Chaucer's Works (ed. Skeat) Vol. III/House of Fame Book I



God turne us every dreem to gode!
For hit is wonder, by the rode,
To my wit, what causeth swevenes
Either on morwes, or on evenes;
And why the effect folweth of somme,       5
And of somme hit shal never come;
Why that is an avisioun,
And this a revelacioun;
Why this a dreem, why that a sweven,
And nat to every man liche even;       10
Why this a fantom, these oracles,
I noot; but who-so of these miracles
The causes knoweth bet than I,
Devyne he; for I certeinly
Ne can hem noght, ne never thinke       15
To besily my wit to swinke,
To knowe of hir signifiaunce
The gendres, neither the distaunce
Of tymes of hem, ne the causes
For-why this more than that cause is;       20
As if folkes complexiouns
Make hem dreme of reflexiouns;
Or elles thus, as other sayn,
For to greet feblenesse of brayn,
By abstinence, or by seeknesse,       25
Prison, stewe, or greet distresse;
Or elles by disordinaunce
Of naturel acustomaunce,
That som man is to curious
In studie, or melancolious,       30
Or thus, so inly ful of drede,
That no man may him bote bede;
Or elles, that devocioun
Of somme, and contemplacioun
Causeth swiche dremes ofte;       35
Or that the cruel lyf unsofte
Which these ilke lovers leden
That hopen over muche or dreden,
That purely hir impressiouns
Causeth hem avisiouns;       40
Or if that spirits have the might
To make folk to dreme a-night
Or if the soule, of propre kinde,
Be so parfit, as men finde,
That hit forwot that is to come,       45
And that hit warneth alle and somme
Of everiche of hir aventures
By avisiouns, or by figures,
But that our flesh ne hath no might
To understonden hit aright,       50
For hit is warned to derkly;—
But why the cause is, noght wot I.
Wel worthe, of this thing, grete clerkes,
That trete of this and other werkes;
For I of noon opinioun       55
Nil as now make mencioun,
But only that the holy rode
Turne us every dreem to gode!
For never, sith that I was born,
Ne no man elles, me biforn,       60
Mette, I trowe stedfastly,
So wonderful a dreem as I
The tenthe day [dide] of Decembre,
The which, as I can now remembre,
I wol yow tellen every del.       65

The Invocation.

But at my ginning, trusteth wel,
I wol make invocacioun,
With special devocioun,
Unto the god of slepe anoon,
That dwelleth in a cave of stoon       70
Upon a streem that comth fro Lete,
That is a flood of helle unswete;
Besyde a folk men clepe Cimerie,
Ther slepeth ay this god unmerie
With his slepy thousand sones       75
That alway for to slepe hir wone is—
And to this god, that I of rede,
Preye I, that he wol me spede
My sweven for to telle aright,
If every dreem stonde in his might.       80
And he, that mover is of al
That is and was, and ever shal,
So yive hem Ioye that hit here
Of alle that they dreme to-yere,
And for to stonden alle in grace       85
Of hir loves, or in what place
That hem wer levest for to stonde,
And shelde hem fro povert and shonde,
And fro unhappe and ech disese,
And sende hem al that may hem plese,       90
That take hit wel, and scorne hit noght,
Ne hit misdemen in her thoght
Through malicious entencioun.
And who-so, through presumpcioun,
Or hate or scorne, or through envye,       95
Dispyt, or Iape, or vilanye,
Misdeme hit, preye I Iesus god
That (dreme he barfoot, dreme he shod),
That every harm that any man
Hath had, sith [that] the world began,       100
Befalle him therof, or he sterve,
And graunte he mote hit ful deserve,
Lo! with swich a conclusioun
As had of his avisioun
Cresus, that was king of Lyde,       105
That high upon a gebet dyde!
This prayer shal he have of me;
I am no bet in charite!
Now herkneth, as I have you seyd,
What that I mette, or I abreyd.       110

The Dream.

Of Decembre the tenthe day,
Whan hit was night, to slepe I lay
Right ther as I was wont to done,
And fil on slepe wonder sone,
As he that wery was for-go       115
On pilgrimage myles two
To the corseynt Leonard,
To make lythe of that was hard.
