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◈ The Canterbury Tales (캔터베리 이야기) ◈

◇ The Clerk’s Prologue and Tale ◇

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   0.1. (Part Five)

1. The Clerk’s Prologue

0 The Prologue to the Clerk of Oxford’s Tale
 
1 Sir Clerk of Oxford town,’ our Host said,
2 You ride as coy and quiet as a maid
3 Just newly wed, and sitting at the board.
4 From your tongue I haven’t heard a word;
5 Perhaps youre pondering reason and rhyme.
6 But Solomon sayseach thing has its time”.
 
7 For God’s sake, be now of better cheer!
8 The time for study is not now and here.
9 Tell us some merry tale, in God’s name;
10 For when a man has entered on a game,
11 He needs must to the game itself assent.
12 But preach not though, as friars do in Lent,
13 To make us for our past sins to weep,
14 Nor tell a tale that sends us all to sleep.
 
15 Tell us some merry thing of your adventures!
16 Your rhetoric, your flourishes, your figures,
17 Keep them in store until you come to write
18 In the high style, as men to monarchs might.
19 Speak out plainly at this time, we pray,
20 So we can understand all that you say.’
 
21 The worthy clerk answered him benignly:
22 Host,’ quoth he, ‘you hold authority,
23 For now you have of us the governance,
24 And therefore will I show obedience,
25 As far as reason goes, assuredly.
26 I will tell you a tale from Italy
27 I learned at Padua from a worthy clerk,
28 As proved by both his words and his work.
29 He is dead now, and nailed up in his chest;
30 I pray to God to grant his spirit rest!
 
31 Francis Petrarch, the laureate poet,
32 This clerk was called, whose rhetoric sweet
33 Illumined all Italy with poetry
34 As Lignano did in philosophy,
35 And law, and other art particular.
36 But death, that will allow no lingering here
37 As it were in the twinkling of an eye,
38 Has slain them both, as we all shall die.
 
39 But to tell briefly of the learned man
40 That taught me this tale, as I began
41 I say that first his style climbs the heights,
42 Before the body of his tale he writes,
43 A preface in which described we see
44 Piedmont, and Saluzzo, in that country,
45 And then the Apennines, hill scenery
46 That sets the bounds to western Lombardy,
47 And Viso, especially, the mountain
48 Where the Po from a little fountain
49 Springs, and from which it takes its source,
50 That eastward flows swelling in its course
51 To Emilia, Ferrara, and Venice,
52 Which would be a long thing to devise.
53 And truly, in my own poor judgement
54 I think it is a thing that is irrelevant,
55 Except to frame a setting for his matter.
56 But here’s his tale, as you now shall hear.
 

2. The Clerk’s Tale

0 Here begins the Tale of the Clerk of Oxford
 

2.1. (Part One)

0 There is, on the west side of Italy,
1 Down at the root of Viso the cold,
2 A rich plain, known for its fertility,
3 Where many a tower and town you may behold
4 Founded in ancestral times of old,
5 And many another fine, noble sight;
6 Saluzzo its name, a landscape of delight.
 
7 A Marquis there was, once, lord of this land,
8 As were his worthy ancestors before,
9 And obedient, always ready to his hand,
10 Were all his subjects, both less and more.
11 Thus in delight he lived, in days of yore,
12 Beloved and feared, by favour of Fortune,
13 Both by his lords, and all of his commune.
 
14 And to that, you may add his lineage,
15 Being noblest born of Lombardy;
16 A fair person, strong and young in age,
17 And full of honour and of courtesy,
18 Discreet enough to rule all the country
19 Save, in a few things he was to blame.
20 And Walter was this young lord’s name.
 
21 I blame him thus, that he never thought
22 Of what events the future might provide,
23 But present pleasure was the thing he sought,
24 Such as to hawk and hunt on every side.
25 Nigh every other care he would let slide.
26 And he wouldand this was worst of all
27 Wed no wife, whatever might befall.
 
28 This thing alone his people felt so sore
29 That in a flock one day to him they went;
30 And one of them who wisest was in lore
31 Or else the man most fit to win assent
32 From his lord, and tell him what they meant,
33 Or one who could well justify their fears
34 He to the Marquis spoke as you shall hear:
 
35 ‘O noble Marquis, your humanity
36 Gives us assurance, adds to our boldness,
37 Whenever the demands of necessity
38 Force us to tell you of our sadness.
39 Accept then, lord, of your graciousness,
40 What we with sorrowful hearts explain,
41 And let your ears not my voice disdain.
 
42 Though I have naught to do in this matter
43 More than another man in this place,
44 Yet, inasmuch as you, my master dear,
45 Have always shown me favour and grace,
46 I dare the better ask of you a space
47 Of audience, to tell of our request;
48 Then you, my lord, shall do as you think best.
 
