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The Parliament of Fowls
by
Geoffrey Chaucer (1342 - 1400)
(Middle-english hypertext with glossary, edited by Librarius)


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About The Parliament of Fowls:
The Parliament of Fowls is also known as The "Parlement of Foules", "Parliament of Foules," "Parlement of Briddes," "Assembly of Fowls" or "Assemble of Foules". The poem has 699 lines and has the form of a dream vision of the narrator. The poem is one of the first references to the idea that St. Valentine's Day was a special day for lovers. As the printing press had yet to be invented when Chaucer wrote his works, The Parliament of Fowls has been passed down in fourteen manuscripts (not including manuscripts that are considered to be lost). Scholars generally agree that the poem has been composed in 1381-1382.
The plot is about the narrator who dreams that he passes through a beautiful landscape, through the dark temple of Venus to the bright sunlight. Dame Nature sees over a large flock of birds who are gathered to choose their mates. The birds have a parliamentary debate while three male eagles try to seduce a female bird. The debate is full of speeches and insults. At the end, none of the three eagles wins the female eagle. The dream ends welcoming the coming spring.

In the hypertext below, click on a hyperlinked word.
A translation or explanation appears in the glossary in the frame below.


Here begyneth the Parlement of Foules

   The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne,
Th'assay so hard, so sharp the conqueringe,
The dredful joye alwey that slit so yerne,
Al this mene I by love, that my felynge
5Astonyeth with his wonderful werkynge
So sore y-wis, that whan I on him thinke,
Nat woot I wel wher that I flete or sinke.

For al be that I knowe nat love in dede,
Ne wot how that he quyteth folk hir hyre,
10Yet happeth me ful ofte in bokes rede
Of his miracles, and his cruel yre;
Ther rede I wel he wol be lord and syre,
I dar not seyn, his strokes been so sore,
But God save swich a lord! I can no more.

15Of usage, what for luste what for lore,
On bokes rede I ofte, as I yow tolde.
But wherfor that I speke al this? Nat yore
Agon, hit happed me for to beholde
Upon a boke, was write with lettres olde;
20And ther-upon, a certeyn thing to lerne,
The longe day ful faste I radde and yerne.

For out of olde feldes, as men seith,
Cometh al this newe corn fro yeer to yere;
And out of olde bokes, in good feith,
25Cometh al this newe science that men lere.
But now to purpos as of this matere --
To rede forth hit gan me so delyte,
That al the day me thoughte but a lyte.

This book of which I make of mencioun,
30Entitled was al thus, as I shal telle,
`Tullius of the Dreme of Scipioun.'
Chapitres seven it hadde, of hevene and helle,
And erthe, and soules that therinne dwelle,
Of whiche, as shortly as I can it trete,
35Of his sentence I wol you seyn the grete.

First telleth it, whan Scipion was come
In Affrike, how he mette Massinisse,
That him for joye in armes hath inome.
Than telleth it hir speche and al the blisse
40That was bitwix hem, til the day gan misse;
And how his auncestre, Affrican so dere,
Gan in his slepe that night to him appere.

Than telleth it that, fro a sterry place,
How Affrican hath him Cartage shewed,
45And warned him before of al his grace,
And seyde him, what man, lered other lewed,
That loveth commune profit, wel y-thewed,
He shal unto a blisful place wende,
Ther as joye is that last withouten ende.

50Than asked he, if folk that heer be dede
Have lyf and dwelling in another place;
And African seyde, `Ye, withoute drede,'
And that our present worldes lyves space
Nis but a maner deth, what wey we trace,
55And rightful folk shal go, after they dye,
To hevene; and shewed him the galaxye.

Than shewed he him the litel erthe, that heer is,
At regard of the hevenes quantite;
And after shewed he him the nyne speres,
60And after that the melodye herde he
That cometh of thilke speres thryes thre,
That welle is of musyk and melodye
In this world heer, and cause of armonye.

