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 Troylus and Criseyde
By Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400)
(See full text.)

[Troylus sees Criseyde in the Temple, and loves her at first sight.]

BUT though that Grekës hem of Troye in shetten, 1
And hire cité beseged al aboute,
Hire olde usagës woldë thai noght letten,
As for to honoure hire goddës ful devoute,
But aldermost in honour, out of doute,        5
They had a relyk hight Palladioun,
That was hire trist aboven everichoun.
And so byfel, whan comen was the tyme
Of Aperil, whan clothed is the mede
With newë grene, of lusty Veer the prime,        10
And swotë smellen floures, white and rede;
In sondry wisë schewed, as I rede,
The folk of Troye hire observaunces olde,
Palladyones festë for to holde.
And to the temple, in alle hire bestë wise,        15
In general ther wentë many a wyght
To herken of Palladyoun servise,
And namëly so mony a lusty knyght,
So many a lady fresshe, and mayden bryght,
Ful wele araied, bothë moste and leste,        20
Ye, bothë for the seson and the feeste.
Among thise other folk was Criseyda,
In wydewes habit blak; but nathëles,
Right as oure firstë lettre is now an A,
In beauté first so stood sche makëles; 2        25
Hire goodly lokyng gladded al the prees:
Nas nevere seyn thyng to ben preysed derre, 3
Nor under cloudë blak so bright a sterre,
As was Criseyde, as folk seyde everychon,
That hire byhelden in hire blakë wede;        30
And yet sche stood ful low and stille allone
Byhynden other folk in litel brede, 4
And neygh the dore, ay under schames drede,
Symple of atyre, and debonair of cheere,
Wyth ful asseured lokynge and manere.        35
This Troylus, as he was wont to gyde
His yongë knyhtës, ladde hem up and down,
In thilkë largë temple on every syde,
Byholdynge ay the ladies of the town;
Now here now ther, for no devocioun        40
Hadde he to non to reven 5 him his reste,
But gan to preyse and lakken 6 whom him leste.
And in his walk ful fast he gan to wayten,
If knyght or sqwyer of his compaynye
Gan for to sigh, or lete his eyen bayten 7        45
On any woman that he koude aspye;
He woldë smyle, and holden it folye,
And seye him thus:—‘God wot sche slepeth softe
For love of the, whan thow turnest ful ofte.
‘I have herd telle, pardieux, of your lyvynge,        50
Ye lovers, and youre lewde 8 observaunces,
And which a 9 labour folk han in wynnynge
Of love, and in the kepynge which doutaunces;
And when your preye is lost, wo and penaunces;
O, verrey foolës! nice and blynde be ye;        55
Ther is not oon kan war by other be.’
And with that worde he gan caste up his browe,
Ascaunces, 10 lo! is this nought wysly spoken?
At whiche the God of Love gan loken rowe 11
Right for despit, and shoop for to ben wroken. 12        60
He kydde 13 anon his bowë nas not broken:
For, sodenly he hitte him attë fulle,
And yet as proude a pacok can he pulle.
O blynde world! O blynd intencioun!
How often falleth al the effecte contraire        65
Of surquidrye 14 and foul presumpcioun,
For kaught is proud, and kaught is debonaire!
This Troylus is clomben on the staire,
And litel weneth that he schal descenden;
But alday 15 fayleth thinge that fooles wenden.        70
As proudë Bayard 16 gynneth for to skyppe
Out of the wey, so priketh him his corn,
Til he a lassch have of the longë whippe,
Than thynketh he, ‘Thogh I praunce al byforn
First in the trayse, ful fat and newë shorn,        75
Yet am I but an hors, and horses lawe
I mote endure, and with my feerës 17 drawe.’
So ferd it by this fiers and proudë knyght,
Though he a worthi kyngës sonnë were,
And wendë no thinge had had swichë myght,        80
Ayeins his wille, that scholde his hertë stere; 18
That with a look his hertë wex a feere,
That, he that now was moost in pride above,
Wex sodeynly most subgit unto love.