49 For surely lord, so well do we like you
50 And all your works, and ever have, that we
51 Could not indeed ourselves imagine how
52 We might live in greater felicity,
53 Save one thing, lord, if such your will might be:
54 That you should be a wedded man were best
55 Then were your folk in sovereign heart’s rest!
 
56 Bow your neck beneath that blissful yoke
57 Of sovereignty and not in slavery’s guise,
58 Which men do call espousal, or wedlock.
59 And think, my lord, among your thoughts wise,
60 How all our days slip past, in sundry wise;
61 For though we sleep, or wake, or roam, or ride,
62 Time flees away; it nowhere will abide.
 
63 And though your green youth flowers bright,
64 In creeps age always, quiet as a stone.
65 And death may menace every age, and smite
66 In every state, for there escape it none.
67 And also certainly we know, each one,
68 That we shall die, as uncertain are we all
69 Of the one day on which our death shall fall.
 
70 Accept you now, in us, our true intent,
71 Who never yet refused your behest.
72 And, lord, we will, if that you should assent,
73 Choose you a wife, speedily, for the best,
74 Of the gentlest born, and of the highest
75 Of all this land, so that we might bring
76 Honour to God and you, in all this thing.
 
77 Deliver us out of all our care and dread,
78 And take a wife, for the high God’s sake!
79 For if it so befell, as God forbid,
80 That through your death your line should forsake
81 Our land, and a strange successor take
82 Your heritage, O, woe to us alive!
83 Wherefore we beg you hastily to wive.’
 
84 Their humble prayer and their pious fear
85 Filled the Marquisheart with clemency.
86 Your wish,’ quoth he, ‘my own people dear,
87 Is one I never thought would constrain me.
88 I have rejoiced in all that liberty,
89 That seldom is experienced in marriage.
90 Where I was free, there I must find bondage.
 
91 Yet nonetheless, I see your true intent,
92 And trust to your wisdom, any day.
93 Wherefore, of my free will, I do assent
94 To being wed, as soon as ever I may.
95 But inasmuch as you offered today
96 To choose a wife for me, I release
97 You of that task, and let that offer cease.
 
98 For God knows, children we often find
99 Are unlike their noble ancestors before.
100 Bounty comes all from God, not the line
101 Which engendered them, and them bore.
102 I trust in God’s bounty, and therefore
103 My marriage, my estate, and all the rest
104 I entrust to him; may he do as is best.
 
105 Leave me then to choose alone a wife;
106 That charge on me I will myself endure.
107 But I pray you, and charge you on your life,
108 Whatever wife I choose, you will be sure
109 To worship her while she lives, in your
110 Words and works, both here and everywhere,
111 As if she an Emperor’s daughter were.
 
112 And furthermore, this shall you swear to me
113 Against my choice you will not moan or strive.
114 For since I shall forgo my liberty
115 At your request, as ever I may thrive,
116 Where my heart is set, there shall I wive.
117 And unless you assent in this manner,
118 I pray you, speak no more of the matter.’
 
119 With heartfelt willingness they swore assent
120 To all this thingand no man said him nay
121 Beseeching his grace, before they went,
122 That he would appoint them a certain day
123 For his espousal, as soon as ever he may.
124 For yet the people were somewhat in dread
125 Lest still the Marquis no wife would wed.
 
126 He chose a day, such as seemed him best,
127 On which he would be wed, of certainty,
128 And said he did all this at their request.
129 And they, both humbly and obediently,
130 Kneeling on their knees full reverently,
131 Thanked him; and thus they made an end
132 To their embassy, and home again did wend.
 
133 And thereupon he of his officers
134 Commanded that a feast they purvey,
135 And to his privy knights and squires
136 Such tasks gave them as in their duties lay.
137 And they did his commandments obey,
138 And each of them used all his diligence
139 To arrange the feast with reverence.
 

2.2. (Part Two)

0 Not for from this palace, all honourable,
1 Where the Marquis prepared his marriage,
2 There stood a hamlet, its site delectable,
3 Where the poor folk dwelling in that village
4 Tended their homes and their pasturage,
5 And by their work and toil found sustenance
6 According as the earth gave them abundance.
 
7 Among these poor folk there dwelt a man
8 Who was considered poorest of them all;
9 But the high God sends sometimes, as he can,
10 His grace into a little ox’s stall.
11 Janicula the village did him call.
12 A daughter had he, fair to the sight,
13 And Griselda she was named aright.
 
14 And if one spoke of virtuous beauty,
15 Then was she the fairest under the sun.
16 For she was brought up in true poverty;
17 No sinful thought through her head had run.
18 More often of the well than of the tun
19 She drank, and in virtue sought to please,
20 Knowing much labour, and no idle ease.
 
