Work Header

The Conclusioun of the Squiere's Tale

Work Text:

Whan thilke Frankelyn yspoken hadde

Than seemeth us the Squier verray madde

Quod he, "what sholde my tale broken bee

Biforn that ever it reche extremytee

As evrichon of ye hath borne all

Your tales, save that on sleepe did fall

The cooke ther? As ever I did rede

In bookes alde or newe the auctors sede

That sicerly a man who once beginne

By lawe of Godde most hye, withouten sinne,

In fresshe Springe in alle her selly daunces,

Or in the medwe where make daliaunces

Young yemen sweete with a gode leman,

Or all the warres that ever kynges han,

Ayeyns an other kyng ay, for the nones,

In alle thise and moor, by Goddes bones,

Shal ende that which that he wol devyse

Er he is through. Yet wil I youre advyse

Uptaken hennys forth for to contreven

As whilom oure timen he in heven(1)

My tale to restreinen. I never wille

That anithing my wandren you agrille

But it som moralle teche or elles brynge.

Remembreth me how Sokrats claterynge

Tho hathful was for they that hathful were

Was wysest fer ani philosofere;(2)

What wight swich ignoraunce has in erde

That noot noght how povre Euthyphri answerde?

And yet Sokrate spak long ynough, certayn,

He of philosophi was soverayn.

Thusgates wol I as me liste doon:

Who liketh all, shal oonly liketh noon.(3)>

Biforn this intermissioun bigan

Descreved I the kin of Cambynskan,

And chefli how that somkin dai byfelle

This Tartre kyng delivred warres helle

To Russye and all the lordes livyng ther.

His harme hath ful many a paviser

And archers too, all arraid for battaille,

To tell hem all, it semed a mervaille.

Rideres long of hym a thousand score

And swordemen and many fightres more

Till that th'arrai of Russye was conquerd

And everichon of hem doon to the swerd

Forouten o smal garnisoun, that keptef.

Methinketh that never noon wight ther ne slepte

So dessantli were nightly they by-segede

Ther nas no time for swoldringe or egede.

And herbi they hir fortress kepten han,

Despit this Tartre kyng, this Cambyuskan.

Him listeth thanne in the battaile to joyne

And wolde he that his eldest eek might foyne.

This Cambyskan clepte forth hot Algarsif.

Quod he, "I woot that ye been entenif

To fight in felde and ek to find a wyf

And this I trou, my levest Algarsyf,

In Russie shaltou findest bothe and moore

As ye never han yseien therbifoore."

But pilgrims of this faire compaignye,

Tak hed, for I have not ynogh maistrye

Of speche or songe or all apertenyng,

Of Russen wyfs vertun for rehersyng.(4)

Haved Jerom in Russi ones trode

Certayn, he gan hir vertus for to brode.

Upreise sir Launcelot, and lo! Namoore

Wolde he an inch bidoten on Gwenore.

Maken aqueint a Russen with Tristan

And se hym cese to been a gentilman,

So lightli wol hys love on Ysolt ceseth.

How that ich wight hem douteles cheseth

That seieth Russen wommen(5), by Seint John!

And wherfor and whi noght? Heer my reson.

Middes mine expediciouns with this good Knight,

Befyl the brekyng neigh of my bihight

Wher a Russesse imette with(6) us bothe

That semed us subget for to been wrothe

Yet hadde she lykyng of me, ywis.

Ne wol she reste till that we wolden kis.

I woot not how I so yliked hir,

This wyf, who er esplaied no desir

For any manne, tho he arase Midas.

For londe, eliaunce, no cupiditas

Sheud she, thogh oftesith she quod

I was in flateryng unto a god.

But masters, herken echon wel and faste.

Not o thing on that contreelond koud thraste

This menskfull Russess into som grevaunce,

Therwhiles I did hir obesiaunce.

Her lipps wer rod, as bondmen fiftifold

Seen that hir blod to undercrepyen shold,(7)

Her eyen blak as any crowe or night.

This adventur clived a fourtenight;

After swich time as I to you yspake

My lord the Knight conspired t'undertake

To pacen thennes to the battails frounte

Wher we moot underfon and crie "Mounte!"

And so the warre ysette me solatare

As tho my gentil lord my hert chaffare.

Felawes, loveship gouverneth us alle

But I woot noght, what thyng that I shold calle

Hath gouvernance over love, but she(8) alleyn,

Thilke ydel warre. Ther is namoore to seyn.

