The Frankeleynes Tale

“In faith, Squiér, thou hast thee wel y-quit
And gentilly, I praise wel thy wit,”
Quoth the Frankeleyn, “considering thin youthe,
So felingly thou spekest, sir, in truth,
As to my thought, none other that is here,
In eloquence shal ever be thy pere,
If that thou live; God geve thee goode chaunce,
And in vertue send thee continuance,
For thy speking I love it wel,” quoth he.
“I have a son, and by the Trinitee
I rather wold than twenty pound worth land,
Though it right now were fallen in myn hand,
He were a man of suche discretion,
As that ye be; fie on possession,
Unless a man be vertuous withal
I have my sone snubbèd, and yet shal,
For he to vertue listeth not to entende,
But for to play at dice, and to dispende,
And lese al that he hath, is his uságe;
And he had rather talken with a page,
Than to commune with any gentil wight,
When he might lernen gentillesse aright.”

“Straw for your gentillesse!” quoth our hoste.
“What? Frankeleyn, in faith, sir, wel thou knowest,
That eche of you must tellen at the lest
A tale or two, or breken his behest.”
“That know I wel, sir,” quoth the Frankeleyn,
“I pray you have me not in your disdein,
Though I to this man spoke a word or two.”
“Telle on thy tale, withouten wordes mo.”
“Gladly, sir hoste,” quoth he, “I wil obeye
Unto your wille; now herken what I seye;
I wil you not contrarien in no wise,
As fer as that my wittes may suffice.
I pray to God that it may plesen you,
Than wot I wel that it is good y-now.”

These olde gentile Britouns in their dayes
Of diverse áventures maden layes,
Al rymèd in their firste Britoun tonge;
Whiche layes with their instruments they songe,
Or else redden them for their plesaunce,
And one of them have I in rémembraunce,
Which I shal seye with as goode wille as I can,
But, sirs, bycause I am a common man,
At my begynnyng first I you beseche
Have me excusèd of my rude speche,
I lernèd never rhetorick certayn;
That thing I speke, it wil be bare and playn;
I slepte never on the mount of Pernaso,
Ne lernèd never Tullius, nor Cicero.
Colours of rhetorick non are in my hed,
But suche coloures as growen in the mede,
Or else suche as men dye with or peynte;
Colours of rethorik be to me too quaint;
My spyrit feleth nought of suche matére.
But if ye liste my tale shal ye now here.

Ther was a knight, that loved and foughte amain
In Armoryke, that clepèd is Britéyne,
To serve a lady in his beste wise;
And many a labour, and many a grete emprise
He for his lady wrought, ere she was wonne;
For she was one the fairest under sonne,
And eke therto came of so high kindred,
That scarce durst this knight for verie drede
Telle her his woe, his peyne, and his distresse.
But at the laste she for his worthinesse,
And chiefly for his meke obéissance,
Hath suche a pitee felt for his penaunce,
That privily she felle into accord
To take him for her housbonde, and her lord,
(Of suche lordshipe as men have over their wives);
And, for to lede the more in blisse their lyves,
Of his free wille he swor it as a knight,
That never in his wille by day or night
Wolde he upon him take the mastery
Against her wille, nor guard her jealously,
But her obey, and follow her wille in al,
As eny lover to his lady shal;
Save that the name of sovereynetee
That wolde he have because of his degree.
She thanketh him, and with ful grete humblesse
She sayde; “Sir, since of your gentilnesse
Ye profre me to have so large a reyne,
May never God, I pray, betwixe us tweyne,
For guilt of mine, bring eyther war or stryf.
Sir, I wil be your humble trewe wife,
Have here my trothe, til that myn herte fail.”
Thus be they bothe in quiete and in wele.
For one thing, masters, safly dare I saye,
That frendes al each other must obeye,
If they wille longe holde companye
Love wil nought be constreined by mastery.
When mastery cometh, the god of love anon
Beteth his wynges, and fare wel, he is gon.
Love is a thing, as any spirit, free.
Wommen of nature loven libertée,
And nought to be constreinèd as a thral;
And so do men, if I the sooth say shal.
Loke who that is most pacient in love,
He is ful certes others al above.
An high vertúe is Patience, certeyn,
For it vanquíssheth, as these clerkes seyn,
Thynges that rigour never can atteine.
For every word men may nought chyde or pleyne.
Lern then to suffre, or elles, it must be so,
Ye shall it lernen whether ye wil or no.
For in this worlde certeyn no wight ther is,
That he ne doth or saith som tyme amiss.
Sickness or wrath or constellacioun,
Wyn, woe, or changynge of complexioun,
Causeth ful often to do amiss or speak.
For every wrong men cannot vengeance take;
Sometimes and often must be temperaunce
To every wight that loveth governance.
Therefore this knight his wife for to plese
Hath promised she shal live in rest and ese;
And sche to him ful wisely gan to swere,
That never shulde ther be defaulte in her.
Here may men see an humble wyse accord;
Thus that she taken her servaunt and her lorde,
Servaunt in love, and lord in mariáge.
Then was he bothe in lordshipe and serváge.
Serváge? Not so. In lordshipe al above,
Since that he hath his lady and his love;
His lady certes, and his wyf also,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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