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◈ The Canterbury Tales ◈

◇ The Squire-Franklin Link, and the Franklin’s Prologue and Tale ◇

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 1. The Squire-Franklin Link
 2. The Franklin’s Prologue
 3. The Franklin’s Tale

1. The Squire-Franklin Link

0 Here follow the words of the Franklin to the Squire and the words of the Host to the Franklin
 
1 In faith, Squire, well you did yourself acquit
2 And right nobly too; I applaud your wit,’
3 Quoth the Franklin, ‘considering your youth,
4 Feelingly you spoke, sire, all praise to you!
5 In my opinion, not a one that’s here
6 Can match your eloquence, or be your peer,
7 While youre alive; God give you now good chance,
8 And of your powers send you continuance,
9 In your speech I took great pleasure, truly.
10 I have a son, and by the Trinity,
11 Rather than have twenty pounds in land,
12 Though right now it came into my hand,
13 I’d have him be a man of such discretion
14 As you are. Fie, then, on mere possession,
15 If a man be but virtuous withal!
16 I my son have chided, and shall do more,
17 For he to virtue’s word will neer attend,
18 All he can do is play at dice, and spend,
19 Lose all that he has, through such ill usage.
20 And he’d rather talk with some lowly page
21 Than commune with a true gentle knight,
22 From whom he might learn gentleness aright.’
 
23 That, for your gentleness!’ quoth our Host.
24 What, Franklin! Pardee, sire, well you know
25 That every one of you must tell the rest
26 A tale or two, or deny my sworn request.’
 
27 That know I well, sire,’ quoth the Franklin,
28 ‘I pray you, hold me not in your disdain,
29 Though to the Squire I spoke a word or two.’
 
30 Tell on your tale, let’s have no more ado!’
31 Gladly, sir Host,’ quoth he, ‘I will obey
32 Your every wish; now hark to what I say.
33 I will be contrary to you in no wise,
34 As far as my humble wit may suffice.
35 I pray to God that it may please you, too;
36 Then will I know that it is good, and true.
 

2. The Franklin’s Prologue

0 The Prologue to the Franklin’s Tale
 
1 The noble Breton lords, in olden days,
2 From various adventures, fashioned lays,
3 Rhymed them in the earliest Breton tongue,
4 Which lays to their instruments were sung,
5 Or else were read to them for their pleasure;
6 And one I do recall, in some measure,
7 Which I’ll relate as well as ever I can.
 
8 But sirs, since I’m an unlearned man,
9 At the beginning first I do beseech
10 That you excuse my unpolished speech.
11 I never learned rhetoric, that’s for certain;
12 And whatever I speak is bare and plain.
13 I never slept awhile on Mount Parnassus,
14 Nor studied Cicero, that’s Marcus Tullius.
15 Adornments I have none, ah, true indeed,
16 Only such colours as adorn the mead,
17 Or else such as are used to dye and paint.
18 Rhetoric’s hues to me are dull and quaint
19 My spirit knows little of them, I fear.
20 But if you listen, you my tale shall hear.
 

3. The Franklin’s Tale

0 Here begins the Franklin’s Tale
 
1 In Armorica, now called Brittany,
2 There was a knight that loved, and truly he
3 Strove to serve his lady in best wise.
4 And many a labour, many an enterprise
5 He for his lady wrought ere she was won;
6 For she was among the fairest under the sun,
7 And also she came of such a high kindred
8 That the knight scarcely dared, for dread
9 To tell her of his woe, pain, and distress.
10 But at the last, seeing his worthiness,
11 And especially his humble obeisance,
12 She took such pity on his true penance
13 That privately they entered in accord,
14 She to make him her husband and her lord,
15 With such lordship as men have over wives.
16 And to live in greater bliss all their lives,
17 Of his free will he swore to her as knight
18 That never in all his life, day or night,
19 Would he take upon himself the mastery
20 Against her will, nor show her jealousy,
21 But obey her, and follow her will in all,
22 As any lover in his lady’s thrall;
23 Save that the name alone of sovereignty
24 Should he have, lest it shame his dignity.
 
25 She thanked him, and with full great humbleness
26 She said: ‘Sire, since, of your gentleness,
27 Youll allow me to have so great a rein,
28 May God grant that never between us twain,
29 Through guilt of mine, be any war or strife.
30 Sire, I will be your humble loyal wife;
31 Or may my heart break first, such is my pledge.
32 Thus were they both in quiet and at rest.
 
33 For one thing, goods sirs, I may safely say,
34 That lovers must one another fast obey,
35 If they’d keep company for many a day.
36 Love will not be constrained by mastery;
37 When mastery comes, the God of Love anon
38 Beats his wings, and farewell, he is gone!
39 Love is a thing as any spirit free.
40 Women, by nature, wish for liberty,
41 And not to be constrained, as in thrall,
42 And so do men, and truth is this for all.
43 Look who is most patient in their love,
44 Has the advantage and so towers above.
45 Patience is a high virtue, that’s certain,
46 For it achieves, as clerics do maintain,
47 Things that force is unable to attain.
48 At every word we must not chide, complain;
49 Learn to accept, or else, for here below,
50 You shall learn, whether you will or no.
51 And in this world, indeed, no one exists
52 Who does not sometimes speak a word amiss.
53 Ire, sickness, or the starsconfiguration,
54 Wine, woe, or our humoursalteration
55 Often gives cause to do amiss or speak.
56 Revenge for every wrong may no man wreak;
57 According to the time, act with temperance
58 All you that understand good governance.
59 And therefore had this wise and noble knight,
60 Sworn patience, so as to live at ease, aright,
61 And she to him as earnestly did swear
62 That he should never find a fault in her.
 