Whan adulacioun kyng Cambyuskan

Of Russi and ech swich Russen womman

Yeve Algarsyf, he spake certified

And sheued that it hadde signyfied

The lustiness of Russen brides for

A wyfles man. "O Cambyuskan," he swor,

"And ever I thy own sonne was, sooth to sein,

I shal to-dey that me overpass agein.

And my emoliment a bridde shal bee

Who winneth me of knights sovreygnitee

Where them showth hou thys hend jeuel

Is best in everi mannre effectuel.

For I and eek my brother Cambalus

A wagour han, who wol been first from us

To winn a wyf. I preye thee therfore,

My fader kyng, sitht I to(9) thee yswore,

So riden we anon to Russie hasteli

That he, that seeth us goon so soydenli

And is ilet in lordship for to reule

Besid my sister and hyr tender foule

(So fast sorwed the kin of Cambynskan)

Moot nedes be a reuling gentil-man.

He hath noon time, a womman for to finde

And we whilwendli him in kyngship binde."

"As thou hast spak, it be," quod Cambynskan,

`We wol descryen if that Cambal kan

The kyngly science. For al thou art hot,

Methinketh he so good a lord nis not.

And, my alde sonne, anon com in my mynde,

No kineworthyer wyf in all mankynde

Is ther than Russyes aueful maistresse

That holt the walles of hyr forteresse

Ageyns ech manubaliste, she hath kepte

Nou seven yer. This archewyf clepte

Theodera(10), gift of Godde hye,

But that she ne aknouth oure maistrye.

Thou, Algarsyf, art swich a borlich wight

Wol sikerly her wynne, tho noon knight

Hath herbiforn ywonn. Go; seche thy swerd

And brende thou eft, for as thou hast yherd

That fremed knight yev me a steede of bras

Which by some adventur or chaunce or cas

Kan beren us even to the forbrest, wher

We shal han Theodera prisoner.

Now let us to our kinfolks for to seyn

They shal noght haven our flighte in desdeyn

Ne shal divinen that we love hem noght

But oonly that you are of wyf bithoght

And that we pacen in solempnitee,

Tell thou grene Cambal and sweet Canacee

While I to Elpheta make myn own way.

Go thyn! We shal in Russye be to-day."

O folihed! Thus is it that the fox

Shal filch the hens out fro hyr marbul(11) box

If that the farmer shal the fox conjure

To frith hem safe from every creature,

And thinketh him ne not, the fox wol more

Than any bestaile else, hem to devore!

O Cambynskan, o stathele Algarsyf,

Remember you on Helen(12), how that wyf

To Menelaeus was ywed, and how

Prince Parys cam and maked him cukkow.

Did not Candaulis(13) err, who let his quene

Naked and bar, and Gyges hath ysene

And sloughe his king? Hephestus(14) too

Forlet his Aphrodit, till Ares came

And all the goddes laughed at hir shame.

Ye been all lerned men; I kan wel hope

The song is knoun of sadde Penelope(15)

Whos housbond was awai so many yers

It broght her wouers, but echon was wers

Than he that cam bifoore. Felawes, trowe

And warr, but som vilein updrauth your lowe

Whil that ye march abrode in ignoraunce.

Ayeyns love kan ye make ne ordinaunce,

She ever embandouneth your werk,

Al had it by the alderbeste clerk

Yshifted been. Romaunce wil out; she wil.

No, on swich cursedness I dwellen nyl.

So thes two men bestrad the steede of bras,

And wikked Cambalus bithoght hym on trespas,

For Cambal had unkindel lust within

That sowned hym to thoghts of bale and sin.

Him thought, he wol she loved him everideel

So was he lost in lust incestueel;

He ever had therbifoore enclost his mynde

And buxom Canacee was therto blynde

But now his fader and his brother bothe

Wern goon, he was set for to out the sothe.

This neu Caligula(16) wol, as I gesse,

Betrapp hyr into synful wrecchednesse

Al though shamfastli nol she have ne non.

This kinges doghter seyde, hyr povre faucon

Had swich a broken hert, she nol ne wede

Ne rendren any man hyr maydenhede

But he the faucons lemman koud restore.

Ne shal I speche of Cambalo namoore

So many thyngs awaiten for your eye.

Count you this lust of Cambal not a flye.

Now in this menetime roden the kyng

And Algarsyf. They yaf the steed biddyng

And thennes swythe it fly, over see and lond,

The queynte swerd fast in the kyngs right hond.

Soone after it descended they alit

The fortress nexte a river opposit(17).

A garnisoun of pikemen sevenscore

Sustened hem the brigg everemore.

