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The Canterbury Tales

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330



And with that word his speche faille gan,
For from his feet up to his brest was come
The cold of deeth, that hadde him overcome.
And yet more-over, in his armes two
The vital strengthe is lost, and al ago.
Only the intellect, with-outen more,
That dwelled in his herte syk and sore,
Gan faillen, when the herte felte deeth,
Dusked his eyen two, and failled breeth.
But on his lady yet caste he his yë;
His laste word was, ‘mercy, Emelye!’
His spirit chaunged hous, and wente ther,
As I cam never, I can nat tellen wher.
Therfor I stinte, I nam no divinistre;
Of soules finde I nat in this registre,
Ne me ne list thilke opiniouns to telle
Of hem, though that they wryten wher they dwelle.
Arcite is cold, ther Mars his soule gye;
Now wol I speken forth of Emelye.
And with those last words, Arcite began to lose his voice as death swept over him from the tip of his toes to the top of his head. He lost strength throughout his entire body until all that was left was his consciousness—and even that too failed when his heart finally stopped beating. The light began to leave his eyes and his breath became shallow in the final moments, but he looked toward Emily and managed to speak one last time: “Mercy, Emily.” And then his soul left his body to a place I’ver never been before and can’t really tell you much about. I’m no priest, so I’m not going to waste our time philosophizing about the meaning of death. Arcite died, and Mars, the god of war, took care of his soul.





340



Shrighte Emelye, and howleth Palamon,
And Theseus his suster took anon
Swowninge, and bar hir fro the corps away.
What helpeth it to tarien forth the day,
To tellen how she weep, bothe eve and morwe?
For in swich cas wommen have swich sorwe,
Whan that hir housbonds been from hem ago,
That for the more part they sorwen so,
Or elles fallen in swich maladye,
That at the laste certeinly they dye.
Emily screamed as Arcite passed, while Palamon howled. Theseus took Emily in his arms and pulled her away from Arcite’s body. It wouldn’t be any use for me to tell you how she pined for him all day and all night because you know how it is when women lose their husbands—they mourn and grieve or else wither away and die from sadness.

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