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57: Ther is, right at the west syde of ytaille,
58: Doun at the roote of vesulus the colde,
59: A lusty playn, habundant of vitaille,
60: Where many a tour and toun thou mayst biholde,
61: That founded were in tyme of fadres olde,
62: And many another delitable sighte,
63: And saluces this noble contree highte.
64: A markys whilom lord was of that lond,
65: As were his worthy eldres hym bifore;
66: And obeisant, ay redy to his hond,
67: Were alle his liges, bothe lasse and moore.
68: Thus in delit he lyveth, and hath doon yoore,
69: Biloved and drad, thurgh favour of fortune,
70: Bothe of his lordes and of his commune.
71: Therwith he was, to speke as of lynage,
72: The gentillest yborn of lumbardye,
73: A fair persone, and strong, and yong of age,
74: And ful of honour and of curteisye;
75: Discreet ynogh his contree for to gye,
76: Save in somme thynges that he was to blame;
77: And walter was this yonge lordes name.
78: I blame hym thus, that he considered noght
79: In tyme comynge what myghte hym bityde,
80: But on his lust present was al his thoght,
81: As for to hauke and hunte on every syde.
82: Wel ny alle othere cures leet he slyde,
83: And eek he nolde -- and that was worst of alle --
84: Wedde no wyf, for noght that may bifalle.
85: Oonly that point his peple bar so soore
86: That flokmeele on a day they to hym wente,
87: And oon of he, that wisest was of loore --
88: Or elles that the lord best wolde assente
89: That he sholde telle hym what his peple mente,
90: Or elles koude he shewe wel swich mateere --
91: He to the markys seyde as ye shul heere:
92: O noble markys, youre humanitee
93: Asseureth us and yeveth us hardinesse,
94: As ofte as tyme is of necessitee,
95: That we to yow mowe telle oure hevynesse.
96: Accepteth, lord, now of youre gentilesse
97: That we with pitous herte unto yow pleyne,
98: And lat youre eres nat my voys desdeyne.
99: Al have I noght to doone in this mateere
100: Moore than another man hath in this place,
101: Yet for as muche as ye, my lord so deere,
102: Han alwey shewed me favour and grace
103: I dar the bettre aske of yow a space
104: Of audience, to shewen oure requeste,
105: And ye, my lord, to doon right as yow leste.
106: For certes, lord, so wel us liketh yow
107: And al youre werk, and evere han doon, that we
108: Ne koude nat us self devysen how
109: We myghte lyven in moore felicitee,
110: Save o thyng, lord, if it youre wille be,
111: That for to been a wedded man yow leste;
112: Thanne were youre peple in sovereyn hertes reste.
113: Boweth youre nekke under that blisful yok
114: Of sovereynetee, noght of servyse,
115: Which that men clepe spousaille or wedlok;
116: And thanketh, lord, among youre thoghtes wyse
117: How that oure dayes passe in sondry wyse;
118: For thogh we slepe, or wake, or rome, or ryde,
119: Ay fleeth the tyme; it nyl no man abyde.
120: And thogh youre grene youthe floure as yit,
121: In crepeth age alwey, as stille as stoon,
122: And deeth manaceth every age, and smyt
123: In ech estaat, for ther escapeth noon;
124: And al so certein as we knowe echoon
125: That we shul deye, as uncerteyn we alle
126: Been of that day whan deeth shal on us falle
127: Accepteth thanne of us the trewe entente,
128: That nevere yet refuseden thyn heeste,
129: And we wol, lord, if that ye wole assente,
130: Chese yow a wyf, in short tyme atte leeste,
131: Born of the gentilleste and of the meeste
132: Of al this land, so that it oghte seme
133: Honour to God and yow, as we kan deeme.
134: Delivere us out of al this bisy drede,
135: And taak a wyf, for hye goddes sake!
136: For if it so bifelle, as God forbede,
137: That thurgh youre deeth youre lynage sholde slake,
138: And that a straunge successour sholde take
139: Youre heritage, o, wo were us alyve!
140: Wherfore we pray you hastily to wyve.
141: Hir meeke preyere and hir pitous cheer
142: Made the markys herte han pitee.
143: Ye wol, quod he, myn owene peple deere,
144: To that I nevere erst thoughte streyne me.
145: I me rejoysed of my liberte.
146: That seelde tyme is founde in mariage;
147: Ther I was free, I moot been in servage.
148: But nathelees I se youre trewe entente,
149: And truste upon youre wit, and have doon ay;
150: Wherfore of my free wyl I wole assente
151: To wedde me, as soone as evere I may.
152: But ther as ye han profred me to-day
153: To chese me a wyf, I yow relesse
154: That choys, and prey yow of that profre cesse.
155: For God it woot, that children ofte been
156: Unlyk hir worthy eldress hem bifore;
157: Bountee comth al of god, nat of the streen
158: Of which they been engendred and ybore.
159: I truste in goddes bountee, and therfore
160: My mariage and myn estaat and reste
161: I hym bitake; he may doon as hym leste.
162: Lat me allone in chesynge of my wyf, --
163: That charge upon my bak I wole endure.
164: But I yow preye, and charge upon youre lyf,
165: That what wyf that I take, ye me assure
166: To worshipe hire, whil that hir lyf may dure,
167: In word and werk, bothe heere and everywheere,
168: As she and emperoures doghter weere.
169: And forthermoore, this shal ye swere, that ye
170: Agayn my choys shul neither grucche ne stryve;
171: For sith I shal forgoon my libertee
172: At youre requeste, as evere moot I thryve,
173: Ther as myn herte is set, ther wol I wyve;
174: And but ye wole assente in swich manere,
175: I prey yow, speketh namoore of this matere.
176: With hertely wyl they sworen and assenten
177: To al this thyng, ther seyde no wight nay;
178: Bisekynge hym of grace, er that they wenten,
179: That he wolde graunten hem a certein day
180: Of his spousaille, as soone as evere he may;
181: For yet alwey the peple somwhat dredde,
182: Lest that the markys no wyf wolde wedde.
183: He graunted hem a day, swich as hym leste,
184: On which he wolde be wedded sikerly.
185: And seyde he dide al this at hir requeste.
186: And they, with humble entente, buxomly,
187: Knelynge upon hir knees ful reverently,
188: Hym thonken alle; and thus they han an ende
189: Of hire entente, and hoom agayn they wende.
190: And heerupon he to his officeres
191: Comaundeth for the feste to purveye,
192: And to his privee knyghtes and squieres
193: Swich charge yaf as hym liste on hem leye;
194: And they to his comandement obeye,
195: And ech of hem dooth al his diligence
196: To doon unto the feeste reverence.
Explicit prima pars
197: Noght fer fro thilke paleys honurable,
198: Wher as this markys shoop his mariage,
199: There stood a throop, of site delitable,
200: In which that povre folk of that village
201: Hadden hir beestes and hir herbergage,
202: And of hire labour tooke hir sustenance,
203: After that the erthe yaf hem habundance.
