The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  The Knight’s Tale Part Two

page The Knight’s Tale Part Two: Page 5

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Whan that Arcite had romed al his fille,
And songen al the roundel lustily,
In-to a studie he fil sodeynly,
As doon thise loveres in hir queynte geres,
Now in the croppe, now doun in the breres,
Now up, now doun, as boket in a welle.
180Right as the Friday, soothly for to telle,
Now it shyneth, now it reyneth faste,
Right so can gery Venus overcaste
The hertes of hir folk; right as hir day
Is gerful, right so chaungeth she array.
Selde is the Friday al the wyke y-lyke.
When Arcite got tired of strolling and singing, he fell into a solemn silence as he began thinking about how much he loved Emily. He grew moody as young people often do when thinking about love. Sometimes he felt great, other times awful, up, down, up, down, like a bucket in a well. Sometimes Venus, the goddess of love, makes it rain. Sometimes she makes it pour. There’s never a dull day when you’re in love.
Whan that Arcite had songe, he gan to syke,
And sette him doun with-outen any more:
‘Alas!’ quod he, ‘that day that I was bore!
How longe, Iuno, thurgh thy crueltee,
190Woltow werreyen Thebes the citee?
Allas! y-broght is to confusioun
The blood royal of Cadme and Amphioun;
Of Cadmus, which that was the firste man
That Thebes bulte, or first the toun bigan,
And of the citee first was crouned king,
Of his linage am I, and his of-spring
By verray ligne, as of the stok royal:
And now I am so caitif and so thral,
That he, that is my mortal enemy,
200I serve him as his squyer povrely.
And yet doth Iuno me wel more shame,
For I dar noght biknowe myn owne name;
But ther-as I was wont to highte Arcite,
Now highte I Philostrate, noght worth a myte.
Allas! thou felle Mars, allas! Iuno,
Thus hath your ire our kinrede al fordo,
Save only me, and wrecched Palamoun,
That Theseus martyreth in prisoun.
And over al this, to sleen me utterly,
210Love hath his fyry dart so brenningly
Y-stiked thurgh my trewe careful herte,
That shapen was my deeth erst than my sherte.
Ye sleen me with your eyen, Emelye;
Ye been the cause wherfor that I dye.
Of al the remenant of myn other care
Ne sette I nat the mountaunce of a tare,
So that I coude don aught to your plesaunce!’
And with that word he fil doun in a traunce
A longe tyme; and after he up-sterte.
Arcite sat down and sighed, “Damn the day I was born! How long are you going to continue punishing the city of Thebes and its people for your husband’s infidelity, Juno? The royal family of Thebes is in complete disarray. Cadmus started the royal line, and I am his direct descendent! And here I am, practically slaving away for Theseus, the sworn enemy of Thebes. And did Juno stop there? No! I can’t even let people know that I’m really Arcite! I have to pass myself off as ‘Philostrato,’ a nobody from nowhere. Dammit Mars, dammit Juno! You’ve completely wrecked the entire house of Thebes except for me and my poor cousin Palamon, who’s still rotting away in that prison. And what’s more, Love has struck me with his arrows. It’s almost like I was fated to suffer before I was even born! You’re killing me, Emily, you’re killing me. Nothing else matters except pleasing you.” And with that, he collapsed in a heap on the ground.