Geoffrey Chaucer, The Knight's Tale, Part II (Forrest Hainline's Minimalist Translation)
1355 When that Arcite to Thebes come was,
1356 Full oft a day he swelt and said, "Alas! "
1357 For see his lady shall he never more.
1358 And shortly to conclude all his woe,
1359 So much sorrow had never a creature
1360 That is, or shall, while that the world may dure.
1361 His sleep, his meat, his drink, is him bereft;
1362 That lean he waxed and dry as is a shaft;
1363 His eyes hollow and grisly to behold,
1364 His hue fallow and pale as ashes cold,
1365 And solitary he was and ever alone,
1366 And wailing all the night, making his moan;
1367 And if he heard song or instrument,
1368 Then would he weep, he might not be stent.
1369 So feeble too were his spirits, and so low,
1370 And changed so, that no man could know
1371 His speech nor his voice, though men it heard.
1372 And in his gear for all the world he feared
1373 Not only like the lovers' malady
1374 Of Heroes, but rather like many,
1375 Engendered of humor melancholic
1376 Before, in his cell fantastic.
1377 And shortly, turned was all up so down
1378 Both habit and eek disposition
1379 Of him, this woeful lover sir Arcite.
1380 What should I all day of his woe endite?
1381 When he endured had a year or two
1382 This cruel torment and this pain and woe,
1383 At Thebes, in his country, as I said,
1384 Upon a night in sleep as he him laid,
1385 He thought how that the winged god Mercury
1386 Before him stood and bade him to be merry.
1387 His sleeping yard in hand he bore upright;
1388 A hat he wore upon his hairs bright.
1389 Arrayed was this god, as he took keep,
1390 As he was when that Argus took his sleep;
1391 And said him thus: "To Athens shall thou wend,
1392 Where is the shape of thy woe an end."
1393 And with that word Arcite woke and start.
1394 "Now truly, how sore that me smart, "
