Verse > Geoffrey Chaucer > Complete Poetical Works
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1894.
The Hous of Fame
Book II
Incipit liber secundus.


  NOW herkneth, every maner man
That English understonde can,
And listeth of my dreem to lere;
For now at erste shul ye here
So selly an avisioun,        5
That Isaye, ne Scipioun,
Ne king Nabugodonosor,
Pharo, Turnus, ne Elcanor,
Ne mette swich a dreem as this!
Now faire blisful, O Cipris,        10
So be my favour at this tyme!
And ye, me to endyte and ryme
Helpeth, that on Parnaso dwelle
By Elicon the clere welle.
  O Thought, that wroot al that I mette,        15
And in the tresorie hit shette
Of my brayn! now shal men see
If any vertu in thee be,
To tellen al my dreem aright;
Now kythe thyn engyn and might!        20
The Dream.

  This egle, of which I have yow told,
That shoon with fethres as of gold,
Which that so hyë gan to sore,
I gan beholde more and more,
To see hir beautee and the wonder;        25
But never was ther dint of thonder,
Ne that thing that men calle foudre,
That smoot somtyme a tour to poudre,
And in his swifte coming brende,
That so swythe gan descende,        30
As this foul, whan hit behelde
That I a-roume was in the felde;
And with his grimme pawes stronge,
Within his sharpe nayles longe,
Me, fleinge, at a swappe he hente,        35
And with his sours agayn up wente,
Me caryinge in his clawes starke
As lightly as I were a larke,
How high, I can not telle yow,
For I cam up, I niste how.        40
For so astonied and a-sweved
Was every vertu in my heved,
What with his sours and with my drede,
That al my feling gan to dede;
For-why hit was to greet affray.        45
  Thus I longe in his clawes lay,
Til at the laste he to me spak
In mannes vois, and seyde, ‘Awak!
And be not so a-gast, for shame!’
And called me tho by my name.        50
And, for I sholde the bet abreyde—
Me mette—‘Awak,’ to me he seyde,
Right in the same vois and stevene
That useth oon I coude nevene;
And with that vois, soth for to sayn,        55
My minde cam to me agayn;
For hit was goodly seyd to me,
So nas hit never wont to be.
  And herwithal I gan to stere,
And he me in his feet to bere,        60
Til that he felte that I had hete,
And felte eek tho myn herte bete.
And tho gan he me to disporte,
And with wordes to comforte,
And sayde twyës, ‘Seynte Marie!        65
Thou art noyous for to carie,
And nothing nedeth hit, parde!
For al-so wis god helpe me
As thou non harm shalt have of this;
And this cas, that betid thee is,        70
Is for thy lore and for thy prow;—
Let see! darst thou yet loke now?
Be ful assured, boldely,
I am thy frend.’ And therwith I
Gan for to wondren in my minde.        75
‘O god,’ thoughte I, ‘that madest kinde,
Shal I non other weyes dye?
Wher Ioves wol me stellifye,
Or what thing may this signifye?
I neither am Enok, ne Elye,        80
Ne Romulus, ne Ganymede
That was y-bore up, as men rede,
To hevene with dan Iupiter,
And maad the goddes boteler.’
  Lo! this was tho my fantasye!        85
But he that bar me gan espye
That I so thoghte, and seyde this:—
‘Thou demest of thy-self amis;
For Ioves is not ther-aboute—
I dar wel putte thee out of doute—        90
To make of thee as yet a sterre.
But er I bere thee moche ferre,
I wol thee telle what I am,
And whider thou shalt, and why I cam
To done this, so that thou take        95
Good herte, and not for fere quake.’
‘Gladly,’ quod I. ‘Now wel,’ quod he:—
‘First I, that in my feet have thee,
Of which thou hast a feer and wonder,
Am dwelling with the god of thonder,        100
Which that men callen Iupiter,
That dooth me flee ful ofte fer
To do al his comaundement.
