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


O GOD of science and of light,
Apollo, through thy grete might,
This litel laste book thou gye!
Nat that I wilne, for maistrye,
Here art poetical be shewed;        5
But, for the rym is light and lewed,
Yit make hit sumwhat agreable,
Though som vers faile in a sillable;
And that I do no diligence
To shewe craft, but o sentence.        10
And if, divyne vertu, thou
Wilt helpe me to shewe now
That in myn hede y-marked is—
Lo, that is for to menen this,
The Hous of Fame to descryve—        15
Thou shalt see me go, as blyve,
Unto the nexte laure I see,
And kisse hit, for hit is thy tree;
Now entreth in my breste anoon!—
The Dream.

Whan I was fro this egle goon,
I gan beholde upon this place.
And certein, or I ferther pace,
I wol yow al the shap devyse
Of hous and site; and al the wyse
How I gan to this place aproche        25
That stood upon so high a roche,
Hyer stant ther noon in Spaine.
But up I clomb with alle paine,
And though to climbe hit greved me,
Yit I ententif was to see,        30
And for to pouren wonder lowe,
If I coude any weyes knowe
What maner stoon this roche was;
For hit was lyk a thing of glas,
But that hit shoon ful more clere;        35
But of what congeled matere
Hit was, I niste redely.
  But at the laste espyed I,
And found that hit was, every deel,
A roche of yse, and not of steel.        40
Thoughte I, ‘By Seynt Thomas of Kent!
This were a feble foundement
To bilden on a place hye;
He oughte him litel glorifye
That her-on bilt, god so me save!’        45
  Tho saw I al the half y-grave
With famous folkes names fele,
That had y-been in mochel wele,
And hir fames wyde y-blowe.
But wel unethes coude I knowe        50
Any lettres for to rede
Hir names by; for, out of drede,
They were almost of-thowed so,
That of the lettres oon or two
Was molte away of every name,        55
So unfamous was wexe hir fame;
But men seyn, ‘What may ever laste?’
  Tho gan I in myn herte caste,
That they were molte awey with hete,
And not awey with stormes bete.        60
For on that other syde I sey
Of this hille, that northward lay,
How hit was writen ful of names
Of folk that hadden grete fames
Of olde tyme, and yit they were        65
As fresshe as men had writen hem there
The selve day right, or that houre
That I upon hem gan to poure.
But wel I wiste what hit made;
Hit was conserved with the shade—        70
Al this wrytinge that I sy—
Of a castel, that stood on hy,
And stood eek on so cold a place,
That hete mighte hit not deface.
  Tho gan I up the hille to goon,        75
And fond upon the coppe a woon,
That alle the men that ben on lyve
Ne han the cunning to descryve
The beautee of that ilke place,
Ne coude casten no compace        80
Swich another for to make,
That mighte of beautee be his make,
Ne [be] so wonderliche y-wrought;
That hit astonieth yit my thought,
And maketh al my wit to swinke        85
On this castel to bethinke.
So that the grete craft, beautee,
The cast, the curiositee
Ne can I not to yow devyse,
My wit ne may me not suffyse.        90
  But natheles al the substance
I have yit in my remembrance;
For-why me thoughte, by Seynt Gyle!
Al was of stone of beryle,
Bothe castel and the tour,        95
And eek the halle, and every bour,
Withouten peces or Ioininges.
But many subtil compassinges,
Babewinnes and pinacles,
Imageries and tabernacles,        100
I saw; and ful eek of windowes,
As flakes falle in grete snowes.
And eek in ech of the pinacles
Weren sondry habitacles,
In whiche stoden, al withoute—        105
Ful the castel, al aboute—
Of alle maner of minstrales,
And gestiours, that tellen tales
Bothe of weping and of game,
Of al that longeth unto Fame.        110
  Ther herde I pleyen on an harpe
That souned bothe wel and sharpe,
Orpheus ful craftely,
And on his syde, faste by,
Sat the harper Orion,        115
And Eacides Chiron,
And other harpers many oon,
And the Bret Glascurion;
And smale harpers with her gleës
Seten under hem in seës,        120
And gonne on hem upward to gape,
And countrefete hem as an ape,
Or as craft countrefeteth kinde.
  Tho saugh I stonden hem behinde,
A-fer fro hem, al by hemselve,        125
Many thousand tymes twelve,
That maden loude menstralcyes
In cornemuse and shalmyes,
And many other maner pype,
That craftely begunne pype        130
Bothe in doucet and in rede,
That ben at festes with the brede;
And many floute and lilting-horne,
And pypes made of grene corne,
As han thise litel herde-gromes,        135
That kepen bestes in the bromes.
  Ther saugh I than Atiteris,
And of Athenes dan Pseustis,
And Marcia that lost her skin,
Bothe in face, body, and chin,        140
For that she wolde envyen, lo!
To pypen bet then Apollo.
