Parliament of Fowls

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The Parliament of Fowls is by Geoffrey Chaucer, and was written in the 1380s. The poem is given here in original spelling.

It's a poem about a vision in a dream. The stanza is rhyme royal. A point of interest is that it has one of the first references to St. Valentine's Day being a special day for lovers. Valentine's Day is mentioned in Hamlet.

The "north-northwest" line, which is relevant to Hamlet's line in Scene 7, line 370, is number 117 below in Chaucer's poem:
"As wisly as I saw thee north-north-west,"

Modern translations of Parliament of Fowls typically change "wisely" to "surely" but that is not correct. It means "creatively" or "imaginatively." Wise people are creative. Notice in the poem that the writer is asking for help to write. He is asking for creativity. He is asking for enough imagination.

You are looking at a blank sheet of paper. Are you "wise" enough that you can say, "I see a poem there?" An ordinary person would look, and say, "there's no poem on that paper." Another person, one who is wiser, would look, and say, "I see a poem, too." That's what Chaucer was talking about, being wise enough to see a poem on a blank sheet of paper, where, to the eye, it is not really there (yet.) He was talking about creativity.

Seeing a poem on a blank sheet of paper, is like, oh, seeing Venus in the NNW, poetically speaking. There's a way that creativity is the ability to see something that is not really there. A man who is wise enough, creative enough, can see it.

Chaucer means, in those lines, "I'm imaginative enough I could envision Venus in the NNW, although it isn't really there, so please help me be wise enough, creative enough, that I can "see" the poem that should go on this paper, although it isn't really there (yet.)"

wisely - imaginatively; creatively.

Shakespeare, in Hamlet went with his play concepts, of madness and dreams, in Hamlet's line, to create a sublimely allusive - and the near pun with "elusive" is no accident - reference to the madness of dreams.

Later in the play, in Scene 12, Shakespeare had Claudius use "wisest" in the same sense Chaucer used "wisely." That occurs at line 040, Scene 12: "Come, Gertrude, we'll call up our wisest friends." Claudius means their "most inventive" friends. He's hoping they know somebody who can invent a tale about Polonius's death, so that it can be explained away without causing trouble for Claudius.


Here begynyth the Parlement of Foulys


1 The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne,
2 Thassay so hard, so sharp the conquering,
3 The dredful Ioy, that alwey slit so yerne,
4 Al this mene I by love, that my feling
5 Astonyeth with his wonderful worching
6 So sore y-wis, that whan I on him thinke,
7 Nat wot I wel wher that I wake or winke.
8 For al be that I knowe nat love in dede,
9 Ne wot how that he quyteth folk hir hyre,
10 Yet happeth me ful ofte in bokes rede
11 Of his miracles, and his cruel yre;
12 Ther rede I wel he wol be lord and syre,
13 I dar not seyn, his strokes been so sore,
14 But God save swich a lord! I can no more.
15 Of usage, what for luste what for lore,
16 On bokes rede I ofte, as I yow tolde.
17 But wherfor that I speke al this? not yore
18 Agon, hit happed me for to beholde
19 Upon a boke, was write with lettres olde;
20 And ther-upon, a certeyn thing to lerne,
21 The longe day ful faste I radde and yerne.
22 For out of olde feldes, as men seith,
23 Cometh al this newe corn fro yeer to yere;
24 And out of olde bokes, in good feith,
25 Cometh al this newe science that men lere.
26 But now to purpos as of this matere --
27 To rede forth hit gan me so delyte,
28 That al the day me thoughte but a lyte.
29 This book of which I make of mencioun,
30 Entitled was al thus, as I shal telle,
31 'Tullius of the dreme of Scipioun.';
