Art. 82, Le chevaler e la corbaylle

ART. 82, LE CHEVALER E LA CORBAYLLE: EXPLANATORY NOTES


Abbreviations: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); Bodl.: Bodleian Library (Oxford); CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); DOML: Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library; FDT: French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages (Sinclair 1979); FDT-1French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages, . . . First Supplement (Sinclair 1982); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWME: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500 (Severs et al.); NIMEV: A New Index of Middle English Verse (Boffey and Edwards); NLS: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh).

37 talevace. In Anglo-Norman, “wooden shield used for protection against arrows.” In Gilote and Johan (art. 37), line 337, the term seems to be a euphemism for the pudendum (see explanatory note). A similar, more derogatory slur may be intended here. See Revard 2005a, p. 137 n. 15.

90 goute. The word means either “malady” or “drop,” i.e., as of poison; see MED, goute (n.(1)) and (n.(2)). The first meaning seems more probable. By the end, the old woman suffers an unsettling disorientation that makes her feel ill.

136 oefs. “Means of action, operation, affair”; see AND, ovre. The knight has detected in the louvred roof his means of entry into the castle via the basket.

152 rusche. “Rushes, reeds,” apparently held by the squire as camouflage. The word has an Old English derivation (rysc) and hence is unusual in this French work; see MED, rishe (n.), sense 1. The prop exists perhaps to associate this maneuver with the basket.

248 atornee. A literal “turn” (i.e., being tossed) and also “turn of events, circuitous course, or spell.” The old woman fears she’s been afflicted by demons, and associates this affliction with her night-wandering. Compare the tossing of Mak in a blanket to drive out evil spirits in the Wakefield Second Sheperds’ Pageant (Bevington, p. 404).

260 bosoigne. “Need.” The word resonates with the lady’s earlier “itch” (line 196). While the lady can continue to assuage her need, the old woman will never again arise from bed to satisfy her curiosity.


ART. 82, LE CHEVALER E LA CORBAYLLE: TEXTUAL NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: As: Aspin; : Böddeker; Br: Brook; BS: Bennett and Smithers; BZ: Brandl and Zippel; B13: Brown 1937; Dea: J. M. Dean; Do: Dove 1969; Fl: Flood; : Förster; Fu: Furnivall; HB: Hunt and Bliss; Kem: Kemble; Ken: Kennedy; Mi: Millett; Mo: Morris and Skeat; MS: MS Harley 2253; Mu1: H. J. R. Murray; Mu2: J. A. H. Murray; NB: Noomen and van den Boogard; Pa: Patterson; Rev: Revard 2005a; Ri: Ritson 1877; Ro: Robbins 1959; SP: Short and Pearcy; Si: Silverstein; St: Stemmler 1970; Tu: Turville-Petre 1989; Ul: Ulrich; W1: Wright 1839; W2: Wright 1841; W3: Wright 1842; WH: Wright and Halliwell.

2 chevaler. So MS, Ken, Rev. NB: chevaller.

23 l’ageyte. So MS, NB, Rev. Ken: la geyte.

25 l’aust. So MS, NB, Rev. Ken: la vst.

28 tro. So MS, Ken, NB. Rev: trop.

38 remuer. So MS, Ken, NB. Rev: remut.

42 E il. So MS, Ken, Rev. NB: Cil.

54 a le. So MS, NB, Rev. Ken: al.

61 molt. So MS (o abbreviated), NB, Rev. Ken: moult.

73 clope. So NB, Rev. MS, Ken: clepe.

77 jamés. So MS, Ken. NB, Rev: ja mes.
ces. So MS, Ken, Rev. NB: ses.

86 tro. So MS, Ken, NB. Rev: trop.

95 pieté. So MS. Ken, NB, Rev: piece.

103 Lumbardye. So MS, Ken, Rev. NB: Lumbardie.

105 pust. So MS, NB, Rev. Ken: omitted.

109 quidroi. So NB, Rev. MS, Ken: quidoi.

129 ad. So MS, Ken. NB, Rev: od.

130 assise a pentis. So MS. Ken: assis e apentis. NB, Rev: assise e apentis.

135 ces. So MS, Ken, Rev. NB: ses.

144 Pus. So MS, Ken, NB. Rev: puis.

183 endormie. So MS, Ken, Rev. NB: endormye.

203 vaillaunt. So MS, Ken, Rev. NB: vaillant.