Ther saugh I famous, olde and yonge,
Pypers of the Duche tonge,
To lerne love-daunces, springes,        145
Reyes, and these straunge thinges.
  Tho saugh I in another place
Stonden in a large space,
Of hem that maken blody soun
In trumpe, beme, and clarioun;        150
For in fight and blood-shedinge
Is used gladly clarioninge.
  Ther herde I trumpen Messenus,
Of whom that speketh Virgilius.
Ther herde I Ioab trumpe also,        155
Theodomas, and other mo;
And alle that used clarion
In Cataloigne and Aragon,
That in hir tyme famous were
To lerne, saugh I trumpe there.        160
  Ther saugh I sitte in other seës,
Pleyinge upon sondry gleës,
Whiche that I cannot nevene,
Mo then sterres been in hevene,
Of whiche I nil as now not ryme,        165
For ese of yow, and losse of tyme:
For tyme y-lost, this knowen ye,
By no way may recovered be.
  Ther saugh I pleyen Iogelours,
Magiciens and tregetours,        170
And phitonesses, charmeresses,
Olde wicches, sorceresses,
That use exorsisaciouns,
And eek thise fumigaciouns;
And clerkes eek, which conne wel        175
Al this magyke naturel,
That craftely don hir ententes,
To make, in certeyn ascendentes,
Images, lo, through which magyk
To make a man ben hool or syk.        180
Ther saugh I thee, queen Medea,
And Circes eke, and Calipsa;
Ther saugh I Hermes Ballenus,
Lymote, and eek Simon Magus.—
Ther saugh I, and knew hem by name,        185
That by such art don men han fame.
Ther saugh I Colle tregetour
Upon a table of sicamour
Pleye an uncouthe thing to telle;
I saugh him carien a wind-melle        190
Under a walsh-note shale.
  What shuld I make lenger tale
Of al the peple that I say,
Fro hennes in-to domesday?
  Whan I had al this folk beholde,        195
And fond me lous, and noght y-holde,
And eft y-mused longe whyle
Upon these walles of beryle,
That shoon ful lighter than a glas,
And made wel more than hit was        200
To semen, every thing, y-wis,
As kinde thing of fames is;
I gan forth romen til I fond
The castel-yate on my right hond,
Which that so wel corven was        205
That never swich another nas;
And yit hit was by aventure
Y-wrought, as often as by cure.
  Hit nedeth noght yow for to tellen,
To make yow to longe dwellen,        210
Of this yates florisshinges,
Ne of compasses, ne of kervinges,
Ne how they hatte in masoneries,
As, corbets fulle of imageries.
But, lord! so fair hit was to shewe,        215
For hit was al with gold behewe.
But in I wente, and that anoon;
Ther mette I crying many oon,—
‘A larges, larges, hold up wel!
God save the lady of this pel,        220
Our owne gentil lady Fame,
And hem that wilnen to have name
Of us!’ Thus herde I cryen alle,
And faste comen out of halle,
And shoken nobles and sterlinges.        225
And somme crouned were as kinges,
With crounes wroght ful of losenges;
And many riban, and many frenges
Were on hir clothes trewely.
  Tho atte laste aspyed I        230
That pursevauntes and heraudes,
That cryen riche folkes laudes,
Hit weren alle; and every man
Of hem, as I yow tellen can,
Had on him throwen a vesture,        235
Which that men clepe a cote-armure,
Enbrowded wonderliche riche,
Al-though they nere nought y-liche.
But noght nil I, so mote I thryve,
Been aboute to discryve        240
Al these armes that ther weren,
That they thus on hir cotes beren,
For hit to me were impossible;
Men mighte make of hem a bible
Twenty foot thikke, as I trowe.        245
For certeyn, who-so coude y-knowe
Mighte ther alle the armes seen
Of famous folk that han y-been
In Auffrike, Europe, and Asye,
Sith first began the chevalrye.        250
  Lo! how shulde I now telle al this?
Ne of the halle eek what nede is
To tellen yow, that every wal
Of hit, and floor, and roof and al
Was plated half a fote thikke        255
Of gold, and that nas no-thing wikke,
But, for to prove in alle wyse,
As fyn as ducat in Venyse,
Of whiche to lyte al in my pouche is?
And they wer set as thikke of nouchis        260
Fulle of the fynest stones faire,
That men rede in the Lapidaire,
As greses growen in a mede;
But hit were al to longe to rede
The names; and therfore I pace.        265
  But in this riche lusty place,
That Fames halle called was,
Ful moche prees of folk ther nas,
Ne crouding, for to mochil prees.
But al on hye, above a dees,        270
Sitte in a see imperial,
That maad was of a rubee al,
Which that a carbuncle is y-called,
I saugh, perpetually y-stalled,
A feminyne creature;        275
That never formed by nature
Nas swich another thing y-seye.
