But I, that God of loves servantz serve
For so hope I my sowle best avaunce,
To prey for hem that Loves servauntz be,
And write hire wo, and lyve in charite,
And for to have of hem compassioun,
As though I were hire owne brother dere.
Now hekneth with a good entencioun,
For now wil I gon streght to my matere,
In which ye may the double sorwes here
Of Troilus, in lovynge of Criseyde,
And how that she forsook hym er she deyde.
Criseyde was this lady name al right.
As to my doom, in al Troies cite
Nas non so fair (T&C, 1:99-101)
But wheither that she children hadde or noon,
I rede it naught, therfore I late it goon.
[cf. Boccaccio, Il Filostrato: "nor did she need to take care of son or daughter , for it had never been her fortune to have a child."]
But the Troian gestes, as they felle,
In Omer, or in Dares, or in Dite,
Whoso that kan may rede hem as they write.
[cf. Benôit de Sainte-Maure: "Homer, who was a wondrous clerk and wise and learned, wrote of the destruction, of the great siege, and of the cause whereby Troy was laid waste, so that it was nevermore the abode of men. But his book does not tell the truth .[Dares] wrote the truth of the story."]
Lo, he that leet hymselven so konnynge,
And scorned hem that Loves peynes dryen,
Was ful unwar that Love hadde his dwellynge
Withinne the subtile stremes of hire yën;
That sodeynly hym thoughte he felte dyen,
Right with hire look, the spirit in his herte.
Blissed by Love, that kan thus folk converte!
And of his song naught only the sentence,
As writ myn auctour called Lollius,
But pleinly, save oure tonges difference,
I dar wel seyn, in al that Troilus
Seyde in his song, loo! every word right thus
As I shal seyn (T&C, 1:393-8)
"A whetston is no kervyng instrument,
But yet it maketh sharpe kervyng tolis."
"And witteth wel that bothe two ben vices,
Mistrusten alle, or elles alle leve."
"Were it for my suster, al thy sorwe,
By my wil she sholde al be thyn to-morwe."
"A ha!" quod Pandare, "here bygynneth game."
Forwhi to every lovere I me excuse,
That of no sentement I this endite,
But out of Latyn in my tonge it write.
Wherfore I nyl have neither thank ne blame
Of al this werk, but prey yow mekely,
Disblameth me, if any word be lame,
For as myn auctour seyde, so sey I.
Ek though I speeke of love unfelyngly,
No wondre is, for it nothyng of newe is;
A blynde man kan nat juggen wel in hewis.
Ye knowe ek that in forme of speche is chaunge
Withinne a thousand yeer, and wordes tho
That hadden pris, now wonder nyce and straunge
Us thinketh hem, and yet thei spake hem so,
And sped as wel in love as men now do;
Ek for to wynnen love in sondry ages,
In sondry londes, sondry ben usages.
[cf. Benôit de Sainte-Maure: "I shall begin the story here, I shall follow the Latin closely, I shall put in nothing but as I find it written. Nor do I say or add any good word, even had I the skill, but I shall follow my matter."]
"I? God forbede!" quod she, "be ye mad?
Is that a widewes lif, so God yow save?"
"Ther nas but Grekes blood,--and Troilus."
"Now, nece myn, the kynges deere sone,
The goode, wise, worthi, fresshe, and free,
Which alwey for to don wel is his wone,
The noble Troilus, so loveth the,
That, but ye helpe, it wol his bane be.
Lo, here is al! What sholde I moore seye?
Do what yow lest, to make hym lyve or deye."
"I am thyn em; the shame were to me,
As wel as the, if that I sholde assente,
Thorugh myn abet, that he thyn honour shente.
"Now understonde, for I yow nought requere
To bynde yow to hym thorugh no byheste,
But only that ye make hym bettre chiere"
"I shal so doon, myn honour shal I kepe,
And ek his lif,"--and stynte for to wepe.
"Of harmes two, the lesse is for to chese;
Yet have I levere maken hym good chere
In honour, than myn emes lyf to lese.
Ye seyn, ye nothyng elles me require?"
"No, wis," quod he, "myn owen nece dere."
"And sith ye woot that myn entent is cleene,
Take heede therof, for I non yvel meene.
"And right good thrift I prey to God, have ye,
That han swich oon ykaught withouten net!
And, be ye wis as ye be fair to see,
Wel in the ryng than is the ruby set.
Ther were never two so wel ymet,
Whan ye ben his al hool, as he is youre:
Ther myghty God yet graunte us see that houre!"
"Nay, therof spak I nought, ha, ha!" quod she;
"Who yaf me drynke?"