Than bad he him, syn erthe was so lyte,
65And ful of torment and of harde grace,
That he ne shulde him in the world delyte.
Than tolde he him, in certeyn yeres space,
That every sterre shulde come into his place
Ther it was first; and al shulde out of minde
70That in this worlde is don of al mankinde.

Than prayde him Scipioun to telle him al
The wey to come un-to that hevene blisse;
And he seyde, `Know thy-self first immortal,
And loke ay besily thou werke and wisse
75To commune profit, and thou shalt nat misse
To comen swiftly to that place dere,
That ful of blisse is and of soules clere.

But brekers of the lawe, soth to seyne,
And lecherous folk, after that they be dede,
80Shul alwey whirle aboute th'erthe in peyne,
Til many a world be passed, out of drede,
And than, for-yeven alle hir wikked dede,
Than shul they come unto that blisful place,
To which to comen god thee sende his grace!' --

85The day gan failen, and the derke night,
That reveth bestes from her besinesse,
Birafte me my book for lakke of light,
And to my bedde I gan me for to dresse,
Fulfild of thought and besy hevynesse;
90For bothe I hadde thing which that I nolde,
And eek I ne hadde that thing that I wolde.

But fynally my spirit, at the laste,
For-wery of my labour al the day,
Took rest, that made me to slepe faste,
95And in my slepe I mette, as I lay,
How Affrican, right in the selfe array
That Scipioun him saw before that tyde,
Was comen and stood right at my bedes syde.

The wery hunter, slepinge in his bed,
100To wode ayein his minde goth anoon;
The juge dremeth how his plees ben sped;
The carter dremeth how his cartes goon;
The riche, of gold; the knight fight with his foon;
The seke met he drinketh of the tonne;
105The lover met he hath his lady wonne.

Can I nat seyn if that the cause were
For I had red of Affrican beforn,
That made me to mete that he stood there;
But thus seyde he, `thou hast thee so wel born
110In loking of myn olde book to-torn,
Of which Macrobie roghte nat a lyte,
That somdel of thy labour wolde I quyte!' --

Cytherea! Thou blisful lady swete,
That with thy fyr-brand dauntest whom thee lest,
115And madest me this sweven for to mete,
Be thou my help in this, for thou mayst best;
As wisly as I saw thee north-north-west,
When I began my sweven for to wryte,
So yif me might to ryme and endite!

120This forseid Affrican me hente anon,
And forth with him unto a gate broghte
Right of a parke, walled of grene stoon;
And over the gate, with lettres large y-wroghte,
Ther weren vers y-writen, as me thoghte,
125On eyther halfe, of ful gret difference,
Of which I shal yow sey the pleyn sentence.



`Thorgh me men goon in-to that blisful place
Of hertes hele and dedly woundes cure;
Thorgh me men goon unto the welle of Grace,
130Ther grene and lusty May shal ever endure;
This is the wey to al good aventure;
Be glad, thou reder, and thy sorwe of-caste,
Al open am I. Passe in, and sped thee faste!'

Thorgh me men goon,' than spak that other syde,
135`Unto the mortal strokes of the spere,
Of which Disdayn and Daunger is the gyde,
Ther tre shal never fruyt ne leves bere.
This streem yow ledeth to the sorwful were,
Ther as the fish in prison is al drye;
140Th'eschewing is only the remedye.'

Thise vers of gold and blak y-writen were,
Of whiche I gan a stounde to beholde,
For with that oon encresed ay my fere,
And with that other gan myn herte bolde;
145That oon me hette, that other did me colde,
No wit had I, for errour, for to chese
To entre or flee, or me to save or lese.

Right as, bitwixen adamauntes two
Of even might, a pece of iren y-set,
150That hath no might to meve to ne fro --
For what that on may hale, that other let --
Ferde I; that niste whether me was bet,
To entre or leve, til Affrican my gyde
Me hente, and shoof in at the gates wyde,

155And seyde,`hit stondeth writen in thy face,
Thyn errour, though thou telle it not to me;
But dred the nat to come in-to this place,
For this wryting is nothyng ment by thee,
Ne by noon, but he Loves servaunt be;
160For thou of love hast lost thy tast, I gesse,
As seeke man hath of swete and bitternesse.