21 But though the maiden tender was of age,
22 Yet in the depths of her virginity
23 There was a spirit both mature and grave.
24 And she in great reverence and charity
25 Her poor old father nurtured carefully.
26 A few sheep, while she spun, she kept;
27 She was never idle unless she slept.
 
28 And when she homeward came, she would bring
29 Roots and herbs, and other such things, oft,
30 Which she sliced and seethed for their eating,
31 And made her bed full hard, and nothing soft.
32 And thus she kept her father’s heart aloft,
33 With every obedience, and that diligence
34 With which a child shows a father reverence.
 
35 Upon Griselda, this humble creature,
36 Full often had the Marquis set his eye
37 As he rode out to hunt, peradventure;
38 And when it chanced that her he did espy,
39 It was not wantonly but with a sigh
40 He cast his eyes on her, in that place
41 And would often ponder on her face,
 
42 Commend her virtue and womanliness,
43 In his heart, surpassing any he might
44 Have seen, of her young age, in all respects.
45 For though the people have no great insight
46 Into virtue, he had considered right
47 Deeply of her bounty, and thought he would
48 Wed her only, if ever wed he should.
 
49 The wedding day arrived, and yet none can
50 Say what woman among them it shall be.
51 At which marvel wondered many a man,
52 And said, if they were speaking privately:
53 Will our lord yet cling to his vanity?
54 Will he not wed? Alas, alas the while!
55 Why does he thus himself and us beguile?
 
56 But nonetheless, the Marquis has them make
57 Of gems, all set in gold and in azure,
58 Brooches and rings for Griselda’s sake.
59 And of her clothes he takes the measure
60 From a maid full like to her in stature,
61 And other ornaments are fashioned, all
62 That to such a bride should rightly fall.
 
63 And the mid-morning of the very day
64 Approached, when the wedding would be.
65 And the whole palace was in full array,
66 Both hall and chamber, each in their degree.
67 Kitchens and pantries stuffed all with plenty
68 Delicious viands, and everything to see
69 Came from the furthest parts of Italy.
 
70 This royal Marquis, richly arrayed,
71 With lords and ladies in his company,
72 Whom to attend the feast had been bade,
73 And with all his retinue of chivalry,
74 And many a sound of sundry melody,
75 Unto the village of which I have told
76 In this array the nearest way they rode.
 
77 Griselda, God knows, all innocent,
78 That for herself was meant all this array,
79 To fetch water from the well she went,
80 Set to return as soon as ever she may;
81 For she had heard said, that on this day
82 The Marquis would wed, and if she might
83 She would happily see some of that sight.
 
84 She thought: ‘I’ll with the other maidens stand,
85 Who are my comrades, at our door and see
86 The Marchioness, and therefore what’s on hand
87 I’ll finish at home as quickly as may be,
88 The labour, that is, which belongs to me,
89 And then I could at leisure her behold,
90 If she this way unto the castle rode.’
 
91 But as over the threshold she’d have gone,
92 The Marquis came and began for her to call,
93 And she set down her water-pot anon
94 Beside the threshold, in an ox’s stall,
95 And down upon her knees began to fall,
96 And with grave countenance knelt there, still,
97 Till she had heard what was the lord’s will.
 
98 The pensive Marquis talked to the maid
99 Full soberly, and spoke in this manner:
100 Where is your father, Griselda?’ he said.
101 And she with reverence, her features clear,
102 Answered: ‘Lord, he is already here.’
103 And in she goes without lingering,
104 And to the Marquis does her father bring.
 
105 He by the hand then took this aged man,
106 And said thus, when he had him on one side:
107 Janicula, I neither may nor can
108 My heart’s desire any longer hide.
109 If you accept whatever will betide,
110 Your daughter will I take, before I wend,
111 For my own wife, unto my life’s end.
 
112 You love me, I know it well, for certain,
113 And you are my faithful liegeman born,
114 And all I wish myself, I dare to say,
115 You also wish, and especially therefore,
116 Say of the issue I mentioned before
117 Whether you will unto that purpose draw,
118 To take me as your own son-in-law.’
 
119 The sudden news astonished him so
120 The man grew red, perplexed, all quaking
121 He stood; could hardly speak, although
122 These words emerged: ‘Lord, I am willing
123 It be as you wish, and against your liking
124 I will nothing; you are my lord so dear.
125 Just as you wish decide the matter here.’
 
126 Yet I desire,’ quoth the Marquis with a sigh,
127 That in your chamber I, and you and she
128 Have conversation; and would you know why?
129 So that I may ask her if she will be
130 My wife, and be guided then by me.
131 And all this should be done in your presence;
132 I must speak with you as our audience.’
 