32 Chapitres seven hit hadde, of hevene and helle,
33 And erthe, and soules that therinnr dwelle,
34 Of whiche, as shortly as I can hit trete,
35 Of his sentence I wol you seyn the grete.
36 First telleth hit, whan Scipion was come
37 In Afrik, how he mette Massinisse,
38 That him for Ioye in armes hath y nome.
39 Than telleth hit hir speche and al the blisse
40 That was betwix hem, til the day gan misse;
41 And how his auncestre, African so dere,
42 Gan in his slepe that night to him appere.
43 Than telleth hit that, fro a sterry place,
44 How African hath him Cartage shewed,
45 And warned him before of al his grace,
46 And seyde him, what man, lered other lewed,
47 That loveth comun profit, wel y-thewed,
48 He shal unto a blisful place wende,
49 Ther as Ioye is that last withouten ende.
50 Than asked he, if folk that heer be dede
51 Have lyf and dwelling in another place;
52 And African seyde, 'ye, withoute drede,'
53 And that our present worldes lyves space
54 Nis but a maner deth, what wey we trace,
55 And rightful folk shal go, after they dye,
56 To heven; and shewed him the galaxye.
57 Than shewed he him the litel erthe, that heer is,
58 At regard of the hevenes quantite;
59 And after shewed he him the nyne speres,
60 And after that the melodye herde he
61 That cometh of thilke speres thryes three,
62 That welle is of musyk and melodye
63 In this world heer, and cause of armonye.
64 Than bad he him, sin erthe was so lyte,
65 And ful of torment and of harde grace,
66 That he ne shulde him in the world delyte.
67 Than tolde he him, in certeyn yeres space,
68 That every sterre shulde come into his place
69 Ther hit was first; and al shulde out of minde
70 That in this worlde is don of al mankinde.
71 Than prayde him Scipioun to telle him al
72 The wey to come un-to that hevene blisse;
73 And he seyde, 'know thy-self first immortal,
74 And loke ay besily thou werke and wisse
75 To comun profit, and thou shalt nat misse
76 To comen swiftly to that place dere,
77 That ful of blisse is and of soules clere.
78 But brekers of the lawe, soth to seyne,
79 And lecherous folk, after that they be dede,
80 Shul alwey whirle aboute therthe in peyne,
81 Til many a world be passed, out of drede,
82 And than, for-yeven alle hir wikked dede,
83 Than shul they come unto that blisful place,
84 To which to comen god thee sende his grace!' --
85 The day gan failen, and the derke night,
86 That reveth bestes from her besinesse,
87 Berafte me my book for lakke of light,
88 And to my bedde I gan me for to dresse,
89 Fulfild of thought and besy hevinesse;
90 For bothe I hadde thing which that I nolde,
91 And eek I ne hadde that thing that I wolde.
92 But fynally my spirit, at the laste,
93 For-wery of my labour al the day,
94 Took rest, that made me to slepe faste,
95 And in my slepe I mette, as I lay,
96 How African, right in the selfe aray
97 That Scipioun him saw before that tyde,
98 Was comen and stood right at my bedes syde.
99 The wery hunter, slepinge in his bed,
100 To wode ayein his minde goth anoon;
101 The Iuge dremeth how his plees ben sped;
102 The carter dremeth how his cartes goon;
103 The riche, of gold; the knight fight with his foon;
104 The seke met he drinketh of the tonne;
105 The lover met he hath his lady wonne.
106 Can I nat seyn if that the cause were
107 For I had red of African beforn,
108 That made me to mete that he stood there;
109 But thus seyde he, 'thou hast thee so wel born
110 In loking of myn olde book to-torn,
111 Of which Macrobie roghte nat a lyte,
112 That somdel of thy labour wolde I quyte!' --
113 Citherea! thou blisful lady swete,
114 That with thy fyr-brand dauntest whom thee lest,
115 And madest me this sweven for to mete,
116 Be thou my help in this, for thou mayst best;
117 As wisly as I saw thee north-north-west,
118 When I began my sweven for to wryte,
119 So yif me might to ryme and endyte!