204: Amonges thise povre folk ther dwelte a man
205: Which that was holden povrest of hem alle;
206: But hye God somtyme senden kan
207: His grace into litel oxes stalle;
208: Janicula men of that throop hym calle.
209: A doghter hadde he, fair ynogh to sighte,
210: And grisildis this yonge mayden highte.
211: But for to speke of vertuous beautee,
212: Thanne was she oon the faireste under sonne;
213: For povreliche yfostred up was she,
214: No likerous lust was thurgh hire herte yronne.
215: Wel ofter of the welle than of the tonne
216: She drank, and for she wolde vertu plese,
217: She knew wel labour, but noon ydel ese.
218: But thogh this mayde tendre were of age,
219: Yet in the brest of hire virginitee
220: Ther was enclosed rype and sad corage;
221: And in greet reverence and charitee
222: Hir olde povre fader fostred shee.
223: A fewe sheep, spynnynge, on feeld she kepte;
224: She wolde noght been ydel til she slepte.
225: And whan she homward cam, she wolde brynge
226: Wortes or othere herbes tymes ofte,
227: The whiche she shredde and seeth for hir lyvynge,
228: And made hir bed ful hard and nothyng softe;
229: And ay she kepte hir fadres lyf on-lofte
230: With everich obeisaunce and diligence
231: That child may doon to fadres reverence.
232: Upon grisilde, this povre creature,
233: Ful ofte sithe this markys sette his ye
234: As he on huntyng rood paraventure;
235: And whan it fil that he myghte hire espye,
236: He noght with wantown lookyng of folye
237: His eyen caste on hire, but in sad wyse
238: Upon hir chiere he wolde hym ofte avyse,
239: Commendynge in his herte hir wommanhede,
240: And eek hir verty, passynge any wight
241: Of so yong age, as wel in chiere as dede.
242: For thogh the peple have no greet insight
243: In verty, he considered ful right
244: Hir bountee, and disposed that he wolde
245: Wedde hire oonly, if evere he wedde sholde.
246: The day of weddyng cam, but no wight kan
247: Telle what womman that it sholde be;
248: For which merveille wondred many a man,
249: And seyden, whan they were in privetee,
250: Wol nat oure lord yet leve his vanytee?
251: Wol he nat wedde? allas; allas, the while!
252: Why wole he thus hymself and us bigile?
253: But nathelees this markys hath doon make
254: Of gemmes, set in gold and in asure,
255: Brooches and rynges, for grisildis sake;
256: And of hir clothyng took he the mesure
257: By a mayde lyk to hire stature,
258: And eek of othere aornementes alle
259: That unto swich a weddyng sholde falle.
260: The time of undren of the same day
261: Approcheth, that this weddyng sholde be;
262: And al the paleys put was in array,
263: Bothe halle and chambres, ech in his degree;
264: Houses of office stuffed with plentee
265: Ther maystow seen, of deyntevous vitaille
266: That may be founde as fer al last ytaille.
267: This roial markys, richely arrayed,
268: Lordes and ladyes in his compaignye,
269: The whiche that to the feeste weren yprayed,
270: And of his retenue the bachelrye,
271: With manya soun of sondry melodye,
272: Unto the village of the which I tolde,
273: In this array the righte wey han holde.
274: Grisilde of this, God woot, ful innocent,
275: That for hire shapen was al this array,
276: To fecchen water at a welle is went,
277: And cometh hoom as soone as ever she may;
278: For wel she hadde herd seyd that thilke day
279: The markys sholde wedde, and if she myghte,
280: She wolde fayn han seyn som of that sighte.
281: She thoghte, I wole with othere maydens stonde,
282: That been my felawes, in oure dore and se
283: The markysesse, and therfore wol I fonde
284: To doon at hoom, as soone as it may be,
285: The labour which that longeth unto me;
286: And thanne I may at leyser hire biholde,
287: If she this wey unto the castel holde.
288: And as she wolde over hir thresshfold gon,
289: The markys cam and gan hire for to calle;
290: And she set doun hir water pot anon,
291: Biside the thresshfold, in an oxes stalle,
292: And doun upon hir knes she gan to falle,
293: And with sad contenance kneleth stille,
294: Til she had herd what was the lordes wille.
295: This thoghtful markys spak unto this mayde
296: Ful sobrely, and seyde in this manere:
297: Where is youre fader, o grisildis? he sayde.
298: And she with reverence, in humble cheere,
299: Answerde, lord, he is al redy heere.
300: And in she gooth withouten lenger lette,
301: And to the markys she hir fader fette.
302: He by the hand thanne took this olde man,
303: And seyde thus, whan he hym hadde asyde:
304: Janicula, I neither may ne kan
305: Lenger the plesance of myn herte hyde.
306: If that thou vouche sauf, what so bityde,
307: Thy doghter wol I take, er that I wende,
308: As for my wyf, unto hir lyves ende.
309: Thou lovest me, I woot it wel certeyn,
310: And art my feithful lige man ybore;
311: And al that liketh me, I dar wel seyn
312: It liketh thee, and specially therfore
313: Tel me that poynt that I have seyd bifore,
314: If that thou wolt unto that purpos drawe,
315: To take me as for thy sone-in-lawe.
316: This sodeyn cas this man astonyed so
317: That reed he wax; abayst and al quakynge
318: He stood; unnethes seyde he wordes mo,
319: But oonly thus: lord, quod he, my willynge
320: Is as ye wole, ne ayeynes youre likynge
321: I wol no thyng, ye be my lord so deere;
322: Right as yow lust, governeth this mateere.
323: Yet wol I, quod this markys softely,
324: That in thy chambre I and thou and she
325: Have a collacioun, and wostow why?
326: For I wol axe if it hire wille be
327: To be my wyf, and reule hire after me.
328: And al this shal be doon in thy presence;
329: I wol noght speke out of thyn audience.
330: And in the chambre, whil they were aboute
331: Hir tretys, which as ye shal after heere,
332: The peple cam unto the hous withoute,
333: And wondred hem in how honest manere
334: And tentifly she kepte hir fader deere.
335: But outrely grisildis wondre myghte,
336: For nevere erst ne saugh she swich a sighte.
337: No wonder is thogh that she were astoned
338: To seen so greet a gest come in that place;
339: She nevere was to swiche gestes woned,
340: For which she looked with ful pale face.
341: But shortly forth this matere for to chace,
342: Thise arn the wordes that the markys sayde
343: To this benigne, verray, feithful mayde.
344: Grisilde, he seyde, ye shal wel understonde
345: It liketh to youre fader and to me
346: That I yow wedde, and eek it may so stonde,
347: As I suppose, ye wol that it so be.
348: But thise demandes axe I first, quod he,
349: That, sith it shal be doon in hastif wyse,
350: Wol ye assente, or elles yow avyse?
