The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Clerkes Tale.

Here biginneth the Tale of the Clerk of Oxenford.

Ther is, at the west syde of Itaille,

Doun at the rote of Vesulus the colde,

A lusty playne, habundant of vitaille,

60

Wher many a tour and toun thou mayst biholde,

That founded were in tyme of fadres olde,

And many another delitable sighte,

And Saluces this noble contree highte.

A markis whylom lord was of that londe,

65

As were his worthy eldres him bifore;

(10)

And obeisant and redy to his honde

Were alle his liges, bothe lasse and more.

Thus in delyt he liveth, and hath don yore,

Biloved and drad, thurgh favour of fortune,

70

Bothe of his lordes and of his commune.

Therwith he was, to speke as of linage,

The gentilleste y-born of Lumbardye,

A fair persone, and strong, and yong of age,

And ful of honour and of curteisye;

75

Discreet y-nogh his contree for to gye,

(20)

Save in somme thinges that he was to blame,

And Walter was this yonge lordes name.

76. E. Saue that; rest omit that.

I blame him thus, that he considereth noght

In tyme cominge what mighte him bityde,

80

But on his lust present was al his thoght,

As for to hauke and hunte on every syde;

Wel ny alle othere cures leet he slyde,

And eek he nolde, and that was worst of alle,

Wedde no wyf, for noght that may bifalle.

79. So Hn. Ln.; E. hym myghte; Pt. myȝt; Hl. mighte.   84. Pt. Ln. ouȝt; E. Hn. noght; Hl. no thing.

85

Only that point his peple bar so sore,

(30)

That flokmele on a day they to him wente,

And oon of hem, that wysest was of lore,

Or elles that the lord best wolde assente

That he sholde telle him what his peple mente,

90

Or elles coude he shewe wel swich matere,

He to the markis seyde as ye shul here.

‘O noble markis, your humanitee

Assureth us and yeveth us hardinesse,

As ofte as tyme is of necessitee

95

That we to yow mowe telle our hevinesse;

(40)

Accepteth, lord, now for your gentillesse,

That we with pitous herte un-to yow pleyne,

And lete your eres nat my voys disdeyne.

93. Hn. Pt. and yeueth; Hl. and yiueth; E. to yeue; Ln. and whisse.

Al have I noght to done in this matere

100

More than another man hath in this place,

Yet for as muche as ye, my lord so dere,

Han alwey shewed me favour and grace,

I dar the better aske of yow a space

Of audience, to shewen our requeste,

105

And ye, my lord, to doon right as yow leste.

103. E. Hn. bettre; rest better.

(50)

For certes, lord, so wel us lyketh yow

And al your werk and ever han doon, that we

Ne coude nat us self devysen how

We mighte liven in more felicitee,

110

Save o thing, lord, if it your wille be,

That for to been a wedded man yow leste,

Than were your peple in sovereyn hertes reste.

108. Pt. Ln. oure; E. Hn. Cp. vs.   110. E. Ln. omit it.

Boweth your nekke under that blisful yok

Of soveraynetee, noght of servyse,

115

Which that men clepeth spousaille or wedlok;

(60)

And thenketh, lord, among your thoghtes wyse,

How that our dayes passe in sondry wyse;

For though we slepe or wake, or rome, or ryde,

Ay fleeth the tyme, it nil no man abyde.

120

And though your grene youthe floure as yit,

In crepeth age alwey, as stille as stoon,

And deeth manaceth every age, and smit

In ech estaat, for ther escapeth noon:

And al so certein as we knowe echoon

125

That we shul deye, as uncerteyn we alle

(70)

Been of that day whan deeth shal on us falle.

Accepteth than of us the trewe entente,

That never yet refuseden your heste,

And we wol, lord, if that ye wol assente,

130

Chese yow a wyf in short tyme, atte leste,

Born of the gentilleste and of the meste

Of al this lond, so that it oghte seme

Honour to god and yow, as we can deme.

128. Cp. Pt. Ln. Hl. your; E. Hn. Cm. thyn.   128, 130, 131. E. heeste, leeste, meeste; Cm. heste, leste, meste.

Deliver us out of al this bisy drede,

135

And tak a wyf, for hye goddes sake;

(80)

For if it so bifelle, as god forbede,

That thurgh your deeth your linage sholde slake,

And that a straunge successour sholde take

Your heritage, o! wo were us alyve!

140

Wherfor we pray you hastily to wyve.’

137. Cp. Pt. lynage; Ln. Hl. lignage; E. lyne; Hn. ligne; Cm. lyf.

Hir meke preyere and hir pitous chere

Made the markis herte han pitee.

‘Ye wol,’ quod he, ‘myn owene peple dere,

To that I never erst thoghte streyne me.

145

I me reioysed of my libertee,

(90)

That selde tyme is founde in mariage;

Ther I was free, I moot been in servage.

144. E. thoughte; Hn. thoghte.

But nathelees I see your trewe entente,

And truste upon your wit, and have don ay;

150

Wherfor of my free wil I wol assente

To wedde me, as sone as ever I may.

But ther-as ye han profred me to-day

To chese me a wyf, I yow relesse

That choys, and prey yow of that profre cesse.

152. to-] E. this.   154. E. (only) omits yow.

155

For god it woot, that children ofte been

(100)

Unlyk her worthy eldres hem bifore;

Bountee comth al of god, nat of the streen

Of which they been engendred and y-bore;

I truste in goddes bountee, and therfore

160

My mariage and myn estaat and reste

I him bitake; he may don as him leste.

Lat me alone in chesinge of my wyf,

That charge up-on my bak I wol endure;

But I yow preye, and charge up-on your lyf,

165

That what wyf that I take, ye me assure

(110)

To worshipe hir, whyl that hir lyf may dure,

In word and werk, bothe here and everywhere,

As she an emperoures doghter were.

165. So Hn. Cp. Ln.; E. Cm. omit That; Pt. om. what.

And forthermore, this shal ye swere, that ye

170

Agayn my choys shul neither grucche ne stryve;

For sith I shal forgoon my libertee

At your requeste, as ever moot I thryve,

Ther as myn herte is set, ther wol I wyve;

And but ye wole assente in swich manere,

175

I prey yow, speketh na-more of this matere.’

174. E. this; rest swich, such.

(120)

With hertly wil they sworen, and assenten

To al this thing, ther seyde no wight nay;

Bisekinge him of grace, er that they wenten,

That he wolde graunten hem a certein day

180

Of his spousaille, as sone as ever he may;

For yet alwey the peple som-what dredde

Lest that this markis no wyf wolde wedde.

He graunted hem a day, swich as him leste,

On which he wolde be wedded sikerly,

185

And seyde, he dide al this at hir requeste;

(130)

And they, with humble entente, buxomly,

Knelinge up-on her knees ful reverently

Him thanken alle, and thus they han an ende

Of hir entente, and hoom agayn they wende.

190

And heer-up-on he to his officeres

Comaundeth for the feste to purveye,

And to his privee knightes and squyeres

Swich charge yaf, as him liste on hem leye;

And they to his comandement obeye,

195

And ech of hem doth al his diligence

(140)

To doon un-to the feste reverence.

Explicit prima pars. Incipit secunda pars.

Noght fer fro thilke paleys honurable

Ther-as this markis shoop his mariage,

Ther stood a throp, of site delitable,

200

In which that povre folk of that village

Hadden hir bestes and hir herbergage,

And of hir labour took hir sustenance

After that the erthe yaf hem habundance.

