The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

Group G.

The Seconde Nonnes Tale.

***In Tyrwhitt's text, ll. 15469 sqq.; see p. 508.

The Prologe of the Seconde Nonnes Tale.

The ministre and the norice un-to vyces,

Which that men clepe in English ydelnesse,

That porter of the gate is of delyces,

To eschue, and by hir contrarie hir oppresse,

5

That is to seyn, by leveful bisinesse,

Wel oghten we to doon al our entente,

Lest that the feend thurgh ydelnesse us hente.

7. Hn. Hl. hente; E. shente, Pt. shent, Ln. schent, wrongly.

For he, that with his thousand cordes slye

Continuelly us waiteth to biclappe,

10

Whan he may man in ydelnesse espye,

He can so lightly cacche him in his trappe,

Til that a man be hent right by the lappe,

He nis nat war the feend hath him in honde;

Wel oughte us werche, and ydelnes withstonde.

15

And though men dradden never for to dye,

Yet seen men wel by reson doutelees,

That ydelnesse is roten slogardye,

Of which ther never comth no good encrees;

And seen, that slouthe hir holdeth in a lees

20

Only to slepe, and for to ete and drinke,

And to devouren al that othere swinke.

17. E. Hn. Pt. Ln. Hl. roten; Cm. rote.   18. E. Hn. no good nencrees; Pt. Ln. non encrese; Hl. good encres; Cm. encrees.   19. Cm. hire; Pt. hure; Hn. Ln. hir; E. it; Hl. her.

And for to putte us fro swich ydelnesse,

That cause is of so greet confusioun,

I have heer doon my feithful bisinesse,

25

After the legende, in translacioun

Right of thy glorious lyf and passioun,

Thou with thy gerland wroght of rose and lilie;

Thee mene I, mayde and martir, seint Cecilie!

27. Hn. Pt. of; E. Cm. Ln. Hl. with.   28. Hn. Cm. Pt. Ln. martir seinte (seint); Hl. martir; E. mooder.

Inuocacio ad Mariam.

And thou that flour of virgines art alle,

30

Of whom that Bernard list so wel to wryte,

To thee at my biginning first I calle;

Thou comfort of us wrecches, do me endyte

Thy maydens deeth, that wan thurgh hir meryte

The eternal lyf, and of the feend victorie,

35

As man may after reden in hir storie.

32. Hn. mendite (shewing the scansion).   34. E. eterneel; Hn. Cm. eternal.

Thou mayde and mooder, doghter of thy sone,

Thou welle of mercy, sinful soules cure,

In whom that god, for bountee, chees to wone,

Thou humble, and heigh over every creature,

40

Thou nobledest so ferforth our nature,

That no desdeyn the maker hadde of kinde,

His sone in blode and flesh to clothe and winde.

Withinne the cloistre blisful of thy sydes

Took mannes shap the eternal love and pees,

45

That of the tryne compas lord and gyde is,

Whom erthe and see and heven, out of relees,

Ay herien; and thou, virgin wemmelees,

Bar of thy body, and dweltest mayden pure,

The creatour of every creature.

43. E. Hn. Cm. Pt. sydis.   44. E. eterneel; Hn. Cm. eternal.

50

Assembled is in thee magnificence

With mercy, goodnesse, and with swich pitee

That thou, that art the sonne of excellence,

Nat only helpest hem that preyen thee,

But ofte tyme, of thy benignitee,

55

Ful frely, er that men thyn help biseche,

Thou goost biforn, and art hir lyves leche.

54. E. often; Hn. Cm. ofte.

Now help, thou meke and blisful fayre mayde,

Me, flemed wrecche, in this desert of galle;

Think on the womman Cananee, that sayde

60

That whelpes eten somme of the crommes alle

That from hir lordes table been y-falle;

And though that I, unworthy sone of Eve,

Be sinful, yet accepte my bileve.

And, for that feith is deed with-outen werkes,

65

So for to werken yif me wit and space,

That I be quit fro thennes that most derk is!

O thou, that art so fayr and ful of grace,

Be myn advocat in that heighe place

Ther-as withouten ende is songe ‘Osanne,’

70

Thou Cristes mooder, doghter dere of Anne!

And of thy light my soule in prison lighte,

That troubled is by the contagioun

Of my body, and also by the wighte

Of erthly luste and fals affeccioun;

75

O haven of refut, o salvacioun

Of hem that been in sorwe and in distresse,

Now help, for to my werk I wol me dresse.