351: I seye this, be ye redy with good herte
352: To al my lust, and that I frely may,
353: As me best thynketh, do yow laughe or smerte,
354: And nevere ye to grucche it, nyght ne day?
355: And eek whan I sey 'ye,' ne sey nat 'nay,'
356: Neither by word ne frownyng contenance?
357: Swere this, and heere I swere oure alliance.
358: Wondrynge upon this word, quakynge for drede,
359: She seyde, lord, undigne and unworthy
360: Am I to thilke honour that ye me beede,
361: But as ye wole youreself, right so wol I.
362: And heere I swere that nevere willyngly,
363: In werk ne thogh, I nyl yow disobeye,
364: For to be deed, though me were looth to deye.
365: This is ynogh, grisilde myn, quod he.
366: And forth he gooth, with a ful sobre cheere,
367: Out at the dore, and after that cam she,
368: And to the peple he seyde in this manere:
369: This is my wyf, quod he, that standeth heere.
370: Honoureth hire and loveth hire, I preye,
371: Whoso me loveth; ther is namoore to seye.
372: And for that no thyng of hir olde geere
373: She sholde brynge into his hous, he bad
374: That wommen sholde dispoillen hire right theere;
375: Of which thise ladyes were nat right glad
376: To handle hir clothes, wherinne she was clad.
377: But nathelees, this mayde bright of hewe
378: Fro foot to heed they clothed han al newe.
379: Hir heris han they kembd, that lay untressed
380: Ful rudely, and with hir fyngres smale
381: A corone on hire heed they han ydressed,
382: And sette hire ful of nowches grete and smale.
383: Of hire array what sholde I make a tale?
384: Unnethe the peple hir knew for hire fairnesse,
385: Whan she translated was in swich richesse.
386: This markys hath hire spoused with a ryng
387: Broght for the same cause, and thanne hire sette
388: Upon an hors, snow-whit and wel amblyng,
389: And to his paleys, er he lenger lette,
390: With joyful peple that hire ladde and mette,
391: Conveyed hire, and thus the day they spende
392: In revel, til the sonne gan descende.
393: And shortly forth this tale for to chace,
394: I seye that to this newe markysesse
395: God hath swich favour sent hire of his grace,
396: That it ne semed nat by liklynesse
397: That she was born and fed in rudenesse,
398: As in a cote or in an oxe-stalle,
399: But norissed in an emperoures halle.
400: To every wight she woxen is so deere
401: And worshipful that folk ther she was bore,
402: And from hire birthe knewe hire yeer by yeere,
403: Unnethe trowed they, -- but dorste han swore --
404: That to janicle, of which I spak bifore,
405: She doghter were, for, as by conjecture,
406: Hem thoughte she was another creature.
407: For though that evere vertuous was she,
408: She was encressed in swich excellence
409: Of thewes goode, yset in heigh bountee,
410: And so discreet and fair of eloquence,
411: So benigne and so digne of reverence,
412: And koude so the peples herte embrace,
413: That ech hire lovede that looked in hir face.
414: Noght oonly of saluces in the toun
415: Publiced was the bountee of hir name,
416: But eek biside in many a regioun,
417: If oon seide wel, another seyde the same;
418: So spradde of hire heighe bountee the fame
419: That men and wommen, as wel yonge as olde,
420: Goon to saluce, upon hire to biholde.
421: Thus walter lowely -- nay, but roially --
422: Wedded with fortunat honestetee,
423: In goddes pees lyveth ful esily
424: At hoom, and outward grace ynogh had he;
425: And for he saugh that under low degree
426: Was ofte vertu hid, the peple hym heelde
427: A prudent man, and that is seyn ful seelde.
428: Nat oonly this grisildis thurgh hir wit
429: Koude al the feet of wyfly hoomlinesse,
430: But eek, whan that the cas required it,
431: The commune profit koude she redresse.
432: Ther nas discord, rancour, ne hevynesse
433: In al that land, that she ne koude apese,
434: And wisely brynge hem alle in reste and ese.
435: Though that hire housbonde absent were anon,
436: If gentil men or othere of hire contree
437: Were wrothe, she wolde bryngen hem aton;
438: So wise and rype wordes hadde she,
439: And juggementz of so greet equitee,
440: That she from hevene sent was, as men wende,
441: Peple to save and every wrong t' amende.
442: Nat longe tyme after that this grisild
443: Was wedded, she a doghter hath ybore.
444: Al had hire levere have born a knave child,
445: Glad was this markys and the folk therfore;
446: For though a mayde child coome al bifore,
447: She may unto a knave child attayne
448: By liklihede, syn she nys nat bareyne.
Explicit secunda pars.
449: Ther fil, as it bifalleth tymes mo,
450: Whan that this child had souked but a throwe,
451: This markys in his herte longeth so
452: To tempte his wyf, hir sadnesse for to knowe,
453: That he ne myghte out of his herte throwe
454: This merveillous desir his wyf t' assaye;
455: Nedelees, God woot, he thoghte hire for t' affraye.
456: He hadde assayed hire ynogh bifore,
457: And foond hire evere good; what neded it
458: Hire for to tempte, and alwey moore and moore,
459: Though som men preise it for a subtil wit?
460: But as for me, I seye that yvele it sit
461: To assaye a wyf whan that it is no nede,
462: And putten hire in angwyssh and in drede.
463: For which this markys wroghte in this manere:
464: He cam allone a-nyght, ther as she lay,
465: With stierne face and with ful trouble cheere,
466: And seyde thus: grisilde, quod he, that day
467: That I yow took out of youre povere array,
468: And putte yow in estaat of heigh noblesse, --
469: Ye have nat that forgeten, as I gesse?
470: I seye, grisilde, this present dignitee,
471: In which that I have put yow, as I trowe,
472: Maketh yow nat foryetful for to be
473: That I yow took in povre estaat ful lowe,
474: For any wele ye moot youreselven knowe.
475: Taak heede of every word that y yow seye;
476: Ther is no wight that hereth it but we tweye.
477: Ye woot youreself wel how that ye cam heere
478: Into this hous, it is nat longe ago;
479: And though to me that ye be lief and deere,
480: Unto my gentils ye be no thyng so.
481: They seyn, to hem it is greet shame and wo
482: For to be subgetz and been in servage
483: To thee, that born art of a smal village.
484: And namely sith thy doghter was ybore
485: Thise wordes han they spoken, doutelees.
486: But I desire, as I have doon bifore,
487: To lyve my lyf with hem in reste and pees.
488: I may nat in this caas be recchelees;
489: I moot doon with thy doghter for the beste,
490: Nat as I wolde, but as my peple leste.
491: And yet, God woot, this is ful looth to me;
492: But nathelees withoute youre wityng
493: I wol nat doon; but this wol I, quod he,
494: That ye to me assente as in this thyng.
495: Shewe now youre pacience in youre werkyng,
496: That ye me highte and swore in youre village
497: That day that maked was oure mariage.
