The Parliament of Fowles

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Here begynyth the Parlement of Foulys

THE PROEM[edit]

1The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne,
2Thassay so hard, so sharp the conquering,
3The dredful Ioy, that alwey slit so yerne,
4Al this mene I by love, that my feling
5Astonyeth with his wonderful worching
6So sore y-wis, that whan I on him thinke,
7Nat wot I wel wher that I wake or winke.

8For al be that I knowe nat love in dede,
9Ne wot how that he quyteth folk hir hyre,
10Yet happeth me ful ofte in bokes rede
11Of his miracles, and his cruel yre;
12Ther rede I wel he wol be lord and syre,
13I dar not seyn, his strokes been so sore,
14But God save swich a lord! I can no more.

15Of usage, what for luste what for lore,
16On bokes rede I ofte, as I yow tolde.
17But wherfor that I speke al this? not yore
18Agon, hit happed me for to beholde
19Upon a boke, was write with lettres olde;
20And ther-upon, a certeyn thing to lerne,
21The longe day ful faste I radde and yerne.

22For out of olde feldes, as men seith,
23Cometh al this newe corn fro yeer to yere;
24And out of olde bokes, in good feith,
25Cometh al this newe science that men lere.
26But now to purpos as of this matere–
27To rede forth hit gan me so delyte,
28That al the day me thoughte but a lyte.

29This book of which I make of mencioun,
30Entitled was al thus, as I shal telle,
31'Tullius of the dreme of Scipioun.';
32Chapitres seven hit hadde, of hevene and helle,
33And erthe, and soules that therinnr dwelle,
34Of whiche, as shortly as I can hit trete,
35Of his sentence I wol you seyn the grete.

36First telleth hit, whan Scipion was come
37In Afrik, how he mette Massinisse,
38That him for Ioye in armes hath y nome.
39Than telleth hit hir speche and al the blisse
40That was betwix hem, til the day gan misse;
41And how his auncestre, African so dere,
42Gan in his slepe that night to him appere.

43Than telleth hit that, fro a sterry place,
44How African hath him Cartage shewed,
45And warned him before of al his grace,
46And seyde him, what man, lered other lewed,
47That loveth comun profit, wel y-thewed,
48He shal unto a blisful place wende,
49Ther as Ioye is that last withouten ende.

50Than asked he, if folk that heer be dede
51Have lyf and dwelling in another place;
52And African seyde, 'ye, withoute drede,'
53And that our present worldes lyves space
54Nis but a maner deth, what wey we trace,
55And rightful folk shal go, after they dye,
56To heven; and shewed him the galaxye.

57Than shewed he him the litel erthe, that heer is,
58At regard of the hevenes quantite;
59And after shewed he him the nyne speres,
60And after that the melodye herde he
61That cometh of thilke speres thryes three,
62That welle is of musyk and melodye
63In this world heer, and cause of armonye.

64Than bad he him, sin erthe was so lyte,
65And ful of torment and of harde grace,
66That he ne shulde him in the world delyte.
67Than tolde he him, in certeyn yeres space,
68That every sterre shulde come into his place
69Ther hit was first; and al shulde out of minde
70That in this worlde is don of al mankinde.

71Than prayde him Scipioun to telle him al
72The wey to come un-to that hevene blisse;
73And he seyde, 'know thy-self first immortal,
74And loke ay besily thou werke and wisse
75To comun profit, and thou shalt nat misse
76To comen swiftly to that place dere,
77That ful of blisse is and of soules clere.

78But brekers of the lawe, soth to seyne,
79And lecherous folk, after that they be dede,
80Shul alwey whirle aboute therthe in peyne,
81Til many a world be passed, out of drede,
82And than, for-yeven alle hir wikked dede,
83Than shul they come unto that blisful place,
84To which to comen god thee sende his grace!'–

85The day gan failen, and the derke night,
86That reveth bestes from her besinesse,
87Berafte me my book for lakke of light,
88And to my bedde I gan me for to dresse,
89Fulfild of thought and besy hevinesse;
90For bothe I hadde thing which that I nolde,
91And eek I ne hadde that thing that I wolde.

