Librarius Homepage
© Librarius
All rights reserved.



From The Canterbury Tales:
The Squire's Tale

Heere bigynneth the Squieres Tale.

      At Sarray, in the land of Tartarye,
10Ther dwelte a kyng that werreyed Russye,
Thurgh which ther dyde many a doughty man.
This noble kyng was cleped Cambyuskan,
Which in his tyme was of so greet renoun,
That ther was nowher in no regioun
15So excellent a lord in alle thyng.
Hym lakked noght that longeth to a kyng;
And of the secte, of which that he was born,
He kepte his lay, to which that he was sworn;
And therto he was hardy, wys, and riche,
20And pitous, and just, and everemoore yliche,
Sooth of his word, benigne, and honurable,
Of his corage as any centre stable,
Yong, fressh, strong, and in armes desirous
As any bacheler of al his hous.
25A fair persone he was, and fortunat,
And kepte alwey so wel roial estat
That ther was nowher swich another man.
      This noble kyng, this Tarte Cambyuskan,
Hadde two sones on Elpheta his wyf,
30Of whiche the eldeste highte Algarsyf,
That oother sone was cleped Cambalo.
A doghter hadde this worthy kyng also,
That yongest was, and highte Canacee.
But for to telle yow al hir beautee,
35It lyth nat in my tonge nyn my konnyng.
I dar nat undertake so heigh a thyng;
Myn Englissh eek is insufficient.
I moste been a rethor excellent,
That koude his colours longynge for that art,
40If he sholde hir discryven every part.
I am noon swich; I moot speke as I kan.
      And so bifel, that whan this Cambyuskan
Hath twenty wynter born his diademe,
As he was wont fro yeer to yeer, I deme,
45He leet the feeste of his nativitee
Doon cryen thurghout Sarray his citee,
The last Idus of March after the yeer.
Phebus the sonne ful joly was and cleer,
For he was neigh his exaltacioun
50In Martes face, and in his mansioun
In Aries, the colerik hoote signe.
Ful lusty was the weder, and benigne,
For which the foweles agayn the sonne sheene,
What for the sesoun and the yonge grene,
55Ful loude songen hir affecciouns;
Hem semed han geten hem protecciouns
Agayn the swerd of wynter, keene and coold.
      This Cambyuskan, of which I have yow toold,
In roial vestiment sit on his deys,
60With diademe, ful heighe in his paleys,
And halt his feeste so solempne and so ryche,
That in this world ne was ther noon it lyche.
Of which, if I shal tellen al th'array,
Thanne wolde it occupie a someres day,
65And eek it nedeth nat for to devyse,
At every cours the ordre of hire servyse.
I wol nat tellen of hir strange sewes,
Ne of hir swannes, nor of hire heronsewes;
Eek in that lond, as tellen knyghtes olde,
70Ther is som mete that is ful deynte holde,
That in this lond men recche of it but smal;
Ther nys no man that may reporten al.
I wol nat taryen yow, for it is pryme,
And for it is no fruyt but los of tyme.
75Unto my firste I wole have my recours.
      And so bifel, that after the thridde cours
Whil that this kyng sit thus in his nobleye,
Herknynge hise mynstrals hir thynges pleye
Biforn hym at the bord deliciously,
80In at the halle dore al sodeynly
Ther cam a knyght, upon a steede of bras,
And in his hand a brood mirour of glas,
Upon his thombe he hadde of gold a ryng,
And by his syde a naked swerd hangyng.
85And up he rideth to the heighe bord.
In al the hall ne was ther spoken a word
For merveille of this knyght; hym to biholde
Ful bisily ther wayten yonge and olde.
      This strange knyght, that cam thus sodeynly
90Al armed, save his heed, ful richely,
Saleweth kyng, and queene, and lordes alle,
By ordre, as they seten in the halle,
With so heigh reverence and obeisaunce,
As wel in speche as in contenaunce,
95That Gawayn, with his olde curteisye,
Though he were comen ayeyn out of Fairye,
Ne koude hym nat amende with a word.
And after this, biforn the heighe bord
He with a manly voys seith his message,
100After the forme used in his langage,
Withouten vice of silable or of lettre.
And, for his tale sholde seme the bettre,
Accordant to hise wordes was his cheere,
As techeth art of speche hem that it leere.
105l be it that I kan nat sowne his stile,
Ne kan nat clymben over so heigh a style,
Yet seye I this, as to commune entente,
Thus muche amounteth al that evere he mente,
If it so be that I have it in mynde.
110He seyde, "The kyng of Arabe and of Inde,
My lige lord, on this solempne day
Saleweth yow, as he best kan and may;
And sendeth yow, in honour of your feeste,
By me, that am al redy at your heeste,
115This steede of bras, that esily and weel
Kan in the space of o day natureel,
This is to seyn, in foure and twenty houres,
Wher-so yow lyst, in droghte or elles shoures,
Beren youre body into every place
120To which youre herte wilneth for to pace,
Withouten wem of yow, thurgh foul or fair.