498: Whan she had herd al this, she noght ameved
499: Neither in word, or chiere, or contenaunce;
500: For, as it semed, she was nat agreved.
501: She seyde, lord, al lyth in youre plesaunce.
502: My child and I, with hertely obeisaunce,
503: Been youres al, and ye mowe save or spille
504: Youre owene thyng; weketh after youre wille.
505: Ther may no thyng, God so my soule save,
506: Liken to yow that may displese me;
507: Ne I desire no thyng for to have,
508: Ne drede for to leese, save oonly yee.
509: This wyl is in myn herte, and ay shal be;
510: No lengthe of tyme or deeth may this deface,
511: Ne chaunge my corage to another place.
512: Glad was this markys of hire answeryng,
513: But yet he feyned as he were nat so;
514: Al drery was his cheere and his lookyng,
515: Whan that he sholde out of the chambre go.
516: Soone after this, a furlong wey or two,
517: He prively hath toold al his entente
518: Unto a man, and to his wyf hym sente.
519: A maner sergeant was this privee man,
520: The which that feithful ofte he founden hadde
521: In thynges grete, and eek swich folk wel kan
522: Doon execucioun in thynges badde.
523: The lord knew wel that he hym loved and dradde;
524: And whan this sergeant wist his lordes wille,
525: Into the chambre he stalked hym ful stille.
526: Madame, he seyde, ye moote foryeve it me,
527: Though I do thyng to which I am constreyned.
528: Ye been so wys that ful wel knowe ye
529: That lordes heestes mowe nat been yfeyned;
530: They mowe wel been biwailled or compleyned,
531: But men moote nede unto hire lust obeye,
532: And so wol I; ther is namoore to seye.
533: This child I am comanded for to take, --
534: And spak namoore, but out the child he hente
535: Despitously, and gan a cheere make
536: As though he wolde han slayn it er he wente.
537: Grisildis moot al suffre and al consente;
538: And as a lamb she sitteth meke and stille,
539: And leet this crueel sergeant doon his wille.
540: Suspecious was the diffame of this man,
541: Suspect his face, suspect his word also;
542: Suspect the tyme in which he this bigan.
543: Allas! hir doghter that she loved so,
544: She wende he wolde han slawen it right tho.
545: But nathelees she neither weep ne syked,
546: Conformynge hire to that the markys lyked.
547: But atte laste to speken she bigan,
548: And mekely she to the sergeant preyde,
549: So as he was a worthy gentil man,
550: That she moste kisse hire child er that it deyde.
551: And in hir barm this litel child she leyde
552: With ful sad face, and gan the child to blisse,
553: And lulled it, and after gan it kisse.
554: And thus she seyde in hire benigne voys,
555: Fareweel my child! I shal thee nevere see.
556: But sith I thee have marked with the croys
557: Of thilke fader -- blessed moote he be! --
558: That for us deyde upon a croys of tree,
559: Thy soule, litel child, I hym bitake,
560: For this nyght shaltow dyen for my sake.
561: I trowe that to a norice in this cas
562: It had been hard this reuthe for to se;
563: Wel myghte a mooder thanne han cryd allas!
564: But nathelees so sad stidefast was she
565: That she endured al adversitee,
566: And to the sergeant mekely she sayde,
567: Have heer agayn your litel yonge mayde.
568: Gooth now, quod she, and dooth my lordes heeste;
569: But o thyng wol I prey yow of youre grace,
570: That, but my lord forbad yow, atte leeste
571: Burieth this litel body in som place
572: That beestes ne no briddes it torace.
573: But he no word wol to that purpos seye,
574: But took the child and wente upon his weye.
575: This sergeant cam unto his lord ageyn,
576: And of grisildis wordes and hire cheere
577: He tolde hym point for point, in short and pleyn,
578: And hym presenteth with his doghter deere.
579: Somwhat this lord hadde routhe in his manere,
580: But nathelees his purpos heeld he stille,
581: As lordes doon, whan they wol han hir wille;
582: And bad this sergeant that he pryvely
583: Sholde this child ful softe wynde and wrappe,
584: With alle circumstances tendrely,
585: And carie it in a cofre or in a lappe;
586: But, upon peyne his heed of for to swappe,
587: That no man sholde knowe of his entente,
588: Ne whenne he cam, ne whider that he wente;
589: But at boloigne to his suster deere,
590: That thilke tyme of panik was countesse,
591: He sholde it take, and shewe hire this mateere,
592: Bisekynge hire to doon hire bisynesse
593: This child to fostre in alle gentillesse;
594: And whos child that it was he bad hire hyde
595: From every wight, for oght that may bityde.
596: The sergeant gooth, and hath fulfild this thyng;
597: But to this markys now retourne we.
598: For now gooth he ful faste ymaginyng
599: If by his wyves cheere he myghte se,
600: Or by hire word aperceyve, that she
601: Were chaunged; but he nevere hire koude fynde
602: But evere in oon ylike sad and kynde.
603: As glad, as humble, as bisy in servyse,
604: And eek in love, as she was wont to be,
605: Was she to hym in every maner wyse;
606: Ne of hir doghter noght a word spak she.
607: Noon accident, for noon adversitee,
608: Was seyn in hire, ne nevere hir doghter name
609: Ne nempned she, in ernest nor in game.
Explicit tercia pars
610: In this estaat the passed been foure yeer
611: Er she with childe was, but, as God wolde,
612: A knave child she bar by this walter,
613: Ful gracious and fair for to biholde.
614: And whan that folk it to his fader tolde,
615: Nat oonly he, but al his contree merye
616: Was for this child, and God they thanke and herye.
617: Whan it was two yeer old, and fro the brest
618: Departed of his norice, on a day
619: This markys caughte yet another lest
620: To tempte his wyf yet ofter, if he may.
621: O nedelees was she tempted in assay!
622: But wedded men ne knowe no mesure,
623: Whan that they fynde a pacient creature.
624: Wyf, quod this markys, ye han herd er this,
625: My peple sikly berth oure mariage;
626: And namely sith my sone yboren is,
627: Now is it worse than evere in al oure age.
628: The murmur sleeth myn herte and my corage,
629: For to myne eres comth the voys so smerte
630: That it wel ny destroyed hath myn herte.
631: Now sey they thus: -- whan walter is agon,
632: Thanne shal the blood of janicle succede
633: And been oure lord, for oother have we noon.
634: Swiche wordes seith my peple, out of drede.
635: Wel oughte I of swich murmur taken heede;
636: For certeinly I drede swich sentence,
637: Though they nat pleyn speke in myn audience.
638: I wolde lyve in pees, if that I myghte;
639: Wherfore I am disposed outrely,
640: As I his suster servede by nyghte,
641: Right to thenke I to serve hym pryvely.
642: This warne I yow, that ye nat sodeynly
643: Out of youreself for no wo sholde outreye;
644: Beth pacient, and therof I yow preye.