Forthy 19 ensaumple taketh of this man,        85
Ye wisë, proude, and worthy folkës alle,
To scornen Love, whiche that so soonë kan
The fredom of youre hertës to him thralle;
For evere was, and evere schal befalle,
That Love is he that allë thing may bynde;        90
For may no man fordon the lawe of kynde. 20
That this be soth hath proved and doth yit;
For this, trowe I, ye knowen alle and some,
Men reden not that folk han gretter wit
Than thei that hath ben most with love ynome; 21        95
And strengest folk ben therwith overcome,
The worthiest and the grettest of degree;
This was and is, and yit men schal it see.
And treweliche it sit wel to be so,
For alderwysest han therwith ben plesed,        100
And thai that han ben aldermost in wo,
With love han ben conforted most and esed;
And oft it hath the cruel herte apesed,
And worthi folk made worthier of name,
And causeth most to dreden vice and schame.        105
And sith it may not godely ben withstonde,
And is a thing so vertuous in kynde,
Refuseth not to Love for to ben bonde,
Syn, as him selven list, he may yow bynde,
The yerde 22 is bet that bowen wol and wynde        110
Than that that brest; 23 and therfor I yow rede
To folowen him that so wel kan yow lede.
*        *        *        *        *
[Pandarus, the uncle of Criseyde and the friend of Troylus, has told her of Troylus’ love. She is left alone, and sees him returning from battle.]

With this he tok his leve, and home he wente;
A, Lord! so he was glad, and wel bygon!
Criseyde aros, no longer she ne stente,        115
But streght into hire closet wente anon,
And set hire down, as stille as any ston,
And every word gon up and down to wynde,
That he hadde seyde, as it come hire to mynde,
And wex somdel 24 astoned in hire thought,        120
Right for the newë cas; but when that she
Was ful avysed, tho fond she right nought
Of peril, why she aught aferëd be:
For man may love of possibilité
A woman so, his hertë may to-breste, 25        125
And she nought love ayeyn, but if hire leste.
But as she sat allon and thoughte thus,
Ascry aroos at scarmich 26 al withoute,
And men cried in the street, ‘Se Troilus
Hath right now put to flyght the Grekës route.’        130
With that gan al hire meyné 27 for to shoute:
‘A! go we se, caste up the yatës wide,
For thorwgh this strete he moot to paleys ryde;’
For oother way is to the gatës noon,
Of Dardanus, ther 28 open is the cheyne:        135
With that come he, and alle his folk anon,
An esy pace rydynge, in routës tweyne,
Right as his happy day was, 29 sothe to seyne:
For which men seyn may nought distourbed be
That shal bytyden of necessité.        140
This Troilus sat on his bayë stede
Al armed save his hed ful richely,
And wonded was his hors, and gan to blede,
On whiche he rood a paas 30 ful softëly:
But swiche a knyghtly sightë trewëly        145
As was on hym, was nought, withouten faile,
To loke on Mars, that god is of batayle.
So like a man of armës and a knyght,
He was to sen, fulfild of heigh prowesse;
For bothe he hadde a body, and a myght        150
To don that thyng, as wele as hardynesse;
And ek to sen hym in his gere hym dresse,
So fressh, so yong, so weldy 31 semëd he,
It was an heven upon hym for to se.
His helm to-hewen was in twenty places,        155
That by a tyssew heng his bak byhynde,
His shelde to-dasshed was with swerdes and maces,
In which men myghtë many an arwe fynde,
That thyrled 32 haddë horn, and nerf, and rynde;
And ay the peple criede, ‘Here cometh oure joye,        160
And, next his brother, holder up of Troye.’