133 And in the chamber while they were about
134 The marriage-treaty, of which you shall hear,
135 The people pressed around the house without,
136 And wondered at the decency and care
137 With which attentively she kept her father dear.
138 But well might Griselda wonder at the sight,
139 For never her eyes on such before did light.
 
140 And no wonder that she was astonished,
141 To see so many guests about the place.
142 She was not use to being so distinguished,
143 Which caused her to gaze with pallid face.
144 But briefly then this matter to embrace,
145 Here are the words that the Marquis said
146 To this benign, true and faithful maid.
 
147 Griselda,’ he said, ‘you must understand
148 It is pleasing to your father and to me
149 That I wed you; and it may thus stand,
150 If, as I guess, you wish it so to be.
151 But these demands I make first,’ quoth he,
152 To which, since all is done in hasty guise,
153 Shall you agree, or it be otherwise.
 
154 I say you must be ready with good heart
155 To do my pleasure, and that I freely may,
156 Do as I think best, whether you laugh or smart,
157 And never must you grudge it, night or day,
158 And also when I sayyes”, never saynay”,
159 Neither in words nor frowning countenance.
160 Swear this, and here I swear to our alliance.’
 
161 Wondering at his words, quaking for dread,
162 She said: ‘Lord, ignoble and unworthy
163 Am I of the honour that you me should bed.
164 But as you wish yourself, so then will I.
165 And here I swear that always till I die
166 Will I willingly in work or thought obey,
167 On pain of death, though I fear it always.’
 
168 That is enough, Griselda mine,’ quoth he;
169 And forth he went with a face full sober
170 Out at the door, and after him came she,
171 And to the people he spoke in this manner:
172 That is my wife,’ quoth he, ‘standing there.
173 Honour her and love her too, I pray,
174 Whoever loves me; there is no more to say.’
 
175 And that nothing of her former gear
176 She should bring into his house, he bade
177 The women to undress the girl right there;
178 At which the ladies showed less than glad
179 To handle the clothes in which she was clad.
180 But nonetheless, this maiden bright of hue
181 Foot to head they clothed again all new.
 
182 Her hair then they combed, that lay un-tressed
183 Untidy, and with slender-fingers all
184 A crown on her head they gently pressed,
185 And decked her with jewels great and small.
186 On her array why should my story fall?
187 The throng scarce knew her in her loveliness
188 When she transformed was by such richness.
 
189 The Marquis has espoused her with a ring
190 Brought for that very reason, and then her set
191 Upon a snow-white horse and gently ambling,
192 To his palace, without delay or fret,
193 With joyful people who her led and met,
194 Conveyed her; and thus the day they spend
195 In revel, till they see the sun descend.
 
196 And briefly for this tale to embrace,
197 I say, that to this new marchioness
198 God had such favour sent her of his grace
199 That it seemed of the unlikeliest
200 That she had been born and fed in lowliness,
201 Such as in a cottage or an ox’s-stall,
202 But rather nourished in an Emperor’s hall.
 
203 To everyone she became so dear
204 And revered, that folk where she was born,
205 Who from her birth had known her year by year,
206 Scarcely believed, though once they’d sworn,
207 That to Janicle, of whom I spoke before,
208 She was daughter, for by all conjecture
209 They thought she was quite another creature.
 
210 For though ever virtuous was she,
211 She had so increased in excellence
212 Of good qualities, and high nobility,
213 Was so discrete and fair in eloquence,
214 So benign, and worthy of reverence,
215 And could the people’s heart so embrace,
216 That all loved her who looked upon her face.
 
217 Not only in Saluzzo, in the town,
218 Was published the virtue of her name,
219 But also beside in many a region.
220 If one spoke well, another did the same.
221 So spread of her high virtue the fame
222 That men and women, young as well as old,
223 Went to Saluzzo her face to behold.
 
224 Thus Walter wedded humblyyet royally
225 And wedded with fortunate nobility,
226 In God’s peace lived full happily
227 At home, and outward grace enough had he.
228 And because he saw that in low degree
229 Virtue was often hid, people held him
230 For a prudent man, as is held seldom.
 
231 Griselda not only through her wit
232 Knew all the arts of wifely homeliness,
233 But also, when the case might require it,
234 The common cause too could she address.
235 There was no discord, rancour, sadness
236 In all that land that she could not ease,
237 And wisely bring them all to rest and peace.
 
238 And if her husband were absent, anon,
239 When noblemen or others of that country
240 Were wrath, she would make them atone.
241 Such wise and ripe phrases had she,
242 And judgement so filled with equity,
243 Men thought such as she the Heavens send
244 To save the people, and every wrong amend.
 