And for this cause he hath me sent
To thee: now herke, by thy trouthe!        105
Certeyn, he hath of thee routhe,
That thou so longe trewely
Hast served so ententifly
His blinde nevew Cupido,
And fair Venus [goddesse] also,        110
Withoute guerdoun ever yit,
And nevertheles hast set thy wit—
Although that in thy hede ful lyte is—
To make bokes, songes, dytees,
In ryme, or elles in cadence,        115
As thou best canst, in reverence
Of Love, and of his servants eke,
That have his servise soght, and seke;
And peynest thee to preyse his art,
Althogh thou haddest never part;        120
Wherfor, al-so god me blesse,
Ioves halt hit greet humblesse
And vertu eek, that thou wolt make
A-night ful ofte thyn heed to ake,
In thy studie so thou wrytest,        125
And ever-mo of love endytest,
In honour of him and preysinges,
And in his folkes furtheringes,
And in hir matere al devysest,
And noght him nor his folk despysest,        130
Although thou mayst go in the daunce
Of hem that him list not avaunce.
  ‘Wherfor, as I seyde, y-wis,
Iupiter considereth this,
And also, beau sir, other thinges;        135
That is, that thou hast no tydinges
Of Loves folk, if they be glade,
Ne of noght elles that god made;
And noght only fro fer contree
That ther no tyding comth to thee,        140
But of thy verray neyghebores,
That dwellen almost at thy dores,
Thou herest neither that ne this;
For whan thy labour doon al is,
And hast y-maad thy rekeninges,        145
In stede of reste and newe thinges,
Thou gost hoom to thy hous anoon;
And, also domb as any stoon,
Thou sittest at another boke,
Til fully daswed is thy loke,        150
And livest thus as an hermyte,
Although thyn abstinence is lyte.
  ‘And therfor Ioves, through his grace,
Wol that I bere thee to a place,
Which that hight THE HOUS OF FAME,        155
To do thee som disport and game,
In som recompensacioun
Of labour and devocioun
That thou hast had, lo! causeles,
To Cupido, the reccheles!        160
And thus this god, thorgh his meryte,
Wol with som maner thing thee quyte,
So that thou wolt be of good chere.
For truste wel, that thou shalt here,
When we be comen ther I seye,        165
Mo wonder thinges, dar I leye,
Of Loves folke mo tydinges,
Bothe soth-sawes and lesinges;
And mo loves newe begonne,
And longe y-served loves wonne,        170
And mo loves casuelly
That been betid, no man wot why,
But as a blind man stert an hare;
And more Iolytee and fare,
Whyl that they finde love of stele,        175
As thinketh hem, and over-al wele;
Mo discords, and mo Ielousyes,
Mo murmurs, and mo novelryes,
And mo dissimulaciouns,
And feyned reparaciouns;        180
And mo berdes in two houres
Withoute rasour or sisoures
Y-maad, then greynes be of sondes;
And eke mo holdinge in hondes,
And also mo renovelaunces        185
Of olde forleten aqueyntaunces;
Mo love-dayes and acordes
Then on instruments ben cordes;
And eke of loves mo eschaunges
Than ever cornes were in graunges;        190
Unethe maistow trowen this?’—
Quod he. ‘No, helpe me god so wis!’—
Quod I. ‘No? why?’ quod he. ‘For hit
Were impossible, to my wit,
Though that Fame hadde al the pyes        195
In al a realme, and al the spyes,
How that yet she shulde here al this,
Or they espye hit.’ ‘O yis, yis!’
Quod he to me, ‘that can I preve
By resoun, worthy for to leve,        200
So that thou yeve thyn advertence
To understonde my sentence.
  ‘First shalt thou heren wher she dwelleth,
And so thyn owne book hit telleth;
Hir paleys stant, as I shal seye,        205
Right even in middes of the weye
Betwixen hevene, erthe, and see;
That, what-so-ever in al these three
Is spoken, in privee or aperte,
The wey therto is so overte,        210
And stant eek in so Iuste a place,
That every soun mot to hit pace,
Or what so comth fro any tonge,
Be hit rouned, red, or songe,
Or spoke in seurtee or drede,        215
Certein, hit moste thider nede.
  ‘Now herkne wel; for-why I wille
Tellen thee a propre skile,
And worthy demonstracioun
In myn imagynacioun.        220
  ‘Geffrey, thou wost right wel this,
That every kindly thing that is,
Hath a kindly stede ther he
May best in hit conserved be;
Unto which place every thing,        225
Through his kindly enclyning,
Moveth for to come to,
Whan that hit is awey therfro;
As thus; lo, thou mayst al day see
That any thing that hevy be,        230
As stoon or leed, or thing of wighte,
And ber hit never so hye on highte,
Lat go thyn hand, hit falleth doun.