Whoso assaid to cross, anon they slough

Unkyndli. Yet the tartres had ynough

Now that their kyng and Algarsyf entred

In all the speed with which hir steede ysped

And with the swerd, naked of all scauberk

That hungred straungly to be sette awerk,

A merveil from the fulgent knight, certayn,

That wareli they noote ne be yslayn

While in th'assailing of this Russen frount.

Good pilgrims, how moot I this tale count?

I am unwyse; I kan forsothe aplight

Worship the chevalrie of ech prou knight

That foghte that dai under kyng Cambynskan

Swich hardiment bilongeth to who kan

Reherce the speeche that he yaf hem ther

Who stood expectauntli, withouten fer

Al many of hem that dai wol wisly dyen.

He spak as sowne callous men to cryen

And everichon o hem, when he was doon

Wol wherso he commanded yerne goon

Tho Sathanas hymself hir andset bee

Yet warren they in prou fraternitee.

For what declamator am I to telle

Hou many men I saugh(18) ech tarter quelle

With helmets sparkling in the brighte sonne

Ne noon wight stented sitthe they han begonne

But it a Russen wer, who fro the frai

Fleigh fer disworshipli for mortal frai.(19)

Hir swerds koud Cambyuskans skin nothyng neighe(20)

But he disarmed hem with percing eighe

The magik swerd cut thurgh hauberk and arm

And anyntysed eke everi thret of harm(21).

Ne noot I how that ever I mote descryve

In swich a wai that ye koud it belyve

How litel gome nam he of his lyf

So ful devout to gre was Algarsyf

A barbel, helm and creste upon his heed

And habergoun and garde to save the deed

With spaudeler, polron and sadaloun

And swerd and sheld mette to a champioun.

I han no werdes for to tellen hou

They wan, but siker it werieth you.

Suffyseth tho to seyn, the Tartres wan,

And oother auctors tell it beter, and they kan.

They fond, adwellynge in the heighest tour,

A myrie mede for Algarsyfs labour,

The Russess Theodera, who hath ledde

The fors that now beyond the tour bebledde,

Hir housbond Cilgre(22) stodde wrecchedly

Gloryng on hyr triumphaunt enemy.

Prince Algarsyf swythe clepte the wommans honde

And quod he then to Cilgre, "Understonde,

O Russen brother myn, that I maligne

Thee not. My purpose is verray benigne,

To take thy uxor for my own houshold,

But ne, treuli, to make thee cokewold.

Kepe silence, churl, whil that I shal exponde.

Thou art of Theoder namoore housbonde,

Ne hast thou never this fortress oversen

Ne been noon maister her of arms and men

In Russi or in any oother place.

Bethinkestou, what I proffre is solace.

We wol thee bryng anon-ward to Sarray

Ther shaltou been kept on ungnede array

In Tartre prisouns, whos vertus besynge

Greet Oriphes(23), who erest musik brynge.

I wol doon bet with thee than the Cicones

Who rent the syngers skin from off his bones

And tho forlesethou thy wyf, be wice

And stille, for that the ende of Eridice

Nys nat hyr ende; she shal bicome a quene

With riches moore than koudstou in fiftene

Yers render her. My fader Cambyuskan

Is the proudeste and moost glorious man

And worshippd even by the fairye kyng

Swich-wise I trowe, forwhy whoso wol bryng

Four tokens merveillous ynough in kynde

That we so esili a way koud fynde

To arm ayenys your force and han ywonne

But he come either from Apollos sonne

Or from the fairylond he moote approche

That olde wommen clepen Ternanoche(24)

Ther reignth the blakke kyng, stedfast Pluto.

So thinketh, as I gesse, yonge Cambalo,

My brother, that thou shalt ful soon imeete.

He is a gentil gaoler and a sweete.

I warante thee, thou shalt ne have noon pleinte

Supposyng thou from clattryng shal steinte.

Sei oonly that thou art our prisouner

Or eles soon nedestou voluper(25).

My fader noot nat that thou staist alyve

So stille, and in prisoun shaltou thryve."


explicit tercia pars

sequitur pars quarta(26)


My frends, ye woot I am not textuel.

I kan nat list the words of Samuel

Ne eidel from Mark, Mathew, Luc, or John,

From Ovid, Herodes, or Solomon.

In scole I was a wikked clerk, ywis,

And woot litel from Boece or Denys.

I am a squier; my occupacioun

Is warre. I plede for your pardoun

So povre I kan descryve the weddyng

Of Algarsyf, the soun of Sarrays kyng,

And honest Theodera, Russyes pride,

Three days ygoon sithen the homicide.

Five hundred gesteneres satte at feste

And everithyng was twies the counte at leste

As was at Cambyuskans nativitee

So fulsome was the tartres jolytee.

