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The Canterbury Tales

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Upon that other syde Palamon,
Whan that he wiste Arcite was agon,
Swich sorwe he maketh, that the grete tour
Resouneth of his youling and clamour.
The pure fettres on his shines grete
Weren of his bittre salte teres wete.
‘Allas!’ quod he, ‘Arcita, cosin myn,
Of al our stryf, God woot, the fruyt is thyn.
Thow walkest now in Thebes at thy large,
And of my wo thou yevest litel charge.
Thou mayst, sin thou hast wisdom and manhede,
Assemblen alle the folk of our kinrede,
And make a werre so sharp on this citee,
That by som aventure, or som tretee,
Thou mayst have hir to lady and to wyf,
For whom that I mot nedes lese my lyf.
For, as by wey of possibilitee,
Sith thou art at thy large, of prison free,
And art a lord, greet is thyn avauntage,
More than is myn, that sterve here in a cage.
For I mot wepe and wayle, whyl I live,
With al the wo that prison may me yive,
And eek with peyne that love me yiveth also,
That doubleth al my torment and my wo.’
Ther-with the fyr of Ielousye up-sterte
With-inne his brest, and hente him by the herte
So woodly, that he lyk was to biholde
The box-tree, or the asshen dede and colde.
Tho seyde he; ‘O cruel goddes, that governe
This world with binding of your word eterne,
And wryten in the table of athamaunt
Your parlement, and your eterne graunt,
What is mankinde more unto yow holde
Than is the sheep, that rouketh in the folde?
For slayn is man right as another beste,
And dwelleth eek in prison and areste,
And hath siknesse, and greet adversitee,
And ofte tymes giltelees, pardee!
Palamon, meanwhile, cried and screamed so loudly when he heard that Arcite had escaped that the whole tower shook with his howls, and he shed big, wet, salty tears. “Dammit, Arcite!” he said, “God knows you’ve won our little fight because now you’re free to go back to Thebes, raise an army, attack Athens, and make fair Emily your wife by conquering Theseus or making a peace treaty with him. You’ll go off and forget about me while I rot in this prison, and I’ll lose Emily forever. And I can’t do anything about the fact that I’m locked up and have lost the woman I love except pine away in this tower for the rest of my life.” And with that realization, he became so jealous of Arcite that he burned with rage. “Cruel gods!” he screamed. “You rule the world with such cruel determination by writing the fate of men in stone so that they can’t do anything about it! You make us cower before you, like sheep from a shepherd! All of us—even the innocent men—are doomed to suffer hardships and adversity all our lives. And then we die like every other animal!

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