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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Clerk's Tale

Incipit secunda pars.
Here begins the second part

       Noght fer fro thilke paleys honurable
Ther as this markys shoop his mariage,
Ther stood a throop, of site delitable,
200In which that povre folk of that village
Hadden hir beestes and hir herbergage,
And of hir lobour tooke hir sustenance,
After that the erthe yaf hem habundance.

       Amonges thise povre folk ther dwelte a man
205Which that was holden povrest of hem alle;
But hye God somtyme senden kan
His grace into a litel oxes stalle
Janicula men of that throop hym calle.
A doghter hadde he, fair ynogh to sighte,
210And Grisildis this yonge mayden highte.

       But for to speke of vertuous beautee,
Thanne was she oon the faireste under sonne,
For povreliche yfostred up was she,
No likerous lust was thurgh hir herte yronne.
215Wel ofter of the welle than of the tonne
She drank, and for she wolde vertu plese
She knew wel labour but noon ydel ese.

       But thogh this mayde tendre were of age,
Yet in the brest of hire virginitee
220Ther was enclosed rype and sad corage;
And in greet reverence and charitee
Hir olde povre fader fostred shee.
A fewe sheepe, spynnynge on feeld she kepte,
She wolde noght been ydel, til she slepte.

225        And whan she homward cam, she wolde brynge
Wortes, or othere herbes tymes ofte,
The whiche she shredde and seeth for hir lyvynge,
And made hir bed ful harde and no thyng softe;
And ay she kepte hir fadres lyf on lofte
230With everich obeisaunce and diligence
That child may doon to fadres reverence.

       Upon Grisilde, this povre creature,
Ful ofte sithe this markys caste his ye,
As he on huntyng rood paraventure.
235And whan it fil that he myghte hire espye,
He noght with wantowne lookyng of folye
His eyen caste on hir, but in sad wyse,
Upon hir chiere he wolde hym ofte avyse,

       Commendynge in his herte hir wommanhede
240And eek hir vertu, passynge any wight
Of so yong age, as wel in chiere as dede.
For thogh the peple hadde no greet insight
In vertu, he considered ful right
Hir bountee, and disposed that he wolde
245Wedde hir oonly, if evere he wedde sholde.

       The day of weddyng cam, but no wight kan
Telle what womman that it sholde be,
For which merveille wondred many a man,
And seyden, whan that they were in privetee,
250"Wol nat oure lord yet leve his vanytee?
Wol he nat wedde? Allas, allas, the while!
Why wole he thus hymself and us bigile?"

       But nathelees this markys hath doon make
O gemmes set in gold and in asure
255Brooches and rynges, for Grisildis sake,
And of hir clothyng took he the mesure,
By a mayde lyk to hir stature,
And eek of othere aornementes alle
That unto swich a weddyng sholde falle.

260        The time of undren of the same day
Approcheth, that this weddyng sholde be;
And al the paleys put was in array,
Bothe halle and chambres, ech in his degree;
Houses of office stuffed with plentee
265Ther maystow seen, of deyntevous vitaille,
That may be founde as fer as last Ytaille.

       This roial markys, richely arrayed,
Lordes and ladyes in his compaignye,
The whiche that to the feeste weren yprayed,
270And of his retenue the bachelrye,
With many a soun of sondry melodye
Unto the village, of the which I tolde,
In this array the righte wey han holde.

       Grisilde of this, God woot, ful innocent,
275That for hir shapen was al this array,
To fecchen water at a welle is went,
And cometh hoom as soone as ever she may;
For wel she hadde herd seyd, that thilke day
The markys sholde wedde, and if she myghte,
280She wolde fayn han seyn som of that sighte.

       She thoghte, "I wole with othere maydens stonde,
That been my felawes, in oure dore, and se
The markysesse, and therfore wol I fonde
To doon at hoom as soone as it may be
285The labour, which that longeth unto me,
And thanne I may at leyser hir biholde,
If she this wey unto the castel holde."

       And as she wolde over hir thresshfold gon
The markys cam and gan hire for to calle,
290And she set doun hir water pot anon
Biside the thresshfold in an oxes stalle,
And doun up-on hir knes she gan to falle,
And with sad contenance kneleth stille,
Til she had herd what was the lordes wille.

295        This thoghtful markys spak unto this mayde
Ful sobrely, and seyde in this manere,
"Where is youre fader, O Grisildis?" he sayde,
And she with reverence in humble cheere
Answerde, "Lord, he is al redy heere."
300And in she gooth, withouten lenger lette,
And to the markys she hir fader fette.

       He by the hand thanne took this olde man,
And seyde thus, whan he hym hadde asyde,
"Janicula, I neither may ne kan
305Lenger the plesance of myn herte hyde;
If that thou vouch sauf, what so bityde,
Thy doghter wol I take, er that I wende,
As for my wyf unto hir lyves ende.

       Thou lovest me, I woot it wel certeyn,
310And art my feithful lige man ybore,
And all that liketh me, I dar wel seyn,
It liketh thee; and specially therfore
Tel me that poynt that I have seyd bifore,
If that thou wolt unto that purpos drawe,
315To take me as for thy sone-in-lawe."

       This sodeyn cas this man astonyed so,
That reed he wax; abayst and al quakyng
He stood, unnethes seyde he wordes mo,
But oonly thus, "Lord," quod he, "my willynge
320Is as ye wole, ne ayeyns youre likynge
I wol no thyng, ye be my lord so deere;
Right as yow lust governeth this mateere."

