Geoffrey Chaucer

Here you will find the Long Poem Book Of The Duchesse of poet Geoffrey Chaucer

Book Of The Duchesse


 I have gret wonder, be this lighte,
 How that I live, for day ne nighte
 I may nat slepe wel nigh noght,
 I have so many an ydel thoght
 Purely for defaute of slepe
 That, by my trouthe, I take no kepe
 Of no-thing, how hit cometh or goth,
 Ne me nis no-thing leef nor loth.
 Al is y-liche good to me --
 Ioye or sorowe, wherso hyt be --
 For I have feling in no-thinge,
 But, as it were, a mased thing,
 Alway in point to falle a-doun;
 For sorwful imaginacioun
 Is alway hoolly in my minde.
 And wel ye wite, agaynes kynde
 Hit were to liven in this wyse;
 For nature wolde nat suffyse
 To noon erthely creature
 Not longe tyme to endure
 Withoute slepe, and been in sorwe;
 And I ne may, ne night ne morwe,
 Slepe; and thus melancolye
 And dreed I have for to dye,
 Defaute of slepe and hevinesse
 Hath sleyn my spirit of quiknesse,
 That I have lost al lustihede.
 Suche fantasies ben in myn hede
 So I not what is best to do.
 But men myght axe me, why soo
 I may not slepe, and what me is?
 But natheles, who aske this
 Leseth his asking trewely.
 My-selven can not telle why
 The sooth; but trewely, as I gesse,
 I holde hit be a siknesse
 That I have suffred this eight yere,
 And yet my bote is never the nere;
 For ther is phisicien but oon,
 That may me hele; but that is doon.
 Passe we over until eft;
 That wil not be, moot nede be left;
 Our first matere is good to kepe.
 So whan I saw I might not slepe,
 Til now late, this other night,
 Upon my bedde I sat upright
 And bad oon reche me a book,
 A romaunce, and he hit me took
 To rede and dryve the night away;
 For me thoghte it better play
 Then playen either at chesse or tables.
 And in this boke were writen fables
 That clerkes hadde, in olde tyme,
 And other poets, put in ryme
 To rede, and for to be in minde
 Whyl men loved the lawe of kinde.
 This book ne spak but of such thinges,
 Of quenes lyves, and of kinges,
 And many othere thinges smale.
 Amonge al this I fond a tale
 That me thoughte a wonder thing.
 This was the tale: There was a king
 That hight Seys, and hadde a wyf,
 The beste that mighte bere lyf;
 And this quene hight Alcyone.
 So hit befel, therafter sone,
 This king wolde wenden over see.
 To tellen shortly, whan that he
 Was in the see, thus in this wyse,
 Soche a tempest gan to ryse
 That brak hir mast, and made it falle,
 And clefte her ship, and dreinte hem alle,
 That never was founden, as it telles,
 Bord ne man, ne nothing elles.
 Right thus this king Seys loste his lyf.
 Now for to speken of his wife: --
 This lady, that was left at home,
 Hath wonder, that the king ne come
 Hoom, for hit was a longe terme.
 Anon her herte gan to erme;
 And for that hir thoughte evermo
 Hit was not wel he dwelte so,
 She longed so after the king
 That certes, hit were a pitous thing
 To telle hir hertely sorwful lyf
 That hadde, alas! this noble wyfe;
 For him she loved alderbest.
 Anon she sente bothe eest and west
 To seke him, but they founde nought.
 `Alas!' quoth she, `that I was wrought!
 And wher my lord, my love, be deed?
 Certes, I nil never ete breed,
 I make a-vowe to my god here,
 But I mowe of my lord here!'
 Such sorwe this lady to her took
 That trewely I, which made this book,
 Had swich pite and swich rowthe
 To rede hir sorwe, that, by my trowthe,
 I ferde the worse al the morwe
 After, to thenken on her sorwe.
 So whan she coude here no word
 That no man mighte fynde hir lord,
 Ful ofte she swouned, and saide `Alas!'
 For sorwe ful nigh wood she was,
 Ne she coude no reed but oon;
 But doun on knees she sat anoon,
 And weep, that pite was to here.
 `A! mercy! swete lady dere!'
 Quod she to Iuno, hir goddesse;
 `Help me out of this distresse,
 And yeve me grace my lord to see
 Sone, or wite wher-so he be,
 Or how he fareth, or in what wyse,
 And I shal make you sacrifyse,
 And hoolly youres become I shal
 With good wil, body, herte, and al;
 And but thou wilt this, lady swete,
 Send me grace to slepe, and mete
 In my slepe som certeyn sweven,
 Wher-through that I may knowen even
 Whether my lord be quik or deed.'
 With that word she heng doun the heed,
 And fil a-swown as cold as ston;
 Hir women caught her up anon,
 And broghten hir in bed al naked,
 And she, forweped and forwaked,
 Was wery, and thus the dede sleep
 Fil on hir, or she toke keep,
 Through Iuno, that had herd hir bone,
 That made hir to slepe sone;
 For as she prayde, so was don,
 In dede; for Iuno, right anon,
 Called thus her messagere
 To do her erande, and he com nere.
 Whan he was come, she bad him thus:
 `Go bet,' quod Iuno, `to Morpheus,