207 trycherye. So MS, NB, Rev. Ken: trycherie.

221 ele. So MS, Ken, Rev. NB: cele.

233 autre. So MS (re abbreviated), NB, Rev. Ken: autro.

238 Qaunt. So MS, NB. Ken, Rev: Quant.

248 ad. So MS. Ken. NB, Rev: ont.

249 dames. So MS, Ken. NB, Rev: damos.

254 Unque. So MS, NB, Rev. Ken: vnqe.

257 issyr. So MS, Ken, Rev. NB: isser.

260 bosoigne. So MS, Ken, NB. Rev: besoigne.

 
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   ¶ Pur ce que plusours ount mervaille
De Le chevaler e la corbaylle,
Ore le vous vueil je counter,
Si vous plest a escoter.
   Un chevaler de grant valour
E une dame de honour
S’entreamerent jadis d’amour,
Leaument ov grant douçour.
Mes il ne se poeint assembler,
Ne pur geiter ne pur embler,
Fors a parler taun soulement,
Quar molt estoit estreitement
La dame closé e enmuree.
Mesone ne clos ne ount duree
Vers femme, quar son engyn pase
Tot ce q’autre engyn compasse.
   Le chevaler l’out d’amour pryé,
E la dame s’ert otryé
A ly, quant vendreint en eyse.
Mes mester est qe um se teyse
Vers pucele e chaunbrere,
E qe ele se tienge en sa barrere
En pes, quar soun mary l’ageyte
E fet geiter, a grant deceyte.
E mes qu’il geytee ne l’aust,
Si ne say come l’em pust
Approcher a tiele chasteleyne,
Si ce ne fust a tro grant peyne,
Quar trop y a murs e fosseez.
Cil qe tous les avereit passeez
E feist taunt qu’il poeit estre
Dedenz cele chambre le plus mestre,
Ou la dame dort e repose,
Uncore, ne serreit legere chose
D’aver tote sa volenté,
Quar en yver e en esté
La gueyte une veele talevace.
E si la dame remuer se face
Une houre, qe ele ne la veist,
Meintenaunt ele deist
A le seigneur (qu’estoit soun fis),
E il crerroit bien tost ces dys.
   Le chevaler mout sovent
Soleyt aler a tornoyement,
Sicome ryche baroun deit fere.
Le chevaler de basse affere,
Que longement se avoit mussee,
E en mussaunt soun temps usee,
Un jour se purpensa
Qe la dame vere irra
Quaunt erré fust le chasteleyn.
   Le porter ne fust mie vileyn.
Eynz, son message a la dame fist.
E meintenant a le porter dist,
“Amis, lessez saeynz venyr,
Quar a counsail le vueil tenyr
De un affere qe je pens.”
   Ataunt entra saunz defens,
E les chevalers qe leynz furent
Ly fyrent joie qe ly conurent.
La dame molt bel le reçust,
Mes la veeille ne ly pust
Salver si a grant peyne noun,
Quar ele le avoit en suspecioun.
   Desus un tapit se assistrent;
D’amours un parlement y mistrent.
Trop fust pres la veeille frouncie —
Que male passioun la ocie,
Quar de parler ont poi d’espace!
   “Dame,” fet il, “ja Dieu ne place
Qe ceste veille vyvre puisse:
Que ele n’eit brusé ou bras ou quisse,
Que ele soit clope ou contrayte,
Quar si ele ust la lange trayte,
Certes ce serroit charité,
Qe mensounge ne verité
Ne issent jamés de ces denz!”
   “Sire, mout ad en le cuer dedenz,”
Fet la dame, “feloun corage!
Mort la prenge e male rage!
Trop ad en ly male racyne!
Mes, qui m’enseignast la medicine
Par quei ele fust asourdee,
Je l’en donasse grant soudee,
Quar petit dort e longes veyle,
Si a tro clere l’oreyle,
Auxi de nuytz come de jours.
Um dit qe veeille gent sunt sourdz,
Mes ceste ad trop clere l’oye.”
   “La male goute, bele amye,”
Fet il, “nous em pusse venger —
Je ne vous say autre enseigner.
Mes, pur Dieu, que frez vous de moi,
Qe taunt vous aym, en bone foy?
Grant pieté a, e bien le savez,
Grant pecchié de moy avez!”
   “Pecché?” fet ele. “Bels amis chers,
Ja estes vous ly chevalers
Que je plus aym; si je pusse,
E je le loyser usse.
Veiez tauntz barrez e tanz murs!
Je vodroi estre ov vous aillours,
En Espaigne ou en Lumbardye.”
   “Dame,” fet il, “par coardye,
Si Dieu pust mon cors salver,
Ne lerroi je pas a entrer
En cet hostel, e tant feroi
Qe uncore anuit seynz serroi.
Si, de vous, quidroi esploiter.”
   “Venez dounc saunz respiter,”
Fet ele, “anuit, bels douz amis,
Quar si saeynz vous estoiez mis
Qe de nul aparsu fussez,
Mon cors gayné averez;
Quar pus ne faudrez vous ja
De venir desque cel us la,
Ou je serroye countre vous.”
   “Ensi,” fet il, “le ferrom nous,