For which he wex a litel rede for schame
Whan he the peple upon him herdë crien,
That to byholde it was a noble game,
How sobreliche he castë down his eighen:        165
Criseyd anon gan al his chere aspyen,
And leet so softe it in hire herte synken,
That to hire self she seyde, ‘Who yaf me drynken?’ 33
For of hire owën thought she wex al rede,
Remembrynge hire right thus, ‘Lo! this is he,        170
Which that myn uncle swerth he moot be dede,
But I on hym have mercy and pité:’
And with that thought, for pure ashamëd she
Gan in hire hed to pulle, and that as faste,
While he and al the peple forby paste.        175
And gan to caste, and rollen up and down
Within hire thought his excellent prowesse,
And his estat, and also his renoun,
His wit, his shappe, and ek his gentilnesse;
But moost hire favour was for his distresse        180
Was al for hire, and thought it as a rowthe 34
To sleen 35 swich oon, if that he mentë trouthe.
Now myghte som envýous jangle thus,
‘This was a sodeyn love, how myghte it be
That she so lightly lovede Troylus,        185
Right for the firstë sightë?’ Ye, pardé?
Now who so seith so, moot he never ythe! 36
For every thyng a gynnyng hath it nede
Er al be wrought, withouten any drede.
For I sey nought that she so sodeynly        190
Yaf hym hire love, but that she gan enclyne
To like hym firste, and I have told yow why;
And efter that, his manhod and his pyne 37
Made love withinne hire hertë for to myne;
For which by proces, and by goode servyse,        195
He gat hire love, and in no sodeyn wyse.
*        *        *        *        *
[Troylus’ long courtship is at last rewarded with the love of Criseyde.]

O SOTH is seyd, that helëd for to be,
As of a fevere, or other gret syknesse,
Men mostë drynke, as men may oftë se,
Ful bittre drynk: and for to han gladnesse        200
Men drynken of peynës, and gret distresse:
I mene it here, as for this aventure,
That thorwgh a peyne hath fonden al his cure.
And now swetnessë semeth morë swete,
That bitternesse assayed was byforn;        205
For out of wo in blissë now they flete,
Non swich they felten syn that they were born;
Now is this bet than bothë two be lorn!
For love of God! take every womman hede,
To werken thus, if it cometh to the nede.        210
Criseyde, al quyt from every drede and teene,
As she that justë cause hadde hym to triste,
Made hym swich feste, it joië was to seene,
When she his trouthe and clene ententë wiste:
And as aboute a tre, with many a twiste,        215
Bytrent and writh 38 the sootë wodëbynde,
Gan ich of hem in armës other wynde.
And as the new abaysëd 39 nyghtyngale,
That stynteth first, when she bygynneth synge,
When that she hereth any herdës tale,        220
Or in the heggës any wight sterynge;
And, after, syker 40 doth hire vois out rynge;
Right so Criseyde, when hire dredë stente,
Opned hire herte, and told hym hire entente.
And right as he that seth his deth yshapen,        225
And deyen mot, in aught that he may gesse,
And sodeynly rescous doth hym escapen, 41
And from his deth is brought in sykernesse;
For al this world, in swich present gladnesse
Was Troilus, and hath his lady swete:        230
With worsë hap God lat us nevere mete!
*        *        *        *        *
In suffisaunce, in blisse, and in syngynges,
This Troilus gan al his lyf to lede:
He spendeth, jousteth, maketh festeyinges,
He yeveth frely ofte, and chaungeth wede; 42        235
He halt aboute hym alway, out of drede,
A world of folk, as com hym wel of kynde, 43
The fressheste and the beste he koudë fynde.
That swich a vois was of hym and a neven, 44
Thorughout the world, of honour and largesse,        240
That it up rong unto the yate of heven;
And as in love he was in swich gladnesse,
That in his herte he demëd, as I gesse,
That ther nys lovere in this world at ese,
So wel as he, and thus gan love hym plese.        245
The goodlyhed or beauté, which that kynde
In any other lady hadde iset,
Kan nought the mountaunce of a knotte unbynde
About his herte, of al Criseydes net:
He was so narwe ymasked, 45 and yknet,        250
That it undon on any manner syde,
That nyl nought ben, for aught that may betide.