199. Hl. throp; E. Hn. Cp. throop.

Amonges thise povre folk ther dwelte a man

205

Which that was holden povrest of hem alle;

(150)

But hye god som tyme senden can

His grace in-to a litel oxes stalle:

Ianicula men of that throp him calle.

A doghter hadde he, fair y-nogh to sighte,

210

And Grisildis this yonge mayden highte.

208. Pt. throp; E. Hn. Cp. throop; Cm. thorp; Ln. thorpe.

But for to speke of vertuous beautee,

Than was she oon the faireste under sonne;

For povreliche y-fostred up was she,

No likerous lust was thurgh hir herte y-ronne;

215

Wel ofter of the welle than of the tonne

(160)

She drank, and for she wolde vertu plese,

She knew wel labour, but non ydel ese.

211. E. bountee; rest beautee, beute.

But thogh this mayde tendre were of age,

Yet in the brest of hir virginitee

220

Ther was enclosed rype and sad corage;

And in greet reverence and charitee

Hir olde povre fader fostred she;

A fewe sheep spinning on feeld she kepte,

She wolde noght been ydel til she slepte.

225

And whan she hoomward cam, she wolde bringe

(170)

Wortes or othere herbes tymes ofte,

The whiche she shredde and seeth for hir livinge,

And made hir bed ful harde and no-thing softe;

And ay she kepte hir fadres lyf on-lofte

230

With everich obeisaunce and diligence

That child may doon to fadres reverence.

Up-on Grisilde, this povre creature,

Ful ofte sythe this markis sette his yë

As he on hunting rood paraventure;

235

And whan it fil that he mighte hir espye,

(180)

He noght with wantoun loking of folye

His yën caste on hir, but in sad wyse

Up-on hir chere he wolde him ofte avyse,

233. E. caste; rest sette (set).   235. E. that it; rest omit that.   238. E. gan; rest wolde.   238. E. chiere.

Commending in his herte hir wommanhede,

240

And eek hir vertu, passing any wight

Of so yong age, as wel in chere as dede.

For thogh the peple have no greet insight

In vertu, he considered ful right

Hir bountee, and disposed that he wolde

245

Wedde hir only, if ever he wedde sholde.

241. E. chiere.   242. E. hadde; Hn. Cm. hath; Cp. Pt. Ln. Hl. haue.

(190)

The day of wedding cam, but no wight can

Telle what womman that it sholde be;

For which merveille wondred many a man,

And seyden, whan they were in privetee,

250

‘Wol nat our lord yet leve his vanitee?

Wol he nat wedde? allas, allas the whyle!

Why wol he thus him-self and us bigyle?’

249. E. Cm. that they; rest omit that.

But natheles this markis hath don make

Of gemmes, set in gold and in asure,

255

Broches and ringes, for Grisildis sake,

(200)

And of hir clothing took he the mesure

By a mayde, lyk to hir stature,

And eek of othere ornamentes alle

That un-to swich a wedding sholde falle.

257. Hl. y-lik to hir of stature.

360

The tyme of undern of the same day

Approcheth, that this wedding sholde be;

And al the paleys put was in array,

Bothe halle and chambres, ech in his degree;

Houses of office stuffed with plentee

265

Ther maystow seen of deyntevous vitaille,

(210)

That may be founde, as fer as last Itaille.

This royal markis, richely arrayed,

Lordes and ladyes in his companye,

The whiche unto the feste were y-prayed,

270

And of his retenue the bachelrye,

With many a soun of sondry melodye,

Un-to the village, of the which I tolde,

In this array the righte wey han holde.

269. Cp. Ln. Hl. vnto; Cm. Pt. to; E. Hn. that to. E. weren.

Grisilde of this, god woot, ful innocent,

275

That for hir shapen was al this array,

(220)

To fecchen water at a welle is went,

And cometh hoom as sone as ever she may.

For wel she hadde herd seyd, that thilke day

The markis sholde wedde, and, if she mighte,

280

She wolde fayn han seyn som of that sighte.

She thoghte, 'I wol with othere maydens stonde,

That been my felawes, in our dore, and see

The markisesse, and therfor wol I fonde

To doon at hoom, as sone as it may be,

285

The labour which that longeth un-to me;

(230)

And than I may at leyser hir biholde,

If she this wey un-to the castel holde.’

And as she wolde over hir threshfold goon,

The markis cam and gan hir for to calle;

290

And she sette doun hir water-pot anoon

Bisyde the threshfold, in an oxes stalle,

And doun up-on hir knees she gan to falle,

And with sad contenance kneleth stille

Til she had herd what was the lordes wille.

295

This thoghtful markis spak un-to this mayde

(240)

Ful sobrely, and seyde in this manere,

‘Wher is your fader, Grisildis?’ he sayde,

And she with reverence, in humble chere,

Answerde, ‘lord, he is al redy here.’

300

And in she gooth with-outen lenger lette,

And to the markis she hir fader fette.

297. E. Hn. Cm. insert o after fader.

He by the hond than took this olde man,

And seyde thus, whan he him hadde asyde,

‘Ianicula, I neither may ne can

305

Lenger the plesance of myn herte hyde.

(250)

If that thou vouche-sauf, what-so bityde,

Thy doghter wol I take, er that I wende,

As for my wyf, un-to hir lyves ende.

302. E. thanne; Hn, than.

Thou lovest me, I woot it wel, certeyn,

310

And art my feithful lige man y-bore;

And al that lyketh me, I dar wel seyn

It lyketh thee, and specially therfore

Tel me that poynt that I have seyd bifore,

If that thou wolt un-to that purpos drawe,

315

To take me as for thy sone-in-lawe?’

(260)

This sodeyn cas this man astoned so,

That reed he wex, abayst, and al quaking

He stood unnethes seyde he wordes mo,

But only thus: ‘lord,’ quod he, ‘my willing

320

Is as ye wole, ne ayeines your lyking

I wol no-thing; ye be my lord so dere;

Right as yow lust governeth this matere.’

317. E. Cp. Hl. wax; Hn. weex; rest wex.   320. E. ayeins; Ln. a-yeines; see l. 2325 below (Group E).

‘Yet wol I,’ quod this markis softely,

‘That in thy chambre I and thou and she

325

Have a collacion, and wostow why?

(270)

For I wol axe if it hir wille be

To be my wyf, and reule hir after me;

And al this shal be doon in thy presence,

I wol noght speke out of thyn audience.’

330

And in the chambre whyl they were aboute

Hir tretis, which as ye shal after here,

The peple cam un-to the hous with-oute,

And wondred hem in how honest manere

And tentifly she kepte hir fader dere.

335

But outerly Grisildis wondre mighte,

(280)

For never erst ne saugh she swich a sighte.

No wonder is thogh that she were astoned

To seen so greet a gest come in that place;

She never was to swiche gestes woned,

340

For which she loked with ful pale face.

But shortly forth this tale for to chace,

Thise arn the wordes that the markis sayde

To this benigne verray feithful mayde.

337. E. Pt. omit that.

‘Grisilde,’ he seyde, ‘ye shul wel understonde

345

It lyketh to your fader and to me

(290)

That I yow wedde, and eek it may so stonde,

As I suppose, ye wol that it so be.

