Slike strani

Lo, what should a man in these days now write, eggs or eyren? Certainly it is hard to please every man because of diversity and change of language. For in these days every 60 man that is in any reputation in his country will utter his communication and matters in such manners and terms that few men shall understand them. And some honest and great clerks have been with me and desired me to write the most curious terms that I could find; and thus between plain, But in my judgment the

65 rude, and curious I stand abashed. common terms that are daily used are lighter to be understood than the old and ancient English. And forasmuch as this present book is not for a rude uplandish man to labour therein nor read it, but only for a clerk and a noble 70 gentleman that feeleth and understandeth in feats of arms, in love, and in noble chivalry, therefore in a mean between both I have reduced and translated this said book into our English, not over-rude nor curious, but in such terms as shall be understood, by God's grace, according to my 75 сору.


How Arthur was Chosen King

(From Morte d'Arthur, Book I)

So in the greatest church of London, whether it were Paul's or not the French book maketh no mention, all the estates were long or day in the church for to pray. And when matins and the first mass were done, there was seen in 5 the churchyard, against the high altar, a great stone four square, like unto a marble stone; and in midst thereof was like an anvil of steel a foot on high, and therein stuck a fair sword naked by the point, and letters there were written in gold about the sword that said thus: - "Whoso pulleth out 10 this sword of this stone and anvil, is rightwise king born of all

England." Then the people marvelled, and told it to the Archbishop.

"I command," said the Archbishop, "that ye keep you within your church and pray unto God still, that no man touch the sword till the high mass be all done." So when 10 all masses were done all the lords went to behold the stone and the sword. And when they saw the scripture some assayed, such as would have been king. But none might stir the sword nor move it. "He is not here," said the Archbishop, "that shall achieve the sword, but doubt not God 20 will make him known. But this is my counsel," said the Archbishop, "that we let purvey ten knights, men of good fame, and they to keep this sword." So it was ordained, and then there was made a cry, that every man should assay that would, for to win the sword. And upon New Year's 25 Day the barons let make a jousts and a tournament, that all knights that would joust or tourney there might play, and all this was ordained for to keep the lords together and the commons, for the Archbishop trusted that God would make him known that should win the sword.


So upon New Year's Day, when the service was done, the barons rode unto the field, some to joust and some to tourney, and so it happened that Sir Ector, that had great livelihood about London, rode unto the jousts, and with him rode Sir Kay his son, and young Arthur that was his nourished brother; 35 and Sir Kay was made knight at All Hallowmass afore. So as they rode to the jousts-ward, Sir Kay lost his sword, for he had left it at his father's lodging, and so he prayed young Arthur for to ride for his sword. "I will well," said Arthur, and rode fast after the sword, and when he came home, the 40 lady and all were out to see the jousting.

Then was Arthur wroth, and said to himself, "I will ride to the churchyard, and take the sword with me that sticketh in the stone, for my brother Sir Kay shall not be without a

45 sword this day" So when he came to the churchyard, Sir Arthur alighted and tied his horse to the stile, and so he went to the tent, and found no knights there, for they were at the jousting. And so he handled the sword by the handles, and lightly and fiercely pulled it out of the stone, and took 50 his horse and rode his way until he came to his brother Sir

Kay, and delivered him the sword.

And as soon as Sir Kay

saw the sword, he wist well it was the sword of the stone, and so he rode to his father Sir Ector, and said:

"Sir, lo here is the sword of the stone, wherefore I must be 55 king of this land." When Sir Ector beheld the sword, he returned again and came to the church, and there they alighted all three, and went into the church. And anon he made Sir Kay swear upon a book how he came to that sword. "Sir," said Sir Kay, "by my brother Arthur, for he 60 brought it to me."

"How gat ye this sword?" said Sir Ector to Arthur.

"Sir, I will tell you. When I came home for my brother's sword, I found nobody at home to deliver me his sword; and so I thought my brother Sir Kay should not be swordless, 65 and so I came hither eagerly and pulled it out of the stone without any pain."

"Found ye any knights about this sword?" said Sir Ector. "Nay," said Arthur.

"Now," said Sir Ector to Arthur, "I understand ye must 70 be king of this land."

"Wherefore I," said Arthur, "and for what cause?" "Sir," said Ector, "for God will have it so; for there should never man have drawn out this sword, but he that shall be right-wise king of this land. Now let me see whether and pull it out again."

75 ye can put the sword there as it was,

"That is no mastery," said Arthur, and so he put it in the stone; wherewithal Sir Ector assayed to pull out the sword and failed.

And anon he

"Now assay," said Sir Ector unto Sir Kay. pulled at the sword with all his might; but it would not be. 80 "Now shall ye essay," said Sir Ector to Arthur.

"I will well," said Arthur, and pulled it out easily. And therewithal Sir Ector knelt down to the earth, and Sir Kay.

And so anon was the coronation made. And there was he sworn unto his lords and the commons for to be a true king, 85 to stand with true justice from thenceforth the days of this life.


How the Lover Perisheth in his Delight, as the Fly in the Fire

Some fowls there be that have so perfect sight
Against the sun their eyes for to defend;

And some, because the light doth them offend,
Never appear but in the dark or night.
Other rejoice, to see the fire so bright,
And ween to play in it, as they pretend,
But find contrary of it, that they intend.
Alas! of that sort may I be by right;
For to withstand her look I am not able;
Yet can I not hide me in no dark place;
So followeth me remembrance of that face,



That with my teary eyen, swollen, and unstable,
My destiny to behold her doth me lead :

And yet I know I run into the glead.


Description of Spring

The soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings,
With green hath clad the hill and eke the vale;
The nightingale with feathers new she sings;
The turtle to her mate hath told her tale.



Summer is come, for every spray now springs;
The hart hath hung his old head on the pale;
The buck in brake his winter coat he flings;
The fishes flete with new repairèd scale;
The adder all her slough away she slings;
The swift swallow pursueth the flies smale;
The busy bee her honey now she mings.
Winter is worn, that was the flowers' bale:
And thus I see among these pleasant things
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs!





The Death of Priam

(From translation of the Aeneid, Book II)

Amid the court, under the heaven, all bare,
A great altar there stood, by which there grew
An old laurel tree, bowing thereunto,

Which with his shadow did embrace the gods.
Here Hecuba, with her young daughters all
About the altar swarmed were in vain;

Like doves, that flock together in the storm,
The statues of the gods embracing fast.
But when she saw Priam had taken there
His armour, like as though he had been young:

"What furious thought my wretched spouse," quod shɛ
"Did move thee now such weapons for to wield?
Why hastest thou? This time doth not require
Such succour, ne yet such defenders now:
No, though Hector my son were here again.
Come hither; this altar shall save us all :
Or we shall die together." Thus she said.
Wherewith she drew him back to her, and set
The aged man down in the holy seat.

But lo! Polites, one of Priam's sons,
Escaped from the slaughter of Pyrrhus,
Comes fleeing through the weapons of his foes,
Searching, all wounded, the long galleries

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