Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Geoffrey Chaucer, "Alcione and Seys," The Book of the Duchess

For as she prayede, ryght so was don
In dede; for Juno ryght anon
Called thus hir messager
To doo her erande, and he com ner.
     Whan he was come, she bad hym thus:
"Go bet," quod Juno, "to Morpheus 
Thou knowest hiym wel, the god of slep.
Now understond wel and tak kep!
Sey thus on my half: that he
Go faste into the Grete Se,
And byd him that, on alle thyng,
He take up Seys body the kyng,
That lyeth ful pale and nothyng rody.
Bid hym crepe into the body
And doo hit goon to Alcione
The quene, there she lyeth allone,
And shewe hir shortly, hit ys no nay,
How hit was dreynt thys other day;
And do the body speke ryght soo,
Ryght as hyt was woned to doo
The whiles that hit was alyve.
Goo now faste, and hye the blyve!"
     This messager tok leve and wente
Upon hys wey, and never ne stente
Til he com to the darke valeye
That stante betwixe roches tweye
There never yet grew corn ne gras,
Ne tre, ne noght that ought was,
Beste, ne man, ne noght elles,
Save ther were a fewe welles
Came rennynge from the clyves adoun,
That made a dedly slepynge soun,
And ronnen doun ryght by a cave
That was under a rokke ygrave
Amydde the valey, wonder depe. . .
     "Hyt am I," quod the messager.
"Juno bad thow shuldst gooon 
And tolde hym what he shulde doon
(As I have told yow here-to-fore;
Hyt ys no nede reherse hyt more)
And went hys wey whan he had sayd.
Anoon this god of slep abrayd
Out of hys slep, and gan to goon,
And dyde as he had bede hym doon:
Took up the dreynte body sone
And bar hyt forth to Alcione,
Hys wif the quene, there as she lay
Ryght even a quarter before day,
And stood ryght at hyr beddes fet,
And called hir right as she het
By name, and sayde, "My swete wyf,
Awake! Let be your sorwful lyf,
For in your sorwe there lyth no red;
For, certes, swete, I am but ded.
Ye shul me never on lyve yse.
But, goode swete herte, that ye
Bury my body, for such a tyde
Ye mowe hyt finde the see besyde;
And farewel, swete, my worldes blysse!
I praye God youre sorwe lysse.
To lytel while our blysse lastesth!"
     With that hir eyen up she casteth
And saw noght. "Allas!" quod she for sorwe,
And deyede within the thridde morwe.
But what she sayede more in that swow
I may not telle yow as now;
Hyt were to longe for to dwelle.
My first matere I wil yow telle,
Wherfore I have told this thyng
Of Alcione and Seys the kyng,
For thus moche dar I saye wel:
I had be dolven everydel
And ded, ryght thurgh defaute of slep,
Yif I ne had red and take kep
Of this tale next before.
And I wol telle yow wherfore:
For I ne myghte, for bote ne bale,
Slepe or I had red thys tale
Of this dreynte Seys the kyng
And of the goddes of slepying.
     When I had red thys tale wel
And overloked hyt everydel,
Me thoghte wonder yf hit were so,
For I had never herd speke or tho
Of noo goddes that koude make
Men to slepe, ne for to wake,
For I ne knew never god but oon.

1 comment:

  1. Ezra Pound (1918): "Our only measure of truth is... our own perception of truth. The undeniable tradition of metamorphosis teaches us that things do not remain always the same. They become other things by swift and unanalysable process. It was only when men began to mistrust the myths and tell nasty lies about the Gods for a moral purpose that these matters became hopelessly confused."