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- The Canterbury Tales - 20/183 -


And on thine altar, where I ride or go, I will do sacrifice, and fires bete*. *make, kindle And if ye will not so, my lady sweet, Then pray I you, to-morrow with a spear That Arcita me through the hearte bear Then reck I not, when I have lost my life, Though that Arcita win her to his wife. This is th' effect and end of my prayere, -- Give me my love, thou blissful lady dear." When th' orison was done of Palamon, His sacrifice he did, and that anon, Full piteously, with alle circumstances, *All tell I not as now* his observances. *although I tell not now* But at the last the statue of Venus shook, And made a signe, whereby that he took That his prayer accepted was that day. For though the signe shewed a delay, Yet wist he well that granted was his boon; And with glad heart he went him home full soon.

The third hour unequal <64> that Palamon Began to Venus' temple for to gon, Up rose the sun, and up rose Emily, And to the temple of Dian gan hie. Her maidens, that she thither with her lad*, *led Th' incense, the clothes, and the remnant all That to the sacrifice belonge shall, The hornes full of mead, as was the guise; There lacked nought to do her sacrifice. Smoking* the temple full of clothes fair, *draping <65> This Emily with hearte debonnair* *gentle Her body wash'd with water of a well. But how she did her rite I dare not tell; But* it be any thing in general; *unless And yet it were a game* to hearen all *pleasure To him that meaneth well it were no charge: But it is good a man to *be at large*. *do as he will* Her bright hair combed was, untressed all. A coronet of green oak cerriall <66> Upon her head was set full fair and meet. Two fires on the altar gan she bete, And did her thinges, as men may behold In Stace of Thebes <67>, and these bookes old. When kindled was the fire, with piteous cheer Unto Dian she spake as ye may hear.

"O chaste goddess of the woodes green, To whom both heav'n and earth and sea is seen, Queen of the realm of Pluto dark and low, Goddess of maidens, that mine heart hast know Full many a year, and wost* what I desire, *knowest To keep me from the vengeance of thine ire, That Actaeon aboughte* cruelly: *earned; suffered from Chaste goddess, well wottest thou that I Desire to be a maiden all my life, Nor never will I be no love nor wife. I am, thou wost*, yet of thy company, *knowest A maid, and love hunting and venery*, *field sports And for to walken in the woodes wild, And not to be a wife, and be with child. Nought will I know the company of man. Now help me, lady, since ye may and can, For those three formes <68> that thou hast in thee. And Palamon, that hath such love to me, And eke Arcite, that loveth me so sore, This grace I pray thee withoute more, As sende love and peace betwixt them two: And from me turn away their heartes so, That all their hote love, and their desire, And all their busy torment, and their fire, Be queint*, or turn'd into another place. *quenched And if so be thou wilt do me no grace, Or if my destiny be shapen so That I shall needes have one of them two, So send me him that most desireth me. Behold, goddess of cleane chastity, The bitter tears that on my cheekes fall. Since thou art maid, and keeper of us all, My maidenhead thou keep and well conserve, And, while I live, a maid I will thee serve.

The fires burn upon the altar clear, While Emily was thus in her prayere: But suddenly she saw a sighte quaint*. *strange For right anon one of the fire's *queint And quick'd* again, and after that anon *went out and revived* That other fire was queint, and all agone: And as it queint, it made a whisteling, As doth a brande wet in its burning. And at the brandes end outran anon As it were bloody droppes many one: For which so sore aghast was Emily, That she was well-nigh mad, and gan to cry, For she ne wiste what it signified; But onely for feare thus she cried, And wept, that it was pity for to hear. And therewithal Diana gan appear With bow in hand, right as an hunteress, And saide; "Daughter, stint* thine heaviness. *cease Among the goddes high it is affirm'd, And by eternal word writ and confirm'd, Thou shalt be wedded unto one of tho* *those That have for thee so muche care and woe: But unto which of them I may not tell. Farewell, for here I may no longer dwell. The fires which that on mine altar brenn*, *burn Shall thee declaren, ere that thou go henne*, *hence Thine aventure of love, as in this case." And with that word, the arrows in the case* *quiver Of the goddess did clatter fast and ring, And forth she went, and made a vanishing, For which this Emily astonied was, And saide; "What amounteth this, alas! I put me under thy protection, Diane, and in thy disposition." And home she went anon the nexte* way. *nearest This is th' effect, there is no more to say.

The nexte hour of Mars following this Arcite to the temple walked is Of fierce Mars, to do his sacrifice With all the rites of his pagan guise. With piteous* heart and high devotion *pious Right thus to Mars he said his orison "O stronge god, that in the regnes* old *realms Of Thrace honoured art, and lord y-hold* *held And hast in every regne, and every land Of armes all the bridle in thine hand, And *them fortunest as thee list devise*, *send them fortune Accept of me my piteous sacrifice. as you please* If so be that my youthe may deserve, And that my might be worthy for to serve Thy godhead, that I may be one of thine, Then pray I thee to *rue upon my pine*, *pity my anguish* For thilke* pain, and thilke hote fire, *that In which thou whilom burned'st for desire Whenne that thou usedest* the beauty *enjoyed Of faire young Venus, fresh and free, And haddest her in armes at thy will: And though thee ones on a time misfill*, *were unlucky When Vulcanus had caught thee in his las*, *net <69> And found thee ligging* by his wife, alas! *lying For thilke sorrow that was in thine heart, Have ruth* as well upon my paine's smart. *pity I am young and unconning*, as thou know'st, *ignorant, simple And, as I trow*, with love offended most *believe That e'er was any living creature: For she, that doth* me all this woe endure, *causes Ne recketh ne'er whether I sink or fleet* *swim And well I wot, ere she me mercy hete*, *promise, vouchsafe I must with strengthe win her in the place: And well I wot, withoute help or grace Of thee, ne may my strengthe not avail: Then help me, lord, to-morr'w in my bataille, For thilke fire that whilom burned thee, As well as this fire that now burneth me; And do* that I to-morr'w may have victory. *cause Mine be the travail, all thine be the glory. Thy sovereign temple will I most honour Of any place, and alway most labour In thy pleasance and in thy craftes strong. And in thy temple I will my banner hong*, *hang And all the armes of my company, And evermore, until that day I die, Eternal fire I will before thee find And eke to this my vow I will me bind: My beard, my hair that hangeth long adown, That never yet hath felt offension* *indignity Of razor nor of shears, I will thee give, And be thy true servant while I live. Now, lord, have ruth upon my sorrows sore, Give me the victory, I ask no more."

The prayer stint* of Arcita the strong, *ended The ringes on the temple door that hong, And eke the doores, clattered full fast, Of which Arcita somewhat was aghast. The fires burn'd upon the altar bright, That it gan all the temple for to light; A sweete smell anon the ground up gaf*, *gave And Arcita anon his hand up haf*, *lifted And more incense into the fire he cast, With other rites more and at the last The statue of Mars began his hauberk ring; And with that sound he heard a murmuring Full low and dim, that saide thus, "Victory." For which he gave to Mars honour and glory. And thus with joy, and hope well to fare, Arcite anon unto his inn doth fare. As fain* as fowl is of the brighte sun. *glad

And right anon such strife there is begun For thilke* granting, in the heav'n above, *that Betwixte Venus the goddess of love, And Mars the sterne god armipotent, That Jupiter was busy it to stent*: *stop Till that the pale Saturnus the cold,<70> That knew so many of adventures old, Found in his old experience such an art, That he full soon hath pleased every part.


The Canterbury Tales - 20/183

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