Now myghte som envious jangle thus:
"This was a sodeyn love; how myght it be
That she so lightly loved Troilus,
Righte for the firste syghte, ye parde?"
Now whoso seith so, mote he never ythe!
For every thyng, a gynnyng hath it nede
Er al be wrought, withowten any drede.
For I sey nought that she so sodeynly
Yaf hym hire love, but that she gan enclyne
To like hym first,
"I am myn owne womman, wel at ese,
I thank God, as after myn estat,
Right yong, and stonde unteyd in lusty leese,
Withouten jalousie or swich debat.
Shal noon housbonde seyn to me chek mat!
For either they ben ful of jalousie,
Or maisterfull, or loven novelrie."
"Alas! syn I am free,
Sholde I now love, and put in jupartie
My sikernesse, and thrallen libertee?"
And ay gan love hire lasse for tagaste
Than it dide erst, and synken in hire herte,
That she wex somwhat able to converte.
And as she slep, snonright tho hire mette
How that an egle, fethred whit as bon,
Under hire bresthis long clawes sette,
An out hire herte he rente, and that anon,
And dide his herte into hire brest to gon--
Of which she nought agroos, ne nothyng smerte--
And forth he fleigh, with herte left for herte.
"Refuse it naught," quod he, and hente hire faste,
And in hire bosom the lettre down he thraste."
cf. Boccaccio: "Criseida smiled as she heard him, and took the letter and put it in her bosom."
and it were ek to soone
To graunten hym so grete a libertee.
For pleynly hire entente, as seyde she,
Was for to love hym unwist, if she myghte,
And guerdon hym with nothing but with sighte.
But Pandare thought, "It shal nought be so,
Yif that I may "
She com to dyner in hire pleyne entente.
But God and Pandare wist al what this mente.
But ther sat oon, al list hire nought to teche,
That thoughte, "Best koude I yet ben his leche."
"Think al swich taried tyde but lost it nys.
That wol ye bothe seyn, whan ye ben oon."
Lay al this mene while Troilus
" for the am I bicomen,
Betwixen game and ernest, swich a meene
As maken wommen unto men to comen
"But God, that al woot, take I to witnesse,
That nevere I this for coveitise wroughte,
But oonly for tabregge that distresse
For which wel neigh thow deidest, as me thoughte.
But, goode brother, do now as the oughte,
For Goddes love, and kep hire out of blame,
Syn thow art wys, and save alwey hire name.
"For wel thow woost, the name as yet of here
Among the peeple, as who seyth, halwed it;
For that man is unbore, I dar wel swere,
That evere wiste that she dide amys.
But wo is me, that I, that cause al this,
May thynken that she is my nece deere,
And I hire em, and traitour eke yfeere!
(T&C, 3:253-74) [cf. 3:407-13]
"For wel I woot, thow menest wel, parde;
Therfore I dar this fully undertake.
Thow woost ek what thi lady graunted the,
And day is set, the chartres up to make."
It semed hire he wiste what she thoughte
Withouten word, so that it was no nede
To bidde hym ought to doon, or ought forbeede;
For which she thought that love, al come it late,
Of alle joie had opned hire the yate.
And Pandarus, to quike alwey the fir,
Was evere ylike prest and diligent;
To ese his frend was set al his desir.
He shof ay on
Soone after this, she to hym gan to rowne,
And axed hym if Troilus were there.
He swor hir nay, for he was out of towne.
And seyde, "Nece, I pose that he were "
Nought list myn auctour fully to declare
What that she thoughte whan he seyde so,
That Troilus was out of towne yfare,
As if he seyde therof soth or no;
But that, withowten await, with hym to go,
She graunted hym, sith he hire that bisoughte,
And, as his nece, obeyed as hire oughte.
She took hire leve, and nedes wolde wende.
But O Fortune, executrice of wyrdes!
O influences of thise hevens hye!
Soth is, that under God ye ben oure hierdes,
Though to us bestes ben the causes wrie.
This mene I now, for she gan homward hye,
But execut was al bisyde hire leve
The goddes wil; for which she moste bleve.
"They might demen thyng they nevere er thoughte."
This accident was so pitous to here,
And ek so like a sooth, at prime face,
And Troilus hire knyght to hir so deere,
His prive comyng, and the siker place,
That, though that she did hym as thanne a grace,
Considered alle thynges as they stoode,
No wonder is, syn she did al for goode.
For this or that, he into bed hym caste,
And seyde, "O thef, is this a mannes herte?"
And of he rente al to his bare sherte.
"Now yeldeth yow, for other bote is non!"
To that Criseyde answerde thus anon,
"Ne hadde I er now, my swete herte deere,
Ben yold, ywis, I were now nought heere!"
