Chaucer's Works (ed. Skeat) Vol. I/XXII
XXII. AN AMOROUS COMPLEINT.
An amorous Compleint, made at Windsor.
I, which that am the sorwefulleste man
That in this world was ever yit livinge,
And leest recoverer of him-selven can,
Beginne thus my deadly compleininge
On hir, that may to lyf and deeth me bringe, 5
Which hath on me no mercy ne no rewthe
That love hir best, but sleeth me for my trewthe.
Can I noght doon ne seye that may yow lyke,
[For] certes, now, allas! allas! the whyle!
Your plesaunce is to laughen whan I syke, 10
And thus ye me from al my blisse exyle.
Ye han me cast in thilke spitous yle
Ther never man on lyve mighte asterte;
This have I for I lovë you, swete herte!
Sooth is, that wel I woot, by lyklinesse, 15
If that it were thing possible to do
Tacompte youre beutee and goodnesse,
I have no wonder thogh ye do me wo;
Sith I, thunworthiest that may ryde or go,
Durste ever thinken in so hy a place, 20
What wonder is, thogh ye do me no grace?
Allas! thus is my lyf brought to an ende,
My deeth, I see, is my conclusioun;
I may wel singe, 'in sory tyme I spende
My lyf;' that song may have confusioun! 25
For mercy, pitee, and deep affeccioun,
I sey for me, for al my deedly chere,
Alle thise diden, in that, me love yow dere.
And in this wyse and in dispayre I live
In lovë; nay, but in dispayre I dye! 30
But shal I thus [to] yow my deeth for-give,
That causeles doth me this sorow drye?
Ye, certes, I! For she of my folye
Hath nought to done, although she do me sterve;
Hit is nat with hir wil that I hir serve! 35
Than sith I am of my sorowe the cause
And sith that I have this, withoute hir reed,
Than may I seyn, right shortly in a clause,
It is no blame unto hir womanheed
Though swich a wrecche as I be for hir deed; 40
[And] yet alwey two thinges doon me dyë,
That is to seyn, hir beutee and myn yë.
So that, algates, she is the verray rote
Of my disese, and of my dethe also;
For with oon word she mighte be my bote, 45
If that she vouched sauf for to do so.
But [why] than is hir gladnesse at my wo?
It is hir wone plesaunce for to take,
To seen hir servaunts dyen for hir sake!
But certes, than is al my wonderinge, 50
Sithen she is the fayrest creature
As to my dome, that ever was livinge,
The benignest and beste eek that nature
Hath wrought or shal, whyl that the world may dure,
Why that she lefte pite so behinde? 55
It was, y-wis, a greet defaute in kinde.
Yit is al this no lak to hir, pardee,
But god or nature sore wolde I blame;
For, though she shewe no pite unto me,
Sithen that she doth othere men the same, 60
I ne oughte to despyse my ladies game;
It is hir pley to laughen whan men syketh,
And I assente, al that hir list and lyketh!
Yit wolde I, as I dar, with sorweful herte
Biseche un-to your meke womanhede 65
That I now dorste my sharpe sorwes smerte
Shewe by worde, that ye wolde ones rede
The pleynte of me, the which ful sore drede
That I have seid here, through myn unconninge,
In any worde to your displesinge. 70
Lothest of anything that ever was loth
Were me, as wisly god my soule save!
To seyn a thing through which ye might be wroth;
And, to that day that I be leyd in grave,
A trewer servaunt shulle ye never have; 75
And, though that I on yow have pleyned here,
Forgiveth it me, myn owne lady dere!
Ever have I been, and shal, how-so I wende,
Outher to live or dye, your humble trewe;
Ye been to me my ginning and myn ende, 80
Sonne of the sterre bright and clere of hewe,
Alwey in oon to love yow freshly newe,
By god and by my trouthe, is myn entente;
To live or dye, I wol it never repente!
This compleynt on seint Valentynes day, 85
Whan every foul [ther] chesen shal his make,
To hir, whos I am hool, and shal alwey,
This woful song and this compleynt I make,
That never yit wolde me to mercy take;
And yit wol I [for] evermore her serve 90
And love hir best, although she do me sterve.
In MS. Harl. 7333, fol. 133 b and 134. Title—And next folowyng begynnith an amerowse compleynte made at wyndesore in the laste May tofore Novembre (sic). Also in F. (Fairfax) and B. (Bodley 638); entitled Complaynt Damours. N. B. Unmarked readings are from Harl.