But as I sleep, me mette I was
Within a temple y-mad of glas;       120
In whiche ther were mo images
Of gold, stondinge in sondry stages,
And mo riche tabernacles,
And with perre mo pinacles,
And mo curious portreytures,       125
And queynte maner of figures
Of olde werke, then I saw ever.
For certeynly, I niste never
Wher that I was, but wel wiste I,
Hit was of Venus redely,       130
The temple; for, in portreyture,
I saw anoon-right hir figure
Naked fletinge in a see.
And also on hir heed, parde,
Hir rose-garlond whyt and reed,       135
And hir comb to kembe hir heed,
Hir dowves, and daun Cupido,
Hir blinde sone, and Vulcano,
That in his face was ful broun.
But as I romed up and doun,       140
I fond that on a wal ther was
Thus writen, on a table of bras:
'I wol now singe, if that I can,
The armes, and al-so the man,
That first cam, through his destinee,       145
Fugitif of Troye contree,
In Itaile, with ful moche pyne,
Unto the strondes of Lavyne.'
And tho began the story anoon,
As I shal telle yow echoon.       150
First saw I the destruccioun
Of Troye, through the Greek Sinoun,
[That] with his false forsweringe,
And his chere and his lesinge
Made the hors broght into Troye,       155
Thorgh which Troyens loste al hir Ioye.
And after this was grave, allas!
How Ilioun assailed was
And wonne, and king Priam y-slayn,
And Polites his sone, certayn,       160
Dispitously, of dan Pirrus.
And next that saw I how Venus,
Whan that she saw the castel brende,
Doun fro the hevene gan descende,
And bad hir sone Eneas flee;       165
And how he fledde, and how that he
Escaped was from al the pres,
And took his fader, Anchises,
And bar him on his bakke away,
Cryinge, 'Allas, and welaway!'       170
The whiche Anchises in his honde
Bar the goddes of the londe,
Thilke that unbrende were.
And I saw next, in alle this fere,
How Creusa, daun Eneas wyf,       175
Which that he lovede as his lyf,
And hir yonge sone Iulo,
And eek Ascanius also,
Fledden eek with drery chere,
That hit was pitee for to here;       180
And in a forest, as they wente,
At a turninge of a wente,
How Creusa was y-lost, allas!
That deed, [but] noot I how, she was;
How he hir soughte, and how hir gost       185
Bad him to flee the Grekes ost,
And seyde, he moste unto Itaile,
As was his destinee, sauns faille;
That hit was pitee for to here,
Whan hir spirit gan appere,       190
The wordes that she to him seyde,
And for to kepe hir sone him preyde.
Ther saw I graven eek how he,
His fader eek, and his meynee,
With his shippes gan to sayle       195
Toward the contree of Itaile,
As streight as that they mighte go.
Ther saw I thee, cruel Iuno,
That art daun Iupiteres wyf,
That hast y-hated, al thy lyf,       200
Al the Troyanisshe blood,
Renne and crye, as thou were wood,
On Eolus, the god of windes,
To blowen out, of alle kindes,
So loude, that he shulde drenche       205
Lord and lady, grome and wenche
Of al the Troyan nacioun,
Withoute any savacioun.
Ther saw I swich tempeste aryse,
That every herte mighte agryse,       210
To see hit peynted on the walle.
Ther saw I graven eek withalle,
Venus, how ye, my lady dere,
Wepinge with ful woful chere,
Prayen Iupiter an hye       215
To save and kepe that navye
Of the Troyan Eneas,
Sith that he hir sone was.
Ther saw I Ioves Venus kisse,
And graunted of the tempest lisse.       220
Ther saw I how the tempest stente,
And how with alle pyne he wente,
And prevely took arrivage
In the contree of Cartage;
And on the morwe, how that he       225
And a knight, hight Achatee,
Metten with Venus that day,
Goinge in a queynt array,
As she had ben an hunteresse,
With wind blowinge upon hir tresse;       230
How Eneas gan him to pleyne,
Whan that he knew hir, of his peyne;
And how his shippes dreynte were,
Or elles lost, he niste where;
How she gan him comforte tho,       235
And bad him to Cartage go,
And ther he shuldë his folk finde,
That in the see were left behinde.