Or if yow lyst to fleen as hye in the air
As dooth an egle, whan that hym list to soore,
This same steede shal bere yow evere moore
125Withouten harm, til ye be ther yow leste,
Though that ye slepen on his bak or reste;
And turne ayeyn, with writhyng of a pyn.
He that it wroghte, koude ful many a gyn;
He wayted many a constellacion
130Er he had doon this operacion;
And knew ful many a seel, and many a bond.
      This mirrour eek, that I have in myn hond,
Hath swich a myght, that men may in it see
Whan ther shal fallen any adversitee
135Unto your regne, or to yourself also,
And openly who is your freend, or foo.
      And over al this, if any lady bright
Hath set hir herte in any maner wight,
If he be fals, she shal his tresoun see,
140His newe love, and al his subtiltee
So openly, that ther shal no thyng hyde.
Wherfore, ageyn this lusty someres tyde,
This mirour and this ryng that ye may see,
He hath sent unto my lady Canacee,
145Your excellente doghter that is heere.
      The vertu of the ryng, if ye wol heere,
Is this, that if hir lust it for to were
Upon hir thombe, or in hir purs it bere,
Ther is no fowel that fleeth under the hevene
150That she ne shal wel understonde his stevene,
And knowe his menyng openly and pleyn,
And answere hym in his langage ageyn.
And every gras that groweth upon roote,
She shal eek knowe, and whom it wol do boote,
155Al be hise woundes never so depe and wyde.
      This naked swerd, that hangeth by my syde
Swich vertu hath, that what man so ye smyte
Thurgh out his armure it wole kerve and byte,
Were it as thikke as is a branched ook.
160And what man that is wounded with a strook
Shal never be hool, til that yow list of grace
To stroke hym with the plate in thilke place
Ther he is hurt; this is as muche to seyn,
Ye moote with the plate swerd ageyn
165Stroke hym in the wounde, and it wol close.
This is a verray sooth withouten glose.
It faileth nat, whils it is in youre hoold."
      And whan this knyght hath thus his tale toold,
He rideth out of halle, and doun he lighte.
170His steede, which that shoon as sonne brighte,
Stant in the court, as stille as any stoon.
This knyght is to his chambre lad anoon,
And is unarmed and unto mete yset.
      The presentes been ful roially yfet,
175This is to seyn, the swerd and the mirrour,
And born anon into the heighe tour
With certeine officers ordeyned therfore.
And unto Canacee this ryng was bore,
Solempnely, ther she sit at the table.
180But sikerly, withouten any fable,
The hors of bras, that may nat be remewed,
It stant as it were to the ground yglewed.
Ther may no man out of the place it dryve,
For noon engyn of wyndas ne polyve;
185And cause why? For they kan nat the craft,
And therfore in the place they han it laft,
Til that the knyght hath taught hem the manere
To voyden hym, as ye shal after heere.
      Greet was the prees that swarmeth to and fro
190To gauren on this hors, that stondeth so.
For it so heigh was, and so brood, and long,
So wel proporcioned for to been strong,
Right as it were a steede of Lumbardye;
Therwith so horsly and so quyk of eye,
195As it a gentil Poilleys courser were.
For certes, fro his tayl unto his ere,
Nature ne art ne koude hym nat amende
In no degree, as al the peple wende.
But everemoore hir mooste wonder was
200How that it koude go, and was of bras.
It was a fairye, as al the peple semed.
Diverse folk diversely they demed;
As many heddes, as manye wittes ther been.
They murmureden as dooth a swarm of been,
205And maden skiles after hir fantasies,
Rehersynge of thise olde poetries,
And seyde that it was lyk the Pegasee,
The hors that hadde wynges for to flee;
Or elles, it was the Grekes hors Synoun,
210That broghte Troie to destruccioun,
As men in thise olde geestes rede.
"Myn herte," quod oon, "is everemoore in drede.
I trowe som men of armes been therinne,
That shapen hem this citee for to wynne.
215It were right good that al swich thyng were knowe."
Another rowned to his felawe lowe,
And seyde, "He lyeth; it is rather lyk
An apparence ymaad by som magyk,
As jogelours pleyen at thise feestes grete."
220Of sondry doutes thus they jangle and trete,
As lewed peple demeth comunly
Of thynges that been maad moore subtilly
Than they kan in hir lewednesse comprehende;
They demen gladly to the badder ende.
225      And somme of hem wondred on the mirour
That born was up into the maister-tour,
How men myghte in it swiche thynges se.
      Another answerde, and seyde, it myghte wel be
Naturelly by composiciouns
230Of anglis and of slye reflexiouns;
And seyden, that in Rome was swich oon.
They speken of Alocen and Vitulon,
And Aristotle, that writen in hir lyves
Of queynte mirours and of perspectives,
235As knowen they that han hir bookes herd.