For altherfirst, soth for to seye,
Me thoughte that she was so lyte,
That the lengthe of a cubyte        280
Was lenger than she semed be;
But thus sone, in a whyle, she
Hir tho so wonderliche streighte,
That with hir feet she therthe reighte,
And with hir heed she touched hevene,        285
Ther as shynen sterres sevene.
And ther-to eek, as to my wit,
I saugh a gretter wonder yit,
Upon hir eyen to beholde;
But certeyn I hem never tolde;        290
For as fele eyen hadde she
As fetheres upon foules be,
Or weren on the bestes foure,
That goddes trone gunne honoure,
As Iohn writ in thapocalips.        295
Hir heer, that oundy was and crips,
As burned gold hit shoon to see.
And sooth to tellen, also she
Had also fele up-stonding eres
And tonges, as on bestes heres;        300
And on hir feet wexen saugh I
Partriches winges redely.
  But, lord! the perrie and the richesse
I saugh sitting on this goddesse!
And, lord! the hevenish melodye        305
Of songes, ful of armonye,
I herde aboute her trone y-songe,
That al the paleys-walles ronge!
So song the mighty Muse, she
That cleped is Caliopee,        310
And hir eighte sustren eke,
That in hir face semen meke;
And evermo, eternally,
They songe of Fame, as tho herde I:—
‘Heried be thou and thy name,        315
Goddesse of renoun and of fame!’
  Tho was I war, lo, atte laste,
As I myn eyen gan up caste,
That this ilke noble quene
On hir shuldres gan sustene        320
Bothe tharmes and the name
Of tho that hadde large fame;
Alexander, and Hercules
That with a sherte his lyf lees!
Thus fond I sitting this goddesse,        325
In nobley, honour, and richesse;
Of which I stinte a whyle now,
Other thing to tellen yow.
  Tho saugh I stonde on either syde,
Streight doun to the dores wyde,        330
Fro the dees, many a pileer
Of metal, that shoon not ful cleer;
But though they nere of no richesse,
Yet they were maad for greet noblesse,
And in hem greet [and hy] sentence;        335
And folk of digne reverence,
Of whiche I wol yow telle fonde,
Upon the piler saugh I stonde.
  Alderfirst, lo, ther I sigh,
Upon a piler stonde on high,        340
That was of lede and yren fyn,
Him of secte Saturnyn,
The Ebrayk Iosephus, the olde,
That of Iewes gestes tolde;
And bar upon his shuldres hye        345
The fame up of the Iewerye.
And by him stoden other sevene,
Wyse and worthy for to nevene,
To helpen him bere up the charge,
Hit was so hevy and so large.        350
And for they writen of batailes,
As wel as other olde mervailes,
Therfor was, lo, this pileer,
Of which that I yow telle heer,
Of lede and yren bothe, y-wis.        355
For yren Martes metal is,
Which that god is of bataile;
And the leed, withouten faile,
Is, lo, the metal of Saturne,
That hath ful large wheel to turne.        360
Tho stoden forth, on every rowe,
Of hem which that I coude knowe,
Thogh I hem noght by ordre telle,
To make yow to long to dwelle.
  These, of whiche I ginne rede,        365
Ther saugh I stonden, out of drede:
Upon an yren piler strong,
That peynted was, al endelong,
With tygres blode in every place,
The Tholosan that highte Stace,        370
That bar of Thebes up the fame
Upon his shuldres, and the name
Also of cruel Achilles.
And by him stood, withouten lees,
Ful wonder hye on a pileer        375
Of yren, he, the gret Omeer;
And with him Dares and Tytus
Before, and eek he, Lollius,
And Guido eek de Columpnis,
And English Gaufride eek, y-wis;        380
And ech of these, as have I Ioye,
Was besy for to bere up Troye.
So hevy ther-of was the fame,
That for to bere hit was no game.
But yit I gan ful wel espye,        385
Betwix hem was a litel envye.
Oon seyde, Omere made lyes,
Feyninge in his poetryes,
And was to Grekes favorable;
Therfor held he hit but fable.        390
  Tho saugh I stonde on a pileer,
That was of tinned yren cleer,
That Latin poete, [dan] Virgyle,
That bore hath up a longe whyle
The fame of Pius Eneas.        395
  And next him on a piler was,
Of coper, Venus clerk, Ovyde,
That hath y-sowen wonder wyde
The grete god of Loves name.
And ther he bar up wel his fame,        400
Upon this piler, also hye
As I might see hit with myn yë:
For-why this halle, of whiche I rede
Was woxe on highte, lengthe and brede,
Wel more, by a thousand del,        405
Than hit was erst, that saugh I wel.
  Tho saugh I, on a piler by,
Of yren wroght ful sternely,
The grete poete, daun Lucan,
And on his shuldres bar up than,        410
As highe as that I mighte see,
The fame of Iulius and Pompee.