1395 Said he, "to Athens right now will I fare,
1396 Nor for the dread of death shall I not spare
1397 To see my lady, that I love and serve.
1398 In her presence I reckon not to starve."
1399 And with that word he caught a great mirror,
1400 And saw that changed was all his color,
1401 And saw his visage in another kind.
1402 And right anon it ran him in his mind,
1403 That, since his face was so disfigured
1404 Of malady the which he had endured,
1405 He might well, if that he bore him low,
1406 Live in Athens evermore unknown,
1407 And see his lady well nigh day by day.
1408 And right anon he changed his array,
1409 And clad him as a poor laborer,
1410 And all alone, save only a squire
1411 That knew his privacy and all his case,
1412 Which was disguised poorly as he was,
1413 To Athens is he gone the next way.
1414 And to the court he went upon a day,
1415 And at the gate he proffered his service
1416 To drudge and draw, what so men will devise.
1417 And shortly of this matter for to say,
1418 He fell in office with a chamberlain
1419 The which that dwelling was with Emily,
1420 For he was wise and could soon espy,
1421 Of every servant, which that served her.
1422 Well could he hew wood, and water bear,
1423 For he was young and might for the nones,
1424 And thereto he was long and big of bones
1425 To do that anyone can him devise.
1426 A year or two he was in this service,
1427 Page of the chamber of Emily the bright,
1428 And Philostrate he said that he hight.
1429 But half so well beloved a man as he
1430 Was there never in court of his degree;
1431 He was so gentle of condition
1432 That throughout all the court was his renown.
1433 They said that it were a charity
1434 That Theseus would enhance his degree,
1435 And put him in worshipful service,
1436 Where as he might his virtue exercise.
1437 And thus within a while his name is sprung,
1438 Both of his deeds and his good tongue,
1439 That Theseus has taken him so near
1440 That of his chamber he made him a squire,
1441 And gave him gold to maintain his degree.
1442 And too men brought him out of his country,
1443 From year to year, full privily his rent;
1444 But honestly and slyly he it spent,
1445 That no man wondered how that he it had.
1446 And three years in this wise his life he lead,
1447 And bore him so, in peace and too in war,
1448 That there was no man that Theseus held dearer.
1449 And in this bliss leave I now Arcite,
1450 And speak I will of Palamon a lite.
1451 In darkness and horrible and strong prison
1452 These seven years has sat Palamon
1453 Forpined, what for woe and for distress.
1454 Who feels double sore and heaviness
1455 But Palamon, that love distrains so
1456 That would out of his wit he goes for woe?
1457 And too thereto he is a prisoner
1458 Perpetually, not only for a year.
1459 Who could rhyme in English properly
1460 His martyrdom?For sooth it is not I;
1461 Therefore I pass as lightly as I may.
1462 It fell that in the seventh year, of May
1463 The third night (as old books say) ,
1464 That all this story tell more plain) ,
1465 Were it by adventure or destiny -
1466 As, when a thing is shapen, it shall be -
1467 That soon after the midnight Palamon,
1468 By helping of a friend, brakes his prison
1469 And flees the city fast as he may go.
1470 For he had give his jailor drink so
1471 Of a claree made of a certain wine,
1472 With narcotics and opium of Thebes fine,
1473 That all that night, though that men would him shake,
1474 The jailer slept; he could not awake.
1475 And thus he flees as fast as ever he may.
1476 The night was short and fast by the day
1477 That needs cost he must himself hide,
1478 And to a grove fast there beside
1479 With dreadful foot then stalks Palamon.
1480 For, shortly, this was his opinion:
1481 That in that grove he would him hide all day,
1482 And in the night then would he take his way
1483 To Thebes-ward, his friends for to pray
1484 On Theseus to help him to war;
1485 And shortly, either he would lose his life
1486 Or win Emily unto his wife.
1487 This is the effect and his intent plain.
1488 Now will I turn to Arcite again,
1489 That little knew how nigh that was his care,
1490 Til that Fortune had brought him in the snare.
1491 The busy lark, messenger of day,
1492 Salutes in his song the morning gray,
1493 And fiery Phoebus rises up so bright
1494 That all the orient laughs of the light,
1495 And with his streams dryeth in the greves
1496 The silver drops hanging on the leaves.
1497 And Arcite, that in the court royal
1498 With Theseus is principal squire,
1499 Is risen and looks on the merry day.
1500 And for to do his observance to May,
1501 Remembering on the point of his desire,
1502 He on a courser, startling as the fire,
1503 Is ridden into the fields him to play,
1504 Out of the court, were it a mile or tway.
1505 And to the grove of which that I you told
1506 By adventure his way he gan to hold
1507 To make him a garland of the greves,
1508 Were it of woodbine or hawthorn leaves,
1509 And loud he sang against the sun shine:
1510 "May, with all thy flowers and thy green,
1511 Welcome be thou, fair fresh May,
1512 In hope that I some green get may."
1513 And from his courser, with a lusty heart,
1514 Into the grove full hastily he start,
1515 And in a path he roams up and down,
1516 Where as by adventure this Palamon
1517 Was in a bush, that no man might him see,
1518 For sore afraid of his death was he.
1519 Nothing knew he that it was Arcite:
1520 God knows he would have trowed it full lite.
1521 But truth is said, gone since many years,
1522 That "field has eyes and the wood has ears."
1523 It is full fair a man to bear him even,
1524 For all day met men at unset stevene.
1525 Full little knew Arcite of his fellow,
1526 That was so nigh to hearken all his saw,
1527 For in the bush he sits now full still.
1528 When that Arcite had roamed all his fill,
1529 And sang all the roundels lustily,
1530 Into a study he fell all suddenly,
1531 As do these lovers in their quaint desires,
1532 Now in the crop, now down in the briars,
1533 Now up, now down, as bucket in a well.
1534 Right as the Friday, truly for to tell,
1535 Now it shines, now it rains fast,
1536 Right so can geery Venus overcast
1537 The hearts of her folk; right as her day
1538 Is geerful, right so changes she array.
1539 Seldom is the Friday all the week alike.
1540 When that Arcite had sung, he began to sigh,
1541 And set him down without any more;
1542 "Alas, " said he, "that day that I was born!