245 It was not long after this Griselda
246 Was wedded, that she a daughter bore.
247 Though she would have had a boy-child rather,
248 Glad was the Marquis still as all folk saw.
249 For though a maid child had come before,
250 She might still a boy-child yet achieve
251 Not being barren, so they all believed.
 

2.3. (Part Three)

0 There befell, as it befalls often, though,
1 When the child had sucked a month or so
2 The Marquis in his heart longed, I owe,
3 To tempt his wife, her constancy to know,
4 And he could not out of his thoughts throw
5 This marvellous desire, his wife to test;
6 Needlessly, God knows, as I contest!
 
7 He had tried her well enough before,
8 And found her always good; what needed it
9 To tempt her, and always more and more,
10 Though some might praise his subtle wit?
11 As for me, I say evil we admit
12 In testing a wife when there is no need,
13 And placing her in pain and dread indeed.
 
14 The Marquis wrought it in this manner:
15 He came alone at night to where she lay,
16 With a stern face, he troubled did appear,
17 And then: ‘Griselda,’ quoth he, ‘that day
18 When I took you from your poor array,
19 And set you in a state of nobleness
20 Have you forgotten it, as I would guess?
 
21 I say Griselda, this present dignity,
22 To which I have raised you, I vow,
23 Cannot have made you forgetful be
24 That I took you from your estate full low,
25 With all the little wealth you might know.
26 Take heed of every word I say to you;
27 There is no one to hear us but us two.
 
28 You well know yourself how you came here
29 Into this house; it was not long ago.
30 And though to me you are prized and dear,
31 Among my noblemen you are not so.
32 They say it is great shame to them and woe
33 To be subject, and to live in bondage,
34 To you who are born of a small village.
 
35 And especially since you your daughter bore
36 These words have been spoken, more not less.
37 Yet I desire, as I have done before,
38 To live my life with them in peace and rest.
39 I may not in this case be deemed reckless;
40 I must do with your daughter, still
41 Not as I would, but as my people will.
 
42 And yet, God knows, it’s painful to me.
43 But nonetheless, without your knowing
44 I will do nothing, but this I wish,’ quoth he,
45 That you assent with me to all this thing.
46 Show your patience now in your being
47 That you swore to me in your village,
48 The day that we agreed our marriage.
 
49 When she had heard all this, she received
50 It all unchanged in word or countenance,
51 For, as it seemed, she was not aggrieved.
52 She said: ‘Lord, all power is in your glance.
53 My child and I, with true obedience,
54 Are all yours, and you may save or kill
55 Your own things: work then as you will.
 
56 There can be nothing, God my soul save,
57 That you desire that may displease me;
58 No I require nothing for to have
59 Nor dread to lose, save only thee.
60 Your will in my heart shall ever be;
61 No length of time nor death may this deface,
62 Nor direct my thoughts to another place.’
 
63 Glad was the Marquis at her answering,
64 But yet he feigned as if he were not so.
65 All dreary was his face and his looking
66 When that he would out of the chamber go.
67 Soon after this, a few moments or so,
68 He secretly had told all his intent
69 Unto a man, and to his wife him sent.
 
70 A sort of servant was this confidant,
71 As faithful a man as ever he had
72 In things great, and such folk also can
73 Do execution in things that are bad;
74 The lord knew he loved him from a lad.
75 And when this sergeant knew his lord’s will,
76 Into the chamber he stole quiet and still.
 
77 Madam,’ he said, ‘you must forgive me,
78 If I do a thing to which I am constrained.
79 You are so wise that you will clearly see
80 A lord’s command must ever be attained.
81 It may well be lamented and complained
82 But all men must his desire obey.
83 And so will I; there is no more to say.
 
84 This child I am commanded for to take.’
85 And spoke no more, but grasped the child then
86 Violently, and a vile face he did make
87 As though he would have slain it as he went.
88 Griselda must endure all and consent,
89 And as a lamb she sat meek and still,
90 And let this cruel sergeant do his will.
 
91 Suspicious the reputation of this man,
92 Suspect his face, suspect his word also,
93 Suspect the time at which he thus began.
94 Alas, her daughter that she loved so,
95 She thought he would slay her though!
96 But nonetheless, she neither wept nor sighed,
97 Conforming to whatever might betide.
 
98 But at the last to speak she began,
99 And humbly to the sergeant replied,
100 That as he was a worthy nobleman,
101 To let her kiss her child before he slay it.
102 And in her lap the little child she laid it
103 With full sad face, and began to bless
104 And lull it, and after began to kiss.
 
105 And thus she said, in her gentle voice:
106 Farewell, my child! I never you shall see.
107 But since I have marked you with the cross
108 Of your Fatherblessed must He be
109 That for us died upon the cross-tree,
110 Your soul, little child, may He now take,
111 For this night shall you die for my sake.’
 