And by him stoden alle these clerkes,
That writen of Romes mighty werkes,
That, if I wolde hir names telle,        415
Al to longe moste I dwelle.
  And next him on a piler stood
Of soulfre, lyk as he were wood,
Dan Claudian, the soth to telle,
That bar up al the fame of helle,        420
Of Pluto, and of Proserpyne,
That quene is of the derke pyne.
  What shulde I more telle of this?
The halle was al ful, y-wis,
Of hem that writen olde gestes,        425
As ben on treës rokes nestes;
But hit a ful confus matere
Were al the gestes for to here,
That they of write, and how they highte.
But whyl that I beheld this sighte,        430
I herde a noise aprochen blyve,
That ferde as been don in an hyve,
Agen her tyme of out-fleyinge;
Right swiche a maner murmuringe,
For al the world, hit semed me.        435
  Tho gan I loke aboute and see,
That ther com entring in the halle
A right gret company with-alle,
And that of sondry regiouns,
Of alleskinnes condiciouns,        440
That dwelle in erthe under the mone,
Pore and ryche. And also sone
As they were come into the halle,
They gonne doun on kneës falle
Before this ilke noble quene,        445
And seyde, ‘Graunte us, lady shene,
Ech of us, of thy grace, a bone!’
And somme of hem she graunted sone,
And somme she werned wel and faire;
And somme she graunted the contraire        450
Of hir axing utterly.
But thus I seye yow trewely,
What hir cause was, I niste.
For this folk, ful wel I wiste,
They hadde good fame ech deserved,        455
Althogh they were diversly served;
Right as hir suster, dame Fortune,
Is wont to serven in comune.
  Now herkne how she gan to paye
That gonne hir of hir grace praye;        460
And yit, lo, al this companye
Seyden sooth, and noght a lye.
  ‘Madame,’ seyden they, ‘we be
Folk that heer besechen thee,
That thou graunte us now good fame,        465
And lete our werkes han that name;
In ful recompensacioun
Of good werk, give us good renoun.’
  ‘I werne yow hit,’ quod she anoon,
‘Ye gete of me good fame noon,        470
By god! and therfor go your wey.’
  ‘Alas,’ quod they, ‘and welaway!
Telle us, what may your cause be?’
  ‘For me list hit noght,’ quod she;
‘No wight shal speke of yow, y-wis,        475
Good ne harm, ne that ne this.’
And with that word she gan to calle
Hir messanger, that was in halle,
And bad that he shulde faste goon,
Up peyne to be blind anoon,        480
For Eolus, the god of winde;—
‘In Trace ther ye shul him finde,
And bid him bringe his clarioun,
That is ful dyvers of his soun,
And hit is cleped Clere Laude,        485
With which he wont is to heraude
Hem that me list y-preised be:
And also bid him how that he
Bringe his other clarioun,
That highte Sclaundre in every toun,        490
With which he wont is to diffame
Hem that me list, and do hem shame.’
  This messanger gan faste goon,
And found wher, in a cave of stoon,
In a contree that highte Trace,        495
This Eolus, with harde grace,
Held the windes in distresse,
And gan hem under him to presse,
That they gonne as beres rore,
He bond and pressed hem so sore.        500
  This messanger gan faste crye,
‘Rys up,’ quod he, ‘and faste hye,
Til that thou at my lady be;
And tak thy clarions eek with thee,
And speed thee forth.’ And he anon        505
Took to a man, that hight Triton,
His clariouns to bere tho,
And leet a certeyn wind to go,
That blew so hidously and hye,
That hit ne lefte not a skye        510
In al the welken longe and brood.
  This Eolus no-wher abood
Til he was come at Fames feet,
And eek the man that Triton heet;
And ther he stood, as still as stoon.        515
And her-withal ther com anoon
Another huge companye
Of gode folk, and gunne crye,
‘Lady, graunte us now good fame,
And lat our werkes han that name        520
Now, in honour of gentilesse,
And also god your soule blesse!
For we han wel deserved hit,
Therfor is right that we ben quit.’
  ‘As thryve I,’ quod she, ‘ye shal faile,        525
Good werkes shal yow noght availe
To have of me good fame as now.
But wite ye what? I graunte yow,
That ye shal have a shrewed fame
And wikked loos, and worse name,        530
Though ye good loos have wel deserved.
Now go your wey, for ye be served;
And thou, dan Eolus, let see!
Tak forth thy trumpe anon,’ quod she,
‘That is y-cleped Sclaunder light,        535
And blow hir loos, that every wight
Speke of hem harm and shrewednesse,
In stede of good and worthinesse.
For thou shalt trumpe al the contraire
Of that they han don wel or faire.’        540
  ‘Alas,’ thoughte I, ‘what aventures
Han these sory creatures!
For they, amonges al the pres,
Shul thus be shamed gilteles!