And by the hond ful oft he woldë take
This Pandarus, and into gardyn lede,
And swich a feste, and swiche a proces make        255
Hym of Criseyde, and of hire wommanhede,
And of hire beauté, that, withouten drede,
It was an heven his wordës for to here,
And thanne he woldë synge in this manere:—
‘Love, 46 that of erth and se hath governaunce!        260
Love, that his hestës hath in heven hye!
Lovë, that with an holsom alliaunce
Halt peples joynëd, as hym list hem gye! 47
Lovë, that knetteth law and compaignye,
And couples doth in vertu for to dwelle!        265
Bynd this acorde, that I have told and telle!
‘That, that the world, with faith which that is stable,
Dyverseth so, his stoundës 48 concordynge;—
That elementz, that ben so discordable,
Holden a bond perpetualy durynge;—        270
That Phebus mot his rosy carte forth brynge,
And that the mone hath lordschip over the nyght;—
Al this doth Love, ay heryed 49 be his myght!
‘That, that the se, that gredy is to flowen,
Constreyneth to a certeyn endë so        275
Hise flodës, that so fiersly they ne growen
To drenchen erth and al for evermo;
And if that Love aught lete his brydel go,
Al that now loveth asonder sholdë lepe,
And lost were al that Love halt now to hepe. 50        280
‘Soo, woldë Gode, that auctour is of kynde, 51
That with his bond Love, of his vertu, liste
To cerclen hertës alle, and fastë bynde,
That from his bond no wighte the wey out wyste!
And hertës colde, hem wolde I that he twiste,        285
To make hem love, and that hem liste ay rewe
On hertës soore, and kepe hem that ben trewe.’
*        *        *        *        *
[Criseyde is to be sent away to her father Calchas, in the Grecian camp, in exchange for Antenor, who has been taken prisoner. She vows fidelity, and tells Troylus why she loves him, promising to return on the tenth night.]

‘FOR trusteth wel that your estat real,
Ne veyn delite, nor oonly worthinesse
Of yow in werre or tournay marcial,        290
Ne pomp, array, nobley, or ek richesse,
Ne madë me to rewe on youre distresse,
But moral virtu, grounded upon trowthe,
That was the cause I first hadde on yow routhe.
‘Eke gentil herte, and manhode that ye hadde,        295
And that ye hadde (as me thought) in despite
Every thyng that souned in-to 52 badde,
As rudënesse, and poeplish 53 appetite,
And that your reson brideled your delite,
This made, aboven every creature,        300
That I was youre, and shal whil I may dure.
‘And this may length of yerës nought fordo,
Ne remuable fortunë deface;
But Juppiter, that of his myght may do
The sorwful to be glad, so yeve us grace,        305
Er nyghtës ten to meten in this place,
So that it may youre herte and myn suffise!
And fareth now wel, for tyme is that ye rise.’
*        *        *        *        *
[Troylus wanders about, waiting for Criseyde’s return.]

AND therwithalle, his meynye for to blende, 54
A cause he fond in townë for to go,        310
And to Criseydes hous they gonnen wende;
But Lord! this sely Troilus was wo!
Hym thoughte his sorwful hertë braste atwo;
For when he saugh hire dorres sperred 55 alle,
Wel neigh for sorwe adoun he gan to falle.        315
Therwith, when he was ware, and gan biholde,
How shet was every wyndow of the place,
As frost hym thoughte his hertë gan to colde;
For which, with chaunged deedlich palë face,
Withouten word, he forth bygan to pace;        320
And, as God wolde, he gan so fastë ryde,
That no wight of his contenaunce espyde.
Than seyde he thus:—‘O paleys desolat!
O hous of housses, whilom best yhight!
O paleys empty and disconsolat!        325
O thou lanterne, of which queynt is the light!
O paleys, whilom day, that now art nyght!
Wei oughtestow to falle, and I to dye,
Syn she is went that wont was us to gye. 56
‘O paleys, whilom crowne of houses alle,        330
Enlumyned with sonne of allë blisse!