120 This forseid African me hente anoon,
121 And forth with him unto a gate broghte
122 Right of a parke, walled of grene stoon;
123 And over the gate, with lettres large y-wroghte,
124 Ther weren vers y-writen, as me thoghte,
125 On eyther halfe, of ful gret difference,
126 Of which I shal yow sey the pleyn sentence.
127 'Thorgh me men goon in-to that blisful place
128 Of hertes hele and dedly woundes cure;
129 Thorgh me men goon unto the welle of Grace,
130 Ther grene and lusty May shal ever endure;
131 This is the wey to al good aventure;
132 Be glad, thou reder, and thy sorwe of-caste,
133 Al open am I; passe in, and hy the faste!'
134 'Thorgh me men goon,' than spak that other syde,
135 'Unto the mortal strokes of the spere,
136 Of which Disdayn and Daunger is the gyde,
137 Ther tre shal never fruyt ne leves bere.
138 This streem yow ledeth to the sorwful were,
139 Ther as the fish in prison is al drye;
140 Theschewing is only the remedye.'
141 Thise vers of gold and blak y-writen were,
142 Of whiche I gan a stounde to beholde,
143 For with that oon encresed ay my fere,
144 And with that other gan myn herte bolde;
145 That oon me hette, that other did me colde,
146 No wit had I, for errour, for to chese
147 To entre or flee, or me to save or lese.
148 Right as, betwixen adamauntes two
149 Of even might, a pece of iren y-set,
150 That hath no might to meve to ne fro --
151 For what that on may hale, that other let --
152 Ferde I; that niste whether me was bet,
153 To entre or leve, til African my gyde
154 Me hente, and shoof in at the gates wyde,
155 And seyde, 'hit stondeth writen in thy face,
156 Thyn errour, though thou telle it not to me;
157 But dred the nat to come in-to this place,
158 For this wryting is no-thing ment by thee,
159 Ne by noon, but he Loves servant be;
160 For thou of love hast lost thy tast, I gesse,
161 As seek man hath of swete and bitternesse.
162 But natheles, al-though that thou be dulle,
163 Yit that thou canst not do, yit mayst thou see;
164 For many a man that may not stonde a pulle,
165 Yit lyketh him at the wrastling for to be,
166 And demeth yit wher he do bet or he;
167 And if thou haddest cunning for tendyte,
168 I shal thee shewen mater of to wryte.'
169 With that my hond in his he took anoon,
170 Of which I comfort caughte, and went in faste;
171 But, lord! so I was glad and wel begoon!
172 For over-al, wher that I myn eyen caste,
173 Were trees clad with leves that ay shal laste,
174 Eche in his kinde, of colour fresh and grene
175 As emeraude, that Ioye was to sene.
176 The bilder ook, and eek the hardy asshe;
177 The piler elm, the cofre unto careyne;
178 The boxtree piper; holm to whippes lasshe;
179 The sayling firr; the cipres, deth to pleyne;
180 The sheter ew, the asp for shaftes pleyne;
181 The olyve of pees, and eek the drunken vyne,
182 The victor palm, the laurer to devyne.
183 A gardyn saw I, ful of blosmy bowes,
184 Upon a river, in a grene mede,
185 Ther as swetnesse evermore y-now is,
186 With floures whyte, blewe, yelowe, and rede;
187 And colde welle-stremes, no-thing dede,
188 That swommen ful of smale fisshes lighte,
189 With finnes rede and scales silver-brighte.
190 On every bough the briddes herde I singe,
191 With voys of aungel in hir armonye,
192 Som besyed hem hir briddes forth to bringe;
193 The litel conyes to hir pley gunne hye.
194 And further al aboute I gan espye
195 The dredful roo, the buk, the hert and hinde,
196 Squerels, and bestes smale of gentil kinde.
197 Of instruments of strenges in acord
198 Herde I so pleye a ravisshing swetnesse,
199 That god, that maker is of al and lord,
200 Ne herde never better, as I gesse;
201 Therwith a wind, unnethe hit might be lesse,
202 Made in the leves grene a noise softe
203 Acordaunt to the foules songe on-lofte.
204 The air of that place so attempre was
205 That never was grevaunce of hoot ne cold;
206 Ther wex eek every holsum spyce and gras,
207 Ne no man may ther wexe seek ne old;
208 Yet was ther Ioye more a thousand fold
209 Then man can telle; ne never wolde it nighte,
210 But ay cleer day to any mannes sighte.
211 Under a tree, besyde a welle, I say
212 Cupyde our lord his arwes forge and fyle;
213 And at his fete his bowe al redy lay,
214 And wel his doghter tempred al this whyle
215 The hedes in the welle, and with hir wyle
216 She couched hem after as they shulde serve,
