grete clamour and the lámentynge
Which that the ladies made at the brennynge
Of the bodyes, and the grete honoúr
That Theseus the noble conqueroúr
Doth to the ladyes, when they from him wente.
But shortly for to telle is myn entente.
Whan that this worthy duk, this Theseus,
Hath Creon slayn, and Thebes wonne thus,
Stille in the feelde he took al night his reste,
And dide with al the contree as he list.
To ransake in the heap of bodyes dede
Them for to strip of harness and of wede,
The searchers diden businesse and cure,
After the bataile and discomfiture.
And so bifel, that in the heap they founde,
Thurgh pierced with many a grevous blody wounde,
Two yonge knightes lying by and by,
Both in one coat of arms wrought richely;
Of whiche two, Arcite hight the one,
And the other knight was namèd Palamon.
Not fully quyk, nor fully deed they were,
But by their coat armure, and by their gear,
Heraldes knewe them wel in special,
As knights that weren of the blood royál
Of Thebes, and of sistren tuo i-born.
Out of the heap the searchers have them torn,
And have them caried softe unto the tente
Of Theseus, and ful sone he them sente
To Athenes, for to dwellen in prisoún
Perpetuelly, he wolde no ransom.
And this duk when he hadde thus i- doon,
He took his host, and hom he rode anon
With laurel crownèd as a conqueroúr
And there he lyveth in joye and in honoúr
Al through his lyf; what wille ye wordes mo?
And in a tour, in angwishe and in wo,
Dwell evermo wher gold may profit none
This Arcite and his felawe Palamon.
Thus passeth yeer by yeer, and day by day,
Til it fel once upon a morn of May
That Emelie, far fairer to be seene
Than is the lilie on her stalke grene,
And fressher than the May with floures newe—
For with the rose colour strove her hewe,
I know not which was fairer of them two—
Ere it was day, as she was wont to do,
She was arisen, and al redy dight;
For May wil have no sloggardye a nyght.
The sesoun priketh every gentil herte,
And maketh him out of his sleepe sterte,
And seith, “Arise, and do thin óbservance.”
This makèd Emelye have rémembrance
To do honoúr to May, and for to ryse.
I-clothèd was she fressh for to devyse.
Her yellow hair was braided in a tresse,
Byhynde her bak, a yerde long I gesse.
And in the gardyn as the sonne upriste.
She walketh up and doun wher as she liste.
She gathereth floures, party whyte and red,
To make a subtle gerland for her hed,
And as an angel hevenly she song.
The grete tour, that was so thikke and strong,
Which of the castel was the cheef dongeoún,
(Ther as this knightes weren in prisoún,
Of which I tolde yow, and telle shal)
Was evene joynging to the garden wal,
Where as this Emely hadde her pleyynge,
Bright was the sonne, and cleer was the mornyng,
And Palamon, this woful prisoner,
As was his wont, by leve of his gayler
Was risen, and roamèd in a chambre on high,
Where he could al the noble citee espye,
And eek the garden, ful of braunches grene,
In which that Emelye the fresshe and shene
Was in her walk, and romèd up and doun.
This sorweful prisoner, this Palamon,
Goth in the chambre roamyng to and fro,
And to himself compleynyng of his wo;
That he was born; ful ofte he seyd, alas!
And so byfel, by áventure or case,
That thurgh a wyndow thikke and many a barre
Of iren greet and square as eny sparre,
He cast his eyen upon Emelya,
And therwithal he blinked and cryéd, a!
As that he stongen were unto the herte.
And with that crye Arcite anon up sterte,
And seyde, “Cosyn myn, what eyleth thee,
That art so pale and deedly for to see?
Why criedest thou? who hath thee doon offence?
For Goddes love, tak al in pacience
Oure prisoun, for it may non other be;
Fortune hath geven us this adversitee.
Som wikked aspéct or disposicioún
Of Saturne, by sum constellacioún,
Hath geven us this, though gainst it we had sworn;
So stood the heven when that we were born;
We moste endure it: this is the short and pleyn.”
This Palamon answered, and seyde ageyn,
“Cosyn, for-sothe, of this opynyoún
Thou hast a veyn imaginacioún.
This prisoun causèd me not to crye.
But I was hurt right now thorough myn eye
Into myn herte, that wil my bane be.
The fairnesse of the lady that I see
Yonde in the gardyn roming to and fro,
Is cause of al my cryying and my wo.
I know not whether womman or goddesse;
But Venus is it, sothly as I gesse.”
And therwithal on knees adoun he fel,
And seyde: “Venus, if it be youre wil
You in this gardyn thus to transfigúre,
Bifore me sorrowful wretched créatúre,
Out of this prisoun help that we may scape.
And if so be oure destynee be shape,
By word eterne to die in this prisoún,
On our lineáge have sum compassioún,
That is so lowe y-brought by tyrannye.”
And with that word Arcite gan espye
Where that this lady roamèd to and fro.
And with that sight her beauty hurt him so,
That if that Palamon was wounded sore,
Arcite is hurt as moche as he, or more.
And with a sigh he seyde piteously:
“The fresshe beauty sleeth me suddenly
Of her that roameth yonder in the place;
And save I have her mercy and her grace
That I may see her beauty day by day,
I am but deed; ther is no more to seye.”
This Palamon, whan he those wordes herde,
Dispiteously he lokèd, and answérde:
“Whether sayst thou in ernest or in pley?”
“Nay,” quoth Arcite, “in ernest in good fey.
God helpe me so, ful loth am I to pleye.”
This Palamon gan knytte his browes tweye:
“It would not be to thee a gret honoúr,
For to be false, and for to be traytoúr
To me, that am thy cosyn and thy brother
I-sworn ful deepe, and each of us

  By PanEris using Melati.

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