Yet preye I yow that reden that I wryte,

Foryeve me, that I do no diligence

80

This ilke storie subtilly to endyte;

For both have I the wordes and sentence

Of him that at the seintes reverence

The storie wroot, and folwe hir legende,

And prey yow, that ye wol my werk amende.

80. Hn. Cm. tendite (shewing the scansion).   82. E. Hn. Cm. Hl. him; but Cp. Pt. Ln. hem.   83. Cm. folwe; E. Hn. Hl. folwen; Cp. Pt. Ln. folowen.   84. E. I pray; Cp. And pray I; rest And pray (or prei, or preye).

Interpretado nominis Cecilie, quam ponit frater Iacobus Ianuensis in Legenda Aurea.

85

First wolde I yow the name of seint Cecilie

Expoune, as men may in hir storie see,

It is to seye in English ‘hevenes lilie,’

For pure chastnesse of virginitee;

Or, for she whytnesse hadde of honestee,

90

And grene of conscience, and of good fame

The sole savour, ‘lilie’ was hir name.

Heading. In margin of E. Hn. (E. om. Aurea).   85. E. omits yow.   91. E. favour; rest savour; see l. 229.

Or Cecile is to seye ‘the wey to blinde,’

For she ensample was by good techinge;

Or elles Cecile, as I writen finde,

95

Is ioyned, by a maner conioininge

Of ‘hevene’ and ‘Lia’; and heer, in figuringe,

The ‘heven’ is set for thoght of holinesse,

And ‘Lia’ for hir lasting bisinesse.

95. E. manere.

Cecile may eek be seyd in this manere,

100

‘Wanting of blindnesse,’ for hir grete light

Of sapience, and for hir thewes clere;

Or elles, lo! this maydens name bright

Of ‘hevene’ and ‘leos’ comth, for which by right

Men mighte hir wel ‘the heven of peple’ calle,

105

Ensample of gode and wyse werkes alle.

For ‘leos’ ‘peple’ in English is to seye,

And right as men may in the hevene see

The sonne and mone and sterres every weye,

Right so men gostly, in this mayden free,

110

Seyen of feith the magnanimitee,

And eek the cleernesse hool of sapience,

And sondry werkes, brighte of excellence.

110. E. Syen; Cp. Ln. Seyen; Hn. Sayen.

And right so as thise philosophres wryte

That heven is swift and round and eek brenninge,

115

Right so was fayre Cecilie the whyte

Ful swift and bisy ever in good werkinge,

And round and hool in good perseveringe,

And brenning ever in charitee ful brighte;

Now have I yow declared what she highte.

Explicit.

Here biginneth the Seconde Nonnes Tale, of the lyf of Seinte Cecile.

120

This mayden bright Cecilie, as hir lyf seith,

Was comen of Romayns, and of noble kinde,

And from hir cradel up fostred in the feith

Of Crist, and bar his gospel in hir minde;

She never cessed, as I writen finde,

125

Of hir preyere, and god to love and drede,

Biseking him to kepe hir maydenhede.

And when this mayden sholde unto a man

Y-wedded be, that was ful yong of age,

Which that y-cleped was Valerian,

130

And day was comen of hir mariage,

She, ful devout and humble in hir corage,

Under hir robe of gold, that sat ful fayre,

Had next hir flesh y-clad hir in an heyre.

And whyl the organs maden melodye,

135

To god alone in herte thus sang she;

‘O lord, my soule and eek my body gye

Unwemmed, lest that I confounded be:’

And, for his love that deyde upon a tree,

Every seconde or thridde day she faste,

140

Ay biddinge in hir orisons ful faste.

134. Hl. Hn. organs; Ln. orgens; E. Orgues; Cp. Orgles; Pt. Orgels.   137. E. it; rest I.   138. Hn. Cm. Cp. Hl. deyde; E. dyde.   139. E. Hn. and; rest or.

The night cam, and to bedde moste she gon

With hir housbonde, as ofte is the manere,

And prively to him she seyde anon,

‘O swete and wel biloved spouse dere,

145

Ther is a conseil, and ye wolde it here,

Which that right fain I wolde unto yow seye,

So that ye swere ye shul me nat biwreye.’