  ‘Right so seye I by fyre or soun,
Or smoke, or other thinges lighte,        235
Alwey they seke upward on highte;
Whyl ech of hem is at his large,
Light thing up, and dounward charge.
  ‘And for this cause mayst thou see,
That every river to the see        240
Enclyned is to go, by kinde.
And by these skilles, as I finde,
Hath fish dwellinge in floode and see,
And treës eek in erthe be.
Thus every thing, by this resoun,        245
Hath his propre mansioun,
To which hit seketh to repaire,
As ther hit shulde not apaire.
Lo, this sentence is knowen couthe
Of every philosophres mouthe,        250
As Aristotle and dan Platon,
And other clerkes many oon;
And to confirme my resoun,
Thou wost wel this, that speche is soun,
Or elles no man mighte hit here;        255
Now herkne what I wol thee lere.
  ‘Soun is noght but air y-broken,
And every speche that is spoken,
Loud or privee, foul or fair,
In his substaunce is but air;        260
For as flaumbe is but lighted smoke,
Right so soun is air y-broke.
But this may be in many wyse,
Of which I wil thee two devyse,
As soun that comth of pype or harpe.        265
For whan a pype is blowen sharpe,
The air is twist with violence,
And rent; lo, this is my sentence;
Eek, whan men harpe-stringes smyte,
Whether hit be moche or lyte,        270
Lo, with the strook the air to-breketh;
Right so hit breketh whan men speketh.
Thus wost thou wel what thing is speche.
  ‘Now hennesforth I wol thee teche,
How every speche, or noise, or soun,        275
Through his multiplicacioun,
Thogh hit were pyped of a mouse,
Moot nede come to Fames House.
I preve hit thus—tak hede now—
By experience; for if that thou        280
Throwe on water now a stoon,
Wel wost thou, hit wol make anoon
A litel roundel as a cercle,
Paraventure brood as a covercle;
And right anoon thou shalt see weel,        285
That wheel wol cause another wheel,
And that the thridde, and so forth, brother,
Every cercle causing other,
Wyder than himselve was;
And thus, fro roundel to compas,        290
Ech aboute other goinge,
Caused of othres steringe,
And multiplying ever-mo,
Til that hit be so fer y-go
That hit at bothe brinkes be.        295
Al-thogh thou mowe hit not y-see
Above, hit goth yet alway under,
Although thou thenke hit a gret wonder.
And who-so seith of trouthe I varie,
Bid him proven the contrarie.        300
And right thus every word, y-wis,
That loude or privee spoken is,
Moveth first an air aboute,
And of this moving, out of doute,
Another air anoon is meved,        305
As I have of the water preved,
That every cercle causeth other.
Right so of air, my leve brother;
Everich air in other stereth
More and more, and speche up bereth,        310
Or vois, or noise, or word, or soun,
Ay through multiplicacioun,
Til hit be atte House of Fame;—
Tak hit in ernest or in game.
  ‘Now have I told, if thou have minde,        315
How speche or soun, of pure kinde,
Enclyned is upward to meve;
This, mayst thou fele, wel I preve.
And that [the mansioun], y-wis,
That every thing enclyned to is,        320
Hath his kindeliche stede:
That sheweth hit, withouten drede,
That kindely the mansioun
Of every speche, of every soun,
Be hit either foul or fair,        325
Hath his kinde place in air.
And sin that every thing, that is
Out of his kinde place, y-wis,
Moveth thider for to go
If hit a-weye be therfro,        330
As I before have preved thee,
Hit seweth, every soun, pardee,
Moveth kindely to pace
Al up into his kindely place.
And this place of which I telle,        335
Ther as Fame list to dwelle,
Is set amiddes of these three,
Heven, erthe, and eek the see,
As most conservatif the soun.
Than is this the conclusioun,        340
That every speche of every man,
As I thee telle first began,
Moveth up on high to pace
Kindely to Fames place.
  ‘Telle me this feithfully,        345
Have I not preved thus simply,
Withouten any subtiltee
Of speche, or gret prolixitee
Of termes of philosophye,
Of figures of poetrye,        350
Or colours of rethoryke?
Pardee, hit oghte thee to lyke;
For hard langage and hard matere
Is encombrous for to here
At ones; wost thou not wel this?’        355
And I answerde, and seyde, ‘Yis.’
