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From The Canon's Yeoman's Tale, lines 835-874:
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Canon's Yeoman's Tale
lines 875-928: Why is the recipe of the philosopher's stone still a secret?


875        Lo, thus seith Arnold of the Newe Toun,
As his Rosarie maketh mencioun;
He seith right thus, withouten any lye:
"Ther may no man mercurie mortifie
But it be with his brother knowlechyng."
880How be that he which that first seyde this thyng
Of philosophres fader was, Hermes -
He seith how that the dragon, doutelees,
Ne dyeth nat, but if that he be slayn
With his brother; and that is for to sayn,
885By the dragon, Mercurie, and noon oother
He understood, and brymstoon by his brother,
That out of Sol and Luna were ydrawe.
And therfore, seyde he, - taak heede to my sawe -
Lat no man bisye hym this art for to seche,
890But if that he th' entencioun and speche
Of philosophres understonde kan;
And if he do, he is a lewed man.
For this science and this konnyng," quod he,
"Is of the secree of secrees, pardee.
875        Arnold of Villanovana I will cite.
In his Rosarium he brings to light
These facts, and says- in this I do not lie:
"No man can mercury ever mortify,
Unless its brother's aid to it he bring,
880And also he who first did say this thing
Was father of philosophers, Hermes;
He said the dragon, doubtless, takes his ease
And never dies, unless there's also slain
His brother, which, to make the matter plain,
885Means, by the dragon, mercury, none other,
And brimstone's understood to mean the brother,
That out of Sol and Luna we can draw.
And therefore," said he, "give heed to my saw,
Let no man busy him ever with this art
890Unless philosophers to him impart
Their meaning clearly, for unless he can
Their language grasp, he's but an ignorant man.
This science and this learning, too," said he,
"Must ever the most secret secrets be."
895        Also ther was a disciple of Plato,
That on a tyme seyde his maister to,
As his book Senior wol bere witnesse,
And this was his demande in soothfastnesse:
"Telle me the name of the privee stoon?"
895        Also there was a student of Plato
Who on a time said to his master so,
As his book Senior will bear witness;
And this was his demand, in truthfulness:
"Tell me the name, sir, of the Secret Stone."
900        And Plato answerde unto hym anoon,
"Take the stoon that Titanos men name."
       "Which is that?" quod he. "Magnasia is the same,"
Seyde Plato. "Ye, sire, and is it thus?
This is ignotum per ignocius.
905What is Magnasia, good sire, I yow preye?"
       "It is a water that is maad, I seye,
Of elementes foure," quod Plato.
       "Telle me the roote, good sire," quod he tho,
"Of that water, if it be youre wil."
910       "Nay, nay," quod Plato, "certein, that I nyl.
The philosophres sworn were everychoon
That they sholden discovere it unto noon,
Ne in no book it write in no manere.
For unto Crist it is so lief and deere
915That he wol nat that it discovered bee,
But where it liketh to his deitee
Men for t' enspire, and eek for to deffende
Whom that hym liketh; lo, this is the ende.
900        And Plato answered in this wise anon:
"Take, now, the stone that Titanos men name."
       "What's that?" asked he. "Magnesia is the same,"
Plato replied. "Yea, sir, and is it thus?
This is ignotum per ignotius.
905What is magnesia, good sir, I do pray?"
       "It is a water that is made, I say,
Out of four elements,' replied Plato.
       "Tell me the root, good sir," said he, "if so,
What then, is water, tell me if you will."
910       "Nay, nay," said Plato, "and now peace, be still."
Philosophers are sworn, aye, every one,
That they will thus discover it to none,
Nor in a book will write it for men here;
For unto Christ it is so lief and dear
915That He wills that it not discovered be,
Except where it's pleasing to his deity
Man to inspire, and also, to defend
Whom that he will; and lo, this is the end.
       Thanne conclude I thus, sith that God of hevene
920Ne wil nat that the philosophres nevene
How that a man shal come unto this stoon,
I rede, as for the beste, lete it goon.
For whoso maketh God his adversarie,
As for to werken any thyng in contrarie
925Of his wil, certes, never shal he thryve,
Thogh that he multiplie terme of his lyve.
And there a poynt; for ended is my tale.
God sende every trewe man boote of his bale!
       And thus do I conclude, since God in heaven
920Wills that philosophers shall not say even
How any man may come upon that stone,
I say, as for the best, let it alone.
For whoso makes of God his adversary,
To work out anything that is contrary
925To what he wills, he'll surely never thrive,
Though he should multiply while he's alive.
And there's the end; for finished is my tale.
May God's salvation to no good man fail! Amen.


Heere is ended the Chanouns Yemannes Tale






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