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Benigne he was, and wonder1 diligent,
And swiche he was yprevéd often2 sithes.
And lette 10 his shepe acombred11 in the mire,
(1) Wonder-wonderfully. (2) Ypreved often, &c.-Proved often since. (3) Yeven-give. (4) Suffisance-sufficiency. (5) Mischief-trouble. (6) Moche and lite-great and small. (7) Yaf-gave. (8) Foule-soiled, defiled. (9) Lewed-ignorant; connected with low. (10) Lette-left. (11) Acombredencumbered. (12) Chanterie-a singing for souls, an endowment for that purpose. (13) Or with, &c.-Or be kept from the world with a brotherhood of monks, or friars. (14) Dispitous-inexorable, angry to excess. (15) Dangerous-(16) Digne-proud, disdainful.
But it were1 any persone obstinat,
Him wolde he snibben sharply for the nonés.3
THE TALE OF THE ENCHANTED STEED.6
AT Sarra, in the lond of Tartarie,
Ther dwelt a king that werreièd' Russie,
(1) But it were-But if there were. (2) Snibben-snub, reprove. (3) For the nones-for the occasion, implying that he did not generally reprove sharply. (4) Non-no one. (5) Spiced conscience—a conscience embalmed in sophistries. (6) This romantic story-usually called "the Squire's Tale "-seems to have been a favourite with Milton, who in the "Il Penseroso" characterizes Chaucer
"Him that left half-told
The story of Cambuscan bold,
And who had Canace to wife,
That owned the virtuous ring and glass,
And of the wondrous horse of brass,
On which the Tartar king did ride."
"The imagination," says Warton ("History of English Poetry," § xv), "of this story, consists in Arabian fiction, engrafted on Gothic chivalry."
The story, as above intimated, is in the original only "half told," but to fit it for this selection, the fragment has been somewhat abridged-the part left out however being a wearisome specimen of that "tediousness" which even Chaucer, sometimes "bestows" upon his readers.
(7) Werreied--made war against. (8) Thurgh-through. belongeth.
(10) As of the secte, &c.-As suitable to the rank in life to which he (11) Lay-law, that which is laid down, as saw is that which is said. (12) Yliche-alike, the same.
Trewe of his word, benigne and honouràble;
Yong, fresh, and strong; in armés desiroùs,
A faire person he was, and fortunate,
That ther n' as no wher swiche another man.
A daughter had this worthy king also,
Phebus the sonne ful jolif was and clere,
For he was nigh his exaltation
Ful lusty 10 was the wether, and benigne ;
Hem semed 13 han gatten hem protections
(1) Real-royal, from the Latin regalis. (2) Highte-was called. lieth. (4) Rethor-rhetorician, one highly skilled in composition. knew. (6) Longing for, &c.-Belonging to that art. (7) Mote-must. the feste, &c.-Ordered the feast of his nativity to be proclaimed. of March-the 15th day, by the Roman computation. inspiriting. (11) Again-against, in front of. (13) Hem semed, &c.-i. e. they seemed to have got, &c.
(3) Lith(5) Coude
(8) Let (9) Idus
(10) Lusty-vigorous, (12) Affections---gratitude.
Again the swerd' of winter kene and cold.
With diademe, ful high in his paleìs;
And so befell, that after the thriddes cours,
Ther came a knight upon a stede of bras,
This strangé knight that come thus sodenly
Al arméd, save his hed, ful richély,
(1) Swerd sword. (2) Deis-dais, the elevated part of an ancient dining hall,
(3) Holt-held. (4) Hir (5) Heronseues-young herons. (7) It is prime, either means,
where the principal persons sat under a canopy. strange sewes-their strange or dainty dishes. (6) Recche of it, &c.-Reck, or care for it very little. it is now the first quarter of the day (or early in the morning), and therefore I must be quicker with my story; or it is used metaphorically for the season of action and business.
or, among his nobility.
(9) In his nobley-in his splendour,
With so high reverence and òbservance,
He sayd: "The King of Arabie and of Inde,
And sendeth you, in honour of your feste,
(This is to sayn, in four and twenty houres),
Beren your body into every place,
To which your herté willeth for to pace,9
Withouten wemme of you,10 thurgh foule or faire.
(1) Gawain-a nephew to King Arthur, and described as a model of knightly courtesy. (2) And for, &c.-And in order that his tale, &c. (3) Chereappearance, the expression of his countenance. (4) Lere-learn; hence the noun, lore. (5) Stile-the two words thus written above, and given as rhymes, are of different origin-the former is from the Latin stylus, the writing implement of the Romans; the latter from the Anglo-Saxon stigh-el, something raised. (6) Comun entent-the general meaning or scope. (7) If it so be, &c.-If at least I understand it well myself. (8) Heste-command. (9) Pace-pass,
(10) Withouten wemme of you-without spot or any injury to you. (11) Fleen-to fly. (12) Him list-this verb is generally used in old authors, as in the above examples, impersonally. It is the same as lest, used two lines below; its past tense was luste.