparte.
Vedea Nembròt a piè del gran lavoro quasi smarrito, e riguardar le genti che 'n Sennaàr con lui superbi fuoro.
O Niobè, con che occhi dolenti vedea io te segnata in su la strada, tra sette e sette tuoi figliuoli spenti! O Saùl, come in su la propria spada quivi parevi morto in Gelboè, che poi non sentì pioggia né rugiada! O folle Aragne, sì vedea io te già mezza ragna, trista in su li stracci de l'opera che mal per te si fé.
O Roboàm, già non par che minacci quivi 'l tuo segno; ma pien di spavento nel porta un carro, sanza ch'altri il cacci.
Mostrava ancor lo duro pavimento come Almeon a sua madre fé caro parer lo sventurato addornamento.
Mostrava come i figli si gittaro sovra Sennacherìb dentro dal tempio, e come, morto lui, quivi il lasciaro.
Mostrava la ruina e 'l crudo scempio che fé Tamiri, quando disse a Ciro: «Sangue sitisti, e io di sangue t'empio».
Mostrava come in rotta si fuggiro li Assiri, poi che fu morto Oloferne, e anche le reliquie del martiro.
Vedeva Troia in cenere e in caverne; o Ilión, come te basso e vile mostrava il segno che lì si discerne! Qual di pennel fu maestro o di stile che ritraesse l'ombre e ' tratti ch'ivi mirar farieno uno ingegno sottile? Morti li morti e i vivi parean vivi: non vide mei di me chi vide il vero, quant'io calcai, fin che chinato givi.
Or superbite, e via col viso altero, figliuoli d'Eva, e non chinate il volto sì che veggiate il vostro mal sentero! Più era già per noi del monte vòlto e del cammin del sole assai più speso che non stimava l'animo non sciolto, quando colui che sempre innanzi atteso andava, cominciò: «Drizza la testa; non è più tempo di gir sì sospeso.
Vedi colà un angel che s'appresta per venir verso noi; vedi che torna dal servigio del dì l'ancella sesta.
Di reverenza il viso e li atti addorna, sì che i diletti lo 'nviarci in suso; pensa che questo dì mai non raggiorna!».
Io era ben del suo ammonir uso pur di non perder tempo, sì che 'n quella materia non potea parlarmi chiuso.
A noi venìa la creatura bella, biancovestito e ne la faccia quale par tremolando mattutina stella.
Le braccia aperse, e indi aperse l'ale; disse: «Venite: qui son presso i gradi, e agevolemente omai si sale.
A questo invito vegnon molto radi: o gente umana, per volar sù nata, perché a poco vento così cadi?».
Menocci ove la roccia era tagliata; quivi mi batté l'ali per la fronte; poi mi promise sicura l'andata.
Come a man destra, per salire al monte dove siede la chiesa che soggioga la ben guidata sopra Rubaconte, si rompe del montar l'ardita foga per le scalee che si fero ad etade ch'era sicuro il quaderno e la doga; così s'allenta la ripa che cade quivi ben ratta da l'altro girone; ma quinci e quindi l'alta pietra rade.
Noi volgendo ivi le nostre persone, 'Beati pauperes spiritu!' voci cantaron sì, che nol diria sermone.
Ahi quanto son diverse quelle foci da l'


by Dante Alighieri

Paradiso (Italian)

 LA DIVINA COMMEDIA
di Dante Alighieri
PARADISO



Paradiso: Canto I

 La gloria di colui che tutto move
per l'universo penetra, e risplende
in una parte pi? e meno altrove.
Nel ciel che pi? de la sua luce prende fu' io, e vidi cose che ridire n? sa n? pu? chi di l? s? discende; perch? appressando s? al suo disire, nostro intelletto si profonda tanto, che dietro la memoria non pu? ire.
Veramente quant'io del regno santo ne la mia mente potei far tesoro, sar? ora materia del mio canto.
O buono Appollo, a l'ultimo lavoro fammi del tuo valor s? fatto vaso, come dimandi a dar l'amato alloro.
Infino a qui l'un giogo di Parnaso assai mi fu; ma or con amendue m'? uopo intrar ne l'aringo rimaso.
Entra nel petto mio, e spira tue s? come quando Marsia traesti de la vagina de le membra sue.
O divina virt?, se mi ti presti tanto che l'ombra del beato regno segnata nel mio capo io manifesti, vedra'mi al pi? del tuo diletto legno venire, e coronarmi de le foglie che la materia e tu mi farai degno.
S? rade volte, padre, se ne coglie per triunfare o cesare o poeta, colpa e vergogna de l'umane voglie, che parturir letizia in su la lieta delfica deit? dovria la fronda peneia, quando alcun di s? asseta.
Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda: forse di retro a me con miglior voci si pregher? perch? Cirra risponda.
Surge ai mortali per diverse foci la lucerna del mondo; ma da quella che quattro cerchi giugne con tre croci, con miglior corso e con migliore stella esce congiunta, e la mondana cera pi? a suo modo tempera e suggella.
Fatto avea di l? mane e di qua sera tal foce, e quasi tutto era l? bianco quello emisperio, e l'altra parte nera, quando Beatrice in sul sinistro fianco vidi rivolta e riguardar nel sole: aquila s? non li s'affisse unquanco.
E s? come secondo raggio suole uscir del primo e risalire in suso, pur come pelegrin che tornar vuole, cos? de l'atto suo, per li occhi infuso ne l'imagine mia, il mio si fece, e fissi li occhi al sole oltre nostr'uso.
Molto ? licito l?, che qui non lece a le nostre virt?, merc? del loco fatto per proprio de l'umana spece.
Io nol soffersi molto, n? s? poco, ch'io nol vedessi sfavillar dintorno, com'ferro che bogliente esce del foco; e di s?bito parve giorno a giorno essere aggiunto, come quei che puote avesse il ciel d'un altro sole addorno.
Beatrice tutta ne l'etterne rote fissa con li occhi stava; e io in lei le luci fissi, di l? s? rimote.
Nel suo aspetto tal dentro mi fei, qual si f? Glauco nel gustar de l'erba che 'l f? consorto in mar de li altri d?i.
Trasumanar significar per verba non si poria; per? l'essemplo basti a cui esperienza grazia serba.
S'i' era sol di me quel che creasti novellamente, amor che 'l ciel governi, tu 'l sai, che col tuo lume mi levasti.
Quando la rota che tu sempiterni desiderato, a s? mi fece atteso con l'armonia che temperi e discerni, parvemi tanto allor del cielo acceso de la fiamma del sol, che pioggia o fiume lago non fece alcun tanto disteso.
La novit? del suono e 'l grande lume di lor cagion m'accesero un disio mai non sentito di cotanto acume.
Ond'ella, che vedea me s? com'io, a quietarmi l'animo commosso, pria ch'io a dimandar, la bocca aprio, e cominci?: «Tu stesso ti fai grosso col falso imaginar, s? che non vedi ci? che vedresti se l'avessi scosso.
Tu non se' in terra, s? come tu credi; ma folgore, fuggendo il proprio sito, non corse come tu ch'ad esso riedi».
S'io fui del primo dubbio disvestito per le sorrise parolette brevi, dentro ad un nuovo pi? fu' inretito, e dissi: «Gi? contento requievi di grande ammirazion; ma ora ammiro com'io trascenda questi corpi levi».
Ond'ella, appresso d'un pio sospiro, li occhi drizz? ver' me con quel sembiante che madre fa sovra figlio deliro, e cominci?: «Le cose tutte quante hanno ordine tra loro, e questo ? forma che l'universo a Dio fa simigliante.
Qui veggion l'alte creature l'orma de l'etterno valore, il qual ? fine al quale ? fatta la toccata norma.
Ne l'ordine ch'io dico sono accline tutte nature, per diverse sorti, pi? al principio loro e men vicine; onde si muovono a diversi porti per lo gran mar de l'essere, e ciascuna con istinto a lei dato che la porti.
Questi ne porta il foco inver' la luna; questi ne' cor mortali ? permotore; questi la terra in s? stringe e aduna; n? pur le creature che son fore d'intelligenza quest'arco saetta ma quelle c'hanno intelletto e amore.
La provedenza, che cotanto assetta, del suo lume fa 'l ciel sempre quieto nel qual si volge quel c'ha maggior fretta; e ora l?, come a sito decreto, cen porta la virt? di quella corda che ci? che scocca drizza in segno lieto.
Vero ? che, come forma non s'accorda molte fiate a l'intenzion de l'arte, perch'a risponder la materia ? sorda, cos? da questo corso si diparte talor la creatura, c'ha podere di piegar, cos? pinta, in altra parte; e s? come veder si pu? cadere foco di nube, s? l'impeto primo l'atterra torto da falso piacere.
Non dei pi? ammirar, se bene stimo, lo tuo salir, se non come d'un rivo se d'alto monte scende giuso ad imo.
Maraviglia sarebbe in te se, privo d'impedimento, gi? ti fossi assiso, com'a terra quiete in foco vivo».
Quinci rivolse inver' lo cielo il viso.
Paradiso: Canto II O voi che siete in piccioletta barca, desiderosi d'ascoltar, seguiti dietro al mio legno che cantando varca, tornate a riveder li vostri liti: non vi mettete in pelago, ch? forse, perdendo me, rimarreste smarriti.
L'acqua ch'io prendo gi? mai non si corse; Minerva spira, e conducemi Appollo, e nove Muse mi dimostran l'Orse.
Voialtri pochi che drizzaste il collo per tempo al pan de li angeli, del quale vivesi qui ma non sen vien satollo, metter potete ben per l'alto sale vostro navigio, servando mio solco dinanzi a l'acqua che ritorna equale.
Que' gloriosi che passaro al Colco non s'ammiraron come voi farete, quando Ias?n vider fatto bifolco.
La concreata e perpetua sete del deiforme regno cen portava veloci quasi come 'l ciel vedete.
Beatrice in suso, e io in lei guardava; e forse in tanto in quanto un quadrel posa e vola e da la noce si dischiava, giunto mi vidi ove mirabil cosa mi torse il viso a s?; e per? quella cui non potea mia cura essere ascosa, volta ver' me, s? lieta come bella, «Drizza la mente in Dio grata», mi disse, «che n'ha congiunti con la prima stella».
Parev'a me che nube ne coprisse lucida, spessa, solida e pulita, quasi adamante che lo sol ferisse.
Per entro s? l'etterna margarita ne ricevette, com'acqua recepe raggio di luce permanendo unita.
S'io era corpo, e qui non si concepe com'una dimensione altra patio, ch'esser convien se corpo in corpo repe, accender ne dovr?a pi? il disio di veder quella essenza in che si vede come nostra natura e Dio s'unio.
L? si vedr? ci? che tenem per fede, non dimostrato, ma fia per s? noto a guisa del ver primo che l'uom crede.
Io rispuosi: «Madonna, s? devoto com'esser posso pi?, ringrazio lui lo qual dal mortal mondo m'ha remoto.
Ma ditemi: che son li segni bui di questo corpo, che l? giuso in terra fan di Cain favoleggiare altrui?».
Ella sorrise alquanto, e poi «S'elli erra l'oppinion», mi disse, «d'i mortali dove chiave di senso non diserra, certo non ti dovrien punger li strali d'ammirazione omai, poi dietro ai sensi vedi che la ragione ha corte l'ali.
Ma dimmi quel che tu da te ne pensi».
E io: «Ci? che n'appar qua s? diverso credo che fanno i corpi rari e densi».
Ed ella: «Certo assai vedrai sommerso nel falso il creder tuo, se bene ascolti l'argomentar ch'io li far? avverso.
La spera ottava vi dimostra molti lumi, li quali e nel quale e nel quanto notar si posson di diversi volti.
Se raro e denso ci? facesser tanto, una sola virt? sarebbe in tutti, pi? e men distributa e altrettanto.
Virt? diverse esser convegnon frutti di princ?pi formali, e quei, for ch'uno, seguiter?eno a tua ragion distrutti.
Ancor, se raro fosse di quel bruno cagion che tu dimandi, o d'oltre in parte fora di sua materia s? digiuno esto pianeto, o, s? come comparte lo grasso e 'l magro un corpo, cos? questo nel suo volume cangerebbe carte.
Se 'l primo fosse, fora manifesto ne l'eclissi del sol per trasparere lo lume come in altro raro ingesto.
Questo non ?: per? ? da vedere de l'altro; e s'elli avvien ch'io l'altro cassi, falsificato fia lo tuo parere.
S'elli ? che questo raro non trapassi, esser conviene un termine da onde lo suo contrario pi? passar non lassi; e indi l'altrui raggio si rifonde cos? come color torna per vetro lo qual di retro a s? piombo nasconde.
Or dirai tu ch'el si dimostra tetro ivi lo raggio pi? che in altre parti, per esser l? refratto pi? a retro.
Da questa instanza pu? deliberarti esperienza, se gi? mai la provi, ch'esser suol fonte ai rivi di vostr'arti.
Tre specchi prenderai; e i due rimovi da te d'un modo, e l'altro, pi? rimosso, tr'ambo li primi li occhi tuoi ritrovi.
Rivolto ad essi, fa che dopo il dosso ti stea un lume che i tre specchi accenda e torni a te da tutti ripercosso.
Ben che nel quanto tanto non si stenda la vista pi? lontana, l? vedrai come convien ch'igualmente risplenda.
Or, come ai colpi de li caldi rai de la neve riman nudo il suggetto e dal colore e dal freddo primai, cos? rimaso te ne l'intelletto voglio informar di luce s? vivace, che ti tremoler? nel suo aspetto.
Dentro dal ciel de la divina pace si gira un corpo ne la cui virtute l'esser di tutto suo contento giace.
Lo ciel seguente, c'ha tante vedute, quell'esser parte per diverse essenze, da lui distratte e da lui contenute.
Li altri giron per varie differenze le distinzion che dentro da s? hanno dispongono a lor fini e lor semenze.
Questi organi del mondo cos? vanno, come tu vedi omai, di grado in grado, che di s? prendono e di sotto fanno.
Riguarda bene omai s? com'io vado per questo loco al vero che disiri, s? che poi sappi sol tener lo guado.
Lo moto e la virt? d'i santi giri, come dal fabbro l'arte del martello, da' beati motor convien che spiri; e 'l ciel cui tanti lumi fanno bello, de la mente profonda che lui volve prende l'image e fassene suggello.
E come l'alma dentro a vostra polve per differenti membra e conformate a diverse potenze si risolve, cos? l'intelligenza sua bontate multiplicata per le stelle spiega, girando s? sovra sua unitate.
Virt? diversa fa diversa lega col prezioso corpo ch'ella avviva, nel qual, s? come vita in voi, si lega.
Per la natura lieta onde deriva, la virt? mista per lo corpo luce come letizia per pupilla viva.
Da essa vien ci? che da luce a luce par differente, non da denso e raro; essa ? formal principio che produce, conforme a sua bont?, lo turbo e 'l chiaro».
Paradiso: Canto III Quel sol che pria d'amor mi scald? 'l petto, di bella verit? m'avea scoverto, provando e riprovando, il dolce aspetto; e io, per confessar corretto e certo me stesso, tanto quanto si convenne leva' il capo a proferer pi? erto; ma visione apparve che ritenne a s? me tanto stretto, per vedersi, che di mia confession non mi sovvenne.
Quali per vetri trasparenti e tersi, o ver per acque nitide e tranquille, non s? profonde che i fondi sien persi, tornan d'i nostri visi le postille debili s?, che perla in bianca fronte non vien men forte a le nostre pupille; tali vid'io pi? facce a parlar pronte; per ch'io dentro a l'error contrario corsi a quel ch'accese amor tra l'omo e 'l fonte.