147. E. me; rest it; see l. 150.

Valerian gan faste unto hir swere,

That for no cas, ne thing that mighte be,

150

He sholde never-mo biwreyen here;

And thanne at erst to him thus seyde she,

‘I have an angel which that loveth me,

That with greet love, wher-so I wake or slepe,

Is redy ay my body for to kepe.

152. E. aungel.

155

And if that he may felen, out of drede,

That ye me touche or love in vileinye,

He right anon wol slee yow with the dede,

And in your yowthe thus ye shulden dye;

And if that ye in clene love me gye,

160

He wol yow loven as me, for your clennesse,

And shewen yow his Ioye and his brightnesse.’

Valerian, corrected as god wolde,

Answerde agayn, ‘if I shal trusten thee,

Lat me that angel se, and him biholde;

165

And if that it a verray angel be,

Than wol I doon as thou hast preyed me;

And if thou love another man, for sothe

Right with this swerd than wol I slee yow bothe.’

164. E. aungel; but angel in 165, 170.

Cecile answerde anon right in this wyse,

170

‘If that yow list, the angel shul ye see,

So that ye trowe on Crist and yow baptyse.

Goth forth to Via Apia,’ quod she,

‘That fro this toun ne stant but myles three,

And, to the povre folkes that ther dwelle,

175

Sey hem right thus, as that I shal yow telle.

171. on] E. in.

Telle hem that I, Cecile, yow to hem sente,

To shewen yow the gode Urban the olde,

For secree nedes and for good entente.

And whan that ye seint Urban han biholde,

180

Telle him the wordes whiche I to yow tolde;

And whan that he hath purged yow fro sinne,

Thanne shul ye see that angel, er ye twinne.’

178. E. thynges; rest nedes, nedis, needes.   180. E. Cp. Ln. Hl. whiche þat I; but Hn. Cm. Pt. omit that.

Valerian is to the place y-gon,

And right as him was taught by his lerninge,

185

He fond this holy olde Urban anon

Among the seintes buriels lotinge.

And he anon, with-outen taryinge,

Dide his message; and whan that he it tolde,

Urban for Ioye his hondes gan up holde.

190

The teres from his yën leet he falle —

‘Almighty lord, o Iesu Crist,’ quod he,

‘Sower of chast conseil, herde of us alle,

The fruit of thilke seed of chastitee

That thou hast sowe in Cecile, tak to thee!

195

Lo, lyk a bisy bee, with-outen gyle,

Thee serveth ay thyn owene thral Cecile!

190. Ln. yen; rest eyen, eyhen.   192. E. Hn. hierde.

For thilke spouse, that she took but now

Ful lyk a fiers leoun, she sendeth here,

As meke as ever was any lamb, to yow!’

200

And with that worde, anon ther gan appere

An old man, clad in whyte clothes clere,

That hadde a book with lettre of golde in honde,

And gan biforn Valerian to stonde.

197. E. Hl. right; rest but.   203. E. bifore; Hl. to-forn; rest biforn, biforne, beforne.

Valerian as deed fil doun for drede

205

Whan he him saugh, and he up hente him tho,

And on his book right thus he gan to rede —

'Oo Lord, oo feith, oo god with-outen mo,

Oo Cristendom, and fader of alle also,

Aboven alle and over al everywhere’—

210

Thise wordes al with gold y-writen were.

208. E. Hn. Cm. O; Hl. On; Cp. Pt. Ln. Of.   209. E. omits and.

Whan this was rad, than seyde this olde man,

‘Levestow this thing or no? sey ye or nay.’

‘I leve al this thing,’ quod Valerian,

‘For sother thing than this, I dar wel say,

215

Under the hevene no wight thinke may.’

Tho vanisshed the olde man, he niste where,

And pope Urban him cristened right there.

210-216. Hl. omits.   214. E. oother; rest sother.   216. E. Hn. Cm. this; Pt. that; Cp. Ln. the.   217. Hl. Pt. cristened; Cm. cristenede; E. Hn. Cp. cristned.

Valerian goth hoom, and fint Cecilie

With-inne his chambre with an angel stonde;

220

This angel hadde of roses and of lilie

Corones two, the which he bar in honde;

And first to Cecile, as I understonde,

He yaf that oon, and after gan he take

That other to Valerian, hir make.

225

‘With body clene and with unwemmed thoght

Kepeth ay wel thise corones,’ quod he;

‘Fro Paradys to yow have I hem broght,

Ne never-mo ne shal they roten be,

Ne lese her sote savour, trusteth me;

230

Ne never wight shal seen hem with his yë,

But he be chaast and hate vileinyë.