But what! hit moste nedes be.’        545
  What did this Eolus, but he
Tok out his blakke trumpe of bras,
That fouler than the devil was,
And gan this trumpe for to blowe,
As al the world shulde overthrowe;        550
That through-out every regioun
Wente this foule trumpes soun,
As swift as pelet out of gonne,
Whan fyr is in the poudre ronne.
And swiche a smoke gan out-wende        555
Out of his foule trumpes ende,
Blak, blo, grenish, swartish reed,
As doth wher that men melte leed,
Lo, al on high fro the tuel!
And therto oo thing saugh I wel,        560
That, the ferther that hit ran,
The gretter wexen hit began,
As doth the river from a welle,
And hit stank as the pit of helle.
Alas, thus was hir shame y-ronge,        565
And giltelees, on every tonge.
  Tho com the thridde companye,
And gunne up to the dees to hye,
And doun on knees they fille anon,
And seyde, ‘We ben everichon        570
Folk that han ful trewely
Deserved fame rightfully,
And praye yow, hit mot be knowe,
Right as hit is, and forth y-blowe.’
‘I graunte,’ quod she, ‘for me list        575
That now your gode werk be wist;
And yit ye shul han better loos,
Right in dispyt of alle your foos,
Than worthy is; and that anoon:
Lat now,’ quod she, ‘thy trumpe goon,        580
Thou Eolus, that is so blak;
And out thyn other trumpe tak
That highte Laude, and blow hit so
That through the world hir fame go
Al esely, and not to faste,        585
That hit be knowen atte laste.’
  ‘Ful gladly, lady myn,’ he seyde;
And out his trumpe of golde he brayde
Anon, and sette hit to his mouthe,
And blew hit est, and west, and southe,        590
And north, as loude as any thunder,
That every wight hadde of hit wonder,
So brode hit ran, or than hit stente.
And, certes, al the breeth that wente
Out of his trumpes mouthe smelde        595
As men a pot-ful bawme helde
Among a basket ful of roses;
This favour dide he til hir loses.
  And right with this I gan aspye,
Ther com the ferthe companye—        600
But certeyn they were wonder fewe—
And gonne stonden in a rewe,
And seyden, ‘Certes, lady brighte,
We han don wel with al our mighte;
But we ne kepen have no fame.        605
Hyd our werkes and our name,
For goddes love! for certes we
Han certeyn doon hit for bountee,
And for no maner other thing.’
‘I graunte yow al your asking,’        610
Quod she; ‘let your werk be deed.’
  With that aboute I clew myn heed,
And saugh anoon the fifte route
That to this lady gonne loute,
And doun on knees anoon to falle;        615
And to hir tho besoughten alle
To hyde hir gode werkes eek,
And seyde, they yeven noght a leek
For fame, ne for swich renoun;
For they, for contemplacioun        620
And goddes love, hadde y-wrought;
Ne of fame wolde they nought.
  ‘What?’ quod she, ‘and be ye wood?
And wene ye for to do good,
And for to have of that no fame?        625
Have ye dispyt to have my name?
Nay, ye shul liven everichoon!
Blow thy trumpe and that anoon,’
Quod she, ‘thou Eolus, I hote,
And ring this folkes werk by note,        630
That al the world may of hit here.’
And he gan blowe hir loos so clere
In his golden clarioun,
That through the world wente the soun,
So kenely, and eek so softe;        635
But atte laste hit was on-lofte.
  Thoo com the sexte companye,
And gonne faste on Fame crye.
Right verraily, in this manere
They seyden: ‘Mercy, lady dere!        640
To telle certein, as hit is,
We han don neither that ne this,
But ydel al our lyf y-be.
But, natheles, yit preye we,
That we mowe han so good a fame,        645
And greet renoun and knowen name,
As they that han don noble gestes,
And acheved alle hir lestes,
As wel of love as other thing;
Al was us never broche ne ring,        650
Ne elles nought, from wimmen sent,
Ne ones in hir herte y-ment
To make us only frendly chere,
But mighte temen us on bere;
Yit lat us to the peple seme        655
Swiche as the world may of us deme,
That wimmen loven us for wood.
Hit shal don us as moche good,
And to our herte as moche availe
To countrepeise ese and travaile,        660
As we had wonne hit with labour;
For that is dere boght honour
At regard of our grete ese.
And yit thou most us more plese;
Let us be holden eek, therto,        665
Worthy, wyse, and gode also,
And riche, and happy unto love.
For goddes love, that sit above,
Though we may not the body have
Of wimmen, yet, so god yow save!        670
Let men glewe on us the name;
Suffyceth that we han the fame.’
  ‘I graunte,’ quod she, ‘by my trouthe!
Now, Eolus, with-outen slouthe,
Tak out thy trumpe of gold, let see,        675
And blow as they han axed me,
That every man wene hem at ese,
Though they gon in ful badde lese.’