645: I have, quod she, seyd thys, and evere shal:
646: I wol no thyng, ne nyl no thyng, certayn,
647: But as yow list. Naught greveth me at al,
648: Though that my doughter and my sone be slayn, --
649: At youre comandement, this is to sayn.
650: I have noght had no part of children tweyne
651: But first siknesse, and after, wo and peyne.
652: Ye been oure lord, dooth with youre owene thyng
653: Right as yow list; axeth no reed at me.
654: For as I lefte at hoom al my clothyng,
655: Whan I first cam to yow, right so, quod she,
656: Lefte I my wyl and al my libertee,
657: And took youre clothyng; wherfore I yow preye,
658: Dooth youre plesaunce, I wol youre lust obeye.
659: And certes, if I hadde prescience
660: Youre wyl to knowe, er ye youre lust me tolde,
661: I wolde it doon withouten necligence;
662: But now I woot youre lust, and what ye wolde,
663: Al youre plesance ferme and stable I holde;
664: For wiste I that my deeth wolde do yow ese,
665: Right gladly wolde I dyen, yow to plese.
666: Deth may noght make no comparisoun
667: Unto youre love. And whan this markys say
668: The constance of hys wyf, he caste adoun
669: His eyen two, and wondreth that she may
670: In pacience suffre al this array;
671: And forth he goth with drery contenance,
672: But to his herte it was ful greet plesance.
673: This ugly sergeant, in the same wyse
674: That he hire doghter caughte, right so he,
675: Or worse, if men worse kan devyse,
676: Hath hent hire sone, that ful was of beautee.
677: And evere in oon so pacient was she
678: That she no chiere maade of hevynesse,
679: But kiste hir sone, and after gan it blesse;
680: Save this, she preyede hym that, if he myghte,
681: Hir litel sone he wolde in erthe grave,
682: His tendre lymes, delicaat to sighte,
683: Fro foweles and fro beestes for to save.
684: But she noon answere of hym myghte have.
685: He wente his wey, as hym no thyng ne roghte;
686: But to boloigne he tendrely it broghte.
687: This markys wondred, evere lenger the moore,
688: Upon hir pacience, and if that he
689: Ne hadde soothly knowen therbifoore
690: That parfitly hir children loved she,
691: He wolde have wend that of som subtiltee,
692: And of malice, or for crueel corage,
693: That she hadde suffred this with sad visage.
694: But wel he knew that next hymself, certayn,
695: She loved hir children best in every wyse.
696: But now of wommen wolde I axen fayn
697: If thise assayes myghte nat suffise?
698: What koude a sturdy housbonde moore devyse
699: To preeve hir wyfhod and hir stedefastnesse,
700: And he continuynge evere in sturdinesse?
701: But ther been folk of swich condicion
702: That whan they have a certein purpos take,
703: They kan nat stynte of hire entencion,
704: But, right as they were bounden to a stake,
705: They wol nat of that firste purpos slake.
706: Right so this markys fulliche hath purposed
707: To tempte his wyf as he was first disposed.
708: He waiteth if by word or contenance
709: That she to hym was changed of corage;
710: But nevere koude he fynde variance.
711: She was ay oon in herte and in visage;
712: And ay the forther that she was in age,
713: The moore trewe, if that it were possible,
714: She was to hym in love, and moore penyble.
715: For which it semed thus, that of hem two
716: Ther nas but o wyl; for, as walter leste,
717: The same lust was hire plesance also.
718: And, God be thanked, al fil for the beste.
719: She shewed wel, for no worldly unreste
720: A wyf, as of hirself, nothing ne sholde
721: Wille in effect, but as hir housbonde wolde.
722: The sclaundre of walter ofte and wyde spradde,
723: That of a crueel herte he wikkedly,
724: For he a povre womman wedded hadde,
725: Hath mordred bothe his children prively.
726: Swich murmur was among hem comunly.
727: No wonder is, for to the peples ere
728: Ther cam no word, but that they mordred were.
729: For which, where as his peple therbifore
730: Hadde loved hym wel, the sclaundre of his diffame
731: Made hem that they hym hatede therfore.
732: To been a mordrere is an hateful name;
733: But nathelees, for ernest ne for game,
734: He of his crueel purpos nolde stente;
735: To tempte his wyf was set al his entente.
736: Than that his doghter twelve yeer was of age,
737: He to the court of rome, in subtil wyse
738: Enformed of his wyl, sente his message,
739: Comaundynge hem swiche bulles to devyse
740: As to his crueel purpos may suffyse,
741: How that the pope, as for his peples reste,
742: Bad hym to wedde another, if hym leste.
743: I seye, he bad they sholde countrefete
744: The popes bulles, makynge mencion
745: That he hath leve his firste wyf to lete,
746: As by the popes dispensacion,
747: To stynte rancour and dissencion
748: Bitwixe his peple and hym; thus seyde the bulle,
749: The which they han publiced atte fulle.
750: The rude peple, as it no wonder is,
751: Wenden ful wel that it hadde be right so;
752: But whan thise tidynges came to grisildis,
753: I deeme that hire herte was ful wo.
754: But she, ylike sad for everemo,
755: Disposed was, this humble creature,
756: The adversitee of fortune al t' endure,
757: Abidynge evere his lust and his plesance,
758: To whom that she was yeven herte and al,
759: As to hire verray worldly suffisance.
760: But shortly if this storie I tellen shal,
761: This markys writen hath in special
762: A lettre, in which he sheweth his entente,
763: And secreely he to boloigne it sente.
764: To the erl of panyk, which that hadde tho
765: Wedded his suster, preyde he specially
766: To bryngen hoom agayn his children two
767: In honurable estaat al openly.
768: But o thyng he hym preyede outrely,
769: That he to no wight, though men wolde enquere,
770: Sholde nat telle whos children that they were,
771: But seye, the mayden sholde ywedded be
772: Unto the markys of saluce anon.
773: And as this erl was preyed, so dide he;
774: For at day set he on his wey is goon
775: Toward saluce, and lordes many oon
776: In riche array, this mayden for to gyde,
777: Hir yonge brother ridynge hire bisyde.
778: Arrayed was toward hir mariage
779: This fresshe mayde, ful of gemmes cleere;
780: Hir brother, which that seven yeer was of age.
781: Arrayed eek ful fressh in his manere.
782: And thus in greet noblesse and with glad cheere,
783: Toward saluces shapynge hir journey,
784: Fro day to day they ryden in hir wey.
Explicit quarta pars.
785: Among al this, after his wikke usage,
786: This markys, yet his wyf to tempte moore
787: To the outtreste preeve of hir corage,
788: Fully to han experience and loore
789: If that she were as stidefast as bifoore,
790: He on a day, in open audience,
791: Ful boistously hath seyd hire this sentence:
792: Certes, grisilde, I hadde ynogh plesance
793: To han yow to my wyf for youre goodnesse,
794: As for youre trouthe and for youre obeisance,
795: Noght for youre lynage, ne for youre richesse;
796: But now knowe I in verray soothfastnesse
797: That in greet lordshipe, if I wel avyse,
798: Ther is greet servitute in sondry wyse.
