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From The Monk's Tale, lines 255-294:
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Monk's Tale
lines 295-358: Balthasar


Balthasar

295        His sone which that highte Balthasar,
That heeld the regne after his fader day,
He by his fader koude noght be war,
For proud he was of herte and of array;
And eek an ydolastre he was ay.
300His hye estaat assured hym in pryde;
But Fortune caste hym doun and ther he lay,
And sodeynly his regne gan divide.
295       His son, called Belshazzar, or Balthasar,
Who held the realm after his father's day,
He for his father's fate would not beware,
For proud, he was of heart and of array;
He was a worshipper of idols aye.
300His high estate assured him in his pride.
But Fortune cast him down and there he lay,
And suddenly his kingdom did divide.

A feeste he made unto hise lordes alle
Upon a tyme, and bad hem blithe bee,
305And thanne hise officeres gan he calle,
"Gooth, bryngeth forth the vesseles," quod he,
"Whiche that my fader, in his prosperitee,
Out of the temple of Jerusalem birafte,
And to oure hye goddes thanke we
310Of honour, that oure eldres with us lafte."
A feast he made unto a thousand lords,
Upon a time, and bade them merry be.
305Then to his officers he said these words:
"Go fetch me forth the vessels all," said he,
"Of which my father, in prosperity,
The temple in Jerusalem bereft,
And unto our high gods give thanks that we
310Retain the honour that our elders left."

Hys wyf, hise lordes, and hise concubynes
Ay dronken, whil hire appetites laste,
Out of thise noble vessels sondry wynes.
And on a wal this kyng hise eyen caste,
315And saugh an hand armlees that wroot ful faste,
For feere of which he quook and siked soore.
This hand, that Balthasar so soore agaste,
Wroot Mane, techel, phares, and na moore.
His wife, his lords, and all his concubines,
They drank then, while that mighty feast did last,
Out of those noble vessels sundry wines.
But on a wall this king his eyes did cast
315And saw an armless hand that wrote full fast,
For fear whereof he shook with trouble sore.
This hand that held Belshazzar so aghast
Wrote Mene, mene, tekel, and no more.

In al that land magicien was noon
320That koude expounde what this lettre mente.
But Daniel expowned it anon,
And seyde, "Kyng, God to thy fader lente
Glorie and honour, regne, tresour, rente;
And he was proud, and nothyng God ne dradde,
325And therfore God greet wreche upon hym sente,
And hym birafte the regne that he hadde.
In all that land magician was there none
320Who could explain what thing this writing meant;
But when they sent for Daniel it was done,
Who said: "O king, God to your father lent
Glory and honour, treasure, government,
And he was proud, nor feared God, being mad,
325Wherefore Lord God great misery on him sent,
And him bereft of all the realm he had.

He was out-cast of mannes compaignye,
With asses was his habitacioun,
And eet hey as a beest in weet and drye,
330Til that he knew by grace and by resoun
That God of hevene hath domynacioun
Over every regne and every creature,
And thanne hadde God of hym compassioun
And hym restored his regne and his figure.
"He was cast out of human company;
With asses was his habitation known;
He ate hay like a beast, through wet and dry,
330Until he learned, by grace and reason shown,
That Heaven's God has dominion, up and down,
Over all realms and everything therein;
And then did God to him compassion own
And gave him back his kingdom and his kin.

335 Eek thou that art his sone art proud also,
And knowest alle thise thynges verraily,
And art rebel to God and art his foo.
Thou drank eek of hise vessels boldely,
Thy wyf eek, and thy wenches, synfully
340Dronke of the same vessels sondry wynys,
And heryest false goddes cursedly;
Therfore to thee yshapen ful greet pyne ys.
335"Now you, who are his son, are proud also,
Though you knew all these things, aye verily;
You are a rebel and you are God's foe.
You drank from out His vessels boastfully;
Your wife and all your wenches sinfully
340Drank from those sacred vessels sundry wines,
And praised false gods, and hailed them, wickedly;
Whereof toward you the wrath of God inclines.

This hand was sent from God, that on the wal
Wroot Mane, techel, phares, truste me!
345Thy regne is doon, thou weyest noght at al,
Dyvyded is thy regne, and it shal be
To Medes and to Perses yeve," quod he.
And thilke same nyght this kyng was slawe
And Darius occupieth his degree,
350Thogh he therto hadde neither right ne lawe.
"That hand was sent from God which on the wall
Wrote Mene, mene, tekel. Oh, trust me,
345Your reign is done, you have no worth at all,
Divided is your realm, and it shall be
To Medes and Persians given now," said he.
And that night went the king to fill death's maw,
And so Darius took his high degree,
350Though he thereto had naught of right in law.

Lordynges, ensample heerby may ye take
How that in lordshipe is no sikernesse;
For whan Fortune wole a man forsake,
She bereth awey his regne and his richesse,
355And eek hise freendes, bothe moore and lesse,
For what man that hath freendes thurgh Fortune
Mishap wol maken hem enemys, as I gesse;
This proverbe is ful sooth and ful commune.
Masters, therefrom a moral may you take,
That in dominion is no certainness;
For when Fortune will any man forsake,
She takes his realm and all he may possess,
355And all his friends, too, both the great and less;
For when a man has friends that Fortune gave,
Mishap but turns them enemies, as I guess:
This word is true for king as well as slave.




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From The Monk's Tale, lines 359-486:
Cenobia
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