Troilus and Criseyde is a work on a large scale, 8239 lines of rhyme-royal (seven-line stanzas rhyming ababbcc) in five books, the first major work of English literature and sometimes called the first English novel on account of its concern with the characters' psychology.
The story comes from Boccaccio's Il Filostrato, and it is most intriguing that Chaucer nowhere mentions the name Boccaccio. Instead, in Troilus, he claims to be simply translating a work by a certain Lollius, wrongly assumed in the Middle Ages to have written about Troy, whereas he is in fact radically altering Boccaccio's story to make it deeper and more poetic.
When he began to write Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer was already
fully aware of the need to make the English language into a poetic diction
that would be as powerful in expressing emotion and reflexion as the other
literary languages he knew. He was familiar with the writings of Ovid,
Cicero, Virgil, Statius, Macrobius, Boethius, and Alain de Lisle in Latin,
with Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio in Italian, with the Romance of the
Rose and other French works, as well as with the native English romances.
He had travelled, too, his mind was European. The opening lines of Troilus
and Criseyde show why John Dryden called Chaucer the "father of English
poetry" (in the Preface to his Fables Ancient and Modern of 1700):
The first four books of the poem each begin with a 'Proemium' (Preface)
1 The double sorrow of Troilus to tellen,
That was the king Priamus son of Troye,
In loving, how his aventures fellen
From woe to wele, and after out of joie,
5 My purpose is, er that I parte from ye.
Thesiphone, thou help me for t'endite
These woeful vers, that weepen as I write.
To thee clepe I, thou goddess of torment,
Thou cruel Fury, sorrowing ever in peyne,
10 Help me, that am the sorrowful instrument,
That helpeth lovers, as I can, to pleyne.
For wel sit it, the sothe for to sayne,
A woeful wight to have a dreary feere,
And to a sorrowful tale, a sorry chere.
15 For I, that god of Love's servants serve,
Ne dare to love, for mine unlikelinesse,
Prayen for speed, al sholde I therfore sterve,
So far am I from his help in darknesse;
But nonetheless, if this may doon gladnesse
20 To any lover, and his cause availe,
Have he my thank, and mine be this travayle!
But ye lovers, that bathen in
If any drop of pity in you be,
Remembreth you on passed heavinesse
25 That ye have felt, and on the adversitee
Of other folk, and thinketh how that ye
Have felt that Love dorste yow displease;
Or ye have won him with too great an ease.
And prayeth for them that been in
30 Of Troilus, as ye may after heare,
That love hem bringe in heavene to solas,
And eek for me preyeth to God so deare,
That I have might to show, in some mannere,
Such pain and woe as Love's folk endure,
35 In Troilus unsely aventure.
And biddeth eek for them that been
In love, that never nil recovered be,
And eek for them that falsely been apeyred
Through wicked tongues, be it he or she;
40 Thus biddeth God, for his benignitee,
So grant them soon out of this world to pass,
That been despaired out of Love's grace.
And biddeth eek for them that been
That God them grante ay good perseverance,
45 And send them might their ladies so to please,
That it to Love be worship and plesaunce.
For so hope I my soule best avaunce,
To praye for them that Love's servants be,
And write their woe, and live in charitee.
50 And for to have of them compassion
As though I were their owne brother dere.
Now herkeneth with a good intention,
For now will I gn straight to my matere,
In which ye may the double sorrowes heare
55 Of Troilus, in loving of Criseyde,
And how that she forsook him er she diede.
End of the first Proemium
Troilus and Criseyde is set inside Troy during the Trojan War. After this Proemium, Book 1 begins with the news that the soothsayer (prophet) Calkas (Criseyde's father), foreseeing the end of Troy, has left the city to join the Greek camp.
Criseyde was this lady name a-right;
100 As to my dome, in al Troyes citee
Nas noon so fair, for passing every wight
So aungellyk was hir natyf beautee,
That lyk a thing immortal semed she,
As doth an hevenish parfit creature,
105 That doun were sent in scorning of nature.
This lady, which that al-day herde
Hir fadres shame, his falsnesse and tresoun,
Wel nigh out of hir wit for sorwe and fere,
In widewes habit large of samit broun,
110 On knees she fil biforn Ector a-doun;
With pitous voys, and tendrely wepinge,
His mercy bad, hir-selven excusinge.
Hector reassures her that she will be respected, despite her father's act. In April the people of Troy celebrate the Palladium festival and go the temples.
Among thise othere folk was Criseyda,
170 In widewes habite blak; but nathelees,
Right as our firste lettre is now an A,
In beautee first so stood she, makelees;
Hir godly looking gladede al the prees.
