Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN: 4. PART 1. THE LEGEND OF HYPSIPYLE, by GEOFFREY CHAUCER



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THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN: 4. PART 1. THE LEGEND OF HYPSIPYLE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In tessalie, as guido telleth
Last Line: But dyed, for his love, of sorwes [sorrows] smerte.


In Tessalie, as Guido telleth us,
Ther was a king that highte Pelleus,
That had a brother, which that highte Eson;
And, whan for age he mighte unnethes gon,
He yaf to Pelleus the governing
Of al his regne, and made him lord and king.
Of which Eson this Jason geten was,
That, in his tyme, in al that lond, ther nas
Nat swich [such] a famous knight of gentilesse,
Of freedom, and of strengthe and lustinesse.
After his fader deeth, he bar him so
That ther was noon that liste been his fo,
Bud dide him al honour and companye;
Of which this Pelleus hath greet envye,
Imagining that Jason mighte be
Enhaunsed so, and put in swich [such] degree
With love of lordes of his regioun,
That from his regne he may be put adoun.
And in his wit, a-night, compassed he
How Jason mighte best destroyed be
Withoute slaunder of his compasment.
And at the laste he took avisement
To senden him in-to som fer contree
Ther as this Jason may destroyed be.
This was his wit; al made he to Jason
Gret chere of love and of affeccioun,
For drede lest his lordes hti espyde.
So fil hit so, as fame renneth wyde,
Ther was swich [such] tyding over-al and swich [such] los,
That in an yle that called was Colchis,
Beyonde Troye, estward in the see,
That ther-in was a ram, that men mighte see,
That had a flees of gold, that shoon so brighte,
That no-wher was ther swich [such] an-other sighte;
But hit was kept alway with a dragoun,
And many othere merveils, up and doun,
And with two boles, maked el of bras,
That spitten fyr, and moche thing ther was.
But this was eek [also] the tale, nathelees,
That who-so wolde winne thilke [that] flees,
He moste bothe, or he hit winne mighte,
With the boles and the dragoun fighte;
And king Oetes lord was of that yle.
This Pelleus bethoghte upon this wyle;
That he his nevew Jason wolde enhorte
To sailen to that lond, him to disporte,
And seide, "nevew, if hit mighte be
That swich [such] a worship mighte fallen thee,
That thou this famous tresor mightest winne,
And bringen hit my regioun with-inne,
Hit were to me gret plesaunce and honour;
Than were I holde to quyte thy labour.
And al the cost I wol my-selven make;
And chees what folk that thou wilt with thee take;
Lat see now, darstow taken this viage?"
Jason was yong, and lusty of corage,
And under-took to doon this ilke empryse.
Anoon [at once] Argus his shippes gan devyse;
With Jason wente the stronge Hercules,
And many an-other that he with him chees.
But who-so axeth who is with him gon,
Lat him go reden Argonauticon,
For he wol telle a tale long y-now.
Philoctetes anoon [at once] the sail up-drow,
What that the wind was good, and gan him hye
Out of his contree called Tessalie.
So long he sailed in the salte see
Til in the yle Lemnoun aryved he --
Al be this nat rehersed of Guido,
Yet seith Ovyde in his Epistles so --
And of this yle lady was and quene
The faire yonge Isiphilee, the shene,
That whylom Thoas daughter was, the king.
Isipilee was goon [proceed] in her playing;
And, roming on the clyves by the see,
Under a banke anoon [at once] espyed she
Wher that the ship of Jason gan aryve.
Of her goodnesse adoun she sendeth blyve
To witen yif [if] that any straunge wight
With tempest thider were y-blowe a-night,
To doon him socour; as was her usaunce
To forthren every wight, and doon plesaunce
Of veray bountee and of curtesye.
This messagere adoun him gan to hye,
And fond Jason, and Hercules also,
That in a cooge [cock-boat] to londe were y-go
Hem to refresshen and to take the eyr.
The morwening atempre [modest] was and fair;