112 I think that for a nurse, if one there was,
113 It would have been hard this sight to see;
114 Well might a mother then have criedalas!’
115 But nonetheless, so firm steadfast was she
116 That she endured all adversity;
117 And to the sergeant humbly she said,
118 Have here again your sweet little maid.
 
119 Go now,’ quoth she, ‘and do my lord’s behest.
120 But one thing I pray you of your grace,
121 Unless my lord forbade it you, at least
122 Bury this little body in some place
123 Where neither birds nor beasts may it deface.’
124 But he no word to that request would say,
125 But took the child and went on his way.
 
126 The sergeant came unto his lord again,
127 And told him how Griselda did appear
128 In this, her words, the details short and plain,
129 Delivering to him her daughter dear.
130 The lord showed some pity in his manner,
131 But nonetheless his purpose held he still,
132 As lords do when they must have their will.
 
133 And bade the sergeant that he secretly
134 Should the child gently take and wrap,
135 In every circumstance all tenderly,
136 And carry it in a cradle or his lap
137 But upon pain of death, by no mishap
138 Allow any man to know of his intent,
139 Nor whence he came, nor whither he went
 
140 But to Bologna, to his sister dear,
141 That at this time of Panico was countess,
142 He should it take and tell her of the matter,
143 Beseeching her to make it her business
144 To foster this child with all gentleness.
145 And whose child it was he bade her hide
146 From everyone, whatever might betide.
 
147 The sergeant went, and fulfilled this thing;
148 But to the Marquis at this time turn we.
149 For now he goes about wondering
150 If from his wife’s face he might see,
151 Or by her words perceive, whether she
152 Had changed at all; but never could he find
153 Her anything but steadfast ever and kind.
 
154 As glad, as humble, as eagerly she plies
155 Service, loving, as she was wont to be,
156 To him in every manner, and every guise.
157 Nor of her daughter a word spoke she.
158 No outward sign of her adversity
159 Was seen in her, nor ever her daughter’s name
160 Did she speak, in earnest or in game.
 

2.4. (Part Four)

0 In this state they reached the fourth year
1 Before she was with child, God us hold,
2 A boy child she bore to this Walter,
3 Full gracious and full fair to behold.
4 And when the father by his folk is told,
5 Not only he, but his folk in all the ways
6 Cheer this child, and God they thank and praise.
 
7 When it was two years old, and from the breast
8 Weaned by its nurse, on a certain day
9 The Marquis with another whim was blessed
10 To test his wife once more now, if he may.
11 O needlessly was she tested in this way!
12 But married men never keep wise measure
13 Whenever they find a patient creature.
 
14 Wife,’ quoth the Marquis, ‘you have heard ere this
15 My people still resent our marriage day;
16 And especially since my son new-born is,
17 It is worse than ever in every way.
18 The mutterings my heart and spirit slay,
19 For to my ears comes the deadly smart
20 Of that voice, and nigh destroys my heart.
 
21 Now they speak thus: “When Walter is gone,
22 Then shall the blood of Janicle succeed
23 And be our lord, for other have we none.”
24 Such my people speak, in fear indeed.
25 I must of such murmurs take full heed,
26 For certainly I dread such muttering,
27 Though they will not say it in my hearing.
 
28 I would live in peace if I but might.
29 And therefore am decided utterly,
30 That as I served his sister by night,
31 Right so think I to serve him, secretly.
32 This I warn you of, so that suddenly
33 You with woe might not be outraged;
34 Be patient, and towards that I you pray.’
 
35 ‘I have,’ quoth she, ‘said thus, and ever shall:
36 I wish for nothing, nothing, I say again,
37 But as you wish; naught grieves me at all
38 Though my daughter and my son be slain
39 At your commandment, that is to say.
40 I have had no part of my children twain
41 Save first sickness, and then woe and pain.
 
42 You are our lord; do with your own things
43 Just as you wish; ask no advice of me.
44 For as I left at home all my clothing
45 When first I came to you, then so,’ quoth she,
46 ‘I left my will and all my liberty,
47 And donned clothes of yours, wherefore I pray,
48 Do your pleasure; I will your wish obey.
 
49 And certainly if I’d had prescience
50 To know your will ere you your will told
51 I would have done it without negligence.
52 But now I know your wish and it behold,
53 To your pleasure all firmly I will hold.
54 For if I knew my death would bring you ease,
55 Right gladly would I die, you to please.
 
56 For death is nothing in comparison
57 To your love.’ And when the Marquis knew
58 His wife’s constancy, then he cast down
59 His eyes two, and then he wondered too
60 That she in patience suffered all this rue.
61 And off he went with dreary countenance,
62 But in his heart his spirit was enhanced.
 