  ‘A ha!’ quod he, ‘lo, so I can
Lewedly to a lewed man
Speke, and shewe him swiche skiles,
That he may shake hem by the biles,        360
So palpable they shulden be.
But tel me this, now pray I thee,
How thinkth thee my conclusioun?’
[Quod he]. ‘A good persuasioun,’
Quod I, ‘hit is; and lyk to be        365
Right so as thou hast preved me.’
‘By god,’ quod he, ‘and as I leve,
Thou shalt have yit, or hit be eve,
Of every word of this sentence
A preve, by experience;        370
And with thyn eres heren wel
Top and tail, and everydel,
That every word that spoken is
Comth into Fames Hous, y-wis,
As I have seyd; what wilt thou more?’        375
And with this word upper to sore
He gan, and seyde, ‘By Seynt Iame!
Now wil we speken al of game.’—
  ‘How farest thou?’ quod he to me.
‘Wel,’ quod I. ‘Now see,’ quod he,        380
‘By thy trouthe, yond adoun,
Wher that thou knowest any toun,
Or hous, or any other thing.
And whan thou hast of ought knowing,
Loke that thou warne me,        385
And I anoon shal telle thee
How fer that thou art now therfro.’
  And I adoun gan loken tho,
And beheld feldes and plaines,
And now hilles, and now mountaines,        390
Now valeys, and now forestes,
And now, unethes, grete bestes;
Now riveres, now citees,
Now tounes, and now grete trees,
Now shippes sailinge in the see.        395
  But thus sone in a whyle he
Was flowen fro the grounde so hyë,
That al the world, as to myn yë,
No more semed than a prikke;
Or elles was the air so thikke        400
That I ne mighte not discerne.
With that he spak to me as yerne,
And seyde: ‘Seestow any [toun]
Or ought thou knowest yonder doun?’
  I seyde, ‘Nay.’ ‘No wonder nis,’        405
Quod he, ‘for half so high as this
Nas Alexander Macedo;
Ne the king, dan Scipio,
That saw in dreme, at point devys,
Helle and erthe, and paradys;        410
Ne eek the wrecche Dedalus,
Ne his child, nyce Icarus,
That fleigh so highe that the hete
His winges malt, and he fel wete
In-mid the see, and ther he dreynte,        415
For whom was maked moch compleynte.
  ‘Now turn upward,’ quod he, ‘thy face,
And behold this large place,
This air; but loke thou ne be
Adrad of hem that thou shalt see;        420
For in this regioun, certein,
Dwelleth many a citezein,
Of which that speketh dan Plato.
These ben the eyrish bestes, lo!’
And so saw I al that meynee        425
Bothe goon and also flee.
‘Now,’ quod he tho, ‘cast up thyn yë;
See yonder, lo, the Galaxyë,
Which men clepeth the Milky Wey,
For hit is whyt: and somme, parfey,        430
Callen hit Watlinge Strete:
That ones was y-brent with hete,
Whan the sonnes sone, the rede,
That highte Pheton, wolde lede
Algate his fader cart, and gye.        435
The cart-hors gonne wel espye
That he ne coude no governaunce,
And gonne for to lepe and launce,
And beren him now up, now doun,
Til that he saw the Scorpioun,        440
Which that in heven a signe is yit.
And he, for ferde, loste his wit,
Of that, and leet the reynes goon
Of his hors; and they anoon
Gonne up to mounte, and doun descende        445
Til bothe the eyr and erthe brende;
Til Iupiter, lo, atte laste,
Him slow, and fro the carte caste.
Lo, is it not a greet mischaunce,
To lete a fole han governaunce        450
Of thing that he can not demeine?’
  And with this word, soth for to seyne,
He gan alway upper to sore,
And gladded me ay more and more,
So feithfully to me spak he.        455
  Tho gan I loken under me,
And beheld the eyrish bestes,
Cloudes, mistes, and tempestes,
Snowes, hailes, reines, windes,
And thengendring in hir kindes,        460
And al the wey through whiche I cam;
‘O god,’ quod I, ‘that made Adam,
Moche is thy might and thy noblesse!’
  And tho thoughte I upon Boëce,
That writ, ‘a thought may flee so hyë,        465
With fetheres of Philosophye,
To passen everich element;
And whan he hath so fer y-went,
Than may be seen, behind his bak,
Cloud, and al that I of spak.’        470
  Tho gan I wexen in a were,
And seyde, ‘I woot wel I am here;
But wher in body or in gost
I noot, y-wis; but god, thou wost!’