But thise demandes axe I first,’ quod he,

‘That, sith it shal be doon in hastif wyse,

350

Wol ye assente, or elles yow avyse?

I seye this, be ye redy with good herte

To al my lust, and that I frely may,

As me best thinketh, do yow laughe or smerte,

And never ye to grucche it, night ne day?

355

And eek whan I sey “ye,” ne sey nat “nay,”

(300)

Neither by word ne frowning contenance;

Swer this, and here I swere our alliance.’

357. E. yow; rest oure.

Wondring upon this word, quaking for drede,

She seyde, ‘lord, undigne and unworthy

360

Am I to thilke honour that ye me bede;

But as ye wol your-self, right so wol I.

And heer I swere that never willingly

In werk ne thoght I nil yow disobeye,

For to be deed, though me were looth to deye.’

365

‘This is y-nogh, Grisilde myn!’ quod he.

(310)

And forth he gooth with a ful sobre chere

Out at the dore, and after that cam she,

And to the peple he seyde in this manere,

‘This is my wyf,’ quod he, ‘that standeth here.

370

Honoureth hir, and loveth hir, I preye,

Who-so me loveth; ther is na-more to seye.’

And for that no-thing of hir olde gere

She sholde bringe in-to his hous, he bad

That wommen sholde dispoilen hir right there;

375

Of which thise ladyes were nat right glad

(320)

To handle hir clothes wher-in she was clad.

But natheles this mayde bright of hewe

Fro foot to heed they clothed han al newe.

Hir heres han they kembd, that lay untressed

380

Ful rudely, and with hir fingres smale

A corone on hir heed they han y-dressed,

And sette hir ful of nowches grete and smale;

Of hir array what sholde I make a tale?

Unnethe the peple hir knew for hir fairnesse,

385

Whan she translated was in swich richesse.

385. translated] Cp. transmewed; Pt. transformed.

(330)

This markis hath hir spoused with a ring

Broght for the same cause, and than hir sette

Up-on an hors, snow-whyt and wel ambling,

And to his paleys, er he lenger lette,

390

With Ioyful peple that hir ladde and mette,

Conveyed hir, and thus the day they spende

In revel, til the sonne gan descende.

And shortly forth this tale for to chace,

I seye that to this newe markisesse

395

God hath swich favour sent hir of his grace,

(340)

That it ne semed nat by lyklinesse

That she was born and fed in rudenesse,

As in a cote or in an oxe-stalle,

But norished in an emperoures halle.

400

To every wight she woxen is so dere

And worshipful, that folk ther she was bore

And from hir birthe knewe hir yeer by yere,

Unnethe trowed they, but dorste han swore

That to Ianicle, of which I spak bifore,

405

She doghter nas, for, as by coniecture,

(350)

Hem thoughte she was another creature.

404. E. That she; rest omit she.   405. Cp. Ln. nas; E. Hn. Cm. Hl. were; Pt. ne were.

For thogh that ever vertuous was she,

She was encressed in swich excellence

Of thewes gode, y-set in heigh bountee,

410

And so discreet and fair of eloquence,

So benigne and so digne of reverence,

And coude so the peples herte embrace,

That ech hir lovede that loked on hir face.

Noght only of Saluces in the toun

415

Publiced was the bountee of hir name,

(360)

But eek bisyde in many a regioun,

If oon seyde wel, another seyde the same;

So spradde of hir heigh bountee the fame,

That men and wommen, as wel yonge as olde,

420

Gon to Saluce, upon hir to biholde.

415. E. Publiced; Pt. Publisshed; Hn. Publissed.   E. beautee; rest bountee.   418. E. heighe.   E. name; rest fame.

Thus Walter lowly, nay but royally,

Wedded with fortunat honestetee,

In goddes pees liveth ful esily

At hoom, and outward grace y-nogh had he;

425

And for he saugh that under low degree

(370)

Was ofte vertu hid, the peple him helde

A prudent man, and that is seyn ful selde.

425. E. saugh; see B. 810.   E. heigh; the rest lowe, low.   426. E omits ofte.

Nat only this Grisildis thurgh hir wit

Coude al the feet of wyfly hoomlinesse,

430

But eek, whan that the cas requyred it,

The commune profit coude she redresse.

Ther nas discord, rancour, ne hevinesse

In al that lond, that she ne coude apese,

And wysly bringe hem alle in reste and ese.

429. So Cp. Ln.; Hl. humblesse; rest humblenesse.

435

Though that hir housbonde absent were anoon,

(380)

If gentil men, or othere of hir contree

Were wrothe, she wolde bringen hem atoon;

So wyse and rype wordes hadde she,

And Iugements of so greet equitee,

440

That she from heven sent was, as men wende,

Peple to save and every wrong tamende.

439. E. Iuggementz.

Nat longe tyme after that this Grisild

Was wedded, she a doughter hath y-bore,

Al had hir lever have born a knave child.

445

Glad was this markis and the folk therfore;

(390)

For though a mayde child come al bifore,

She may unto a knave child atteyne

By lyklihed, sin she nis nat bareyne.

Explicit secunda pars. Incipit tercia pars.

444. E. man; rest knaue.   447. E. man; the rest knaue.   448. Cm. liklyhed; E. Hn. liklihede.

Ther fil, as it bifalleth tymes mo,

450

Whan that this child had souked but a throwe,

This markis in his herte longeth so

To tempte his wyf, hir sadnesse for to knowe,

That he ne mighte out of his herte throwe

This merveillous desyr, his wyf tassaye,

455

Needless, god woot, he thoughte hir for taffraye.

(400)

He hadde assayed hir y-nogh bifore,

And fond hir ever good; what neded it

Hir for to tempte and alwey more and more?

Though som men preise it for a subtil wit,

460

But as for me, I seye that yvel it sit

Tassaye a wyf whan that it is no nede,

And putten her in anguish and in drede.

457. E. foond; Hn. Cm. fond.

For which this markis wroghte in this manere;

He cam alone a-night, ther as she lay,

465

With sterne face and with ful trouble chere,

(410)

And seyde thus, ‘Grisild,’ quod he, ‘that day

That I yow took out of your povre array,

And putte yow in estaat of heigh noblesse,

Ye have nat that forgeten, as I gesse.

465. Cm. sterne; E. stierne.   466, 470. Hl. Grisild; E. Hn. Cm. Grisilde.

470

I seye, Grisild, this present dignitee,

In which that I have put yow, as I trowe,

Maketh yow nat foryetful for to be

That I yow took in povre estaat ful lowe

For any wele ye moot your-selven knowe.

475

Tak hede of every word that I yow seye,

(420)

Ther is no wight that hereth it but we tweye.

Ye woot your-self wel, how that ye cam here

In-to this hous, it is nat longe ago,

And though to me that ye be lief and dere,

480

Un-to my gentils ye be no-thing so;

They seyn, to hem it is greet shame and wo

For to be subgets and ben in servage

To thee, that born art of a smal village.

477. E. Hn. Cm. cam; Cp. Pt. come; Ln. com; Hl. comen.   482. E. subgetz and to; rest omit to.

And namely, sith thy doghter was y-bore,

485

Thise wordes han they spoken doutelees;

(430)

But I desyre, as I have doon bifore,

To live my lyf with hem in reste and pees;

I may nat in this caas be recchelees.

I moot don with thy doghter for the beste,

490

Nat as I wolde, but as my peple leste.

