The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  The Knight’s Tale Part Four

page The Knight’s Tale Part Four: Page 7

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This fierse Arcite hath of his helm y-don,
And on a courser, for to shewe his face,
He priketh endelong the large place,
Loking upward upon this Emelye;
And she agayn him caste a freendlich yë,
(For wommen, as to speken in comune,
200They folwen al the favour of fortune),
And she was al his chere, as in his herte.
Out of the ground a furie infernal sterte,
From Pluto sent, at requeste of Saturne,
For which his hors for fere gan to turne,
And leep asyde, and foundred as he leep;
And, er that Arcite may taken keep,
He pighte him on the pomel of his heed,
That in the place he lay as he were deed,
His brest to-brosten with his sadel-bowe.
210As blak he lay as any cole or crowe,
So was the blood y-ronnen in his face.
Anon he was y-born out of the place
With herte soor, to Theseus paleys.
Tho was he corven out of his harneys,
And in a bed y-brought ful faire and blyve,
For he was yet in memorie and alyve,
And alway crying after Emelye.
The victorious Arcite, meanwhile, had ripped off his helmet to show his face to Emily as he galloped across the batteflied. Emily looked down on him with admiration (because women, generally speaking, always favor the winners), which filled his heart with happiness. Suddenly, an earthquake caused by Saturn shook the ground, which caused Arcite’s horse to trip and collapse. Before he had time to react, Arcite slammed into the horn of his saddle, breaking his sternum. He then flew forward so violently that he lay still on the ground just as if he were dead, his face covered completely in blood. Theseus’s men immediately took Arcite to the palace, where they cut off his armor and put him to bed. He was barely alive, but conscious, and cried out continually for Emily.