217 Some for to slee, and some to wounde and kerve.
218 Tho was I war of Plesaunce anon-right,
219 And of Aray, and Lust, and Curtesye,
220 And of the Craft that can and hath the might
221 To doon by force a wight to do folye --
222 Disfigurat was she, I nil not lye;
223 And by him-self, under an oke, I gesse,
224 Saw I Delyt, that stood with Gentilnesse.
225 I saw Beautee, withouten any atyr,
226 And Youthe, ful of game and Iolyte,
227 Fool-hardinesse, Flatery, and Desyr,
228 Messagerye, and Mede, and other three --
229 Hir names shul noght here be told for me --
230 And upon pilers grete of Iasper longe
231 I saw a temple of bras y-founded stronge.
232 Aboute the temple daunceden alway
233 Wommen y-nowe, of whiche some ther were
234 Faire of hem-self, and somme of hem were gay;
235 In kirtels, al disshevele, wente they there --
236 That was hir office alway, yeer by yere --
237 And on the temple, of doves whyte and faire
238 Saw I sittinge many a hunderede paire.
239 Before the temple-dore ful soberly
240 Dame Pees sat, with a curteyn in hir hond:
241 And hir besyde, wonder discretly,
242 Dame Pacience sitting ther I fond
243 With face pale, upon an hille of sond;
244 And alder-next, within and eek with-oute,
245 Behest and Art, and of hir folke a route.
246 Within the temple, of syghes hote as fyr
247 I herde a swogh that gan aboute renne;
248 Which syghes were engendred with desyr,
249 That maden every auter for to brenne
250 Of newe flaume; and wel aspyed I thenne
251 That al the cause of sorwes that they drye
252 Com of the bitter goddesse Ialousye.
253 The god Priapus saw I, as I wente,
254 Within the temple, in soverayn place stonde,
255 In swich aray as whan the asse him shente
256 With crye by night, and with ceptre in honde;
257 Ful besily men gunne assaye and fonde
258 Upon his hede to sette, of sondry hewe,
259 Garlondes ful of fresshe floures newe.
260 And in a privee corner, in disporte,
261 Fond I Venus and hir porter Richesse,
262 That was ful noble and hauteyn of hir porte;
263 Derk was that place, but afterward lightnesse
264 I saw a lyte, unnethe hit might be lesse,
265 And on a bed of golde she lay to reste,
266 Til that the hote sonne gan to weste.
267 Hir gilte heres with a golden threde
268 Y-bounden were, untressed as she lay,
269 And naked fro the breste unto the hede
270 Men might hir see; and, sothly for to say,
271 The remenant wel kevered to my pay
272 Right with a subtil kerchef of Valence,
273 Ther was no thikker cloth of no defence.
274 The place yaf a thousand savours swote,
275 And Bachus, god of wyn, sat hir besyde,
276 And Ceres next, that doth of hunger bote;
277 And, as I seide, amiddes lay Cipryde,
278 To whom on knees two yonge folkes cryde
279 To ben hir help; but thus I leet hir lye,
280 And ferther in the temple I gan espye
281 That, in dispyte of Diane the chaste,
282 Ful many a bowe y-broke heng on the wal
283 Of maydens, suche as gunne hir tymes waste
284 In hir servyse; and peynted over al
285 Of many a story, of which I touche shal
286 A fewe, as of Calixte and Athalaunte,
287 And many a mayde, of which the name I wante;
288 Semyramus, Candace, and Ercules,
289 Biblis, Dido, Thisbe, and Piramus,
290 Tristram, Isoude, Paris, and Achilles,
291 Eleyne, Cleopatre, and Troilus,
292 Silla, and eek the moder of Romulus --
293 Alle these were peynted on that other syde,
294 And al hir love, and in what plyte they dyde.
295 Whan I was come ayen unto the place
296 That I of spak, that was so swote and grene,
297 Forth welk I tho, my-selven to solace.
298 Tho was I war wher that ther sat a quene
299 That, as of light the somer-sonne shene
300 Passeth the sterre, right so over mesure
301 She fairer was than any creature.
302 And in a launde, upon an hille of floures,
303 Was set this noble goddesse Nature;
304 Of braunches were hir halles and hir boures,
305 Y-wrought after hir craft and hir mesure;
306 Ne ther nas foul that cometh of engendrure,
307 That they ne were prest in hir presence,
308 To take hir doom and yeve hir audience.
309 For this was on seynt Valentynes day,
310 Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make,
311 Of every kinde, that men thenke may;
312 And that so huge a noyse gan they make,
313 That erthe and see, and tree, and every lake
314 So ful was, that unnethe was ther space