63 The ugly sergeant, in the same wise
64 That he her daughter snatched, so did he
65 Or worse, if men a worse can devise
66 Take her son that full was of beauty.
67 And, ever at one, so patient was she,
68 That she showed no look of sadness,
69 But kissed her son, and after did him bless.
 
70 Save this: she begged him that he might
71 For her little son fashion him a grave,
72 His tender limbs, delicate to sight,
73 From wild beasts and birds for to save.
74 But he no answer to her prayer gave;
75 He went his way as if he heard her not.
76 But to Bologna tenderly it brought.
 
77 The Marquis wondered, ever the more,
78 At her great patience then, and if he
79 Had not known truly that all before
80 Her children so perfectly loved she,
81 He would have thought that in some subtlety
82 Either of malice or of cruel spirit
83 She had endured all this with sad visage.
 
84 Yet he knew that next to himself again,
85 She loved her children best in every wise.
86 But now women would I ask right plain
87 If all these trials might not now suffice?
88 What could a harsh husband more devise
89 To prove her wifehood and her steadfastness,
90 While he continued ever in his harshness?
 
91 But there are folk of such inclination,
92 That when a certain end they undertake,
93 They cannot fall short of their intention,
94 But as though they were bound to the stake,
95 They never will their first pledge break.
96 Just so this Marquis here fully proposed
97 To test his wife, as he was first disposed.
 
98 He waits to see, will word or countenance
99 Betray that she has changed towards him, waits
100 But never can detect a variance;
101 She was at one in heart as in visage.
102 And the truer was, the more she aged,
103 If ever such a thing were possible,
104 To him in love, and the more dutiful.
 
105 So that it seemed, between the two
106 There was but one will, for as Walter wished
107 The same desire was her pleasure too.
108 And, God be thanked, all was for the best.
109 She well showed, despite the world’s unrest,
110 A wife, for herself then, nothing should
111 Will in effect, but as her husband would.
 
112 Ill report of Walter was widely spread,
113 That with a cruel heart he, wickedly,
114 Because a poor woman he chose to wed,
115 Had murdered both his children secretly.
116 Such was the word among them generally.
117 No wonder is it, for to the people’s ear
118 There came no word, but that they murdered were.
 
119 At which, whereas the people there before
120 Had loved him well, the ill-report for shame
121 Made them hate him bitterly, and more.
122 The name of murderer is a hateful name;
123 But nonetheless, in earnest not in game,
124 He on his cruel purpose still was bent;
125 To test his wife was still his set intent.
 
126 When his daughter was twelve years of age,
127 He to the court of Rome, in subtle wise
128 Informed of his intent, sent his message
129 Commanding them such bulls to devise
130 As for his cruel purpose might suffice:
131 Stating the Pope, to set men’s minds at rest,
132 Bade him to wed again, as he thought best.
 
133 I say he bade them to counterfeit
160 The Pope’s bulls, there making mention
161 That he had leave his first wife to reject,
162 According to the Papal dispensation
163 To calm all the rancour and dissension
164 Between him and his people; thus the bull,
165 Which they then made public, and in full.
 
166 The common people, as is no wonder,
167 Thought indeed these things were truly so.
168 But when the tidings came to Griselda,
169 I deem that her heart was full of woe,
170 But she, as steadfastly as ever though,
171 Was disposed, this humble creature,
172 The adversity of Fortune to endure.
 
173 Abiding ever his will and pleasure
174 He to whom she was given, heart and all,
175 As if to her content, in worldly measure.
176 But briefly, since this story tell I shall,
177 The Marquis now wrote an especial
178 Letter, in which he revealed his intent,
179 Then secretly to Bologna had it sent.
 
180 The Earl of Panico, the noble who
181 Had wedded his sister, especially
182 He begged to bring back his children two,
183 In honourable state all openly.
184 But one thing he asked specifically,
185 That, though men enquire, he give no answer
186 To those who asked whose children they were,
 
187 Saying the maiden now would wedded be
188 To the Marquis of Saluzzo, right anon.
189 And as the Earl was asked, so did he,
190 For on the day set, he on his way is gone
191 Towards Saluzzo, and lords many a one
192 In rich array, this maiden for to guide,
193 Her young brother riding by her side.
 
194 Arrayed in clothes fit for her marriage
195 Was this fresh maid, decked in gems clear.
196 Her brother, who was seven years of age,
197 Also arrayed full freshly in his gear.
198 And so with great nobility they near
199 Saluzzo, towards which their journey lay,
200 From day to day, riding on their way.
 