And yet, god wot, this is ful looth to me;

But nathelees with-oute your witing

I wol nat doon, but this wol I,’ quod he,

‘That ye to me assente as in this thing.

495

Shewe now your pacience in your werking

(440)

That ye me highte and swore in your village

That day that maked was our mariage.’

Whan she had herd al this, she noght ameved

Neither in word, or chere, or countenaunce;

500

For, as it semed, she was nat agreved:

She seyde, ‘lord, al lyth in your plesaunce,

My child and I with hertly obeisaunce

Ben youres al, and ye mowe save or spille

Your owene thing; werketh after your wille.

499. E. chiere.   503. E. Cp. Pt. Ln. and; rest or.

505

Ther may no-thing, god so my soule save,

(450)

Lyken to yow that may displese me;

Ne I desyre no-thing for to have,

Ne drede for to lese, save only ye;

This wil is in myn herte and ay shal be.

510

No lengthe of tyme or deeth may this deface,

Ne chaunge my corage to another place.’

507. E. Hn. Ne I ne; rest omit ne.   508. E. Hn. thee vel yee; Pt. Hl. ȝe; Cm. Cp. Ln. thee.

Glad was this markis of hir answering,

But yet he feyned as he were nat so;

Al drery was his chere and his loking

515

Whan that he sholde out of the chambre go.

(460)

Sone after this, a furlong wey or two,

He prively hath told al his entente

Un-to a man, and to his wyf him sente.

A maner sergeant was this privee man,

520

The which that feithful ofte he founden hadde

In thinges grete, and eek swich folk wel can

Don execucioun on thinges badde.

The lord knew wel that he him loved and dradde;

And whan this sergeant wiste his lordes wille,

525

In-to the chambre he stalked him ful stille.

524. his] E. the; Cm. this.

(470)

‘Madame,’ he seyde, ‘ye mote foryeve it me,

Thogh I do thing to which I am constreyned;

Ye ben so wys that ful wel knowe ye

That lordes hestes mowe nat been y-feyned;

530

They mowe wel been biwailled or compleyned,

But men mot nede un-to her lust obeye,

And so wol I; ther is na-more to seye.

530. E. Cm. and; rest or.

This child I am comanded for to take’—

And spak na-more, but out the child he hente

535

Despitously, and gan a chere make

(480)

As though he wolde han slayn it er he wente.

Grisildis mot al suffren and consente;

And as a lamb she sitteth meke and stille,

And leet this cruel sergeant doon his wille.

540

Suspecious was the diffame of this man,

Suspect his face, suspect his word also;

Suspect the tyme in which he this bigan.

Allas! hir doghter that she lovede so

She wende he wolde han slawen it right tho.

545

But natheles she neither weep ne syked,

(490)

Consenting hir to that the markis lyked.

But atte laste speken she bigan,

And mekely she to the sergeant preyde,

So as he was a worthy gentil man,

550

That she moste kisse hir child er that it deyde;

And in her barm this litel child she leyde

With ful sad face, and gan the child to kisse

And lulled it, and after gan it blisse.

547. E. to speken; rest omit to.   552, 3. E. kisse, blisse; rest blisse, kisse; see 678.

And thus she seyde in hir benigne voys,

555

‘Far weel, my child; I shal thee never see;

(500)

But, sith I thee have marked with the croys,

Of thilke fader blessed mote thou be,

That for us deyde up-on a croys of tree.

Thy soule, litel child, I him bitake,

560

For this night shaltow dyen for my sake.’

557. E. Hn. Cm. he; rest thou.

I trowe that to a norice in this cas

It had ben hard this rewthe for to se;

Wel mighte a mooder than han cryed ‘allas!’

But nathelees so sad stedfast was she,

565

That she endured all adversitee,

(510)

And to the sergeant mekely she sayde,

‘Have heer agayn your litel yonge mayde.

564. E. Cm. Pt. sad and; rest omit and.   E. stide-; Pt. Ln. sted-; rest stede-.

Goth now,’ quod she, ‘and dooth my lordes heste,

But o thing wol I preye yow of your grace,

570

That, but my lord forbad yow, atte leste

Burieth this litel body in som place

That bestes ne no briddes it to-race.’

But he no word wol to that purpos seye,

But took the child and wente upon his weye.

569. E. Pt. And; rest But.

575

This sergeant cam un-to his lord ageyn,

(520)

And of Grisildis wordes and hir chere

He tolde him point for point, in short and playn,

And him presenteth with his doghter dere.

Somwhat this lord hath rewthe in his manere;

580

But nathelees his purpos heeld he stille,

As lordes doon, whan they wol han hir wille;

And bad his sergeant that he prively

Sholde this child ful softe winde and wrappe

With alle circumstances tendrely,

585

And carie it in a cofre or in a lappe;

(530)

But, up-on peyne his heed of for to swappe,

That no man sholde knowe of his entente,

Ne whenne he cam, ne whider that he wente;

583. Cp. Pt. Ln. ful; rest omit.   588. Hn. Cm. Cp. Pt. Hl. he cam (com); E. Ln. omit.

But at Boloigne to his suster dere,

590

That thilke tyme of Panik was countesse,

He sholde it take, and shewe hir this matere,

Bisekinge hir to don hir bisinesse

This child to fostre in alle gentilesse;

And whos child that it was he bad hir hyde

595

From every wight, for oght that may bityde.

590. Hl. panik; Cp. Panyke; rest Pavik, Pauyk, Pavie.   594. E. him; rest hire, hir.

(540)

The sergeant gooth, and hath fulfild this thing;

But to this markis now retourne we;

For now goth he ful faste imagining

If by his wyves chere he mighte see,

600

Or by hir word aperceyve that she

Were chaunged; but he never hir coude finde

But ever in oon y-lyke sad and kinde.

As glad, as humble, as bisy in servyse,

And eek in love as she was wont to be,

605

Was she to him in every maner wyse;

(550)

Ne of hir doghter noght a word spak she.

Non accident for noon adversitee

Was seyn in hir, ne never hir doghter name

Ne nempned she, in ernest nor in game.

Explicit tercia pars. Sequitur pars quarta.

610

In this estaat ther passed been foure yeer

Er she with childe was; but, as god wolde,

A knave child she bar by this Walter,

Ful gracious and fair for to biholde.

And whan that folk it to his fader tolde,

615

Nat only he, but al his contree, merie

(560)

Was for this child, and god they thanke and herie.

612. E. man; rest knaue.

Whan it was two yeer old, and fro the brest

Departed of his norice, on a day

This markis caughte yet another lest

620

To tempte his wyf yet ofter, if he may.

O needles was she tempted in assay!

But wedded men ne knowe no mesure,

Whan that they finde a pacient creature.

‘Wyf,’ quod this markis, ‘ye han herd er this,

625

My peple sikly berth our mariage,

(570)

And namely, sith my sone y-boren is,

Now is it worse than ever in al our age.

The murmur sleeth myn herte and my corage;

For to myne eres comth the voys so smerte,

630

That it wel ny destroyed hath myn herte.

626. Hl. y-boren; E. Hn. Cm. yborn.

Now sey they thus, “whan Walter is agoon,

Then shal the blood of Ianicle succede

And been our lord, for other have we noon;”

Swiche wordes seith my peple, out of drede.