But soth is, though I kan nat tellen al,
As kan myn auctour, of his excellence,
Yet have I seyd, and God toforn, and shal
In every thyng the grete of his sentence:
And if that ich, at Loves reverence,
Have any word in eched for the beste,
Doth therwithal right as youreselven leste.
For myne wordes, heere and every part,
I speke hem alle under corrccioun
Of yow that felyng han in loves art,
And putte it al in youre discrecioun
Tencresse or maken dymynucioun
Of my langage, and that I yow biseche.
But now to purpos of my rather speche.
But al to litel, weylaway the whyle,
Lasteth swich joie, ythonked be Fortune,
That semeth trewest whan she wol bygyle,
And kan to fooles so hire song entune,
That she hem hent and blent, traitour comune!
And whan a wight is from hire whiel ythrowe,
Than laugheth she, and maketh hym the mowe.
And now my penne, allas, with which I write,
Quaketh for drede of that I moste endite
For how Criseyde Troilus forsook,
Or at the leeste, how that she was unkynde,
Moot henesforth ben matere of my book,
As writen folk thorugh which it is in mynde.
Allas! that they sholde evere cuase fynde
To speke hire harm, and if they on hire lye,
Iwis, hemself sholde han the vilanye.
"O kyng Priam," quod they, "thus sygge we,
That al oure vois is to forgon Criseyde."
"This town is ful of ladys alk aboute"
Aboute hire eyen two a purpre ring
Bytrent, in sothfast tokenyng of hire peyne"
"But natheles, allas! whom shal I leeve?
For ther ben grete clerkes mano oon,
That destyne thorugh argumentes preve;
And som men seyn that nedely ther is noon,
But that fre chois is yeven us everychon.
O, welawey! so sleighe arn clekes olde,
That I not whos opynyoun I may holde.
"I mene as though I laboured me in this,
To enqueren which thyng cause ofwhich thyng be:
As wheither that the prescience of God is
The certeyn cause of the necessite
Of thynges that to comen ben, parde;
Or if necessite of thyng comynge
Be cause certeyn of the purveyinge."
"And this suffiseth right ynough, certeyn,
For to destuye oure fre chois every del."
"But with this selve swerd, which that here is,
Myselve I wolde han slayn," quod she tho.
"But hoo, for we han right ynough of this,
And lat us rise, and streght to bedde go"
"Er dayes ten, this dar I saufly seyn."
For goddes speken in amphibologies,
And for oo sooth they tellen twenty lyes.
"Eke drede fond first goddes, I suppose,--
Thus shal I seyn,--and that his coward herte
Made hym amys the goddes text to glose,
Whan he for fered out of Delphos start.
And but I make hym soone to converte,
And don my red withinne a day or tweye,
I wol to yow oblige me to deye."
And treweliche, as writen wel I fynde,
That al this thing was seyd of good entente:
And that hire herte trewe was and kynde
Towardes hym, and spak right as she mente
And that she starf for wo neigh, whan she wente,
And was in purpose evere to be trewe:
Thus writen they that of hire werkes knewe.
"The tenthe day, but if that deth massaile,
I wol yow sen, withouten any faille."
"For trusteth wel, that your estate roial,
Ne veyn delit, nor only worthinesse
Of yow in werre or torney marcial,
Ne pompe, array, nobleye, or ek richesse
Ne made me to rewe on youre destresse;
But moral vertu, grounded upon trouthe,
That was the cause that I first hadde on yow routhe!"
And trewely, as men in bokes rede,
Men wiste nevere womman han the care,
Ne was so loth out of a town to fare.
But Troilus, now far-wel al thi joie,
For shaltow nevere sen hire eft in Troie!
But why he nolde don so fel a dede,
That shal I seyn, and whi hymliste it spare:
He hadde in herte alweyes a manere drede
Lest that Criseyde, in rumour of this fare,
Sholde han ben slayn; lo, this was al his care.
"'He is a fool that wole foryete himselve.'"
Thow, redere, maist thiself ful wel devyne
That swich a wo my wit kan nat diffyne;
A straw for alle swevenes signifiaunce!
God helpe me so, I counte hem nought a bene!
Ther woot no man aright what dremes mene.
"But natheles, bityde what bityde,
I shal to-morwe at nyght, be est or west,
Out of ths oost stele on some manere syde,
And gon with Troilus where as hym lest.
This purpos wol ich holde, and this is best."
But god it wot, er fully monthes two,
She was ful fer fro that entencioun!