1. sorowfullest. 2. worlde; leving (F. lyvinge). 3. F. lest; Harl. B. leste. B. rekeuerer. 4. Begynne right thus; so F. B.; I omit right. 5. lyff; dethe. 6. Whiche hathe; rought (for rewthe). 7. beste; sleethe. 8. F. Kan I noght doon to seyn; B. Kan I nought don to seyn; Harl. Cane I nought ne saye. 9. All Ne; read For. 10. Youre. 11. frome. 12. Yee. F. B. han; Harl. haue. caste. F. B. thilke; Harl. that. All spitouse. 13. Harl. ne (after lyve); F. B. om. 14. beste (after you); F. B. om.
15. Soothe; weele. 16. F. B. that; Harl. om. F. B. a thing; Harl. om. a. thinge; doo. 17. F. B. Tacompte youre; Harl. For to acounte your. 18. noo wondre; yee; woo. 19. Sithe; goo. 20. F. neuer; B. euyr; Harl. euer. hie. 21. wondir; doo; noo. 22. Ellas; Eonde. F. myshefe; B. myschef (for my lyf). 23. dethe; conclucioun. 24. wele. F. sing; B. singe; Harl. say. Harl. sorye. 25. B. ys my (for may have). Confucioun. 26. B. my saluacioun (for deep affeccioun). 27, 28. B. I sey for me I haue noun [neuer?] felte Alle thes diden me in despeire to melte. 27. fo (? for for). 28. Alle this; yowe deere. 29. Harl. om. 2nd in. 30. F. B. nay; Harl. nay nay. 31. I supply to; yowe; dethe for-geve. 32. dothe. 33. certe (!); sheo. 34. Hathe; Al-thoughe sheo. 35. nought (for nat). 36. Thane sithe. 37. sitthe; rede. 38. seyne. 39. noo; womanhede. 40. Thaugh suche; dede.
41. Yette; I supply And; twoo; doone. 42. seyne; beaute; eye. 43. Harl. om. that. F. B. om. the. verraye Roote. 44. diseese; alsoo. 45. worde sheo myght; boote. 46. sheo wovched saufe; soo. 47. I supply why; woo. 48. wonne; all ins. to after wonne. 49. seon; sarvauntes; B. seruaunte. 50. thanne; alle; wondering. 51. sheo. 53. eke. 54. Hathe; shalle; Harl. om. that; worlde. 55. Whi; sheo lefe pitte; byhinde. Harl. so; F. alle; B. all. 56. ewisse; grete. 57. Yitte; noo. F. B. om. al. 58. Harl. ins. hem before soore (sic); F. B. hem (but om. sore). 59. thowe (for though); sheo; pette. 60. sheo doothe. 61. ought. 62. Harl. om. hir; pleye; lawhe when that men sikith. 63. liste; likethe. 64. B. Yit; F. Yet; Harl. Yeo (sic); see 57. dare; sorowfull. 65. F. B. meke; Harl. mekly. 66. F. sorwes; B. sorwys; Harl. shoures. 67. Harl. and; F. B. that, yee; onys.
68. compleynte (for pleynte); which I Fulle. 69. saide; thorowe. B. vnkonnynge; F. vnkunnynge; Harl. vnknowynge. F. B. om. here and myn. 70. yowre. 71. Loothest; loothe. 72. als; sowle safe. 73. seyne; thorughe; yee; wrothe. 74. leyde. 75. sarvaunt ne shulde yee. F. shul; B. shall; Harl. shulde. 76. thaughe. F. B. on yow haue pleyned; Harl. haue playned vnto yow. 77. For-gyvethe yt me, myne oune lady so dere. 78. howe. 79. youre. 80. Yee ben; gynnynge. 81. Harl. of; F. ouer; B. ovyr. F. B. om. and clere. Sterre so bright; huwe. 82. Harl. And I ay oon; F. B. Alwey in oon. fresshely. 84. wolle. 85. Conpleynte; valantines. 86. foughel cheesen shall; I supply ther from Parl. Foules, 310. 87. was (F. B. whos); hole; shall. 88. wofulle songe; conplaynte. 90. wolle; I supply for. 91. alle-thowhe sheo. F. B. Explicit; Harl. om.