Chaucer's Works (ed. Skeat) Vol. I/VI
VI. A COMPLEINT TO HIS LADY.
I. (In seven-line stanzas.)
The longe night, whan every creature
Shulde have hir rest in somwhat, as by kinde,
Or elles ne may hir lyf nat long endure,
Hit falleth most in-to my woful minde
How I so fer have broght my-self behinde, 5
That, sauf the deeth, ther may no-thing me lisse,
So desespaired I am from alle blisse.
This same thoght me lasteth til the morwe,
And from the morwe forth til hit be eve;
Ther nedeth me no care for to borwe, 10
For bothe I have good leyser and good leve;
Ther is no wight that wol me wo bereve
To wepe y-nogh, and wailen al my fille;
The sore spark of peyne doth me spille.
II. (In Terza Rima; imperfect.)
[The sore spark of peyne doth me spille;] 15
This Love hath [eek] me set in swich a place
That my desyr [he] never wol fulfille;
For neither pitee, mercy, neither grace
Can I nat finde; and [fro] my sorwful herte,
For to be deed, I can hit nat arace. 20
The more I love, the more she doth me smerte;
Through which I see, with-oute remedye,
That from the deeth I may no wyse asterte;
[For this day in hir servise shal I dye].
III. (In Terza Rima; imperfect.)
[Thus am I slain, with sorwes ful dyverse; 25
Ful longe agoon I oghte have taken hede].
Now sothly, what she hight I wol reherse;
Hir name is Bountee, set in womanhede,
Sadnesse in youthe, and Beautee prydelees,
And Plesaunce, under governaunce and drede; 30
Hir surname eek is Faire Rewthelees,
The Wyse, y-knit un-to Good Aventure,
That, for I love hir, sleeth me giltelees.
Hir love I best, and shal, whyl I may dure,
Bet than my-self an hundred thousand deel, 35
Than al this worldes richesse or creature.
Now hath nat Lovë me bestowed weel
To lovë, ther I never shal have part?
Allas! right thus is turned me the wheel,
Thus am I slayn with loves fyry dart. 40
I can but love hir best, my swete fo;
Love hath me taught no more of his art
But serve alwey, and stinte for no wo.
IV. (In ten-line stanzas.)
[With]-in my trewe careful herte ther is
So moche wo, and [eek] so litel blis, 45
That wo is me that ever I was bore;
For al that thing which I desyre I mis,
And al that ever I wolde nat, I-wis,
That finde I redy to me evermore;
And of al this I not to whom me pleyne. 50
For she that mighte me out of this bringe
Ne reccheth nat whether I wepe or singe;
So litel rewthe hath she upon my peyne.
Allas! whan sleping-time is, than I wake,
Whan I shulde daunce, for fere than I quake; 55
[Yow rekketh never wher I flete or sinke;]
This hevy lyf I lede for your sake,
Thogh ye ther-of in no wyse hede take,
[For on my wo yow deyneth not to thinke.]
My hertes lady, and hool my lyves quene! 60
For trewly dorste I seye, as that I fele,
Me semeth that your swete herte of stele
Is whetted now ageynes me to kene.
My dere herte, and best beloved fo,
Why lyketh yow to do me al this wo, 65
What have I doon that greveth yow, or sayd,
But for I serve and love yow and no mo?
And whylst I live, I wol do ever so;
And therfor, swete, ne beth nat evil apayd.
For so good and so fair as [that] ye be, 70
Hit were [a] right gret wonder but ye hadde
Of alle servants, bothe goode and badde;
And leest worthy of alle hem, I am he.
But never-the-les, my righte lady swete,
Thogh that I be unconning and unmete 75
To serve as I best coude ay your hynesse.
Yit is ther fayner noon, that wolde I hete,
Than I, to do yow ese, or elles bete
What-so I wiste were to [yow distresse].
And hadde I might as good as I have wille, 80
Than shulde ye fele wher it wer so or noon;
For in this worlde living is ther noon
That fayner wolde your hertes wil fulfille.
For bothe I love, and eek dreed yow so sore,
And algates moot, and have doon yow, ful yore, 85
That bet loved is noon, ne never shal;
And yit I wolde beseche yow of no more
But leveth wel, and be nat wrooth ther-fore,
And lat me serve yow forth; lo! this is al.
