Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
Extracts from The Boke of the Duchesse
By Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400)
[The following passage is given as a specimen of Chaucer’s earliest or French period. The date is 1369. See full text.]

  ME thoghtë thus, that hyt was May,
And in the dawnynge, ther I lay,
Me mette 1 thus in my bed al naked,
And loked forth, for I was waked
With smalë foulës, a grete hepe,        5
That had afrayed me out of slepe,
Thorgh noyse and swetnesse of her songe.
And as me mette, they sate amonge
Upon my chambre roof wythoute,
Upon the tylës al aboute;        10
And songen everych in hys wyse
The mostë solempnë servise
By noote, that ever man, Y trowe,
Had herd. For somme of hem songe lowe,
Somme high, and al of oon acorde.        15
To tellë shortly at oo word,
Was never herd so swete a steven,
But hyt hadde be a thyng of heven,
So mery a soun, so swete entewnes,
That, certes, for the toune of Tewnes,        20
I nolde but I had herd hem synge,
For al my chambre gan to rynge,
Thorgh syngynge of her armonye;
For instrument nor melodye
Was no-wher herd yet half so swete,        25
Nor of acorde ne half so mete.
For ther was noon of hem that feynede
To synge, for eche of hem hym peynede 2
To fynde out mery crafty notys;
They ne sparede not her throtys.        30
And, sooth to seyn, my chambre was
Ful wel depeynted, and with glas
Were alle the wyndowes wel yglased
Ful clere, and nat an hoole ycrased,
That to beholde hyt was grete joye.        35
For holy al the story of Troye
Was in the glasynge ywrought thus;
Of Ector, and of kyng Priamus,
Of Achilles, and of kyng Lamedon,
And eke of Medea and of Jason,        40
Of Paris, Eleyne, and of Lavyne;
And alle the walles, with coloures fyne
Were peynted, bothë text and glose,
And al the Romaunce of the Rose.
My windowës were shet echon,        45
And throgh the glas the sonnë shon
Upon my bed with bryghtë bemys,
With many gladë, gildë stremys;
And eke the welken was so faire,
Blewe, bryghtë, clerë was the ayre,        50
And ful atempre, for sothe, hyt was;
For nother to cold nor hoote yt nas,
Ne in al the welkene was a clowde.
Note 1. I dreamed. [back]
Note 2. took trouble. [back]

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