And in his wey the messagere hem mette [to dream].
Ful cunningly thise lordes two he grette,
And dide his message, axing hem anoon [at once]
Yif [if] they were broken, or oght wo begoon,
Or hadde nede of lodesmen [pilots] or vitaile [provisions];
For of socour they shulde no-thing faile,
For hit was utterly the quenes wille.
Jason answerde, mekely and stille,
"My lady," quod he, "thanke I hertely
Of here goodnesse; us nedeth, trewely,
No-thing as now, but that we wery be,
And come for to pleye, out of the see,
Til that the wind be better in our weye."
This lady rometh by the clif to pleye,
With her meynee, endelong the strand,
And fynt this Jason and this other stonde,
In spekinge of this thing, as I yow tolde.
This Hercules and Jason gan beholde
How that the quene hit was, and faire her grette
Anon-right as they with this lady mette [to dream];
And she took heed, and knew, by here manere,
By here aray, by wordes and by chere,
That hit were gentil-men, of greet degree.
And to the castel with her ledeth she
Thise straunge folk, and doth hem greet honour,
And axeth him of travail and labour
That they han suffred in the salte see;
So that, within a day, or two, or three,
She knew, by folk that in his shippes be,
That hit was Jason, ful of renomee,
And Hercules, that had the grete los,
That soghten the aventures of Colchis;
And dide hem honour more then before,
And with hem deled ever lenger the more,
For they ben worthy folk, with-outen lees.
And namely, most she spak with Hercules;
To him her herte bar, he sholde be
Sad, wys, and trewe, of wordes avisee,
With-outen any other affeccioun
Of love, or evil imaginacioun.
This Hercules hath so this Jason preysed,
That to the sonne he hath him up areysed,
That han so trewe a man ther nas of love
Under the cope of heven that is above;
And he was wys, hardy, secree, and riche. --
Of thise three pointes ther nas noon him liche;
Of freedom passed he, and lustihede,
Alle tho that liven or ben dede;
Ther-to so greet a gentil-man was he,
And of Tessalie lykly king to be.
Ther nas no lak, but that he was agast
To love, and for to speke shamefast.
He hadde lever him-self to mordre, and dye
Than that men shulde a lover him espye: --
"As wolde almighty god that I had yive
My blood and flesh, so that I mighte live,
With the nones that he hadde o-wher a wyf
For his estat; for swich [such] a lusty lyf
She sholde lede with this lusty knight!"
And al this was compassed on the night
Betwixe him Jason and this Hercules.
Of thise two heer was mad a shrewed lees
To come to hous upon an innocent;
For to be-dote this queen was here assent.
And Jason is as coy as is a maide,
He loketh pitously, but noght he saide,
But frely yaf he to her conseileres
Yiftes [gifts] grete, and to her officeres.
As wolde god I leiser hadde, and tyme,
By proces al his wowing for to ryme.
But in this hous if any fals lover be,
Right as him-self now doth, right so dide he,
With feyning and with every sotil dede.
Ye gete no more of me, but ye wil rede
Thoriginal, that telleth al the cas.
The somme is this, that Jason wedded was
Unto this quene, and took of her substaunce
What-so him liste, unto his purveyaunce;
And upon her begat he children two,
And drow his sail, and saw her never-mo.
A letter sente she to him certein,
Which were to long to wryten and to sein,
And him repreveth of his grete untrouthe,
And preyeth him on her to have som routhe.
And of his children two, she seide him this,
That they be lyke, of alle thing, ywis [surely],
To Jason, save they coude nat begyle;
And preyed god, or hit were longe whyle,
That she, that had his herte y-raft [rob] her fro,
Moste finden him to her untrewe al-so,
And that she moste bothe her children spille,
And alle tho that suffreth him his wille.
And trew to Jason was she al her lyf,
And ever kepte her chast, as for his wyf;
Ne never had she joy at her herte,
But dyed, for his love, of sorwes [sorrows] smerte.





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