Nas never seyn thing to ben preysed derre,
175 Nor under cloude blak so bright a sterre
As was Criseyde, as folk seyde
That hir behelden in hir blake wede;
And yet she stood ful lowe and stille alloon,
Bihinden othere folk, in litel brede,
180 And neigh the dore, ay under shames drede,
Simple of a-tyr, and debonaire of chere,
With ful assured loking and manere.
Troilus is shown mocking love:
This Troilus, as he was wont to
His yonge knightes, ladde hem up and doun
185 In thilke large temple on every syde,
Biholding ay the ladyes of the toun,
Now here, now there, for no devocioun
Hadde he to noon, to reven him his reste,
But gan to preyse and lakken whom him leste.
190 And in his walk ful fast he gan to wayten
If knight or squyer of his companye
Gan for to syke, or lete his eyen bayten
On any woman that he coude aspye;
He wolde smyle, and holden it folye,
195 And seye him thus, `god wot, she slepeth softe
For love of thee, whan thou tornest ful ofte!
`I have herd told, pardieux, of
Ye lovers, and your lewede observaunces,
And which a labour folk han in winninge
200 Of love, and, in the keping, which doutaunces;
And whan your preye is lost, wo and penaunces;
O verrey foles! nyce and blinde be ye;
Ther nis not oon can war by other be.'
And with that word he gan cast
up the browe,
205 Ascaunces, `Lo! is this nought wysly spoken?'
At which the god of love gan loken rowe
Right for despyt, and shoop for to ben wroken;
He kidde anoon his bowe nas not broken;
For sodeynly he hit him at the fulle;
210 And yet as proud a pekok can he pulle.
The poet introduces a long commentary, a kind of sermon, on what is
about to happen to Troilus and the meaning of it to the readers.
O blinde world, O blinde entencioun!
How ofte falleth al theffect contraire
Of surquidrye and foul presumpcioun;
For caught is proud, and caught is debonaire.
215 This Troilus is clomben on the staire,
And litel weneth that he moot descenden.
But al-day falleth thing that foles ne wenden.
As proude Bayard ginneth for to
Out of the wey, so priketh him his corn,
220 Til he a lash have of the longe whippe,
Than thenketh he, `Though I praunce al biforn
First in the trays, ful fat and newe shorn,
Yet am I but an hors, and horses lawe
I moot endure, and with my feres drawe.'
225 So ferde it by this fers and proude knight;
Though he a worthy kinges sone were,
And wende nothing hadde had swiche might
Ayens his wil that sholde his herte stere,
Yet with a look his herte wex a-fere,
230 That he, that now was most in pryde above,
Wex sodeynly most subget un-to love.
For-thy ensample taketh of this
Ye wyse, proude, and worthy folkes alle,
To scornen Love, which that so sone can
235 The freedom of your hertes to him thralle;
For ever it was, and ever it shal bifalle,
That Love is he that alle thing may binde;
For may no man for-do the lawe of kinde.
That this be sooth, hath preved
and doth yet;
240 For this trowe I ye knowen, alle or some,
Men reden not that folk han gretter wit
Than they that han be most with love y-nome;
And strengest folk ben therwith overcome,
The worthiest and grettest of degree:
245 This was, and is, and yet men shal it see.
And trewelich it sit wel to be
For alderwysest han ther-with ben plesed;
And they that han ben aldermost in wo,
With love han ben conforted most and esed;
250 And ofte it hath the cruel herte apesed,
And worthy folk maad worthier of name,
And causeth most to dreden vyce and shame.
Now sith it may not goodly be withstonde,
And is a thing so vertuous in kinde,
255 Refuseth not to Love for to be bonde,
Sin, as him-selven list, he may yow binde.
The yerde is bet that bowen wole and winde
Than that that brest; and therfor I yow rede
To folwen him that so wel can yow lede.
260 But for to tellen forth in special
As of this kinges sone of which I tolde,
And leten other thing collateral,
Of him thenke I my tale for to holde,
Both of his Ioye, and of his cares colde;
265 And al his werk, as touching this matere,
For I it gan, I wol ther-to refere.
Suddenly Troilus sees Criseyde
With-inne the temple he wente him
This Troilus, of every wight aboute,
On this lady and now on that lokinge,
270 Wher-so she were of toune, or of with-oute:
And up-on cas bifel, that thorugh a route
His eye perced, and so depe it wente,
Til on Criseyde it smoot, and ther it stente.
And sodeynly he wax ther-with astoned,
275 And gan hire bet biholde in thrifty wyse:
`O mercy, god!' thoughte he, `wher hastow woned,
That art so fair and goodly to devyse?'