Lines 799ff.: the "Portraits"
"And but if Calkas lede us with ambages,
That is to seyn, with double wordes slye,
Swiche as men clepen a word with two visages,
Ye shal wel knowen that I naught ne lye,
And al this thyng right sen it with youre yë,
And that anon, ye nyl nat trowe how sone."
"But as to speke of love, ywis," she seyde,
"I hadde a lord, to whom I wedded was,
The whos myn herte al; was, til that he deyde;
And other love, as help me now Pallas,
Ther in myn herte nys, ne nevere was."
"I say nat herfore that I wol yow love,
Ny say nat nay; but in conclusioun,
I mene wel, by God that sit above!"
Retornyng in hire soule ay up and down
The wordes of this sodeyn Diomede,
His grete estat, and perel of the town,
And that she was allone and hadde nede
Of frendes help; and thus bygan to brede
The cause whi, the sothe for to telle,
That she took fully purpos for to dwelle.
And after this the storie telleth us
That she hym yaf the faire baye stede,
The which he ones wan of Troilus;
And ek a broche--and that was litel nede--
That Troilus was, she yaf this Diomede.
I fynde ek in the stories elleswhere,
Whan thorugh the body hurt was Diomede
Of Troilus, tho wepte she many a teere,
Whan that she saugh his wyde wowndes blede;
And that she took, to kepen hym, good hede;
And for to helen hym of his sorwes smerte,
Men seyn--I not--that she yaf hym hire herte.
But trewely, the storie telleth us,
Ther made nevere womman moore wo
Than she, han that she falsed Troilus.
She seyde, "Allas, for now is clene ago
My name of trouthe in love, for everemo!
For I have falsed oon the gentileste
That evere was, and oon the worthieste!
"Allas, of me, unto the worldes ende,
Shal neyther ben ywriten nor ysonge
No good word, for thise bokes wol me shende.
O, rolled shal I ben on many a tonge!
Thorughout the world my belle shal be ronge!
And wommen moost wol haten me of alle.
Allas, that swich a cas me sholde falle!"
"But syn I se ther is no bette way,
And that to late is now for me to rewe,
To Diomede algate I wol be trewe."
But trewely, how long it was bytwene
That she forsok hym for this Diomede,
Ther is non auctour telleth it, I wene.
[cf. Boccaccio: four days]
Take every man now to his bokes heede,
He shal no terme fynden, out of drede.
For though that he bigan to wowe hire soone,
Er he hire wan, yet was ther more to doone.
Ne me ne list this sely womman chyde
Forther than the sotry wol devyse.
Hire name, allas, is publysshed so wide
That forhire gilt it oughte ynough suffise.
And if I myghte excuse hire any wise,
For she so sory was for hire untrouthe,
Iwis, I wolde excusehire yet for routhe.
He mette he saugh a bor with tuskes grete,
That slepte ayeyn the bryghte sonnes hete.
And by this bor, faste in his armes folde,
Lay, kyssyng ay his lady bryght, Criseyde.
Pandare answerde and seyde, "Allas the while
That I was born! Have I nat seyd er this,
That dremes many a maner man bigile?
And whi? For folk expounden hem amys."
Of which hire answere in effect was this:
Ful pitously she wroot ayeyn, and seyde,
That also sone as that she myghte, ywys,
She wolde come, and mende al that was mys.
And fynaly she wroot and syde hym thenne,
She wolde come, ye, but she nyste whenne.
"This Diomede is inne, and thow art oute."
For which Criseyde upon a day, for routhe--
I take it so--touchyng al this matere,
Wrot hym ayeyn, and seyde as yemay here:
"Come I wole; but yet in swich disjoynte
I stonde as now, that what yer or what day
That this shal be, that kan I naughte apoynte."
The whiche cote, as telleth Lollius,
Deiphebe it hadde rent fro Diomede
The same day. And whan this Troilus
It saugh, he gan to taken of it hede
Ful sodeynly his herte gan to colde,
As he that on the coler fond withinne
A broche, that he Criseyde yaf that morwe
"I hate, ywys, Criseyde"
Go, litel book, go litel myn tragedye,
Ther God thi makere yet, er that he dye,
So sende myght to make in some comedye!
But litel book, no makyng thow nenvie,
But subgit be to alle poesye;
And kis the steppes, where as thow seest pace
Virgile, Ovide, Omer, Lucan, and Stace.
Lo here, of payens corsed olde rites!
Lo here, what alle hire goddes may availle!
Lo here, thise wrecched worldes appetites!
Lo here, the fyn and guerdon for travaille
Of Jove, Appollo, of Mars, of swich rascaille!
Lo here, the forme of olde clerkis speche
In poetrie, if ye hire bokes seche!
O moral Gower, this bok I directe