      And oother folk han wondred on the swerd,
That wolde percen thurgh out every thyng;
And fille in speche of Thelophus the kyng
And of Achilles with his queynte spere,
240For he koude with it bothe heele and dere,
Right in swich wise as men may with the swerd,
Of which right now ye han youreselven herd.
They speken of sondry hardyng of metal,
And speke of medicynes therwithal,
245And how and whanne it sholde yharded be,
Which is unknowe, algates unto me.
      Tho speeke they of Canacees ryng,
And seyden alle, that swich a wonder thyng
Of craft of rynges herde they nevere noon;
250Save that he Moyses, and kyng Salomon
Hadde a name of konnyng in swich art.
Thus seyn the peple, and drawen hem apart.
But nathelees, somme seiden that it was
Wonder to maken of fern asshen glas,
255And yet nys glas nat lyk asshen of fern;
But for they han knowen it so fern,
Therfore cesseth hir janglyng and hir wonder.
As soore wondren somme on cause of thonder,
On ebbe, on flood, on gossomer, and on myst,
260And alle thyng, til that the cause is wyst.
Thus jangle they, and demen, and devyse,
Til that the knyg gan fro the bord aryse.
      Phebus hath laft the angle meridional,
And yet ascendynge was the beest roial,
265The gentil Leoun, with his Aldiran,
Whan that this Tartre kyng, this Cambyuskan
Roos fro his bord, ther that he sat ful hye.
Toforn hym gooth the loude mynstralcye
Til he cam to his chambre of parementz,
270Ther as they sownen diverse intrumentz
That it is lyk an hevene for to heere.
Now dauncen lusty Venus children deere,
For in the Fyssh hir lady sat ful hye,
And looketh on hem with a freendly eye.
275      This noble kyng is set up in his trone;
This strange knyght is fet to hym ful soone,
And on the daunce he gooth with Canacee.
Heere is the revel and the jolitee
That is nat able a dul man to devyse;
280He moste han knowen love and his servyse,
And been a feestlych man as fressh as May,
That sholde yow devysen swich array.
      Who koude telle yow the forme of daunces,
So unkouthe and so fresshe contenaunces,
285Swich subtil lookyng and dissymulynges,
For drede of jalouse mennes aperceyvynges?
No man but Launcelot, and he is deed.
Therfore I passe of al this lustiheed;
I sey namoore, but in this jolynesse
290I lete hem, til men to the soper dresse.
      The styward bit the spices for to hye,
And eek the wyn, in al this melodye;
The usshers and the squiers been ygoon,
The spices and the wyn is come anoon,
295They ete and drynke, and whan this hadde an ende,
Unto the temple, as reson was, they wende.
The service doon, they soupen al by day;
What nedeth me rehercen hir array?
Ech man woot wel, that at a kynges feeste
300Hath plentee, to the mooste and to the leeste,
And deyntees mo than been in my knowyng.
At after soper gooth this noble kyng,
To seen this hors of bras, with al the route
Of lordes, and of ladyes hym aboute.
305      Swich wondryng was ther on this hors of bras,
That syn the grete sege of Troie was,
Theras men wondreden on an hors also,
Ne was ther swich a wondryng as was tho.
But fynally, the kyng axeth this knyght
310The vertu of this courser, and the myght;
And preyde hym to telle his governaunce.
      This hors anoon bigan to trippe and daunce,
Whan that this knyght leyde hand upon his reyne,
And seyde, "Sire, ther is namoore to seyne,
315But whan yow list to ryden any where,
Ye mooten trille a pyn, stant in his ere,
Which I shal telle yow bitwix us two.
Ye moote nempne hym to what place also,
Or to what contree, that yow list to ryde,
320And whan ye com ther as yow list abyde,
Bidde hym descende, and trille another pyn,
For therin lith th'effect of al the gyn
And he wol doun descende, and doon youre wille.
And in that place he wol stonde stille,
325Though al the world the contrarie hadde yswore;
He shal nat thennes been ydrawe ne ybore.
Or, if yow liste, bidde hym thennes goon,
Trille this pyn, and he wol vanysshe anoon
Out of the sighte of every maner wight,
330And com agayn, be it day or nyght,
Whan that yow list to clepen hym ageyn,
In swich a gyse as I shal to yow seyn,
Bitwixe yow and me, and that ful soone.
Ride whan yow list; ther is namoore to doone."
335      Enformed whan the kyng was of that knyght,
And hath conceyved in his wit aright
The manere and the forme of al this thyng,
Thus glad and blithe this noble doughty kyng
Repeireth to his revel as biforn,
340The brydel is unto the tour yborn,
And kept among hise jueles, leeve and deere.
The hors vanysshed, I noot in what manere,
Out of hir sighte; ye gete namoore of me.
But thus I lete in lust and jolitee
345This Cambyuskan, hise lordes festeiynge,
Til wel ny the day bigan to sprynge.


Explicit prima pars
(Here ends the first part)




Next:
The Squire's Tale, Second Part (ll. 347-670)