But natheles, al-though that thou be dulle,
Yit that thou canst not do, yit mayst thou see;
For many a man that may not stonde a pulle,
165Yit lyketh him at the wrastling for to be,
And demeth yit wher he do bet or he;
And if thou haddest cunning for t'endite,
I shal thee shewen mater of to wryte.'

With that my hand in his he took anon,
170Of which I comfort caughte, and went in faste;
But, lord, so I was glad and wel begoon!
For overal, wher that I myn eyen caste,
Were trees clad with leves that ay shal laste,
Ech in his kinde, of colour fresh and grene
175As emeraude, that joye was to sene.

The bilder ook, and eek the hardy asshe;
The piler elm, the cofre unto careyne;
The boxtree piper; holm to whippes lasshe;
The sayling firr; the cipres, deth to pleyne;
180The sheter ew, the asp for shaftes pleyne;
The olyve of pees, and eek the drunken vyne,
The victor palm, the laurer to devyne.

A gardyn saw I, ful of blosmy bowes,
Upon a river, in a grene mede,
185Ther as swetnesse evermore y-now is,
With floures whyte, blewe, yelowe, and rede;
And colde welle-stremes, no-thing dede,
That swommen ful of smale fisshes lighte,
With finnes rede and scales silver-brighte.

190On every bough the briddes herde I singe,
With voys of aungel in hir armonye,
Som besyed hem hir briddes forth to bringe;
The litel conyes to hir pley gonne hye.
And further al aboute I gan espye
195The dredful roo, the buk, the hert and hinde,
Squerels, and bestes smale of gentil kinde.

Of instruments of strenges in acord
Herde I so pleye a ravisshing swetnesse,
That God, that maker is of al and lord,
200Ne herde never better, as I gesse;
Therwith a wind, unnethe it might be lesse,
Made in the leves grene a noise softe
Acordaunt to the foules songe on-lofte.

The air of that place so attempre was
205That never was grevaunce of hoote ne cold;
Ther wex eek every holsum spyce and gras,
Ne no man may ther wexe seeke ne old;
Yet was ther joye more a thousand fold
Then man can telle; ne never wolde it nighte,
210But ay cleer day to any mannes sighte.

Under a tree, besyde a welle, I say
Cupyde our lord his arwes forge and fyle;
And at his fete his bowe al redy lay,
And wel his doghter tempred al this whyle
215The hedes in the welle, and with hir wyle
She couched hem after as they shulde serve,
Some for to slee, and some to wounde and kerve.

Tho was I war of Plesaunce anon-right,
And of Aray, and Lust, and Curtesye,
220And of the Craft that can and hath the might
To doon by force a wight to do folye --
Disfigurat was she, I nil not lye;
And by him-self, under an oke, I gesse,
Saw I Delyt, that stood with Gentilnesse.

225I saw Beautee, withouten any atyr,
And Youthe, ful of game and jolyte,
Fool-hardinesse, Flatery, and Desyr,
Messagerye, and Mede, and other three --
Hir names shul noght here be told for me --
230And upon pilers grete of jasper longe
I saw a temple of bras y-founded stronge.

Aboute the temple daunceden alway
Wommen y-nowe, of whiche some ther were
Faire of hem-self, and somme of hem were gay;
235In kirtels, al disshevele, wente they there --
That was hir office alway, yeer by yere --
And on the temple, of doves whyte and faire
Saw I sittinge many a hunderede paire.

Before the temple-dore ful sobrely
240Dame Pees sat, with a curteyn in hir hond:
And hir besyde, wonder discretly,
Dame Pacience sitting ther I fond
With face pale, upon an hille of sond;
And aldernext, within and eek with-oute,
245Behest and Art, and of hir folke a route.

