Previous Previous:
From The Knight's Tale, lines 805-837:
Duke Theseus goes hunting
Previous
Librarius Homepage
© Librarius
All rights reserved.



From The Canterbury Tales:
The Knight's Tale
lines 838-883: Duke Theseus interrupts the fight between Arcita and Palamon and learns their true identity


      And whan this duc was come unto the launde,
Under the sonne he looketh, and anon
840He was war of Arcite and Palamon,
That foughten breme, as it were bores two;
The brighte swerdes wenten to and fro
So hidously, that with the leeste strook
It semed as it wolde felle an ook;
845But what they were, nothyng he ne woot.
This duc his courser with his spores smoot,
And at a stert he was bitwix hem two,
And pulled out a swerd, and cride, "Hoo!
Namoore, up peyne of lesynge of youre heed!
850By myghty Mars, he shal anon be deed
That smyteth any strook, that I may seen.
But telleth me what myster men ye been,
That been so hardy for to fighten heere
Withouten juge or oother officere,
855As it were in a lystes roially?"
      And when this duke was come upon that land,
Under the slanting sun he looked, anon,
840And there saw Arcita and Palamon,
Who furiously fought, as two bears do;
The bright swords went in circles to and fro
So terribly, that even their least stroke
Seemed powerful enough to fell an oak;
845But who the two were, nothing did he note.
This duke his courser with the sharp spurs smote,
And in one bound he was between the two,
And lugged his great sword out, and cried out: "Ho!
No more, I say, on pain of losing head!
850By mighty Mars, that one shall soon be dead
Who smites another stroke that I may see!
But tell me now what manner of men ye be
That are so hardy as to fight out here
Without a judge or other officer,
855As if you-rode in lists right royally?"
      This Palamon answerde hastily,
And seyde, "Sire, what nedeth wordes mo?
We have the deeth disserved, bothe two.
Two woful wrecches been we, two caytyves,
860That been encombred of oure owene lyves,
And as thou art a fightful lord and juge,
Ne yeve us neither mercy ne refuge,
But sle me first for seinte charitee!
But sle my felawe eek as wel as me-
865Or sle hym first, for, though thow knowest it lite,
This is thy mortal foo, this is Arcite,
That fro thy lond is banysshed on his heed,
For which he hath deserved to be deed.
For this is he, that cam unto thy gate,
870And seyde that he highte Philostrate.
Thus hath he japed thee ful many a yer,
And thou hast maked hym thy chief Squier,
And this is he that loveth Emelye.
For sith the day is come that I shal dye,
875I make pleynly my confessioun
That I am thilke woful Palamoun,
That hath thy prisoun broken wikkedly.
I am thy mortal foo, and it am I
That loveth so hoote Emelye the brighte,
880That I wol dye present in hir sighte;
Wherfore I axe deeth and my juwise-
But sle my felawe in the same wise
For bothe han we deserved to be slayn."
This Palamon replied, then, hastily,
Saying: "O Sire, what need for more ado?
We have deserved our death at hands of you.
Two woeful wretches are we, two captives
860That are encumbered by our own sad lives;
And as you are a righteous lord and judge,
Give us not either mercy or refuge,
But slay me first, for sacred charity;
But slay my fellow here, as well, with me.
865Or slay him first; for though you learn it late,
This is your mortal foe, Arcita- wait!-
That from the land was banished, on his head.
And for the which he merits to be dead.
For this is he who came unto your gate,
870Calling himself Philostrates- nay, wait!-
Thus has he fooled you well this many a year,
And you have made him your chief squire, I hear:
And this is he that loves fair Emily.
For since the day is come when I must die,
875I make confession plainly and say on,
That I am that same woeful Palamon
Who has your prison broken, viciously.
I am your mortal foe, and it is I
Who love so hotly Emily the bright
880That I'll die gladly here within her sigh!
Therefore do I ask death as penalty,
But slay my fellow with the same mercy,
For both of us deserve but to be slain."




Next Next:
From The Knight's Tale, lines 884-926:
The queen and ladies ask for mercy
Next