315 For me to stonde, so ful was al the place.
316 And right as Aleyn, in the Pleynt of Kinde,
317 Devyseth Nature of aray and face,
318 In swich aray men mighten hir ther finde.
319 This noble emperesse, ful of grace,
320 Bad every foul to take his owne place,
321 As they were wont alwey fro yeer to yere,
322 Seynt Valentynes day, to stonden there.
323 That is to sey, the foules of ravyne
324 Were hyest set; and than the foules smale,
325 That eten as hem nature wolde enclyne,
326 As worm or thing of whiche I telle no tale;
327 And water-foul sat loweste in the dale;
328 But foul that liveth by seed sat on the grene,
329 And that so fele, that wonder was to sene.
330 There mighte men the royal egle finde,
331 That with his sharpe look perceth the sonne;
332 And other egles of a lower kinde,
333 Of which that clerkes wel devysen conne.
334 Ther was the tyraunt with his fethres done
335 And greye, I mene the goshauk, that doth pyne
336 To briddes for his outrageous ravyne.
337 The gentil faucoun, that with his feet distreyneth
338 The kinges hond; the hardy sperhauk eke,
339 The quayles foo; the merlion that payneth
340 Him-self ful ofte, the larke for to seke;
341 Ther was the douve, with hir eyen meke;
342 The Ialous swan, ayens his deth that singeth;
343 The oule eek, that of dethe the bode bringeth;
344 The crane the geaunt, with his trompes soune;
345 The theef, the chogh; and eek the Iangling pye;
346 The scorning Iay; the eles foo, heroune;
347 The false lapwing, ful of trecherye;
348 The stare, that the counseyl can bewrye;
349 The tame ruddok; and the coward kyte;
350 The cok, that orloge is of thorpes lyte;
351 The sparow, Venus sone; the nightingale,
352 That clepeth forth the fresshe leves newe;
353 The swalow, mordrer of the flyes smale
354 That maken hony of floures fresshe of hewe;
355 The wedded turtel, with hir herte trewe;
356 The pecok, with his aungels fethres brighte;
357 The fesaunt, scorner of the cok by nighte;
358 The waker goos; the cukkow ever unkinde;
359 The popiniay, ful of delicasye;
360 The drake, stroyer of his owne kinde;
361 The stork, the wreker of avouterye;
362 The hote cormeraunt of glotonye;
363 The raven wys, the crow with vois of care;
364 The throstel olde; the frosty feldefare.
365 What shulde I seyn? of foules every kinde
366 That in this world han fethres and stature,
367 Men mighten in that place assembled finde
368 Before the noble goddesse Nature,
369 And everich of hem did his besy cure
370 Benignely to chese or for to take,
371 By hir acord, his formel or his make.
372 But to the poynt -- Nature held on hir honde
373 A formel egle, of shap the gentileste
374 That ever she among hir werkes fonde,
375 The moste benigne and the goodlieste;
376 In hir was every vertu at his reste,
377 So ferforth, that Nature hir-self had blisse
378 To loke on hir, and ofte hir bek to kisse.
379 Nature, the vicaire of thalmighty lorde,
380 That hoot, cold, hevy, light, and moist and dreye
381 Hath knit by even noumbre of acorde,
382 In esy vois began to speke and seye,
383 'Foules, tak hede of my sentence, I preye,
384 And, for your ese, in furthering of your nede,
385 As faste as I may speke, I wol me spede.
386 Ye knowe wel how, seynt Valentynes day,
387 By my statut and through my governaunce,
388 Ye come for to chese -- and flee your way --
389 Your makes, as I prik yow with plesaunce.
390 But natheles, my rightful ordenaunce
391 May I not lete, for al this world to winne,
392 That he that most is worthy shal beginne.
393 The tercel egle, as that ye knowen wel,
394 The foul royal above yow in degree,
395 The wyse and worthy, secree, trewe as stel,
396 The which I formed have, as ye may see,
397 In every part as hit best lyketh me,
398 Hit nedeth noght his shap yow to devyse,
399 He shal first chese and speken in his gyse.
400 And after him, by order shul ye chese,
401 After your kinde, everich as yow lyketh,
402 And, as your hap is, shul ye winne or lese;
403 But which of yow that love most entryketh,
404 God sende him hir that sorest for him syketh.'
405 And therwith-al the tercel gan she calle,
406 And seyde, 'my sone, the choys is to thee falle.
407 But natheles, in this condicioun
408 Mot be the choys of everich that is here,
409 That she agree to his eleccioun,
410 What-so he be that shulde be hir fere;
411 This is our usage alwey, fro yeer to yere;