Within the temple, of syghes hoote as fyr
I herde a swogh that gan aboute renne;
Which syghes were engendred with desyr,
That maden every auter for to brenne
250Of newe flaume; and wel aspyed I thenne
That al the cause of sorwes that they drye
Com of the bitter goddesse Jalosye.

The god Priapus saw I, as I wente,
Within the temple, in sovereyn place stonde,
255In swich array as whan the asse him shente
With crye by night, and with his sceptre in honde;
Ful besily men gonne assaye and fonde
Upon his hede to sette, of sondry hewe,
Garlondes ful of fresshe floures newe.

260And in a privee corner, in disporte,
Fond I Venus and hir porter Richesse,
That was ful noble and hauteyn of hir porte;
Derk was that place, but afterward lightnesse
I saw a lyte, unnethe it might be lesse,
265And on a bed of golde she lay to reste,
Til that the hoote sonne gan to weste.

Hir gilte heres with a golden threde
Y-bounden were, untressed as she lay,
And naked fro the breste unto the hede
270Men might hir see; and, soothly for to say,
The remenant wel kevered to my pay
Right with a subtil coverchief of Valence,
Ther was no thikker cloth of no defence.

The place yaf a thousand savours swote,
275And Bachus, god of wyn, sat hir besyde,
And Ceres next, that doth of hunger bote;
And, as I seide, amiddes lay Cipryde,
To whom on knees two yonge folkes cryde
To ben hir help; but thus I leet hir lye,
280And ferther in the temple I gan espye

That, in dispyte of Diane the chaste,
Ful many a bowe y-broke heng on the wal
Of maydens, suche as gonne hir tymes waste
In hir servyse; and peynted over al
285Of many a story, of which I touche shal
A fewe, as of Calixte and Athalaunte,
And many a mayde, of which the name I wante;

Semyramus, Candace, and Ercules,
Biblis, Dido, Thisbe, and Piramus,
290Tristram, Isoude, Paris, and Achilles,
Eleyne, Cleopatre, and Troilus,
Silla, and eek the moder of Romulus --
Alle these were peynted on that other syde,
And al hir love, and in what plyte they dyde.

295Whan I was come ayen unto the place
That I of spak, that was so swote and grene,
Forth welk I tho, my-selven to solace.
Tho was I war wher that ther sat a quene
That, as of light the somer-sonne shene
300Passeth the sterre, right so over mesure
She fairer was than any creature.

And in a launde, upon an hille of floures,
Was set this noble goddesse Nature;
Of braunches were hir halles and hir boures,
305Y-wrought after hir craft and hir mesure;
Ne ther nas foul that cometh of engendrure,
That they ne were prest in hir presence,
To take hir doom and yeve hir audience.

For this was on Seynt Valentynes day,
310Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make,
Of every kinde, that men thynke may;
And that so huge a noyse gan they make,
That erthe and see, and tree, and every lake
So ful was, that unnethe was ther space
315For me to stonde, so ful was al the place.

And right as Aleyn, in the Pleynt of Kynde,
Devyseth Nature of aray and face,
In swich array men mighten hir ther finde.
This noble emperesse, ful of grace,
320Bad every foul to take his owne place,
As they were wont alwey fro yeer to yere,
Seynt Valentynes day, to stonden there.

That is to sey, the foules of ravyne
Were hyest set; and than the foules smale,
325That eten as hem nature wolde enclyne,
As worm or thing of whiche I telle no tale;
And water-foul sat loweste in the dale;
But foul that liveth by seed sat on the grene,
And that so fele, that wonder was to sene.

330There mighte men the royal egle finde,
That with his sharpe look perceth the sonne;
And other egles of a lower kinde,
Of which that clerkes wel devysen conne.
Ther was the tyraunt with his fethres donne
335And greye, I mene the goshauk, that doth pyne
To briddes for his outrageous ravyne.