226. E. three; Hl. thre; rest quod he.

And thou, Valerian, for thou so sone

Assentedest to good conseil also,

Sey what thee list, and thou shalt han thy bone.’

235

‘I have a brother,’ quod Valerian tho,

‘That in this world I love no man so.

I pray yow that my brother may han grace

To knowe the trouthe, as I do in this place.’

The angel seyde, 'god lyketh thy requeste,

240

And bothe, with the palm of martirdom,

Ye shullen come unto his blisful feste.’

And with that word Tiburce his brother com.

And whan that he the savour undernom

Which that the roses and the lilies caste,

245

With-inne his herte he gan to wondre faste,

And seyde, ‘I wondre, this tyme of the yeer,

Whennes that sote savour cometh so

Of rose and lilies that I smelle heer.

For though I hadde hem in myn hondes two,

250

The savour mighte in me no depper go.

The sote smel that in myn herte I finde

Hath chaunged me al in another kinde.’

251. The Mss. have swete here; but in l. 247 we find only sote, soote, swote, suote, except swete in Pt.; in l. 229, E. Hl. soote; Hn. swote; Cm. sote; Cp. Pt. Ln. swete.

Valerian seyde, ‘two corones han we,

Snow-whyte and rose-reed, that shynen clere,

255

Whiche that thyn yën han no might to see;

And as thou smellest hem thurgh my preyere,

So shaltow seen hem, leve brother dere,

If it so be thou wolt, withouten slouthe,

Bileve aright and knowen verray trouthe.’

260

Tiburce answerde, ‘seistow this to me

In soothnesse, or in dreem I herkne this?’

‘In dremes,’ quod Valerian, ‘han we be

Unto this tyme, brother myn, y-wis.

But now at erst in trouthe our dwelling is.’

265

‘How woostow this,’ quod Tiburce, ‘in what wyse?’

Quod Valerian, ‘that shal I thee devyse.

The angel of god hath me the trouthe y-taught

Which thou shalt seen, if that thou wolt reneye

The ydoles and be clene, and elles naught.’—

270

And of the miracle of thise corones tweye

Seint Ambrose in his preface list to seye;

Solempnely this noble doctour dere

Commendeth it, and seith in this manere:

267. E. Ln. Hl. omit the.   273. E. hym; rest it.

The palm of martirdom for to receyve,

275

Seinte Cecile, fulfild of goddes yifte,

The world and eek hir chambre gan she weyve;

Witnes Tyburces and Valerians shrifte,

To whiche god of his bountee wolde shifte

Corones two of floures wel smellinge,

280

And made his angel hem the corones bringe:

277. The Mss. have Cecilies, wrongly (for Valerians); Lat. text — Ualeriani; cf. l. 281.

The mayde hath broght thise men to blisse above;

The world hath wist what it is worth, certeyn,

Devocioun of chastitee to love. —

Tho shewede him Cecile al open and pleyn

285

That alle ydoles nis but a thing in veyn;

For they been dombe, and therto they been deve,

And charged him his ydoles for to leve.

281. E. Hn. omit thise; the rest retain it, except Cm., which has brought hem to blysse.   284. Cp. Pt. Ln. omit al.

‘Who so that troweth nat this, a beste he is,’

Quod tho Tiburce, ‘if that I shal nat lye.’

290

And she gan kisse his brest, that herde this,

And was ful glad he coude trouthe espye.

‘This day I take thee for myn allye,’

Seyde this blisful fayre mayde dere;

And after that she seyde as ye may here:

288. E. Hn. Pt. beest; Hl. best; Cm. Cp. Ln. beste.

295

‘Lo, right so as the love of Crist,’ quod she,

‘Made me thy brotheres wyf, right in that wyse

Anon for myn allye heer take I thee,

Sin that thou wolt thyn ydoles despyse.

Go with thy brother now, and thee baptyse,

300

And make thee clene; so that thou mowe biholde

The angels face of which thy brother tolde.’

Tiburce answerde and seyde, 'brother dere,

First tel me whider I shal, and to what man?’

‘To whom?’ quod he, ‘com forth with right good chere,

305

I wol thee lede unto the pope Urban.’

‘Til Urban? brother myn Valerian,’

Quod tho Tiburce, ‘woltow me thider lede?