92But fynally my spirit, at the laste,
93For-wery of my labour al the day,
94Took rest, that made me to slepe faste,
95And in my slepe I mette, as I lay,
96How African, right in the selfe aray
97That Scipioun him saw before that tyde,
98Was comen and stood right at my bedes syde.

99The wery hunter, slepinge in his bed,
100To wode ayein his minde goth anoon;
101The Iuge dremeth how his plees ben sped;
102The carter dremeth how his cartes goon;
103The riche, of gold; the knight fight with his foon;
104The seke met he drinketh of the tonne;
105The lover met he hath his lady wonne.

106Can I nat seyn if that the cause were
107For I had red of African beforn,
108That made me to mete that he stood there;
109But thus seyde he, 'thou hast thee so wel born
110In loking of myn olde book to-torn,
111Of which Macrobie roghte nat a lyte,
112That somdel of thy labour wolde I quyte!'–

113Citherea! thou blisful lady swete,
114That with thy fyr-brand dauntest whom thee lest,
115And madest me this sweven for to mete,
116Be thou my help in this, for thou mayst best;
117As wisly as I saw thee north-north-west,
118When I began my sweven for to wryte,
119So yif me might to ryme and endyte!

THE STORY[edit]

120This forseid African me hente anoon,
121And forth with him unto a gate broghte
122Right of a parke, walled of grene stoon;
123And over the gate, with lettres large y-wroghte,
124Ther weren vers y-writen, as me thoghte,
125On eyther halfe, of ful gret difference,
126Of which I shal yow sey the pleyn sentence.

127'Thorgh me men goon in-to that blisful place
128Of hertes hele and dedly woundes cure;
129Thorgh me men goon unto the welle of Grace,
130Ther grene and lusty May shal ever endure;
131This is the wey to al good aventure;
132Be glad, thou reder, and thy sorwe of-caste,
133Al open am I; passe in, and by the faste!'

134'Thorgh me men goon,' than spak that other syde,
135'Unto the mortal strokes of the spere,
136Of which Disdayn and Daunger is the gyde,
137Ther tre shal never fruyt ne leves bere.
138This streem yow ledeth to the sorwful were,
139Ther as the fish in prison is al drye;
140Theschewing is only the remedye.'

141Thise vers of gold and blak y-writen were,
142Of whiche I gan a stounde to beholde,
143For with that oon encresed ay my fere,
144And with that other gan myn herte bolde;
145That oon me hette, that other did me colde,
146No wit had I, for errour, for to chese
147To entre or flee, or me to save or lese.

148Right as, betwixen adamauntes two
149Of even might, a pece of iren y-set,
150That hath no might to meve to ne fro –
151For what that on may hale, that other let –
152Ferde I; that niste whether me was bet,
153To entre or leve, til African my gyde
154Me hente, and shoof in at the gates wyde,

155And seyde, 'hit stondeth writen in thy face,
156Thyn errour, though thou telle it not to me;
157But dred the nat to come in-to this place,
158For this wryting is no-thing ment by thee,
159 Ne by noon, but he Loves servant be;
160For thou of love hast lost thy tast, I gesse,
161As seek man hath of swete and bitternesse.

162But natheles, al-though that thou be dulle,
163Yit that thou canst not do, yit mayst thou see;
164For many a man that may not stonde a pulle,
165Yit lyketh him at the wrastling for to be,
166And demeth yit wher he do bet or he;
167And if thou haddest cunning for tendyte,
168I shal thee shewen mater of to wryte.'

169With that my hond in his he took anoon,
170Of which I comfort caughte, and went in faste;
171But, lord! so I was glad and wel begoon!
172For over-al, wher that I myn eyen caste,
173Were trees clad with leves that ay shal laste,
174Eche in his kinde, of colour fresh and grene
175As emeraude, that Ioye was to sene.