The swanns and heronsewes raged moore

Than they han by the feste some days bifoore

Ywis, ther nys no foule in Tartarye

That medled nat of thilke mynstralcye

But the faucon of Canacee, and oon

Whos tale I shal rehersen swythe anoon.

Six courses yaf the gentilre hir gests

Who ate and drank till them fulfilld hir brests,

And mynstrals han travailed day and night

To syngen preises to Apollos might.

To ech man that sojournd to that houshold

Prince Algarsyf yaf twenty pounds in gold.

Thus everichon was murye and amorus

Save for the wikked brother Cambalus,

Who suffered nat for this feste to see

So wood he fond the gests with ribaldee.

He koud ne wacche his brother ne namoore

But walked the halls as wol a man forloore

Till som-whan he, that bet on his brest-bone

Cam soydenli into Sarrays prisone

Wher he was halted by a sorweful steven.

Him thoughte, it souned liche a savage sweven

And in this metyng he answerd, "What, how?

Is ther a voice? Then tell, what syngestow?"

"Ne synge I nat," the fremed voice rejoined,

"But I shal speke, al though I am enjoined,

By oon of greet auctoritee, to stille.

I speek of hye Prince Algarsyfes wille,

For he hit was that yaf me this commande

(Whil that we two imette biforen-hande)

But I am looth to stille and wont to speeke.

O straunger in the nyght, stinte, I biseke

For I moot make to-dai confessioun

Er conscience is myn destrucioun.

Emforth all I have herde, treu miserie

Ne cometh nat from any lecherie

Ne syn ne Augustyn(27) ne dronkenesse

But from unsufferable stillenesse.

I seye, that whoso nothyng speeke in lyf

And sweirth to all, swich is demonstratif

By cokkes bones, lete but him been sleyn.

All vertu dwellth in speeche, sooth to seyn.

Rememberth me the story of Eco(28)

And how hyr lif was set in actes two.

When she koud speek, and spak ful oft, I gesse,

Ther nas no nympt liche hyr in happinesse.

But sithen Hera rent hir speche awai

She satte in miserie from dai to dai.

O, happi is the man who stilleth nat

And always asketh who and wher and what.(29)

Ynogh of moralyiyng sophistrie

Now to the reson for my miserie.

Biforn I was with mannes body yset

Sothfasteli, I was a tercelet

My lemman was the honestest faucon

That yet a man broght to destrucion.

She was yboren in a marbul roche

And sithe she hadde this matter sette abroche

Tho my divorce was nothyng hir entente

Methought I koud what nobilitee mente.

I gan ashamed for my mene kindrede

(I was a foundling foul, withouten drede)

Al seyde myn dotyng faucon ne no word

I purpost me to flighe to Oxenford

Ther I wol lern to been a gentil-man.

This enders night my pilgrymage bygan.

O folish fowl! O totted tercelet!

This wente hadde no utilite in fet.

I war afright, as thou shalt understonde

That she oonly hath feined hir our bonde

And prively she leste a tercelet

That was with riches or in knouleche bet

Than me, who koud hir nought but lovyng yeve.

O frend, whether thou kannst my words beleve?

In all my pensifness I ner once thoghte

To asken hyr. Ywis, I blindli wroghte

What ne kan been undo, in hastynesse

For in my drede of newefangelnesse

I gynne neufangel eek, in trecherie.

Touard the walls of Oxenford I espie

Anoother faucon, so fair as Goddes yifte.

Forth-with my hert atwo gan for to shifte

And presentli I nas no bacheler.

This ticing faucon hath clept Theoder.

But lord Apollo, he that is the sonne

Saugh all this wikkednesse I hadde bygonne

And thurgh his magik craft it so bifel

That I and Theoder, who are the gods catel,

Were transfigured into manlihede.

We wepte and waild as if we weren dede

Al though Apollo yaf us londe and might

We wer wont to beplein the loss of flight.

Now fortherward my Theodera gan

T'abide the power which longeth for man

She gadred up a stalworth forteresse

And fighters for to hide our doublenesse.

But stille I long to be that tercelet

And stille I am with miserie biset.

I thanke thee, straunger, for thy mildehede.

Lern this from me: Apollo hye forbede

That thou shalt ever presume thy wyfes mynde;

Ask her bifoore, or thou art verray blynde.

And hastest ne to gess adulteri;

By some meschaunce, you mote be blamworthi."