And, shortly of this thing to pace,
She made Eneas so in grace       240
Of Dido, quene of that contree,
That, shortly for to tellen, she
Becam his love, and leet him do
That that wedding longeth to.
What shulde I speke more queynte,       245
Or peyne me my wordes peynte,
To speke of love? hit wol not be;
I can not of that facultee.
And eek to telle the manere
How they aqueynteden in-fere,       250
Hit were a long proces to telle,
And over long for yow to dwelle.
Ther saw I grave, how Eneas
Tolde Dido every cas,
That him was tid upon the see.       255
And after grave was, how she
Made of him, shortly, at oo word,
Hir lyf, hir love, hir lust, hir lord;
And dide him al the reverence,
And leyde on him al the dispence,       260
That any woman mighte do,
Weninge hit had al be so,
As he hir swoor; and her-by demed
That he was good, for he swich semed.
Allas! what harm doth apparence,       265
Whan hit is fals in existence!
For he to hir a traitour was;
Wherfor she slow hir-self, allas!
Lo, how a woman doth amis,
To love him that unknowen is!       270
For, by Crist, lo! thus hit fareth;
'Hit is not al gold, that glareth.'
For, al-so brouke I wel myn heed,
Ther may be under goodliheed
Kevered many a shrewed vyce;       275
Therfor be no wight so nyce,
To take a love only for chere,
For speche, or for frendly manere;
For this shal every woman finde
That som man, of his pure kinde,       280
Wol shewen outward the faireste,
Til he have caught that what him leste;
And thanne wol he causes finde,
And swere how that she is unkinde,
Or fals, or prevy, or double was.       285
Al this seye I by Eneas
And Dido, and hir nyce lest,
That lovede al to sone a gest;
Therfor I wol seye a proverbe,
That 'he that fully knoweth therbe       290
May saufly leye hit to his yë';
Withoute dreed, this is no lye.
But let us speke of Eneas,
How he betrayed hir, allas!
And lefte hir ful unkindely.       295
So whan she saw al-utterly,
That he wolde hir of trouthe faile,
And wende fro hir to Itaile,
She gan to wringe hir hondes two.
'Allas!' quod she, 'what me is wo!       300
Allas! is every man thus trewe,
That every yere wolde have a newe,
If hit so longe tyme dure,
Or elles three, peraventure?
As thus: of oon he wolde have fame       305
In magnifying of his name;
Another for frendship, seith he;
And yet ther shal the thridde be,
That shal be taken for delyt,
Lo, or for singular profyt.'       310
In swiche wordes gan to pleyne
Dido of hir grete peyne,
As me mette redely;
Non other auctour alegge I.
'Allas!' quod she, 'my swete herte,       315
Have pitee on my sorwes smerte,
And slee me not! go noght away!
O woful Dido, wel away!'
Quod she to hir-selve tho.
'O Eneas! what wil ye do?       320
O, that your love, ne your bonde,
That ye han sworn with your right honde,
Ne my cruel deeth,' quod she,
'May holde yow still heer with me!
O, haveth of my deeth pitee!       325
Y-wis, my dere herte, ye
Knowen ful wel that never yit,
As fer-forth as I hadde wit,
Agilte [I] yow in thoght ne deed.
O, have ye men swich goodliheed       330
In speche, and never a deel of trouthe?
Allas, that ever hadde routhe
Any woman on any man!
Now see I wel, and telle can,
We wrecched wimmen conne non art;       335
For certeyn, for the more part,
Thus we be served everichone.
How sore that ye men conne grone,
Anoon as we have yow receyved!
Certeinly we ben deceyved;       340
For, though your love laste a sesoun,
Wayte upon the conclusioun,
And eek how that ye determynen,
And for the more part diffynen.
'O, welawey that I was born!       345
For through yow is my name lorn,
And alle myn actes red and songe
Over al this lond, on every tonge.
O wikke Fame! for ther nis
Nothing so swift, lo, as she is!       350
O, sooth is, every thing is wist,
Though hit be kevered with the mist.