This Eolus gan hit so blowe,
That through the world hit was y-knowe.        680
  Tho com the seventh route anoon,
And fel on kneës everichoon,
And seyde, ‘Lady, graunte us sone
The same thing, the same bone,
That [ye] this nexte folk han doon.’        685
‘Fy on yow,’ quod she, ‘everichoon!
Ye masty swyn, ye ydel wrecches,
Ful of roten slowe tecches!
What? false theves! wher ye wolde
Be famous good, and no-thing nolde        690
Deserve why, ne never roughte?
Men rather yow to-hangen oughte!
For ye be lyk the sweynte cat,
That wolde have fish; but wostow what?
He wolde no-thing wete his clowes.        695
Yvel thrift come on your Iowes,
And eek on myn, if I hit graunte,
Or do yow favour, yow to avaunte!
Thou Eolus, thou king of Trace!
Go, blow this folk a sory grace,’        700
Quod she, ‘anoon; and wostow how?
As I shal telle thee right now;
Sey: “These ben they that wolde honour
Have, and do noskinnes labour,
Ne do no good, and yit han laude;        705
And that men wende that bele Isaude
Ne coude hem noght of love werne;
And yit she that grint at a querne
Is al to good to ese hir herte.”’
  This Eolus anon up sterte,        710
And with his blakke clarioun
He gan to blasen out a soun,
As loude as belweth wind in helle.
And eek therwith, [the] sooth to telle,
This soun was [al] so ful of Iapes,        715
As ever mowes were in apes.
And that wente al the world aboute,
That every wight gan on hem shoute,
And for to laughe as they were wode;
Such game fonde they in hir hode.        720
  Tho com another companye,
That had y-doon the traiterye,
The harm, the gretest wikkednesse
That any herte couthe gesse;
And preyed hir to han good fame,        725
And that she nolde hem doon no shame,
But yeve hem loos and good renoun,
And do hit blowe in clarioun.
‘Nay, wis!’ quod she, ‘hit were a vyce;
Al be ther in me no Iustyce,        730
Me listeth not to do hit now,
Ne this nil I not graunte you.’
  Tho come ther lepinge in a route,
And gonne choppen al aboute
Every man upon the croune,        735
That al the halle gan to soune,
And seyden: ‘Lady, lefe and dere,
We ben swich folk as ye mowe here.
To tellen al the tale aright,
We ben shrewes, every wight,        740
And han delyt in wikkednes,
As gode folk han in goodnes;
And Ioye to be knowen shrewes,
And fulle of vyce and wikked thewes;
Wherfor we preyen yow, a-rowe,        745
That our fame swich be knowe
In alle thing right as hit is.’
  ‘I graunte hit yow,’ quod she, ‘y-wis.
But what art thou that seyst this tale,
That werest on thy hose a pale,        750
And on thy tipet swiche a belle!’
‘Madame,’ quod he, ‘sooth to telle,
I am that ilke shrewe, y-wis,
That brende the temple of Isidis
In Athenes, lo, that citee.’        755
‘And wherfor didest thou so?’ quod she.
‘By my thrift,’ quod he, ‘madame,
I wolde fayn han had a fame,
As other folk hadde in the toun,
Al-thogh they were of greet renoun        760
For hir vertu and for hir thewes;
Thoughte I, as greet a fame han shrewes,
Thogh hit be [but] for shrewednesse,
As gode folk han for goodnesse;
And sith I may not have that oon,        765
That other nil I noght for-goon.
And for to gette of Fames hyre,
The temple sette I al a-fyre.
Now do our loos be blowen swythe,
As wisly be thou ever blythe.’        770
‘Gladly,’ quod she; ‘thou Eolus,
Herestow not what they preyen us?’
‘Madame, yis, ful wel,’ quod he,
‘And I wil trumpen hit, parde!’
And tok his blakke trumpe faste,        775
And gan to puffen and to blaste,
Til hit was at the worldes ende.
  With that I gan aboute wende;
For oon that stood right at my bak,
Me thoughte, goodly to me spak,        780
And seyde: ‘Frend, what is thy name?
Artow come hider to han fame?’
‘Nay, for-sothe, frend!’ quod I;
‘I cam noght hider, graunt mercy!
For no swich cause, by my heed!        785
Suffyceth me, as I were deed,
That no wight have my name in honde.
I woot my-self best how I stonde;
For what I drye or what I thinke,
I wol my-selven al hit drinke,        790
Certeyn, for the more part,
As ferforth as I can myn art.’
‘But what dost thou here than?’ quod he.
Quod I, ‘that wol I tellen thee,
The cause why I stondë here:—        795
Som newe tydings for to lere:—
Som newe thinges, I not what,
Tydinges, other this or that,
Of love, or swiche thinges glade.
For certeynly, he that me made        800
To comen hider, seyde me,
I shulde bothe here and see,
In this place, wonder thinges;
But these be no swiche tydinges
As I mene of.’ ‘No?’ quod he.        805
And I answerde, ‘No, pardee!