Whanne wikked Cambalus hadde alle yherd

Of this queinte tale of magik, man, and berd

Withouten lite he opend the prisoun

And tolde the manne, "I am the kynges soun

And eek my sister Canacee above

Kan sheun you somthing of your wanne love."

So he and Chilger, for this man was he

Atteined to the bedde of Canacee.

But therupon this Chilger saugh the crete

In which the wounded faucon pleint and swete

He gan to crye for verray sikernesse

As though the faucon semed a goddesse

He yaf hys thanks t'Apollo, mighty god.

Now Chilgers garnement gan to ofglod

And soon his skyn was neue a feather-home

His nose the sharpest bekke nexte bicome

And in that room ther wer then faucons two.

They thanked Canacee and Cambalo

And thurgh the fenstrel fleugh hyr lovyng way.

"My yeve sister," quod this Cambalus,

Doth(30) ne thes briddes make you desirus

To be ywedded eek? It semeth me

You hennes have behest to marry he

That koud redresse your sikli faucons herte.

I wil both hir and you to wyfs converte."

But whanne she saugh, he spak in no disport

She fleigh the room in growyng disconfort

And to hot Algarsyf she wente her way

Who celebrated stille his weddyngday.

Felawes, I shal ne reherce negate

What wrethful thyngs were seyde upon that date

Betwix the brothers two and Canacee

For everichon ofserved privytee.

Ther nys noon of ye gadred heere that wole

That I should heere of your lyfs to the fole

And thilke chiertee, if ever I kan

I yeve it to the kin of Cambyuskan.

Suffyseth it to seyn, the clousioun

Of the three childrens altercacioun:

On the subsequent day hot Algarsyf

Shal fend his systers vertu with his lyf

In lyst ayeyns the launce of Cambalo.

Mednight the wikked prince hath stille ago

Up to the tour, the bridel tok, allas!

This Cambalus wente to the steede of bras

And lette it peinted liche a livyng hors

Tho it nas ne alyve, and ne a cors.

Many hours he practised with the stede

Till that he was certain in hys knighthede

And rested him forte prime. The lystefelde

Was redi for both of the brothers welde

Some three squiers helpd Algarsyf to dresse

And mounte, and all the knightli bisynesse

And three moore helped Cambal with the same.

The reules wer formal, tho it nas no game.

On hors waited ech expectaunt broother

And echon hath bestared at the oother.

Sweet Canacee satte in her tour on hye

She koud ne wacche, for oon o hem mote dye.

Thenne finalli the call to reden came

And ech mann stired his hors and loudly rame.

Thriesse the horses ran oon at the oother

And thrice hot Algarsyf was beten by his broother

For Cambalus rode on the steede of bras

And nome garde of everi chaunce and cas

So fully he hadde lerned all the kraft

That victorie semd Algarsyf biraft.

Four days bifoore, his maistrie of the swerd

Hadde been greet, but now he was aferd

Forwhy he foghte swich a boistous cors

With launces tip to top upon his hors.

Hys confidence was ded, and Algarsyf

That ne hadde lost to Cambal in his lyf

Was thrice hit. What audience was there

Yshreeked and outbrested into tere.

But soydenli anoother shreek was herde

As Cambalo was stabbd thurgh with a swerde.

The queinte knight, who that some dais bifore

Had broghte kyng Cambyuskan the reliks fore

Had perced Cambal to the herte. He quod,

"My leve frends, ye saugh the man was wod.

He wol his syster wed and brother slei.

Lette noon wight wepe for him Weylawey,

For sikerli, he was a wikked man.

Now come, ye kin and moore of Cambyuskan,

The vertu of sweet Canacee is sawe

And we moot certayn fro this feld withdrawe."

So ech man wente, and wepte on his neighbour.

Povre Canacee, that satte hye in her tour

Hadde seen, tho nothyng else, the final deeth

And nou she stode ston-still, withouten breeth.

When Cambalus had wonne the game, allas,

She hadde serched in the mirrours glas

But ther nys no vysage of Cambalo.

Felawes, in the lysts conclusioun

When Cambal was preven the bolder soun

All thoght of Canacee wente from his hede.

Him cared oonly for his glorious dede

And no fors for his wikked sinful ways

That hidertil had reuld him all his days.

The queinte knight hath killd a giltles man.

Yet Canacee, yongest of Cambyuskan

Koud ne nat speeke, she was so aferd

Al though the knight hadde stabbd the magik swerd

Which heleth too, and that be ententif.

Thus silence hath coste Cambalo hys lif.

Herkne, o frends, to this moralytee

And woful leson of sweete Canacee.

Oonly thurgh speeche mowe man doon good, allas,

For silence is the tool of Sathanas.