799: I may nat doon as every plowman may.
800: My peple me constreyneth for to take
801: Another wyf, and crien day by day;
802: And eek the pope, rancour for to slake.
803: Consenteth it, that dar I undertake;
804: And trewely thus muche I wol yow seye,
805: My newe wyf is comynge by the weye.
806: Be strong of herte, and voyde anon hir place,
807: And thilke dowere that ye broghten me,
808: Taak it agayn; I graunte it of my grace.
809: Retourneth to youre fadres hous, quod he;
810: No man may alwey han prosperitee.
811: With evene herte I rede yow t' endure
812: The strook of fortune or of aventure.
813: And she agayn answerde in pacience,
814: My lord, quod she, I woot, and wiste alway,
815: How that bitwixen youre magnificence
816: And my poverte no wight kan ne may
817: Maken comparison; it is no nay.
818: I ne heeld me nevere digne in no manere
819: To be youre wyf, no, ne youre chamberere.
820: And in this hous, ther ye me lady maade --
821: The heighe God take I for my witnesse,
822: And also wysly he my soule glaade --
823: I nevere heeld me lady ne mistresse,
824: But humble servant to youre worthynesse,
825: And evere shal, whil that my lyf may dure,
826: Aboven every worldly creature.
827: That ye so longe of youre benignitee
828: Han holden me in honour and nobleye,
829: Where as I was noght worthy for to bee,
830: That thonke I God and yow, to whom I preye
831: Foryelde it yow; ther is namoore to seye.
832: Unto my fader gladly wol I wende,
833: And with hym dwelle unto my lyves ende.
834: Ther I was fostred of a child ful smal,
835: Til I be deed my lyf ther wol I lede,
836: A wydwe clene in body, herte, and al.
837: For sith I yaf to yow my maydenhede,
838: And am youre trewe wyf, it is no drede,
839: God shilde swich a lordes wyf to take
840: Another man to housbonde or to make!
841: And of youre newe wyf God of his grace
842: So graunte yow wele and prosperitee!
843: For I wol gladly yelden hire my place,
844: In which that I was blisful wont to bee.
845: For sith it liketh yow, my lord, quod shee,
846: That whilom weren al myn hertes reste,
847: That I shal goon, I wol goon whan yow leste.
848: But ther as ye me profre swich dowaire
849: As I first broghte, it is wel in my mynde
850: It were my wrecched clothes, nothyng faire,
851: The whiche to me were hard now for to fynde.
852: O goode god! how gentil and how kynde
853: Ye semed by youre speche and youre visage
854: The day that maked was oure mariage!
855: But sooth is seyd -- algate I fynde it trewe,
856: For in effect it preeved is on me --
857: Love is noght oold as whan that it is newe.
858: But certes, lord, for noon adversitee,
859: To dyen in the cas, it shal nat bee
860: That evere in word or werk I shal repente
861: That I yow yaf myn herte in hool entente.
862: My lord, ye woot that in my fadres place
863: Ye dide me streepe out of my povre weede,
864: And richely me cladden, of youre grace.
865: To yow broghte I noght elles, out of drede,
866: But feith, and nakednesse, and maydenhede;
867: And heere agayn your clothyng I restoore,
868: And eek your weddyng ryng, for everemore.
869: The remenant of youre jueles redy be
870: Inwith youre chambre, dar I saufly sayn.
871: Naked out of my fadres hous, quod she,
872: I cam, and naked moot I turne agayn.
873: Al youre plesance wol I folwen fayn;
874: But yet I hope it be nat youre entente
875: That I smoklees out of youre paleys wente.
876: Ye koude nat doon so dishonest a thyng,
877: That thilke wombe in which youre children leye
878: Sholde biforn the peple, in my walkyng,
879: Be seyn al bare; wherfore I yow preye,
880: Lat me nat lyk a worm go by the weye.
881: Remembre yow, myn owene lord so deere,
882: I was youre wyf, though I unworthy weere.
883: Wherfore, in gerdon of my maydenhede,
884: Which that I broghte, and noght agayn I bere,
885: As voucheth sauf to yeve me, to my meede,
886: But swich a smok as I was wont to were,
887: That I therwith may wrye the wombe of here
888: That was youre wyf. And heer take I my leeve
889: Of yow, myn owene lord, lest I yow greve.
890: The smok, quod he, that thou hast on thy bak,
891: Lat it be stille, and bere it forth with thee.
892: But wel unnethes thilke word he spak,
893: But wente his wey, for routhe and for pitee.
894: Biforn the folk hirselven strepeth she,
895: And in hir smok, with heed and foot al bare,
896: Toward hir fadre hous forth is she fare.
897: The folk hire folwe, wepynge in hir weye,
898: And fortune ay they cursen as they goon;
899: But she fro wepyng kepte hire eyen dreye,
900: Ne in this tyme word ne spak she noon.
901: Hir fader, that this tidynge herde anoon,
902: Curseth the day and tyme that nature
903: Shoop hym to been a lyves creature.
904: For out of doute this olde poure man
905: Was evere in suspect of hir mariage;
906: For evere he demed, sith that it bigan,
907: That whan the lord fulfild hadde his corage,
908: Hym wolde thynke it were a disparage
909: To his estaat so lowe for t' alighte,
910: And voyden hire as soone as ever he myghte.
911: Agayns his doghter hastily goth he,
912: For he by noyse of folk knew hire comynge,
913: And with hire olde coote, as it myghte be
914: He covered hire, ful sorwefully wepynge.
915: But on hire body myghte he it nat brynge,
916: For rude was the clooth, and moore of age
917: By dayes fele than at hire mariage.
918: Thus with hire fader, for a certeyn space,
919: Dwelleth this flour of wyfly pacience,
920: That neither by hire wordes ne hire face,
921: Biforn the folk, ne eek in hire absence,
922: Ne shewed she that hire was doon offence;
923: Ne of hire heighe astaat no remembraunce
924: Ne hadde she, as by hire contenaunce.
925: No wonder is for in hire grete estaat
926: Hire goost was evere in pleyn humylitee;
927: No tendre mouth, noon herte delicaat,
928: No pompe, no semblant of roialtee,
929: But ful of pacient benyngnytee,
930: Discreet and pridelees, ay honurable,
931: And to hire housbonde evere meke and stable.
932: Men speke of job, and moost for humblesse,
933: As clerkes, whan hem list, konne wel endite,
934: Namely of men, but as in soothfastnesse,
935: Though clerkes preise wommen but a lite,
936: Ther kan no man in humbless hym acquite
937: As womman kan, ne kan been half so trewe
938: As wommen been, but it be falle of newe.