The gentil faucoun, that with his feet distreyneth
The kinges hond; the hardy sperhauk eke,
The quayles foo; the merlion that payneth
340Him-self ful ofte, the larke for to seke;
Ther was the douve, with hir eyen meke;
The jalous swan, ayens his deeth that singeth;
The oule eek, that of deeth the bode bringeth;

The crane the geaunt, with his trompes soune;
345The theef, the chogh; and eek the jangling pye;
The scorning jay; the eles foo, heroune;
The false lapwing, ful of trecherye;
The stare, that the counseyl can biwrey;
The tame ruddok; and the coward kyte;
350The cok, that orloge is of thorpes lyte;

The sparow, Venus sone; the nightingale,
That clepeth forth the fresshe leves newe;
The swalow, mordrer of the flyes smale
That maken hony of floures fresshe of hewe;
355The wedded turtel, with hir herte trewe;
The pecok, with his aungels fethres brighte;
The fesaunt, scorner of the cok by nighte;

The waker goos; the cukkow ever unkinde;
The popiniay, ful of delicasye;
360The drake, stroyer of his owne kinde;
The stork, the wreker of avoutrye;
The hote cormeraunt of glotonye;
The raven wys, the crow with vois of care;
The throstel olde; the frosty feldefare.

365What shulde I seyn? Of foules every kinde
That in this world han fethres and stature,
Men mighten in that place assembled finde
Before the noble goddesse Nature,
And ech of hem did his besy cure
370Benignely to chese or for to take,
By hir acord, his formel or his make.

But to the poynt -- Nature held on hir honde
A formel egle, of shap the gentileste
That ever she among hir werkes fonde,
375The moste benigne and the goodlieste;
In hir was every vertu at his reste,
So ferforth, that Nature hir-self had blisse
To loke on hir, and ofte hir bek to kisse.

Nature, the vicaire of the almighty Lord,
380That hoot, cold, hevy, light, and moist and dreye
Hath knit by even noumbre of acord,
In esy vois began to speke and seye,
`Foules, tak hede of my sentence, I preye,
And, for your ese, in furthering of your nede,
385As faste as I may speke, I wol me spede.

Ye knowe wel how, Seynt Valentynes day,
By my statut and through my governaunce,
Ye come for to chese -- and flee your way --
Your makes, as I prik yow with plesaunce.
390But natheles, my rightful ordenaunce
May I not lete, for al this world to winne,
That he that most is worthy shal beginne.

The tercel egle, as that ye knowen wel,
The foul royal above yow in degree,
395The wyse and worthy, secree, trewe as stel,
The which I formed have, as ye may see,
In every part as it best lyketh me,
It nedeth noght his shap yow to devyse,
He shal first chese and speken in his gyse.

400And after him, by order shul ye chese,
After your kinde, everich as yow lyketh,
And, as your hap is, shul ye winne or lese;
But which of yow that love most entryketh,
God sende him hir that sorest for him syketh.'
405And therwith-al the tercel gan she calle,
And seyde, `my sone, the choys is to thee falle.

But natheles, in this condicioun
Mot be the choys of everich that is here,
That she agree to his eleccioun,
410What-so he be that shulde be hir fere;
This is our usage alwey, fro yeer to yere;
And who so may at this time have his grace,
In blisful tyme he com in-to this place.'

With hed enclyned and with ful humble chere
415This royal tercel spak and taried nought:
`Unto my sovereyn lady, and noght my fere,
I chese, and chese with wille and herte and thought,
The formel on your hond so wel y-wrought,
Whos I am al and ever wol hir serve,
420Do what hir list, to do me live or sterve.

Beseching hir of mercy and of grace,
As she that is my lady sovereyne;
Or let me dye present in this place.
For certes, long may I not live in peyne;
425For in myn herte is corven every veyne;
Having reward only to my trouthe,
My dere herte, have on my wo som routhe.

And if that I to hir be founde untrewe,
Disobeysaunt, or wilful negligent,
430Avauntour, or in proces love a newe,
I pray to you this be my jugement,
That with these foules I be al to-rent,
That ilke day that ever she me finde
To hir untrewe, or in my gilte unkinde.