1543 How long, Juno, through thy cruelty,
1544 Wilt thou war on Thebes the City?
1545 Alas, brought is to confusion
1546 The blood royal of Cadme and Amphion, -
1547 Of Cadmus, which that was the first man
1548 That Thebes built, or first the town began,
1549 And of the city first was crowned king
1550 Of his lineage am I, and his offspring,
1551 By very line, as of the stock royal,
1552 And now I am so caitiff and so thrall
1553 That he that is my mortal enemy
1554 I serve him as his squire poorly.
1555 And yet does Juno me well more shame,
1556 For I dare not know my own name,
1557 But whereas I was once called Arcite,
1558 Now called I Philostrate, not worth a mite.
1559 Alas, thou fell Mars! alas, Juno!
1560 Thus has your ire our lineage all fordone,
1561 Save only me and wretched Palamon
1562 That Theseus martyrs in prison.
1563 And over all this, to slay me utterly,
1564 Love has his fiery dart so burningly
1565 Struck through my true, careful heart,
1566 That shaped was my death erst than my shirt.
1567 You slay me with your eyes, Emily!
1568 You be the cause wherefore that I die.
1569 Of all the remnant of my other care
1570 Nor set I not the mountance of a tare,
1571 So that I could do ought to your pleasure."
1572 And with that word he fell down in a trance
1573 A long time, and after he up start.
1574 This Palamon, that thought that through his heart
1575 He felt a cold sword suddenly glide,
1576 For ire he quaked; no longer would he bide.
1577 And when that he had heard Arcite's tale,
1578 As he were mad, with face dead and pale,
1579 He starts him up out of the bushes thick,
1580 And said, "Arcite, false traitor wicked!
1581 Now art thou hent, that loves my lady so,
1582 For whom that I have all this pain and woe,
1583 And art my blood, and to my counsel sworn,
1584 As I full oft have said thee herebefore,
1585 And have bijaped here Duke Theseus,
1586 And falsely changed has thy name thus!
1587 I will be dead, or else thou shalt die;
1588 Thou shall not love my lady Emily,
1589 But I will love her only and no more;
1590 For I am Palamon, thy mortal foe!
1591 And though that I no weapon have in this place,
1592 But out of prison am astert by grace,
1593 I dread not that either thou shalt die,
1594 Or thou shall not love Emily.
1595 Choose which thou will, for thou shall not astert! "
1596 This Arcite, with full despiteous heart,
1597 When he him knew, and had his tale heard,
1598 As fierce as lion pulled out his sword,
1599 And said thus: "By God that sits above,
1600 Were it not that thou art sick and mad for love,
1601 And too that thou no weapon has in this place,
1602 Thou should never out of this grove pace,
1603 That thou should die of my hand.
1604 For I defy the surety and the bond
1605 Which that thou sayest that I have made to thee.
1606 What! Very fool, think well that love is free,
1607 And I will love her maugre all thy might!
1608 But for as much thou art a worthy knight
1609 And wilnest to deraign her by battle,
1610 Have here my truth, tomorrow I will not fail,
1611 Without witting of any other wight,
1612 That here I will be found as a knight,
1613 And bring harness right enough for thee;
1614 And choose the best, and leave the worst for me.
1615 And meat and drink this night will I bring
1616 Enough for thee, and clothes for thy bedding.
1617 And if it be so that thou my lady win,
1618 And slay me in this wood where I am in,
1619 Thou mayest well have thy lady as for me."
1620 This Palamon answered, "I grant it thee."
1621 And thus they be departed till the morrow,
1622 When each of them had laid his faith to borrow.
1623 Oh Cupid, out of all charity!
1624 Oh reign, that will no fellow have with thee!
1625 Full truth it's said that love's lordship
1626 Will not, his thanks, have fellowship.
1627 Well found that Arcite and Palamon.
1628 Arcite is ridden anon into the town,
1629 And in the morning, ere it was daylight,
1630 Full privily two harness had he dight,
1631 Both sufficient and mete to deraign
1632 The battle in the field between them twain;
1633 And on his horse, alone as he was born,
1634 He carries all the harness him before.
1635 And in the grove, at time and place set,
1636 This Arcite and this Palamon are met.
1637 To change gan the color in their face;
1638 Right as the hunters in the reign of Thrace,
1639 That stands at the gap with a spear,
1640 When hunted is the lion or the bear,
1641 And hears him come rushing in the greaves,
1642 And breaks both boughs and the leaves,
1643 And thinks, "Here comes my mortal enemy!
1644 Without fail, he must be dead, or I,
1645 For either I must slay him at the gap,
1646 Or he must slay me, if that be my mishap."
1647 So fared they in changing of their hue,
1648 As far as each of them the other knew.
1649 There was no "good day, " and no saluting,
1650 But straight, without word or rehearsing,
1651 Each of them helped for to arm the other
1652 As friendly as he were his own brother;
1653 And after that, with sharp spears strong
1654 They foin at each other wonder long.
1655 Thou mightest ween that this Palamon
1656 In his fighting were a mad lion,
1657 And as a cruel tiger was Arcite;
1658 As wild boars go they to smite,
1659 That froth white as foam for ire wood.
1660 Up to their ankles fought they in their blood.
1661 And in this wise I leave them fighting dwell,
1662 And forth I will of Theseus you tell.