176The bilder ook, and eek the hardy asshe;
177The piler elm, the cofre unto careyne;
178The boxtree piper; holm to whippes lasshe;
179The sayling firr; the cipres, deth to pleyne;
180The sheter ew, the asp for shaftes pleyne;
181The olyve of pees, and eek the drunken vyne,
182The victor palm, the laurer to devyne.

183A gardyn saw I, ful of blosmy bowes,
184Upon a river, in a grene mede,
185Ther as swetnesse evermore y-now is,
186With floures whyte, blewe, yelowe, and rede;
187And colde welle-stremes, no-thing dede,
188That swommen ful of smale fisshes lighte,
189With finnes rede and scales silver-brighte.

190On every bough the briddes herde I singe,
191With voys of aungel in hir armonye,
192Som besyed hem hir briddes forth to bringe;
193The litel conyes to hir pley gunne hye.
194And further al aboute I gan espye
195The dredful roo, the buk, the hert and hinde,
196Squerels, and bestes smale of gentil kinde.

197Of instruments of strenges in acord
198Herde I so pleye a ravisshing swetnesse,
199That god, that maker is of al and lord,
200Ne herde never better, as I gesse;
201Therwith a wind, unnethe hit might be lesse,
202Made in the leves grene a noise softe
203Acordaunt to the foules songe on-lofte.

204The air of that place so attempre was
205That never was grevaunce of hoot ne cold;
206Ther wex eek every holsum spyce and gras,
207Ne no man may ther wexe seek ne old;
208Yet was ther Ioye more a thousand fold
209Then man can telle; ne never wolde it nighte,
210But ay cleer day to any mannes sighte.

211Under a tree, besyde a welle, I say
212Cupyde our lord his arwes forge and fyle;
213And at his fete his bowe al redy lay,
214And wel his doghter tempred al this whyle
215The hedes in the welle, and with hir wyle
216She couched hem after as they shulde serve,
217Some for to slee, and some to wounde and kerve.

218Tho was I war of Plesaunce anon-right,
219And of Aray, and Lust, and Curtesye,
220And of the Craft that can and hath the might
221To doon by force a wight to do folye –
222Disfigurat was she, I nil not lye;
223And by him-self, under an oke, I gesse,
224Saw I Delyt, that stood with Gentilnesse.

225I saw Beautee, withouten any atyr,
226And Youthe, ful of game and Iolyte,
227Fool-hardinesse, Flatery, and Desyr,
228Messagerye, and Mede, and other three –
229Hir names shul noght here be told for me –
230And upon pilers grete of Iasper longe
231I saw a temple of bras y-founded stronge.

232Aboute the temple daunceden alway
233Wommen y-nowe, of whiche some ther were
234Faire of hem-self, and somme of hem were gay;
235In kirtels, al disshevele, wente they there –
236That was hir office alway, yeer by yere –
237And on the temple, of doves whyte and faire
238Saw I sittinge many a hunderede paire.

239Before the temple-dore ful soberly
240Dame Pees sat, with a curteyn in hir hond:
241And hir besyde, wonder discretly,
242Dame Pacience sitting ther I fond
243With face pale, upon an hille of sond;
244And alder-next, within and eek with-oute,
245Behest and Art, and of hir folke a route.

246Within the temple, of syghes hote as fyr
247I herde a swogh that gan aboute renne;
248Which syghes were engendred with desyr,
249That maden every auter for to brenne
250Of newe flaume; and wel aspyed I thenne
251That al the cause of sorwes that they drye
252Com of the bitter goddesse Ialousye.

253The god Priapus saw I, as I wente,
254Within the temple, in soverayn place stonde,
255In swich aray as whan the asse him shente
256With crye by night, and with ceptre in honde;
257Ful besily men gunne assaye and fonde
258Upon his hede to sette, of sondry hewe,
259Garlondes ful of fresshe floures newe.