Ther-with his herte gan to sprede and ryse,
And softe sighed, lest men mighte him here,
280 And caughte a-yein his firste pleyinge chere.
She nas nat with the leste of hir
But alle hir limes so wel answeringe
Weren to womanhode, that creature
Was neuer lasse mannish in seminge.
285 And eek the pure wyse of here meninge
Shewede wel, that men might in hir gesse
Honour, estat, and wommanly noblesse.
To Troilus right wonder wel with-alle
Gan for to lyke hir meninge and hir chere,
290 Which somdel deynous was, for she leet falle
Hir look a lite a-side, in swich manere,
Ascaunces, `What! May I not stonden here?'
And after that hir loking gan she lighte,
That never thoughte him seen so good a sighte.
295 And of hir look in him ther gan to quiken
So greet desir, and swich affeccioun,
That in his herte botme gan to stiken
Of hir his fixe and depe impressioun:
And though he erst hadde poured up and doun,
300 He was tho glad his hornes in to shrinke;
Unnethes wiste he how to loke or winke.
Lo, he that leet him-selven so
And scorned hem that loves peynes dryen,
Was ful unwar that love hadde his dwellinge
305 With-inne the subtile stremes of hir yen;
That sodeynly him thoughte he felte dyen,
Right with hir look, the spirit in his herte;
Blissed be love, that thus can folk converte!
She, this in blak, likinge to Troylus,
310 Over alle thyng, he stood for to biholde;
Ne his desir, ne wherfor he stood thus,
He neither chere made, ne worde tolde;
But from a-fer, his maner for to holde,
On other thing his look som-tyme he caste,
315 And eft on hir, whyl that servyse laste.
And after this, not fulliche al
Out of the temple al esiliche he wente,
Repentinge him that he hadde ever y-iaped
Of loves folk, lest fully the descente
320 Of scorn fille on him-self; but, what he mente,
Lest it were wist on any maner syde,
His wo he gan dissimulen and hyde.
Whan he was fro the temple thus
He streyght anoon un-to his paleys torneth,
325 Right with hir look thurgh-shoten and thurgh-darted,
Al feyneth he in lust that he soiorneth;
And al his chere and speche also he borneth;
And ay, of loves servants every whyle,
Him-self to wrye, at hem he gan to smyle.
He withdraws to think about what has happened:
365 Thus gan he make a mirour of his minde,
In which he saugh al hoolly hir figure;
And that he wel coude in his herte finde,
It was to him a right good aventure
To love swich oon, and if he dide his cure
370 To serven hir, yet mighte he falle in grace,
Or elles, for oon of hir servaunts pace.
Imagininge that travaille nor grame
Ne mighte, for so goodly oon, be lorn
As she, ne him for his desir ne shame,
375 Al were it wist, but in prys and up-born
Of alle lovers wel more than biforn;
Thus argumented he in his ginninge,
Ful unavysed of his wo cominge.
Thus took he purpos loves craft
380 And thoughte he wolde werken prively,
First, to hyden his desir in muwe
From every wight y-born, al-outrely,
But he mighte ought recovered be therby;
Remembring him, that love to wyde y-blowe
385 Yelt bittre fruyt, though swete seed be sowe.
And over al this, yet muchel more
What for to speke, and what to holden inne,
And what to arten hir to love he soughte,
And on a song anoon-right to biginne,
390 And gan loude on his sorwe for to winne;
For with good hope he gan fully assente
Criseyde for to love, and nought repente.
And of his song nought only the
As writ myn autour called Lollius,
395 But pleynly, save our tonges difference,
I dar wel sayn, in al that Troilus
Seyde in his song, lo! every word right thus
As I shal seyn; and who-so list it here,
Lo! next this vers, he may it finden here.
Cantus Troili. (Song of Troilus, actually a sonnet by Petrarch added by Chaucer)
400 `If no love is, O god, what fele I so?
And if love is, what thing and whiche is he!
If love be good, from whennes comth my wo?
If it be wikke, a wonder thinketh me,
Whenne every torment and adversitee
405 That cometh of him, may to me savory thinke;
For ay thurst I, the more that I it drinke.
`And if that at myn owene lust
Fro whennes cometh my wailing and my pleynte?
If harme agree me, wher-to pleyne I thenne?
410 I noot, ne why unwery that I feynte.
O quike deeth, O swete harm so queynte,
How may of thee in me swich quantitee,
But-if that I consente that it be?
`And if that I consente, I wrongfully
415 Compleyne, y-wis; thus possed to and fro,
Al sterelees with inne a boot am I
A-mid the see, by-twixen windes two,
That in contrarie stonden ever-mo.
Allas! what is this wonder maladye?
420 For hete of cold, for cold of hete, I deye.'
And to the god of love thus seyde
With pitous voys, `O lord, now youres is
My spirit, which that oughte youres be.