435And sin that noon loveth hir so wel as I,
Al be she never of love me behette,
Than oghte she be myn thourgh hir mercy,
For other bond can I noon on hir knette.
For never, for no wo, ne shal I lette
440To serven hir, how fer so that she wende;
Sey what yow list, my tale is at an ende.'

Right as the fresshe, rede rose newe
Ayen the somer-sonne coloured is,
Right so for shame al wexen gan the hewe
445Of this formel, whan she herde al this;
She neyther answerde `Wel', ne seyde amis,
So sore abasshed was she, til that Nature
Seyde, `doghter, drede yow noght, I yow assure.'

Another tercel egle spak anoon
450Of lower kinde, and seyde, `that shal nat be;
I love hir bet than ye do, by Seynt John,
Or atte leste I love hir as wel as ye;
And lenger have served hir, in my degree,
And if she shulde have loved for long loving,
455To me allone had been the guerdoninge.

I dar eek seye, if she me finde fals,
Unkinde, Iangler, or rebel in any wyse,
Or Ialous, do me hongen by the hals!
And but I bere me in hir servyse
460As wel as that my wit can me suffyse,
From poynt to poynt, hir honour for to save,
Take she my lyf, and al the good I have.'

The thridde tercel egle answerde tho,
`Now, sirs, ye seen the litel leyser here;
465For every foul cryeth out to been a-go
Forth with his make, or with his lady dere;
And eek Nature hir-self ne wol nought here,
For tarying here, noght half that I wolde seye;
And but I speke, I mot for sorwe deye.

470Of long servyse avaunte I me nothing,
But as possible is me to dye to-day
For wo, as he that hath ben languisshing
Thise twenty winter, and wel happen may
A man may serven bet and more to pay
475In half a yere, al-though it were no more,
Than som man doth that hath served ful yore.

I ne sey not this by me, for I ne can
Do no servyse that may my lady plese;
But I dar seyn, I am hir trewest man
480As to my dome, and feynest wolde hir ese;
At shorte wordes, til that deeth me sese,
I wol ben hires, whether I wake or winke,
And trewe in al that herte may bethinke.'

Of al my lyf, syn that day I was born,
485So gentil plee in love or other thing
Ne herde never no man me beforn,
Who-so that hadde leyser and cunning
For to reherse hir chere and hir speking;
And from the morwe gan this speche laste
490Til dounward drow the sonne wonder faste.

The noyse of foules for to ben delivered
So loude rong, `have doon and let us wende!'
That wel wende I the wode had al to-shivered.
`Come of!' they cryde, `allas! ye wil us shende!
495Whan shal your cursed pleding have an ende?
How shulde a juge eyther party leve,
For yee or nay, with-outen any preve?'

The goos, the cokkow, and the doke also
So cryden, `kek, kek!' `kukkow!' `quek, quek!' hye,
500That thorgh myn eres the noyse wente tho.
The goos seyde, `al this nis not worth a flye!
But I can shape hereof a remedye,
And I wol sey my verdit faire and swythe
For water-foul, who-so be wrooth or blythe.'

505`And I for worm-foul,' seyde the fool cukkow,
`For I wol, of myn owne auctorite,
For comune spede, take the charge now,
For to delivere us is gret charite.'
`Ye may abyde a whyle yet, parde!'
510Seide the turtel, `if hit be your wille
A wight may speke, him were as good be stille.

I am a seed-foul, oon the unworthieste,
That wot I wel, and litel of kunninge;
But bet is that a wightes tonge reste
515Than entermeten him of such doinge
Of which he neyther rede can nor singe.
And who-so doth, ful foule himself acloyeth,
For office uncommitted ofte anoyeth.'

