Verse > Geoffrey Chaucer > Complete Poetical Works
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Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1894.
 
The Minor Poems
II. The Compleynte unto Pitè
 
PITE, that I have sought so yore ago,
With herte sore, and ful of besy peyne,
That in this world was never wight so wo
With-oute dethe; and, if I shal not feyne,
My purpos was, to Pite to compleyne        5
Upon the crueltee and tirannye
Of Love, that for my trouthe doth me dye.
 
And when that I, by lengthe of certeyn yeres,
Had ever in oon a tyme sought to speke,
To Pite ran I, al bespreynt with teres,        10
To preyen hir on Crueltee me awreke.
But, er I might with any worde out-breke,
Or tellen any of my peynes smerte,
I fond hir deed, and buried in an herte.
 
Adoun I fel, when that I saugh the herse,        15
Deed as a stoon, whyl that the swogh me laste;
But up I roos, with colour ful diverse,
And pitously on hir myn yën caste,
And ner the corps I gan to presen faste,
And for the soule I shoop me for to preye;        20
I nas but lorn; ther nas no more to seye.
 
Thus am I slayn, sith that Pite is deed;
Allas! that day! that ever hit shulde falle!
What maner man dar now holde up his heed?
To whom shal any sorwful herte calle?        25
Now Crueltee hath cast to sleen us alle,
In ydel hope, folk redelees of peyne—
Sith she is deed—to whom shul we compleyne?
 
But yet encreseth me this wonder newe,
That no wight woot that she is deed, but I;        30
So many men as in hir tyme hir knewe,
And yet she dyed not so sodeynly;
For I have sought hir ever ful besily
Sith first I hadde wit or mannes mynde;
But she was deed, er that I coude hir fynde.        35
 
Aboute hir herse ther stoden lustily,
Withouten any wo, as thoughte me,
Bountee parfit, wel armed and richely,
And fresshe Beautee, Lust, and Iolitee,
Assured Maner, Youthe, and Honestee,        40
Wisdom, Estaat, [and] Dreed, and Governaunce,
Confedred bothe by bonde and alliaunce.
 
A compleynt hadde I, writen, in myn hond,
For to have put to Pite as a bille,
But whan I al this companye ther fond,        45
That rather wolden al my cause spille
Than do me help, I held my pleynte stille;
For to that folk, withouten any faile,
Withoute Pite may no bille availe.
 
Then leve I al thise virtues, sauf Pite,        50
Keping the corps, as ye have herd me seyn,
Confedred alle by bonde of Crueltee,
And been assented that I shal be sleyn.
And I have put my compleynt up ageyn;
For to my foos my bille I dar not shewe,        55
Theffect of which seith thus, in wordes fewe:—
 
The Bille.

§ ‘Humblest of herte, hyest of reverence,
Benigne flour, coroune of vertues alle,
Sheweth unto your rial excellence
Your servaunt, if I durste me so calle,        60
His mortal harm, in which he is y-falle,
And noght al only for his evel fare,
But for your renoun, as he shal declare.
 
‘Hit stondeth thus: your contraire, Crueltee,
Allyed is ageynst your regalye        65
Under colour of womanly Beautee,
For men [ne] shuld not knowe hir tirannye,
With Bountee, Gentilesse, and Curtesye,
And hath depryved you now of your place
That hight “Beautee, apertenant to Grace.”        70
 
‘For kyndly, by your heritage right,
Ye been annexed ever unto Bountee;
And verrayly ye oughte do your might
To helpe Trouthe in his adversitee.
Ye been also the coroune of Beautee;        75
And certes, if ye wanten in thise tweyne,
The world is lore; ther nis no more to seyne.
 
§ ‘Eek what availeth Maner and Gentilesse
Withoute you, benigne creature?
Shal Crueltee be your governeresse?        80
Allas! what herte may hit longe endure?
Wherfor, but ye the rather take cure
To breke that perilous alliaunce,
Ye sleen hem that ben in your obeisaunce.
 
‘And further over, if ye suffre this,        85
Your renoun is fordo than in a throwe;
Ther shal no man wite wel what Pite is.
Allas! that your renoun shuld be so lowe!
Ye be than fro your heritage y-throwe
By Crueltee, that occupieth your place;        90
And we despeired, that seken to your grace.
 
‘Have mercy on me, thou Herenus quene,
That you have sought so tenderly and yore;
Let som streem of your light on me be sene
That love and drede you, ay lenger the more.        95
For, sothly for to seyne, I bere the sore,
And, though I be not cunning for to pleyne,
For goddes love, have mercy on my peyne!
 
§ ‘My peyne is this, that what so I desire
That have I not, ne no-thing lyk therto;        100
And ever set Desire myn herte on fire;
Eek on that other syde, wher-so I go,
What maner thing that may encrese wo
That have I redy, unsoght, everywhere;
Me [ne] lakketh but my deth, and than my bere.        105
 
‘What nedeth to shewe parcel of my peyne?
Sith every wo that herte may bethinke
I suffre, and yet I dar not to you pleyne;
For wel I woot, al-though I wake or winke,
Ye rekke not whether I flete or sinke.        110
But natheles, my trouthe I shal sustene
Unto my deth, and that shal wel be sene.
 
‘This is to seyne, I wol be youres ever;
Though ye me slee by Crueltee, your fo,
Algate my spirit shal never dissever        115
Fro your servyse, for any peyne or wo.
Sith ye be deed—allas! that hit is so!—
Thus for your deth I may wel wepe and pleyne
With herte sore and ful of besy peyne.’

Here endeth the exclamacion of the Deth of Pyte.
 
 
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