Yow thanke I, lord, that han me brought to this;
425 But whether goddesse or womman, y-wis,
She be, I noot, which that ye do me serve;
But as hir man I wole ay live and sterve.
`Ye stonden in hire eyen mightily,
As in a place un-to youre vertu digne;
430 Wherfore, lord, if my servyse or I
May lyke yow, so beth to me benigne;
For myn estat royal here I resigne
In-to hir hond, and with ful humble chere
Bicome hir man, as to my lady dere.'
Soon he falls sick with the contradictions of his love:
And fro this forth tho refte him
love his sleep,
485 And made his mete his foo; and eek his sorwe
Gan multiplye, that, who-so toke keep,
It shewed in his hewe, bothe eve and morwe;
Therfor a title he gan him for to borwe
Of other syknesse, lest of him men wende
490 That the hote fyr of love him brende,
And seyde, he hadde a fever and
But how it was, certayn, can I not seye,
If that his lady understood not this,
Or feyned hir she niste, oon of the tweye;
495 But wel I rede that, by no maner weye,
Ne semed it as that she of him roughte,
Nor of his peyne, or what-so-ever he thoughte.
But than fel to this Troylus such
That he was wel neigh wood; for ay his drede
500 Was this, that she som wight had loved so,
That never of him she wolde have taken hede;
For whiche him thoughte he felte his herte blede.
Ne of his wo ne dorste he not biginne
To tellen it, for al this world to winne.
505 But whanne he hadde a space fro his care,
Thus to him-self ful ofte he gan to pleyne;
He sayde, `O fool, now art thou in the snare,
That whilom Iapedest at loves peyne;
Now artow hent, now gnaw thyn owene cheyne;
510 Thou were ay wont eche lovere reprehende
Of thing fro which thou canst thee nat defende.
`What wol now every lover seyn
If this be wist, but ever in thyn absence
Laughen in scorn, and seyn, `Lo, ther gooth he,
515 That is the man of so gret sapience,
That held us lovers leest in reverence!
Now, thonked be god, he may goon in the daunce
Of hem that Love list febly for to avaunce!'
`But, O thou woful Troilus, god
520 Sin thou most loven thurgh thi destinee,
That thow beset were on swich oon that sholde
Knowe al thy wo, al lakkede hir pitee:
But al so cold in love, towardes thee,
Thy lady is, as frost in winter mone,
525 And thou fordoon, as snow in fyr is sone.'
`God wolde I were aryved in the
Of deth, to which my sorwe wil me lede!
A, lord, to me it were a gret comfort;
Than were I quit of languisshing in drede.
530 For by myn hidde sorwe y-blowe on brede
I shal bi-Iaped been a thousand tyme
More than that fool of whos folye men ryme.
`But now help god, and ye, swete,
I pleyne, y-caught, ye, never wight so faste!
535 O mercy, dere herte, and help me from
The deeth, for I, whyl that my lyf may laste,
More than my-self wol love yow to my laste.
And with som freendly look gladeth me, swete,
Though never more thing ye me bi-hete!'
540 This wordes and ful manye an-other to
He spak, and called ever in his compleynte
Hir name, for to tellen hir his wo,
Til neigh that he in salte teres dreynte.
Al was for nought, she herde nought his pleynte;
545 And whan that he bithoughte on that folye,
A thousand fold his wo gan multiplye.
A friend of his, Pandare, overhears him. He tries for a long time to
force Troilus to tell him who the lady is, guessing he is in love, but
Troilus believes that it will not help to tell him. Pandare mocks him on
learning that he has not told the lady about his feelings. At last he admits
he is in love with Criseyde. Pandare offers to help Troilus meet her, which makes
him very happy. He returns to society.
Out of these blake
wawes for to sayle,
O wind, O wind, the weder ginneth clere;
For in this see the boot hath swich travayle,
Of my conning, that unnethe I it stere:
5 This see clepe I the tempestous matere
Of desespeyr that Troilus was inne:
But now of hope the calendes biginne.
O lady myn, that called art Cleo,
Thou be my speed fro this forth, and my muse,
10 To ryme wel this book, til I have do;
Me nedeth here noon other art to use.
For-why to every lovere I me excuse,
That of no sentement I this endyte,
But out of Latin in my tonge it wryte.
15 Wherfore I nil have neither thank ne blame
Of al this werk, but prey yow mekely,
Disblameth me if any word be lame,
For as myn auctor seyde, so seye I.
Eek though I speke of love unfelingly,
20 No wondre is, for it no-thing of newe is;
A blind man can nat Iuggen wel in hewis.