63 Here may men see a humble, wise accord!
64 Thus she makes him her servant and her lord
65 Servant in love, and yet her lord in marriage;
66 Thus was he both in lordship and in bondage.
67 Bondage? – Nay, in lordship high above,
68 Since he had both his lady and his love;
69 His lady, certain, and his wife also,
70 Which the law of love accords with, though.
 
71 And now he had met with such prosperity,
72 Home with his wife he went to his country,
73 Not far from Penmarch Point, his dwelling was,
74 Where he lived in bliss and in solace.
 
75 Who can know, unless he wedded be,
76 The joy, the ease, and the prosperity
77 That is between a husband and a wife?
78 A year and more lasted this blissful life,
79 Till the knight whose story I discuss,
80 Of Caer-rhud, and called Arveragus,
81 Determined to go and live a year or twain,
82 In England, that was also called Britain,
83 To seek in arms both worship and honour,
84 For all his pleasure won he from such labour,
85 And dwelt there two years; the book says thus.
 
86 Now I’ll cease to speak of Arveragus,
87 And I will speak of Dorigen his wife,
88 That loved her husband as her heart’s life.
89 At his absence she wept sore and sighed,
90 As does when she will the noblest bride.
91 She mourned, waked, wailed, fasted, cried;
92 While longing for his presence thus denied,
93 So that all this wide world she set at naught.
94 Her friends, who knew the burden of her thought,
95 Comforted her, when they could, in every way.
96 They preached at her, telling her night and day,
97 That she was killing herself, in vain, alas!
98 And every comfort possible that was
99 Useful they gave, made it all their business,
100 To try and put and end to her heaviness.
 
101 By a slow process, known to everyone,
102 Men may carve away so long in stone
103 That some figure may thus imprinted be.
104 So long had they comforted her that she
105 Received, through hope and through reason,
106 The imprint of their endless consolation,
107 And they began her sorrow to assuage;
108 She must not always let her feelings rage.
 
109 And Arveragus, amongst all this care,
110 Had sent letters, speaking of his welfare,
111 And how he would return swiftly again;
112 Else this sorrow would her heart have slain.
 
113 Her friends saw her sorrow start to abate,
114 And begged her on their knees, for God’s sake,
115 To come and roam about in company,
116 To drive away her gloomy fantasy.
117 And finally she granted their request,
118 Because she saw that it was for the best.
 
119 Now, her castle stood close by the sea,
120 And often with her friends wandered she,
121 To take her pleasure, on a bank full high,
122 Where she saw many a ship and barge go by,
123 Sailing their course, wherever they chanced to go.
124 But that too was a portion of her woe,
125 For to herself, full oft, ‘Alas!’ said she,
126 Is there no ship, of all these that I see,
127 Will bring me my lord again? Then my heart
128 Would be cured of bitter sorrow’s smart.’
 
129 At other times she would sit and think,
130 And cast her eyes downward from the brink.
131 Yet when she saw the ghastly rocks all black,
132 For fear indeed her heart would almost crack,
133 On her feet she could scarce herself maintain.
134 Then would she sit upon the grass again,
135 And piteously the flowing tide behold,
136 And speak as thus, with sorrowful sighs cold:
 
137 Eternal God that through your providence
138 Lead the world in certain governance,
139 You made nothing in vain and yet, alack,
140 Lord, these fiendish, grisly rocks all black,
141 That seem to me rather a foul confusion
142 In their work, than any fair creation
143 Of such a wise and perfect God, thus able,
144 Why have you wrought this work unreasonable?
145 For by this work, south, north, west or east
146 There is nurtured neither man nor beast.
147 It does no good, to my mind, but annoys.
148 See you not, Lord, how mankind it destroys?
149 A hundred thousand souls, among mankind
150 These rocks have slain, no more brought to mind;
151 Yet mankind’s so fair a portion of your work
152 You made it in your image, says the clerk.
153 Thus it seems you had both love and charity
154 Towards mankind; so how then may it be
155 That you created such means to destroy?
156 Which do no good, but evermore annoy.
157 I know, indeed, that clerics will attest,
158 To arguments, that show all’s for the best,
159 Though what the reasons are I do not know.
160 But may the God that made the winds to blow
161 Keep safe my lord! – That is my conclusion.
162 To clerks I leave all the disputation.
163 But would to God that all these rocks so black
164 Were sunken into Hell, and came not back,
165 For his sake, they slay my heart with fear!’
166 Thus she did say, with many a piteous tear.
 
167 Her friends could see she derived no sport
168 Roaming by the sea, but pure discomfort,
169 And chose to take their pleasure somewhere else.
170 They led her among rivers, and by wells,
171 And through other places all delightful;
172 Danced, played chess, backgammon, to be helpful.
 