Eek, thogh I mighte duren ever,
That I have doon, rekever I never,
That I ne shal be seyd, allas,       355
Y-shamed be through Eneas,
And that I shal thus Iuged be—
"Lo, right as she hath doon, now she
Wol do eftsones, hardily;"
Thus seyth the peple prevely.'—       360
But that is doon, nis not to done;
Al hir compleynt ne al hir mone,
Certeyn, availeth hir not a stre.
And whan she wiste sothly he
Was forth unto his shippes goon,       365
She in hir chambre wente anoon,
And called on hir suster Anne,
And gan hir to compleyne thanne;
And seyde, that she cause was
That she first lovede [Eneas],       370
And thus counseilled hir therto.
But what! when this was seyd and do,
She roof hir-selve to the herte,
And deyde through the wounde smerte.
But al the maner how she deyde,       375
And al the wordes that she seyde,
Who-so to knowe hit hath purpos,
Reed Virgile in Eneidos
Or the Epistle of Ovyde,
What that she wroot or that she dyde;       380
And nere hit to long to endyte,
By god, I woldë hit here wryte.
But, welaway! the harm, the routhe,
That hath betid for swich untrouthe,
As men may ofte in bokes rede,       385
And al day seen hit yet in dede,
That for to thenken hit, a tene is.
Lo, Demophon, duk of Athenis,
How he forswor him ful falsly,
And trayed Phillis wikkedly,       390
That kinges doghter was of Trace,
And falsly gan his terme pace;
And when she wiste that he was fals,
She heng hir-self right by the hals,
For he had do hir swich untrouthe;       395
Lo! was not this a wo and routhe?
Eek lo! how fals and reccheles
Was to Briseida Achilles,
And Paris to Enone;
And Iason to Isiphile;       400
And eft Iason to Medea;
And Ercules to Dyanira;
For he lefte hir for Iöle,
That made him cacche his deeth, parde.
How fals eek was he, Theseus;       405
That, as the story telleth us,
How he betrayed Adriane;
The devel be his soules bane!
For had he laughed, had he loured,
He mostë have be al devoured,       410
If Adriane ne had y-be!
And, for she had of him pitee,
She made him fro the dethe escape,
And he made hir a ful fals Iape;
For after this, within a whyle       415
He lefte hir slepinge in an yle,
Deserte alone, right in the see,
And stal away, and leet hir be;
And took hir suster Phedra tho
With him, and gan to shippe go.       420
And yet he had y-sworn to here,
On al that ever he mighte swere,
That, so she saved him his lyf,
He wolde have take hir to his wyf;
For she desired nothing elles,       425
In certein, as the book us telles.
But to excusen Eneas
Fulliche of al his greet trespas,
The book seyth, Mercurie, sauns faile,
Bad him go into Itaile,       430
And leve Auffrykes regioun,
And Dido and hir faire toun.
Tho saw I grave, how to Itaile
Daun Eneas is go to saile;
And how the tempest al began,       435
And how he loste his steresman,
Which that the stere, or he took keep,
Smot over-bord, lo! as he sleep.
And also saw I how Sibyle
And Eneas, besyde an yle,       440
To helle wente, for to see
His fader, Anchises the free.
How he ther fond Palinurus,
And Dido, and eek Deiphebus;
And every tourment eek in helle       445
Saw he, which is long to telle.
Which who-so willeth for to knowe,
He moste rede many a rowe
On Virgile or on Claudian,
Or Daunte, that hit telle can.       450
Tho saw I grave al tharivaile
That Eneas had in Itaile;
And with king Latine his tretee,
And alle the batailles that he
Was at him-self, and eek his knightes,       455
Or he had al y-wonne his rightes;
And how he Turnus refte his lyf,
And wan Lavyna to his wyf;
And al the mervelous signals
Of the goddes celestials;       460
How, maugre Iuno, Eneas,
For al hir sleighte and hir compas,
Acheved al his aventure;
For Iupiter took of him cure
At the prayere of Venus;       465
The whiche I preye alway save us,
And us ay of our sorwes lighte!