O rynge, fro which the ruby is out falle!
O cause of wo, that cause has ben of blisse!
Yit syn I may no bet, 57 fayn wolde I kysse
Thy coldë dorës, dorste I for this route;        335
And farewel shryne, of which the seint is oute!
Therwith he caste on Pandarus his yë,
With chaunged face, and pitous to beholde;
And when he myght his tyme aright espyë,
Ay as he rood, to Pandarus he tolde        340
His newë sorwe, and ek his joyes olde,
So pitously, and with so dede an hewe,
That every wight myght on his sorwes rewe.
Fro thennes-forth he rydeth up and down,
And every thynge com hym to remembraunce,        345
As he rood forth by places of the town,
In which he whilom had al his plesaunce:—
‘Lo! yond saugh I myn owën lady daunce;
And in that temple, with hire eyën clere,
Me caughtë first my rightë lady deere.        350
‘And yonder have I herd ful lustily
My deerë hertë laughe; and yonder pleye
Saugh Ich hire oonës ek ful blisfully;
And yonder oonës to me gan she seye,
‘Now goodë swetë! love me wel, I preye;        355
And yond so gladly gan she me beholde,
That to the deth myn herte is to hir holde.
‘And at that corner in the yonder hous,
Herde I myn alderlevest 58 lady deere,
So wommanly, with vois melodyous,        360
Syngen so wel, so goodely and so clere,
That in my soulë yit me thynkth I here
The blisful sown; and in that yonder place
My lady first me took unto hire grace.’
Than thought he thus, ‘O blisful lord Cupide!        365
When I the processe have[al] in memórie,
How thow me hast werreyed 59 on every syde,
Men myght a book make of it lyk a stórie!
What nede is thee to seke on me victórie,
Syn I am thyn, and holly at thi wille?        370
What joye hastow thyn owën folk to spille?
‘Wel hastow, lord, ywroke on me thyn ire,
Thow myghty god! and dredeful for to greve!
Now mercy, god! thow woost wel I desire
Thy gracë moost, of allë lustës leeve! 60        375
And lyve and dye I wol in thy beleve;
For which I naxe 61 in guerdon but a boone,
That thow Criseyde ayein me sendë soone.
‘Destreyne hire herte as fastë to retourne,
As thow doost myn to longen hire to see;        380
Than woot I wel that she nyl naught sojourne:
Now blisful lord! so cruwel thow ne be
Unto the blod of Troye, I preyë the,
As Juno was unto the blod Thebane,
For which the folk of Thebës caughte hire bane.’        385
And efter this he to the yatës wente,
Ther as Criseyde out rood a ful good pas,
And up and doun ther made he many a wente,
And to himself ful ofte he seyde, ‘Allas!
Fro hennës rood my blisse and my solas!        390
As woldë blisful God now for his joye,
I myght hire seen ayein com into Troye!
‘And to the yonder hille I gan hire gyde;
Allas! and ther I took of hire my leeve;
And yond I saugh hire to hire fader ryde,        395
For sorwe of which myn hertë shal to-cleve;
And hider hom I com when it was eve;
And here I dwelle, out-cast from allë joye,
And shal, til I may seen her eft 62 in Troye.’
And of hym-self ymagynëd he ofte,        400
To be defet, 63 and pale, and waxen lesse
Than he was wont, and that men seydë softe,
‘What may it be? who kan the sothë gesse,
Why Troylus hath al this hevynesse?’
And al this nas but his melencolye,        405
That he hadde of hym-self swich fantasye.
Another tyme ymagynen he wolde,
That every wyght that wentë by the weye
Hadde of him routhe, and that they seyën sholde,
‘I am right sory, Troilus wol deye.’        410
And thus he drof a day yit forth or tweye,
As ye han herd; swich lyf right gan he lede,
As he that stood bitwixen hope and drede.