173 So one day, right in the morning-tide,
174 Unto a garden that was there beside,
175 Into which had been taken as they planned
176 Victuals and other things at their command,
177 They went to sport and play the livelong day.
178 And this was on the sixth morn in May,
179 When May had painted with his softest showers
180 The garden, filled with leaves and with flowers;
181 And man’s handicraft so skilfully
182 Arrayed had all this garden, truthfully,
183 That never was there a garden so prized,
184 Unless it were the ancient Paradise.
185 The odour of flowers and the fresh sight
186 Would have rendered any heart light
187 That ever was born, unless some great sickness
188 Or great sorrow consumed it with distress,
189 So full it was of beauty and elegance.
190 And after dinner they began to dance
191 And sing as well, save Dorigen alone,
192 Who ever made plaint, and ever made moan,
193 For in the dance she saw not him below,
194 Who was her husband and her love also.
195 But nonetheless she must a while abide,
196 Be of good hope, and let her sorrow slide.
 
197 Now in this dance, among the other men,
198 There pranced a squire before Dorigen,
199 Who fresher was and jollier in array,
200 As I do live, than is the month of May.
201 He sang and danced better than any man,
202 That is, or was, since ever the world began.
203 And then he was, if I should him describe,
204 One of the handsomest of men alive;
205 Young, strong, right virtuous, and rich and wise,
206 And well beloved, considered a great prize.
207 And briefly, truth to tell, as I recall,
208 Unbeknown to Dorigen at all,
209 This gallant squire, a servant true of Venus,
210 Who by name was called Aurelius,
211 Had loved her the best of any creature,
212 As was his fate, for two years and more,
213 But never dared proclaim his suffering;
214 He drank his sorrow straight from the spring.
215 He had despaired; nothing he dared say,
216 Save in his songs something he’d convey
217 Of all his woe, while generally lamenting.
218 He said he loved, but was beloved by nothing.
219 Of such matter he made many lays,
220 Songs, plaints, rondeaux and virelais,
221 How that he dare not of his sorrow tell,
222 But languished as a Fury does in Hell;
223 And die he must, he said, as did Echo,
224 For Narcissus, who dared not tell her woe.
225 In no other manner than this, as I say,
226 Dare he to her his woe at all betray;
227 Save that, perhaps, sometimes at a dance,
228 Where the young folk will keep observance,
229 It may well be he looked upon her face
230 In such a manner as man asks for grace,
231 Though she knew nothing of his intent.
232 Nonetheless, it chanced, ere they went thence,
233 Because he happened to be her neighbour,
234 And was a man of good repute and honour,
235 And she had known him some time before,
236 They fell to talking, and more and more
237 Towards his purpose drew Aurelius.
238 And when he saw his chance, he spoke up thus:
239 Madame,’ quoth he, ‘by God who this world made,
240 If I had known your heart felt no dismay,
241 I wish that day when your Arveragus
242 Crossed the sea, that I, Aurelius,
243 Had gone too, never to return again.
244 For I see now my service is but vain;
245 My reward is but the breaking of my heart.
246 Madame, have pity on my bitter smart,
247 For with a word you may me slay or save.
248 Here at your feet, would God, they dug my grave!
249 I have no time to say what I would say;
250 Have mercy, sweet, or death is mine today.’
 
251 She began to stare at Aurelius.
252 Is that your thought,’ quoth she, ‘and say you thus?
253 Never have I suspected what you meant.
254 But now, Aurelius, knowing your intent,
255 By that God who gave me soul and life,
256 Know, I shall never play the faithless wife
257 In word or deed, as far as I have wit;
258 I will be his to whom I have been knit.
259 Take that for a final answer now from me.’
260 But after it teasingly thus said she:
 
261 Aurelius, by the high God above,
262 As I wish I might have been your love,
263 Since I hear you so piteously complain.
264 Lo, that day when from Brittany’s main,
265 You remove every reef, stone by stone,
266 So no ship is hampered through that zone
267 I say, when the coast is rendered so clean
268 Of rocks, that never a stone can be seen
269 Then I will love you more than any man.
270 Hear my truth said, as plainly as I can.’
 
271 Is there no better grace in you?’ quoth he.
272 No, by the Lord,’ quoth she, ‘who fashioned me,
273 For I know full well it shall never betide.
274 Let such folly out of your heart slide!
275 What pleasure is added thus to a man’s life
276 In making love to another man’s wife,
277 Who can have her body when he will?
 
278 Aurelius was ever in deeps sighs still;
279 Woe was Aurelieus, when this he heard,
280 And with sorrowful heart he answered her:
281 Madame, to lose you is impossible!
282 So let death come, sudden and horrible.’
283 And with that he turned away anon.
284 Her other friends appeared, many a one,
285 And in the alleyways roamed up and down,
286 Knowing nothing of this sad conclusion.
287 And suddenly the revels began anew,
288 Till the bright sun had lost his yellow hue,
289 Since the horizon robbed them of his light
290 Which is as much as to say, that it was night.
291 And home they went, in joy and in solace,
292 Save only poor Aurelius, alas!
293 He to his house has gone, with sorrowful heart.
294 That he and death shall not be long apart,
295 He feels, and senses his heart grow cold.
296 Up to the heavens he his hands does hold,
297 On his bare knees then he sets him down,
298 And in a rage of feeling says his orison.
299 For woe his wits were addled in his head;
300 He knew not what he spoke, but thus he said.
301 With piteous heart his plaint was thus begun
302 Unto the gods, and first unto the sun.
 
