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Geoffrey Chaucer

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

up

his eyen to the brighté sun,
That in the sign of Taurus had yrun
Twenty degrees and one, and somewhat more:
He knew by kind, and by no other lore,
That it was prime, and crew with blissful steven.
“The sun, he said, is clomben up on heaven
Twenty degrees and one, and more ywis;
Madamé Partelote, my worldés bliss,
Hearkeneth these blissful briddés how they sing,
And see the freshé flow'rés how they spring;
Full is mine heart of revel and solace."

But suddenly him fell a sorr'ful case,
For ever the latter end of joy is woe;
God wot that worldly joy is soon ago;
And if a rethor couldé fair indite,
He in a chronicle might it safely write
As for a soy'reign notability.

Now every wise man let him hearken me:
This story is all so true, I undertake,
As is the book of Lancelot du Lake,

That women hold in full great reverence.
Now will I turn again to my senténce.

A col fox, full of sly iniquity,
That in the grove had wonnéd yearés three,
By high imagination forecast,
The samé night throughout the hedges brast
Into the yard there Chanticleer the fair
Was wont, and eke his wivés, to repair,
And in a bed of wortés still he lay
Till it was passéd undern of the day,
Waiting his time on Chanticleer to fall,
As gladly do these homicidés all
That in await liggen to murder men.

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)
Or ellés if free choice be granted me
To do that same thing or do it naught,
Though God forewot it ere that it was wrought,
Or if his weeting straineth never a deal
But by necessity conditional.
I will not have to do of such mattere;
My Tale is of a cock, as ye may hear,
That took his counsel of his wife, with sorrow,
To walken in the yard upon the morrow
That he had met the dream, as I you told.
Womennés counsels be full often cold;
Womennés counsel brought us first to woe,
And made Adám from Paradise to go,
There as he was full merry and well at ease:
But for I n'ot to whom I might displease
If I counsel of women wouldé blame-
Pass over, for I said it in my game.
Read authors where they treat of such mattere,
And what they say of women ye may hear;
These be the cockés wordés and not mine;
I can none harm of no womán devine.

Fair in the sand, to bathe her merrily,
Li'th Partelote, and all her sisters by,
'Against the sun, and Chanticleer so free
Sang merrier than the mermaid in the sea,
(For Phisiologus sayeth sikerly
How that they singen well and merrily.)

And so befell that as he cast his eye
Among the wortés on a butterfly,
He was 'ware of this fox that lay full low:
Nothing ne list him thenné for to crow,

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.

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