Ye knowe eek, that in forme of
speche is chaunge
With-inne a thousand yeer, and wordes tho
That hadden prys, now wonder nyce and straunge
25 Us thinketh hem; and yet they spake hem so,
And spedde as wel in love as men now do;
Eek for to winne love in sondry ages,
In sondry londes, sondry ben usages.
And for-thy if it happe in any
30 That here be any lovere in this place
That herkneth, as the storie wol devyse,
How Troilus com to his lady grace,
And thenketh, so nolde I nat love purchace,
Or wondreth on his speche or his doinge,
35 I noot; but it is me no wonderinge;
For every wight which that to Rome
Halt nat o path, or alwey o manere;
Eek in som lond were al the gamen shent,
If that they ferde in love as men don here,
40 As thus, in open doing or in chere,
In visitinge, in forme, or seyde hire sawes;
For-thy men seyn, ech contree hath his lawes.
Eek scarsly been ther in this place
That han in love seid lyk and doon in al;
45 For to thy purpos this may lyken thee,
And thee right nought, yet al is seyd or shal;
Eek som men grave in tree, som in stoon wal,
As it bitit; but sin I have begonne,
Myn auctor shal I folwen, if I conne.
End of Proemium to Book 2
Pandare goes to visit his niece.
50 In May, that moder is of monthes glade,
That fresshe floures, blewe, and whyte, and rede,
Ben quike agayn, that winter dede made,
And ful of bawme is fleting every mede;
Whan Phebus doth his brighte bemes sprede
55 Right in the whyte Bole, it so bitidde
As I shal singe, on Mayes day the thridde,
That Pandarus, for al his wyse
Felt eek his part of loves shottes kene,
That, coude he never so wel of loving preche,
60 It made his hewe a-day ful ofte grene;
So shoop it, that hym fil that day a tene
In love, for which in wo to bedde he wente,
And made, er it was day, ful many a wente.
The swalwe Proigne, with a sorwful
65 Whan morwe com, gan make hir waymentinge,
Why she forshapen was; and ever lay
Pandare a-bedde, half in a slomeringe,
Til she so neigh him made hir chiteringe
How Tereus gan forth hir suster take,
70 That with the noyse of hir he gan a-wake;
And gan to calle, and dresse him
up to ryse,
Remembringe him his erand was to done
From Troilus, and eek his greet empryse;
And caste and knew in good plyt was the mone
75 To doon viage, and took his wey ful sone
Un-to his neces paleys ther bi-syde;
Now Ianus, god of entree, thou him gyde!
Whan he was come un-to his neces
`Wher is my lady?' to hir folk seyde he;
80 And they him tolde; and he forth in gan pace,
And fond, two othere ladyes sete and she,
With-inne a paved parlour; and they three
Herden a mayden reden hem the geste
Of the Sege of Thebes, whyl hem leste.
85 Quod Pandarus, `Ma dame, god yow see,
With al your book and al the companye!'
`Ey, uncle myn, welcome y-wis,' quod she,
And up she roos, and by the hond in hye
She took him faste, and seyde, `This night thrye,
90 To goode mote it turne, of yow I mette!'
And with that word she doun on bench him sette.
`Ye, nece, ye shal fare wel the
If god wole, al this yeer,' quod Pandarus;
`But I am sory that I have yow let
95 To herknen of your book ye preysen thus;
For goddes love, what seith it? tel it us.
Is it of love? O, som good ye me lere!'
`Uncle,' quod she, `your maistresse is not here!'
With that they gonnen laughe, and
tho she seyde,
100 `This romaunce is of Thebes, that we rede;
And we han herd how that king Laius deyde
Thurgh Edippus his sone, and al that dede;
And here we stenten at these lettres rede,
How the bisshop, as the book can telle,
105 Amphiorax, fil thurgh the ground to helle.'
Quod Pandarus, `Al this knowe I
And al the assege of Thebes and the care;
For her-of been ther maked bokes twelve: --
But lat be this, and tel me how ye fare;
110 Do wey your barbe, and shew your face bare;
Do wey your book, rys up, and lat us daunce,
And lat us don to May som observaunce.'
`A! God forbede!' quod she. `Be
Is that a widewes lyf, so god you save?
115 By god, ye maken me right sore a-drad,
Ye ben so wilde, it semeth as ye rave!
It sete me wel bet ay in a cave
To bidde, and rede on holy seyntes lyves;
Lat maydens gon to daunce, and yonge wyves.'
120 `As ever thryve I,' quod this Pandarus,
`Yet coude I telle a thing to doon you pleye.'
`Now, uncle dere,' quod she, `tel it us
For goddes love; is than the assege aweye?
I am of Grekes so ferd that I deye.'
125 `Nay, nay,' quod he, `as ever mote I thryve!
It is a thing wel bet than swiche fyve.'
