Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN: 4. PART 2. THE LEGEND OF MEDEA, by GEOFFREY CHAUCER



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THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN: 4. PART 2. THE LEGEND OF MEDEA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: To colchis comen is this duc jasoun
Last Line: Which were as now to long for me to wryte.


To Colchis comen is this duk Jason,
That is of love devourer and dragoun.
As matere appetyteth forme al-wey,
And from forme in-to forme hit passen may,
Or as a welle that were botomlees,
Right so can fals Jason have no pees [peace].
For, to desyren, through his appetyt,
To doon with gentil wommen his delyt,
This is his lust and his felicitee.
Jason is romed forth to the citee,
That whylom cleped was Jaconitos,
That was the maister-toun of al Colchis,
And hath y-told the cause of his coming
Un-to Oetes, of that contre king,
Preying him that he moste doon his assay
To gete the flees of gold, if that he may;
Of which the king assenteth to his bone,
And doth him honour, as hit is to done,
So ferforth [as far as], that his doghter and his eyr,
Medea, which that was so wys and fair
That fairer saw ther never man with ye,
He made her doon to Jason companye
At mete, and sitte by him in the halle.
Now was Jason a semely man with-alle,
And lyk a lord, and had a greet renoun,
And of his loke as real as leoun,
And goodly of his speche, and famulere,
And coude of love al craft and art plenere
With-oute boke, with everich [every one] observaunce.
And, as fortune her oghte a foul meschaunce,
She wex enamoured upon this man.
"Jason," quod she, "for ought I see or can,
As of this thing the which ye been aboute,
Ye han your-self y-put in moche doute.
For, who-so wol this aventure acheve,
He may nat wel asterten, as I leve,
With-outen deeth, but I his helpe be.
But natheles, hit is my wille," quod she,
"To forthren yow, so that ye shal nat dye,
But turnen, sound, home to your Tessalie."
"My righte lady," quod this Jason tho,
"That ye han of my dethe or of my wo
Any reward, and doon me this honour,
I wot wel that my might ne my labour
May nat deserve hit in my lyves day;
God thanke yow, ther I ne can ne may.
Your man am I, and lowly you beseche,
To been my help, with-oute more speche;
But certes, for my deeth shal I nat spare."
Tho gan this Medea to him declare
The peril of this cas, fro point to point,
And of his batail, and in what disioint
He mote stande, of which no creature,
Save only she, ne mighte is lyf assure.
And shortly, to the point right for to go,
They been accorded ful, betwix hem two,
That Jason shal her wedde, as trewe knight;
And term y-set, to come sone at night
Unto her chambre, and make ther his ooth [oath],
Upon the goddes, that he, for leef ne looth,
Ne sholde her never falsen, night ne day,
To been her husband, whyl he liven may,
As she that from this deeth him saved here.
And her-upon, at night they mette [to dream] y-fere [together],
And doth his ooth [oath], and goth with her to bedde.
And on the mowre [morning], upward he him spedde;
For she hath taught him how he shal nat faile
The flees to winne, and stinten his bataile;
And saved him his lyf and his honour;
And gat him greet name as a conquerour
Right through the sleight of her enchantment.
Now hath Jason the flees, and home is went
With Medea, and tresor ful gret woon.
But unwist of her fader is she goon [proceed]
To Tessaly, with duk Jason her leef,
That afterward hath broght her to mescheef.
For as a traitour he is from her go,
And with her lafte his yonge children two,
And falsly hath betrayed her, allas!
And ever in love a cheef traitour he was;
And wedded yit the thridde [third] wyf anon,
That was the doghter of the kyng Creon.
This is the meed of loving and gwerdone
That Medea received of Jason
Right for her trouthe and for her kindenesse,
That loved him better than her-self, I gesse,
And lafte her fader and her heritage.
And of Jason this is the vassalage,
That, in his dayes, nas ther noon y-founde
So fals a lover going on the grounde.
And therfor in her letter thus she seyde
First, whan she of his falsnesse him umbreyde,
"Why lyked me thy yelow heer to see
More then the boundes of myn honestee,
Why lyked me thy youthe and thy fairnesse,
And of thy tonge the infinit graciousnesse?
O, haddest thou in thy conquest deed y-be,
Ful mikel [much] untrouthe had ther dyed with thee!"
Wel can Ovyde her letter in vers endyte,
Which were as now to long for me to wryte.





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