For wel I wiste, ever yit,
Sith that first I hadde wit,
That som folk han desyred fame
Dyversly, and loos, and name;        810
But certeynly, I niste how
Ne wher that Fame dwelte, er now;
Ne eek of hir descripcioun,
Ne also hir condicioun,
Ne the ordre of hir dome,        815
Unto the tyme I hider come.’
‘[Whiche] be, lo, these tydinges,
That thou now [thus] hider bringes,
That thou hast herd?’ quod he to me;
‘But now, no fors; for wel I see        820
What thou desyrest for to here.
Com forth, and stond no longer here,
And I wol thee, with-outen drede,
In swich another place lede,
Ther thou shalt here many oon.’        825
  Tho gan I forth with him to goon
Out of the castel, soth to seye.
Tho saugh I stonde in a valeye,
Under the castel, faste by,
An hous, that domus Dedali,        830
That Laborintus cleped is,
Nas maad so wonderliche, y-wis,
Ne half so queynteliche y-wrought.
And evermo, so swift as thought,
This queynte hous aboute wente,        835
That never-mo hit stille stente.
And ther-out com so greet a noise,
That, had hit stonden upon Oise,
Men mighte hit han herd esely
To Rome, I trowe sikerly.        840
And the noyse which that I herde,
For al the world right so hit ferde,
As doth the routing of the stoon
That from thengyn is leten goon.
  And al this hous, of whiche I rede,        845
Was made of twigges, falwe, rede,
And grene eek, and som weren whyte,
Swiche as men to these cages thwyte,
Or maken of these paniers,
Or elles hottes or dossers;        850
That, for the swough and for the twigges,
This hous was also ful of gigges,
And also ful eek of chirkinges,
And of many other werkinges;
And eek this hous hath of entrees        855
As fele as leves been on trees
In somer, whan they grene been;
And on the roof men may yit seen
A thousand holes, and wel mo,
To leten wel the soun out go.        860
  And by day, in every tyde,
Ben al the dores open wyde,
And by night, echoon, unshette;
Ne porter ther is non to lette
No maner tydings in to pace;        865
Ne never reste is in that place,
That hit nis fild ful of tydinges,
Other loude, or of whispringes;
And, over alle the houses angles,
Is ful of rouninges and of Iangles        870
Of werre, of pees, of mariages,
Of reste, of labour of viages,
Of abood, of deeth, of lyfe,
Of love, of hate, acorde, of stryfe,
Of loos, of lore, and of winninges,        875
Of hele, of sekenesse, of bildinges,
Of faire windes, of tempestes,
Of qualme of folk, and eek of bestes;
Of dyvers transmutaciouns
Of estats, and eek of regiouns;        880
Of trust, of drede, of Ielousye,
Of wit, of winninge, of folye;
Of plentee, and of greet famyne,
Of chepe, of derth, and of ruyne;
Of good or mis governement,        885
Of fyr, of dyvers accident.
  And lo, this hous, of whiche I wryte,
Siker be ye, hit nas not lyte;
For hit was sixty myle of lengthe;
Al was the timber of no strengthe,        890
Yet hit is founded to endure
Whyl that hit list to Aventure,
That is the moder of tydinges,
As the see of welles and springes,—
And hit was shapen lyk a cage.        895
  ‘Certes,’ quod I, ‘in al myn age,
Ne saugh I swich a hous as this.’
And as I wondred me, y-wis,
Upon this hous, tho war was I
How that myn egle, faste by,        900
Was perched hye upon a stoon;
And I gan streighte to him goon
And seyde thus: ‘I preye thee
That thou a whyl abyde me
For goddes love, and let me seen        905
What wondres in this place been;
For yit, paraventure, I may lere
Som good ther-on, or sumwhat here
That leef me were, or that I wente.’
  ‘Peter! that is myn entente,’        910
Quod he to me; ‘therfor I dwelle;
But certein, oon thing I thee telle,
That, but I bringe thee ther-inne,
Ne shalt thou never cunne ginne
To come in-to hit, out of doute,        915
So faste hit whirleth, lo, aboute.
But sith that Ioves, of his grace,
As I have seyd, wol thee solace
Fynally with [swiche] thinges,
Uncouthe sightes and tydinges,        920
To passe with thyn hevinesse;
Suche routhe hath he of thy distresse,
That thou suffrest debonairly—
And wost thy-selven utterly
Disesperat of alle blis,        925
Sith that Fortune hath maad a-mis
The [fruit] of al thyn hertes reste
Languisshe and eek in point to breste—
That he, through his mighty meryte,
Wol do thee ese, al be hit lyte,        930
And yaf expres commaundement,
To whiche I am obedient,
To furthre thee with al my might,
And wisse and teche thee aright
Wher thou maist most tydinges here;        935
Shaltow anoon heer many oon lere.’
