Previous Previous:
From The Clerk's Tale, lines 78-84:
Lord Walter is not married
Previous
Librarius Homepage
© Librarius
All rights reserved.



From The Canterbury Tales:
The Clerk's Tale
lines 85-140: Lord Walter's subjects ask him to marry


85        Oonly that point his peple bar so soore,
That flokmeele on a day they to hym wente,
And oon of hem, that wisest was of loore -
Or elles that the lord best wolde assente,
That he sholde telle hym what his peple mente,
90Or elles koude he shewe wel swich mateere -
He to the markys seyde as ye shul heere:
85       That point alone his people felt so sore
That in a flock one day to him they went,
And one of them, the wisest in all lore,
Or else because the lord would best consent
That he should tell him what the people meant,
90Or else that he could make the matter clear,
He to the marquis spoke as you shall hear:

       "O noble Markys, youre humanitee
Asseureth us, and yeveth us hardinesse,
As ofte as tyme is of necessitee
95That we to yow mowe telle oure hevynesse.
Accepteth, lord, now for youre gentillesse
That we with pitous herte unto yow pleyne,
And lat youre eres nat my voys desdeyne.
       "O noble marquis, your humanity
Assures us, aye, and gives us hardiness
As often as there is necessity
95That we to you may tell our heaviness.
Accept, lord, now of your great nobleness
That we with sincere hearts may here complain,
Nor let your ears my humble voice disdain.

       Al have I noght to doone in this mateere
100Moore than another man hath in this place;
Yet for as muche as ye, my lord so deere,
Han alwey shewed me favour and grace,
I dar the bettre aske of yow a space
Of audience to shewen oure requeste,
105And ye, my lord, to doon right as yow leste.
       Though I have naught to do in this matter
100More than another man has in this place,
Yet for as much as you, most honoured sir,
Have always showed me favour and much grace,
I dare the more to ask of you a space
Of audience, to set forth our request,
105And you, my lord, will do as you like best.

       For certes, lord, so wel us liketh yow
And al youre werk, and evere han doon that we
Ne koude nat us-self devysen how
We myghte lyven in moore felicitee,
110Save o thyng, lord, if it youre wille be,
That for to been a wedded man yow leste,
Thanne were youre peple in sovereyn hertes reste.
       For truly, lord, so well do we like you
And all your works (and ever have), that we-
We could not, of ourselves, think what to do
To make us live in more felicity,
110Except one thing, lord, and if your will it be,
That to be wedded man you hold it best,
Then were your people's hearts at utter rest.

       Boweth youre nekke under that blisful yok
Of soveraynetee, noght of servyse,
115Which that men clepeth spousaille or wedlock;
And thenketh, lord, among youre thoghtes wyse
How that oure dayes passe in sondry wyse,
For thogh we slepe, or wake, or rome, or ryde,
Ay fleeth the tyme, it nyl no man abyde.
       But bow your neck beneath that blessed yoke
Of sovereignty and not of hard service,
115The which men call espousal or wedlock;
And pray think, lord, among your thoughts so wise,
How our days pass and each in different guise;
For though we sleep or wake or roam or ride,
Time flies, and for no man will it abide.

120        And thogh youre grene youthe floure as yit,
In crepeth age alwey, as stille as stoon,
And deeth manaceth every age, and smyt
In ech estaat, for ther escapeth noon;
And al so certein as we knowe echoon
125That we shul deye, as uncerteyn we alle
Been of that day, whan deeth shal on us falle.
120
       And though your time of green youth flower as yet,
Age creeps in always, silent as a stone;
Death threatens every age, nor will forget
For any state, and there escapes him none:
And just as surely as we know, each one,
125That we shall die, uncertain are we all
What day it is when death shall on us fall.

       Accepteth thanne of us the trewe entente
That nevere yet refuseden thyn heeste;
And we wol, lord, if that ye wole assente,
130Chese yow a wyf in short tyme atte leeste,
Born of the gentilleste and of the meeste
Of al this land, so that it oghte seme
Honour to God, and yow, as we kan deeme.
       Accept then of us, lord, the true intent,
That never yet refused you your behest,
And we will, lord, if you will give consent,
130Choose you a wife without delay, at least,
Born of the noblest blood and the greatest
Of all this land, so that it ought to seem
Honour to God and you, as we shall deem.

       Delivere us out of al this bisy drede,
135And taak a wyf for hye Goddes sake,
For if it so bifelle, as God forbede,
That thurgh your deeth your lyne sholde slake,
And that a straunge successour sholde take
Youre heritage, o wo were us alyve!
140Wherfore we pray you hastily to wyve."
       Deliver us from all our constant dread
135And take yourself a wife, for High God's sake;
For if it so happens, which God forbid,
That by your death your noble line should break
And that a strange successor should come take
Your heritage, woe that we were alive!
140Wherefore we pray you speedily to wive."





Next Next:
From The Clerk's Tale, lines 141-161:
Lord Walter consents to marriage
Next