Me thinketh that it were a wonder dede.

303. E. Hn. Cm. that I; rest omit that.   304. Hl. om. right.

Ne menestow nat Urban,’ quod he tho,

310

‘That is so ofte dampned to be deed,

And woneth in halkes alwey to and fro,

And dar nat ones putte forth his heed?

Men sholde him brennen in a fyr so reed

If he were founde, or that men mighte him spye;

315

And we also, to bere him companye —

And whyl we seken thilke divinitee

That is y-hid in hevene prively,

Algate y-brend in this world shul we be!’

To whom Cecile answerde boldely,

320

‘Men mighten dreden wel and skilfully

This lyf to lese, myn owene dere brother,

If this were livinge only and non other.

But ther is better lyf in other place,

That never shal be lost, ne drede thee noght,

325

Which goddes sone us tolde thurgh his grace;

That fadres sone hath alle thinges wroght;

And al that wroght is with a skilful thoght,

The goost, that fro the fader gan precede,

Hath sowled hem, withouten any drede.

323. Ln. Hl. Pt. better; E. Hn. bettre.   326. E. thyng ywroght; Hn. Cm. thynges wroght.   326-337. Cp. Pt. Ln. omit.

330

By word and by miracle goddes sone,

Whan he was in this world, declared here

That ther was other lyf ther men may wone.’

To whom answerde Tiburce, ‘o suster dere,

Ne seydestow right now in this manere,

335

Ther nis but o god, lord in soothfastnesse;

And now of three how maystow bere witnesse?’

'That shal I telle,' quod she, 'er I go.

Right as a man hath sapiences three,

Memorie, engyn, and intellect also,

340

So, in o being of divinitee,

Three persones may ther right wel be.’

Tho gan she him ful bisily to preche

Of Cristes come and of his peynes teche,

340. E. omits o.

And many pointes of his passioun;

345

How goddes sone in this world was withholde,

To doon mankinde pleyn remissioun,

That was y-bounde in sinne and cares colde:

Al this thing she unto Tiburce tolde.

And after this Tiburce, in good entente,

350

With Valerian to pope Urban he wente,

That thanked god; and with glad herte and light

He cristned him, and made him in that place

Parfit in his lerninge, goddes knight.

And after this Tiburce gat swich grace,

355

That every day he saugh, in tyme and space,

The angel of god; and every maner bone

That he god axed, it was sped ful sone.

355. E. saugh; Hl. say.

It were ful hard by ordre for to seyn

How many wondres Iesus for hem wroghte;

360

But atte laste, to tellen short and pleyn,

The sergeants of the toun of Rome hem soghte,

And hem biforn Almache the prefect broghte,

Which hem apposed, and knew al hir entente,

And to the image of Iupiter hem sente,

363. Hl. apposed; the rest opposed, wrongly.

365

And seyde, ‘who so wol nat sacrifyse,

Swap of his heed, this is my sentence here.’

Anon thise martirs that I yow devyse,

Oon Maximus, that was an officere

Of the prefectes and his corniculere,

370

Hem hente; and whan he forth the seintes ladde,

Him-self he weep, for pitee that he hadde.

366. E. Cm. Hl. omit is.

Whan Maximus had herd the seintes lore,

He gat him of the tormentoures leve,

And ladde hem to his hous withoute more;

375

And with hir preching, er that it were eve,

They gonnen fro the tormentours to reve,

And fro Maxime, and fro his folk echone

The false feith, to trowe in god allone.

373. E. Hn. Pt. Ln. tormentours.

Cecilie cam, whan it was woxen night,

380

With preestes that hem cristned alle y-fere;

And afterward, whan day was woxen light,

Cecile hem seyde with a ful sobre chere,

‘Now, Cristes owene knightes leve and dere,

Caste alle awey the werkes of derknesse,

385

And armeth yow in armure of brightnesse.

382. E. Hn. Hl. ful stedefast; Cm. ful sobere; Cp. Pt. Ln. sobre.    384. Cp. Pt. Casteth; rest Cast.

Ye han for sothe y-doon a greet bataille,

Your cours is doon, your feith han ye conserved,

Goth to the corone of lyf that may nat faille;

The rightful Iuge, which that ye han served,

390

Shall yeve it yow, as ye han it deserved.’

And whan this thing was seyd as I devyse,

Men ladde hem forth to doon the sacrifyse.

