From Troilus and Criseyde: Book I by Geoffrey Chaucer
155    And so bifel, whan comen was the tyme
       Of Aperil, whan clothed is the mede
       With newe grene, of lusty Ver the pryme,
       And swote smellen floures whyte and rede,
       In sondry wyses shewed, as I rede,
160    The folk of Troye hir observaunces olde,
       Palladiones feste for to holde.

       And to the temple, in al hir beste wyse,
       In general, ther wente many a wight,
       To herknen of Palladion servyse;
165    And namely, so many a lusty knight,
       So many a lady fresh and mayden bright,
       Ful wel arayed, bothe moste and leste,
       Ye, bothe for the seson and the feste.

       Among thise othere folk was Criseyda,
170    In widewes habite blak; but nathelees,
       Right as our firste lettre is now an A,
       In beautee first so stood she, makelees;
       Hir godly looking gladede al the prees.
       Nas never seyn thing to ben preysed derre,
175    Nor under cloude blak so bright a sterre

       As was Criseyde, as folk seyde everichoon
       That hir behelden in hir blake wede;
       And yet she stood ful lowe and stille alloon,
       Bihinden othere folk, in litel brede,
180    And neigh the dore, ay under shames drede,
       Simple of a-tyr, and debonaire of chere,
       With ful assured loking and manere.

       This Troilus, as he was wont to gyde
       His yonge knightes, ladde hem up and doun
185    In thilke large temple on every syde,
       Biholding ay the ladyes of the toun,
       Now here, now there, for no devocioun
       Hadde he to noon, to reven him his reste,
       But gan to preyse and lakken whom him leste.

190    And in his walk ful fast he gan to wayten
       If knight or squyer of his companye
       Gan for to syke, or lete his eyen bayten
       On any woman that he coude aspye;
       He wolde smyle, and holden it folye,
195    And seye him thus, `god wot, she slepeth softe
       For love of thee, whan thou tornest ful ofte!

       `I have herd told, pardieux, of your livinge,
       Ye lovers, and your lewede observaunces,
       And which a labour folk han in winninge
200    Of love, and, in the keping, which doutaunces;
       And whan your preye is lost, wo and penaunces;
       O verrey foles! nyce and blinde be ye;
       Ther nis not oon can war by other be.'

       And with that word he gan cast up the browe,
205    Ascaunces, `Lo! is this nought wysly spoken?'
       At which the god of love gan loken rowe
       Right for despyt, and shoop for to ben wroken;
       He kidde anoon his bowe nas not broken;
       For sodeynly he hit him at the fulle;
210    And yet as proud a pekok can he pulle.

       O blinde world, O blinde entencioun!
       How ofte falleth al theffect contraire
       Of surquidrye and foul presumpcioun;
       For caught is proud, and caught is debonaire.
215    This Troilus is clomben on the staire,
       And litel weneth that he moot descenden.
       But al-day falleth thing that foles ne wenden.

       As proude Bayard ginneth for to skippe
       Out of the wey, so priketh him his corn,
220    Til he a lash have of the longe whippe,
       Than thenketh he, `Though I praunce al biforn
       First in the trays, ful fat and newe shorn,
       Yet am I but an hors, and horses lawe
       I moot endure, and with my feres drawe.'

225    So ferde it by this fers and proude knight;
       Though he a worthy kinges sone were,
       And wende nothing hadde had swiche might
       Ayens his wil that sholde his herte stere,
       Yet with a look his herte wex a-fere,
230    That he, that now was most in pryde above,
       Wex sodeynly most subget un-to love.

       For-thy ensample taketh of this man,
       Ye wyse, proude, and worthy folkes alle,
       To scornen Love, which that so sone can
235    The freedom of your hertes to him thralle;
       For ever it was, and ever it shal bifalle,
       That Love is he that alle thing may binde;
       For may no man for-do the lawe of kinde.