S?bito s? com'io di lor m'accorsi, quelle stimando specchiati sembianti, per veder di cui fosser, li occhi torsi; e nulla vidi, e ritorsili avanti dritti nel lume de la dolce guida, che, sorridendo, ardea ne li occhi santi.
«Non ti maravigliar perch'io sorrida», mi disse, «appresso il tuo pueril coto, poi sopra 'l vero ancor lo pi? non fida, ma te rivolve, come suole, a v?to: vere sustanze son ci? che tu vedi, qui rilegate per manco di voto.
Per? parla con esse e odi e credi; ch? la verace luce che li appaga da s? non lascia lor torcer li piedi».
E io a l'ombra che parea pi? vaga di ragionar, drizza'mi, e cominciai, quasi com'uom cui troppa voglia smaga: «O ben creato spirito, che a' rai di vita etterna la dolcezza senti che, non gustata, non s'intende mai, grazioso mi fia se mi contenti del nome tuo e de la vostra sorte».
Ond'ella, pronta e con occhi ridenti: «La nostra carit? non serra porte a giusta voglia, se non come quella che vuol simile a s? tutta sua corte.
I' fui nel mondo vergine sorella; e se la mente tua ben s? riguarda, non mi ti celer? l'esser pi? bella, ma riconoscerai ch'i' son Piccarda, che, posta qui con questi altri beati, beata sono in la spera pi? tarda.
Li nostri affetti, che solo infiammati son nel piacer de lo Spirito Santo, letizian del suo ordine formati.
E questa sorte che par gi? cotanto, per? n'? data, perch? fuor negletti li nostri voti, e v?ti in alcun canto».
Ond'io a lei: «Ne' mirabili aspetti vostri risplende non so che divino che vi trasmuta da' primi concetti: per? non fui a rimembrar festino; ma or m'aiuta ci? che tu mi dici, s? che raffigurar m'? pi? latino.
Ma dimmi: voi che siete qui felici, disiderate voi pi? alto loco per pi? vedere e per pi? farvi amici?».
Con quelle altr'ombre pria sorrise un poco; da indi mi rispuose tanto lieta, ch'arder parea d'amor nel primo foco: «Frate, la nostra volont? quieta virt? di carit?, che fa volerne sol quel ch'avemo, e d'altro non ci asseta.
Se disiassimo esser pi? superne, foran discordi li nostri disiri dal voler di colui che qui ne cerne; che vedrai non capere in questi giri, s'essere in carit? ? qui necesse, e se la sua natura ben rimiri.
Anzi ? formale ad esto beato esse tenersi dentro a la divina voglia, per ch'una fansi nostre voglie stesse; s? che, come noi sem di soglia in soglia per questo regno, a tutto il regno piace com'a lo re che 'n suo voler ne 'nvoglia.
E 'n la sua volontade ? nostra pace: ell'? quel mare al qual tutto si move ci? ch'ella cria o che natura face».
Chiaro mi fu allor come ogne dove in cielo ? paradiso, etsi la grazia del sommo ben d'un modo non vi piove.
Ma s? com'elli avvien, s'un cibo sazia e d'un altro rimane ancor la gola, che quel si chere e di quel si ringrazia, cos? fec'io con atto e con parola, per apprender da lei qual fu la tela onde non trasse infino a co la spuola.
«Perfetta vita e alto merto inciela donna pi? s?», mi disse, «a la cui norma nel vostro mondo gi? si veste e vela, perch? fino al morir si vegghi e dorma con quello sposo ch'ogne voto accetta che caritate a suo piacer conforma.
Dal mondo, per seguirla, giovinetta fuggi'mi, e nel suo abito mi chiusi e promisi la via de la sua setta.
Uomini poi, a mal pi? ch'a bene usi, fuor mi rapiron de la dolce chiostra: Iddio si sa qual poi mia vita fusi.
E quest'altro splendor che ti si mostra da la mia destra parte e che s'accende di tutto il lume de la spera nostra, ci? ch'io dico di me, di s? intende; sorella fu, e cos? le fu tolta di capo l'ombra de le sacre bende.
Ma poi che pur al mondo fu rivolta contra suo grado e contra buona usanza, non fu dal vel del cor gi? mai disciolta.
Quest'? la luce de la gran Costanza che del secondo vento di Soave gener? 'l terzo e l'ultima possanza».
Cos? parlommi, e poi cominci? 'Ave, Maria' cantando, e cantando vanio come per acqua cupa cosa grave.
La vista mia, che tanto lei seguio quanto possibil fu, poi che la perse, volsesi al segno di maggior disio, e a Beatrice tutta si converse; ma quella folgor? nel mio sguardo s? che da prima il viso non sofferse; e ci? mi fece a dimandar pi? tardo.
Paradiso: Canto IV Intra due cibi, distanti e moventi d'un modo, prima si morria di fame, che liber'omo l'un recasse ai denti; s? si starebbe un agno intra due brame di fieri lupi, igualmente temendo; s? si starebbe un cane intra due dame: per che, s'i' mi tacea, me non riprendo, da li miei dubbi d'un modo sospinto, poi ch'era necessario, n? commendo.
Io mi tacea, ma 'l mio disir dipinto m'era nel viso, e 'l dimandar con ello, pi? caldo assai che per parlar distinto.
F? s? Beatrice qual f? Daniello, Nabuccodonosor levando d'ira, che l'avea fatto ingiustamente fello; e disse: «Io veggio ben come ti tira uno e altro disio, s? che tua cura s? stessa lega s? che fuor non spira.
Tu argomenti: "Se 'l buon voler dura, la violenza altrui per qual ragione di meritar mi scema la misura?".
Ancor di dubitar ti d? cagione parer tornarsi l'anime a le stelle, secondo la sentenza di Platone.
Queste son le question che nel tuo velle pontano igualmente; e per? pria tratter? quella che pi? ha di felle.
D'i Serafin colui che pi? s'india, Mois?, Samuel, e quel Giovanni che prender vuoli, io dico, non Maria, non hanno in altro cielo i loro scanni che questi spirti che mo t'appariro, n? hanno a l'esser lor pi? o meno anni; ma tutti fanno bello il primo giro, e differentemente han dolce vita per sentir pi? e men l'etterno spiro.
Qui si mostraro, non perch? sortita sia questa spera lor, ma per far segno de la celestial c'ha men salita.
Cos? parlar conviensi al vostro ingegno, per? che solo da sensato apprende ci? che fa poscia d'intelletto degno.
Per questo la Scrittura condescende a vostra facultate, e piedi e mano attribuisce a Dio, e altro intende; e Santa Chiesa con aspetto umano Gabriel e Michel vi rappresenta, e l'altro che Tobia rifece sano.
Quel che Timeo de l'anime argomenta non ? simile a ci? che qui si vede, per? che, come dice, par che senta.
Dice che l'alma a la sua stella riede, credendo quella quindi esser decisa quando natura per forma la diede; e forse sua sentenza ? d'altra guisa che la voce non suona, ed esser puote con intenzion da non esser derisa.
S'elli intende tornare a queste ruote l'onor de la influenza e 'l biasmo, forse in alcun vero suo arco percuote.
Questo principio, male inteso, torse gi? tutto il mondo quasi, s? che Giove, Mercurio e Marte a nominar trascorse.
L'altra dubitazion che ti commove ha men velen, per? che sua malizia non ti poria menar da me altrove.
Parere ingiusta la nostra giustizia ne li occhi d'i mortali, ? argomento di fede e non d'eretica nequizia.
Ma perch? puote vostro accorgimento ben penetrare a questa veritate, come disiri, ti far? contento.
Se violenza ? quando quel che pate niente conferisce a quel che sforza, non fuor quest'alme per essa scusate; ch? volont?, se non vuol, non s'ammorza, ma fa come natura face in foco, se mille volte violenza il torza.
Per che, s'ella si piega assai o poco, segue la forza; e cos? queste fero possendo rifuggir nel santo loco.
Se fosse stato lor volere intero, come tenne Lorenzo in su la grada, e fece Muzio a la sua man severo, cos? l'avria ripinte per la strada ond'eran tratte, come fuoro sciolte; ma cos? salda voglia ? troppo rada.
E per queste parole, se ricolte l'hai come dei, ? l'argomento casso che t'avria fatto noia ancor pi? volte.
Ma or ti s'attraversa un altro passo dinanzi a li occhi, tal che per te stesso non usciresti: pria saresti lasso.
Io t'ho per certo ne la mente messo ch'alma beata non poria mentire, per? ch'? sempre al primo vero appresso; e poi potesti da Piccarda udire che l'affezion del vel Costanza tenne; s? ch'ella par qui meco contradire.
Molte fiate gi?, frate, addivenne che, per fuggir periglio, contra grato si f? di quel che far non si convenne; come Almeone, che, di ci? pregato dal padre suo, la propria madre spense, per non perder piet?, si f? spietato.
A questo punto voglio che tu pense che la forza al voler si mischia, e fanno s? che scusar non si posson l'offense.
Voglia assoluta non consente al danno; ma consentevi in tanto in quanto teme, se si ritrae, cadere in pi? affanno.
Per?, quando Piccarda quello spreme, de la voglia assoluta intende, e io de l'altra; s? che ver diciamo insieme».
Cotal fu l'ondeggiar del santo rio ch'usc? del fonte ond'ogne ver deriva; tal puose in pace uno e altro disio.
«O amanza del primo amante, o diva», diss'io appresso, «il cui parlar m'inonda e scalda s?, che pi? e pi? m'avviva, non ? l'affezion mia tanto profonda, che basti a render voi grazia per grazia; ma quei che vede e puote a ci? risponda.
Io veggio ben che gi? mai non si sazia nostro intelletto, se 'l ver non lo illustra di fuor dal qual nessun vero si spazia.
Posasi in esso, come fera in lustra, tosto che giunto l'ha; e giugner puollo: se non, ciascun disio sarebbe frustra.
Nasce per quello, a guisa di rampollo, a pi? del vero il dubbio; ed ? natura ch'al sommo pinge noi di collo in collo.
Questo m'invita, questo m'assicura con reverenza, donna, a dimandarvi d'un'altra verit? che m'? oscura.
Io vo' saper se l'uom pu? sodisfarvi ai voti manchi s? con altri beni, ch'a la vostra statera non sien parvi».
Beatrice mi guard? con li occhi pieni di faville d'amor cos? divini, che, vinta, mia virtute di? le reni, e quasi mi perdei con li occhi chini.
Paradiso: Canto V «S'io ti fiammeggio nel caldo d'amore di l? dal modo che 'n terra si vede, s? che del viso tuo vinco il valore, non ti maravigliar; ch? ci? procede da perfetto veder, che, come apprende, cos? nel bene appreso move il piede.
Io veggio ben s? come gi? resplende ne l'intelletto tuo l'etterna luce, che, vista, sola e sempre amore accende; e s'altra cosa vostro amor seduce, non ? se non di quella alcun vestigio, mal conosciuto, che quivi traluce.
Tu vuo' saper se con altro servigio, per manco voto, si pu? render tanto che l'anima sicuri di letigio».
S? cominci? Beatrice questo canto; e s? com'uom che suo parlar non spezza, continu? cos? 'l processo santo: «Lo maggior don che Dio per sua larghezza fesse creando, e a la sua bontate pi? conformato, e quel ch'e' pi? apprezza, fu de la volont? la libertate; di che le creature intelligenti, e tutte e sole, fuoro e son dotate.
Or ti parr?, se tu quinci argomenti, l'alto valor del voto, s'? s? fatto che Dio consenta quando tu consenti; ch?, nel fermar tra Dio e l'uomo il patto, vittima fassi di questo tesoro, tal quale io dico; e fassi col suo atto.
Dunque che render puossi per ristoro? Se credi bene usar quel c'hai offerto, di maltolletto vuo' far buon lavoro.
Tu se' omai del maggior punto certo; ma perch? Santa Chiesa in ci? dispensa, che par contra lo ver ch'i' t'ho scoverto, convienti ancor sedere un poco a mensa, per? che 'l cibo rigido c'hai preso, richiede ancora aiuto a tua dispensa.
Apri la mente a quel ch'io ti paleso e fermalvi entro; ch? non fa scienza, sanza lo ritenere, avere inteso.
Due cose si convegnono a l'essenza di questo sacrificio: l'una ? quella di che si fa; l'altr'? la convenenza.
Quest'ultima gi? mai non si cancella se non servata; e intorno di lei s? preciso di sopra si favella: per? necessitato fu a li Ebrei pur l'offerere, ancor ch'alcuna offerta s? permutasse, come saver dei.
L'altra, che per materia t'? aperta, puote ben esser tal, che non si falla se con altra materia si converta.
Ma non trasmuti carco a la sua spalla per suo arbitrio alcun, sanza la volta e de la chiave bianca e de la gialla; e ogne permutanza credi stolta, se la cosa dimessa in la sorpresa come 'l quattro nel sei non ? raccolta.
Per? qualunque cosa tanto pesa per suo valor che tragga ogne bilancia, sodisfar non si pu? con altra spesa.
Non prendan li mortali il voto a ciancia; siate fedeli, e a ci? far non bieci, come Iept? a la sua prima mancia; cui pi? si convenia dicer 'Mal feci', che, servando, far peggio; e cos? stolto ritrovar puoi il gran duca de' Greci, onde pianse Efig?nia il suo bel volto, e f? pianger di s? i folli e i savi ch'udir parlar di cos? fatto c?lto.
Siate, Cristiani, a muovervi pi? gravi: non siate come penna ad ogne vento, e non crediate ch'ogne acqua vi lavi.
Avete il novo e 'l vecchio Testamento, e 'l pastor de la Chiesa che vi guida; questo vi basti a vostro salvamento.
Se mala cupidigia altro vi grida, uomini siate, e non pecore matte, s? che 'l Giudeo di voi tra voi non rida! Non fate com'agnel che lascia il latte de la sua madre, e semplice e lascivo seco medesmo a suo piacer combatte!».
Cos? Beatrice a me com'io scrivo; poi si rivolse tutta disiante a quella parte ove 'l mondo ? pi? vivo.
Lo suo tacere e 'l trasmutar sembiante puoser silenzio al mio cupido ingegno, che gi? nuove questioni avea davante; e s? come saetta che nel segno percuote pria che sia la corda queta, cos? corremmo nel secondo regno.
Quivi la donna mia vid'io s? lieta, come nel lume di quel ciel si mise, che pi? lucente se ne f? 'l pianeta.
E se la stella si cambi? e rise, qual mi fec'io che pur da mia natura trasmutabile son per tutte guise! Come 'n peschiera ch'? tranquilla e pura traggonsi i pesci a ci? che vien di fori per modo che lo stimin lor pastura, s? vid'io ben pi? di mille splendori trarsi ver' noi, e in ciascun s'ud?a: «Ecco chi crescer? li nostri amori».
E s? come ciascuno a noi ven?a, vedeasi l'ombra piena di letizia nel folg?r chiaro che di lei uscia.
Pensa, lettor, se quel che qui s'inizia non procedesse, come tu avresti di pi? savere angosciosa carizia; e per te vederai come da questi m'era in disio d'udir lor condizioni, s? come a li occhi mi fur manifesti.
«O bene nato a cui veder li troni del triunfo etternal concede grazia prima che la milizia s'abbandoni, del lume che per tutto il ciel si spazia noi semo accesi; e per?, se disii di noi chiarirti, a tuo piacer ti sazia».
Cos? da un di quelli spirti pii detto mi fu; e da Beatrice: «D?, d? sicuramente, e credi come a dii».