Having awoken her curiosity, Pandare refuses to tell her
Instead, he casually turns the conversation to Hector and Troilus,
them for their valor. She agrees with him. At last, when they
are alone, he pursues his plan, telling her that she is very fortunate,
arousing her curiosity. He tells her of Troilus's feelings.
`Now, nece myn, the kinges dere
The goode, wyse, worthy, fresshe, and free,
Which alwey for to do wel is his wone,
The noble Troilus, so loveth thee,
320 That, bot ye helpe, it wol his bane be.
Lo, here is al, what sholde I more seye?
Doth what yow list, to make him live or deye.
`But if ye lete him deye, I wol
Have her my trouthe, nece, I nil not lyen;
325 Al sholde I with this knyf my throte kerve --'
With that the teres braste out of his yen,
And seyde, `If that ye doon us bothe dyen,
Thus giltelees, than have ye fisshed faire;
What mende ye, though that we bothe apeyre?
330 `Allas! He which that is my lord so dere,
That trewe man, that noble gentil knight,
That nought desireth but your freendly chere,
I see him deye, ther he goth up-right,
And hasteth him, with al his fulle might,
335 For to be slayn, if fortune wol assente;
Allas! That god yow swich a beautee sente!
`If it be so that ye so cruel be,
That of his deeth yow liste nought to recche,
That is so trewe and worthy, as ye see,
340 No more than of a Iapere or a wrecche,
If ye be swich, your beautee may not strecche
To make amendes of so cruel a dede;
Avysement is good bifore the nede.
`Wo worth the faire gemme vertulees!
345 Wo worth that herbe also that dooth no bote!
Wo worth that beautee that is routhelees!
Wo worth that wight that tret ech under fote!
And ye, that been of beautee crop and rote,
If therwith-al in you ther be no routhe,
350 Than is it harm ye liven, by my trouthe!
Crisseyde's response is not very positive:
And she bigan to breste a-wepe
And seyde, `Allas, for wo! Why nere I deed?
410 For of this world the feith is al agoon!
Allas! What sholden straunge to me doon,
Whan he, that for my beste freend I wende,
Ret me to love, and sholde it me defende?
`Allas! I wolde han trusted, doutelees,
415 That if that I, thurgh my disaventure,
Had loved other him or Achilles,
Ector, or any mannes creature,
Ye nolde han had no mercy ne mesure
On me, but alwey had me in repreve;
420 This false world, allas! Who may it leve?
`What? Is this al the Ioye and
al the feste?
Is this your reed, is this my blisful cas?
Is this the verray mede of your beheste?
Is al this peynted proces seyd, allas!
425 Right for this fyn? O lady myn, Pallas!
Thou in this dredful cas for me purveye;
For so astonied am I that I deye!'
Pandare brings presssure to bear. Criseyde begins to yield. He tells her a much changed version of the way in which he learned Troilus's secret, and leaves her. Fortune brings Troilus before her eyes at this crucial moment.
With this he took his leve, and
hoom he wente;
And lord, he was glad and wel bigoon!
Criseyde aroos, no lenger she ne stente,
But straught in-to hir closet wente anoon,
600 And sette here doun as stille as any stoon,
And every word gan up and doun to winde,
That he hadde seyd, as it com hir to minde;
And wex somdel astonied in hir
Right for the newe cas; but whan that she
605 Was ful avysed, tho fond she right nought
Of peril, why she oughte afered be.
For man may love, of possibilitee,
A womman so, his herte may to-breste,
And she nought love ayein, but-if hir leste.
610 But as she sat allone and thoughte thus,
Thascry aroos at skarmish al with-oute,
And men cryde in the strete, `See, Troilus
Hath right now put to flight the Grekes route!'
With that gan al hir meynee for to shoute,
615 `A! Go we see, caste up the latis wyde;
For thurgh this strete he moot to palays ryde;
`For other wey is fro the yate
Of Dardanus, ther open is the cheyne.'
With that com he and al his folk anoon
620 An esy pas rydinge, in routes tweyne,
Right as his happy day was, sooth to seyne,
For which, men say, may nought disturbed be
That shal bityden of necessitee.
This Troilus sat on his baye stede,
625 Al armed, save his heed, ful richely,
And wounded was his hors, and gan to blede,
On whiche he rood a pas, ful softely;
But swych a knightly sighte, trewely,
As was on him, was nought, with-outen faile,
630 To loke on Mars, that god is of batayle.
So lyk a man of armes and a knight
He was to seen, fulfild of heigh prowesse;
For bothe he hadde a body and a might
To doon that thing, as wel as hardinesse;
635 And eek to seen him in his gere him dresse,
So fresh, so yong, so weldy semed he,
It was an heven up-on him for to see.