939: Fro boloigne is this erl of panyk come,
940: Of which the fame up sprang to moore and lesse,
941: And to the peples eres, alle and some,
942: Was kouth eek that a newe markysesse
943: He with hym broghte, in swich pompe and richesse
944: That nevere was ther seyn with mannes ye
945: So noble array in al west lumbardye.
946: The markys, which that shoop and knew al this,
947: Er that this erl was come, sente his message
948: For thilke sely povre grisildis;
949: And she with humble herte and glad visage,
950: Nat with no swollen thoght in hire corage,
951: Cam at his heste, and on hire knees hire sette,
952: And reverently and wisely she hym grette.
953: Grisilde, quod he, my wyl is outrely,
954: This mayden, that shal wedded been to me,
955: Received be to-morwe as roially
956: As it possible is in myn hous to be,
957: And eek that every wight in his degree
958: Have his estaat, in sittyng and servyse
959: And heigh plesaunce, as I kan best devyse.
960: I have no wommen suffisaunt, certayn,
961: The chambres for t' arraye in ordinaunce
962: After my lust, and therfore wolde I fayn
963: That thyn were al swich manere governaunce.
964: Thou knowest eek of old al my plesaunce;
965: Thogh thyn array be badde and yvel biseye,
966: Do thou thy devoir at the leeste weye.
967: Nat oonly, lord, that I am glad, quod she,
968: To doon youre lust, but I desire also
969: Yow for to serve and plese in my degree
970: Withouten feyntyng, and shal everemo;
971: Ne nevere, for no wele ne no wo,
972: Ne shal the goost withinne myn herte stente
973: To love yow best with al my trewe entente.
974: And with that word she gan the hous to dighte,
975: And tables for to sette, and beddes make;
976: And peyned hire to doon al that she myghte,
977: Preyynge the chambereres, for goddes sake,
978: To hasten hem, and faste swepe and shake;
979: And she, the mooste servysable of alle,
980: Hath every chambre arrayed and his halle.
981: Abouten undren gan this erl alighte,
982: That with hym broghte thise noble children tweye,
983: For which the peple ran to seen the sighte
984: Of hire array, so richely biseye;
985: And thanne at erst amonges hem they seye
986: That walter was no fool, thogh that hym leste
987: To chaunge his wyf, for it was for the beste.
988: For she is fairer, as they deemen alle,
989: That is grisilde, and moore tendre of age,
990: And fairer fruyt bitwene hem sholde falle,
991: And moore plesant, for hire heigh lynage.
992: Hir brother eek so fair was of visage
993: That hem to seen the peple hath caught plesaunce,
994: Commendynge now the markys governaunce.
995: O stormy peple! unsad and evere untrewe!
996: Ay undiscreet and chaungynge as a fane!
997: Delitynge evere in rumbul that is newe,
998: For lyk the moone ay wexe ye and wane!
999: Ay ful of clappyng, deere ynogh a jane!
1000: Youre doom is fals, youre constance preeveth;
1001: A ful greet fool is he that on yow leeveth.
1002: Thus seyden sadde folk in that citee,
1003: Whan that the peple gazed up and doun;
1004: For they were glad, right for the noveltee,
1005: To han a newe lady of hir toun.
1006: Namoore of this make I now mencioun,
1007: But to grisilde agayn wol I me dresse,
1008: And telle hir constance and hir bisynesse. --
1009: Ful bisy was grisilde in every thyng
1010: That to the feeste was apertinent.
1011: Right noght was she abayst of hire clothyng,
1012: Thogh it were rude and somdeel eek torent;
1013: But with glad cheere to the yate is went
1014: With oother folk, to greete the markysesse,
1015: And after that dooth forth hire bisynesse.
1016: With so glad chiere his gestes she receyveth,
1017: And konnyngly, everich in his degree,
1018: That no defaute no man aperceyveth,
1019: But ay they wondren what she myghte bee
1020: That in so povre array was for to see,
1021: And koude swich honour and reverence,
1022: And worthily they preisen hire prudence.
1023: In al this meene while she ne stente
1024: This mayde and eek hir brother to commende
1025: With al hir herte, in ful benyngne entente,
1026: So wel that no man koude hir pris amende.
1027: But atte laste, whan that thise lordes wende
1028: To sitten doun to mete, he gan to calle
1029: Grisilde, as she was bisy in his halle.
1030: Grisilde, quod he, as it were in his pley,
1031: How liketh thee my wyf and hire beautee?
1032: Right wel, quod she, my lord; for, in good fey,
1033: A fairer saugh I nevere noon than she.
1034: I prey to God yeve hire prosperitee;
1035: And so hope I that he wol to yow sende
1036: Plesance ynogh unto youre lyves ende.
1037: O thyng biseke I yow, and warne also,
1038: That ye ne prikke with no tormentynge
1039: This tendre mayden, as ye han doon mo;
1040: For she is fostred in hire norissynge
1041: Moore tendrely, and, to my supposynge,
1042: She koude nat adversitee endure
1043: As koude a povre fostred creature.
1044: And whan this walter saugh hire pacience,
1045: Hir glade chiere, and no malice at al,
1046: And he so ofte had doon to hire offence,
1047: And she ay sad and constant as a wal,
1048: Continuynge evere hire innocence overal,
1049: This sturdy markys gan his herte dresse
1050: To rewen upon hire wyfly stedfastnesse.
1051: This is ynogh, grisilde myn, quod he;
1052: Be now namoore agast ne yvele apayed.
1053: I have thy feith and thy benyngnytee,
1054: As wel as evere womman was, assayed,
1055: In greet estaat, and povreliche arrayed.
1056: Now knowe I, dere wyf, thy stedfastnesse, --
1057: And hire in armes took and gan hire kesse.
1058: And she for wonder took of it no keep;
1059: She herde nat what thyng he to hire seyde;
1060: She ferde as she had stert out of a sleep,
1061: Til she out of hire mazednesse abreyde.
1062: Grisilde, quod he, by god, that for us deyde,
1063: Thou art my wyf, ne noon oother I have,
1064: Ne nevere hadde, as God my soule save!
1065: This is thy doghter, which thou hast supposed
1066: To be my wyf; that oother feithfully
1067: Shal be myn heir, as I have ay disposed;
1068: Thou bare hym in thy body trewely.
1069: At boloigne have I kept hem prively;
1070: Taak hem agayn, for now maystow nat seye
1071: That thou hast lorn noon of thy children tweye.
1072: And folk that ootherweys han seyd of me,
1073: I warne hem wel that I have doon this deede
1074: For no malice, ne for no crueltee,
1075: But for t' assaye in thee thy wommanheede,
1076: And nat to sleen my children -- God forbeede! --
1077: But for to kepe hem pryvely and stille,
1078: Til I thy purpos knewe and al thy wille.
1079: Whan she this herde, aswowne doun she falleth
1080: For pitous joye, and after hire swownynge
1081: She bothe hire yonge children to hire calleth,
1082: And in hire armes, pitously wepynge,
1083: Embraceth hem, and tendrely kissynge
1084: Ful lyk a mooder, with hire salte teeres
1085: She bathed bothe hire visage and hire heeres.
