The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

Original Text

Modern Text

The grete tour, that was so thikke and strong,
Which of the castel was the chief dongeoun,
200(Ther-as the knightes weren in prisoun,
Of whiche I tolde yow, and tellen shal)
Was evene Ioynant to the gardin-wal,
Ther as this Emelye hadde hir pleyinge.
Bright was the sonne, and cleer that morweninge,
And Palamon, this woful prisoner,
As was his wone, by leve of his gayler,
Was risen, and romed in a chambre on heigh,
In which he al the noble citee seigh,
And eek the gardin, ful of braunches grene,
210Ther-as this fresshe Emelye the shene
Was in hir walk, and romed up and doun.
This sorweful prisoner, this Palamoun,
Goth in the chambre, roming to and fro,
And to him-self compleyning of his wo;
That he was born, ful ofte he seyde, ‘alas!’
And so bifel, by aventure or cas,
That thurgh a window, thikke of many a barre
Of yren greet, and square as any sparre,
He caste his eye upon Emelya,
220And ther-with-al he bleynte, and cryde ‘a!’
As though he stongen were unto the herte.
And with that cry Arcite anon up-sterte,
And seyde, ‘Cosin myn, what eyleth thee,
That art so pale and deedly on to see?
Why crydestow? who hath thee doon offence?
For Goddes love, tak al in pacience
Our prisoun, for it may non other be;
Fortune hath yeven us this adversitee.
Som wikke aspect or disposicioun
230Of Saturne, by sum constellacioun,
Hath yeven us this, al-though we hadde it sworn;
So stood the heven whan that we were born;
We moste endure it: this is the short and pleyn.’
Now, Arcite and Palamon were locked away at the top of a thick, strong dungeon tower, from which they could see the entire city below. It also happened to be next to the garden, where Emily was singing and picking flowers. It was a bright, clear sunny day, and Palamon, as usual, was pacing back and forth, feeling sorry for himself and wishing he’d never been born. And by chance, Palamon caught a glimpse of Emily through the thick bars of a tower window. He went pale and cried out as though he’d been stabbed in the heart. Arcite jumped up at the sound and rushed to Palamon, saying “Cousin, what’s wrong? You’re pale and look half dead. Why’d you cry out? Did someone hurt you? For the love of God, you know we can’t do anything about being in this prison. That’s just the way it is. Fortune has given us this fate, as has the god Saturn, who aligned the stars in the sky against us. This was our destiny from the moment we were born, and it would have turned out this way even if we had done everything in our lives differently. We just have to endure our imprisonment. It’s as simple as that.”