His helm to-hewen was in twenty
That by a tissew heng, his bak bihinde,
640 His sheld to-dasshed was with swerdes and maces,
In which men mighte many an arwe finde
That thirled hadde horn and nerf and rinde;
And ay the peple cryde, `Here cometh our Ioye,
And, next his brother, holdere up of Troye!'
645 For which he wex a litel reed for shame,
Whan he the peple up-on him herde cryen,
That to biholde it was a noble game,
How sobreliche he caste doun his yen.
Cryseyda gan al his chere aspyen,
650 And leet so softe it in hir herte sinke,
That to hir-self she seyde, `Who yaf me drinke?'
For of hir owene thought she wex
Remembringe hir right thus, `Lo, this is he
Which that myn uncle swereth he moot be deed,
655 But I on him have mercy and pitee;'
And with that thought, for pure a-shamed, she
Gan in hir heed to pulle, and that as faste,
Whyl he and al the peple for-by paste,
And gan to caste and rollen up
660 With-inne hir thought his excellent prowesse,
And his estat, and also his renoun,
His wit, his shap, and eek his gentillesse;
But most hir favour was, for his distresse
Was al for hir, and thoughte it was a routhe
665 To sleen swich oon, if that he mente trouthe.
The narrator comments on the suddenness of her response.
Now mighte som envyous Iangle thus,
`This was a sodeyn love; how mighte it be
That she so lightly lovede Troilus
Right for the firste sighte; ye, pardee?'
670 Now who-so seyth so, mote he never thee!
For every thing, a ginning hath it nede
Er al be wrought, with-outen any drede.
For I sey nought that she so sodeynly
Yaf him hir love, but that she gan enclyne
675 To lyke him first, and I have told yow why;
And after that, his manhod and his pyne
Made love with-inne hir for to myne,
For which, by proces and by good servyse,
He gat hir love, and in no sodeyn wyse.
680 And also blisful Venus, wel arayed,
Sat in hir seventhe hous of hevene tho,
Disposed wel, and with aspectes payed,
To helpen sely Troilus of his wo.
And, sooth to seyn, she nas not al a fo
685 To Troilus in his nativitee;
God woot that wel the soner spedde he.
Now lat us stinte of Troilus a
That rydeth forth, and lat us tourne faste
Un-to Criseyde, that heng hir heed ful lowe,
690 Ther-as she sat allone, and gan to caste
Wher-on she wolde apoynte hir at the laste,
If it so were hir eem ne wolde cesse,
For Troilus, up-on hir for to presse.
The sudden sight of Troilus, unexpected, has convinced her that she should act, but then we are given a long insight into her private thoughts. She goes to bed, and dreams a symbolic dream:
A nightingale, upon a cedre grene,
Under the chambre-wal ther as she lay,
920 Ful loude sang ayein the mone shene,
Paraunter, in his briddes wyse, a lay
Of love, that made hir herte fresh and gay.
That herkned she so longe in good entente,
Til at the laste the dede sleep hir hente.
925 And as she sleep, anoon-right tho hir mette,
How that an egle, fethered whyt as boon,
Under hir brest his longe clawes sette,
And out hir herte he rente, and that a-noon,
And dide his herte in-to hir brest to goon,
930 Of which she nought agroos, ne no-thing smerte,
And forth he fleigh, with herte left for herte.
Pandarus comes to Troilus with news of his mission:
This Pandarus com leping in at
940 And seiyde thus: `Who hath ben wel y-bete
To-day with swerdes, and with slinge-stones,
But Troilus, that hath caught him an hete?'
And gan to Iape, and seyde, `Lord, so ye swete!
944 But rys, and lat us soupe and go to reste;'
And he answerde him, `Do we as thee leste.'
With al the haste goodly that they
They spedde hem fro the souper un-to bedde;
And every wight out at the dore him dighte,
And wher him liste upon his wey him spedde;
950 But Troilus, that thoughte his herte bledde
For wo, til that he herde som tydinge,
He seyde, `Freend, shal I now wepe or singe?'
Quod Pandarus, `Ly stille and lat
And don thyn hood, thy nedes spedde be;
955 And chese, if thou wolt singe or daunce or lepe;
At shorte wordes, thow shal trowe me. --
Sire, my nece wol do wel by thee,
And love thee best, by god and by my trouthe,
But lak of pursuit make it in thy slouthe.
960 `For thus ferforth I have thy work bigonne,
Fro day to day, til this day, by the morwe,
Hir love of freendship have I to thee wonne,
And also hath she leyd hir feyth to borwe.
Algate a foot is hameled of thy sorwe.'
965 What sholde I lenger sermon of it holde?
As ye han herd bifore, al he him tolde.