For which hym liked in his songës shewe
Thencheson 64 of his wo, as he best myghte,        415
And made a song of wordës but a fewe,
Somwhat his woful hertë for to lighte:
And when he was from every mannës sighte,
With softë vois, he of his lady deere,
That absent was, gan synge as ye may here.        420
‘O sterre, of which I lost have al the lightë,
With hertë soore wel oughte I to bewaylle,
That ever derk in tormente, nyght by nyghtë,
Towarde my deth, with wynde in steere 65 I saylle;
For which the tenthë nyght if that I faile        425
The gidynge of thi bemës brighte an houre,
My ship and me Caribdes wol devoure.’
This songe when he thus songen haddë soone
He fel ayein into his sikës 66 olde;
And every nyght, as was his wone to doone,        430
He stood, the bryghtë monë to beholde;
And al his sorwe he to the moonë tolde,
And seyde, ‘Iwis, when thow art hornëd newe
I shal be glad, if al the world be trewe.
‘I saugh thyn hornës olde ek by the morwe,        435
Whan hennës rood my rightë lady deere,
That cause is of my torment and my sorwe;
For which, O bryghte Lucina the cleere!
For love of God! renne fast aboute thy spere; 67
For when thyn hornës newë gynnen sprynge,        440
Than shal she come that may my blisse brynge.’
The day is moore, and longer ever nyght
Than they ben wont to be, hym thoughtë tho;
And that the sonnë wente his course unright,
By longer weye than it was wont to go;        445
And seyde, ‘Iwis, me dredeth everemo
The sonnës sonë, Pheton, be on lyve, 68
And that his fader cart amys he dryve.’
Upon the wallës fast ek wolde he walke,
And on the Grekes oost 69 he woldë se;        450
And to hymself right thus he woldë talke:—
‘Lo, yonder is myn owen lady free,
Or ellës yonder, ther the tentës bee,
And thennës comth this eyr that is so soote, 70
That in my soule I feele it doth me boote.        455
‘And hardyly, this wynd that moore and moore
Thus stoundemele 71 encresseth in my face,
Is of my ladys depë sykës sore;
I preve it thus, for in noon other place
Of al this town, save oonly in this space,        460
Feele I no wynd that souneth so lyke peyne;
It seith ‘Allas! whi twynned be we tweyne?’
This longë tyme he dryveth forth right thus,
Til fully passed was the nynthë nyght;
And ay bysyde hym was this Pandarus,        465
That bisily dide al his fullë myght
Hym to confort, and make his hertë light;
Yevynge hym hope alwey, the tenthë morwe
That she shal come, and stenten al his sorwe.
*        *        *        *        *
[Criseyde, in her father’s tent, is wooed by Diomede, and gradually yields to him.]

Retournynge in hir soule ay up and doun
The wordës of this sodeyn Diomede,
His gret estate, and peril of the town,
And that she was allon, and haddë nede
Of frendes help; and thus bygan to brede 72
The causë whi, the sothë for to telle,        475
That sche tok fully purpos for to dwelle. 73
The morwe com, and gostly for to speke,
This Diomede is com unto Criseyde;
And shortly, lest that ye my talë breke,
So wel he for hymselfë spak and seyde,        480
That alle hire sykës soore adown he layde;
And finaly, the sothë for to seyne,
He refte hire of the grete of al hire peyne.
And efter this, the storie telleth us,
That she him yaf the fairë bayë steede,        485
The which she onës wan of Troilus;
And eke a broch (and that was litel nede)
That Troilus 74 was, she yaf this Diomede;
And ek the bet from sorw hym to releve,
She made hym were a pensel 75 of hire sleve.        490
I fynde ek in storyës elleswhere,
When thorugh the body hirt was Dyomede
Of Troilus, tho weep she many a teere,
When that she saugh hise wydë woundes blede,
And that she took to kepen hym good hede,        495
And for to hele hym of his sorwes smerte,
Men seyn, I not, 76 that she yaf hym hire herte.