303 Apollo,’ said he, ‘God and governor
304 Of every plant, and herb, tree and flower,
305 Who gives, according to your declination,
306 To each of them its time and season,
307 As your position changes, low or high,
308 Lord Phoebus, cast now your merciful eye
309 On sad Aurelius, wretched and forlorn!
310 Lo, Lord, my lady now my death has sworn
311 Though I am guiltless, your benignity
312 Upon my doomed heart may yet take pity.
313 For I know, Lord Phoebus, if you wished,
314 You, save for my lady, could help me best.
315 Now vouchsafe me that I might advise
316 You how I may be helped, and in what wise.
 
317 Luna, your sister blest, who bright does sheen,
318 And of the sea is chief goddess and queen,
319 (Though Neptune has the mastery of the sea,
320 Yet empress high above him still is she),
321 You know, Lord, that just as her desire
322 Is to be quickened, lighted from your fire,
323 And thus she follows you diligently,
324 So does the sea desire, naturally,
325 To follow her, since she is the goddess
326 Of both the sea and rivers, great and less.
327 Wherefore, Lord Phoebus, this is my request
328 Perform this miracle, or my heart may burst
329 That even now at your next opposition,
330 When you are in the sign of the Lion,
331 Beg that she so great a flood will bring
332 That five fathom at the least it may spring
333 Higher than the highest rock in Brittany,
334 And for two years let this great flood be.
335 Then, surely, to my lady I may say,
336 Hold to your pledge; the rocks are all away.”
 
337 Lord Phoebus, do this miracle for me:
338 Ask her to run her course no more swiftly
339 Than you, I say, request that your sister go
340 No faster than you, these two years though.
341 Then she will be at full the entire way,
342 And the spring flood last both night and day.
343 And if shell not vouchsafe in that manner,
344 To grant to me my sovereign lady dear,
345 Beg her to sink each rock deeper down
346 Into her own dark region underground
347 The shadowy kingdom Pluto dwells in,
348 Or nevermore shall I my lady win.
349 Your temple at Delphi I’ll barefoot seek,
350 Lord Phoebus, see the tears run down my cheek,
351 And on my pain have some compassion!’
352 And with that he swooned after a fashion,
353 And lay on the ground a long time in a trance.
 
354 His brother, who knew of this mischance,
355 Caught him up, and to bed had him brought.
356 Despairing, filled with his tormented thought,
357 I’ll leave this sorrowing creature there to lie;
358 Let him choose whether hell live or die!
 
359 Arvegarus, in health, with great honour,
360 Like one who was of chivalry the flower,
361 Is home again, with other noblemen.
362 O joyous are you now, sweet Dorigen,
363 Who have your gallant husband in your arms,
364 The fresh knight, the worthy man at arms,
365 Who loves you as he loves his own heart’s life!
366 Nothing made him suspect that to his wife
367 Any man had spoken, while he voyaged about,
368 Of love indeed, nor was he plagued with doubt.
369 He gave not a thought to any such matter,
370 But danced, jousted, and made much of her.
371 And so in joy and bliss I’ll let him dwell,
372 And of the ill Aurelius I will tell.
 
373 Languishing, and in torment furious,
374 Two years and more lay sad Aurelius,
375 Before the ground he dare set foot upon.
376 Of comfort all this time he had none,
377 Save from his brother, who was a clerk.
378 He knew of all this woe and all this work;
379 For to no other creature, it is certain,
380 Dare he a single word of this explain,
381 In his breast bore it discretely rather,
382 More so than Pamphilus for Galatea.
383 His breast was whole, as outwardly was seen,
384 But in his heart was ever the arrow keen;
385 And a wound unhealed, with surface scar,
386 In surgery is perilous of cure
387 Unless they touch the arrow, or come thereby.
 
388 His brother wept, away from public eye,
389 Till finally he fell into remembrance
390 That while he was at Orleans in France
391 As students who are young and zealous
392 To read in arts abstruse and curious
393 Seek every nook and cranny, in turn,
394 The recondite sciences for to learn
395 He recalled that once, upon a day,
396 In the college, at Orleans, as I say,
397 A book of natural magic, he saw
398 Because his friend a bachelor of law,
399 Though he was there for other study,
400 Left it lying, on his desk, discretely.
401 Which book spoke fully of the operations
402 Touching the eight and twenty mansions
403 Belonging to the moon, and suchlike folly,
404 Considered, in our day, not worth a flea;
405 For Holy Church’s faith, to our belief
406 Allows no like illusion to bring grief.
407 And when this book entered his remembrance,
408 Swiftly his heart for joy began to dance,
409 And to himself he said thus, privately:
 
410 My brother will be cured right swiftly;
411 For I am certain there are true sciences
412 By which men conjure up appearances,
413 Such as the subtlest conjurors display.
414 For often at feasts, have I heard men say,
415 Conjurors within a hall, full large,
416 Have filled a space with water and a barge,
417 And in the hall have rowed up and down.
418 Sometimes a grim lion have they shown,
419 And sometimes flowers sprang up instead,
420 Sometimes a vine with grapes white and red,
421 Sometimes a castle, all of lime and stone,
422 And when they chose, they banished it, anon;
423 Or so it seemed, to everyone in sight.
 