635

Wel oughte I of swich murmur taken hede;

(580)

For certeinly I drede swich sentence,

Though they nat pleyn speke in myn audience.

I wolde live in pees, if that I mighte;

Wherfor I am disposed outerly,

640

As I his suster servede by nighte,

Right so thenke I to serve him prively;

This warne I yow, that ye nat sodeynly

Out of your-self for no wo sholde outraye;

Beth pacient, and ther-of I yow preye.’

640. Cm. Cp. Hl. seruede; rest serued.   643. E. outreye.

645

‘I have,’ quod she, ‘seyd thus, and ever shal,

(590)

I wol no thing, ne nil no thing, certayn,

But as yow list; noght greveth me at al,

Thogh that my doghter and my sone be slayn,

At your comandement, this is to sayn.

650

I have noght had no part of children tweyne

But first siknesse, and after wo and peyne.

Ye been our lord, doth with your owene thing

Right as yow list; axeth no reed at me.

For, as I lefte at hoom al my clothing,

655

Whan I first cam to yow, right so,’ quod she,

(600)

‘Left I my wil and al my libertee,

And took your clothing; wherfor I yow preye,

Doth your plesaunce, I wol your lust obeye.

And certes, if I hadde prescience

660

Your wil to knowe er ye your lust me tolde,

I wolde it doon with-outen necligence;

But now I woot your lust and what ye wolde,

Al your plesaunce ferme and stable I holde;

For wiste I that my deeth wolde do yow ese,

665

Right gladly wolde I dyen, yow to plese.

(610)

Deth may noght make no comparisoun

Un-to your love:’ and, whan this markis sey

The constance of his wyf, he caste adoun

His yën two, and wondreth that she may

670

In pacience suffre al this array.

And forth he gooth with drery contenaunce,

But to his herte it was ful greet plesaunce.

667. Mss. say.

This ugly sergeant, in the same wyse

That he hir doghter caughte, right so he,

675

Or worse, if men worse can devyse,

(620)

Hath hent hir sone, that ful was of beautee.

And ever in oon so pacient was she,

That she no chere made of hevinesse,

But kiste hir sone, and after gan it blesse;

680

Save this; she preyed him that, if he mighte,

Hir litel sone he wolde in erthe grave,

His tendre limes, delicat to sighte,

Fro foules and fro bestes for to save.

But she non answer of him mighte have.

685

He wente his wey, as him no-thing ne roghte;

(630)

But to Boloigne he tendrely it broghte.

680. Cm. preyede; Hl. prayed; E. Hn. preyde.

This markis wondreth ever lenger the more

Up-on hir pacience, and if that he

Ne hadde soothly knowen ther-bifore,

690

That parfitly hir children lovede she,

He wolde have wend that of som subtiltee,

And of malice or for cruel corage,

That she had suffred this with sad visage.

687. E. wondred; rest wondreth.   692. E. crueel.

But wel he knew that next him-self, certayn,

695

She loved hir children best in every wyse.

(640)

But now of wommen wolde I axen fayn,

If thise assayes mighte nat suffyse?

What coude a sturdy housbond more devyse

To preve hir wyfhod and hir stedfastnesse,

700

And he continuing ever in sturdinesse?

699. E. or; rest and.   E. stede-.

But ther ben folk of swich condicioun,

That, whan they have a certein purpos take,

They can nat stinte of hir entencioun,

But, right as they were bounden to a stake,

705

They wol nat of that firste purpos slake.

(650)

Right so this markis fulliche hath purposed

To tempte his wyf, as he was first disposed.

704. E. Hn. Cm. that; the rest a.

He waiteth, if by word or contenance

That she to him was changed of corage;

710

But never coude he finde variance;

She was ay oon in herte and in visage;

And ay the forther that she was in age,

The more trewe, if that it were possible,

She was to him in love, and more penible.

715

For which it semed thus, that of hem two

(660)

Ther nas but o wil; for, as Walter leste,

The same lust was hir plesance also,

And, god be thanked, al fil for the beste.

She shewed wel, for no worldly unreste

720

A wyf, as of hir-self, no-thing ne sholde

Wille in effect, but as hir housbond wolde.

The sclaundre of Walter ofte and wyde spradde,

That of a cruel herte he wikkedly,

For he a povre womman wedded hadde,

725

Hath mordred bothe his children prively.

(670)

Swich murmur was among hem comunly.

No wonder is, for to the peples ere

Ther cam no word but that they mordred were.

For which, wher-as his peple ther-bifore

730

Had loved him wel, the sclaundre of his diffame

Made hem that they him hatede therfore;

To been a mordrer is an hateful name.

But natheles, for ernest ne for game

He of his cruel purpos nolde stente;

735

To tempte his wyf was set al his entente.

731. Cp. Hl. hatede; rest hated.   734. E. crueel.

(680)

Whan that his doghter twelf yeer was of age,

He to the court of Rome, in subtil wyse

Enformed of his wil, sente his message,

Comaunding hem swiche bulles to devyse

740

As to his cruel purpos may suffyse,

How that the pope, as for his peples reste,

Bad him to wedde another, if him leste.

740. E. crueel.

I seye, he bad they sholde countrefete

The popes bulles, making mencioun

745

That he hath leve his firste wyf to lete,

(690)

As by the popes dispensacioun,

To stinte rancour and dissencioun

Bitwixe his peple and him; thus seyde the bulle,

The which they han publiced atte fulle.

749. E. publiced; Cp. publisshed; Hn. publissed.

750

The rude peple, as it no wonder is,

Wenden ful wel that it had been right so;

But whan thise tydinges cam to Grisildis,

I deme that hir herte was ful wo.

But she, y-lyke sad for evermo,

755

Disposed was, this humble creature,

(700)

Thadversitee of fortune al tendure.

751. Cm. been; Hn. ben; rest be.

Abyding ever his lust and his plesaunce,

To whom that she was yeven, herte and al,

As to hir verray worldly suffisaunce;

760

But shortly if this storie I tellen shal,

This markis writen hath in special

A lettre in which he sheweth his entente,

And secrely he to Boloigne it sente.

To the erl of Panik, which that hadde tho

765

Wedded his suster, preyde he specially

(710)

To bringen boom agayn his children two

In honurable estaat al openly.

But o thing he him preyede outerly,

That he to no wight, though men wolde enquere,

770

Sholde nat telle, whos children that they were,

764. Hl. panyk; Cp. Panyke; rest Pavyk, Pauyke, Pavie.   770. E. Hn. Cp. Ln. that they; the rest omit that.

But seye, the mayden sholde y-wedded be

Un-to the markis of Saluce anon.

And as this erl was preyed, so dide he;

For at day set he on his wey is goon

775

Toward Saluce, and lordes many oon,

(720)

In riche array, this mayden for to gyde;

Hir yonge brother ryding hir bisyde.

773. Cp. Cm. preyed; E. preyd; Hn. Hl. prayd.

Arrayed was toward hir mariage

This fresshe mayde, ful of gemmes clere;

780

Hir brother, which that seven yeer was of age,

Arrayed eek ful fresh in his manere.

And thus in greet noblesse and with glad chere,

Toward Saluces shaping hir Iourney,

Fro day to day they ryden in hir wey.

Explicit quarta pars. Sequitur quinta pars.