But trewelyche, the storye telleth us,
Ther made never womman morë wo
Than she, when that she falsede Troylus;        500
She seyde, ‘Allas! for now is clene ago 77
My name of trouthe in love for evermo;
For I have falsed oon the gentileste
That evere was, and oon the worthieste.
‘Allas! of me unto the worldës ende        505
Shal neither ben ywriten nor ysonge
No good word, for thise bokës wol me shende: 78
Irolled schal I ben on many a tonge;
Thorughout the world my bellë schal be ronge;
And wommen most wol haten me of alle;        510
Allas! that swich a cas me sholdë falle!
‘They wol seyn, in as muche as in me is,
I have hem don dishonoure, walaway!
Al be I not the firste that dide amys,
What helpeth that to don my blame away?        515
But syn I se ther is no better way,
And that to late is now for me to rewe,
To Dyomede algate 79 I wol be trewe.
‘But, Troilus, syn I no better may,
And syn that thus departen ye and I,        520
Yet preye I God so yeve yow right good day;
As for the gentilestë trewëly,
That evere I say, 80 to serven faithfully,
And best kan ay his lady honour kepe;’
And with that word she braste anon to wepe.        525
‘And certes, yow to haten shal I nevere,
And frendës love, that shal ye han of me,
And my good word, al shold I lyven evere;
And trewëly I wol right sory be,
For to sen yow in adversité;        530
And giltëlees I wot wel I yow leeve,
And al shal passe, and thus tak I my leve.’
But trewëly how longe it was betweyne,
That she forsok hym for this Dyomede,
Ther is non auctour telleth it, I wene;        535
Tak every man now to his bokës hede,
He shal no timë fynden, out of drede;
For though that he bigan to wowe 81 hire soone,
Er he hire wan, yet was ther more to doone.
Ne me ne list this sely womman chyde        540
Ferther than the storië wol devyse;
Hire name, allas! is publyshed so wyde,
That for hire gilte it ought ynough suffise;
And if I myght excuse hire any wyse,
For she so sory was for hire untrouthe,        545
Iwis I wold excuse hire yet for routhe.
*        *        *        *        *
[Troylus discovers Criseyde’s infidelity, and meets his death, fighting desperately.]

The wrath, as I bigan yow for to seye,
Of Troilus, the Grekës boughten deere;
For thousandës his hondës maden dye,
As he that was withouten any peere,        550
Save Ector in his tyme, as I kan here;
But, walawey! save only Goddës wille,
Dispitously hym slough the fiers Achille.
And when that he was slayn in this manere,
His lightë gost ful blisfully is went        555
Up to the holownesse of the seventh spere,
In convers letynge everych element; 82
And ther he saugh, with ful avysëment,
The erratyk sterrës, herkenynge armonye,
With sownës ful of hevenyssh melodye.        560
And down from thennës faste he gan avyse
This litel spot of erth, that with the se
Embracëd is; and fully gan despise
This wreched world, and held al vanyté,
To respect of the pleyn felicité        565
That is in hevene above: and at the laste,
Ther he was slayn, his lokyng down he caste.
And in hymself he lough right at the wo
Of hem that wepten for his deth so faste,
And dampned al our werk that folweth so        570
The blyndë lust, the which that may not laste,
And sholden al our herte on hevene caste;
And forth he wentë, shortly for to telle,
Ther as Mercurie sorted hym to dwelle.
Swich fyn 83 hath, lo! this Troilus for love!        575
Swich fyn hath al his gretë worthynesse!
Swich fyn hath his estat reäl 84 above!
Swich fyn his lust, swich fyn hath his noblesse!
Swich fyn hath falsë worldës brotelnesse! 85
And thus bigan his lovynge of Cryseyde,        580
As I have told, and in this wise he deyde.
O yongë fresshë folkës, he or she,
In which that love up groweth with your age,
Repeireth 86 hom fro worldly vanyté,
And of your herte up casteth the visage        585
To thilkë God, that after his ymage
Yow made, and thynketh al nys but a faire,
This world that passeth soon, as flourës faire.
