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Chanticleer and the Fox
WHEN that the month in which the world began, That highté March, when God first makéd man, Was complete, and ypasséd were also Sithen March ended thirty days and two, Befell that Chanticleer in all his pride, His seven wivés walking him beside, Cast
his eyen to the brighté sun,
But suddenly him fell a sorr'ful case,
Now every wise man let him hearken me:
That women hold in full great reverence.
A col fox, full of sly iniquity,
O falsé murderer! rucking in thy den, O newé Scariot, newé Ganelon! O false dissimuler, O Greek Sinon! That broughtest Troy all utterly to sorrow. O Chanticleer! accurséd be the morrow That thou into thy yard flew from the beams; Thou were full well ywarnéd by thy dreams That thilké day was perilous to thee: But what that God forewot must needés be, After the opinión of certain clerkés, Witness on him that any perfect clerk is, That in schoolé is great altercation In this mattére and great disputison, And hath been of a hundred thousand men: But I ne cannot boult it to the bren, As can the holy Doctor Augustin, Or Boece, or the Bishop Bradwardin, Whether that Goddés worthy foreweeting Straineth me needly for to do a thing,
(Needély clepe I simple necessity)
Fair in the sand, to bathe her merrily,
And so befell that as he cast his eye
But cried anon,
Cok! cok!” and up he start As man that was affrayéd in his heart; For naturally a beast desireth flee From his contráry if he may it see, Though he ne'er erst had seen it with his eye.
This Chanticleer, when he 'gan him espy, He would have fled, but that the fox anon Said, “Gentle sir, alas! what will ye done? Be ye afraid of me, that am your friend? Now certés I were worse than any fiend If I to you would harm or villainy. I am not come your counsel to espy, But truély the cause of my coming Was only for to hearken how ye sing, For truély ye have as merry a steven As any angel hath that is in heaven; Therwith ye have of music more feeling Than had Boece, or any that can sing. My Lord, your father, (God his soulé bless!) And eke your mother of her gentleness, Have in my house ybeen, to my great ease, And certés, sir, full fain would I you please. But for men speak of singing, I will say, (So may I brouken well mine eyen tway,) Save you, ne heard I never man so sing As did your father in the morrowning; Certés it was of heart all that he sung; And for to make his voice the moré strong, He would so pain him, that with both his eyen He musté wink, so loud he wouldé crien, And standen on his tiptoes therewithal, And stretchen forth his necké long and small.