785

Among al this, after his wikke usage,

(730)

This markis, yet his wyf to tempte more

To the uttereste preve of hir corage,

Fully to han experience and lore

If that she were as stedfast as bifore,

790

He on a day in open audience

Ful boistously hath seyd hir this sentence:

787. Cm. vttyreste; E. outtreste.   789. E. Cp. stide-; Pt. Ln. sted-; rest stede-.

‘Certes, Grisilde, I hadde y-nough plesaunce

To han yow to my wyf for your goodnesse,

As for your trouthe and for your obeisaunce,

795

Nought for your linage ne for your richesse;

(740)

But now knowe I in verray soothfastnesse

That in gret lordshipe, if I wel avyse,

Ther is gret servitute in sondry wyse.

I may nat don as every plowman may;

800

My peple me constreyneth for to take

Another wyf, and cryen day by day;

And eek the pope, rancour for to slake,

Consenteth it, that dar I undertake;

And treweliche thus muche I wol yow seye,

805

My newe wyf is coming by the weye.

(750)

Be strong of herte, and voyde anon hir place,

And thilke dower that ye broghten me

Tak it agayn, I graunte it of my grace;

Retourneth to your fadres hous,’ quod he;

810

‘No man may alwey han prosperitee;

With evene herte I rede yow tendure

The strook of fortune or of aventure.’

812. E. This; the rest The.

And she answerde agayn in pacience,

‘My lord,’ quod she, ‘I woot, and wiste alway

815

How that bitwixen your magnificence

(760)

And my poverte no wight can ne may

Maken comparison; it is no nay.

I ne heeld me never digne in no manere

To be your wyf, no, ne your chamberere.

820

And in this hous, ther ye me lady made —

The heighe god take I for my witnesse,

And also wisly he my soule glade —

I never heeld me lady ne maistresse,

But humble servant to your worthinesse,

825

And ever shal, whyl that my lyf may dure,

(770)

Aboven every worldly creature.

That ye so longe of your benignitee

Han holden me in honour and nobleye,

Wher-as I was noght worthy for to be,

830

That thonke I god and yow, to whom I preye

Foryelde it yow; there is na-more to seye.

Un-to my fader gladly wol I wende,

And with him dwelle un-to my lyves ende.

829. E. omits for to.

Ther I was fostred of a child ful smal,

835

Til I be deed, my lyf ther wol I lede

(780)

A widwe clene, in body, herte, and al.

For sith I yaf to yow my maydenhede,

And am your trewe wyf, it is no drede,

God shilde swich a lordes wyf to take

840

Another man to housbonde or to make.

And of your newe wyf, god of his grace

So graunte yow wele and prosperitee:

For I wol gladly yelden hir my place,

In which that I was blisful wont to be,

845

For sith it lyketh yow, my lord,’ quod she,

(790)

‘That whylom weren al myn hertes reste,

That I shal goon, I wol gon whan yow leste.

But ther-as ye me profre swich dowaire

As I first broghte, it is wel in my minde

850

It were my wrecched clothes, no-thing faire,

The which to me were hard now for to finde.

O gode god! how gentil and how kinde

Ye semed by your speche and your visage

The day that maked was our mariage!

855

But sooth is seyd, algate I finde it trewe —

(800)

For in effect it preved is on me —

Love is noght old as whan that it is newe.

But certes, lord, for noon adversitee,

To dyen in the cas, it shal nat be

860

That ever in word or werk I shal repente

That I yow yaf myn herte in hool entente.

My lord, ye woot that, in my fadres place,

Ye dede me strepe out of my povre wede,

And richely me cladden, of your grace.

865

To yow broghte I noght elles, out of drede,

(810)

But feyth and nakednesse and maydenhede.

And here agayn my clothing I restore,

And eek my wedding-ring, for evermore.

867, 868. my] Cp. Pt. Ln. your.

The remenant of your Iewels redy be

870

In-with your chambre, dar I saufly sayn;

Naked out of my fadres hous,’ quod she,

‘I cam, and naked moot I turne agayn.

Al your plesaunce wol I folwen fayn;

But yet I hope it be nat your entente

875

That I smoklees out of your paleys wente.

869. Hn. Hl. Ln. Iewels; E. Iueles.

(820)

Ye coude nat doon so dishoneste a thing,

That thilke wombe in which your children leye

Sholde, biforn the peple, in my walking,

Be seyn al bare; wherfor I yow preye,

880

Lat me nat lyk a worm go by the weye.

Remembre yow, myn owene lord so dere,

I was your wyf, thogh I unworthy were.

Wherfor, in guerdon of my maydenhede,

Which that I broghte, and noght agayn I bere,

885

As voucheth sauf to yeve me, to my mede,

(830)

But swich a smok as I was wont to were,

That I therwith may wrye the wombe of here

That was your wyf; and heer take I my leve

Of yow, myn owene lord, lest I yow greve.’

883. E. Hn. gerdon; rest guerdon, guerdoun.

890

‘The smok,’ quod he, ‘that thou hast on thy bak,

Lat it be stille, and ber it forth with thee.’

But wel unnethes thilke word he spak,

But wente his wey for rewthe and for pitee.

Biforn the folk hir-selven strepeth she,

895

And in hir smok, with heed and foot al bare,

(840)

Toward hir fader hous forth is she fare.

The folk hir folwe wepinge in hir weye,

And fortune ay they cursen as they goon;

But she fro weping kepte hir yën dreye,

900

Ne in this tyme word ne spak she noon.

Hir fader, that this tyding herde anoon,

Curseth the day and tyme that nature

Shoop him to been a lyves creature.

For out of doute this olde povre man

905

Was ever in suspect of hir mariage;

(850)

For ever he demed, sith that it bigan,

That whan the lord fulfild had his corage,

Him wolde thinke it were a disparage

To his estaat so lowe for talighte,

910

And voyden hir as sone as ever he mighte.

Agayns his doghter hastilich goth he,

For he by noyse of folk knew hir cominge,

And with hir olde cote, as it mighte be,

He covered hir, ful sorwefully wepinge;

915

But on hir body mighte he it nat bringe.

(860)

For rude was the cloth, and more of age

By dayes fele than at hir mariage.

916. E. Hn. Cm. and she moore; rest omit she.

Thus with hir fader, for a certeyn space,

Dwelleth this flour of wyfly pacience,

920

That neither by hir wordes ne hir face

Biforn the folk, ne eek in hir absence,

Ne shewed she that hir was doon offence;

Ne of hir heigh estaat no remembraunce

Ne hadde she, as by hir countenaunce.

925

No wonder is, for in hir grete estaat

(870)

Hir goost was ever in pleyn humylitee;

No tendre mouth, non herte delicaat,

No pompe, no semblant of royaltee,

But ful of pacient benignitee,

930

Discreet and prydeles, ay honurable,

And to hir housbonde ever meke and stable.

Men speke of Iob and most for his humblesse,

As clerkes, whan hem list, can wel endyte,

Namely of men, but as in soothfastnesse,

935

Thogh clerkes preyse wommen but a lyte,

(880)

Ther can no man in humblesse him acquyte

As womman can, ne can ben half so trewe

As wommen been, but it be falle of-newe.

933. E. Hn. conne; rest can.   937. Hn. kan; Cp. Ln. Hl. can; rest omit (2nd time).

[Pars Sexta.]

Fro Boloigne is this erl of Panik come,

940

Of which the fame up-sprang to more and lesse,

And in the peples eres alle and some

Was couth eek, that a newe markisesse

He with him broghte, in swich pompe and richesse,

That never was ther seyn with mannes yë

945

So noble array in al West Lumbardye.