       "Yet wol I," quod this markys softely,
"That in thy chambre I and thou and she
325Have a collacioun, and wostow why?
For I wol axe, if it hir wille be
To be my wyf, and reule hir after me;
And al this shal be doon in thy presence,
I wol noght speke out of thyn audience."

330        And in the chambre whil they were aboute
Hir tretys which as ye shal after heere,
The peple cam unto the hous withoute,
And wondred hem in how honeste manere
And tentifly she kepte hir fader deere.
335But outrely Grisildis wondre myghte
For nevere erst ne saugh she swich a sighte.

       No wonder is thogh that she were astoned
To seen so greet a grest come in that place;
She nevere was to swiche gestes woned,
340For which she looked with ful pale face-
But shortly forth this tale for to chace,
Thise arn the wordes that the markys sayde
To this benigne verray feithful mayde.

       "Grisilde," he seyde, "ye shal wel understonde
345It liketh to youre fader and to me
That I yow wedde, and eek it may so stonde,
As, I suppose, ye wol that it so be.
But thise demandes axe I first," quod he,
"That sith it shal be doon in hastif wyse,
350Wol ye assente, or elles yow avyse?

       I seye this, be ye redy with good herte
To al my lust, and that I frely may,
As me best thynketh, do yow laughe or smerte,
And nevere ye to grucche it nyght ne day,
355And eek whan I sey ye, ne sey nat nay,
Neither by word, ne frownyng contenance?
Swere this, and heere I swere yow alliance."

       Wondrynge upon this word, quakynge for drede,
She seyde, "Lord, undigne and unworthy
360Am I to thilke honour, that ye me beede,
But as ye wole yourself, right so wol I.
And heere I swere, that nevere willyngly
In werk ne thoght I nyl yow disobeye,
For to be deed, though me were looth to deye."

365        "This is ynogh, Grisilde myn," quod he,
And forth he gooth with a ful sobre cheere
Out at the dore, and after that cam she;
And to the peple he seyde in this manere,
"This is my wyf," quod he, "that standeth heere;
370Honoureth hir, and loveth hir, I preye,
Whoso me loveth; ther is namoore to seye."

       And for that nothyng of hir olde geere
She sholde brynge into his hous, he bad
That wommen sholde dispoillen hir right theere;-
375Of which thise ladyes were nat right glad
To handle hir clothes, wherinne she was clad.
But nathelees, this mayde bright of hewe
Fro foot to heed they clothed han al newe.

       Hir heris han they kembd, that lay untressed
380Ful rudely, and with hir fyngres smale
A corone on hir heed they han ydressed,
And sette hir ful of nowches grete and smale.
Of hire array what sholde I make a tale?
Unnethe the peple hire knew for hir fairnesse
385Whan she translated was in swich richesse.

       This markys hath hir spoused with a ryng
Broght for the same cause, and thanne hir sette
Upon an hors, snow-whit and wel amblyng,
And to his paleys, er he lenger lette,
390With joyful peple that hir ladde and mette
Conveyed hire; and thus the day they spende
In revel, til the sonne gan descende.

       And shortly forth this tale for to chace,
I seye, that to this newe markysesse
395God hath swich favour sent hir of his grace,
That it ne semed nat by liklynesse
That she was born and fed in rudenesse
As in a cote or in an oxe-stalle,
But norissed in an emperoures halle.

400        To every wight she woxen is so deere
And worshipful, that folk ther she was bore
And from hir birthe knewe hir yeer by yeere,
Unnethe trowed they, - but dorste han swore -
That she to Janicle, of which I spak bifore,
405She doghter nere, for as by conjecture,
Hem thoughte she was another creature.

       For though that evere vertuous was she,
She was encressed in swich excellence,
Of thewes goode, yset in heigh bountee,
410And so discreet and fair of eloquence,
So benigne, and so digne of reverence,
And koude so the peples herte embrace,
That ech hir lovede, that looked on hir face.

       Noght oonly of Saluces in the toun
415Publiced was the bountee of hir name,
But eek biside in many a regioun,
If oon seide wel, another seyde the same;
So spradde of hir heighe bountee the fame
That men and wommen, as wel yonge as olde,
420Goon to Saluce upon hir to biholde.

       Thus Walter lowely, nay! but roially
Wedded with fortunat honestetee,
In Goddes pees lyveth ful esily
At hoom, and outward grace ynogh had he,
425And for he saugh that under low degree
Was ofte vertu hid, the peple hym heelde
A prudent man, and that is seyn ful seelde.

       Nat oonly this Grisildis thurgh hir wit
Koude al the feet of wyfly humblenesse,
430But eek, whan that the cas required it,
The commune profit koude she redresse.
Ther nas discord, rancour, ne hevynesse
In al that land, that she ne koude apese,
And wisely brynge hem alle in reste and ese.

435 Though that hir housbonde absent were anon
If gentil men, or othere of hir contree
Were wrothe, she wolde bryngen hem aton.
So wise and rype wordes hadde she,
And juggementz of so greet equitee,
440That she from hevene sent was, as men wende,
Peple to save and every wrong tamende.

       Nat longe tyme after that this Grisild
Was wedded, she a doghter hath ybore-
Al had hir levere have born a man child;
445Glad was this markys and the folk therfore,
For though a mayde child coome al bifore,
She may unto a knave child atteyne
By liklihede, syn she nys nat bareyne.


Explicit secunda pars.
Here ends the second part




Next:
The Clerk's Tale, Third Part (ll. 449-609)