Nature, which that alway had an ere
520To murmour of the lewednes behinde,
With facound voys seide, `hold your tonges there!
And I shal sone, I hope, a counseyl finde
You to delivere, and fro this noyse unbinde;
I juge, of every folk men shal oon calle
525To seyn the verdit for you foules alle.'

Assented were to this conclusioun
The briddes alle; and foules of ravyne
Han chosen first, by pleyn eleccioun,
The tercelet of the faucon, to diffyne
530Al hir sentence, and as him list, termyne;
And to Nature him gonnen to presente,
And she accepteth him with glad entente.

The tercelet seide than in this manere:
`Ful hard were it to preve hit by resoun
535Who loveth best this gentil formel here;
For everich hath swich replicacioun,
That noon by skilles may be broght a-doun;
I can not seen that argumentes avayle;
Than semeth hit ther moste be batayle.'

540`Al redy!' quod these egles tercels tho.
`Nay, sirs!' quod he, `if that I dorste it seye,
Ye doon me wrong, my tale is not y-do!
For sirs, ne taketh noght a-gref, I preye,
It may noght gon, as ye wolde, in this weye;
545Oure is the voys that han the charge in honde,
And to the juges dome ye moten stonde;

`And therfor, pees! I seye, as to my wit,
Me wolde thinke how that the worthieste
Of knighthode, and lengest hath used it,
550Moste of estat, of blode the gentileste,
Were sittingest for hir, if that hir leste;
And of these three she wot hir-self, I trowe,
Which that he be, for it is light to knowe.'

The water-foules han her hedes leyd
555Togeder, and of short avysement,
Whan everich had his large golee seyd,
They seyden soothly, al by oon assent,
How that the goos, with hir facounde gent,
That so desyreth to pronounce our nede,
560Shal telle our tale,' and preyde `God hir spede.'

And for these water-foules tho began
The goos to speke, and in hir cakelinge
She seyde, `Pees! now tak kepe every man,
And herkeneth which a reson I shal bringe;
565My wit is sharp, I love no taryinge;
I seye, I rede him, though he were my brother,
But she wol love him, lat him love another!'

`Lo here a parfit reson of a goos!'
Quod the sperhauk; `never mot she thee!
570Lo, swich it is to have a tonge loos!
Now parde, fool, yet were hit bet for thee
Han holde thy pees, than shewed thy nycete!
It lyth not in his wit nor in his wille,
But sooth is seyd, "a fool can noght be stille."'

575The laughter aroos of gentil foules alle,
And right anoon the seed-foul chosen hadde
The turtel trewe, and gonne hir to hem calle,
And preyden hir to seye the sothe sadde
Of this matere, and asked what she radde;
580And she answerde, that pleynly hir entente
She wolde shewe, and soothly what she mente.

`Nay, God forbede a lover shulde chaunge!'
The turtle seyde, and wex for shame al reed;
`Thogh that his lady ever-more be straunge,
585Yet let him serve hir ever, til he be deed;
For sothe, I preyse noght the gooses reed;
For thogh she deyed, I wolde non other make,
I wol ben hires, til that the deeth me take.'

`Wel bourded!' quod the doke, `by my hat!
590That men shulde alwey loven, causeles,
Who can a resoun finde or wit in that?
Daunceth he mury that is mirthelees?
Who shulde recche of that is recchelees?
Ye, quek!' quod the doke, ful wel and faire,
595`There been mo sterres, God woot, than a paire!'

`Now fy, cherl!' quod the gentil tercelet,
`Out of the dunghil com that word ful right,
Thou canst noght see which thing is wel be-set:
Thou farest by love as oules doon by light,
600The day hem blent, ful wel they see by night;
Thy kind is of so lowe a wrechednesse,
That what love is, thou canst nat see ne gesse.'

Tho gan the cukkow putte him forth in prees
For foul that eteth worm, and seide blyve,
605`So I,' quod he, `may have my make in pees,
I recche not how longe that ye stryve;
Lat ech of hem be soleyn al hir lyve,
This is my reed, syn they may not acorde;
This shorte lesson nedeth noght recorde.'