260And in a privee corner, in disporte,
261Fond I Venus and hir porter Richesse,
262That was ful noble and hauteyn of hir porte;
263Derk was that place, but afterward lightnesse
264I saw a lyte, unnethe hit might be lesse,
265And on a bed of golde she lay to reste,
266Til that the hote sonne gan to weste.

267Hir gilte heres with a golden threde
268Y-bounden were, untressed as she lay,
269And naked fro the breste unto the hede
270Men might hir see; and, sothly for to say,
271The remenant wel kevered to my pay
272Right with a subtil kerchef of Valence,
273Ther was no thikker cloth of no defence.

274The place yaf a thousand savours swote,
275And Bachus, god of wyn, sat hir besyde,
276And Ceres next, that doth of hunger bote;
277And, as I seide, amiddes lay Cipryde,
278To whom on knees two yonge folkes cryde
279To ben hir help; but thus I leet hir lye,
280And ferther in the temple I gan espye

281That, in dispyte of Diane the chaste,
282Ful many a bowe y-broke heng on the wal
283Of maydens, suche as gunne hir tymes waste
284In hir servyse; and peynted over al
285Of many a story, of which I touche shal
286A fewe, as of Calixte and Athalaunte,
287And many a mayde, of which the name I wante;

288Semyramus, Candace, and Ercules,
289Biblis, Dido, Thisbe, and Piramus,
290Tristram, Isoude, Paris, and Achilles,
291Eleyne, Cleopatre, and Troilus,
292Silla, and eek the moder of Romulus –
293Alle these were peynted on that other syde,
294And al hir love, and in what plyte they dyde.

295Whan I was come ayen unto the place
296That I of spak, that was so swote and grene,
297Forth welk I tho, my-selven to solace.
298Tho was I war wher that ther sat a quene
299That, as of light the somer-sonne shene
300Passeth the sterre, right so over mesure
301She fairer was than any creature.

302And in a launde, upon an hille of floures,
303Was set this noble goddesse Nature;
304Of braunches were hir halles and hir boures,
305Y-wrought after hir craft and hir mesure;
306Ne ther nas foul that cometh of engendrure,
307That they ne were prest in hir presence,
308To take hir doom and yeve hir audience.

309For this was on seynt Valentynes day,
310Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make,
311Of every kinde, that men thenke may;
312And that so huge a noyse gan they make,
313That erthe and see, and tree, and every lake
314So ful was, that unnethe was ther space
315For me to stonde, so ful was al the place.

316And right as Aleyn, in the Pleynt of Kinde,
317Devyseth Nature of aray and face,
318In swich aray men mighten hir ther finde.
319This noble emperesse, ful of grace,
320Bad every foul to take his owne place,
321As they were wont alwey fro yeer to yere,
322Seynt Valentynes day, to stonden there.

323That is to sey, the foules of ravyne
324Were hyest set; and than the foules smale,
325That eten as hem nature wolde enclyne,
326As worm or thing of whiche I telle no tale;
327And water-foul sat loweste in the dale;
328But foul that liveth by seed sat on the grene,
329And that so fele, that wonder was to sene.

330There mighte men the royal egle finde,
331That with his sharpe look perceth the sonne;
332And other egles of a lower kinde,
333Of which that clerkes wel devysen conne.
334Ther was the tyraunt with his fethres done
335And greye, I mene the goshauk, that doth pyne
336To briddes for his outrageous ravyne.

337The gentil faucoun, that with his feet distreyneth
338The kinges hond; the hardy sperhauk eke,
339The quayles foo; the merlion that payneth
340Him-self ful ofte, the larke for to seke;
341Ther was the douve, with hir eyen meke;
342The Ialous swan, ayens his deth that singeth;
343The oule eek, that of dethe the bode bringeth;

344The crane the geaunt, with his trompes soune;
345The theef, the chogh; and eek the Iangling pye;
346The scorning Iay; the eles foo, heroune;
347The false lapwing, ful of trecherye;
348The stare, that the counseyl can bewrye;
349The tame ruddok; and the coward kyte;
350The cok, that orloge is of thorpes lyte;