0.1. (Part Five)

0 Meanwhile, following his wicked deed,
1 The Marquis, to try his wife yet more
2 To the furthest limits of loyalty,
3 And so gain knowledge, as before
4 As to the steadfastness he saw,
5 One day, and in open audience,
6 Bluntly pronounced this dread sentence:
 
7 Certainly, Griselda, it was pleasant
8 To take you as my wife for your goodness,
9 In that you were loyal and obedient
10 And not for your lineage or riches.
11 But now the truth is here in its fullness,
12 For in great lordship, I realise,
13 There is great servitude, contrariwise.
 
14 I cannot do as any ploughman may;
15 My people are demanding that I take
16 Another wife: they moan day after day.
17 And the Pope determined, too, to slake
18 Their rancour, will consent I’ll undertake.
19 And in truth, this much to you I’ll say:
20 My new wife is already on her way.
 
21 Be strong of heart and vacate your place.
22 And the dower that you brought to me,
23 Take back again; I grant it of my grace.
24 Return now to your father’s house,’ quoth he.
25 None can forever know prosperity;
26 With calm heart I advise you to endure
27 The stroke of Fortune as you did before.’
 
28 And she replied again, in her patience:
29 My lord, ‘quoth she, ‘I know as always,
30 That between your great magnificence
31 And my own poverty none can nor may
32 Make comparison, not in any way.
33 I never thought myself in any manner
34 Fit to be wifenor yet to clean your chamber.
 
35 And in this house you me a lady made
36 The high God take I for my witness,
37 And as surely as my soul he may save
38 I never thought myself lady or mistress,
39 But humble servant to your worthiness,
40 And ever shall, while life may endure,
41 Far above all other worldly creatures.
 
42 That you so long of your generosity
43 Have held me in honour and always
44 Nobly, where I did not deserve to be,
45 That I thank God for, and you, I pray
46 He repay it you; there is no more to say.
47 Unto my father gladly will I wend,
48 And with him dwell unto my life’s end.
 
49 There was I fostered as a child so small,
50 My life there will I lead till I be dead,
51 A widow clean in body, heart and all.
52 For since I gave to you my maidenhead,
53 And am your true wife, it is no dread:
54 God forbid such a lord’s wife to take
55 Another man to husband, for his sake!
 
56 And with your new wife God in his grace
57 Grant you happiness and prosperity;
58 For I will gladly yield to her my place,
59 In which I used so blissfully to be.
60 For since it is your wish, my lord,’ quoth she,
61 That once were to me all my heart’s rest,
62 That I should go, I’ll go as you think best.
 
63 And since you offer me such dower
64 As I first brought, it is then in my mind
65 That they were wretched clothes, not fair,
66 The which were hard now for me to find.
67 O good God, how gentle and how kind
68 You seemed, by your speech and visage,
69 The day that you took me in marriage!
 
70 But so it’s saidand now I find it true,
71 For in effect it is proved such by me
72 Love is not, old, what once it was when new.
73 But, my lord, whatever the adversity,
74 Though death be in the case, it may not be
75 That ever in word or deed could I repent
76 Of giving you my heart with full intent.
 
77 My lord, you know that in my father’s place
78 You did me strip of all the clothes I had,
79 And richly clad me then, of your grace.
80 To you I brought naught else, be it said,
81 But faith, and nakedness, and maidenhead.
82 And here again your clothing I restore,
83 And your wedding ring for evermore.
 
84 The rest of your jewels, lie readily
85 To hand in your chamber, I dare say.
86 Naked out of my father’s house,’ quoth she,
87 ‘I came, and naked shall I go away.
88 All your wishes I’ll follow as always.
89 But yet I hope it would not be your intent
90 That I smock-less out of your palace went.
 
91 You could not do so shameful a thing
92 As let this womb in which your children lay
93 Be seen before the people in my walking
94 All bare; wherefore I to you do pray,
95 Let me not like a worm go by the way.
96 Remember now, my own lord so dear,
97 I was your wife, though all unworthy here.
 
98 In recompense then for my maidenhead,
99 Which I brought you, and no longer bear,
100 Vouchsafe a gift and grant me instead
101 Such a smock as I was wont to wear,
102 That I may clothe with it the womb of her
103 That was your wife; and here I take my leave
104 Of you, my own lord, lest I you grieve.’
 
105 The smock,’ quoth he, ‘that you have on your back,
106 Let it remain, and take it home with thee.’
107 But yet with difficulty he spoke, in fact,
108 And went away, in sadness, and with pity.
109 Before the folk then herself stripped she.
110 And in her smock, with head and foot all bare,
111 Towards her father’s house began to fare.
 
112 The folk followed weeping, as she went by,
113 And they cursed Fortune everyone.
114 But she from weeping kept her eyes dry,
115 And all this time word spoke she none.
116 Her father, who the tidings heard anon,
117 Cursed the day and time that ever Nature
118 Created him to be a living creature.
 
119