424 Now then, I deduce, that if I might
425 At Orleans some old learned fellow find
426 Who has the lunar mansions in his mind
427 Or other natural magic, as above,
428 He could ensure my brother had his love.
429 For by illusions a learned man, in fact,
430 Could make men think that all the rocks black
431 Of Brittany had vanished every one,
432 And ships along the shore might go and come,
433 And then maintain the sight a week or so,
434 So may my brother be cured of his woe;
435 Then she must keep to all her promises,
436 Or bring shame on herself, I’d suggest.’
437 Why must I make a longer tale of this?
438 To his brother’s bed he came, and all his
439 Comfort brought, urging him to be gone
440 To Orleans, that he started up anon,
441 And forward on the road did he fare,
442 Hoping to be eased of all his care.
 
443 When they had almost come to that city,
444 Only two furlongs short, or maybe three,
445 A young clerk, roaming by himself, they met,
446 Who greeted them in Latin, at the outset,
447 With great politeness, and this wondrous thing:
448 ‘I know,’ quoth he,’ the reason for your coming
449 And before a foot more they onward went,
450 He told them all about their true intent.
 
451 Our Breton scholar asks him then to say
452 What has become of scholars of past days,
453 Whom he once knew: dead as it appears,
454 At which he weeps a plethora of tears.
 
455 Down from his horse Aurelius got, anon,
456 And with the magician forth was gone
457 Home to his house: he set them at their ease.
458 They lacked no refreshment that could please;
459 So well provisioned a house as was this one
460 Aurelius in all his life had seen none.
 
461 Conjured for him, ere they went to supper,
462 Were forests, parks, filled with wild deer;
463 Where he saw stags with antlers high,
464 The largest ever seen by human eye.
465 He saw a hundred of them slain by hounds,
466 Some, shot by arrows, bled from bitter wounds.
467 And when they had all vanished, these wild deer,
468 Came falconers beside a river fair,
469 Who with their hawks had many heron slain.
470 Then he saw knights jousting on a plain;
471 And after this in conjured elegance,
472 He saw his lady there as she did dance,
473 And he himself was dancing, as he thought.
474 And when the master who this magic wrought
475 Saw it was time, he clapped his hands, and lo,
476 Farewell all our revel, it vanished so!
477 And yet they had not moved from the house,
478 While viewing all this sight so marvellous,
479 But in his study, with his books, the three
480 Of them sat still, and no one else to see.
 
481 His squire then was summoned by the master,
482 Who said to him: ‘Is all prepared for supper?
483 Almost an hour it is, and no mistake,
484 Since I bade you our supper swiftly make,
485 While these worthy men I took with me
486 Into the study, to view my library.’
487 Sirequoth the squire, ‘I’ll make a vow
488 That it is ready, you may eat right now.’
489 Let us go sup, then, ‘quoth he, ‘that is best.
490 Amorous people too must sometimes rest!’
 
491 After the supper they bargained freely
492 As to what sum the master’s prize should be
493 For removing all the rocks from Brittany,
494 From Gironde too, to the Seine’s estuary.
 
495 He showed reluctance, swore, for God’s sake,
496 Less than a thousand pounds he would not take,
497 Certainly, for that sum he would have none.
 
498 Aurelius with blissful heart anon
499 Answered thus: ‘Fie on your thousand pound!
500 This wide world of ours, men say is round,
501 I would give that, if I were lord of it!
502 The bargain’s made, take what you think fit;
503 You shall be paid, truly, on my oath.
504 But look you now, no negligence or sloth
505 Must keep us here longer than tomorrow.’
506 Nay,’ quoth the scholar, ‘on my faith, I vow.’
 
507 Aurelius went to bed, as he thought best,
508 And well nigh all that night he took his rest.
509 Tired with his labour, yet with hopes of bliss,
510 Ease to his woeful heart came not amiss.
 
511 On the morrow, as soon as it was day,
512 To Brittany they rode the nearest way,
513 Aurelius, with the scholar at his side,
514 And descended, where they would abide.
515 It was, then, say the books, as I remember,
516 The cold and frosty season, in December.
 
517 Phoebus waxed old, and in this station
518 Dull brass was he, who in high declination
519 Shines like burnished gold with rays so bright;
520 But now in Capricorn he shed his light,
521 Where full pale he shone, I dare maintain.
522 The bitter frosts, with winter’s sleet and rain,
523 All the garden greenery had interred.
524 Janus sat by the fire with double beard,
525 And from his bugle-horn he supped his wine,
526 Before him brawn of the sharp-tusked swine,
527 AndSing, Noel!’ cried every lusty man.
 
528 Aurelius, doing all that ever a man can
529 Gave the master good cheer and reverence,
530 And prayed him to employ his diligence
531 To release him from his pain’s fierce smart,
532 Or plunge a sword into his very heart.
 