1663 The destiny, minister general,
1664 Who executes in the world over all
1665 The purveyance that God has seen before,
1666 So strong it is that, though the world had sworn
1667 The contrary of a thing by yea or nay,
1668 Yet sometimes it shall fall on a day
1669 That falls not eft within a thousand years.
1670 For certainly, our appetites here,
1671 Be it of war, or peace, or hate, or love,
1672 All is this ruled by foresight above.
1673 This mean I now by mighty Theseus,
1674 That for to hunt is so desirous,
1675 And namely at the great hart in May,
1676 That in his bed their dawneth him no day
1677 That he's not clad, and ready for to ride
1678 With hunt and horn and hounds him beside.
1679 For in his hunting has he such delight
1680 That it is all his joy and appetite
1681 To be himself the great hart's bane,
1682 For after Mars he serves now Diane.
1683 Clear was the day, as I have told ere this
1684 And Theseus, with all joy and bliss,
1685 With his Hippolyta, the fair queen,
1686 And Emily, clothed all in green,
1687 On hunting be they ridden royally,
1688 And to the grove, that stood full fast by,
1689 In which there was a hart, as men him told,
1690 Duke Theseus the straight way has hold,
1691 And to the lawn he rides him full right,
1692 For thither was the hart won't have his flight,
1693 And over a brook, and so forth on his way,
1694 This Duke will have a course at him or tway
1695 With hounds such as that he list command.
1696 And when this duke was come on to the land,
1697 Under the sun he looks, and anon
1698 He was ware of Arcite and Palamon,
1699 That fought breme as it were boars two.
1700 The bright swords went to and fro
1701 So hideously that with the least stroke
1702 It seemed as it would fell an oak.
1703 But what they were, he knew not what.
1704 This duke his courser with his spurs smote,
1705 And at a start, he was betwixt them two,
1706 And pulled out a sword and cried, "Hoo!
1707 No more, on pain of losing your head!
1708 By mighty Mars, he shall anon be dead
1709 That smiteth any stroke that I may see.
1710 But tell me what mister men you be,
1711 That be so hardy for to fight here
1712 Without judge or other officer,
1713 As it were in a list royally."
1714 This Palamon answered hastily
1715 And said, "Sire, what needeth words more?
1716 We have the death deserved both two.
1717 Two woeful wretches be we, two caitiffs,
1718 That be encumbered of our own lives;
1719 And as thou art a rightful lord and judge,
1720 No, give us neither mercy nor refuge,
1721 But slay me first, for saint charity!
1722 But slay my fellow too as well as me;
1723 Or slay him first, for though thou know it lite,
1724 This is my mortal foe, this is Arcite,
1725 That from thy land is banished on his head,
1726 For which he has deserved to be dead.
1727 For this is he that came unto thy gate
1728 And said that he was called Philostrate.
1729 Thus hath he japed thee full many a year,
1730 And thou hast made him thy chief squire;
1731 And this is he that loves Emily.
1732 For since the day is come that I shall die,
1733 I make plainly my confession
1734 That I am that woeful Palamon
1735 That has thy prison broken wickedly.
1736 I am thy mortal foe, and it am I
1737 That loves so hot Emily the bright
1738 That I will die present in her sight.
1739 Wherefore I ask death and my justice;
1740 But slay my fellow in the same wise,
1741 For both have we deserved to be slain."
1742 This worthy duke answered anon again,
1743 And said, "this is a short conclusion.
1744 Your own mouth, by your confession,
1745 Has damned you, and I will it record;
1746 It needeth not to pain you with the cord.
1747 You shall be dead, by mighty Mars the red! "
1748 The queen anon, for very womanhead,
1749 Gan to weep, and so did Emily,
1750 And all the ladies in the company.
1751 Great pity was it, as it thought them all,
1752 That ever such a chance should fall,
1753 For gentlemen they were of great estate,
1754 And nothing but for love was this debate;
1755 And saw their bloody wounds wide and sore,
1756 And all cried, both less and more,
1757 "Have mercy, Lord, upon us women all! "
1758 And on their bare knees down they fall
1759 And would have kissed his feet where as he stood;
1760 Til at the last aslaked was his mood,
1761 For pity runs soon in gentle heart,
1762 And though he first for ire quaked and start,
1763 He has considered shortly, in a clause,
1764 The trespass of them both, and too the cause,
1765 And although that his ire their guilt accused,
1766 Yet in his reason he them both excused,
1767 As thus: he thought well that every man
1768 Will help himself in love, if that he can,
1769 And so deliver himself out of prison.
1770 And too his heart had compassion
1771 Of women, for they weep ever as one,
1772 And in his gentle heart he thought anon,
1773 And soft unto himself he said, "Fie
1774 Upon a lord that will have no mercy,
1775 But be a lion, both in word and deed,
1776 To them that be in repentance and dread,
1777 As well as to a proud despitous man
1778 Who will maintain that he first began.
1779 That lord has little of discretion,
1780 That in such case ken no division
1781 But weighs pride and humbleness as one."
1782 And shortly, when his ire is thus gone,
1783 He gan to look up with eyes light
1784 And spoke these same words all on height:
1785 "The god of love, a benedicite!
