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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Physician's Tale
lines 1-29: About a knight called Virginius and his wife and daughter


Heere folweth the Phisiciens Tale.

       Ther was, as telleth Titus Livius,
A knyght that called was Virginius,
Fulfild of honour and of worthynesse,
And strong of freendes, and of greet richesse.
5       This knyght a doghter hadde by his wyf,
No children hadde he mo in al his lyf.
Fair was this mayde in excellent beautee
Aboven every wight that man may see.
For Nature hath with sovereyn diligence
10Yformed hir in so greet excellence,
As though she wolde seyn, "Lo, I, Nature,
Thus kan I forme and peynte a creature
Whan that me list; who kan me countrefete?
Pigmalion noght, though he ay forge and bete,
15Or grave, or peynte, for I dar wel seyn
Apelles, Zanzis sholde werche in veyn
Outher to grave or peynte, or forge, or bete,
If they presumed me to countrefete.
For He that is the former principal
20Hath maked me his vicaire general
To forme and peynten erthely creaturis
Right as me list, and ech thyng in my cure is
Under the moone, that may wane and waxe,
And for my werk right nothyng wol I axe.
25My lord and I been ful of oon accord;
I made hire to the worship of my lord,
So do I alle myne othere creatures,
What colour that they han, or what figures."
Thus semeth me that Nature wolde seye.
       There was, as tells us Titus Livius,
A knight whose name was called Virginius,
Fulfilled of honour and of worthiness,
Who many friends and much wealth did possess.
5       This knight had had a daughter by his wife,
Nor children more had he in all his life.
Fair was this virgin, in excellent beauty
Above all others that a man may see;
For Nature had, with sovereign diligence,
10Moulded her to so great an excellence
She seemed to say: "Behold now, I, Nature,
Thus can I form and paint a creature pure
When I desire. Who can it counterfeit?
Pygmalion? Nay, not though he forge and beat,
15Or curve, or paint; and I dare say again,
Apelles, Zeuxis too, should work in vain,
Either to carve or paint, or forge or beat,
If they presumed my work to counterfeit.
For He who is creator principal
20Has made of me His Vicar General
To form and colour earthly creatures all,
Just as I like, for they're mine, great and small
Under the moon, the which may wax and wane;
And for my work I ask no payment vain;
25My lord and I are of one sole accord;
I made her in the worship of my Lord.
So do I other fair or foul creatures,
What colours though they have, or what figures."
It seems to me that Nature thus would say.




Next Next:
From The Physician's Tale, lines 30-71:
The beauty of the knight's daughter
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