533 The subtle clerk took pity on the man
534 And night and day as swiftly as one can
535 Sought out a time to achieve conclusion,
536 That is to say create the right illusion
537 By deft appearance, conjuror’s mystery
538 I lack the terms for such astrology
539 That she and everyone would think and say
540 That from Brittany the rocks were all away,
541 Or else had been sunken underground.
542 So, at last, the proper date was found
543 To try his tricks and work the wretchedness
544 Of all such superstitious cursedness.
545 His Toledan tables forth he brought,
546 Rightly corrected, so he lacked for naught,
547 Neither for blocks nor individual years,
548 Nor to fix the root, lacked nothing here
549 For his equations of centre, argument,
550 And the proportionals convenient
551 For the calculation of everything:
552 So, from the starseighth sphere, in his working,
553 How far the moon’s first mansion had moved
554 From the first point of Aries above,
555 That in the ninth sphere considered is;
556 Full subtly he calculated this.
 
557 When he had located the first mansion,
558 He knew all the rest by due proportion,
559 And in which sign the moon rose he knew well
560 And in which face and term, and so could tell
561 Which was now the moon’s precise mansion,
562 As a result of all this operation:
563 And he knew the right observances,
564 To create such illusions and mischances
565 As heathen folk employed in olden days.
566 After which there were no more delays,
567 And through his magic, for two weeks I’d say,
568 It seemed that all the rocks were cleared away.
 
569 Aurelius, still in despair through all of this,
570 As to whether he’d have his love or fare amiss,
571 Waited night and day to see this miracle.
572 And when he knew there was no obstacle
573 And that the rocks had vanished every one
574 Down at the master’s feet he fell anon,
575 And said: ‘I, woeful wretch, Aurelius,
576 Thank you, lord, and my lady Venus,
577 Who have freed me from my cares cold!’
578 And to the temple then away did go,
579 To where he knew he should his lady see.
580 And when he saw his opportunity,
581 With fearful heart, full humbly did appear,
582 And greeted then his sovereign lady dear.
 
583 My true lady,’ quoth this woeful man,
584 Whom I most dread and love, deep as I can,
585 Whom I would in this world least displease,
586 Had I not suffered for you such miseries
587 That I must die here at your feet anon,
588 I’d not have shown that I was woebegone.
589 But surely I must die, or still complain;
590 You slay me, guiltless, merely from the pain.
591 But though to sorrow for my death youre loath,
592 Think a while before you break your oath.
593 Repent you so, and think of God above,
594 Before you punish me who seek your love.
595 For, Madame, now recall the pledge I cite
596 Though I may claim nothing of you by right
597 My sovereign lady, but only ask your grace
598 Yet in the garden, yonder, in that place,
599 You well know what you have sworn to me,
600 And there your troth you plighted loyally
601 To love me bestGod’s witness, you said so,
602 Albeit that I am unworthy though.
603 Madame, your honour I speak for, I vow,
604 More than to save my heart’s life right now:
605 I have done all that you commanded me,
606 And if you deign to, you may go and see.
607 Do as you will; yet have your oath in mind,
608 For quick or dead, there you shall me find.
609 With you it lies, to save my life or slay;
610 But true it is the rocks are now away.’
 
611 He took his leave, and she astonished stood.
612 In her whole face was not a drop of blood.
613 She had thought never to fall into this trap.
614 Alas!’ quoth she, ‘to suffer this mishap!
615 I thought it an impossibility
616 That such a monstrous miracle could be!
617 It defies the processes of nature.’
618 And home she went, a sorrowful creature;
619 For fear, indeed, she could scarcely move.
620 She wept, she wailed there, for a day or two,
621 And swooned so, that it was sad to see.
622 But why she did so, not a soul told she,
623 For far from town was her Arveragus.
624 Yet to herself she spoke, lamenting thus,
625 With pallid face, and sorrowful did appear
626 In her lament, as you may truly hear.
 
627 Alas, Fortune, of you I will complain,
628 Who suddenly have snared me in your chain,
629 To escape from which I find no succour,
630 Save only death, or else yet dishonour;
631 One of these two I must clearly choose.
632 Yet, nonetheless, I had much rather lose
633 My life, than see my body suffer shame,
634 Or know myself as false, and lose my name.
635 And by my death I may be quit of this.
636 Has not many a noble wife, and foolish
637 Maiden, slain herself before now, alas,
638 Rather than bring her body to that pass?
 
639 Yes, for certain; lo, these tales bear witness.
640 When thirty tyrants full of wickedness
641 Had Phidon slain, in Athens at a feast,
642 They ordered his daughters to be seized
643 And brought before them, humbled in their sight,
644 All naked, to assuage their foul delight,
645 And in their father’s blood they made them dance
646 Upon the pavementGod send them mischance!
647 For which these woeful maidens, full of dread,
648 Rather than they should lose their maidenheads,
649 Broke away, and leapt into a well,
650 And drowned themselves, as the old books tell.
 
