Book Of The Duchesse

THE PROEM

  I have gret wonder, be this lighte,
  How that I live, for day ne nighte
  I may nat slepe wel nigh noght,
  I have so many an ydel thoght
  Purely for defaute of slepe
  That, by my trouthe, I take no kepe
  Of no-thing, how hit cometh or goth,
  Ne me nis no-thing leef nor loth.
  Al is y-liche good to me --
  Ioye or sorowe, wherso hyt be --
  For I have feling in no-thinge,
  But, as it were, a mased thing,
  Alway in point to falle a-doun;
  For sorwful imaginacioun
  Is alway hoolly in my minde.
  And wel ye wite, agaynes kynde
  Hit were to liven in this wyse;
  For nature wolde nat suffyse
  To noon erthely creature
  Not longe tyme to endure
  Withoute slepe, and been in sorwe;
  And I ne may, ne night ne morwe,
  Slepe; and thus melancolye
  And dreed I have for to dye,
  Defaute of slepe and hevinesse
  Hath sleyn my spirit of quiknesse,
  That I have lost al lustihede.
  Suche fantasies ben in myn hede
  So I not what is best to do.
  But men myght axe me, why soo
  I may not slepe, and what me is?
  But natheles, who aske this
  Leseth his asking trewely.
  My-selven can not telle why
  The sooth; but trewely, as I gesse,
  I holde hit be a siknesse
  That I have suffred this eight yere,
  And yet my bote is never the nere;
  For ther is phisicien but oon,
  That may me hele; but that is doon.
  Passe we over until eft;
  That wil not be, moot nede be left;
  Our first matere is good to kepe.
  So whan I saw I might not slepe,
  Til now late, this other night,
  Upon my bedde I sat upright
  And bad oon reche me a book,
  A romaunce, and he hit me took
  To rede and dryve the night away;
  For me thoghte it better play
  Then playen either at chesse or tables.
  And in this boke were writen fables
  That clerkes hadde, in olde tyme,
  And other poets, put in ryme
  To rede, and for to be in minde
  Whyl men loved the lawe of kinde.
  This book ne spak but of such thinges,
  Of quenes lyves, and of kinges,
  And many othere thinges smale.
  Amonge al this I fond a tale
  That me thoughte a wonder thing.
  This was the tale: There was a king
  That hight Seys, and hadde a wyf,
  The beste that mighte bere lyf;
  And this quene hight Alcyone.
  So hit befel, therafter sone,
  This king wolde wenden over see.
  To tellen shortly, whan that he
  Was in the see, thus in this wyse,
  Soche a tempest gan to ryse
  That brak hir mast, and made it falle,
  And clefte her ship, and dreinte hem alle,
  That never was founden, as it telles,
  Bord ne man, ne nothing elles.
  Right thus this king Seys loste his lyf.
  Now for to speken of his wife: --
  This lady, that was left at home,
  Hath wonder, that the king ne come
  Hoom, for hit was a longe terme.
  Anon her herte gan to erme;
  And for that hir thoughte evermo
  Hit was not wel he dwelte so,
  She longed so after the king
  That certes, hit were a pitous thing
  To telle hir hertely sorwful lyf
  That hadde, alas! this noble wyfe;
  For him she loved alderbest.
  Anon she sente bothe eest and west
  To seke him, but they founde nought.
  `Alas!' quoth she, `that I was wrought!
  And wher my lord, my love, be deed?
  Certes, I nil never ete breed,
  I make a-vowe to my god here,
  But I mowe of my lord here!'
  Such sorwe this lady to her took
  That trewely I, which made this book,
  Had swich pite and swich rowthe
  To rede hir sorwe, that, by my trowthe,
  I ferde the worse al the morwe
  After, to thenken on her sorwe.
  So whan she coude here no word
  That no man mighte fynde hir lord,
  Ful ofte she swouned, and saide `Alas!'
  For sorwe ful nigh wood she was,
  Ne she coude no reed but oon;
  But doun on knees she sat anoon,
  And weep, that pite was to here.
  `A! mercy! swete lady dere!'
  Quod she to Iuno, hir goddesse;
  `Help me out of this distresse,
  And yeve me grace my lord to see
  Sone, or wite wher-so he be,
  Or how he fareth, or in what wyse,
  And I shal make you sacrifyse,
  And hoolly youres become I shal
  With good wil, body, herte, and al;
  And but thou wilt this, lady swe
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Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer, known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey. more…

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"Book Of The Duchesse" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 20 Sep. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/14614/book-of-the-duchesse>.

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