       That this be sooth, hath preved and doth yet;
240    For this trowe I ye knowen, alle or some,
       Men reden not that folk han gretter wit
       Than they that han be most with love y-nome;
       And strengest folk ben therwith overcome,
       The worthiest and grettest of degree:
245    This was, and is, and yet men shal it see.

       And trewelich it sit wel to be so;
       For alderwysest han ther-with ben plesed;
       And they that han ben aldermost in wo,
       With love han ben conforted most and esed;
250    And ofte it hath the cruel herte apesed,
       And worthy folk maad worthier of name,
       And causeth most to dreden vyce and shame.

       Now sith it may not goodly be withstonde,
       And is a thing so vertuous in kinde,
255    Refuseth not to Love for to be bonde,
       Sin, as him-selven list, he may yow binde.
       The yerde is bet that bowen wole and winde
       Than that that brest; and therfor I yow rede
       To folwen him that so wel can yow lede.

260    But for to tellen forth in special
       As of this kinges sone of which I tolde,
       And leten other thing collateral,
       Of him thenke I my tale for to holde,
       Both of his Ioye, and of his cares colde;
265    And al his werk, as touching this matere,
       For I it gan, I wol ther-to refere.

       With-inne the temple he wente him forth pleyinge,
       This Troilus, of every wight aboute,
       On this lady and now on that lokinge,
270    Wher-so she were of toune, or of with-oute:
       And up-on cas bifel, that thorugh a route
       His eye perced, and so depe it wente,
       Til on Criseyde it smoot, and ther it stente.

       And sodeynly he wax ther-with astoned,
275    And gan hire bet biholde in thrifty wyse:
       `O mercy, god!' thoughte he, `wher hastow woned,
       That art so fair and goodly to devyse?'
       Ther-with his herte gan to sprede and ryse,
       And softe sighed, lest men mighte him here,
280    And caughte a-yein his firste pleyinge chere.

       She nas nat with the leste of hir stature,
       But alle hir limes so wel answeringe
       Weren to womanhode, that creature
       Was neuer lasse mannish in seminge.
285    And eek the pure wyse of here meninge
       Shewede wel, that men might in hir gesse
       Honour, estat, and wommanly noblesse.

       To Troilus right wonder wel with-alle
       Gan for to lyke hir meninge and hir chere,
290    Which somdel deynous was, for she leet falle
       Hir look a lite a-side, in swich manere,
       Ascaunces, `What! May I not stonden here?'
       And after that hir loking gan she lighte,
       That never thoughte him seen so good a sighte.

295    And of hir look in him ther gan to quiken
       So greet desir, and swich affeccioun,
       That in his herte botme gan to stiken
       Of hir his fixe and depe impressioun:
       And though he erst hadde poured up and doun,
300    He was tho glad his hornes in to shrinke;
       Unnethes wiste he how to loke or winke.

       Lo, he that leet him-selven so konninge,
       And scorned hem that loves peynes dryen,
       Was ful unwar that love hadde his dwellinge
305    With-inne the subtile stremes of hir yen;
       That sodeynly him thoughte he felte dyen,
       Right with hir look, the spirit in his herte;
       Blissed be love, that thus can folk converte!

       She, this in blak, likinge to Troylus,
310    Over alle thyng, he stood for to biholde;
       Ne his desir, ne wherfor he stood thus,
       He neither chere made, ne worde tolde;
       But from a-fer, his maner for to holde,
       On other thing his look som-tyme he caste,
315    And eft on hir, whyl that servyse laste.

       And after this, not fulliche al awhaped,
       Out of the temple al esiliche he wente,
       Repentinge him that he hadde ever y-iaped
       Of loves folk, lest fully the descente
320    Of scorn fille on him-self; but, what he mente,
       Lest it were wist on any maner syde,
       His wo he gan dissimulen and hyde.
Back to Penn's Page, favorite poems, or Penn's Beatrice.

This page has been seentimes