Troilus and Criseyde

Troilus and Criseyde

Troilus and Criseyde

Troilus and Criseyde

Synopsis

Chaucer's masterpiece and one of the greatest narrative poems in English, the story of the lovers Troilus and Criseyde is renowned for its deep humanity and penetrating psychological insight. This is a modern English prose translation intended as an accurate guide to the Middle English original, and a readable translation in its own right. This edition includes an introduction by a major Chaucerean scholar, an index of the names associated with the Trojan War, and an illuminating index of Proverbs.

Excerpt

Before I pan from you, my purpose is to tell of the double sorrow of Troilus, son of King Priam of Troy--how his fortunes in love rose and fell from misery to joy, then afterwards out of joy. Tisiphone, help me to compose these sorrowful verses, that weep even as I write than! I call on you, goddess of torment, cruel Fury, ever sorrowing in pain: help me, who am the sorrowful instrument that, as best I can, helps lovers to lament. For, to tell the truth, a sad companion best suits a sorrowful person, and a sad expression a sorrowful tale. For I, serving the servants of the God of love, do not dare (because of my own unsuitability) to pray to Love for success--though I die for it--I am so far removed from his help, in darkness. But yet if this may bring happiness to any lover and further his cause, let him have the thanks due to me, and let mine be this labour!

You lovers, who bask in happiness, if there be any drop of pity in you, remember the sadness you have felt in the past, and the adversities of other people, and think how you have felt when Love dared displease you, or you have won it too easily. And pray for those who are in Troilus' plight, as you can afterwards hear, that Love bring them to joy in heaven; and also pray for me to dear God, that I have the power to express in some way, in Troilus' luckless misfortune, such pain and misery as Love's people endure. And also pray for those who are in despair in love and will never recover, and also for those who are unjustly injured by malicious tell-tales, whether male or female; and so pray to God, of his goodness, to grant those who are in despair of Love's grace to pass soon out of this world. And also pray for those in contentment, that God grant them long continuance always, and send them the power so to please their ladies that it be honour and delight to love. For so I hope to advance my own soul best, by praying for those who are servants of Love, and writing of their unhappiness, and living in charity, and by having compassion on them, as though I were their own dear brother! Now listen with good will, as I go straight to my subject- matter, in which you may hear the double sorrows of Troilus in his love for Criseyde, and how she forsook him before she died. [56]

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