«Io veggio ben s? come tu t'annidi nel proprio lume, e che de li occhi il traggi, perch'e' corusca s? come tu ridi; ma non so chi tu se', n? perch? aggi, anima degna, il grado de la spera che si vela a' mortai con altrui raggi».
Questo diss'io diritto alla lumera che pria m'avea parlato; ond'ella fessi lucente pi? assai di quel ch'ell'era.
S? come il sol che si cela elli stessi per troppa luce, come 'l caldo ha r?se le temperanze d'i vapori spessi, per pi? letizia s? mi si nascose dentro al suo raggio la figura santa; e cos? chiusa chiusa mi rispuose nel modo che 'l seguente canto canta.
Paradiso: Canto VI «Poscia che Costantin l'aquila volse contr'al corso del ciel, ch'ella seguio dietro a l'antico che Lavina tolse, cento e cent'anni e pi? l'uccel di Dio ne lo stremo d'Europa si ritenne, vicino a' monti de' quai prima usc?o; e sotto l'ombra de le sacre penne govern? 'l mondo l? di mano in mano, e, s? cangiando, in su la mia pervenne.
Cesare fui e son Iustiniano, che, per voler del primo amor ch'i' sento, d'entro le leggi trassi il troppo e 'l vano.
E prima ch'io a l'ovra fossi attento, una natura in Cristo esser, non pi?e, credea, e di tal fede era contento; ma 'l benedetto Agapito, che fue sommo pastore, a la fede sincera mi dirizz? con le parole sue.
Io li credetti; e ci? che 'n sua fede era, vegg'io or chiaro s?, come tu vedi ogni contradizione e falsa e vera.
Tosto che con la Chiesa mossi i piedi, a Dio per grazia piacque di spirarmi l'alto lavoro, e tutto 'n lui mi diedi; e al mio Belisar commendai l'armi, cui la destra del ciel fu s? congiunta, che segno fu ch'i' dovessi posarmi.
Or qui a la question prima s'appunta la mia risposta; ma sua condizione mi stringe a seguitare alcuna giunta, perch? tu veggi con quanta ragione si move contr'al sacrosanto segno e chi 'l s'appropria e chi a lui s'oppone.
Vedi quanta virt? l'ha fatto degno di reverenza; e cominci? da l'ora che Pallante mor? per darli regno.
Tu sai ch'el fece in Alba sua dimora per trecento anni e oltre, infino al fine che i tre a' tre pugnar per lui ancora.
E sai ch'el f? dal mal de le Sabine al dolor di Lucrezia in sette regi, vincendo intorno le genti vicine.
Sai quel ch'el f? portato da li egregi Romani incontro a Brenno, incontro a Pirro, incontro a li altri principi e collegi; onde Torquato e Quinzio, che dal cirro negletto fu nomato, i Deci e ' Fabi ebber la fama che volontier mirro.
Esso atterr? l'orgoglio de li Ar?bi che di retro ad Annibale passaro l'alpestre rocce, Po, di che tu labi.
Sott'esso giovanetti triunfaro Scipione e Pompeo; e a quel colle sotto 'l qual tu nascesti parve amaro.
Poi, presso al tempo che tutto 'l ciel volle redur lo mondo a suo modo sereno, Cesare per voler di Roma il tolle.
E quel che f? da Varo infino a Reno, Isara vide ed Era e vide Senna e ogne valle onde Rodano ? pieno.
Quel che f? poi ch'elli usc? di Ravenna e salt? Rubicon, fu di tal volo, che nol seguiteria lingua n? penna.
Inver' la Spagna rivolse lo stuolo, poi ver' Durazzo, e Farsalia percosse s? ch'al Nil caldo si sent? del duolo.
Antandro e Simeonta, onde si mosse, rivide e l? dov'Ettore si cuba; e mal per Tolomeo poscia si scosse.
Da indi scese folgorando a Iuba; onde si volse nel vostro occidente, ove sentia la pompeana tuba.
Di quel che f? col baiulo seguente, Bruto con Cassio ne l'inferno latra, e Modena e Perugia fu dolente.
Piangene ancor la trista Cleopatra, che, fuggendoli innanzi, dal colubro la morte prese subitana e atra.
Con costui corse infino al lito rubro; con costui puose il mondo in tanta pace, che fu serrato a Giano il suo delubro.
Ma ci? che 'l segno che parlar mi face fatto avea prima e poi era fatturo per lo regno mortal ch'a lui soggiace, diventa in apparenza poco e scuro, se in mano al terzo Cesare si mira con occhio chiaro e con affetto puro; ch? la viva giustizia che mi spira, li concedette, in mano a quel ch'i' dico, gloria di far vendetta a la sua ira.
Or qui t'ammira in ci? ch'io ti repl?co: poscia con Tito a far vendetta corse de la vendetta del peccato antico.
E quando il dente longobardo morse la Santa Chiesa, sotto le sue ali Carlo Magno, vincendo, la soccorse.
Omai puoi giudicar di quei cotali ch'io accusai di sopra e di lor falli, che son cagion di tutti vostri mali.
L'uno al pubblico segno i gigli gialli oppone, e l'altro appropria quello a parte, s? ch'? forte a veder chi pi? si falli.
Faccian li Ghibellin, faccian lor arte sott'altro segno; ch? mal segue quello sempre chi la giustizia e lui diparte; e non l'abbatta esto Carlo novello coi Guelfi suoi, ma tema de li artigli ch'a pi? alto leon trasser lo vello.
Molte fiate gi? pianser li figli per la colpa del padre, e non si creda che Dio trasmuti l'arme per suoi gigli! Questa picciola stella si correda di buoni spirti che son stati attivi perch? onore e fama li succeda: e quando li disiri poggian quivi, s? disviando, pur convien che i raggi del vero amore in s? poggin men vivi.
Ma nel commensurar d'i nostri gaggi col merto ? parte di nostra letizia, perch? non li vedem minor n? maggi.
Quindi addolcisce la viva giustizia in noi l'affetto s?, che non si puote torcer gi? mai ad alcuna nequizia.
Diverse voci fanno dolci note; cos? diversi scanni in nostra vita rendon dolce armonia tra queste rote.
E dentro a la presente margarita luce la luce di Romeo, di cui fu l'ovra grande e bella mal gradita.
Ma i Provenzai che fecer contra lui non hanno riso; e per? mal cammina qual si fa danno del ben fare altrui.
Quattro figlie ebbe, e ciascuna reina, Ramondo Beringhiere, e ci? li fece Romeo, persona um?le e peregrina.
E poi il mosser le parole biece a dimandar ragione a questo giusto, che li assegn? sette e cinque per diece, indi partissi povero e vetusto; e se 'l mondo sapesse il cor ch'elli ebbe mendicando sua vita a frusto a frusto, assai lo loda, e pi? lo loderebbe».
Paradiso: Canto VII «Osanna, sanctus Deus saba?th, superillustrans claritate tua felices ignes horum malac?th!».
Cos?, volgendosi a la nota sua, fu viso a me cantare essa sustanza, sopra la qual doppio lume s'addua: ed essa e l'altre mossero a sua danza, e quasi velocissime faville, mi si velar di s?bita distanza.
Io dubitava e dicea 'Dille, dille!' fra me, 'dille', dicea, 'a la mia donna che mi diseta con le dolci stille'.
Ma quella reverenza che s'indonna di tutto me, pur per Be e per ice, mi richinava come l'uom ch'assonna.
Poco sofferse me cotal Beatrice e cominci?, raggiandomi d'un riso tal, che nel foco faria l'uom felice: «Secondo mio infallibile avviso, come giusta vendetta giustamente punita fosse, t'ha in pensier miso; ma io ti solver? tosto la mente; e tu ascolta, ch? le mie parole di gran sentenza ti faran presente.
Per non soffrire a la virt? che vole freno a suo prode, quell'uom che non nacque, dannando s?, dann? tutta sua prole; onde l'umana specie inferma giacque gi? per secoli molti in grande errore, fin ch'al Verbo di Dio discender piacque u' la natura, che dal suo fattore s'era allungata, un? a s? in persona con l'atto sol del suo etterno amore.
Or drizza il viso a quel ch'or si ragiona: questa natura al suo fattore unita, qual fu creata, fu sincera e buona; ma per s? stessa pur fu ella sbandita di paradiso, per? che si torse da via di verit? e da sua vita.
La pena dunque che la croce porse s'a la natura assunta si misura, nulla gi? mai s? giustamente morse; e cos? nulla fu di tanta ingiura, guardando a la persona che sofferse, in che era contratta tal natura.
Per? d'un atto uscir cose diverse: ch'a Dio e a' Giudei piacque una morte; per lei trem? la terra e 'l ciel s'aperse.
Non ti dee oramai parer pi? forte, quando si dice che giusta vendetta poscia vengiata fu da giusta corte.
Ma io veggi' or la tua mente ristretta di pensiero in pensier dentro ad un nodo, del qual con gran disio solver s'aspetta.
Tu dici: "Ben discerno ci? ch'i' odo; ma perch? Dio volesse, m'? occulto, a nostra redenzion pur questo modo".
Questo decreto, frate, sta sepulto a li occhi di ciascuno il cui ingegno ne la fiamma d'amor non ? adulto.
Veramente, per? ch'a questo segno molto si mira e poco si discerne, dir? perch? tal modo fu pi? degno.
La divina bont?, che da s? sperne ogne livore, ardendo in s?, sfavilla s? che dispiega le bellezze etterne.
Ci? che da lei sanza mezzo distilla non ha poi fine, perch? non si move la sua imprenta quand'ella sigilla.
Ci? che da essa sanza mezzo piove libero ? tutto, perch? non soggiace a la virtute de le cose nove.
Pi? l'? conforme, e per? pi? le piace; ch? l'ardor santo ch'ogne cosa raggia, ne la pi? somigliante ? pi? vivace.
Di tutte queste dote s'avvantaggia l'umana creatura; e s'una manca, di sua nobilit? convien che caggia.
Solo il peccato ? quel che la disfranca e falla diss?mile al sommo bene, per che del lume suo poco s'imbianca; e in sua dignit? mai non rivene, se non riempie, dove colpa v?ta, contra mal dilettar con giuste pene.
Vostra natura, quando pecc? tota nel seme suo, da queste dignitadi, come di paradiso, fu remota; n? ricovrar potiensi, se tu badi ben sottilmente, per alcuna via, sanza passar per un di questi guadi: o che Dio solo per sua cortesia dimesso avesse, o che l'uom per s? isso avesse sodisfatto a sua follia.
Ficca mo l'occhio per entro l'abisso de l'etterno consiglio, quanto puoi al mio parlar distrettamente fisso.
Non potea l'uomo ne' termini suoi mai sodisfar, per non potere ir giuso con umiltate obediendo poi, quanto disobediendo intese ir suso; e questa ? la cagion per che l'uom fue da poter sodisfar per s? dischiuso.
Dunque a Dio convenia con le vie sue riparar l'omo a sua intera vita, dico con l'una, o ver con amendue.
Ma perch? l'ovra tanto ? pi? gradita da l'operante, quanto pi? appresenta de la bont? del core ond'ell'? uscita, la divina bont? che 'l mondo imprenta, di proceder per tutte le sue vie, a rilevarvi suso, fu contenta.
N? tra l'ultima notte e 'l primo die s? alto o s? magnifico processo, o per l'una o per l'altra, fu o fie: ch? pi? largo fu Dio a dar s? stesso per far l'uom sufficiente a rilevarsi, che s'elli avesse sol da s? dimesso; e tutti li altri modi erano scarsi a la giustizia, se 'l Figliuol di Dio non fosse umiliato ad incarnarsi.
Or per empierti bene ogni disio, ritorno a dichiararti in alcun loco, perch? tu veggi l? cos? com'io.
Tu dici: "Io veggio l'acqua, io veggio il foco, l'aere e la terra e tutte lor misture venire a corruzione, e durar poco; e queste cose pur furon creature; per che, se ci? ch'? detto ? stato vero, esser dovrien da corruzion sicure".
Li angeli, frate, e 'l paese sincero nel qual tu se', dir si posson creati, s? come sono, in loro essere intero; ma li elementi che tu hai nomati e quelle cose che di lor si fanno da creata virt? sono informati.
Creata fu la materia ch'elli hanno; creata fu la virt? informante in queste stelle che 'ntorno a lor vanno.
L'anima d'ogne bruto e de le piante di complession potenziata tira lo raggio e 'l moto de le luci sante; ma vostra vita sanza mezzo spira la somma beninanza, e la innamora di s? s? che poi sempre la disira.
E quinci puoi argomentare ancora vostra resurrezion, se tu ripensi come l'umana carne fessi allora che li primi parenti intrambo fensi».
Paradiso: Canto VIII Solea creder lo mondo in suo periclo che la bella Ciprigna il folle amore raggiasse, volta nel terzo epiciclo; per che non pur a lei faceano onore di sacrificio e di votivo grido le genti antiche ne l'antico errore; ma Dione onoravano e Cupido, quella per madre sua, questo per figlio, e dicean ch'el sedette in grembo a Dido; e da costei ond'io principio piglio pigliavano il vocabol de la stella che 'l sol vagheggia or da coppa or da ciglio.
Io non m'accorsi del salire in ella; ma d'esservi entro mi f? assai fede la donna mia ch'i' vidi far pi? bella.
E come in fiamma favilla si vede, e come in voce voce si discerne, quand'una ? ferma e altra va e riede, vid'io in essa luce altre lucerne muoversi in giro pi? e men correnti, al modo, credo, di lor viste interne.
Di fredda nube non disceser venti, o visibili o no, tanto festini, che non paressero impediti e lenti a chi avesse quei lumi divini veduti a noi venir, lasciando il giro pria cominciato in li alti Serafini; e dentro a quei che pi? innanzi appariro sonava 'Osanna' s?, che unque poi di riudir non fui sanza disiro.
Indi si fece l'un pi? presso a noi e solo incominci?: «Tutti sem presti al tuo piacer, perch? di noi ti gioi.
Noi ci volgiam coi principi celesti d'un giro e d'un girare e d'una sete, ai quali tu del mondo gi? dicesti: 'Voi che 'ntendendo il terzo ciel movete'; e sem s? pien d'amor, che, per piacerti, non fia men dolce un poco di quiete».
Poscia che li occhi miei si fuoro offerti a la mia donna reverenti, ed essa fatti li avea di s? contenti e certi, rivolsersi a la luce che promessa tanto s'avea, e «Deh, chi siete?» fue la voce mia di grande affetto impressa.
E quanta e quale vid'io lei far pi?e per allegrezza nova che s'accrebbe, quando parlai, a l'allegrezze sue! Cos? fatta, mi disse: «Il mondo m'ebbe gi? poco tempo; e se pi? fosse stato, molto sar? di mal, che non sarebbe.
La mia letizia mi ti tien celato che mi raggia dintorno e mi nasconde quasi animal di sua seta fasciato.
Assai m'amasti, e avesti ben onde; che s'io fossi gi? stato, io ti mostrava di mio amor pi? oltre che le fronde.
Quella sinistra riva che si lava di Rodano poi ch'? misto con Sorga, per suo segnore a tempo m'aspettava, e quel corno d'Ausonia che s'imborga di Bari e di Gaeta e di Catona da ove Tronto e Verde in mare sgorga.
Fulgeami gi? in fronte la corona di quella terra che 'l Danubio riga poi che le ripe tedesche abbandona.
E la bella Trinacria, che caliga tra Pachino e Peloro, sopra 'l golfo che riceve da Euro maggior briga, non per Tifeo ma per nascente solfo, attesi avrebbe li suoi regi ancora, nati per me di Carlo e di Ridolfo, se mala segnoria, che sempre accora li popoli suggetti, non avesse mosso Palermo a gridar: "Mora, mora!".