651 The Messenians requested that men seek
652 In Lacadaemon, fifty maidens meek,
653 On whom they might work their lechery.
654 But there was none of all that company
655 That did not slay herself, with good intent,
656 Choosing to die rather than to assent
657 And be robbed there of their maidenhead.
658 Why then of death should I remain in dread?
659 Lo, then, the tyrant, Aristoclides,
660 Who loved a maiden called Stimphalides,
661 Who when her father slain was in the night,
662 Unto Diana’s temple fled outright,
663 And grasped hold of her statue too,
664 From which statue she could not be loosed.
665 No one there could tear her hands away,
666 Till in that selfsame place, they did her slay.
 
667 Since these maidens died before they might
668 Be defiled by man’s foul appetite,
669 A wife should rather kill herself than be
670 Defiled by any man, it seems to me.
671 What shall I say of Hasdrubal’s fair wife
672 Who at Carthage deprived herself of life?
673 For when she knew the Romans had the town,
674 She took her children all, and so leapt down
675 Into the fire, and chose to perish there
676 Rather than any Roman ravage her.
677 Did not Lucrece slay herself, alas,
678 At Rome when she oppressed was
679 By Tarquin, because she thought it shame
680 To be alive when she had lost her name?
681 Of Miletus, the seven maids also
682 Slew themselves indeed, for dread and woe,
683 Rather than let the Gauls them oppress.
684 More than a thousand stories, I should guess,
685 Might I now tell about the matter here.
686 When Abradatas fell, his wife so dear
687 Slew herself, and let her life-blood glide
688 Into Abradataswounds both deep and wide,
689 And said: “My body, at the least, I say,
690 No man shall defile, for I go my way.”
 
691 What need of more examples, to explain
692 How so many women themselves have slain
693 Rather than be defiled, in misery?
694 I conclude that better it is for me
695 To slay myself than be defiled thus.
696 I will be true to my Arveragus,
697 Or I will slay myself in some way here,
698 As did Demotion’s daughter dear,
699 Because she would not defiled be.
700 O Scedasus, the heart fills with pity
701 Reading how your daughter died, alas,
702 Who slew herself in a similar pass.
703 As great a pity was felt, or even more,
704 For the Theban maid who foiled Nicanor
705 And slew herself, a case of equal woe.
706 Another Theban maiden died also,
707 Because a Macedonian her oppressed;
708 Her death repaid her loss of maidenhead.
709 What shall I say of Niceratuswife,
710 Who in like case bereft herself of life?
711 How true also to Alcibiades,
712 His lover was, who chose to die, as these,
713 Rather than let his body unburied be?
714 Lo what a wife Alcestis was!’ quoth she.
715 What says Homer of good Penelope?
716 All Greece knew her wifely chastity.
717 Of Laodamia is it written thus,
718 That when at Troy died Protesilaus,
719 She would no longer live beyond his day.
720 The same of noble Portia, I may say:
721 Without Brutus, she too could not live,
722 For his was all the heart she had to give.
723 The perfect wife was Artemisia,
724 Honoured in Barbary by every peer.
725 O, Teuta, queen, your wifely chastity
726 To every wife may as a mirror be!
727 The same thing I may say of Bilia,
728 Of Rhodogue, and of Valeria.’
 
729 So Dorigen, a day or two, did sigh,
730 Ever purposing that she would die.
731 But nonetheless, on the third night,
732 Home came Avergarus, the noble knight,
733 And asked her why she wept so sore;
734 At which she began to weep even more.
 
735 Alas,’ quoth she, ‘that ever I was born!
736 Thus have I said,’ quoth she, ‘thus have I sworn’ –
737 And told him all that you have heard before;
738 No need to repeat it here for you once more.
 
739 Her husband, with kind face, in friendly wise,
740 Answered, and said as I shall now advise:
741 Is there aught else, Dorigen, but this?’
742 Nay, nay,’ quoth she, ‘God help me, as it is,
743 It is too much, were it God’s own will!’
 
744 Yet, wife,’ quoth he, ‘let sleep on what is still.
745 All may be well, perchance, even today.
746 You must keep your promise, by my faith!
747 For, and may God have mercy upon me,
748 I would rather be slain, mercilessly,
749 For the very love I have for you, I say,
750 Than that your word you not keep always.
751 His word is the noblest thing a man may keep.’
752 Yet with these words he began to weep,
753 And said, ‘I forbid you, on pain of death,
754 Ever, while left to you are life and breath,
755 To tell a single soul of this adventure.
756 As I best may, this woe I will endure;
757 And show you no countenance of heaviness,
758 Lest folk may think harm of you, or guess.’
 
759 He summoned forth a squire and a maid;
760 Go forth anon, with Dorigenhe said,
761 And bring her to the place she tells, anon.’
762 They took their leave and on their way were gone,
763 But they knew not why she thither went;
764 He told no one at all of his intent.
 
765 Perchance a heap of you, a crowd that is,
766 Consider him a foolish man in this,
767 Seeking to place his wife in jeopardy.
768 Hear the tale, then you may judge her truly;
769 She may have better fortune than it seems;
770 Judge when you know whether the tale redeems.
 