1786 How mighty and how great a lord is he!
1787 Against his might there gaineth no obstacles.
1788 He may be called a god for his miracles,
1789 For he can make, at his own guise,
1790 Of every heart, as that him list devise.
1791 Lo here this Arcite and this Palamon,
1792 That wholly were out of my prison,
1793 And might have lived in Thebes royally,
1794 And knowing I am their mortal enemy,
1795 And that their death lies in my might also,
1796 And yet has love, maugre their eyes two,
1797 Brought them hither both for to die.
1798 Now looketh, is not that a high folly?
1799 Who may be a fool but if he love?
1800 Behold, for God's sake that sits above,
1801 See how they bleed! Be they not well arrayed?
1802 Thus hath their lord, the god love, paid
1803 Their wages and their fees for their service!
1804 And yet they think for to be full wise
1805 That serve love, for ought that may befall.
1806 But this is yet the best game of all,
1807 That she for whom they have this jollity
1808 Owes them therefore as much thanks as me.
1809 She knows no more of all this hot fare,
1810 By God, than knows a cuckoo or a hare!
1811 But all must be assayed, hot and cold;
1812 A man must be a fool, or young or old -
1813 I know it by myself full yore agone,
1814 For in my time a servant was I one.
1815 And therefore, since I know of love's pain
1816 And know how sore it can a man distrain,
1817 As he that has been caught oft in his laas
1818 I you forgive all wholly this trespass,
1819 At request of the queen, that kneels here,
1820 And too of Emily, my sister dear.
1821 And you shall both anon unto me swear
1822 That never more you shall my country dear,
1823 Nor make war upon me night or day,
1824 But be my friends in all that you may
1825 I you forgive this trespass every del."
1826 And they him swore his asking, fair and well,
1827 And him of lordship and of mercy prayed,
1828 And he them grants grace, and thus he said:
1829 "To speak of royal lineage and riches,
1830 Though that she were a queen or a princess,
1831 Each of you both is worthy, doubtless,
1832 To wed when the time is; but nonetheless -
1833 I speak as for my sister Emily,
1834 For whom you have this strife and jealousy -
1835 You know yourself she may not wed two
1836 At once, though you fight evermore,
1837 That one of you, all be he loath or lief,
1838 He must go pipe in an ivy leaf;
1839 This is to say, she may not now have both,
1840 All be you never so jealous nor so wroth.
1841 And forth to you I put in this degree,
1842 That each of you shall have his destiny
1843 As his is shaped, and hearken in what wise;
1844 Lo, hear your end of that I shall devise.
1845 My will is this, for flat conclusion,
1846 Without any replication -
1847 If that you like, take if for the best
1848 That each of you shall go where he lest,
1849 Freely, without ransom or danger,
1850 And this day fifty weeks, far or near,
1851 Each of you shall bring a hundred knights
1852 Armed for lists upon all rights,
1853 All ready to deraign her by battle.
1854 And this behight I you without fail,
1855 Upon my troth, and as I am a knight,
1856 That whichever of you both who has might -
1857 That is to say, that whether he or thou
1858 May with his hundred, as I speak of now,
1859 Slay his contrary, or out of lists drive,
1860 Then shall I give Emily to wive
1861 To whom that Fortune gives so fair a grace.
1862 The lists shall I make in this place,
1863 And God so wisely on my soul rue
1864 As I shall even judge be and true.
1865 You shall no other end with me maken,
1866 That one of you shall be dead or taken.
1867 And if you think this is well said,
1868 Say your advice and hold you apaid.
1869 This is your end and your conclusion.
1870 Who looks lightly now but Palamon?
1871 Who springs up for joy but Arcite?
1872 Who could tell, or who could it endite,
1873 The joy that is made in the place
1874 When Theseus had done so fair a grace?
1875 But down on knees went every manner wight,
1876 And thanked him with all their heart and might,
1877 And namely the Thebans oft sithe.
1878 And thus with good hope and with hearts blithe
1879 They take their leave, and homeward gone they ride
1880 To Thebes with his old walls wide.
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