412 And who so may at this time have his grace,
413 In blisful tyme he com in-to this place.'
414 With hed enclyned and with ful humble chere
415 This royal tercel spak and taried nought:
416 'Unto my sovereyn lady, and noght my fere,
417 I chese, and chese with wille and herte and thought,
418 The formel on your hond so wel y-wrought,
419 Whos I am al and ever wol hir serve,
420 Do what hir list, to do me live or sterve.
421 Beseching hir of mercy and of grace,
422 As she that is my lady sovereyne;
423 Or let me dye present in this place.
424 For certes, long may I not live in peyne;
425 For in myn herte is corven every veyne;
426 Having reward only to my trouthe,
427 My dere herte, have on my wo som routhe.
428 And if that I to hir be founde untrewe,
429 Disobeysaunt, or wilful negligent,
430 Avauntour, or in proces love a newe,
431 I pray to you this be my Iugement,
432 That with these foules I be al to-rent,
433 That ilke day that ever she me finde
434 To hir untrewe, or in my gilte unkinde.
435 And sin that noon loveth hir so wel as I,
436 Al be she never of love me behette,
437 Than oghte she be myn thourgh hir mercy,
438 For other bond can I noon on hir knette.
439 For never, for no wo, ne shal I lette
440 To serven hir, how fer so that she wende;
441 Sey what yow list, my tale is at an ende.'
442 Right as the fresshe, rede rose newe
443 Ayen the somer-sonne coloured is,
444 Right so for shame al wexen gan the hewe
445 Of this formel, whan she herde al this;
446 She neyther answerde 'Wel', ne seyde amis,
447 So sore abasshed was she, til that Nature
448 Seyde, 'doghter, drede yow noght, I yow assure.'
449 Another tercel egle spak anoon
450 Of lower kinde, and seyde, 'that shal nat be;
451 I love hir bet than ye do, by seynt Iohn,
452 Or atte leste I love hir as wel as ye;
453 And lenger have served hir, in my degree,
454 And if she shulde have loved for long loving,
455 To me allone had been the guerdoninge.
456 I dar eek seye, if she me finde fals,
457 Unkinde, Iangler, or rebel in any wyse,
458 Or Ialous, do me hongen by the hals!
459 And but I bere me in hir servyse
460 As wel as that my wit can me suffyse,
461 From poynt to poynt, hir honour for to save,
462 Tak she my lyf, and al the good I have.'
463 The thridde tercel egle answerde tho,
464 'Now, sirs, ye seen the litel leyser here;
465 For every foul cryeth out to been a-go
466 Forth with his make, or with his lady dere;
467 And eek Nature hir-self ne wol nought here,
468 For tarying here, noght half that I wolde seye;
469 And but I speke, I mot for sorwe deye.
470 Of long servyse avaunte I me no-thing,
471 But as possible is me to dye to-day
472 For wo, as he that hath ben languisshing
473 Thise twenty winter, and wel happen may
474 A man may serven bet and more to pay
475 In half a yere, al-though hit were no more,
476 Than som man doth that hath served ful yore.
477 I ne sey not this by me, for I ne can
478 Do no servyse that may my lady plese;
479 But I dar seyn, I am hir trewest man
480 As to my dome, and feynest wolde hir ese;
481 At shorte wordes, til that deth me sese,
482 I wol ben hires, whether I wake or winke,
483 And trewe in al that herte may bethinke.'
484 Of al my lyf, sin that day I was born,
485 So gentil plee in love or other thing
486 Ne herde never no man me beforn,
487 Who-so that hadde leyser and cunning
488 For to reherse hir chere and hir speking;
489 And from the morwe gan this speche laste
490 Til dounward drow the sonne wonder faste.
491 The noyse of foules for to ben delivered
492 So loude rong, 'have doon and let us wende!'
493 That wel wende I the wode had al to-shivered.
494 'Come of!' they cryde, 'allas! ye wil us shende!
495 Whan shal your cursed pleding have an ende?
496 How shulde a Iuge eyther party leve,
497 For yee or nay, with-outen any preve?'
498 The goos, the cokkow, and the doke also
499 So cryden, 'kek, kek!' 'kukkow!' 'quek, quek!' hye,
500 That thorgh myn eres the noyse wente tho.
501 The goos seyde, 'al this nis not worth a flye!
502 But I can shape hereof a remedye,
503 And I wol sey my verdit faire and swythe
504 For water-foul, who-so be wrooth or blythe.'
505 'And I for worm-foul,' seyde the fool cukkow,
506 'For I wol, of myn owne auctorite,
507 For comune spede, take the charge now,
508 For to delivere us is gret charite.'
509 'Ye may abyde a whyle yet, parde!'