771 That squire, you will remember, Aurelius,
772 He, who to Dorigen had proved so amorous,
773 Happened by chance our Dorigen to meet,
774 In the town, and right in the busiest street,
775 As she was about to take the road, outright,
776 To the garden where her troth she did plight.
777 And he was walking garden-ward also,
778 For he spied on her wherever she may go
779 From her house to any manner of place.
780 So thus they met, by chance or yet by grace,
781 And he saluted her with glad intent,
782 And asked her then whitherward she went.
783 And she answered, as though she were half-mad,
784 Unto the garden as my husband bade,
785 To keep my word to you, alas, alas!’
 
786 Aurelius, stunned at what had come to pass,
787 Felt, in his heart, a true compassion
788 For her, and the cause of her lamentation,
789 And for Arveragus, the worthy knight,
790 Who bade her keep her word, come what might,
791 So loath was he to let her stray from the truth.
792 And in his heart such pity filled the youth,
793 He thought, considering it from every side,
794 That he should rather let intention slide,
795 Than commit such churlish wretchedness
796 Against generosity and gentleness.
797 So, briefly, in a few words, he said thus:
 
798 Madame, say to your lord Arveragus,
799 That since I perceived his great nobleness,
800 His treatment of you, in your great distress,
801 That he would rather be ashamedsad truth
802 Than let you break your word to me, forsooth,
803 Then I would rather suffer lasting woe
804 Than ever harm the love between you so.
805 I release, you, Madame, from your bond,
806 Quit of every promise, out of hand,
807 That you have made to me heretofore,
808 As free as on the day when you were born.
809 My troth I plight, that I shall never grieve
810 You for promise given; and take my leave
811 Of you, the best and the truest wife
812 That ever I have known in all my life.
813 Now wives beware of oaths and, for the rest,
814 Remember Dorigen, let me suggest!
815 Thus may a squire do a gentle deed
816 As well as any knight, as you can see.’
 
817 She thanked him then, on her knees all bare,
818 And home to her husband she did fare,
819 And told him everything youve heard said.
820 You may be sure, he more joy displayed
821 Than it were possible for me to write.
822 What more of this story should I cite?
823 Arveragus and Dorigen his wife
824 In sovereign bliss lived out their life.
825 With never any anger there between;
826 He cherished her as if she were a queen,
827 And she was true to him for evermore.
828 Of these two folk, now, youll hear no more.
 
829 Aurelius, who all the cost had borne,
830 Cursed the day that ever he was born.
831 Alas,’ quoth he, ‘the promise that I made
832 Of purest gold a thousand pound in weight
833 To this philosopher! What shall I do?
834 I see I must be ruined by loving, too!
835 My inheritance I needs must sell,
836 And be a beggarhere I may not dwell,
837 To shame all my kindred in this place
838 And yet he may reveal a better grace.
839 For nonetheless, perhaps, I might assay
840 On certain days, year by year, to pay,
841 And thank him then for his great courtesy.
842 My word I will keep; no lies for me.’
 
843 With sore heart he went to his coffer,
844 And took his gold to the philosopher,
845 In value, some five hundred pounds I guess,
846 And beseeched him, of his gentleness,
847 To grant him time to pay the remainder;
848 And said: ‘Master, this boast I make here,
849 I’ve never failed of my word as yet.
850 Be sure, I will be quit of all the debt
851 Towards you, however I may fare,
852 Though it mean I must beg, and go bare.
853 If you would vouchsafe, on security,
854 To give me respite for two years or three,
855 All would be well, for else I must sell
856 My heritage; there is no more to tell.’
 
857 The philosopher soberly him answered,
858 And said thus, when he the words had heard:
859 Did I not keep covenant with thee?’
860 Yes, and well and truly, too,’ quoth he.
861 Did you not win your lady, tell no lie?’
862 No, no,’ quoth he, and sorrowfully did sigh.
863 What was the reason? Tell me if you can.’
 
864 Aurelius his tale anon began,
865 And told him all that you have heard before;
866 No need for me to tell it you once more.
867 He said: ‘Arveragus, in his nobleness,
868 Would rather die in sorrow and distress,
869 Than let his wife to her word be false.’
870 Dorigen’s sorrow also he told him of,
871 How loath she was to prove a wicked wife,
872 Would rather that day have lost her life,
873 And that she gave her word in all innocence;
874 She’d never heard of magical disappearance.
875 It made me feel for her such deep pity,
876 That as freely as he sent her to me,
877 As freely I sent her to him again.
878 That’s the long and short; the sense is plain.’
 
879 The philosopher replied: ‘My dear brother,
880 Each of you dealt nobly with the other.
881 You are a squire, and he is a knight;
882 But God forbid, in His blissful might,
883 That a clerk may not do a noble deed
884 As well as either of you may, indeed!
885 Sire, I release you from your thousand pounds,
886 As if you had but now crept out of the ground,
887 And never, before now, had known of me.
888 For sire, I will not take a penny from thee
889 For all my skill, no, naught for my travail.
890 You have paid well for my bread and ale;
891 That is enough, and so farewell, good day!’
892 And then to horse, and forth he took his way.
 
893 Lordings, this question will I ask you now:
894 Who was the most generous, sayest thou?
895 Now tell me that, ere you farther wend!
896 I can no more; my tale is at an end.
 
【 】The Squire-Franklin Link, and the Franklin’s Prologue and Tale
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