610`Ye! have the glotoun fild ynogh his paunche,
Than are we wel!' seyde the merlioun;
`Thou mordrer of the heysugge on the braunche
That broghte thee forth, thou rewthelees glotoun!
Live thou soleyn, wormes corrupcioun!
615For no fors is of lakke of thy nature;
Go, lewed be thou, whyl the world may dure!'

`Now pees,' quod Nature, `I comaunde here;
For I have herd al your opinioun,
And in effect yet be we never the nere;
620But fynally, this is my conclusioun,
That she hir-self shal han the eleccioun
Of whom hir list, who-so be wrooth or blythe,
Him that she cheest, he shal hir have as swythe.

For sith it may not here discussed be
625Who loveth hir best, as seide the tercelet,
Than wol I doon hir this favour, that she
Shal have right him on whom hir herte is set,
And he hir that his herte hath on hir knet.
Thus juge I, Nature, for I may not lye;
630To noon estat I have non other ye.

But as for counseyl for to chese a make,
If it were reson, certes, than wolde I
Counseyle yow the royal tercel take,
As seide the tercelet ful skilfully,
635As for the gentilest and most worthy,
Which I have wroght so wel to my plesaunce;
That to yow oghte been a suffisaunce.'

With dredful vois the formel hir answerde,
`My rightful lady, goddesse of Nature,
640Soth is that I am ever under your yerde,
Lyk as is everich other creature,
And moot be youres whyl that my lyf may dure;
And therfor graunteth me my firste bone,
And myn entente I wol yow sey right sone.'

645`I graunte it you,' quod she; and right anoon
This formel egle spak in this degree,
`Almighty quene, unto this yeer be doon
I aske respit for to avysen me.
And after that to have my choys al free;
650This al and sum, that I wolde speke and seye;
Ye gete no more, al-though ye do me deye.

I wol noght serven Venus ne Cupyde
For sothe as yet, by no manere wey.'
`Now sin it may non other wyse betyde,'
655Quod Nature, `here is no more to sey;
Than wolde I that these foules were a-wey
Ech with his make, for tarying lenger here' --
And seyde hem thus, as ye shul after here.

`To you speke I, ye tercelets,' quod Nature,
660`Beth of good herte and serveth, alle three;
A yeer is not so longe to endure,
And ech of yow peyne him, in his degree,
For to do wel; for, God woot, quit is she
Fro yow this yeer; what after so befalle,
665This entremes is dressed for you alle.'

And whan this werk al broght was to an ende,
To every foule Nature yaf his make
By even acorde, and on hir wey they wende.
And, Lord, the blisse and joye that they make!
670For ech of hem gan other in winges take,
And with hir nekkes ech gan other winde,
Thanking alwey the noble goddesse of kinde.

But first were chosen foules for to singe,
As yeer by yere was alwey hir usaunce
675To singe a roundel at hir departinge,
To do to Nature honour and plesaunce.
The note, I trowe, maked was in Fraunce;
The wordes wer swich as ye may heer finde,
The nexte vers, as I now have in minde.

680Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
That hast this wintres weders over-shake,
And driven awey the longe nightes blake!

`Saynt Valentyn, that art ful hy on-lofte; --
Thus singen smale foules for thy sake --
685Now welcom somer, with thy sonne sonne,
That hast this wintres weders over-shake.

`Wel han they cause for to gladen ofte,
Sith ech of hem recovered hath his make;
Ful blisful may they singen whan they wake;
690Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
That hast this wintres weders over-shake,
And driven away the longe nightes blake.'

And with the showting, whan hir song was do,
That foules maden at hir flight a-way,
695I wook, and other bokes took me to
To rede upon, and yet I rede alway;
In hope, y-wis, to rede so som day
That I shal mete som thing for to fare
The bet; and thus to rede I nil not spare.


Parliamentum avium in die Sancti Valentini tentum secundum Galfridum Chaucer. Deo gracias.

End of "Parliament of Fowles"


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