351The sparow, Venus sone; the nightingale,
352That clepeth forth the fresshe leves newe;
353The swalow, mordrer of the flyes smale
354That maken hony of floures fresshe of hewe;
355The wedded turtel, with hir herte trewe;
356The pecok, with his aungels fethres brighte;
357The fesaunt, scorner of the cok by nighte;

358The waker goos; the cukkow ever unkinde;
359The popiniay, ful of delicasye;
360The drake, stroyer of his owne kinde;
361The stork, the wreker of avouterye;
362The hote cormeraunt of glotonye;
363The raven wys, the crow with vois of care;
364The throstel olde; the frosty feldefare.

365What shulde I seyn? of foules every kinde
366That in this world han fethres and stature,
367Men mighten in that place assembled finde
368Before the noble goddesse Nature,
369And everich of hem did his besy cure
370Benignely to chese or for to take,
371By hir acord, his formel or his make.

372But to the poynt – Nature held on hir honde
373A formel egle, of shap the gentileste
374That ever she among hir werkes fonde,
375The moste benigne and the goodlieste;
376In hir was every vertu at his reste,
377So ferforth, that Nature hir-self had blisse
378To loke on hir, and ofte hir bek to kisse.

379Nature, the vicaire of thalmighty lorde,
380That hoot, cold, hevy, light, and moist and dreye
381Hath knit by even noumbre of acorde,
382In esy vois began to speke and seye,
383'Foules, tak hede of my sentence, I preye,
384And, for your ese, in furthering of your nede,
385As faste as I may speke, I wol me spede.

386Ye knowe wel how, seynt Valentynes day,
387By my statut and through my governaunce,
388Ye come for to chese – and flee your way –
389Your makes, as I prik yow with plesaunce.
390But natheles, my rightful ordenaunce
391May I not lete, for al this world to winne,
392That he that most is worthy shal beginne.

393The tercel egle, as that ye knowen wel,
394The foul royal above yow in degree,
395The wyse and worthy, secree, trewe as stel,
396The which I formed have, as ye may see,
397In every part as hit best lyketh me,
398Hit nedeth noght his shap yow to devyse,
399He shal first chese and speken in his gyse.

400And after him, by order shul ye chese,
401After your kinde, everich as yow lyketh,
402And, as your hap is, shul ye winne or lese;
403But which of yow that love most entryketh,
404God sende him hir that sorest for him syketh.'
405And therwith-al the tercel gan she calle,
406And seyde, 'my sone, the choys is to thee falle.

407But natheles, in this condicioun
408Mot be the choys of everich that is here,
409That she agree to his eleccioun,
410What-so he be that shulde be hir fere;
411This is our usage alwey, fro yeer to yere;
412And who so may at this time have his grace,
413In blisful tyme he com in-to this place.'

414With hed enclyned and with ful humble chere
415This royal tercel spak and taried nought:
416'Unto my sovereyn lady, and noght my fere,
417I chese, and chese with wille and herte and thought,
418The formel on your hond so wel y-wrought,
419Whos I am al and ever wol hir serve,
420Do what hir list, to do me live or sterve.

421Beseching hir of mercy and of grace,
422As she that is my lady sovereyne;
423Or let me dye present in this place.
424For certes, long may I not live in peyne;
425For in myn herte is corven every veyne;
426Having reward only to my trouthe,
427My dere herte, have on my wo som routhe.

428And if that I to hir be founde untrewe,
429Disobeysaunt, or wilful negligent,
430Avauntour, or in proces love a newe,
431I pray to you this be my Iugement,
432That with these foules I be al to-rent,
433That ilke day that ever she me finde
434To hir untrewe, or in my gilte unkinde.

435And sin that noon loveth hir so wel as I,
436Al be she never of love me behette,
437Than oghte she be myn thourgh hir mercy,
438For other bond can I noon on hir knette.
439For never, for no wo, ne shal I lette
440To serven hir, how fer so that she wende;
441Sey what yow list, my tale is at an ende.'