E se mio frate questo antivedesse, l'avara povert? di Catalogna gi? fuggeria, perch? non li offendesse; ch? veramente proveder bisogna per lui, o per altrui, s? ch'a sua barca carcata pi? d'incarco non si pogna.
La sua natura, che di larga parca discese, avria mestier di tal milizia che non curasse di mettere in arca».
«Per? ch'i' credo che l'alta letizia che 'l tuo parlar m'infonde, segnor mio, l? 've ogne ben si termina e s'inizia, per te si veggia come la vegg'io, grata m'? pi?; e anco quest'ho caro perch? 'l discerni rimirando in Dio.
Fatto m'hai lieto, e cos? mi fa chiaro, poi che, parlando, a dubitar m'hai mosso com'esser pu?, di dolce seme, amaro».
Questo io a lui; ed elli a me: «S'io posso mostrarti un vero, a quel che tu dimandi terrai lo viso come tien lo dosso.
Lo ben che tutto il regno che tu scandi volge e contenta, fa esser virtute sua provedenza in questi corpi grandi.
E non pur le nature provedute sono in la mente ch'? da s? perfetta, ma esse insieme con la lor salute: per che quantunque quest'arco saetta disposto cade a proveduto fine, s? come cosa in suo segno diretta.
Se ci? non fosse, il ciel che tu cammine producerebbe s? li suoi effetti, che non sarebbero arti, ma ruine; e ci? esser non pu?, se li 'ntelletti che muovon queste stelle non son manchi, e manco il primo, che non li ha perfetti.
Vuo' tu che questo ver pi? ti s'imbianchi?».
E io: «Non gi?; ch? impossibil veggio che la natura, in quel ch'? uopo, stanchi».
Ond'elli ancora: «Or di': sarebbe il peggio per l'omo in terra, se non fosse cive?».
«S?», rispuos'io; «e qui ragion non cheggio».
«E puot'elli esser, se gi? non si vive diversamente per diversi offici? Non, se 'l maestro vostro ben vi scrive».
S? venne deducendo infino a quici; poscia conchiuse: «Dunque esser diverse convien di vostri effetti le radici: per ch'un nasce Solone e altro Serse, altro Melchised?ch e altro quello che, volando per l'aere, il figlio perse.
La circular natura, ch'? suggello a la cera mortal, fa ben sua arte, ma non distingue l'un da l'altro ostello.
Quinci addivien ch'Esa? si diparte per seme da Iac?b; e vien Quirino da s? vil padre, che si rende a Marte.
Natura generata il suo cammino simil farebbe sempre a' generanti, se non vincesse il proveder divino.
Or quel che t'era dietro t'? davanti: ma perch? sappi che di te mi giova, un corollario voglio che t'ammanti.
Sempre natura, se fortuna trova discorde a s?, com'ogne altra semente fuor di sua region, fa mala prova.
E se 'l mondo l? gi? ponesse mente al fondamento che natura pone, seguendo lui, avria buona la gente.
Ma voi torcete a la religione tal che fia nato a cignersi la spada, e fate re di tal ch'? da sermone; onde la traccia vostra ? fuor di strada».
Paradiso: Canto IX Da poi che Carlo tuo, bella Clemenza, m'ebbe chiarito, mi narr? li 'nganni che ricever dovea la sua semenza; ma disse: «Taci e lascia muover li anni»; s? ch'io non posso dir se non che pianto giusto verr? di retro ai vostri danni.
E gi? la vita di quel lume santo rivolta s'era al Sol che la riempie come quel ben ch'a ogne cosa ? tanto.
Ahi anime ingannate e fatture empie, che da s? fatto ben torcete i cuori, drizzando in vanit? le vostre tempie! Ed ecco un altro di quelli splendori ver' me si fece, e 'l suo voler piacermi significava nel chiarir di fori.
Li occhi di Beatrice, ch'eran fermi sovra me, come pria, di caro assenso al mio disio certificato fermi.
«Deh, metti al mio voler tosto compenso, beato spirto», dissi, «e fammi prova ch'i' possa in te refletter quel ch'io penso!».
Onde la luce che m'era ancor nova, del suo profondo, ond'ella pria cantava, seguette come a cui di ben far giova: «In quella parte de la terra prava italica che siede tra Rialto e le fontane di Brenta e di Piava, si leva un colle, e non surge molt'alto, l? onde scese gi? una facella che fece a la contrada un grande assalto.
D'una radice nacqui e io ed ella: Cunizza fui chiamata, e qui refulgo perch? mi vinse il lume d'esta stella; ma lietamente a me medesma indulgo la cagion di mia sorte, e non mi noia; che parria forse forte al vostro vulgo.
Di questa luculenta e cara gioia del nostro cielo che pi? m'? propinqua, grande fama rimase; e pria che moia, questo centesimo anno ancor s'incinqua: vedi se far si dee l'omo eccellente, s? ch'altra vita la prima relinqua.
E ci? non pensa la turba presente che Tagliamento e Adice richiude, n? per esser battuta ancor si pente; ma tosto fia che Padova al palude canger? l'acqua che Vincenza bagna, per essere al dover le genti crude; e dove Sile e Cagnan s'accompagna, tal signoreggia e va con la testa alta, che gi? per lui carpir si fa la ragna.
Pianger? Feltro ancora la difalta de l'empio suo pastor, che sar? sconcia s?, che per simil non s'entr? in malta.
Troppo sarebbe larga la bigoncia che ricevesse il sangue ferrarese, e stanco chi 'l pesasse a oncia a oncia, che doner? questo prete cortese per mostrarsi di parte; e cotai doni conformi fieno al viver del paese.
S? sono specchi, voi dicete Troni, onde refulge a noi Dio giudicante; s? che questi parlar ne paion buoni».
Qui si tacette; e fecemi sembiante che fosse ad altro volta, per la rota in che si mise com'era davante.
L'altra letizia, che m'era gi? nota per cara cosa, mi si fece in vista qual fin balasso in che lo sol percuota.
Per letiziar l? s? fulgor s'acquista, s? come riso qui; ma gi? s'abbuia l'ombra di fuor, come la mente ? trista.
«Dio vede tutto, e tuo veder s'inluia», diss'io, «beato spirto, s? che nulla voglia di s? a te puot'esser fuia.
Dunque la voce tua, che 'l ciel trastulla sempre col canto di quei fuochi pii che di sei ali facen la coculla, perch? non satisface a' miei disii? Gi? non attendere' io tua dimanda, s'io m'intuassi, come tu t'inmii».
«La maggior valle in che l'acqua si spanda», incominciaro allor le sue parole, «fuor di quel mar che la terra inghirlanda, tra ' discordanti liti contra 'l sole tanto sen va, che fa meridiano l? dove l'orizzonte pria far suole.
Di quella valle fu' io litorano tra Ebro e Macra, che per cammin corto parte lo Genovese dal Toscano.
Ad un occaso quasi e ad un orto Buggea siede e la terra ond'io fui, che f? del sangue suo gi? caldo il porto.
Folco mi disse quella gente a cui fu noto il nome mio; e questo cielo di me s'imprenta, com'io fe' di lui; ch? pi? non arse la figlia di Belo, noiando e a Sicheo e a Creusa, di me, infin che si convenne al pelo; n? quella Rodopea che delusa fu da Demofoonte, n? Alcide quando Iole nel core ebbe rinchiusa.
Non per? qui si pente, ma si ride, non de la colpa, ch'a mente non torna, ma del valor ch'ordin? e provide.
Qui si rimira ne l'arte ch'addorna cotanto affetto, e discernesi 'l bene per che 'l mondo di s? quel di gi? torna.
Ma perch? tutte le tue voglie piene ten porti che son nate in questa spera, proceder ancor oltre mi convene.
Tu vuo' saper chi ? in questa lumera che qui appresso me cos? scintilla, come raggio di sole in acqua mera.
Or sappi che l? entro si tranquilla Raab; e a nostr'ordine congiunta, di lei nel sommo grado si sigilla.
Da questo cielo, in cui l'ombra s'appunta che 'l vostro mondo face, pria ch'altr'alma del triunfo di Cristo fu assunta.
Ben si convenne lei lasciar per palma in alcun cielo de l'alta vittoria che s'acquist? con l'una e l'altra palma, perch'ella favor? la prima gloria di Iosu? in su la Terra Santa, che poco tocca al papa la memoria.
La tua citt?, che di colui ? pianta che pria volse le spalle al suo fattore e di cui ? la 'nvidia tanto pianta, produce e spande il maladetto fiore c'ha disviate le pecore e li agni, per? che fatto ha lupo del pastore.
Per questo l'Evangelio e i dottor magni son derelitti, e solo ai Decretali si studia, s? che pare a' lor vivagni.
A questo intende il papa e ' cardinali; non vanno i lor pensieri a Nazarette, l? dove Gabriello aperse l'ali.
Ma Vaticano e l'altre parti elette di Roma che son state cimitero a la milizia che Pietro seguette, tosto libere fien de l'avoltero».
Paradiso: Canto X Guardando nel suo Figlio con l'Amore che l'uno e l'altro etternalmente spira, lo primo e ineffabile Valore quanto per mente e per loco si gira con tant'ordine f?, ch'esser non puote sanza gustar di lui chi ci? rimira.
Leva dunque, lettore, a l'alte rote meco la vista, dritto a quella parte dove l'un moto e l'altro si percuote; e l? comincia a vagheggiar ne l'arte di quel maestro che dentro a s? l'ama, tanto che mai da lei l'occhio non parte.
Vedi come da indi si dirama l'oblico cerchio che i pianeti porta, per sodisfare al mondo che li chiama.
Che se la strada lor non fosse torta, molta virt? nel ciel sarebbe in vano, e quasi ogne potenza qua gi? morta; e se dal dritto pi? o men lontano fosse 'l partire, assai sarebbe manco e gi? e s? de l'ordine mondano.
Or ti riman, lettor, sovra 'l tuo banco, dietro pensando a ci? che si preliba, s'esser vuoi lieto assai prima che stanco.
Messo t'ho innanzi: omai per te ti ciba; ch? a s? torce tutta la mia cura quella materia ond'io son fatto scriba.
Lo ministro maggior de la natura, che del valor del ciel lo mondo imprenta e col suo lume il tempo ne misura, con quella parte che s? si rammenta congiunto, si girava per le spire in che pi? tosto ognora s'appresenta; e io era con lui; ma del salire non m'accors'io, se non com'uom s'accorge, anzi 'l primo pensier, del suo venire.
E' Beatrice quella che s? scorge di bene in meglio, s? subitamente che l'atto suo per tempo non si sporge.
Quant'esser convenia da s? lucente quel ch'era dentro al sol dov'io entra'mi, non per color, ma per lume parvente! Perch'io lo 'ngegno e l'arte e l'uso chiami, s? nol direi che mai s'imaginasse; ma creder puossi e di veder si brami.
E se le fantasie nostre son basse a tanta altezza, non ? maraviglia; ch? sopra 'l sol non fu occhio ch'andasse.
Tal era quivi la quarta famiglia de l'alto Padre, che sempre la sazia, mostrando come spira e come figlia.
E Beatrice cominci?: «Ringrazia, ringrazia il Sol de li angeli, ch'a questo sensibil t'ha levato per sua grazia».
Cor di mortal non fu mai s? digesto a divozione e a rendersi a Dio con tutto 'l suo gradir cotanto presto, come a quelle parole mi fec'io; e s? tutto 'l mio amore in lui si mise, che Beatrice ecliss? ne l'oblio.
Non le dispiacque; ma s? se ne rise, che lo splendor de li occhi suoi ridenti mia mente unita in pi? cose divise.
Io vidi pi? folg?r vivi e vincenti far di noi centro e di s? far corona, pi? dolci in voce che in vista lucenti: cos? cinger la figlia di Latona vedem talvolta, quando l'aere ? pregno, s? che ritenga il fil che fa la zona.
Ne la corte del cielo, ond'io rivegno, si trovan molte gioie care e belle tanto che non si posson trar del regno; e 'l canto di quei lumi era di quelle; chi non s'impenna s? che l? s? voli, dal muto aspetti quindi le novelle.
Poi, s? cantando, quelli ardenti soli si fuor girati intorno a noi tre volte, come stelle vicine a' fermi poli, donne mi parver, non da ballo sciolte, ma che s'arrestin tacite, ascoltando fin che le nove note hanno ricolte.
E dentro a l'un senti' cominciar: «Quando lo raggio de la grazia, onde s'accende verace amore e che poi cresce amando, multiplicato in te tanto resplende, che ti conduce su per quella scala u' sanza risalir nessun discende; qual ti negasse il vin de la sua fiala per la tua sete, in libert? non fora se non com'acqua ch'al mar non si cala.
Tu vuo' saper di quai piante s'infiora questa ghirlanda che 'ntorno vagheggia la bella donna ch'al ciel t'avvalora.
Io fui de li agni de la santa greggia che Domenico mena per cammino u' ben s'impingua se non si vaneggia.
Questi che m'? a destra pi? vicino, frate e maestro fummi, ed esso Alberto ? di Cologna, e io Thomas d'Aquino.
Se s? di tutti li altri esser vuo' certo, di retro al mio parlar ten vien col viso girando su per lo beato serto.
Quell'altro fiammeggiare esce del riso di Grazian, che l'uno e l'altro foro aiut? s? che piace in paradiso.
L'altro ch'appresso addorna il nostro coro, quel Pietro fu che con la poverella offerse a Santa Chiesa suo tesoro.
La quinta luce, ch'? tra noi pi? bella, spira di tal amor, che tutto 'l mondo l? gi? ne gola di saper novella: entro v'? l'alta mente u' s? profondo saver fu messo, che, se 'l vero ? vero a veder tanto non surse il secondo.
Appresso vedi il lume di quel cero che gi? in carne pi? a dentro vide l'angelica natura e 'l ministero.
Ne l'altra piccioletta luce ride quello avvocato de' tempi cristiani del cui latino Augustin si provide.
Or se tu l'occhio de la mente trani di luce in luce dietro a le mie lode, gi? de l'ottava con sete rimani.
Per vedere ogni ben dentro vi gode l'anima santa che 'l mondo fallace fa manifesto a chi di lei ben ode.
Lo corpo ond'ella fu cacciata giace giuso in Cieldauro; ed essa da martiro e da essilio venne a questa pace.
Vedi oltre fiammeggiar l'ardente spiro d'Isidoro, di Beda e di Riccardo, che a considerar fu pi? che viro.
Questi onde a me ritorna il tuo riguardo, ? 'l lume d'uno spirto che 'n pensieri gravi a morir li parve venir tardo: essa ? la luce etterna di Sigieri, che, leggendo nel Vico de li Strami, silogizz? invidiosi veri».
Indi, come orologio che ne chiami ne l'ora che la sposa di Dio surge a mattinar lo sposo perch? l'ami, che l'una parte e l'altra tira e urge, tin tin sonando con s? dolce nota, che 'l ben disposto spirto d'amor turge; cos? vid'io la gloriosa rota muoversi e render voce a voce in tempra e in dolcezza ch'esser non p? nota se non col? dove gioir s'insempra.
Paradiso: Canto XI O insensata cura de' mortali, quanto son difettivi silogismi quei che ti fanno in basso batter l'ali! Chi dietro a iura, e chi ad amforismi sen giva, e chi seguendo sacerdozio, e chi regnar per forza o per sofismi, e chi rubare, e chi civil negozio, chi nel diletto de la carne involto s'affaticava e chi si dava a l'ozio, quando, da tutte queste cose sciolto, con Beatrice m'era suso in cielo cotanto gloriosamente accolto.
Poi che ciascuno fu tornato ne lo punto del cerchio in che avanti s'era, fermossi, come a candellier candelo.
