Chaucer's Works (ed. Skeat) Vol. I/Notes XXI
[ Text of the Poem ]
XXI. Balade against Women unconstant.
5. In a place, in one place. In the New E. Dictionary, the following is quoted from Caxton's print of Geoffroi de la Tour, leaf 4, back:—'They satte att dyner in a hall and the quene in another.'
7. From Machault, ed. Tarbé, p. 56 (see p. 88 above):—'Qu'en lieu de bleu, Damë, vous vestez vert'; on which M. Tarbé has the following note:—'Bleu. Couleur exprimant la sincérité, la pureté, la constance; le vert, au contraire, exprimait les nouvelles amours, le changement, l'infidélité; au lieu de bleu se vêtir de vert, c'était avouer que l'on changeait d'ami.' Blue was the colour of constancy, and green of inconstancy; see Notes to Anelida, l. 330; and my note to the Squire's Tale, F 644.
In a poem called Le Remède de Fortune, Machault explains that pers, i. e. blue, means loyalty; red, ardent love; black, grief; white, joy; green, fickleness; yellow, falsehood.
8. Cf. James i. 23, 24; and see The Marchantes Tale (Group E, ll. 1582-5).
9. It, i. e. the transient image; relative to the word thing, which is implied in no-thing in l. 8.
10. Read far'th, ber'th; as usual in Chaucer. So turn'th in l. 12.
12. Cf. 'chaunging as a vane'; Clerkes Tale, E 996.
13. Sene, evident; A.S. ge-séne, ge-sýne, adj., evident, quite distinct from the pp. of the verb, which appears in Chaucer as seen or yseen. Other examples of the use of this adjective occur in ysene, C. T. Prol. 592; C. T. 11308 (Frank. Tale, F 996); sene, Compl. of Pite, 112; Merciless Beauty, 10.
15. Brotelnesse, fickleness. Cf. 'On brotel ground they bilde, and brotelnesse They finde, whan they wene sikernesse,' with precisely the same rime, Merch. Tale, 35 (E 1279).
16. Dalýda, Delilah. It is Dálida in the Monkes Tale, Group B, 3253; but see Book of the Duchesse, 738.
Creseide, the heroine of Chaucer's Troilus.
Candáce, hardly for Canace; see note to Parl. of Foules, 288. Rather, it is the queen Candace who tricked Alexander; see Wars of Alexander, ed. Skeat, p. 264; Gower, Conf. Amant, ii. 180.
18. Tache, defect; cf. P. Plowman, B. ix. 146. This is the word which best expresses the sense of touch (which Schmidt explains by trait) in the famous passage—'One touch of nature makes the whole world kin'; Shak. Troil. iii. 3. 175. I do not assert that touch is an error for tache, though even that is likely; but I say that the contextshews that it is used in just the sense of tache. The same context also entirely condemns the forced sense of the passage, as commonly misapplied. It is somewhat curious that touchwood is corrupted from a different tache, which had the sense of dried fuel or tinder.
Arace, eradicate; precisely as in VI. 20, q. v.
19. Compare the modern proverb—'She has two strings to her bow.'
20. Al light for somer; this phrase begins l. 15 of the Canon's Yeoman's Prologue, Group G, 568; and the phrase wot what I mene occurs again in C. T., Group B, 93. This allusion to the wearing of light summer garments seems here to imply wantonness or fickleness. Canacee in the Squi. Tale was arrayed lightly (F 389, 390); but she was taking a walk in her own park, attended by her ladies. Skelton has, 'he wente so all for somer lyghte'; Bowge of Courte, 355; and again, in Philip Sparowe, 719, he tells us that Pandarus won nothing by his help of Troilus but 'lyght-for-somer grene.' It would seem that green was a favourite colour for summer garments.