510 Seide the turtel, 'if hit be your wille
511 A wight may speke, him were as good be stille.
512 I am a seed-foul, oon the unworthieste,
513 That wot I wel, and litel of kunninge;
514 But bet is that a wightes tonge reste
515 Than entermeten him of such doinge
516 Of which he neyther rede can nor singe.
517 And who-so doth, ful foule himself acloyeth,
518 For office uncommitted ofte anoyeth.'
519 Nature, which that alway had an ere
520 To murmour of the lewednes behinde,
521 With facound voys seide, 'hold your tonges there!
522 And I shal sone, I hope, a counseyl finde
523 You to delivere, and fro this noyse unbinde;
524 I Iuge, of every folk men shal oon calle
525 To seyn the verdit for you foules alle.'
526 Assented were to this conclusioun
527 The briddes alle; and foules of ravyne
528 Han chosen first, by pleyn eleccioun,
529 The tercelet of the faucon, to diffyne
530 Al hir sentence, and as him list, termyne;
531 And to Nature him gonnen to presente,
532 And she accepteth him with glad entente.
533 The tercelet seide than in this manere:
534 'Ful hard were it to preve hit by resoun
535 Who loveth best this gentil formel here;
536 For everich hath swich replicacioun,
537 That noon by skilles may be broght a-doun;
538 I can not seen that argumentes avayle;
539 Than semeth hit ther moste be batayle.'
540 'Al redy!' quod these egles tercels tho.
541 'Nay, sirs!' quod he, 'if that I dorste it seye,
542 Ye doon me wrong, my tale is not y-do!
543 For sirs, ne taketh noght a-gref, I preye,
544 It may noght gon, as ye wolde, in this weye;
545 Oure is the voys that han the charge in honde,
546 And to the Iuges dome ye moten stonde;
547 'And therfor, pees! I seye, as to my wit,
548 Me wolde thinke how that the worthieste
549 Of knighthode, and lengest hath used hit,
550 Moste of estat, of blode the gentileste,
551 Were sittingest for hir, if that hir leste;
552 And of these three she wot hir-self, I trowe,
553 Which that he be, for hit is light to knowe.'
554 The water-foules han her hedes leyd
555 Togeder, and of short avysement,
556 Whan everich had his large golee seyd,
557 They seyden sothly, al by oon assent,
558 How that 'the goos, with hir facounde gent,
559 That so desyreth to pronounce our nede,
560 Shal telle our tale,' and preyde 'god hir spede.'
561 And for these water-foules tho began
562 The goos to speke, and in hir cakelinge
563 She seyde, 'pees! now tak kepe every man,
564 And herkeneth which a reson I shal bringe;
565 My wit is sharp, I love no taryinge;
566 I seye, I rede him, though he were my brother,
567 But she wol love him, lat him love another!'
568 'Lo here! a parfit reson of a goos!'
569 Quod the sperhauk; 'never mot she thee!
570 Lo, swich hit is to have a tonge loos!
571 Now parde, fool, yet were hit bet for thee
572 Have holde thy pees, than shewed thy nycete!
573 Hit lyth not in his wit nor in his wille,
574 But sooth is seyd, "a fool can noght be stille."'
575 The laughter aroos of gentil foules alle,
576 And right anoon the seed-foul chosen hadde
577 The turtel trewe, and gunne hir to hem calle,
578 And preyden hir to seye the sothe sadde
579 Of this matere, and asked what she radde;
580 And she answerde, that pleynly hir entente
581 She wolde shewe, and sothly what she mente.
582 'Nay, god forbede a lover shulde chaunge!'
583 The turtle seyde, and wex for shame al reed;
584 'Thogh that his lady ever-more be straunge,
585 Yet let him serve hir ever, til he be deed;
586 For sothe, I preyse noght the gooses reed;
587 For thogh she deyed, I wolde non other make,
588 I wol ben hires, til that the deth me take.'
589 'Wel bourded!' quod the doke, 'by my hat!
590 That men shulde alwey loven, causeles,
591 Who can a reson finde or wit in that?
592 Daunceth he mury that is mirtheles?
593 Who shulde recche of that is reccheles?
594 Ye, quek!' yit quod the doke, ful wel and faire,
595 'There been mo sterres, god wot, than a paire!'