Je y vendroi anuit sauntz faile.”
   “Bien,” fet ele, “vous y vaile.”
   Ataunt, lessent le conciler.
De le oriller e d’escoter,
Molt fust la veeille entremise,
Mes n’out pas la chose aprise.
   La dame demanda le vyn.
Le chevaler — ce fust la fyn —
En bust, e ne mie grantment.
Eynz, regarde ententivement.
La sale, qe ad murs feytis
Estoit assise a pentis,
Devers le mur fust descoverte.
Si ja ne fust fenestre overte,
Si pout um vere de lover
Quar um porroit un bover
Launcer parmi ov tous ces buefs!
E pensa qe ce serroit a soun oefs.
   Un soun esquier apela,
Privément le councila
Qu’il s’en isse e s’en aut muscer
Joste la sale en un ligner.
Q’estoit apuez al mur,
E soit la desqu’il soit obscur
E que la gent se soit cochie,
Pus mounte le mur tot a celee
Si le atende a un kernel.
Cely, qe ne fust gueres bel
De remeyndre en si grant doute,
Graunta sa volenté toute,
Quar ne le osa fere autrement.
Vers le ligner va belement,
Enbuchez est dedenz la buche,
E tint en sa meyn une rusche.
   E quant la gueyte avoit cornee,
Le chevaler se ert atornee.
Quant quida qe fust endormie,
La gent lors ne se oblia mie:
Le chevaler ad fet taunt
Que grant piece aprés l’anuytant
Sy vint dehors les murs ester,
E um ly fet aporter
Une corbaille bien tornee
De cordes bien avyronee.
Ov la aye cely desus,
Le chevaler (qe remist jus)
S’est dedenz la corbaille cochee,
E cil l’ount sus le mur saké,
E molt tost l’ount mis avale
De le mur desqe en la sale.
Bien ad deservy son deduit!
   E la dame unqe cele nuit
Ne dormi. Einz, fust en entente
Tant q’ele oie ou qu’ele sente
De son amy le aviegnement.
Vers la chaunbre va belement
Ou la dame l’entendoit.
Bon guerdoun rendre l’en doit,
La dame qe grant joie en a!
Dedenz la chaunbre le mena,
E firent quanque fere durent:
A molt grant joie ensemble furent.
   Mes la veille gysoit molt pres,
Qe molt avoit le cuer engrés,
E n’ert pas uncore endormie.
Entre lur deus litz n’i avoit mie
Une teyse, ce m’est avys.
Un soul covertour coveroit lur lis —
Qe bon e bel e graunt estoit
Le covertour qe les deus litz coveroit!
Come le chevaler fist son mester,
Le covertour comença crouler.
   La maveise veille demaunda,
“File, ton covertour quey a,
Qe tant le oie aler e venir?”
   “Dame, je ne pus tenir,”
Fet ele, “de grater une houre.
Seigne, ce quid, me demoure.”
Cele quide qe voir ly dye.
   Mes longes ne demorra mie
Que il ne fist le covertour crouler.
Bien, sout les coupes le roy doner,
Le chevaler, mien esscient,
Quar il ne se repose nent.
Molt ert vaillaunt en cel estour;
Sovent fesoit le covertour
Crouler e torner de une part.
E la veille qe mout soud de art
E d’engyn e de trycherye,
Pensa qe unqe pur graterye
Ne ala le covertour ensi.
   De son lit la veille issi,
Une chaundele prist desteinte,
E de aler suef ne se est feynte.
Vers la cusyne tint sa voie,
Mes parmi la sale forvoie
Taunt q’en la corbaille chay!
   Cil quiderent estre trahy,
Qe les cordes braunler sentirent.
Vistement la corbaille tyrent.
Sus trehent la veille chanue.
Le ciel fust estoillé, saunt nue,
Quant ele vint pres de le lover.
Donqe conurent l’esquier
Qe ce n’ert mie lur seignour.
   Donqe la demeynent a dolour,
Quar la corbaille balauncerent.
De tref en autre la launcerent.
Unqe la veille ne ala a tiele hounte!
Primes aval, e pus amounte,
En tele peyne e torment
La ont demenee longement
Pur poi ne la ount toly la vie.
Bien quide qu’il la eyent ravye —
Deables ou autre malfees!
   Quant il furent eschaufeez
De crouler, les cordes guerpissent.
La corbaille a terre flatissent,
E la veille a une part vole.
Qaunt ele leva, se fist que fole.
A quoi ferroi je long sermoun?
Taunt hordly par la mesoun
Qu’a son lit est venue,
Tremblaunt come fueille menue
Que le vent de byse demeyne,
Sicome poeit parler a peyne.
   Dit a la dame, a grant tristour:
“Mal feu arde ton covertour!
Tele noise ad anuit demenee!
Malement me ad atornee.
Les dames que errerent par nuit!”
   Mout en urent grant desduit —
Les deus amantz, quant le oevre surent,     
E ceux qe balauncé le urent.
