The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  The Knight’s Tale Part Four

page The Knight’s Tale Part Four: Page 16

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By processe and by lengthe of certeyn yeres
Al stinted is the moorning and the teres
Of Grekes, by oon general assent.
Than semed me ther was a parlement
At Athenes, upon certeyn poynts and cas;
490Among the whiche poynts y-spoken was
To have with certeyn contrees alliaunce,
And have fully of Thebans obeisaunce.
For which this noble Theseus anon
Leet senden after gentil Palamon,
Unwist of him what was the cause and why;
But in his blake clothes sorwefully
He cam at his comaundement in hye.
Tho sente Theseus for Emelye.
Whan they were set, and hust was al the place,
500And Theseus abiden hadde a space
Er any word cam from his wyse brest,
His eyen sette he ther as was his lest,
And with a sad visage he syked stille,
And after that right thus he seyde his wille.
Well, several years passed, enough so that the most painful memories of Arcite’s death had begun to pass too. And around this time it just so happened that the Athenian nobles had gotten together to talk about politics and affairs of state. They talked about the need to make new alliances, particularly an alliance with Thebes so that there wouldn’t be war between the two kingdoms. An idea dawned on Theseus, and he immediately sent for Palamon to visit him in the palace. Palamon wasn’t sure why Theseus had summoned him, but he went to Athens, still wearing black mourning clothes. Theseus also asked Emily to come see him. After both Palamon and Emily had arrived and had been quieting sitting with Theseus for awhile, Theseus sadly said:
‘The firste moevere of the cause above,
Whan he first made the faire cheyne of love,
Greet was theffect, and heigh was his entente;
Wel wiste he why, and what ther-of he mente;
For with that faire cheyne of love he bond
510The fyr, the eyr, the water, and the lond
In certeyn boundes, that they may nat flee;
That same prince and that moevere,’ quod he,
‘Hath stablissed, in this wrecched world adoun,
Certeyne dayes and duracioun
To al that is engendred in this place,
Over the whiche day they may nat pace,
Al mowe they yet tho dayes wel abregge;
Ther needeth non auctoritee allegge,
For it is preved by experience,
520But that me list declaren my sentence.
Than may men by this ordre wel discerne,
That thilke moevere stable is and eterne.
Wel may men knowe, but it be a fool,
That every part deryveth from his hool.
For nature hath nat take his beginning
Of no partye ne cantel of a thing,
But of a thing that parfit is and stable,
Descending so, til it be corrumpable.
And therfore, of his wyse purveyaunce,
530He hath so wel biset his ordinaunce,
That speces of thinges and progressiouns
Shullen enduren by successiouns,
And nat eterne be, with-oute lye:
This maistow understonde and seen at eye.
“The Maker first created the chain of love to bind the heavens and the earth together, the water and the fire and the air, and it was good. That same Maker, however, has put death and suffering in the world too, which place limitations on what we can and cannot do. You don’t need to read books to teach you all this—experience alone does that. Well, the Maker is eternal, and anyone who pays attention can see that everything is part of something bigger because nature didn’t come from nothing, you know. Ah, listen to me babble: What I’m trying to say is that something comes from everything, even the worst events.