But right as floures, thorugh the
colde of night
Y-closed, stoupen on hir stalke lowe,
Redressen hem a-yein the sonne bright,
970 And spreden on hir kinde cours by rowe,
Right so gan tho his eyen up to throwe
This Troilus, and seyde, `O Venus dere,
Thy might, thy grace, y-heried be it here!'
And to Pandare he held up bothe
975 And seyde, `Lord, al thyn be that I have;
For I am hool, al brosten been my bondes;
A thousand Troians who so that me yave,
Eche after other, god so wis me save,
Ne mighte me so gladen; lo, myn herte,
980 It spredeth so for Ioye, it wol to-sterte!
`But Lord, how shal I doon, how
shal I liven?
Whan shal I next my dere herte see?
How shal this longe tyme a-wey be driven,
Til that thou be ayein at hir fro me?
985 Thou mayst answere, "A-byd, a-byd," but he
That hangeth by the nekke, sooth to seyne,
In grete disese abydeth for the peyne.'
`Al esily, now, for the love of
Quod Pandarus, `for every thing hath tyme;
990 So longe abyd til that the night departe;
For al so siker as thow lyst here by me,
And god toforn, I wol be there at pryme,
And for thy werk somwhat as I shal seye,
Or on som other wight this charge leye.
995 `For pardee, god wot, I have ever yit
Ben redy thee to serve, and to this night
Have I nought fayned, but emforth my wit
Don al thy lust, and shal with al my might.
Do now as I shal seye, and fare a-right;
1000 And if thou nilt, wyte al thy-self thy care,
On me is nought along thyn yvel fare.
Pandare tells Troilus to write to Criseyde. Pandare brings the letter to Criseyde but she is ashamed to take it. He thrusts it into her bosom and she hurries into her closet to read it. Pandare urges her to write a reply; again she protests but finally consents to write a note. She gives the reply to Pandare, and again Troilus happens to ride by, this time according to Pandare's plan.
And right as they declamed this
Lo, Troilus, right at the stretes ende,
Com ryding with his tenthe some y-fere,
1250 Al softely, and thiderward gan bende
Ther-as they sete, as was his way to wende
To paleys-ward; and Pandare him aspyde,
And seyde, `Nece, y-see who cometh here ryde!
`O flee not in, he seeth us, I
1255 Lest he may thinke that ye him eschuwe.'
`Nay, nay,' quod she, and wex as reed as rose.
With that he gan hir humbly to saluwe
With dreedful chere, and oft his hewes muwe;
And up his look debonairly he caste,
1260 And bekked on Pandare, and forth he paste.
God woot if he sat on his hors
Or goodly was beseyn, that ilke day!
God woot wher he was lyk a manly knight!
What sholde I drecche, or telle of his aray?
1265 Criseyde, which that alle these thinges say,
To telle in short, hir lyked al y-fere,
His persone, his aray, his look, his chere,
His goodly manere, and his gentillesse,
So wel, that never, sith that she was born,
1270 Ne hadde she swich routhe of his distresse;
And how-so she hath hard ben her-biforn,
To god hope I, she hath now caught a thorn,
She shal not pulle it out this nexte wyke;
God sende mo swich thornes on to pyke!
1275 Pandare, which that stood hir faste by,
Felte iren hoot, and he bigan to smyte,
And seyde, `Nece, I pray yow hertely,
Tel me that I shal axen yow a lyte:
A womman, that were of his deeth to wyte,
1280 With-outen his gilt, but for hir lakked routhe,
Were it wel doon?' Quod she, `Nay, by my trouthe!'
`God help me so,' quod he, `ye
sey me sooth.
Ye felen wel your-self that I not lye;
Lo, yond he rit!' Quod she, `Ye, so he dooth!'
1285 `Wel,' quod Pandare, `as I have told yow thrye,
Lat be youre nyce shame and youre folye,
And spek with him in esing of his herte;
Lat nycetee not do yow bothe smerte.'
Troilus reads the note and decides that it is encouraging. He longs for closer contact. Pandare knows that Criseyde is thinking that Troilus can be kept at a distance, that they do not have to meet. He invents a complicated trick to bring them together. He asks Troilus's brother Deiphebus to help Criseyde in a difficulty he says she has; he suggests that he invite her to his house to talk about the matter, and that he askHelen and his brothers to be there too, including Troilus. The he tells Criseyde about the difficulty and suggests she ask Deiphebus to help her. Troilus he tells to go to Deiphebus' house the night before, then pretend to be sick in his room there. All is duly arranged, and Criseyde hears them praising Troilus during the meal. They begin to talk of her problem, and Pandare suggests that she be allowed to tell Troilus about it, adding that they should stay outside since the room is small!.