from "TROILUS AND CRISEYDE" from "TROILUS AND CRESSIDA" - Book I
Geoffrey Chaucertr. A.S.Kline (from Old English)
The double sorwe of Troilus to tellen,
That was the king Priamus sone of Troye,
In lovinge, how his aventures fellen
Fro wo to wele, and after out of Ioye,
My purpos is, er that I parte fro ye.
Thesiphone, thou help me for tendyte
Thise woful vers, that wepen as I wryte!

To thee clepe I, thou goddesse of torment,
Thou cruel Furie, sorwing ever in peyne;
Help me, that am the sorwful instrument
That helpeth lovers, as I can, to pleyne!
For wel sit it, the sothe for to seyne,
A woful wight to han a drery fere,
And, to a sorwful tale, a sory chere.

For I, that god of Loves servaunts serve,
Ne dar to Love, for myn unlyklinesse,
Preyen for speed, al sholde I therfor sterve,
So fer am I fro his help in derknesse;
But nathelees, if this may doon gladnesse
To any lover, and his cause avayle,
Have he my thank, and myn be this travayle!

But ye loveres, that bathen in gladnesse,
If any drope of pitee in yow be,
Remembreth yow on passed hevinesse
That ye han felt, and on the adversitee
Of othere folk, and thenketh how that ye
Han felt that Love dorste yow displese;
Or ye han wonne hym with to greet an ese.

And preyeth for hem that ben in the cas
Of Troilus, as ye may after here,
That love hem bringe in hevene to solas,
And eek for me preyeth to god so dere,
That I have might to shewe, in som manere,
Swich peyne and wo as Loves folk endure,
In Troilus unsely aventure.

And biddeth eek for hem that been despeyred
In love, that never nil recovered be,
And eek for hem that falsly been apeyred
Thorugh wikked tonges, be it he or she;
Thus biddeth god, for his benignitee,
So graunte hem sone out of this world to pace,
That been despeyred out of Loves grace.

And biddeth eek for hem that been at ese,
That god hem graunte ay good perseveraunce,
And sende hem might hir ladies so to plese,
That it to Love be worship and plesaunce.
For so hope I my soule best avaunce,
To preye for hem that Loves servaunts be,
And wryte hir wo, and live in charitee.

And for to have of hem compassioun
As though I were hir owene brother dere.
Now herkeneth with a gode entencioun,
For now wol I gon streight to my matere,
In whiche ye may the double sorwes here
Of Troilus, in loving of Criseyde,
And how that she forsook him er she deyde.

It is wel wist, how that the Grekes stronge
In armes with a thousand shippes wente
To Troyewardes, and the citee longe
Assegeden neigh ten yeer er they stente,
And, in diverse wyse and oon entente,
The ravisshing to wreken of Eleyne,
By Paris doon, they wroughten al hir peyne.

Now fil it so, that in the toun ther was
Dwellinge a lord of greet auctoritee,
A gret devyn that cleped was Calkas,
That in science so expert was, that he
Knew wel that Troye sholde destroyed be,
By answere of his god, that highte thus,
Daun Phebus or Apollo Delphicus.

So whan this Calkas knew by calculinge,
And eek by answere of this Appollo,
That Grekes sholden swich a peple bringe,
Thorugh which that Troye moste been for-do,
He caste anoon out of the toun to go;
For wel wiste he, by sort, that Troye sholde
Destroyed ben, ye, wolde who-so nolde.

For which, for to departen softely
Took purpos ful this forknowinge wyse,
And to the Grekes ost ful prively
He stal anoon; and they, in curteys wyse,
Hym deden bothe worship and servyse,
In trust that he hath conning hem to rede
In every peril which that is to drede.

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Troilusís double sorrow for to tell,
he that was son of Priam King of Troy,
and how, in loving, his adventures fell
from grief to good, and after out of joy,
my purpose is, before I make envoy.
Tisiphone, do you help me, so I might
pen these sad lines, that weep now as I write.

I call on you, goddess who does torment,
you cruel Fury, sorrowing ever in pain:
help me, who am the sorrowful instrument
who (as I can) help lovers to complain.
Since it is fitting, and truth I maintain,
for a dreary mate a woeful soul to grace,
and for a sorrowful tale a sorry face.

For I, who the God of Loveís servants serve,
not daring to Love, in my inadequateness,
pray for success, though death I might deserve,
so far am I from his help in darkness.
But nevertheless, if this should bring gladness
to any lover, and his cause avail,
Love take my thanks, and mine be the travail.

But you, lovers that bathe in gladness,
if any drop of pity is in you,
remember all your past heaviness
that you have felt, and how others knew
the same adversity: and think how, too,
you have felt Love dare to displease
if you have won him with too great an ease.

And pray for those that may have been
in Troilusís trouble, as youíll later hear,
that love bring them solace in heaven:
and also, for me, pray to God so dear
that I might have the power to make clear
such pain and woe as Loveís folk endure
in Troilusís unhappiest adventure.

And also pray for those that have despaired
of love, and never can recover:
and also those by falsity impaired,
by wicked tongues, beloved one, or lover,
And so ask of God the benign mover,
to grant them soon to pass from this place,
that have despaired of Loveís grace.

And also pray for those that are at ease,
that God might grant them to persevere,
and send them power their lovers to please,
that it might, for Love, be worship and a pleasure.
For that I hope will be my soulís best measure:
to pray for those who Loveís servants be,
and write their woes, and live in charity.

And so as to have, for them, compassion
as though I were their own brother dear,
now listen to me, with all good intention:
for now Iíll go straight to my matter, here,
in which you may the double-sorrows hear
of Troilusís love of Cressid, she, by his side,
and how she forsook him before she died.

It is well known how the Greeks, strong
in arms, with a thousand ships, went
there to Troy, and the city long
besieged, near ten years without stint,
and in diverse ways, and with sole intent,
to take revenge for the rape of Helen, done
by Paris, they strove there as one.

Now it fell out that in the town there was
living a lord, of great authority,
a powerful priest who was named Calchas,
in science a man so expert that he
knew well that Troy would fall utterly,
by the answer of his god that was called thus:
Dan Phoebus or Apollo Delphicus.

So when this Calchas knew by his divining,
and also by answer from this Apollo,
that the Greeks would such a host bring
that, through it, Troy must be brought low,
he planned out of the town to go.
For he well knew by prophecy Troy would
be destroyed, whether or not it should.

For which purpose to depart quietly
was the clear intent of this far-seeing man,
and to the Greek host, most carefully
he stole away: and they with courteous hand
gave him both worship and service, and
trusted that he had cunning in his head
for every peril they might have to dread.

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Transl. copyright © A. S. Kline 2003


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