1086: O which a pitous thyng it was to se
1087: Hir swownyng, and hire humble voys to heere!
1088: Grauntmercy, lord, God thanke it yow, quod she,
1089: That ye han saved me my children deere!
1090: Now rekke I nevere to been deed right heere;
1091: Sith I stonde in youre love and in youre grace,
1092: No fors of deeth, ne whan my spirit pace!
1093: O tendre, o deere, o yonge children myne!
1094: Youre woful mooder wende stedfastly
1095: That crueel houndes or som foul vermyne
1096: Hadde eten yow; but god, of his mercy,
1097: And youre benyngne fader tendrely
1098: Hath doon yow kept, -- and in that same stounde
1099: Al sodeynly she swapte adoun to grounde,
1100: And in hire swough so sadly holdeth she
1101: Hire children two, whan she gan hem t' embrace,
1102: That with greet sleighte and greet difficultee
1103: The children from hire arm they gonne arace.
1104: O many a teere on many a pitous face
1105: Doun ran of hem that stooden hire bisyde;
1106: Unnethe abouten hire myghte they abyde.
1107: Walter hire gladeth, and hire sorwe slaketh;
1108: She riseth up, abaysed, from hire traunce,
1109: And every wight hire joye and feeste maketh
1110: Til she hath caught agayn hire contenaunce.
1111: Walter hire dooth so feithfully plesaunce
1112: That it was deyntee for to seen the cheere
1113: Bitwixe hem two, now they been met yfeere.
1114: Thise ladyes, whan that they hir tyme say,
1115: Han taken hire and into chambre gon,
1116: And strepen hire out of hire rude array,
1117: And in a clooth of gold that brighte shoon,
1118: With a coroune of many a riche stoon
1119: Upon hire heed, they into halle hire broghte,
1120: And ther she was honured as hire oghte.
1121: Thus hath this pitous day a blisful ende,
1122: For every man and womman dooth his myght
1123: This day in murthe and revel to dispende
1124: Til on the welkne shoon the sterres lyght.
1125: For moore solempne in every mannes syght
1126: This feste was, and gretter of costage,
1127: Than was the revel of hire mariage.
1128: Ful many a yeer in heigh prosperitee
1129: Lyven thise two in concord and in reste,
1130: And richely his doghter maryed he
1131: Unto a lord, oon of the worthieste
1132: Of al ytaille; and thanne in pees and reste
1133: His wyves fader in his court he kepeth,
1134: Til that the soule out of his body crepeth.
1135: His sone succedeth in his heritage
1136: In reste and pees, after his fader day,
1137: And fortunat was eek in mariage,
1138: Al putte he nat his wyf in greet assay.
1139: This world is nat so strong, it is no nay,
1140: As it hath been in olde tymes yoore,
1141: And herkneth what this auctour seith therfoore.
1142: This storie is seyd, nat for that wyves sholde
1143: Folwen grisilde as in humylitee,
1144: For it were inportable, though they wolde;
1145: But for that every wight, in his degree,
1146: Sholde be constant in adversitee
1147: As was grisilde; therfore petrak writeth
1148: This storie, which with heigh stile he enditeth.
1149: For, sith a womman was so pacient
1150: Unto a mortal man, wel moore us oghte
1151: Receyven al in gree that God us sent;
1152: For greet skile is, he preeve that he wroghte.
1153: But he ne tempteth no man that he boghte,
1154: As seith seint jame, if ye his pistel rede;
1155: He preeveth folk al day, it is no drede,
1156: And suffreth us, as for oure excercise,
1157: With sharpe scourges of adversitee
1158: Ful ofte to be bete in sondry wise;
1159: Nat for to knowe oure wyl, for certes he,
1160: Er we were born, knew al oure freletee;
1161: And for oure beste is al his governaunce.
1162: Lat us thanne lyve in vertuous suffraunce.
1163: But o work lordynges, herkneth er I go:
1164: It were ful hard to fynde now-a-dayes
1165: In al a toun grisildis thre or two;
1166: For if that they were put to swiche assayes,
1167: The gold of hem hath now so badde alayes
1168: With bras, that thogh the coyne be fair at ye,
1169: It wolde rather breste a-two than plye.
1170: For which heere, for the wyves love of bathe --
1171: Whos lyf and al hire secte God mayntene
1172: In heigh maistrie, and elles were it scathe --
1173: I wol with lusty herte, fressh and grene,
1174: Seyn yow a song to glade yow, I wene;
1175: And lat us stynte of ernestful matere.
1176: Herkneth my song that seith in this manere:
1177: Grisilde is deed, and eek hire pacience,
1178: And bothe atones buryed in ytaille;
1179: For which I crie in open audience,
1180: No wedded man so hardy be t' assaille
1181: His wyves pacience in trust to fynde
1182: Grisildis, for in certein he shal faille.
1183: O noble wyves, ful of heigh prudence,
1184: Lat noon humylitee youre tonge naille,
1185: Ne lat no clerk have cause or diligence
1186: To write of yow a storie of swich mervaille
1187: As of grisildis pacient and kynde,
1188: Lest chichevache yow swelwe in hire entraille!
1189: Folweth ekko, that holdeth no silence,
1190: But evere answereth at the countretaille.
1191: Beth nat bidaffed for youre innocence,
1192: But sharply taak on yow the governaille.
1193: Emprenteth wel this lessoun in youre mynde,
1194: For commune profit sith it may availle.
1195: Ye archewyves, stondeth at defense,
1196: Syn ye be strong as is a greet camaille;
1197: Ne suffreth nat that men yow doon offense.
1198: And sklendre wyves, fieble as in bataille,
1199: Beth egre as is a tygre yond in ynde;
1200: Ay clappeth as a mille, I yow consaille.
1201: Ne dreed hem nat, doth hem no reverence,
1202: For though thyn housbonde armed be in maille,
1203: The arwes of thy crabbed eloquence
1204: Shal perce his brest, and eek his aventaille.
1205: In jalousie I rede eek thou hym bynde,
1206: And thou shalt make hym couche as doth a quaille.
1207: If thou be fair, ther folk been in presence,
1208: Shewe thou thy visage and thyn apparaille;
1209: If thou be foul, be fre of thy dispence;
1210: To gete thee freendes ay do thy travaille;
1211: Be ay of chiere as light as leef on lynde,
1212: And lat hym care, and wepe, and wrynge, and waille!
1212.1: This worthy clerk, whan ended was his tale,
1212.2: Oure hooste seyde, and swoor, by goddes bondes,
1212.3: Me were levere than a barel ale
1212.4: My wyf at hoom had herd this legende ones!
1212.5: This is a gentil tale for the nones,
1212.6: As to my purpos, wiste ye my wille;
1212.7: But thyng that wol nat be, lat it be stille.