And loveth hym the which that, right for love,
Upon a crois, our soulës for to beye,        590
First starf 87 and roos, and sit 88 in heven above,
For he nyl falsen no wight, dar I seye,
That wol his herte al holly on hym leye;
And syn he best to love is, and most meke,
What nedeth feyned loves for to seke?        595
Lo! here of payens cursed oldë rites!
Lo! here what alle hire goddës may availle!
Lo! here this wreched worldës appetites!
Lo! here the fyn and guerdon for travaille,
Of Jove, Apollo, of Mars, and swich rascaille!        600
Lo! here the forme of oldë clerkës speche
In poetrie, if ye hire bokës seche.
Note 1. shut. [back]
Note 2. matchless. [back]
Note 3. dearer. [back]
Note 4. a little way. [back]
Note 5. deprive. [back]
Note 6. criticise. [back]
Note 7. feast. [back]
Note 8. unlearned, foolish. [back]
Note 9. what. [back]
Note 10. as much as to say. [back]
Note 11. stern. [back]
Note 12. aimed at vengeance. [back]
Note 13. shewed. [back]
Note 14. arrogance. [back]
Note 15. every day. [back]
Note 16. ‘Bay,’ a common name for a horse. [back]
Note 17. fellows. [back]
Note 18. steer. [back]
Note 19. therefore. [back]
Note 20. nature. [back]
Note 21. taken prisoners. [back]
Note 22. wand. [back]
Note 23. bursts, breaks. [back]
Note 24. somewhat. [back]
Note 25. break. [back]
Note 26. a battle-cry arose. [back]
Note 27. attendants. [back]
Note 28. where. [back]
Note 29. as though it were a lucky day for him. [back]
Note 30. at foot’s pace. [back]
Note 31. wieldy, active. [back]
Note 32. pierced (thrilled). [back]
Note 33. who has given me a love-potion? [back]
Note 34. pity. [back]
Note 35. slay. [back]
Note 36. y-thé: succeed, prosper. [back]
Note 37. torment. [back]
Note 38. entwines and wreathes. [back]
Note 39. alighted. [back]
Note 40. sure, clear. [back]
Note 41. makes him free. [back]
Note 42. dress. [back]
Note 43. as well suits his nature. [back]
Note 44. name. [back]
Note 45. enmeshed. [back]
Note 46. This song is paraphrased from Boethius, Cons. 2, met. 8. [back]
Note 47. guide. [back]
Note 48. times. [back]
Note 49. praised. [back]
Note 50. holds together. [back]
Note 51. nature. [back]
Note 52. tended towards. [back]
Note 53. vulgar. [back]
Note 54. to deceive his companions. [back]
Note 55. bolted. [back]
Note 56. guide. [back]
Note 57. better. [back]
Note 58. best beloved. [back]
Note 59. made war on. [back]
Note 60. dear pleasures. [back]
Note 61. ask not. [back]
Note 62. again. [back]
Note 63. cast down. [back]
Note 64. the cause. [back]
Note 65. with a fair wind. [back]
Note 66. sighing. [back]
Note 67. sphere. [back]
Note 68. alive. [back]
Note 69. host. [back]
Note 70. sweet. [back]
Note 71. from time to time. [back]
Note 72. to arise. [back]
Note 73. to remain with her father, instead of returning to Troy. [back]
Note 74. Troilus’s. [back]
Note 75. pennoncel (made). [back]
Note 76. ne wot = know not. [back]
Note 77. gone. [back]
Note 78. ruin. [back]
Note 79. always, anyhow. [back]
Note 80. saw. [back]
Note 81. woo. [back]
Note 82. From the seventh or uttermost heaven all the others would appear convex, or convers. [back]
Note 83. end. [back]
Note 84. royal. [back]
Note 85. brittleness. [back]
Note 86. Repair ye. [back]
Note 87. died. [back]
Note 88. sits. [back]

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