442Right as the fresshe, rede rose newe
443Ayen the somer-sonne coloured is,
444Right so for shame al wexen gan the hewe
445Of this formel, whan she herde al this;
446She neyther answerde 'Wel', ne seyde amis,
447So sore abasshed was she, til that Nature
448Seyde, 'doghter, drede yow noght, I yow assure.'

449Another tercel egle spak anoon
450Of lower kinde, and seyde, 'that shal nat be;
451I love hir bet than ye do, by seynt Iohn,
452Or atte leste I love hir as wel as ye;
453And lenger have served hir, in my degree,
454And if she shulde have loved for long loving,
455To me allone had been the guerdoninge.

456I dar eek seye, if she me finde fals,
457Unkinde, Iangler, or rebel in any wyse,
458Or Ialous, do me hongen by the hals!
459And but I bere me in hir servyse
460As wel as that my wit can me suffyse,
461From poynt to poynt, hir honour for to save,
462Tak she my lyf, and al the good I have.'

463The thridde tercel egle answerde tho,
464'Now, sirs, ye seen the litel leyser here;
465For every foul cryeth out to been a-go
466Forth with his make, or with his lady dere;
467And eek Nature hir-self ne wol nought here,
468For tarying here, noght half that I wolde seye;
469And but I speke, I mot for sorwe deye.

470Of long servyse avaunte I me no-thing,
471But as possible is me to dye to-day
472For wo, as he that hath ben languisshing
473Thise twenty winter, and wel happen may
474A man may serven bet and more to pay
475In half a yere, al-though hit were no more,
476Than som man doth that hath served ful yore.

477I ne sey not this by me, for I ne can
478Do no servyse that may my lady plese;
479But I dar seyn, I am hir trewest man
480As to my dome, and feynest wolde hir ese;
481At shorte wordes, til that deth me sese,
482I wol ben hires, whether I wake or winke,
483And trewe in al that herte may bethinke.'

484Of al my lyf, sin that day I was born,
485So gentil plee in love or other thing
486Ne herde never no man me beforn,
487Who-so that hadde leyser and cunning
488For to reherse hir chere and hir speking;
489And from the morwe gan this speche laste
490Til dounward drow the sonne wonder faste.

491The noyse of foules for to ben delivered
492So loude rong, 'have doon and let us wende!'
493That wel wende I the wode had al to-shivered.
494'Come of!' they cryde, 'allas! ye wil us shende!
495Whan shal your cursed pleding have an ende?
496How shulde a Iuge eyther party leve,
497For yee or nay, with-outen any preve?'

498The goos, the cokkow, and the doke also
499So cryden, 'kek, kek!' 'kukkow!' 'quek, quek!' hye,
500That thorgh myn eres the noyse wente tho.
501The goos seyde, 'al this nis not worth a flye!
502But I can shape hereof a remedye,
503And I wol sey my verdit faire and swythe
504For water-foul, who-so be wrooth or blythe.'

505'And I for worm-foul,' seyde the fool cukkow,
506'For I wol, of myn owne auctorite,
507For comune spede, take the charge now,
508For to delivere us is gret charite.'
509'Ye may abyde a whyle yet, parde!'
510Seide the turtel, 'if hit be your wille
511A wight may speke, him were as good be stille.

512I am a seed-foul, oon the unworthieste,
513That wot I wel, and litel of kunninge;
514But bet is that a wightes tonge reste
515Than entermeten him of such doinge
516Of which he neyther rede can nor singe.
517And who-so doth, ful foule himself acloyeth,
518For office uncommitted ofte anoyeth.'

519Nature, which that alway had an ere
520To murmour of the lewednes behinde,
521With facound voys seide, 'hold your tonges there!
522And I shal sone, I hope, a counseyl finde
523You to delivere, and fro this noyse unbinde;
524I Iuge, of every folk men shal oon calle
525To seyn the verdit for you foules alle.'