939. Hl. panik; Cp. Panyke; Pt. Pavie; rest Pavyk, Pauyk.   944. Hl. ye; rest eye.

(890)

The markis, which that shoop and knew al this,

Er that this erl was come, sente his message

For thilke sely povre Grisildis;

And she with humble herte and glad visage,

950

Nat with no swollen thoght in hir corage,

Cam at his heste, and on hir knees hir sette,

And reverently and wysly she him grette.

'Grisild,' quod he, 'my wille is outerly,

This mayden, that shal wedded been to me,

955

Receyved be to-morwe as royally

(900)

As it possible is in myn hous to be.

And eek that every wight in his degree

Have his estaat in sitting and servyse

And heigh plesaunce, as I can best devyse.

953. Cp. Pt. wille; rest wil.

960

I have no wommen suffisaunt certayn

The chambres for tarraye in ordinaunce

After my lust, and therfor wolde I fayn

That thyn were al swich maner governaunce;

Thou knowest eek of old al my plesaunce;

965

Though thyn array be badde and yvel biseye,

(910)

Do thou thy devoir at the leeste weye.’

‘Nat only, lord, that I am glad,’ quod she,

‘To doon your lust, but I desyre also

Yow for to serve and plese in my degree

970

With-outen feynting, and shal evermo.

Ne never, for no wele ne no wo,

Ne shal the gost with-in myn herte stente

To love yow best with al my trewe entente.’

And with that word she gan the hous to dighte,

975

And tables for to sette and beddes make;

(920)

And peyned hir to doon al that she mighte,

Preying the chambereres, for goddes sake,

To hasten hem, and faste swepe and shake;

And she, the moste servisable of alle,

980

Hath every chambre arrayed and his halle.

977. Cp. Hl. Cm. chambereres; E. Hn. Pt. Ln. chambreres.

Abouten undern gan this erl alighte,

That with him broghte thise noble children tweye,

For which the peple ran to seen the sighte

Of hir array, so richely biseye;

985

And than at erst amonges hem they seye,

(930)

That Walter was no fool, thogh that him leste

To chaunge his wyf, for it was for the beste.

981. Hl. Pt. Ln. vndern; E. Hn. Cp. vndren; Cm. vndryn.

For she is fairer, as they demen alle,

Than is Grisild, and more tendre of age,

990

And fairer fruit bitwene hem sholde falle,

And more plesant, for hir heigh linage;

Hir brother eek so fair was of visage,

That hem to seen the peple hath caught plesaunce,

Commending now the markis gouernaunce. —

995

Auctor. ‘O stormy peple! unsad and ever untrewe!

(940)

Ay undiscreet and chaunging as a vane,

Delyting ever in rumbel that is newe,

For lyk the mone ay wexe ye and wane;

Ay ful of clapping, dere y-nogh a Iane;

1000

Your doom is fals, your constance yvel preveth,

A ful greet fool is he that on yow leveth!’

997. E. Cm. rumbul; Hn. rumbel; Hl. rombel.   1000. Hl. yuel; Cm. euel; E. Hn. yuele.

Thus seyden sadde folk in that citee,

Whan that the peple gazed up and doun,

For they were glad, right for the noveltee,

1005

To han a newe lady of hir toun.

(950)

Na-more of this make I now mencioun;

But to Grisilde agayn wol I me dresse,

And telle hir constance and hir bisinesse. —

Ful bisy was Grisilde in every thing

1010

That to the feste was apertinent;

Right noght was she abayst of hir clothing,

Though it were rude and somdel eek to-rent.

But with glad chere to the yate is went,

With other folk, to grete the markisesse,

1015

And after that doth forth hir bisinesse.

1013. E. Hn. Hl. is she; rest omit she.   E. Hn. Ln. chiere; Hl. chier.

(960)

With so glad chere his gestes she receyveth,

And conningly, everich in his degree,

That no defaute no man aperceyveth;

But ay they wondren what she mighte be

1020

That in so povre array was for to see,

And coude swich honour and reverence;

And worthily they preisen hir prudence.

1017. E. Hn. Cm. Hl. And so; Cp. Pt. Ln. omit so.

In al this mene whyle she ne stente

This mayde and eek hir brother to commende

1025

With al hir herte, in ful benigne entente,

(970)

So wel, that no man coude hir prys amende.

But atte laste, whan that thise lordes wende

To sitten doun to mete, he gan to calle

Grisilde, as she was bisy in his halle.

1030

‘Grisilde,’ quod he, as it were in his pley,

‘How lyketh thee my wyf and hir beautee?’

‘Right wel,’ quod she, ‘my lord; for, in good fey,

A fairer say I never noon than she.

I prey to god yeve hir prosperitee;

1035

And so hope I that he wol to yow sende

(980)

Plesance y-nogh un-to your lyves ende.

1033. E. saugh; see l. 1114.

O thing biseke I yow and warne also,

That ye ne prikke with no tormentinge

This tendre mayden, as ye han don mo;

1040

For she is fostred in hir norishinge

More tendrely, and, to my supposinge,

She coude nat adversitee endure

As coude a povre fostred creature.’

1040. E. Hn. norissynge.

And whan this Walter say hir pacience,

1045

Hir glade chere and no malice at al,

(990)

And he so ofte had doon to hir offence,

And she ay sad and constant as a wal,

Continuing ever hir innocence overal,

This sturdy markis gan his herte dresse

1050

To rewen up-on hir wyfly stedfastnesse.

1044. E. saugh; see l. 1114.   1045. E. Ln. chiere.

‘This is y-nogh, Grisilde myn,’ quod he,

‘Be now na-more agast ne yvel apayed;

I have thy feith and thy benignitee,

As wel as ever womman was, assayed,

1055

In greet estaat, and povreliche arrayed.

(1000)

Now knowe I, dere wyf, thy stedfastnesse,’—

And hir in armes took and gan hir kesse.

1056. E. goode; rest dere.

And she for wonder took of it no keep;

She herde nat what thing he to hir seyde;

1060

She ferde as she had stert out of a sleep,

Til she out of hir masednesse abreyde.

‘Grisilde,’ quod he, ‘by god that for us deyde,

Thou art my wyf, ne noon other I have,

Ne never hadde, as god my soule save!

1063. Cm. Cp. Ln. Hl. ne; Pt. and; E. Hn. omit ne.

1065

This is thy doghter which thou hast supposed

(1010)

To be my wyf; that other feithfully

Shal be myn heir, as I have ay purposed;

Thou bare him in thy body trewely.

At Boloigne have I kept hem prively;

1070

Tak hem agayn, for now maystow nat seye

That thou hast lorn non of thy children tweye.

1067. Cp. Ln. Hl. purposed; E. Hn. Cm. supposed (wrongly); Pt. disposed.   1070. E. Taak.

And folk that otherweyes han seyd of me,

I warne hem wel that I have doon this dede

For no malice ne for no crueltee,

1075

But for tassaye in thee thy wommanhede,

(1020)

And nat to sleen my children, god forbede!

But for to kepe hem prively and stille,

Til I thy purpos knewe and al thy wille.’