392. E. Hn. Cm. ledde.

But whan they weren to the place broght,

To tellen shortly the conclusioun,

395

They nolde encense ne sacrifice right noght,

But on hir knees they setten hem adoun

With humble herte and sad devocioun,

And losten bothe hir hedes in the place.

Hir soules wenten to the king of grace.

398. E. Hn. Cm. heuedes; rest hedes.

400

This Maximus, that saugh this thing bityde,

With pitous teres tolde it anon-right,

That he hir soules saugh to heven glyde

With angels ful of cleernesse and of light,

And with his word converted many a wight;

405

For which Almachius dide him so to-bete

With whippe of leed, til he his lyf gan lete.

400. E. saugh; Hn. Cp. Hl. say.   404. E. this; rest his.   405. E. Hn. Cm. Hl. so bete; Cp. Pt. Ln. so to-bete.   406. E. the; rest his.

Cecile him took and buried him anoon

By Tiburce and Valerian softely,

Withinne hir burying-place, under the stoon.

410

And after this Almachius hastily

Bad his ministres fecchen openly

Cecile, so that she mighte in his presence

Doon sacrifyce, and Iupiter encense.

But they, converted at hir wyse lore,

415

Wepten ful sore, and yaven ful credence

Unto hir word, and cryden more and more,

‘Crist, goddes sone withouten difference,

Is verray god, this is al our sentence,

That hath so good a servant him to serve;

420

This with o voys we trowen, thogh we sterve!’

418. E. omits al.

Almachius, that herde of this doinge,

Bad fecchen Cecile, that he might hir see,

And alderfirst, lo! this was his axinge,

‘What maner womman artow?’ tho quod he.

425

‘I am a gentil womman born,’ quod she.

‘I axe thee,’ quod he, ‘thogh it thee greve,

Of thy religioun and of thy bileve.’

424. Cp. Pt. Ln. tho; rest omit.

‘Ye han bigonne your question folily,’

Quod she, ‘that wolden two answeres conclude

430

In oo demande; ye axed lewedly.’

Almache answerde unto that similitude,

‘Of whennes comth thyn answering so rude?’

‘Of whennes?’ quod she, whan that she was freyned,

‘Of conscience and of good feith unfeyned.’

435

Almachius seyde, ‘ne takestow non hede

Of my power?’ and she answerde him this —

‘Your might,’ quod she, ‘ful litel is to drede;

For every mortal mannes power nis

But lyk a bladdre, ful of wind, y-wis.

440

For with a nedles poynt, whan it is blowe,

May al the boost of it be leyd ful lowe.’

436. Hn. Hl. this; Cm. Cp. Pt. Ln. thus; E. omits.

‘Ful wrongfully bigonne thou,’ quod he,

‘And yet in wrong is thy perseveraunce;

Wostow nat how our mighty princes free

445

Han thus comanded and maad ordinaunce,

That every cristen wight shal han penaunce

But-if that he his cristendom withseye,

And goon al quit, if he wol it reneye?’

‘Your princes erren, as your nobley dooth,’

450

Quod tho Cecile, ‘and with a wood sentence

Ye make us gilty, and it is nat sooth;

For ye, that knowen wel our innocence,

For as muche as we doon a reverence

To Crist, and for we bere a cristen name,

455

Ye putte on us a cryme, and eek a blame.

451. E. Hn. Cm. omit it.

But we that knowen thilke name so

For vertuous, we may it nat withseye.’

Almache answerde, ‘chees oon of thise two,

Do sacrifyce, or cristendom reneye,

460

That thou mowe now escapen by that weye.’

At which the holy blisful fayre mayde

Gan for to laughe, and to the Iuge seyde,

‘O Iuge, confus in thy nycetee,

Woltow that I reneye innocence,

465

To make me a wikked wight?’ quod she;

‘Lo! he dissimuleth here in audience,

He stareth and woodeth in his advertence!’

To whom Almachius, ‘unsely wrecche,

Ne woostow nat how far my might may strecche?

467. E. and he; rest omit he.

470

Han noght our mighty princes to me yeven,

Ye, bothe power and auctoritee

To maken folk to dyen or to liven?

Why spekestow so proudly than to me?’

‘I speke noght but stedfastly,’ quod she,

475

‘Nat proudly, for I seye, as for my syde,

We haten deedly thilke vyce of pryde.

