Previous Previous:
From The Man of Law's Tale, lines 505-532:
Constance's ship runs ashore and she finds asylum
Previous
Librarius Homepage
© Librarius
All rights reserved.



From The Canterbury Tales:
The Man of Law's Tale
lines 533-581: Constance converts her host to Christianity


       This constable and dame Hermengyld his wyf
Were payens, and that contree everywhere;
535But Hermengyld loved hir right as hir lyf,
And Custance hath so longe sojourned there
In orisons, with many a bitter teere,
Til Jesu hath converted thurgh his grace
Dame Hermengyld, constablesse of that place.
       This warden and Dame Hermengild, his wife,
Were pagans, and that country, everywhere;
535But Hermengild now loved her as her life,
And Constance has so long abided there,
And prayed so oft, with many a tearful prayer,
That Jesus has converted, through His grace,
Dame Hermengild, the lady of that place.

540 In al that lond no Cristen dorste route,
Alle Cristen folk been fled fro that contree
Thurgh payens that conquereden al aboute
The plages of the North by land and see.
To Walys fledde the Cristyanytee
545Of olde Britons, dwellynge in this ile;
Ther was hir refut for the meene-while.
540In all that land no Christian dared speak out
All Christians having fled from that country,
For pagan men had conquered all about
The regions of the north, by land and sea;
To Wales was fled the Christianity
545Of the old Britons dwelling in this isle;
That was their refuge in the wild meanwhile.

But yet nere cristene Britons so exiled
That ther nere somme that in hir privetee
Honoured Crist, and hethen folk bigiled,
550And ny the castel swiche ther dwelten three;
That oon of hem was blynd, and myghte nat see,
But it were with thilke eyen of his mynde,
With whiche men seen, after that they ben blynde.
Yet ne'er were Christian Britons so exiled
But some of them assembled, privately,
To honour Christ, and heathen folk beguiled;
550And near the castle dwelt of such men three.
But one of them was blind and could not see,
Except with the inner optics of his mind,
Wherewith all men see after they go blind.

       Bright was the sonne as in that someres day,
555For which the constable and his wyf also
And Custance han ytake the righte way
Toward the see, a furlong wey or two,
To pleyen, and to romen, to and fro,
And in hir walk this blynde man they mette,
560Croked and oold, with eyen faste yshette.
       Bright was the sun upon that summer's day
555When went the warden and his wife also,
And Constance, down the hill, along the way
Toward the sea, a furlong off, or so,
To frolic and to wander to and fro;
And in their walk on this blind man they came,
560With eyes fast shut, a creature old and lame.

"In name of Crist," cride this olde Britoun,
"Dame Hermengyld, yif me my sighte agayn."
This lady weex affrayed of the soun,
Lest that hir housbonde, shortly for to sayn,
565Wolde hir for Jesu Cristes love han slayn,
Til Custance made hir boold, and bad hir wirche
The wyl of Crist, as doghter of his chirche.
"In name of Christ!" this blind old Briton cried,
"Dame Hermengild, give me my sight again."
But she was frightened of the words, and sighed,
Lest that her husband, briefly to be plain,
565Should have her, for her love of Jesus, slain;
Till Constance strengthened her and bade her work
The will of God, as daughter of his church.

       The constable weex abasshed of that sight,
And seyde, "What amounteth all this fare!"
570Custance answerde, "Sire, it is Cristes myght,
That helpeth folk out of the feendes snare."
And so ferforth she gan oure lay declare,
That she the constable, er that it were eve
Converteth, and on Crist maketh hym bileve.
       The warden was confounded by that sight,
And asked: "What mean these words and this affair?"
570Constance replied: "Sir, it is Jesus' might
That helps all poor folk from the foul devil's snare."
And so far did she our sweet faith declare
That she the constable, before 'twas eve,
Converted, and in Christ made him believe.

575 This constable was no-thyng lord of this place
Of which I speke, ther he Custance fond;
But kepte it strongly many wyntres space
Under Alla, kyng of al Northhumbrelond,
That was ful wys and worthy of his hond
580Agayn the Scottes, as men may wel heere;-
But turne I wole agayn to my mateere.
575This constable, though not lord of that place
Where he'd found Constance, wrecked upon the sand,
Had held it well for many a winter's space,
For Alla, king of all Northumberland,
Who was full wise and hardy of his hand
580Against the Scots, as men may read and hear,
But I will to my tale again- give ear.





Next Next:
From The Man of Law's Tale, lines 582-602:
Another conspiracy
Next