  With this worde he, right anoon,
Hente me up bitwene his toon,
And at a windowe in me broghte,
That in this hous was, as me thoghte—        940
And ther-withal, me thoghte hit stente,
And no-thing hit aboute wente—
And me sette in the flore adoun.
But which a congregacioun
Of folk, as I saugh rome aboute        945
Some within and some withoute,
Nas never seen, ne shal ben eft;
That, certes, in the world nis left
So many formed by Nature,
Ne deed so many a creature;        950
That wel unethe, in that place,
Hadde I oon foot-brede of space;
And every wight that I saugh there
Rouned ech in otheres ere
A newe tyding prevely,        955
Or elles tolde al openly
Right thus, and seyde: ‘Nost not thou
That is betid, lo, late or now?’
  ‘No,’ quod [the other], ‘tel me what;’—
And than he tolde him this and that,        960
And swoor ther-to that hit was sooth—
‘Thus hath he seyd’—and ‘Thus he dooth’—
‘Thus shal hit be’—‘Thus herde I seye’—
‘That shal be found’—‘That dar I leye:’—
That al the folk that is a-lyve        965
Ne han the cunning to discryve
The thinges that I herde there,
What aloude, and what in ere.
But al the wonder-most was this:—
Whan oon had herd a thing, y-wis,        970
He com forth to another wight,
And gan him tellen, anoon-right,
The same that to him was told,
Or hit a furlong-way was old,
But gan somwhat for to eche        975
To this tyding in this speche
More than hit ever was.
And nat so sone departed nas
That he fro him, that he ne mette
With the thridde; and, or he lette        980
Any stounde, he tolde him als;
Were the tyding sooth or fals,
Yit wolde he telle hit nathelees,
And evermo with more encrees
Than hit was erst. Thus north and southe        985
Went every [word] fro mouth to mouthe,
And that encresing ever-mo,
As fyr is wont to quikke and go
From a sparke spronge amis,
Til al a citee brent up is.        990
  And, whan that was ful y-spronge,
And woxen more on every tonge
Than ever hit was, [hit] wente anoon
Up to a windowe, out to goon;
Or, but hit mighte out ther pace,        995
Hit gan out crepe at som crevace,
And fleigh forth faste for the nones.
  And somtyme saugh I tho, at ones,
A lesing and a sad soth-sawe,
That gonne of aventure drawe        1000
Out at a windowe for to pace;
And, when they metten in that place,
They were a-chekked bothe two,
And neither of hem moste out go;
For other so they gonne croude,        1005
Til eche of hem gan cryen loude,
‘Lat me go first!’ ‘Nay, but lat me!
And here I wol ensuren thee
With the nones that thou wolt do so,
That I shal never fro thee go,        1010
But be thyn owne sworen brother!
We wil medle us ech with other,
That no man, be he never so wrothe,
Shal han that oon [of] two, but bothe
At ones, al beside his leve,        1015
Come we a-morwe or on eve,
Be we cryed or stille y-rouned.’
Thus saugh I fals and sooth compouned
Togeder flee for oo tydinge.
  Thus out at holes gonne wringe        1020
Every tyding streight to Fame;
And she gan yeven eche his name,
After hir disposicioun,
And yaf hem eek duracioun,
Some to wexe and wane sone,        1025
As dooth the faire whyte mone,
And leet hem gon. Ther mighte I seen
Wenged wondres faste fleen,
Twenty thousand in a route,
As Eolus hem blew aboute.        1030
  And, lord! this hous, in alle tymes,
Was ful of shipmen and pilgrymes,
With scrippes bret-ful of lesinges,
Entremedled with tydinges,
And eek alone by hem-selve.        1035
O, many a thousand tymes twelve
Saugh I eek of these pardoneres,
Currours, and eek messangeres,
With boistes crammed ful of lyes
As ever vessel was with lyes.        1040
And as I alther-fastest wente
Aboute, and dide al myn entente
Me for to pleye and for to lere,
And eek a tyding for to here,
That I had herd of som contree        1045
That shal not now be told for me;—
For hit no nede is, redely;
Folk can singe hit bet than I;
For al mot out, other late or rathe,
Alle the sheves in the lathe;—        1050
I herde a gret noise withalle
In a corner of the halle,
Ther men of love tydings tolde,
And I gan thiderward beholde;
For I saugh renninge every wight,        1055
As faste as that they hadden might;
And everich cryed, ‘What thing is that?’
And som seyde, ‘I not never what.’
And whan they were alle on an hepe,
Tho behinde gonne up lepe,        1060
And clamben up on othere faste,
And up the nose on hye caste,
And troden faste on othere heles
And stampe, as men don after eles.
  Atte laste I saugh a man,        1065
Which that I [nevene] naught ne can;
But he semed for to be
A man of greet auctoritee....


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