Whan I had seyen al this sighte
In this noble temple thus,
'A, Lord!' thoughte I, 'that madest us,       470
Yet saw I never swich noblesse
Of images, ne swich richesse,
As I saw graven in this chirche;
But not woot I who dide hem wirche,
Ne wher I am, ne in what contree.       475
But now wol I go out and see,
Right at the wiket, if I can
See o-wher stering any man,
That may me telle wher I am.'
When I out at the dores cam,       480
I faste aboute me beheld.
Then saw I but a large feld,
As fer as that I mighte see,
Withouten toun, or hous, or tree,
Or bush, or gras, or ered lond;       485
For al the feld nas but of sond
As smal as man may see yet lye
In the desert of Libye;
Ne I no maner creature,
That is y-formed by nature,       490
Ne saw, me [for] to rede or wisse.
'O Crist,' thoughte I, 'that art in blisse,
Fro fantom and illusioun
Me save!' and with devocioun
Myn yën to the heven I caste.       495
Tho was I war, lo! at the laste,
That faste by the sonne, as hyë
As kenne mighte I with myn yë,
Me thoughte I saw an egle sore,
But that hit semed moche more       500
Then I had any egle seyn.
But this as sooth as deeth, certeyn,
Hit was of golde, and shoon so bright,
That never saw men such a sighte,
But-if the heven hadde y-wonne       505
Al newe of golde another sonne;
So shoon the egles fethres brighte,
And somwhat dounward gan hit lighte.

Explicit liber primus.

The authorities are F. (Fairfax 16); B. (Bodley 638); P. (Pepys 2006); Cx. (Caxton's ed.); Th. (Thynne's ed. 1532). I follow F. mainly, correcting the spelling.

1. P. drem; rest dreme. 8. All have And why; I omit why. 9, 10. F. swevene, evene; Cx. Th. sweuen, euen. 11. Th. B. a fantome; P. a fauntom; Cx. a fanton; F. affaintome; after which, all needlessly insert why. 12. F. Th. B. P. not; Cx. note (= noot). Elide o in so. 20. All wrongly insert is before more. 24. B. of the; rest of her; I omit the (her). 26. F. B. stewe; P. stoe; Cx. stryf; Th. stryfe. 35. P. sweche; rest suche, such. 45. F. B. forwote; rest wote. 50. F. vnderstonde, followed by a metrical mark, indicating a pause: I add n. 58, 62. MSS. dreme (= dreem). 63. See note. 64. B. P. now; F. yow; rest om. 71. P. strem; rest streme (= streem); so P. drem (rest dreme) in l. 80. MSS. cometh (= com'th). 73. Cx. Th. clepe; F. clepeth. 77. F. That; rest And. 78. Th. wol; P. wol; Cx. wyl; F. B. wolde. 85. F. B. stonde; Cx. Th. stande; P. stond. Cx. alle; F. Th. al (wrongly). 88. All pouerte. 89. B. ech; F. eche. 100. I supply that. 103. P. om. a. 109, 110. Cx. seyd, abreyd; the rest seyde (sayde), abreyde (abrayde). Grammar requires seyd, abreyd; (abreyde also occurs). 117, 118. Cx. P. leonard, hard; F. Th. B. leonarde, harde. P. om. of. 119. MSS. slept, slepte; read sleep, as in l. 438. 122. F. Th. golde; Cx. P. gold; B. goold. 126. All queynt. 127. F. B. olde; Th. golde; Cx. P. gold. F. sawgh. 131. Th. This; rest The. 132. F. sawgh. 134. Th. heed; B. hed; F. Cx. hede. Cx. Th. P. parde; F. B. partee (!). 135. B. red; F. Th. rede; Cx. Rose garlondes smellynge as a mede. 136. MSS. combe. B. hed; rest hede. 139. Cx. P. brown; F. broune. 140. Cx. down; F. dovne. 141. P. fond; F. Cx. B. fonde; Th. founde. Cx. Th. wal; B. wall; F. walle. 