526Assented were to this conclusioun
527The briddes alle; and foules of ravyne
528Han chosen first, by pleyn eleccioun,
529The tercelet of the faucon, to diffyne
530Al hir sentence, and as him list, termyne;
531And to Nature him gonnen to presente,
532And she accepteth him with glad entente.

533The tercelet seide than in this manere:
534'Ful hard were it to preve hit by resoun
535Who loveth best this gentil formel here;
536For everich hath swich replicacioun,
537That noon by skilles may be broght a-doun;
538I can not seen that argumentes avayle;
539Than semeth hit ther moste be batayle.'

540'Al redy!' quod these egles tercels tho.
541'Nay, sirs!' quod he, 'if that I dorste it seye,
542Ye doon me wrong, my tale is not y-do!
543For sirs, ne taketh noght a-gref, I preye,
544It may noght gon, as ye wolde, in this weye;
545Oure is the voys that han the charge in honde,
546And to the Iuges dome ye moten stonde;

547'And therfor, pees! I seye, as to my wit,
548Me wolde thinke how that the worthieste
549Of knighthode, and lengest hath used hit,
550Moste of estat, of blode the gentileste,
551Were sittingest for hir, if that hir leste;
552And of these three she wot hir-self, I trowe,
553Which that he be, for hit is light to knowe.'

554The water-foules han her hedes leyd
555Togeder, and of short avysement,
556Whan everich had his large golee seyd,
557They seyden sothly, al by oon assent,
558How that 'the goos, with hir facounde gent,
559That so desyreth to pronounce our nede,
560Shal telle our tale,' and preyde 'god hir spede.'

561And for these water-foules tho began
562The goos to speke, and in hir cakelinge
563She seyde, 'pees! now tak kepe every man,
564And herkeneth which a reson I shal bringe;
565My wit is sharp, I love no taryinge;
566I seye, I rede him, though he were my brother,
567But she wol love him, lat him love another!'

568'Lo here! a parfit reson of a goos!'
569Quod the sperhauk; 'never mot she thee!
570Lo, swich hit is to have a tonge loos!
571Now parde, fool, yet were hit bet for thee
572Have holde thy pees, than shewed thy nycete!
573Hit lyth not in his wit nor in his wille,
574But sooth is seyd, "a fool can noght be stille."'

575The laughter aroos of gentil foules alle,
576And right anoon the seed-foul chosen hadde
577The turtel trewe, and gunne hir to hem calle,
578And preyden hir to seye the sothe sadde
579Of this matere, and asked what she radde;
580And she answerde, that pleynly hir entente
581She wolde shewe, and sothly what she mente.

582'Nay, god forbede a lover shulde chaunge!'
583The turtle seyde, and wex for shame al reed;
584'Thogh that his lady ever-more be straunge,
585Yet let him serve hir ever, til he be deed;
586For sothe, I preyse noght the gooses reed;
587For thogh she deyed, I wolde non other make,
588I wol ben hires, til that the deth me take.'

589'Wel bourded!' quod the doke, 'by my hat!
590That men shulde alwey loven, causeles,
591Who can a reson finde or wit in that?
592Daunceth he mury that is mirtheles?
593Who shulde recche of that is reccheles?
594Ye, quek!' yit quod the doke, ful wel and faire,
595'There been mo sterres, god wot, than a paire!'

596'Now fy, cherl!' quod the gentil tercelet,
597'Out of the dunghil com that word ful right,
598Thou canst noght see which thing is wel be-set:
599Thou farest by love as oules doon by light,
600The day hem blent, ful wel they see by night;
601Thy kind is of so lowe a wrechednesse,
602That what love is, thou canst nat see ne gesse.'

603Tho gan the cukkow putte him forth in prees
604For foul that eteth worm, and seide blyve,
605'So I,' quod he, 'may have my make in pees,
606I recche not how longe that ye stryve;
607Lat ech of hem be soleyn al hir lyve,
608This is my reed, sin they may not acorde;
609This shorte lesson nedeth noght recorde.'