596 'Now fy, cherl!' quod the gentil tercelet,
597 'Out of the dunghil com that word ful right,
598 Thou canst noght see which thing is wel be-set:
599 Thou farest by love as oules doon by light,
600 The day hem blent, ful wel they see by night;
601 Thy kind is of so lowe a wrechednesse,
602 That what love is, thou canst nat see ne gesse.'
603 Tho gan the cukkow putte him forth in prees
604 For foul that eteth worm, and seide blyve,
605 'So I,' quod he, 'may have my make in pees,
606 I recche not how longe that ye stryve;
607 Lat ech of hem be soleyn al hir lyve,
608 This is my reed, sin they may not acorde;
609 This shorte lesson nedeth noght recorde.'
610 'Ye! have the glotoun fild ynogh his paunche,
611 Than are we wel!' seyde the merlioun;
612 'Thou mordrer of the heysugge on the braunche
613 That broghte thee forth, thou rewthelees glotoun!
614 Live thou soleyn, wormes corrupcioun!
615 For no fors is of lakke of thy nature;
616 Go, lewed be thou, whyl the world may dure!'
617 'Now pees,' quod Nature, 'I comaunde here;
618 For I have herd al your opinioun,
619 And in effect yet be we never the nere;
620 But fynally, this is my conclusioun,
621 That she hir-self shal han the eleccioun
622 Of whom hir list, who-so be wrooth or blythe,
623 Him that she cheest, he shal hir have as swythe.
624 For sith hit may not here discussed be
625 Who loveth hir best, as seide the tercelet,
626 Than wol I doon hir this favour, that she
627 Shal have right him on whom hir herte is set,
628 And he hir that his herte hath on hir knet.
629 Thus Iuge I, Nature, for I may not lye;
630 To noon estat I have non other ye.
631 But as for counseyl for to chese a make,
632 If hit were reson, certes, than wolde I
633 Counseyle yow the royal tercel take,
634 As seide the tercelet ful skilfully,
635 As for the gentilest and most worthy,
636 Which I have wroght so wel to my plesaunce;
637 That to yow oghte been a suffisaunce.'
638 With dredful vois the formel hir answerde,
639 'My rightful lady, goddesse of Nature,
640 Soth is that I am ever under your yerde,
641 Lyk as is everiche other creature,
642 And moot be youres whyl that my lyf may dure;
643 And therfor graunteth me my firste bone,
644 And myn entente I wol yow sey right sone.'
645 'I graunte it you,' quod she; and right anoon
646 This formel egle spak in this degree,
647 'Almighty quene, unto this yeer be doon
648 I aske respit for to avysen me.
649 And after that to have my choys al free;
650 This al and sum, that I wolde speke and seye;
651 Ye gete no more, al-though ye do me deye.
652 I wol noght serven Venus ne Cupyde
653 For sothe as yet, by no manere wey.'
654 'Now sin it may non other wyse betyde,'
655 Quod tho Nature, 'here is no more to sey;
656 Than wolde I that these foules were a-wey
657 Ech with his make, for tarying lenger here' --
658 And seyde hem thus, as ye shul after here.
659 'To you speke I, ye tercelets,' quod Nature,
660 'Beth of good herte and serveth, alle three;
661 A yeer is not so longe to endure,
662 And ech of yow peyne him, in his degree,
663 For to do wel; for, god wot, quit is she
664 Fro yow this yeer; what after so befalle,
665 This entremes is dressed for you alle.'
666 And whan this werk al broght was to an ende,
667 To every foule Nature yaf his make
668 By even acorde, and on hir wey they wende.
669 A! lord! the blisse and Ioye that they make!
670 For ech of hem gan other in winges take,
671 And with hir nekkes ech gan other winde,
672 Thanking alwey the noble goddesse of kinde.
673 But first were chosen foules for to singe,
674 As yeer by yere was alwey hir usaunce
675 To singe a roundel at hir departinge,
676 To do to Nature honour and plesaunce.
677 The note, I trowe, maked was in Fraunce;
678 The wordes wer swich as ye may heer finde,
679 The nexte vers, as I now have in minde.
Qui bien aime a tard oublie.
680 'Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
681 That hast this wintres weders over-shake,
682 And driven awey the longe nightes blake!
683 'Saynt Valentyn, that art ful hy on-lofte; --
684 Thus singen smale foules for thy sake --
685 Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
686 That hast this wintres weders over-shake.
687 'Wel han they cause for to gladen ofte,
688 Sith ech of hem recovered hath his make;
689 Ful blisful may they singen whan they wake;
690 Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
691 That hast this wintres weders over-shake,
692 And driven away the longe nightes blake.'
693 And with the showting, whan hir song was do,
694 That foules maden at hir flight a-way,
695 I wook, and other bokes took me to
696 To rede upon, and yet I rede alway;
697 In hope, y-wis, to rede so som day
698 That I shal mete som thing for to fare
699 The bet; and thus to rede I nil not spare.

Parliamentum avium in die Sancti Valentini tentum secundum Galfridum Chaucer. Deo gracias.