The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  The Knight’s Tale Part Three

page The Knight’s Tale Part Three: Page 10

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‘Faireste of faire, o lady myn, Venus,
Doughter to Iove and spouse of Vulcanus,
Thou glader of the mount of Citheroun,
For thilke love thou haddest to Adoun,
Have pitee of my bittre teres smerte,
And tak myn humble preyer at thyn herte.
Allas! I ne have no langage to telle
Theffectes ne the torments of myn helle;
Myn herte may myne harmes nat biwreye;
350I am so confus, that I can noght seye.
But mercy, lady bright, that knowest weel
My thought, and seest what harmes that I feel,
Considere al this, and rewe upon my sore,
As wisly as I shal for evermore,
Emforth my might, thy trewe servant be,
And holden werre alwey with chastitee;
That make I myn avow, so ye me helpe.
I kepe noght of armes for to yelpe,
Ne I ne axe nat to-morwe to have victorie,
360Ne renoun in this cas, ne veyne glorie
Of pris of armes blowen up and doun,
But I wolde have fully possessioun
Of Emelye, and dye in thy servyse;
Find thou the maner how, and in what wyse.
I recche nat, but it may bettre be,
To have victorie of hem, or they of me,
So that I have my lady in myne armes.
For though so be that Mars is god of armes,
Your vertu is so greet in hevene above,
370That, if yow list, I shal wel have my love,
Thy temple wol I worshipe evermo,
And on thyn auter, wher I ryde or go,
I wol don sacrifice, and fyres bete.
And if ye wol nat so, my lady swete,
Than preye I thee, to-morwe with a spere
That Arcita me thurgh the herte bere.
Thanne rekke I noght, whan I have lost my lyf,
Though that Arcita winne hir to his wyf.
This is theffect and ende of my preyere,
380Yif me my love, thou blisful lady dere.’
“My lady Venus, most beautiful of all the gods, daughter of Jupiter and wife of Vulcan, keeper of Mt. Cytheria, hear my prayers. There are no words to describe how much I’ve suffered for love these past years, and there’s nothing I can really ask except for your pity and mercy. I will always be your humble servant and will do everything in my power to serve you if you help me tomorrow. I’ll always pray at your temples and make sacrifices to you all the time, no matter where I am, for the rest of my life. I’m not going to brag about my abilities on the battlefield, and I’m not even asking you to help me win or to turn me into a famous warrior tomorrow. I don’t care whether I win or lose. All I want is Emily. I could pray to Mars, the god of war, to bless me and help me win, but I know that the power of love is greater and that I’ll have Emily if you help make it happen. Please find a way to help make this happen. And if you can’t give me Emily, then please just let Arcite kill me with his spear. When I’m dead I won’t feel this pain anymore and won’t care whether Arcite marries Emily. Please help me if you can, my lady.”