E io senti' dentro a quella lumera che pria m'avea parlato, sorridendo incominciar, faccendosi pi? mera: «Cos? com'io del suo raggio resplendo, s?, riguardando ne la luce etterna, li tuoi pensieri onde cagioni apprendo.
Tu dubbi, e hai voler che si ricerna in s? aperta e 'n s? distesa lingua lo dicer mio, ch'al tuo sentir si sterna, ove dinanzi dissi "U' ben s'impingua", e l? u' dissi "Non nacque il secondo"; e qui ? uopo che ben si distingua.
La provedenza, che governa il mondo con quel consiglio nel quale ogne aspetto creato ? vinto pria che vada al fondo, per? che andasse ver' lo suo diletto la sposa di colui ch'ad alte grida dispos? lei col sangue benedetto, in s? sicura e anche a lui pi? fida, due principi ordin? in suo favore, che quinci e quindi le fosser per guida.
L'un fu tutto serafico in ardore; l'altro per sapienza in terra fue di cherubica luce uno splendore.
De l'un dir?, per? che d'amendue si dice l'un pregiando, qual ch'om prende, perch'ad un fine fur l'opere sue.
Intra Tupino e l'acqua che discende del colle eletto dal beato Ubaldo, fertile costa d'alto monte pende, onde Perugia sente freddo e caldo da Porta Sole; e di rietro le piange per grave giogo Nocera con Gualdo.
Di questa costa, l? dov'ella frange pi? sua rattezza, nacque al mondo un sole, come fa questo tal volta di Gange.
Per? chi d'esso loco fa parole, non dica Ascesi, ch? direbbe corto, ma Oriente, se proprio dir vuole.
Non era ancor molto lontan da l'orto, ch'el cominci? a far sentir la terra de la sua gran virtute alcun conforto; ch? per tal donna, giovinetto, in guerra del padre corse, a cui, come a la morte, la porta del piacer nessun diserra; e dinanzi a la sua spirital corte et coram patre le si fece unito; poscia di d? in d? l'am? pi? forte.
Questa, privata del primo marito, millecent'anni e pi? dispetta e scura fino a costui si stette sanza invito; n? valse udir che la trov? sicura con Amiclate, al suon de la sua voce, colui ch'a tutto 'l mondo f? paura; n? valse esser costante n? feroce, s? che, dove Maria rimase giuso, ella con Cristo pianse in su la croce.
Ma perch'io non proceda troppo chiuso, Francesco e Povert? per questi amanti prendi oramai nel mio parlar diffuso.
La lor concordia e i lor lieti sembianti, amore e maraviglia e dolce sguardo facieno esser cagion di pensier santi; tanto che 'l venerabile Bernardo si scalz? prima, e dietro a tanta pace corse e, correndo, li parve esser tardo.
Oh ignota ricchezza! oh ben ferace! Scalzasi Egidio, scalzasi Silvestro dietro a lo sposo, s? la sposa piace.
Indi sen va quel padre e quel maestro con la sua donna e con quella famiglia che gi? legava l'umile capestro.
N? li grav? vilt? di cuor le ciglia per esser fi' di Pietro Bernardone, n? per parer dispetto a maraviglia; ma regalmente sua dura intenzione ad Innocenzio aperse, e da lui ebbe primo sigillo a sua religione.
Poi che la gente poverella crebbe dietro a costui, la cui mirabil vita meglio in gloria del ciel si canterebbe, di seconda corona redimita fu per Onorio da l'Etterno Spiro la santa voglia d'esto archimandrita.
E poi che, per la sete del martiro, ne la presenza del Soldan superba predic? Cristo e li altri che 'l seguiro, e per trovare a conversione acerba troppo la gente e per non stare indarno, redissi al frutto de l'italica erba, nel crudo sasso intra Tevero e Arno da Cristo prese l'ultimo sigillo, che le sue membra due anni portarno.
Quando a colui ch'a tanto ben sortillo piacque di trarlo suso a la mercede ch'el merit? nel suo farsi pusillo, a' frati suoi, s? com'a giuste rede, raccomand? la donna sua pi? cara, e comand? che l'amassero a fede; e del suo grembo l'anima preclara mover si volle, tornando al suo regno, e al suo corpo non volle altra bara.
Pensa oramai qual fu colui che degno collega fu a mantener la barca di Pietro in alto mar per dritto segno; e questo fu il nostro patriarca; per che qual segue lui, com'el comanda, discerner puoi che buone merce carca.
Ma 'l suo pecuglio di nova vivanda ? fatto ghiotto, s? ch'esser non puote che per diversi salti non si spanda; e quanto le sue pecore remote e vagabunde pi? da esso vanno, pi? tornano a l'ovil di latte v?te.
Ben son di quelle che temono 'l danno e stringonsi al pastor; ma son s? poche, che le cappe fornisce poco panno.
Or, se le mie parole non son fioche, se la tua audienza ? stata attenta, se ci? ch'? detto a la mente revoche, in parte fia la tua voglia contenta, perch? vedrai la pianta onde si scheggia, e vedra' il corr?gger che argomenta "U' ben s'impingua, se non si vaneggia"».
Paradiso: Canto XII S? tosto come l'ultima parola la benedetta fiamma per dir tolse, a rotar cominci? la santa mola; e nel suo giro tutta non si volse prima ch'un'altra di cerchio la chiuse, e moto a moto e canto a canto colse; canto che tanto vince nostre muse, nostre serene in quelle dolci tube, quanto primo splendor quel ch'e' refuse.
Come si volgon per tenera nube due archi paralelli e concolori, quando Iunone a sua ancella iube, nascendo di quel d'entro quel di fori, a guisa del parlar di quella vaga ch'amor consunse come sol vapori; e fanno qui la gente esser presaga, per lo patto che Dio con No? puose, del mondo che gi? mai pi? non s'allaga: cos? di quelle sempiterne rose volgiensi circa noi le due ghirlande, e s? l'estrema a l'intima rispuose.
Poi che 'l tripudio e l'altra festa grande, s? del cantare e s? del fiammeggiarsi luce con luce gaudiose e blande, insieme a punto e a voler quetarsi, pur come li occhi ch'al piacer che i move conviene insieme chiudere e levarsi; del cor de l'una de le luci nove si mosse voce, che l'ago a la stella parer mi fece in volgermi al suo dove; e cominci?: «L'amor che mi fa bella mi tragge a ragionar de l'altro duca per cui del mio s? ben ci si favella.
Degno ? che, dov'? l'un, l'altro s'induca: s? che, com'elli ad una militaro, cos? la gloria loro insieme luca.
L'essercito di Cristo, che s? caro cost? a riarmar, dietro a la 'nsegna si movea tardo, sospeccioso e raro, quando lo 'mperador che sempre regna provide a la milizia, ch'era in forse, per sola grazia, non per esser degna; e, come ? detto, a sua sposa soccorse con due campioni, al cui fare, al cui dire lo popol disviato si raccorse.
In quella parte ove surge ad aprire Zefiro dolce le novelle fronde di che si vede Europa rivestire, non molto lungi al percuoter de l'onde dietro a le quali, per la lunga foga, lo sol talvolta ad ogne uom si nasconde, siede la fortunata Calaroga sotto la protezion del grande scudo in che soggiace il leone e soggioga: dentro vi nacque l'amoroso drudo de la fede cristiana, il santo atleta benigno a' suoi e a' nemici crudo; e come fu creata, fu repleta s? la sua mente di viva vertute, che, ne la madre, lei fece profeta.
Poi che le sponsalizie fuor compiute al sacro fonte intra lui e la Fede, u' si dotar di mutua salute, la donna che per lui l'assenso diede, vide nel sonno il mirabile frutto ch'uscir dovea di lui e de le rede; e perch? fosse qual era in costrutto, quinci si mosse spirito a nomarlo del possessivo di cui era tutto.
Domenico fu detto; e io ne parlo s? come de l'agricola che Cristo elesse a l'orto suo per aiutarlo.
Ben parve messo e famigliar di Cristo: che 'l primo amor che 'n lui fu manifesto, fu al primo consiglio che di? Cristo.
Spesse fiate fu tacito e desto trovato in terra da la sua nutrice, come dicesse: 'Io son venuto a questo'.
Oh padre suo veramente Felice! oh madre sua veramente Giovanna, se, interpretata, val come si dice! Non per lo mondo, per cui mo s'affanna di retro ad Ostiense e a Taddeo, ma per amor de la verace manna in picciol tempo gran dottor si feo; tal che si mise a circuir la vigna che tosto imbianca, se 'l vignaio ? reo.
E a la sedia che fu gi? benigna pi? a' poveri giusti, non per lei, ma per colui che siede, che traligna, non dispensare o due o tre per sei, non la fortuna di prima vacante, non decimas, quae sunt pauperum Dei, addimand?, ma contro al mondo errante licenza di combatter per lo seme del qual ti fascian ventiquattro piante.
Poi, con dottrina e con volere insieme, con l'officio appostolico si mosse quasi torrente ch'alta vena preme; e ne li sterpi eretici percosse l'impeto suo, pi? vivamente quivi dove le resistenze eran pi? grosse.
Di lui si fecer poi diversi rivi onde l'orto catolico si riga, s? che i suoi arbuscelli stan pi? vivi.
Se tal fu l'una rota de la biga in che la Santa Chiesa si difese e vinse in campo la sua civil briga, ben ti dovrebbe assai esser palese l'eccellenza de l'altra, di cui Tomma dinanzi al mio venir fu s? cortese.
Ma l'orbita che f? la parte somma di sua circunferenza, ? derelitta, s? ch'? la muffa dov'era la gromma.
La sua famiglia, che si mosse dritta coi piedi a le sue orme, ? tanto volta, che quel dinanzi a quel di retro gitta; e tosto si vedr? de la ricolta de la mala coltura, quando il loglio si lagner? che l'arca li sia tolta.
Ben dico, chi cercasse a foglio a foglio nostr


by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman.

 1
I CELEBRATE myself; 
And what I assume you shall assume; 
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my Soul; I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass.
Houses and rooms are full of perfumes—the shelves are crowded with perfumes; I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it; The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.
The atmosphere is not a perfume—it has no taste of the distillation—it is odorless; It is for my mouth forever—I am in love with it; I will go to the bank by the wood, and become undisguised and naked; I am mad for it to be in contact with me.
2 The smoke of my own breath; Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine; My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs; The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore, and dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn; The sound of the belch’d words of my voice, words loos’d to the eddies of the wind; A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms; The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag; The delight alone, or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides; The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.
Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d the earth much? Have you practis’d so long to learn to read? Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems? Stop this day and night with me, and you shall possess the origin of all poems; You shall possess the good of the earth and sun—(there are millions of suns left;) You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books; You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me: You shall listen to all sides, and filter them from yourself.
3 I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end; But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
There was never any more inception than there is now, Nor any more youth or age than there is now; And will never be any more perfection than there is now, Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
Urge, and urge, and urge; Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance—always substance and increase, always sex; Always a knit of identity—always distinction—always a breed of life.
To elaborate is no avail—learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.
Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well entretied, braced in the beams, Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical, I and this mystery, here we stand.
Clear and sweet is my Soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my Soul.
Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen, Till that becomes unseen, and receives proof in its turn.
Showing the best, and dividing it from the worst, age vexes age; Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.
Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and clean; Not an inch, nor a particle of an inch, is vile, and none shall be less familiar than the rest.
I am satisfied—I see, dance, laugh, sing: As the hugging and loving Bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the night, and withdraws at the peep of the day, with stealthy tread, Leaving me baskets cover’d with white towels, swelling the house with their plenty, Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization, and scream at my eyes, That they turn from gazing after and down the road, And forthwith cipher and show me a cent, Exactly the contents of one, and exactly the contents of two, and which is ahead? 4 Trippers and askers surround me; People I meet—the effect upon me of my early life, or the ward and city I live in, or the nation, The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new, My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues, The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love, The sickness of one of my folks, or of myself, or ill-doing, or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations; Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events; These come to me days and nights, and go from me again, But they are not the Me myself.
Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am; Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary; Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest, Looking with side-curved head, curious what will come next; Both in and out of the game, and watching and wondering at it.
Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders; I have no mockings or arguments—I witness and wait.
5 I believe in you, my Soul—the other I am must not abase itself to you; And you must not be abased to the other.
Loafe with me on the grass—loose the stop from your throat; Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not custom or lecture, not even the best; Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.
I mind how once we lay, such a transparent summer morning; How you settled your head athwart my hips, and gently turn’d over upon me, And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart, And reach’d till you felt my beard, and reach’d till you held my feet.
Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth; And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own, And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own; And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers; And that a kelson of the creation is love; And limitless are leaves, stiff or drooping in the fields; And brown ants in the little wells beneath them; And mossy scabs of the worm fence, and heap’d stones, elder, mullen and poke-weed.
6 A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is, any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly dropt, Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say, Whose? Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic; And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, Growing among black folks as among white; Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you, curling grass; It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men; It may be if I had known them I would have loved them; It may be you are from old people, and from women, and from offspring taken soon out of their mothers’ laps; And here you are the mothers’ laps.
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers; Darker than the colorless beards of old men; Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues! And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.
I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women, And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of the young and old men? And what do you think has become of the women and children? They are alive and well somewhere; The smallest sprout shows there is really no death; And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it, And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.
All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses; And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
7 Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her, it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.
I pass death with the dying, and birth with the new-wash’d babe, and am not contain’d between my hat and boots; And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and every one good; The earth good, and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.
I am not an earth, nor an adjunct of an earth; I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself; (They do not know how immortal, but I know.
) Every kind for itself and its own—for me mine, male and female; For me those that have been boys, and that love women; For me the man that is proud, and feels how it stings to be slighted; For me the sweet-heart and the old maid—for me mothers, and the mothers of mothers; For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears; For me children, and the begetters of children.
Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale, nor discarded; I see through the broadcloth and gingham, whether or no; And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away.
8 The little one sleeps in its cradle; I lift the gauze, and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand.
The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill; I peeringly view them from the top.
The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bed-room; I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair—I note where the pistol has fallen.
The blab of the pave, the tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of the promenaders; The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the clank of the shod horses on the granite floor; The snow-sleighs, the clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snowballs; The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous’d mobs; The flap of the curtain’d litter, a sick man inside, borne to the hospital; The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall; The excited crowd, the policeman with his star, quickly working his passage to the centre of the crowd; The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes; What groans of over-fed or half-starv’d who fall sun-struck, or in fits; What exclamations of women taken suddenly, who hurry home and give birth to babes; What living and buried speech is always vibrating here—what howls restrain’d by decorum; Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances, rejections with convex lips; I mind them or the show or resonance of them—I come, and I depart.
9 The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready; The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon; The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged; The armfuls are pack’d to the sagging mow.
I am there—I help—I came stretch’d atop of the load; I felt its soft jolts—one leg reclined on the other; I jump from the cross-beams, and seize the clover and timothy, And roll head over heels, and tangle my hair full of wisps.
10 Alone, far in the wilds and mountains, I hunt, Wandering, amazed at my own lightness and glee; In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night, Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill’d game; Falling asleep on the gather’d leaves, with my dog and gun by my side.
The Yankee clipper is under her sky-sails—she cuts the sparkle and scud; My eyes settle the land—I bend at her prow, or shout joyously from the deck.
The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt for me; I tuck’d my trowser-ends in my boots, and went and had a good time: (You should have been with us that day round the chowder-kettle.
) I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far west—the bride was a red girl; Her father and his friends sat near, cross-legged and dumbly smoking—they had moccasins to their feet, and large thick blankets hanging from their shoulders; On a bank lounged the trapper—he was drest mostly in skins—his luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck—he held his bride by the hand; She had long eyelashes—her head was bare—her coarse straight locks descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reach’d to her feet.