For more cleer entendement        475
Nadde he me never yit y-sent.
And than thoughte I on Marcian,
And eek on Anteclaudian,
That sooth was hir descripcioun
Of al the hevenes regioun,        480
As fer as that I saw the preve;
Therfor I can hem now beleve.
  With that this egle gan to crye:
‘Lat be,’ quod he, ‘thy fantasye;
Wilt thou lere of sterres aught?’        485
‘Nay, certeinly,’ quod I, ‘right naught;
And why? for I am now to old.’
‘Elles I wolde thee have told,’
Quod he, ‘the sterres names, lo,
And al the hevenes signes to,        490
And which they been.’ ‘No fors,’ quod I.
‘Yis, pardee,’ quod he; ‘wostow why?
For whan thou redest poetrye,
How goddes gonne stellifye
Brid, fish, beste, or him or here,        495
As the Raven, or either Bere,
Or Ariones harpe fyn,
Castor, Pollux, or Delphyn,
Or Atlantes doughtres sevene,
How alle these arn set in hevene;        500
For though thou have hem ofte on honde,
Yet nostow not wher that they stonde.’
‘No fors,’ quod I, ‘hit is no nede;
I leve as wel, so god me spede,
Hem that wryte of this matere,        505
As though I knew hir places here;
And eek they shynen here so brighte,
Hit shulde shenden al my sighte,
To loke on hem.’ ‘That may wel be,’
Quod he. And so forth bar he me        510
A whyl, and than he gan to crye,
That never herde I thing so hye,
‘Now up the heed; for al is wel;
Seynt Iulyan, lo, bon hostel!
See here the House of Fame, lo!        515
Maistow not heren that I do?’
‘What?’ quod I. ‘The grete soun,’
Quod he, ‘that rumbleth up and doun
In Fames Hous, ful of tydinges,
Bothe of fair speche and chydinges,        520
And of fals and soth compouned.
Herkne wel; hit is not rouned.
Herestow not the grete swogh?’
‘Yis, pardee,’ quod I, ‘wel y-nogh.’
‘And what soun is it lyk?’ quod he.        525
‘Peter! lyk beting of the see,’
Quod I, ‘again the roches holowe,
Whan tempest doth the shippes swalowe;
And lat a man stonde, out of doute,
A myle thens, and here hit route;        530
Or elles lyk the last humblinge
After the clappe of a thundringe,
When Ioves hath the air y-bete;
But hit doth me for fere swete.’
‘Nay, dred thee not therof,’ quod he,        535
‘Hit is nothing wil byten thee;
Thou shalt non harm have, trewely.’
  And with this word bothe he and I
As nigh the place arryved were
As men may casten with a spere.        540
I nistë how, but in a strete
He sette me faire on my fete,
And seyde, ‘Walke forth a pas,
And tak thyn aventure or cas,
That thou shalt finde in Fames place.’        545
  ‘Now,’ quod I, ‘whyl we han space
To speke, or that I go fro thee,
For the love of god, tel me,
In sooth, that wil I of thee lere,
If this noise that I here        550
Be, as I have herd thee tellen,
Of folk that doun in erthe dwellen,
And comth here in the same wyse
As I thee herde or this devyse;
And that ther lyves body nis        555
In al that hous that yonder is,
That maketh al this loude fare?’
‘No,’ quod he, ‘by Seynte Clare,
And also wis god rede me!
But o thinge I wil warne thee        560
Of the which thou wolt have wonder.
Lo, to the House of Fame yonder
Thou wost how cometh every speche,
Hit nedeth noght thee eft to teche.
But understond now right wel this;        565
Whan any speche y-comen is
Up to the paleys, anon-right
Hit wexeth lyk the same wight,
Which that the word in erthe spak,
Be hit clothed reed or blak;        570
And hath so verray his lyknesse
That spak the word, that thou wilt gesse
That hit the same body be,
Man or woman, he or she.
And is not this a wonder thing?’        575
‘Yis,’ quod I tho, ‘by hevene king!’
And with this worde, ‘Farwel,’ quod he,
‘And here I wol abyden thee;
And god of hevene sende thee grace,
Som good to lernen in this place.’        580
And I of him took leve anoon,
And gan forth to the paleys goon.

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