The Legend of Good Women/The Legend of Phyllis

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The Legend of Phyllis[edit]

  By preve as wel as by auctoritee,
  That wikked fruit cometh of a wikked tree,
  That may ye finde, if that it lyketh yow.
  But for this ende I speke this as now,
  To telle you of false Demophon.
  In love a falser herde I never non,
2400 But-if hit were his fader Theseus.
  "God, for his grace, fro swich oon kepe us!"
  Thus may thise women prayen that hit here.
  Now to theffect turne I of my matere.
  Destroyed is of Troye the citee;
  This Demophon com sailing in the see
  Toward Athenes, to his paleys large;
  With him com many a ship and many a barge
  Ful of his folk, of which ful many oon
  Is wounded sore, and seek, and wo begoon.
2410 And thay han at the sege longe y-lain.
  Behinde him com a wind and eek a rain
  That shoof so sore, his sail ne mighte stonde,
  Him were lever than al the world a-londe,
  So hunteth him the tempest to and fro.
  So derk hit was, he coude nowher go;
  And with a wawe brosten was his stere.
  His ship was rent so lowe, in swich manere,
  That carpenter ne coude hit nat amende.
  The see, by nighte, as any torche brende
2420 For wood, and posseth him now up now doun,
  Til Neptune hath of him compassioun,
  And Thetis, Chorus, Triton, and they alle,
  And maden him upon a lond to falle,
  Wher-of that Phillis lady was and quene,
  Ligurgus doghter, fairer on to sene
  Than is the flour again the brighte sonne.
  Unnethe is Demophon to londe y-wonne,
  Wayk and eek wery, and his folk for-pyned
  Of werinesse, and also enfamyned;
2430 And to the deeth he almost was y-driven.
  His wyse folk to conseil han him yiven
  To seken help and socour of the queen,
  And loken what his grace mighte been,
  And maken in that lond som chevisaunce,
  To kepen him fro wo and fro mischaunce.
  For seek was he, and almost at the deeth;
  Unnethe mighte he speke or drawe his breeth,
  And lyth in Rodopeya him for to reste.
  Whan he may walke, him thoughte hit was the beste
2440 Unto the court to seken for socour.
  Men knewe him wel, and diden him honour;
  For at Athenes duk and lord was he,
  As Theseus his fader hadde y-be,
  That in his tyme was of greet renoun,
  No man so greet in al his regioun;
  And lyk his fader of face and of stature,
  And fals of love; hit com him of nature;
  As doth the fox Renard, the foxes sone,
  Of kinde he coude his olde faders wone
2450 Withoute lore, as can a drake swimme,
  Whan hit is caught and caried to the brimme.
  This honourable Phillis doth him chere,
  her lyketh wel his port and his manere.
  But for I am agroted heer-biforn
  To wryte of hem that been in love forsworn,
  And eek to haste me in my legende,
  Which to performe god me grace sende,
  Therfor I passe shortly in this wyse;
  Ye han wel herd of Theseus devyse
2460 In the betraising of fair Adriane,
  That of her pite kepte him from his bane.
  At shorte wordes, right so Demophon
  The same wey, the same path hath gon
  That dide his false fader Theseus.
  For unto Phillis hath he sworen thus,
  To wedden her, and her his trouthe plighte,
  And piked of her al the good he mighte,
  Whan he was hool and sound and hadde his reste;
  And doth with Phillis what so that him leste.
2470 And wel coude I, yif that me leste so,
  Tellen al his doing to and fro.
  He seide, unto his contree moste he saile,
  For ther he wolde her wedding apparaile
  As fil to her honour and his also.
  And openly he took his leve tho,
  And hath her sworn, he wolde nat soiorne,
  But in a month he wolde again retorne.
  And in that lond let make his ordinaunce
  As verray lord, and took the obeisaunce
2480 Wel and hoomly, and let his shippe dighte,
  And hoom he goth the nexte wey be mighte;
  For unto Phillis yit ne com he noght.
  And that hath she so harde and sore aboght,
  Allas! that, as the stories us recorde,
  She was her owne deeth right with a corde,
  Whan that she saw that Demophon her trayed.
  But to him first she wroot and faste him prayed
  He wolde come, and her deliver of peyne,
  As I reherse shal a word or tweyne.
2490 Me list nat vouche-sauf on him to swinke,
  Ne spende on him a penne ful of inke,
  For fals in love was he, right as his syre;
  The devil sette hir soules both a-fyre!
  But of the lettre of Phillis wol I wryte
  A word or tweyne, al-thogh hit be but lyte.
  "Thyn hostesse," quod she, "O Demophon,
  Thy Phillis, which that is so wo begon,
  Of Rodopeye, upon yow moot compleyne,
  Over the terme set betwix us tweyne,
2500 That ye ne holden forward, as ye seyde;
  Your anker, which ye in our haven leyde,
  Highte us, that ye wolde comen, out of doute,
  Or that the mone ones wente aboute.
  But tymes foure the mone hath hid her face
  Sin thilke day ye wente fro this place,
  And foure tymes light the world again.
  But for al that, yif I shal soothly sain,
  Yit hath the streem of Sitho nat y-broght
  From Athenes the ship; yit comth hit noght.
2510 And, yif that ye the terme rekne wolde,
  As I or other trewe lovers sholde,
  I pleyne not, god wot, beforn my day," --
  But al her lettre wryten I ne may
  By ordre, for hit were to me a charge,
  Her lettre was right long and ther-to large;
  But here and there in ryme I have hit laid,
  Ther as me thoughte that she wel hath said, --
  She seide, "thy sailes comen nat again,
  Ne to thy word ther nis no fey certein;
2520 But I wot why ye come nat," quod she;
  "For I was of my love to you so free.
  And of the goddes that ye han forswore,
  Yif that hir vengeance falle on yow therfore,
  Ye be nat suffisaunt to bere the peyne.
  To moche trusted I, wel may I pleyne,
  Upon your linage and your faire tonge,
  And on your teres falsly out y-wronge.
  How coude ye wepe so by craft?" quod she;
  May ther swiche teres feyned be?
2530 Now certes, yif ye wolde have in memorie,
  Hit oghte be to yow but litel glorie
  To have a sely mayde thus betrayed!
  To god," quod she, "preye I, and ofte have prayed,
  That hit be now the grettest prys of alle,
  And moste honour that ever yow shal befalle!
  And whan thyne olde auncestres peynted be,
  In which men may hir worthinesse see,
  Than, preye I god, thou peynted be also,
  That folk may reden, for-by as they go,
2540 "Lo! this is he, that with his flaterye
  Betrayed hath and doon her vilanye
  That was his trewe love in thoghte and dede!"
  But sothly, of oo point yit may they rede,
  That ye ben lyk your fader as in this;
  For he begyled Adriane, y-wis,
  With swiche an art and swiche sotelte
  As thou thy-selven hast begyled me.
  As in that point, al-thogh hit be nat fayr,
  Thou folwest him, certein, and art his eyr.
2550 But sin thus sinfully ye me begyle,
  My body mote ye seen, within a whyle,
  Right in the haven of Athenes fletinge,
  With-outen sepulture and buryinge;
  Thogh ye ben harder then is any stoon."
  And, whan this lettre was forth sent anoon,
  And knew how brotel and how fals he was,
  She for dispeyr for-dide herself, allas!
  Swich sorwe hath she, for she besette her so,
  Be war, ye women, of your sotil fo,
2560 Sin yit this day men may ensample see;
  And trusteth, as in love, no man but me.
  Explicit Legenda Phillis.