The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside; I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile; Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and weak, And went where he sat on a log, and led him in and assured him, And brought water, and fill’d a tub for his sweated body and bruis’d feet, And gave him a room that enter’d from my own, and gave him some coarse clean clothes, And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness, And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles; He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass’d north; (I had him sit next me at table—my fire-lock lean’d in the corner.
) 11 Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore; Twenty-eight young men, and all so friendly: Twenty-eight years of womanly life, and all so lonesome.
She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank; She hides, handsome and richly drest, aft the blinds of the window.
Which of the young men does she like the best? Ah, the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.
Where are you off to, lady? for I see you; You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.
Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather; The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.
The beards of the young men glisten’d with wet, it ran from their long hair: Little streams pass’d all over their bodies.
An unseen hand also pass’d over their bodies; It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.
The young men float on their backs—their white bellies bulge to the sun—they do not ask who seizes fast to them; They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch; They do not think whom they souse with spray.
12 The butcher-boy puts off his killing clothes, or sharpens his knife at the stall in the market; I loiter, enjoying his repartee, and his shuffle and break-down.
Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ the anvil; Each has his main-sledge—they are all out—(there is a great heat in the fire.
) From the cinder-strew’d threshold I follow their movements; The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive arms; Over-hand the hammers swing—over-hand so slow—over-hand so sure: They do not hasten—each man hits in his place.
13 The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses—the block swags underneath on its tied-over chain; The negro that drives the dray of the stone-yard—steady and tall he stands, pois’d on one leg on the string-piece; His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast, and loosens over his hip-band; His glance is calm and commanding—he tosses the slouch of his hat away from his forehead; The sun falls on his crispy hair and moustache—falls on the black of his polish’d and perfect limbs.
I behold the picturesque giant, and love him—and I do not stop there; I go with the team also.
In me the caresser of life wherever moving—backward as well as forward slueing; To niches aside and junior bending.
Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain, or halt in the leafy shade! what is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.
My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck, on my distant and day-long ramble; They rise together—they slowly circle around.
I believe in those wing’d purposes, And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me, And consider green and violet, and the tufted crown, intentional; And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else; And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me; And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.
14 The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night; Ya-honk! he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation; (The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen close; I find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky.
) The sharp-hoof’d moose of the north, the cat on the house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog, The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats, The brood of the turkey-hen, and she with her half-spread wings; I see in them and myself the same old law.
The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections; They scorn the best I can do to relate them.
I am enamour’d of growing out-doors, Of men that live among cattle, or taste of the ocean or woods, Of the builders and steerers of ships, and the wielders of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses; I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.
What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me; Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns; Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me; Not asking the sky to come down to my good will; Scattering it freely forever.
15 The pure contralto sings in the organ loft; The carpenter dresses his plank—the tongue of his foreplane whistles its wild ascending lisp; The married and unmarried children ride home to their Thanksgiving dinner; The pilot seizes the king-pin—he heaves down with a strong arm; The mate stands braced in the whale-boat—lance and harpoon are ready; The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches; The deacons are ordain’d with cross’d hands at the altar; The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big wheel; The farmer stops by the bars, as he walks on a First-day loafe, and looks at the oats and rye; The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum, a confirm’d case, (He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his mother’s bed-room;) The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case, He turns his quid of tobacco, while his eyes blurr with the manuscript; The malform’d limbs are tied to the surgeon’s table, What is removed drops horribly in a pail; The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand—the drunkard nods by the bar-room stove; The machinist rolls up his sleeves—the policeman travels his beat—the gate-keeper marks who pass; The young fellow drives the express-wagon—(I love him, though I do not know him;) The half-breed straps on his light boots to complete in the race; The western turkey-shooting draws old and young—some lean on their rifles, some sit on logs, Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position, levels his piece; The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or levee; As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer views them from his saddle; The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their partners, the dancers bow to each other; The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof’d garret, and harks to the musical rain; The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the Huron; The squaw, wrapt in her yellow-hemm’d cloth, is offering moccasins and bead-bags for sale; The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut eyes bent sideways; As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat, the plank is thrown for the shore-going passengers; The young sister holds out the skein, while the elder sister winds it off in a ball, and stops now and then for the knots; The one-year wife is recovering and happy, having a week ago borne her first child; The clean-hair’d Yankee girl works with her sewing-machine, or in the factory or mill; The nine months’ gone is in the parturition chamber, her faintness and pains are advancing; The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer—the reporter’s lead flies swiftly over the note-book—the sign-painter is lettering with red and gold; The canal boy trots on the tow-path—the book-keeper counts at his desk—the shoemaker waxes his thread; The conductor beats time for the band, and all the performers follow him; The child is baptized—the convert is making his first professions; The regatta is spread on the bay—the race is begun—how the white sails sparkle! The drover, watching his drove, sings out to them that would stray; The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser higgling about the odd cent;) The camera and plate are prepared, the lady must sit for her daguerreotype; The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of the clock moves slowly; The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-open’d lips; The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy and pimpled neck; The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and wink to each other; (Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths, nor jeer you;) The President, holding a cabinet council, is surrounded by the Great Secretaries; On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly with twined arms; The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in the hold; The Missourian crosses the plains, toting his wares and his cattle; As the fare-collector goes through the train, he gives notice by the jingling of loose change; The floor-men are laying the floor—the tinners are tinning the roof—the masons are calling for mortar; In single file, each shouldering his hod, pass onward the laborers; Seasons pursuing each other, the indescribable crowd is gather’d—it is the Fourth of Seventh-month—(What salutes of cannon and small arms!) Seasons pursuing each other, the plougher ploughs, the mower mows, and the winter-grain falls in the ground; Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the hole in the frozen surface; The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter strikes deep with his axe; Flatboatmen make fast, towards dusk, near the cottonwood or pekan-trees; Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river, or through those drain’d by the Tennessee, or through those of the Arkansaw; Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahoochee or Altamahaw; Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great-grandsons around them; In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers after their day’s sport; The city sleeps, and the country sleeps; The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time; The old husband sleeps by his wife, and the young husband sleeps by his wife; And these one and all tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them; And such as it is to be of these, more or less, I am.
16 I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise; Regardless of others, ever regardful of others, Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man, Stuff’d with the stuff that is coarse, and stuff’d with the stuff that is fine; One of the Great Nation, the nation of many nations, the smallest the same, and the largest the same; A southerner soon as a northerner—a planter nonchalant and hospitable, down by the Oconee I live; A Yankee, bound by my own way, ready for trade, my joints the limberest joints on earth, and the sternest joints on earth; A Kentuckian, walking the vale of the Elkhorn, in my deer-skin leggings—a Louisianian or Georgian; A boatman over lakes or bays, or along coasts—a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye; At home on Kanadian snow-shoes, or up in the bush, or with fishermen off Newfoundland; At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking; At home on the hills of Vermont, or in the woods of Maine, or the Texan ranch; Comrade of Californians—comrade of free north-westerners, (loving their big proportions;) Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen—comrade of all who shake hands and welcome to drink and meat; A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest; A novice beginning, yet experient of myriads of seasons; Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion; A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker; A prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.
I resist anything better than my own diversity; I breathe the air, but leave plenty after me, And am not stuck up, and am in my place.
(The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place; The suns I see, and the suns I cannot see, are in their place; The palpable is in its place, and the impalpable is in its place.
) 17 These are the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands—they are not original with me; If they are not yours as much as mine, they are nothing, or next to nothing; If they are not the riddle, and the untying of the riddle, they are nothing; If they are not just as close as they are distant, they are nothing.
This is the grass that grows wherever the land is, and the water is; This is the common air that bathes the globe.
18 With music strong I come—with my cornets and my drums, I play not marches for accepted victors only—I play great marches for conquer’d and slain persons.
Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? I also say it is good to fall—battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.
I beat and pound for the dead; I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gayest for them.
Vivas to those who have fail’d! And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea! And to those themselves who sank in the sea! And to all generals that lost engagements! and all overcome heroes! And the numberless unknown heroes, equal to the greatest heroes known.
19 This is the meal equally set—this is the meat for natural hunger; It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous—I make appointments with all; I will not have a single person slighted or left away; The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited; The heavy-lipp’d slave is invited—the venerealee is invited: There shall be no difference between them and the rest.
This is the press of a bashful hand—this is the float and odor of hair; This is the touch of my lips to yours—this is the murmur of yearning; This is the far-off depth and height reflecting my own face; This is the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet again.
Do you guess I have some intricate purpose? Well, I have—for the Fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the side of a rock has.
Do you take it I would astonish? Does the daylight astonish? Does the early redstart, twittering through the woods? Do I astonish more than they? This hour I tell things in confidence; I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.
20 Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude; How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat? What is a man, anyhow? What am I? What are you? All I mark as my own, you shall offset it with your own; Else it were time lost listening to me.
I do not snivel that snivel the world over, That months are vacuums, and the ground but wallow and filth; That life is a suck and a sell, and nothing remains at the end but threadbare crape, and tears.
Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for invalids—conformity goes to the fourth-remov’d; I wear my hat as I please, indoors or out.
Why should I pray? Why should I venerate and be ceremonious? Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, counsell’d with doctors, and calculated close, I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.
In all people I see myself—none more, and not one a barleycorn less; And the good or bad I say of myself, I say of them.
And I know I am solid and sound; To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow; All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.
I know I am deathless; I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by the carpenter’s compass; I know I shall not pass like a child’s carlacue cut with a burnt stick at night.
I know I am august; I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood; I see that the elementary laws never apologize; (I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.
) I exist as I am—that is enough; If no other in the world be aware, I sit content; And if each and all be aware, I sit content.
One world is aware, and by far the largest to me, and that is myself; And whether I come to my own to-day, or in ten thousand or ten million years, I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.
My foothold is tenon’d and mortis’d in granite; I laugh at what you call dissolution; And I know the amplitude of time.
21 I am the poet of the Body; And I am the poet of the Soul.
The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains of hell are with me; The first I graft and increase upon myself—the latter I translate into a new tongue.
I am the poet of the woman the same as the man; And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man; And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.
I chant the chant of dilation or pride; We have had ducking and deprecating about enough; I show that size is only development.
Have you outstript the rest? Are you the President? It is a trifle—they will more than arrive there, every one, and still pass on.
I am he that walks with the tender and growing night; I call to the earth and sea, half-held by the night.
Press close, bare-bosom’d night! Press close, magnetic, nourishing night! Night of south winds! night of the large few stars! Still, nodding night! mad, naked, summer night.
Smile, O voluptuous, cool-breath’d earth! Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees; Earth of departed sunset! earth of the mountains, misty-topt! Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon, just tinged with blue! Earth of shine and dark, mottling the tide of the river! Earth of the limpid gray of clouds, brighter and clearer for my sake! Far-swooping elbow’d earth! rich, apple-blossom’d earth! Smile, for your lover comes! Prodigal, you have given me love! Therefore I to you give love! O unspeakable, passionate love! 22 You sea! I resign myself to you also—I guess what you mean; I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers; I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me; We must have a turn together—I undress—hurry me out of sight of the land; Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse; Dash me with amorous wet—I can repay you.
Sea of stretch’d ground-swells! Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths! Sea of the brine of life! sea of unshovell’d yet always-ready graves! Howler and scooper of storms! capricious and dainty sea! I am integral with you—I too am of one phase, and of all phases.
Partaker of influx and efflux I—extoller of hate and conciliation; Extoller of amies, and those that sleep in each others’ arms.
I am he attesting sympathy; (Shall I make my list of things in the house, and skip the house that supports them?) I am not the poet of goodness only—I do not decline to be the poet of wickedness also.
Washes and razors for foofoos—for me freckles and a bristling beard.
What blurt is this about virtue and about vice? Evil propels me, and reform of evil propels me—I stand indifferent; My gait is no fault-finder’s or rejecter’s gait; I moisten the roots of all that has grown.
Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging pregnancy? Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work’d over and rectified? I find one side a balance, and the antipodal side a balance; Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine; Thoughts and deeds of the present, our rouse and early start.
This minute that comes to me over the past decillions, There is no better than it and now.
What behaved well in the past, or behaves well to-day, is not such a wonder; The wonder is, always and always, how there can be a mean man or an infidel.
23 Endless unfolding of words of ages! And mine a word of the modern—the word En-Masse.
A word of the faith that never balks; Here or henceforward, it is all the same to me—I accept Time, absolutely.
It alone is without flaw—it rounds and completes all; That mystic, baffling wonder I love, alone completes all.
I accept reality, and dare not question it; Materialism first and last imbuing.
Hurrah for positive science! long live exact demonstration! Fetch stonecrop, mixt with cedar and branches of lilac; This is the lexicographer—this the chemist—this made a grammar of the old cartouches; These mariners put the ship through dangerous unknown seas; This is the geologist—this works with the scalpel—and this is a mathematician.
Gentlemen! to you the first honors always: Your facts are useful and real—and yet they are not my dwelling; (I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling.
) Less the reminders of properties told, my words; And more the reminders, they, of life untold, and of freedom and extrication, And make short account of neuters and geldings, and favor men and women fully equipt, And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugitives, and them that plot and conspire.
24 Walt Whitman am I, a Kosmos, of mighty Manhattan the son, Turbulent, fleshy and sensual, eating, drinking and breeding; No sentimentalist—no stander above men and women, or apart from them; No more modest than immodest.
Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! Whoever degrades another degrades me; And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.
Through me the afflatus surging and surging—through me the current and index.
I speak the pass-word primeval—I give the sign of democracy; By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms.
Through me many long dumb voices; Voices of the interminable generations of slaves; Voices of prostitutes, and of deform’d persons; Voices of the diseas’d and despairing, and of thieves and dwarfs; Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion, And of the threads that connect the stars—and of wombs, and of the father-stuff, And of the rights of them the others are down upon; Of the trivial, flat, foolish, despised, Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.
Through me forbidden voices; Voice of sexes and lusts—voices veil’d, and I remove the veil; Voices indecent, by me clarified and transfigur’d.
I do not press my fingers across my mouth; I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart; Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.
I believe in the flesh and the appetites; Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.
Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch’d from; The scent of these arm-pits, aroma finer than prayer; This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.
If I worship one thing more than another, it shall be the spread of my own body, or any part of it.
Translucent mould of me, it shall be you! Shaded ledges and rests, it shall be you! Firm masculine colter, it shall be you.
Whatever goes to the tilth of me, it shall be you! You my rich blood! Your milky stream, pale strippings of my life.
Breast that presses against other breasts, it shall be you! My brain, it shall be your occult convolutions.
Root of wash’d sweet flag! timorous pond-snipe! nest of guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you! Mix’d tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be you! Trickling sap of maple! fibre of manly wheat! it shall be you! Sun so generous, it shall be you! Vapors lighting and shading my face, it shall be you! You sweaty brooks and dews, it shall be you! Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me, it shall be you! Broad, muscular fields! branches of live oak! loving lounger in my winding paths! it shall be you! Hands I have taken—face I have kiss’d—mortal I have ever touch’d! it shall be you.
I dote on myself—there is that lot of me, and all so luscious; Each moment, and whatever happens, thrills me with joy.
O I am wonderful! I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of my faintest wish; Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the friendship I take again.
That I walk up my stoop! I pause to consider if it really be; A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.
To behold the day-break! The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows; The air tastes good to my palate.
Hefts of the moving world, at innocent gambols, silently rising, freshly exuding, Scooting obliquely high and low.
Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous prongs; Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.