610'Ye! have the glotoun fild ynogh his paunche,
611Than are we wel!' seyde the merlioun;
612'Thou mordrer of the heysugge on the braunche
613That broghte thee forth, thou rewthelees glotoun!
614Live thou soleyn, wormes corrupcioun!
615For no fors is of lakke of thy nature;
616Go, lewed be thou, whyl the world may dure!'

617'Now pees,' quod Nature, 'I comaunde here;
618For I have herd al your opinioun,
619And in effect yet be we never the nere;
620But fynally, this is my conclusioun,
621That she hir-self shal han the eleccioun
622Of whom hir list, who-so be wrooth or blythe,
623Him that she cheest, he shal hir have as swythe.

624For sith hit may not here discussed be
625Who loveth hir best, as seide the tercelet,
626Than wol I doon hir this favour, that she
627Shal have right him on whom hir herte is set,
628And he hir that his herte hath on hir knet.
629Thus Iuge I, Nature, for I may not lye;
630To noon estat I have non other ye.

631But as for counseyl for to chese a make,
632If hit were reson, certes, than wolde I
633Counseyle yow the royal tercel take,
634As seide the tercelet ful skilfully,
635As for the gentilest and most worthy,
636Which I have wroght so wel to my plesaunce;
637That to yow oghte been a suffisaunce.'

638With dredful vois the formel hir answerde,
639'My rightful lady, goddesse of Nature,
640Soth is that I am ever under your yerde,
641Lyk as is everiche other creature,
642And moot be youres whyl that my lyf may dure;
643And therfor graunteth me my firste bone,
644And myn entente I wol yow sey right sone.'

645'I graunte it you,' quod she; and right anoon
646This formel egle spak in this degree,
647'Almighty quene, unto this yeer be doon
648I aske respit for to avysen me.
649And after that to have my choys al free;
650This al and sum, that I wolde speke and seye;
651Ye gete no more, al-though ye do me deye.

652I wol noght serven Venus ne Cupyde
653For sothe as yet, by no manere wey.'
654'Now sin it may non other wyse betyde,'
655Quod tho Nature, 'here is no more to sey;
656Than wolde I that these foules were a-wey
657Ech with his make, for tarying lenger here' –
658And seyde hem thus, as ye shul after here.

659'To you speke I, ye tercelets,' quod Nature,
660'Beth of good herte and serveth, alle three;
661A yeer is not so longe to endure,
662And ech of yow peyne him, in his degree,
663For to do wel; for, god wot, quit is she
664Fro yow this yeer; what after so befalle,
665This entremes is dressed for you alle.'

666And whan this werk al broght was to an ende,
667To every foule Nature yaf his make
668By even acorde, and on hir wey they wende.
669A! lord! the blisse and Ioye that they make!
670For ech of hem gan other in winges take,
671And with hir nekkes ech gan other winde,
672Thanking alwey the noble goddesse of kinde.

673But first were chosen foules for to singe,
674As yeer by yere was alwey hir usaunce
675To singe a roundel at hir departinge,
676To do to Nature honour and plesaunce.
677The note, I trowe, maked was in Fraunce;
678The wordes wer swich as ye may heer finde,
679The nexte vers, as I now have in minde.

Qui bien aime a tard oublie.

680'Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
681That hast this wintres weders over-shake,
682And driven awey the longe nightes blake!

683'Saynt Valentyn, that art ful by on-lofte; –
684Thus singen smale foules for thy sake –
685Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
686That hast this wintres weders over-shake.

687'Wel han they cause for to gladen ofte,
688Sith ech of hem recovered hath his make;
689Ful blisful may they singen whan they wake;
690Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
691That hast this wintres weders over-shake,
692And driven away the longe nightes blake.'

693And with the showting, whan hir song was do,
694That foules maden at hir flight a-way,
695I wook, and other bokes took me to
696To rede upon, and yet I rede alway;
697In hope, y-wis, to rede so som day
698That I shal mete som thing for to fare
699The bet; and thus to rede I nil not spare.

Parliamentum avium in die Sancti Valentini tentum secundum Galfridum Chaucer. Deo gracias.