Whan she this herde, aswowne doun she falleth

1080

For pitous Ioye, and after hir swowninge

She bothe hir yonge children un-to hir calleth,

And in hir armes, pitously wepinge,

Embraceth hem, and tendrely kissinge

Ful lyk a mooder, with hir salte teres

1085

She batheth bothe hir visage and hir heres.

(1030)

O, which a pitous thing it was to see

Hir swowning, and hir humble voys to here!

‘Grauntmercy, lord, that thanke I yow,’ quod she,

‘That ye han saved me my children dere!

1090

Now rekke I never to ben deed right here;

Sith I stonde in your love and in your grace,

No fors of deeth, ne whan my spirit pace!

O tendre, o dere, o yonge children myne,

Your woful mooder wende stedfastly

1095

That cruel houndes or som foul vermyne

(1040)

Hadde eten yow; but god, of his mercy,

And your benigne fader tendrely

Hath doon yow kept;’ and in that same stounde

Al sodeynly she swapte adoun to grounde.

1095. E. crueel.

1100

And in her swough so sadly holdeth she

Hir children two, whan she gan hem tembrace,

That with greet sleighte and greet difficultee

The children from hir arm they gonne arace.

O many a teer on many a pitous face

1105

Doun ran of hem that stoden hir bisyde;

(1050)

Unnethe abouten hir mighte they abyde.

Walter hir gladeth, and hir sorwe slaketh;

She ryseth up, abaysed, from hir traunce,

And every wight hir Ioye and feste maketh,

1110

Til she hath caught agayn hir contenaunce.

Walter hir dooth so feithfully plesaunce,

That it was deyntee for to seen the chere

Bitwixe hem two, now they ben met y-fere.

Thise ladyes, whan that they hir tyme say,

1115

Han taken hir, and in-to chambre goon,

(1060)

And strepen hir out of hir rude array,

And in a cloth of gold that brighte shoon,

With a coroune of many a riche stoon

Up-on hir heed, they in-to halle hir broghte,

1120

And ther she was honoured as hir oghte.

1117. Cm. cloth; E. Hn. clooth.

Thus hath this pitous day a blisful ende,

For every man and womman dooth his might

This day in murthe and revel to dispende

Til on the welkne shoon the sterres light.

1125

For more solempne in every mannes sight

(1070)

This feste was, and gretter of costage,

Than was the revel of hir mariage.

Ful many a yeer in heigh prosperitee

Liven thise two in concord and in reste,

1130

And richely his doghter maried he

Un-to a lord, oon of the worthieste

Of al Itaille; and than in pees and reste

His wyves fader in his court he kepeth,

Til that the soule out of his body crepeth.

1135

His sone succedeth in his heritage

(1080)

In reste and pees, after his fader day;

And fortunat was eek in mariage,

Al putte he nat his wyf in greet assay.

This world is nat so strong, it is no nay,

1140

As it hath been in olde tymes yore,

And herkneth what this auctour seith therfore.

1140. in] E. of.

This storie is seyd, nat for that wyves sholde

Folwen Grisilde as in humilitee,

For it were importable, though they wolde;

1145

But for that every wight, in his degree,

(1090)

Sholde be constant in adversitee

As was Grisilde; therfor Petrark wryteth

This storie, which with heigh style he endyteth.

1147. Cm. this Petrak; rest omit this.   Hl. Petrark; E. Hn. Cm. Petrak.

For, sith a womman was so pacient

1150

Un-to a mortal man, wel more us oghte

Receyven al in gree that god us sent;

For greet skile is, he preve that he wroghte.

But he ne tempteth no man that he boghte,

As seith seint Iame, if ye his pistel rede;

1155

He preveth folk al day, it is no drede,

(1100)

And suffreth us, as for our excercyse,

With sharpe scourges of adversitee

Ful ofte to be bete in sondry wyse;

Nat for to knowe our wil, for certes he,

1160

Er we were bom, knew al our freletee;

And for our beste is al his governaunce;

Lat us than live in vertuous suffraunce.

1160. E. omits al; the rest have it.

It seems to have been Chaucer’s intention, in the first instance, to end this Tale here. Hence, we find, in Mss. E. Hn. Cm. Dd., the following genuine, but rejected stanza, suitable for insertion at this point:—

Bihold the merye wordes of the Hoste.

This worthy Clerk, whan ended was his tale,

Our hoste seyde, and swoor by goddes bones,

‘Me were lever than a barel ale

My wyf at hoom had herd this legende ones;

5

This is a gentil tale for the nones,

As to my purpos, wiste ye my wille;

But thing that wol nat be, lat it be stille.’

Here endeth the Tale of the Clerk of Oxenford.

Heading. E. Bihoold; murye; Hoost.   2. E. Oure hoost.   3. E. leuere. Dd. barel of ale.   5. E. Hn. Dd. is; Cm. was.   6. E. Hn. wiste; Dd. wyst; Cm. woste. N.B. With 1. 3, compare B. 3083.

But o word, lordinges, herkneth er I go:—

It were ful hard to finde now a dayes

1165

In al a toun Grisildes three or two;

(1110)

For, if that they were put to swiche assayes,

The gold of hem hath now so badde alayes

With bras, that thogh the coyne be fair at yë,

It wolde rather breste a-two than plye.

1170

For which heer, for the wyves love of Bathe,

Whos lyf and al hir secte god mayntene

In heigh maistrye, and elles were it scathe,

I wol with lusty herte fresshe and grene

Seyn yow a song to glade yow, I wene,

1175

And lat us stinte of ernestful matere:—

(1120)

Herkneth my song, that seith in this manere.

Lenvoy de Chaucer.

Grisilde is deed, and eek hir pacience,

And bothe atones buried in Itaille;

For which I crye in open audience,

1180

No wedded man so hardy be tassaille

His wyves pacience, in hope to finde

Grisildes, for in certein he shall faille!

O noble wyves, ful of heigh prudence,

Lat noon humilitee your tonge naille,

1185

Ne lat no clerk have cause or diligence

(1130)

To wryte of yow a storie of swich mervaille

As of Grisildis pacient and kinde;

Lest Chichevache yow swelwe in hir entraille!

Folweth Ekko, that holdeth no silence,

1190

But evere answereth at the countretaille;

Beth nat bidaffed for your innocence,

But sharply tak on yow the governaille.

Emprinteth wel this lesson in your minde

For commune profit, sith it may availle.

1195

Ye archewyves, stondeth at defence,

(1140)

Sin ye be stronge as is a greet camaille;

Ne suffreth nat that men yow doon offence.

And sclendre wyves, feble as in bataille,

Beth egre as is a tygre yond in Inde;

1200

Ay clappeth as a mille, I yow consaille.

Ne dreed hem nat, do hem no reverence;

For though thyn housbonde armed be in maille,

The arwes of thy crabbed eloquence

Shal perce his brest, and eek his aventaille;

1205

In Ialousye I rede eek thou him binde,

And thou shalt make him couche as dooth a quaille.

1201. Cm. Ln. Hl. do; rest doth.

If thou be fair, ther folk ben in presence

Shew thou thy visage and thyn apparaille;

If thou be foul, be free of thy dispence,

1210

To gete thee freendes ay do thy travaille;

Be ay of chere as light as leef on linde,

And lat him care, and wepe, and wringe, and waille!

Here endeth the Clerk of Oxonford his Tale.

1211. E. chiere; Hn. cheere.   Colophon. From Cp.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/chaucer/canterbury/skeat/chapter21.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37