The earth by the sky staid with—the daily close of their junction; The heav’d challenge from the east that moment over my head; The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be master! 25 Dazzling and tremendous, how quick the sun-rise would kill me, If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me.
We also ascend, dazzling and tremendous as the sun; We found our own, O my Soul, in the calm and cool of the daybreak.
My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach; With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds, and volumes of worlds.
Speech is the twin of my vision—it is unequal to measure itself; It provokes me forever; It says sarcastically, Walt, you contain enough—why don’t you let it out, then? Come now, I will not be tantalized—you conceive too much of articulation.
Do you not know, O speech, how the buds beneath you are folded? Waiting in gloom, protected by frost; The dirt receding before my prophetical screams; I underlying causes, to balance them at last; My knowledge my live parts—it keeping tally with the meaning of things, HAPPINESS—which, whoever hears me, let him or her set out in search of this day.
My final merit I refuse you—I refuse putting from me what I really am; Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me; I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking toward you.
Writing and talk do not prove me; I carry the plenum of proof, and everything else, in my face; With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skeptic.
26 I think I will do nothing now but listen, To accrue what I hear into myself—to let sounds contribute toward me.
I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals; I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice; I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following; Sounds of the city, and sounds out of the city—sounds of the day and night; Talkative young ones to those that like them—the loud laugh of work-people at their meals; The angry base of disjointed friendship—the faint tones of the sick; The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing a death-sentence; The heave’e’yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves—the refrain of the anchor-lifters; The ring of alarm-bells—the cry of fire—the whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose-carts, with premonitory tinkles, and color’d lights; The steam-whistle—the solid roll of the train of approaching cars; The slow-march play’d at the head of the association, marching two and two, (They go to guard some corpse—the flag-tops are draped with black muslin.
) I hear the violoncello (’tis the young man’s heart’s complaint;) I hear the key’d cornet—it glides quickly in through my ears; It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast.
I hear the chorus—it is a grand opera; Ah, this indeed is music! This suits me.
A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me; The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me full.
I hear the train’d soprano—(what work, with hers, is this?) The orchestra whirls me wider than Uranus flies; It wrenches such ardors from me, I did not know I possess’d them; It sails me—I dab with bare feet—they are lick’d by the indolent waves; I am exposed, cut by bitter and angry hail—I lose my breath, Steep’d amid honey’d morphine, my windpipe throttled in fakes of death; At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles, And that we call BEING.
27 To be, in any form—what is that? (Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither;) If nothing lay more develop’d, the quahaug in its callous shell were enough.
Mine is no callous shell; I have instant conductors all over me, whether I pass or stop; They seize every object and lead it harmlessly through me.
I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am happy; To touch my person to some one else’s is about as much as I can stand.
28 Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new identity, Flames and ether making a rush for my veins, Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them, My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly different from myself; On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs, Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip, Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial, Depriving me of my best, as for a purpose, Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare waist, Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight and pasture-fields, Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away, They bribed to swap off with touch, and go and graze at the edges of me; No consideration, no regard for my draining strength or my anger; Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them a while, Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry me.
The sentries desert every other part of me; They have left me helpless to a red marauder; They all come to the headland, to witness and assist against me.
I am given up by traitors; I talk wildly—I have lost my wits—I and nobody else am the greatest traitor; I went myself first to the headland—my own hands carried me there.
You villian touch! what are you doing? My breath is tight in its throat; Unclench your floodgates! you are too much for me.
29 Blind, loving, wrestling touch! sheath’d, hooded, sharp-tooth’d touch! Did it make you ache so, leaving me? Parting, track’d by arriving—perpetual payment of perpetual loan; Rich, showering rain, and recompense richer afterward.
Sprouts take and accumulate—stand by the curb prolific and vital: Landscapes, projected, masculine, full-sized and golden.
30 All truths wait in all things; They neither hasten their own delivery, nor resist it; They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon; The insignificant is as big to me as any; (What is less or more than a touch?) Logic and sermons never convince; The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.
Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so; Only what nobody denies is so.
A minute and a drop of me settle my brain; I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and lamps, And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or woman, And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for each other, And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson until it becomes omnific, And until every one shall delight us, and we them.
31 I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars, And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren, And the tree-toad is a chef-d’oeuvre for the highest, And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven, And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery, And the cow crunching with depress’d head surpasses any statue, And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels, And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at the farmer’s girl boiling her iron tea-kettle and baking shortcake.
I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, fruits, grains, esculent roots, And am stucco’d with quadrupeds and birds all over, And have distanced what is behind me for good reasons, And call anything close again, when I desire it.
In vain the speeding or shyness; In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against my approach; In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder’d bones; In vain objects stand leagues off, and assume manifold shapes; In vain the ocean settling in hollows, and the great monsters lying low; In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky; In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs; In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods; In vain the razor-bill’d auk sails far north to Labrador; I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of the cliff.
32 I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d; I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition; They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins; They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God; Not one is dissatisfied—not one is demented with the mania of owning things; Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago; Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.
So they show their relations to me, and I accept them; They bring me tokens of myself—they evince them plainly in their possession.
I wonder where they get those tokens: Did I pass that way huge times ago, and negligently drop them? Myself moving forward then and now and forever, Gathering and showing more always and with velocity, Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them; Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers; Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly terms.
A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my caresses, Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears, Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground, Eyes full of sparkling wickedness—ears finely cut, flexibly moving.
His nostrils dilate, as my heels embrace him; His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure, as we race around and return.
I but use you a moment, then I resign you, stallion; Why do I need your paces, when I myself out-gallop them? Even, as I stand or sit, passing faster than you.
33 O swift wind! O space and time! now I see it is true, what I guessed at; What I guess’d when I loaf’d on the grass; What I guess’d while I lay alone in my bed, And again as I walk’d the beach under the paling stars of the morning.
My ties and ballasts leave me—I travel—I sail—my elbows rest in the sea-gaps; I skirt the sierras—my palms cover continents; I am afoot with my vision.
By the city’s quadrangular houses—in log huts—camping with lumbermen; Along the ruts of the turnpike—along the dry gulch and rivulet bed; Weeding my onion-patch, or hoeing rows of carrots and parsnips—crossing savannas—trailing in forests; Prospecting—gold-digging—girdling the trees of a new purchase; Scorch’d ankle-deep by the hot sand—hauling my boat down the shallow river; Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb overhead—where the buck turns furiously at the hunter; Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock—where the otter is feeding on fish; Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps by the bayou; Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey—where the beaver pats the mud with his paddle-shaped tail; Over the growing sugar—over the yellow-flower’d cotton plant—over the rice in its low moist field; Over the sharp-peak’d farm house, with its scallop’d scum and slender shoots from the gutters; Over the western persimmon—over the long-leav’d corn—over the delicate blue-flower flax; Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer and buzzer there with the rest; Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and shades in the breeze; Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, holding on by low scragged limbs; Walking the path worn in the grass, and beat through the leaves of the brush; Where the quail is whistling betwixt the woods and the wheat-lot; Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month eve—where the great gold-bug drops through the dark; Where flails keep time on the barn floor; Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow; Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremulous shuddering of their hides; Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen—where andirons straddle the hearth-slab—where cobwebs fall in festoons from the rafters; Where trip-hammers crash—where the press is whirling its cylinders; Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes under its ribs; Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, (floating in it myself, and looking composedly down;) Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose—where the heat hatches pale-green eggs in the dented sand; Where the she-whale swims with her calf, and never forsakes it; Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long pennant of smoke; Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out of the water; Where the half-burn’d brig is riding on unknown currents, Where shells grow to her slimy deck—where the dead are corrupting below; Where the dense-starr’d flag is borne at the head of the regiments; Approaching Manhattan, up by the long-stretching island; Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my countenance; Upon a door-step—upon the horse-block of hard wood outside; Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs, or a good game of base-ball; At he-festivals, with blackguard jibes, ironical license, bull-dances, drinking, laughter; At the cider-mill, tasting the sweets of the brown mash, sucking the juice through a straw; At apple-peelings, wanting kisses for all the red fruit I find; At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings, house-raisings: Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gurgles, cackles, screams, weeps; Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard—where the dry-stalks are scattered—where the brood-cow waits in the hovel; Where the bull advances to do his masculine work—where the stud to the mare—where the cock is treading the hen; Where the heifers browse—where geese nip their food with short jerks; Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limitless and lonesome prairie; Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square miles far and near; Where the humming-bird shimmers—where the neck of the long-lived swan is curving and winding; Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore, where she laughs her near-human laugh; Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the garden, half hid by the high weeds; Where band-neck’d partridges roost in a ring on the ground with their heads out; Where burial coaches enter the arch’d gates of a cemetery; Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled trees; Where the yellow-crown’d heron comes to the edge of the marsh at night and feeds upon small crabs; Where the splash of swimmers and divers cools the warm noon; Where the katy-did works her chromatic reed on the walnut-tree over the well; Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with silver-wired leaves; Through the salt-lick or orange glade, or under conical firs; Through the gymnasium—through the curtain’d saloon—through the office or public hall; Pleas’d with the native, and pleas’d with the foreign—pleas’d with the new and old; Pleas’d with women, the homely as well as the handsome; Pleas’d with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet and talks melodiously; Pleas’d with the tune of the choir of the white-wash’d church; Pleas’d with the earnest words of the sweating Methodist preacher, or any preacher—impress’d seriously at the camp-meeting: Looking in at the shop-windows of Broadway the whole forenoon—flatting the flesh of my nose on the thick plate-glass; Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn’d up to the clouds, My right and left arms round the sides of two friends, and I in the middle: Coming home with the silent and dark-cheek’d bush-boy—(behind me he rides at the drape of the day;) Far from the settlements, studying the print of animals’ feet, or the moccasin print; By the cot in the hospital, reaching lemonade to a feverish patient; Nigh the coffin’d corpse when all is still, examining with a candle: Voyaging to every port, to dicker and adventure; Hurrying with the modern crowd, as eager and fickle as any; Hot toward one I hate, ready in my madness to knife him; Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts gone from me a long while; Walking the old hills of Judea, with the beautiful gentle God by my side; Speeding through space—speeding through heaven and the stars; Speeding amid the seven satellites, and the broad ring, and the diameter of eighty thousand miles; Speeding with tail’d meteors—throwing fire-balls like the rest; Carrying the crescent child that carries its own full mother in its belly; Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning, Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing; I tread day and night such roads.
I visit the orchards of spheres, and look at the product: And look at quintillions ripen’d, and look at quintillions green.
I fly the flight of the fluid and swallowing soul; My course runs below the soundings of plummets.
I help myself to material and immaterial; No guard can shut me off, nor law prevent me.
I anchor my ship for a little while only; My messengers continually cruise away, or bring their returns to me.
I go hunting polar furs and the seal—leaping chasms with a pike-pointed staff—clinging to topples of brittle and blue.
I ascend to the foretruck; I take my place late at night in the crow’s-nest; We sail the arctic sea—it is plenty light enough; Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on the wonderful beauty; The enormous masses of ice pass me, and I pass them—the scenery is plain in all directions; The white-topt mountains show in the distance—I fling out my fancies toward them; (We are approaching some great battle-field in which we are soon to be engaged; We pass the colossal outposts of the encampment—we pass with still feet and caution; Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and ruin’d city; The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the living cities of the globe.
) I am a free companion—I bivouac by invading watchfires.
I turn the bridegroom out of bed, and stay with the bride myself; I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.
My voice is the wife’s voice, the screech by the rail of the stairs; They fetch my man’s body up, dripping and drown’d.
I understand the large hearts of heroes, The courage of present times and all times; How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the steam-ship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm; How he knuckled tight, and gave not back one inch, and was faithful of days and faithful of nights, And chalk’d in large letters, on a board, Be of good cheer, we will not desert you: How he follow’d with them, and tack’d with them—and would not give it up; How he saved the drifting company at last: How the lank loose-gown’d women look’d when boated from the side of their prepared graves; How the silent old-faced infants, and the lifted sick, and the sharp-lipp’d unshaved men: All this I swallow—it tastes good—I like it well—it becomes mine; I am the man—I suffer’d—I was there.
The disdain and calmness of olden martyrs; The mother, condemn’d for a witch, burnt with dry wood, her children gazing on; The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the fence, blowing, cover’d with sweat; The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck—the murderous buckshot and the bullets; All these I feel, or am.
I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs, Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marksmen; I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn’d with the ooze of my skin; I fall on the weeds and stones; The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close, Taunt my dizzy ears, and beat me violently over the head with whip-stocks.
Agonies are one of my changes of garments; I do not ask the wounded person how he feels—I myself become the wounded person; My hurts turn livid upon me as I lean on a cane and observe.
I am the mash’d fireman with breast-bone broken; Tumbling walls buried me in their debris; Heat and smoke I inspired—I heard the yelling shouts of my comrades; I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels; They have clear’d the beams away—they tenderly lift me forth.
I lie in the night air in my red shirt—the pervading hush is for my sake; Painless after all I lie, exhausted but not so unhappy; White and beautiful are the faces around me—the heads are bared of their fire-caps; The kneeling crowd fades with the light of the torches.
Distant and dead resuscitate; They show as the dial or move as the hands of me—I am the clock myself.
I am an old artillerist—I tell of my fort’s bombardment; I am there again.
Again the long roll of the drummers; Again the attacking cannon, mortars; Again, to my listening ears, the cannon responsive.
I take part—I see and hear the whole; The cries, curses, roar—the plaudits for well-aim’d shots; The ambulanza slowly passing, trailing its red drip; Workmen searching after damages, making indispensable repairs; The fall of grenades through the rent roof—the fan-shaped explosion; The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron, high in the air.
Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general—he furiously waves with his hand; He gasps through the clot, Mind not me—mind—the entrenchments.
34 Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth; (I tell not the fall of Alamo, Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo, The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo;) ’Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hundred and twelve young men.
Retreating, they had form’d in a hollow square, with their baggage for breastworks; Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy’s, nine times their number, was the price they took in advance; Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone; They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv’d writing and seal, gave up their arms, and march’d back prisoners of war.
They were the glory of the race of rangers; Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship, Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and affectionate, Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hunters, Not a single one over thirty years of age.
The second First-day morning they were brought out in squads, and massacred—it was beautiful early summer; The work commenced about five o’clock, and was over by eight.
None obey’d the command to kneel; Some made a mad and helpless rush—some stood stark and straight; A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart—the living and dead lay together; The maim’d and mangled dug in the dirt—the newcomers saw them there; Some, half-kill’d, attempted to crawl away; These were despatch’d with bayonets, or batter’d with the blunts of muskets; A youth not seventeen years old seiz’d his assassin till two more came to release him; The three were all torn, and cover’d with the boy’s blood.
At eleven o’clock began the burning of the bodies: That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve young men.
35 Would you hear of an old-fashion’d sea-fight? Would you learn who won by the light of the moon and stars? List to the story as my grandmother’s father, the sailor, told it to me.
Our foe was no skulk in his ship, I tell you, (said he;) His was the surly English pluck—and there is no tougher or truer, and never was, and never will be; Along the lower’d eve he came, horribly raking us.
We closed with him—the yards entangled—the cannon touch’d; My captain lash’d fast with his own hands.
We had receiv’d some eighteen pound shots under the water; On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at the first fire, killing all around, and blowing up overhead.
Fighting at sun-down, fighting at dark; Ten o’clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks on the gain, and five feet of water reported; The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in the afterhold, to give them a chance for themselves.
The transit to and from the magazine is now stopt by the sentinels, They see so many strange faces, they do not know whom to trust.
Our frigate takes fire; The other asks if we demand quarter? If our colors are struck, and the fighting is done? Now I laugh content, for I hear the voice of my little captain, We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just begun our part of the fighting.
Only three guns are in use; One is directed by the captain himself against the enemy’s mainmast; Two, well served with grape and canister, silence his musketry and clear his decks.