475. E. speke; rest seye.

And if thou drede nat a sooth to here,

Than wol I shewe al openly, by right,

That thou hast maad a ful gret lesing here.

480

Thou seyst, thy princes han thee yeven might

Bothe for to sleen and for to quiken a wight;

Thou, that ne mayst but only lyf bireve,

Thou hast non other power ne no leve!

But thou mayst seyn, thy princes han thee maked

485

Ministre of deeth; for if thou speke of mo,

Thou lyest, for thy power is ful naked.’

‘Do wey thy boldnes,’ seyde Almachius tho,

‘And sacrifyce to our goddes, er thou go;

I recche nat what wrong that thou me profre,

490

For I can suffre it as a philosophre;

487. Hl. lewednes; rest boldnesse.

But thilke wronges may I nat endure

That thou spekest of our goddes here,’ quod he.

Cecile answerede, ‘o nyce creature,

Thou seydest no word sin thou spak to me

495

That I ne knew therwith thy nycetee;

And that thou were, in every maner wyse,

A lewed officer and a veyn Iustyse.

Ther lakketh no-thing to thyn utter yën

That thou nart blind, for thing that we seen alle

500

That it is stoon, that men may wel espyen,

That ilke stoon a god thou wolt it calle.

I rede thee, lat thyn hand upon it falle,

And taste it wel, and stoon thou shalt it finde,

Sin that thou seest nat with thyn yën blinde.

505

It is a shame that the peple shal

So scorne thee, and laughe at thy folye;

For comunly men woot it wel overal,

That mighty god is in his hevenes hye,

And thise images, wel thou mayst espye,

510

To thee ne to hem-self mowe nought profyte,

For in effect they been nat worth a myte.’

510. E. Ln. insert ne before mowe; E. mowen; Hn. mowe.

Thise wordes and swiche othere seyde she,

And he weex wroth, and bad men sholde hir lede

Hom til hir hous, ‘and in hir hous,’ quod he,

515

‘Brenne hir right in a bath of flambes rede.’

And as he bad, right so was doon in dede;

For in a bath they gonne hir faste shetten,

And night and day greet fyr they under betten.

518. E. fyre; Hn. Cm. fyr.

The longe night and eek a day also,

520

For al the fyr and eek the bathes hete,

She sat al cold, and felede no wo,

It made hir nat a drope for to swete.

But in that bath hir lyf she moste lete;

For he, Almachius, with ful wikke entente

525

To sleen hir in the bath his sonde sente.

521. Cm. felede; E. Hn. feled; Cp. Pt. Ln. felt of it.   524. E. Hn. a ful; Cm. a; rest ful.

Three strokes in the nekke he smoot hir tho,

The tormentour, but for no maner chaunce

He mighte noght smyte al hir nekke a-two;

And for ther was that tyme an ordinaunce,

530

That no man sholde doon man swich penaunce

The ferthe strook to smyten, softe or sore,

This tormentour ne dorste do na-more.

528. Cp. Pt. smyten; rest smyte. 530. man (2)] E. men.

But half-deed, with hir nekke y-corven there,

He lefte hir lye, and on his wey is went.

535

The cristen folk, which that aboute hir were,

With shetes han the blood ful faire y-hent.

Thre dayes lived she in this torment,

And never cessed hem the feith to teche;

That she hadde fostred, hem she gan to preche;

534. Cm. is went; rest he wente (or he went) against the rime.

540

And hem she yaf hir moebles and hir thing,

And to the pope Urban bitook hem tho,

And seyde, ‘I axed this at hevene king,

To han respyt three dayes and na-mo,

To recomende to yow, er that I go,

545

Thise soules, lo! and that I mighte do werche

Here of myn hous perpetuelly a cherche.’

542. E. at; rest of; see G 621.

Seint Urban, with his deknes, prively

The body fette, and buried it by nighte

Among his othere seintes honestly.

550

Hir hous the chirche of seint Cecilie highte;

Seint Urban halwed it, as he wel mighte;

In which, into this day, in noble wyse,

Men doon to Crist and to his seint servyse.

Here is ended the Seconde Nonnes Tale.

548. E. This; rest The.   550. E. Hn. Ln. seinte.   553. E. Hn. Pt. seinte; Cp. seintz; Pt. seintes.   Colophon. From E. Hn.; Hl. Here endeth the secounde Nonne hir tale of the lif of seint Cecilie.

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