Chaucer's Works (ed. Skeat) Vol. I/Notes XXII
[ Text of the Poem ]
XXII. An Amorous Compleint (Compleint Damours).
There are three MS. copies of this poem, viz. in MSS. F., B., and Harl. 7333. See remarks upon these in the Introduction, p. 89.
1. In Troil. iv. 516, the parallel line is—'Of me, that am the wofulleste wight'; where wofullest-e has four syllables. Chaucer constantly employs sorwe or sorw so as to occupy the time of a monosyllable; hence the right reading in this case is sorw'fullest-e, with final -e. See also Troil. ii. 450—'So as she was the ferfulleste wight.' And 'Bicomen is the sorwefulleste man'; Cant. Tales, E 2098.
3. Recoverer, recovery, cure; answering to O.F. recovrier, sb. succour, aid, cure, recovery; see examples in La Langue et la Littérature Française, by Bartsch and Horning, 1887. Gower uses recoverir in a like sense; ed. Pauli, i. 265. In Specimens of English, ed. Morris and Skeat, pt. ii. p. 156, l. 394, recouerer may likewise mean 'succour'; and the whole line may mean, 'they each of them cried for succour (to be obtained) from the Creator.'
6. Cf. Sect. VI. l. 53:—'So litel rewthe hath she upon my peyne.'
7. Cf. Sect. VI. l. 33:—'That, for I love hir, sleeth me giltelees.' So also Frank. Ta. F 1322:—'Er ye me sleen bycause that I yow love.'
12. Spitous, hateful. The word in Chaucer is usually despitous; see Prol. 516, Cant. Ta. A 1596, D 761, Troil. ii. 435, v. 199; but spitously occurs in the Cant. Tales, D 223. Trevisa translates ignominiosa seruitute by 'in a dispitous bondage'; Higden's Polychron. v. 87. The sense is—'You have banished me to that hateful island whence no man may escape alive.' The allusion is to the isle of Naxos, here used as a synonym for a state of hopeless despair. It was the island in which Ariadne was left, when deserted by Theseus; and Chaucer alludes to it at least thrice in a similar way: see C. T. Group B, 68, Ho. of Fame, 416, Legend of Good Women, 2163.
14. This have I, such is my reward. For, because.
16. Another reading is—'If that it were a thing possible to do.' In that case, we must read possíbl', with the accent on i.
17. Cf. Sect. VI. l. 94:—'For ye be oon the worthiest on-lyve.'
19. Cf. Sect. VI. l. 93:—'I am so litel worthy.'
24, 25. Cf. X. 7, and the note (p. 544).
28. Perhaps corrupt; it seems to mean—'All these things caused me, in that (very state of despair), to love you dearly.'
31. The insertion of to is justified by the parallel line—'And I my deeth to yow wol al forgive'; VI. 119.
36, 37. Perhaps read—'And sithen I am of my sorwe the cause, And sithen I have this,' &c.; as in MSS. F. and B.
43. Perhaps read—'So that, algates, she is verray rote'; as in F. B.
45. Cf. C. T. 11287 (F 975):—'For with a word ye may me sleen or save.'
52. As to my dome, in my judgment, as in V. 480; and see Troil. iv. 386, 387.
54. Cf. 'whyl the world may dure'; V, 616.
55. Bihynde, in the rear, far away; cf. VI. 5.
57. The idea is the same as in the Compl. of Mars, ll. 264-270.
62. See l. 10 above.
70, 71. Cf. C. T. 11625 (F 1313)—'And lothest wer of al this world displese.'
72. Compare the description of Dorigen, C. T. 11255-66 (F 943-54). We have similar expressions in Troil. iii. 1501:—'As wisly verray God my soule save'; and in Legend of Good Women, 1806:—'As wisly Iupiter my soule save.' And see XXIII. 4.
76. Chaucer has both pleyne unto and pleyne on; see C. T., Cler. Tale, Group E, 97; and Pard. Tale, Group C, 512.
77. Cf. Troil. iii. 1183, and v. 1344:—'Foryeve it me, myn owne swete herte.'
79. Cf. Troil. iii. 141—'And I to ben your verray humble trewe.'
81. 'Sun of the bright and clear star'; i. e. source of light to the planet Venus. The 'star' can hardly be other than this bright planet, which was supposed to be auspicious to lovers. Cf. Troil. v. 638:—'O sterre, of which I lost have al the light.' Observe that MSS. F. and B. read over for of; this will not scan, but it suggests the sense intended.
82. In oon, in one state, ever constant; C. T., E 602. Cf. also Troil. iii. 143:—'And ever-mo desire freshly newe To serven.'
83. So in Troil. iii. 1512:—'For I am thyn, by god and by my trouthe'; cf. Troil. iii. 120.
85. See Parl. of Foules, 309, 310, whence I supply the word ther. These lines in the Parl. of Foules may have been borrowed from the present passage, i. e. if the 'Amorous Compleint' is the older poem of the two, as is probable. In any case, the connexion is obvious. Cf. also Parl. Foules, 386.
87. Cf. Parl. Foules, 419:—'Whos I am al, and ever wol her serve.'
Shal, shall be; as in l. 78 above, and in Troil. iii. 103; cf. Kn. Tale, 286 (A 1144), and note to VI. 86.
90, 91. Cf. Kn. Tale, 285, 286 (A 1143, 1144); Parl. Foules, 419, 420. All three passages are much alike.