The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, especially the main-top; They hold out bravely during the whole of the action.
Not a moment’s cease; The leaks gain fast on the pumps—the fire eats toward the powder-magazine.
One of the pumps has been shot away—it is generally thought we are sinking.
Serene stands the little captain; He is not hurried—his voice is neither high nor low; His eyes give more light to us than our battle-lanterns.
Toward twelve at night, there in the beams of the moon, they surrender to us.
36 Stretch’d and still lies the midnight; Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness; Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking—preparations to pass to the one we have conquer’d; The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through a countenance white as a sheet; Near by, the corpse of the child that serv’d in the cabin; The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully curl’d whiskers; The flames, spite of all that can be done, flickering aloft and below; The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for duty; Formless stacks of bodies, and bodies by themselves—dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars, Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe of waves, Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels, strong scent, Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields by the shore, death-messages given in charge to survivors, The hiss of the surgeon’s knife, the gnawing teeth of his saw, Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and long, dull, tapering groan; These so—these irretrievable.
37 O Christ! This is mastering me! In at the conquer’d doors they crowd.
I am possess’d.
I embody all presences outlaw’d or suffering; See myself in prison shaped like another man, And feel the dull unintermitted pain.
For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep watch; It is I let out


by Dante Alighieri

Inferno (Italian)

 LA DIVINA COMMEDIA di Dante Alighieri INFERNO


Inferno: Canto I



 Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita

mi ritrovai per una selva oscura

ch? la diritta via era smarrita.
Ahi quanto a dir qual era ? cosa dura esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte che nel pensier rinova la paura! Tant'? amara che poco ? pi? morte; ma per trattar del ben ch'i' vi trovai, dir? de l'altre cose ch'i' v'ho scorte.
Io non so ben ridir com'i' v'intrai, tant'era pien di sonno a quel punto che la verace via abbandonai.
Ma poi ch'i' fui al pi? d'un colle giunto, l? dove terminava quella valle che m'avea di paura il cor compunto, guardai in alto, e vidi le sue spalle vestite gi? de' raggi del pianeta che mena dritto altrui per ogne calle.
Allor fu la paura un poco queta che nel lago del cor m'era durata la notte ch'i' passai con tanta pieta.
E come quei che con lena affannata uscito fuor del pelago a la riva si volge a l'acqua perigliosa e guata, cos? l'animo mio, ch'ancor fuggiva, si volse a retro a rimirar lo passo che non lasci? gi? mai persona viva.
Poi ch'?i posato un poco il corpo lasso, ripresi via per la piaggia diserta, s? che 'l pi? fermo sempre era 'l pi? basso.
Ed ecco, quasi al cominciar de l'erta, una lonza leggera e presta molto, che di pel macolato era coverta; e non mi si partia dinanzi al volto, anzi 'mpediva tanto il mio cammino, ch'i' fui per ritornar pi? volte v?lto.
Temp'era dal principio del mattino, e 'l sol montava 'n s? con quelle stelle ch'eran con lui quando l'amor divino mosse di prima quelle cose belle; s? ch'a bene sperar m'era cagione di quella fiera a la gaetta pelle l'ora del tempo e la dolce stagione; ma non s? che paura non mi desse la vista che m'apparve d'un leone.
Questi parea che contra me venisse con la test'alta e con rabbiosa fame, s? che parea che l'aere ne tremesse.
Ed una lupa, che di tutte brame sembiava carca ne la sua magrezza, e molte genti f? gi? viver grame, questa mi porse tanto di gravezza con la paura ch'uscia di sua vista, ch'io perdei la speranza de l'altezza.
E qual ? quei che volontieri acquista, e giugne 'l tempo che perder lo face, che 'n tutt'i suoi pensier piange e s'attrista; tal mi fece la bestia sanza pace, che, venendomi 'ncontro, a poco a poco mi ripigneva l? dove 'l sol tace.
Mentre ch'i' rovinava in basso loco, dinanzi a li occhi mi si fu offerto chi per lungo silenzio parea fioco.
Quando vidi costui nel gran diserto, Miserere di me, gridai a lui, qual che tu sii, od ombra od omo certo!.
Rispuosemi: «Non omo, omo gi? fui, e li parenti miei furon lombardi, mantoani per patria ambedui.
Nacqui sub Iulio, ancor che fosse tardi, e vissi a Roma sotto 'l buono Augusto nel tempo de li d?i falsi e bugiardi.
Poeta fui, e cantai di quel giusto figliuol d'Anchise che venne di Troia, poi che 'l superbo Ili?n fu combusto.
Ma tu perch? ritorni a tanta noia? perch? non sali il dilettoso monte ch'? principio e cagion di tutta gioia?».
«Or se' tu quel Virgilio e quella fonte che spandi di parlar s? largo fiume?», rispuos'io lui con vergognosa fronte.
«O de li altri poeti onore e lume vagliami 'l lungo studio e 'l grande amore che m'ha fatto cercar lo tuo volume.
Tu se' lo mio maestro e 'l mio autore; tu se' solo colui da cu' io tolsi lo bello stilo che m'ha fatto onore.
Vedi la bestia per cu' io mi volsi: aiutami da lei, famoso saggio, ch'ella mi fa tremar le vene e i polsi».
«A te convien tenere altro viaggio», rispuose poi che lagrimar mi vide, «se vuo' campar d'esto loco selvaggio: ch? questa bestia, per la qual tu gride, non lascia altrui passar per la sua via, ma tanto lo 'mpedisce che l'uccide; e ha natura s? malvagia e ria, che mai non empie la bramosa voglia, e dopo 'l pasto ha pi? fame che pria.
Molti son li animali a cui s'ammoglia, e pi? saranno ancora, infin che 'l veltro verr?, che la far? morir con doglia.
Questi non ciber? terra n? peltro, ma sapienza, amore e virtute, e sua nazion sar? tra feltro e feltro.
Di quella umile Italia fia salute per cui mor? la vergine Cammilla, Eurialo e Turno e Niso di ferute.
Questi la caccer? per ogne villa, fin che l'avr? rimessa ne lo 'nferno, l? onde 'nvidia prima dipartilla.
Ond'io per lo tuo me' penso e discerno che tu mi segui, e io sar? tua guida, e trarrotti di qui per loco etterno, ove udirai le disperate strida, vedrai li antichi spiriti dolenti, ch'a la seconda morte ciascun grida; e vederai color che son contenti nel foco, perch? speran di venire quando che sia a le beate genti.
A le quai poi se tu vorrai salire, anima fia a ci? pi? di me degna: con lei ti lascer? nel mio partire; ch? quello imperador che l? s? regna, perch'i' fu' ribellante a la sua legge, non vuol che 'n sua citt? per me si vegna.
In tutte parti impera e quivi regge; quivi ? la sua citt? e l'alto seggio: oh felice colui cu' ivi elegge!».
E io a lui: «Poeta, io ti richeggio per quello Dio che tu non conoscesti, acci? ch'io fugga questo male e peggio, che tu mi meni l? dov'or dicesti, s? ch'io veggia la porta di san Pietro e color cui tu fai cotanto mesti».
Allor si mosse, e io li tenni dietro.
Inferno: Canto II Lo giorno se n'andava, e l'aere bruno toglieva li animai che sono in terra da le fatiche loro; e io sol uno m'apparecchiava a sostener la guerra s? del cammino e s? de la pietate, che ritrarr? la mente che non erra.
O muse, o alto ingegno, or m'aiutate; o mente che scrivesti ci? ch'io vidi, qui si parr? la tua nobilitate.
Io cominciai: «Poeta che mi guidi, guarda la mia virt? s'ell'? possente, prima ch'a l'alto passo tu mi fidi.
Tu dici che di Silvio il parente, corruttibile ancora, ad immortale secolo and?, e fu sensibilmente.
Per?, se l'avversario d'ogne male cortese i fu, pensando l'alto effetto ch'uscir dovea di lui e 'l chi e 'l quale, non pare indegno ad omo d'intelletto; ch'e' fu de l'alma Roma e di suo impero ne l'empireo ciel per padre eletto: la quale e 'l quale, a voler dir lo vero, fu stabilita per lo loco santo u' siede il successor del maggior Piero.
Per quest'andata onde li dai tu vanto, intese cose che furon cagione di sua vittoria e del papale ammanto.
Andovvi poi lo Vas d'elezione, per recarne conforto a quella fede ch'? principio a la via di salvazione.
Ma io perch? venirvi? o chi 'l concede? Io non Enea, io non Paulo sono: me degno a ci? n? io n? altri 'l crede.
Per che, se del venire io m'abbandono, temo che la venuta non sia folle.
Se' savio; intendi me' ch'i' non ragiono».
E qual ? quei che disvuol ci? che volle e per novi pensier cangia proposta, s? che dal cominciar tutto si tolle, tal mi fec'io 'n quella oscura costa, perch?, pensando, consumai la 'mpresa che fu nel cominciar cotanto tosta.
«S'i' ho ben la parola tua intesa», rispuose del magnanimo quell'ombra; «l'anima tua ? da viltade offesa; la qual molte fiate l'omo ingombra s? che d'onrata impresa lo rivolve, come falso veder bestia quand'ombra.
Da questa tema acci? che tu ti solve, dirotti perch'io venni e quel ch'io 'ntesi nel primo punto che di te mi dolve.
Io era tra color che son sospesi, e donna mi chiam? beata e bella, tal che di comandare io la richiesi.
Lucevan li occhi suoi pi? che la stella; e cominciommi a dir soave e piana, con angelica voce, in sua favella: "O anima cortese mantoana, di cui la fama ancor nel mondo dura, e durer? quanto 'l mondo lontana, l'amico mio, e non de la ventura, ne la diserta piaggia ? impedito s? nel cammin, che volt'? per paura; e temo che non sia gi? s? smarrito, ch'io mi sia tardi al soccorso levata, per quel ch'i' ho di lui nel cielo udito.
Or movi, e con la tua parola ornata e con ci? c'ha mestieri al suo campare l'aiuta, s? ch'i' ne sia consolata.
I' son Beatrice che ti faccio andare; vegno del loco ove tornar disio; amor mi mosse, che mi fa parlare.
Quando sar? dinanzi al segnor mio, di te mi loder? sovente a lui".
Tacette allora, e poi comincia' io: "O donna di virt?, sola per cui l'umana spezie eccede ogne contento di quel ciel c'ha minor li cerchi sui, tanto m'aggrada il tuo comandamento, che l'ubidir, se gi? fosse, m'? tardi; pi? non t'? uo' ch'aprirmi il tuo talento.
Ma dimmi la cagion che non ti guardi de lo scender qua giuso in questo centro de l'ampio loco ove tornar tu ardi".
"Da che tu vuo' saver cotanto a dentro, dirotti brievemente", mi rispuose, "perch'io non temo di venir qua entro.
Temer si dee di sole quelle cose c'hanno potenza di fare altrui male; de l'altre no, ch? non son paurose.
I' son fatta da Dio, sua merc?, tale, che la vostra miseria non mi tange, n? fiamma d'esto incendio non m'assale.
Donna ? gentil nel ciel che si compiange di questo 'mpedimento ov'io ti mando, s? che duro giudicio l? s? frange.
Questa chiese Lucia in suo dimando e disse: - Or ha bisogno il tuo fedele di te, e io a te lo raccomando -.
Lucia, nimica di ciascun crudele, si mosse, e venne al loco dov'i' era, che mi sedea con l'antica Rachele.
Disse: - Beatrice, loda di Dio vera, ch? non soccorri quei che t'am? tanto, ch'usc? per te de la volgare schiera? non odi tu la pieta del suo pianto? non vedi tu la morte che 'l combatte su la fiumana ove 'l mar non ha vanto? - Al mondo non fur mai persone ratte a far lor pro o a fuggir lor danno, com'io, dopo cotai parole fatte, venni qua gi? del mio beato scanno, fidandomi del tuo parlare onesto, ch'onora te e quei ch'udito l'hanno".
Poscia che m'ebbe ragionato questo, li occhi lucenti lagrimando volse; per che mi fece del venir pi? presto; e venni a te cos? com'ella volse; d'inanzi a quella fiera ti levai che del bel monte il corto andar ti tolse.
Dunque: che ?? perch?, perch? restai? perch? tanta vilt? nel core allette? perch? ardire e franchezza non hai? poscia che tai tre donne benedette curan di te ne la corte del cielo, e 'l mio parlar tanto ben ti promette?».
Quali fioretti dal notturno gelo chinati e chiusi, poi che 'l sol li 'mbianca si drizzan tutti aperti in loro stelo, tal mi fec'io di mia virtude stanca, e tanto buono ardire al cor mi corse, ch'i' cominciai come persona franca: «Oh pietosa colei che mi soccorse! e te cortese ch'ubidisti tosto a le vere parole che ti porse! Tu m'hai con disiderio il cor disposto s? al venir con le parole tue, ch'i' son tornato nel primo proposto.
Or va, ch'un sol volere ? d'ambedue: tu duca, tu segnore, e tu maestro».
Cos? li dissi; e poi che mosso fue, intrai per lo cammino alto e silvestro.
Inferno: Canto III Per me si va ne la citt? dolente, per me si va ne l'etterno dolore, per me si va tra la perduta gente.
Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore: fecemi la divina podestate, la somma sapienza e 'l primo amore.
Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate".
Queste parole di colore oscuro vid'io scritte al sommo d'una porta; per ch'io: «Maestro, il senso lor m'? duro».
Ed elli a me, come persona accorta: «Qui si convien lasciare ogne sospetto; ogne vilt? convien che qui sia morta.
Noi siam venuti al loco ov'i' t'ho detto che tu vedrai le genti dolorose c'hanno perduto il ben de l'intelletto».
E poi che la sua mano a la mia puose con lieto volto, ond'io mi confortai, mi mise dentro a le segrete cose.
Quivi sospiri, pianti e alti guai risonavan per l'aere sanza stelle, per ch'io al cominciar ne lagrimai.
Diverse lingue, orribili favelle, parole di dolore, accenti d'ira, voci alte e fioche, e suon di man con elle facevano un tumulto, il qual s'aggira sempre in quell'aura sanza tempo tinta, come la rena quando turbo spira.
E io ch'avea d'error la testa cinta, dissi: «Maestro, che ? quel ch'i' odo? e che gent'? che par nel duol s? vinta?».
Ed elli a me: «Questo misero modo tegnon l'anime triste di coloro che visser sanza 'nfamia e sanza lodo.
Mischiate sono a quel cattivo coro de li angeli che non furon ribelli n? fur fedeli a Dio, ma per s? fuoro.
Caccianli i ciel per non esser men belli, n? lo profondo inferno li riceve, ch'alcuna gloria i rei avrebber d'elli».
E io: «Maestro, che ? tanto greve a lor, che lamentar li fa s? forte?».
Rispuose: «Dicerolti molto breve.
Questi non hanno speranza di morte e la lor cieca vita ? tanto bassa, che 'nvidiosi son d'ogne altra sorte.
Fama di loro il mondo esser non lassa; misericordia e giustizia li sdegna: non ragioniam di lor, ma guarda e passa».
E io, che riguardai, vidi una 'nsegna che girando correva tanto ratta, che d'ogne posa mi parea indegna; e dietro le ven?a s? lunga tratta di gente, ch'i' non averei creduto che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta.
Poscia ch'io v'ebbi alcun riconosciuto, vidi e conobbi l'ombra di colui che fece per viltade il gran rifiuto.
Incontanente intesi e certo fui che questa era la setta d'i cattivi, a Dio spiacenti e a' nemici sui.
Questi sciaurati, che mai non fur vivi, erano ignudi e s