143. F. B. say; rest synge. F. B. P. om. that. 146. F. B. Troy. 148. Cx. Th. P. Lauyne; F. B. Labyne. 152. Cx. Th. P. Troye; F. B. Troy; see l. 155. 153. All om. That. F. B. P. fals; Cx. fals vntrewe; Th. false vntrewe. 159. Cx. Th. kyng; F. B. kynge. F. y-slayne; rest slayn. 160. Th. Polytes; F. B. Polite. From this point I make no further note of obvious corrections in spelling. 172. Cx. P. Th. goddes; F. B. goddesse (wrongly) 173. F. B. -brende; rest -brenned. 174. Cx. P. this; F. B. his. 184. F. P. That dede not I how she was; B. That ded not I how she was; Cx. That rede note I how it was; Th. That rede nat I howe that it was. Read deed, and insert but. 188. Cx. Th. destyne; F. destanye. 193. Cx. Th. grauen; P. graven; F. grave; B. graue. 196. F. B. Towardes. 199. P. Iubiter; rest Iupiters; read Iupiteres. 204. F. blowe; P. Cx. Th. blowen. 210. Th. herte; rest hert. 220. F. omits from lisse to tempest in next line; the rest are right. 221, 222. F. B. stent, went; Cx. Th. stente, wente. 227. P. Cx. Th. Metten; F. B. Mette. 235. F. P. comfort; rest comforte. 237. P. folk; rest folke; but shulde is here dissyllabic. 242. F. tel; B. telle; P. Cx. Th. tellen. 257, 8. All worde, lorde. 260. Th. the; rest omit. 270. F. vnknowe; rest vnknowen. 278. Th. Or speche; rest Or (F. Of!) for speche; read For speche. Lines 280-2 3 are in Th. only, which reads some; fayrest; lest; than. 285. Cx. Th. (3rd) or; F. B. P. om. 290. F. B. therbe (= the herbe); P. Cx. Th. the herbe. 305. Cx. Th. one; P. on; F. B. love. 309, 310. All delyte, profyte. 313. For mette, Cx. Th. have mette dremyng (!). 314. F. auttour = auctour. 315. F. he; the rest she. 320. F. Th. wol; P. wille; Cx. wyl. 322. F. ha; P. B. haue; rest om. 328. All had. 329. I insert I; which all omit. 332. P. hadde; rest had. 334. Cx. telle; P. tellen; F. tel. 340. F. omits this line; the rest have it. 347. F. B. al youre; Cx. Th. P. myn (om. al). 352. F. B. om. be. 353. Th. duren; F. B. dure. 358. Th. done; rest omit. 362. All insert But before Al. 363. Cx. Th. P. Certeyn; F. B. Certeynly. 365. Cx. goon; P. gon; F. agoon; B. agon. 366. in] All in to. 370. All Allas (alas); read Eneas. 371. F. B. As; rest And. 375. Cx. Th. P. But; F. B. And. 381. F. And nor hyt were to; Cx. And nere it were to; Th. And nere it to; B. P. And ner it were to. Th. B. to endyte; F. Cx. tendyte. 387. P. thenken; F. B. thynke; Cx. Th. thynken. 391. F. B. om. was. 402. Cx. Th. P. And; F. B. omit. 410. Th. al; Cx. all; P. alle; F. B. om. 426. F. B. om. as and us. 428. F. B. om. greet. 429. B. Mercure; F. Mercure; rest om. 433. F. B. how that; rest how. 434. Cx. P. to saylle; Th. for to sayle; F. B. for to assayle. 446. Th. longe is for; F. B. is longe. Cx. P. whyche no tonge can telle. 451. For tharivaile, F. B. Th. have the aryvayle; Cx. the arryuaylle; P. the arevaille. 458. F. labina; rest Lauyna. 468. Cx. P. seyn; rest seen (sene). 473. F. B. grave; rest grauen. 475. F. B. omit in. 478. Th. sterynge any; the rest any stiryng (sterynge). 486. Cx. Th. P. was but of sonde (sande); F. B. nas but sonde. 491. I insert for. Cx. Th. P. insert I after saw; but it is in l. 489. 496. F. B. omit lo. 504. F. B. omit lines 504-507. Colophon and Title. So in Cx.; the rest omit them.