For I am nat so hardy ne so wood 90
For to desire that ye shulde love me;
For wel I wot, allas! that may nat be;
I am so litel worthy, and ye so good.
For ye be oon the worthiest on-lyve,
And I the most unlykly for to thryve; 95
Yit, for al this, [now] witeth ye right wele,
That ye ne shul me from your service dryve
That I nil ay, with alle my wittes fyve,
Serve yow trewly, what wo so that I fele.
For I am set on yow in swich manere 100
That, thogh ye never wil upon me rewe,
I moste yow love, and ever been as trewe
As any can or may on-lyve [here].
The more that I love yow, goodly free,
The lasse fynde I that ye loven me; 105
Allas! whan shal that harde wit amende?
Wher is now al your wommanly pitee,
Your gentilesse and your debonairtee,
Wil ye no thing ther-of upon me spende?
And so hool, swete, as I am youres al, 110
And so gret wil as I have yow to serve,
Now, certes, and ye lete me thus sterve,
Yit have ye wonne ther-on but a smal.
For, at my knowing, I do no-thing why,
And this I wol beseche yow hertely, 115
That, ther ever ye finde, whyl ye live,
A trewer servant to yow than am I,
Leveth [me] thanne, and sleeth me hardely,
And I my deeth to you wol al forgive.
And if ye finde no trewer [man than me], 120
[Why] will ye suffre than that I thus spille,
And for no maner gilt but my good wille?
As good wer thanne untrewe as trewe to be.
But I, my lyf and deeth, to yow obeye,
And with right buxom herte hoolly I preye, 125
As [is] your moste plesure, so doth by me;
Wel lever is me lyken yow and deye
Than for to any thing or thinke or seye
That mighte yow offende in any tyme.
And therfor, swete, rewe on my peynes smerte, 130
And of your grace granteth me som drope;
For elles may me laste ne blis ne hope,
Ne dwellen in my trouble careful herte.
1. Sh. nightes; see l. 8. 2, 3. hir] Sh. theyre. 7. Ed. (1561) dispaired. 12. Sh. me; Ed. my. 14. All insert now before doth. 15. It seems necessary to repeat this line in order to start the series of rimes. 16. Sh. This loue that hathe me set; I omit that, and supply eek. 17. I supply he (i. e. Love).
19. Sh. and yit my; I omit yit, and supply fro. 24. Supplied to complete the rime from Compl. Mars, 189. 25. Supplied from Compl. Pite, 22, 17. 26. Supplied from Anelida, 307. 31. Sh. is eek. 32. Sh. The wyse eknytte; Ph. The wise I-knyt (corrupt?) 33. Sh. hir she; I omit she. 36. Corrupt? Perhaps read richest creature. 40. Sh. fury. 42. Read of alle his? 44. Sh. In; I read With-in. 45. I supply eek.
50. So in Anelida, 237. 54. Sh. ins. lo after is. 55. Sh. ins. lo after fere. 56, 59. Both lines are missing; supplied from Anelida, 181, 182. 57. Sh. ins. lo after lede. 68. Sh. euer do. 70. I supply that. 71. I supply a. 72. Sh. ins. of after bothe. 76. Sh. koude best; Ph. om. best. 77. Sh. noon fayner. 78. Sh. youre; read yow. 79. Sh. wist that were; om. that. Sh. your hyenesse (repeated from l. 76; wrongly); read yow distresse.
82. Sh. ins. þane before is. 83. Sh. wille; Ph. Ed. wil. 86. Sh. better. 88. Sh. leuethe; Ph. lovith. 96. I supply now. 98. Sh. ne wil (for nil). 100. Ed. (1561) has set so hy vpon your whele. 102. Sh. beon euer. 103. Sh. man can; I omit man. I supply here; the line is imperfect. 104. Sh. But the; I omit But. 113. Ed. om. a.
114. Sh. nought; read nothing. 116. Sh. whyles. 118. I supply me. 120. Sh. no trewer so verrayly; Ed. no trewer verely (false rime). 121. I supply Why. 124-133. Unique stanza, in Ph. only. 126. I supply is. 127. Ph. For wele; omit For. 129. Ph. That yow myght offenden. 132. Ph. no blisse. 133. Ph. dwelle withyn. Colophon. Ph. Explicit Pyte: dan Chaucer Lauteire (?).