Ensi le chevaler ala e vynt.
Unque plus a la veille ne avynt
Que ele levast puis qe fu cochee —
Quant ly sovynt de sa haschee,
N’avoit talent de hors issyr!
Unqe puis — taunt ne oy crouler
Le covertour — qe se remust
Pur nulle bosoigne qe ele ust.
Pur ce est droit qe mal purchace
Qe a la foiz mal ly face.
   Ataunt finist, sauntz fayle,
De la veille e de la corbayle.
   ¶ Because many people marvel
About The Knight and the Basket,
Now I wish to tell it to you,
If it should please you to listen.
   A very courageous knight
And an honorable lady
Once loved each other dearly,
Loyally with great tenderness.
But they could never be together,
Either by watching out or by stealth,
Except only to speak,
For very strictly
Was the lady enclosed and walled in.
Neither house nor enclosure may hold back
A woman, for her ingeniousness exceeds
All that any other ingenuity devises.
   The knight had asked for her love,
And the lady had assented
To him, whenever opportunity should arise.
But it’s necessary that they keep quiet
Around maidservant and chambermaid,
And that she keep herself within her bounds
Docilely, for her husband watches her
And has her watched, most deceitfully.
And even were he not to keep watch,
I don’t know how anyone could
Approach such a lady of the castle,
Unless it were with very great difficulty,
For there are too many walls and moats.
If one were to pass through all of them
And do as much as he could to enter
Into that room of most importance,
Where the lady sleeps and rests,
Even so, it would be no easy matter
To have all his desire,
For in winter and in summer
An old hag-shield watches her.
And if the lady should absent herself
For an hour, and she [the old woman] not see her,
At once she’d inform
The lord (who was her son),
And he’d quite readily believe her report.
   The knight quite often
Would go to tournaments,
As a wealthy baron should.
The knight of modest circumstances,
Who had languished for a long time,
And passed his time in languishing,
One day decided
That he’d go see the lady
While the castellan was out traveling.
   The porter wasn’t rude at all.
Instead, he took his message to the lady.
And at once she said to the porter,
“Friend, let him enter here,
For I wish to seek his advice
Concerning an affair I’m pondering.”
   Then he entered without hindrance,
And the knights who were inside
Joyfully welcomed him for they knew him.
The lady received him very graciously,
But the old woman could not
Greet him without great distress,
For she was suspicious of him.
   On a tapestry they sat down together;
There they engaged in love talk.
Too near was the wrinkled old woman —
May a terrible disease kill her,
For they had little space to talk!
   “Lady,” he says, “may it never please God
That this old woman should live:
Were she to break an arm or thigh,
Were she lame or crippled,
Or if she were to have her tongue pulled out,
Certainly it would be a charitable thing,
For neither lies nor truth
Would ever again issue from her teeth!”
   “Lord, certainly she has in her heart,”
The lady says, “a wicked spirit!
May death and evil madness take her!
There’s a malicious core in her!
Indeed, if someone could show me the drug
Whereby she’d be made deaf,
I’d give him a large reward,
For she sleeps little and watches long,
And she has ears that are too sharp,
As much by night as by day.
They say that old people are deaf,
But this one has hearing that’s too keen.”
   “A bad malady, dear friend,”
He says, “might be able to avenge us —
I know no other way to advise you.
But, for God’s sake, what will you do for me,
Who loves you so much, in good faith?
Have mercy, and well you know how to.
You’ve grievously sinned on my account!”
   “Sinned?” she says. “Dear sweet friend,
Truly you are the knight
Whom I most love, if only I could,
And if I had the opportunity.
Look how many barriers and walls there are!
I’d like to be with you somewhere else,
In Spain or in Lombardy.”
   “Lady,” he says, “by no cowardice,
So God save my body,
Would I hold off from entering
This house, and I’ll do whatever it takes
To be inside it again tonight.
Thus, with you, I plan to make it happen.”
   “Then come without delay,”
She says, “tonight, dear sweet friend,
For were you to be placed here within
In such a way that you’re seen by no one,
You shall have won my body;
For then you won’t neglect
To come as far as that door,
Where I’ll be expecting you.”
   “Just so,” he says, “shall we do it,
I’ll come there tonight without fail.”
   “Good,” she says, “that’s brave of you.”
   With that, they ended the meeting.
In hearing and listening to them,
The old woman was very much concerned,
But she hadn’t understood what they said.
   The lady asked for wine.
The knight — this was the plot —
Drank some, but not at all heavily.
Instead, he looks around carefully.
The hall, which with well-made walls
Was constructed and fitted,
Was open-roofed near the wall.
Even though no window was open,
One could see by means of the open turret
Such that one might allow a cowherd
To pass through with all his oxen!
And he decided this would be his means of action.
   He called one of his squires,
Privately advising him
That he should go out and hide himself
Next to the hall in a woodshed
That was up against the wall,
And stay there till it’s dark
And the people have gone to bed,
Then climb up the wall very secretly
And wait for him on the battlements.
This one, who was not so pleased
To stay there at such great risk,
Granted his whole desire,
For he didn’t dare do otherwise.
He goes quietly toward the woodshed,
Is concealed within the logs,
And holds some rushes in his hand.
   And when the watch had blown the horn,
The knight had made himself ready.
When he thought that he [the watch] was asleep,
Then he didn’t forget his people at all:
The knight had done so much
That a good while after nightfall
He arrives there outside the walls,
And there’s delivered to him
A well-made basket
Entirely wrapped in ropes.
With the help of the one above,
The knight (who remained below)
Has lain down inside the basket,
And these have pulled him up the wall,
And very quickly lowered him down
From the wall into the hall.
He’s well earned his delight!
   And that night the lady never
Slept. Instead, she was listening
Until she hears or until she senses
The arrival of her friend.
He goes quietly toward the room
Where the lady waits for him.
She ought to render him a good reward,
The lady, who has great joy in it!
She led him into her room,
And they did whatever they ought to do:
They had very great joy together.
   But close by lay the old woman,
Who had a vicious heart,
And she was not yet asleep.
Between their two beds there was not
Even a space, in my opinion.
A single blanket covered their beds —
How good and beautiful and large
Was the blanket that covered the two beds!
As the knight did his work,
The blanket began to shake.
   The wicked old woman asked,
“Daughter, what’s with your blanket,
That I hear it go and come so much?”
   “Lady, I cannot keep,”
She says, “from scratching constantly.
My itch, believe this, remains unrelieved.”
That one thinks she tells the truth.
   But he did not slow down at all
In making the blanket shake.
Indeed, he knew how to give the royal strokes,
The knight, as best I know,
For he doesn’t rest at all.
He was very brave in this combat;
He often made the blanket
Shake and turn on one side.
And the old woman, who understood craft
And ingenuity and trickery,
Thought that never on account of scratching
Would a blanket move in this way.
   The old woman rose up from her bed,
Took an unlit candle,
And didn’t hesitate to go softly.
Toward the kitchen she made her way,
But within the hall she went awry
So much that she fell into the basket!
   They thought themselves betrayed,
Those who felt the ropes tighten.
Quickly they pulled in the basket.
Up they draw the old gray-haired woman.
The sky was starry, without a cloud,
When she came close to the louvred turret.
Then the squires knew
This was not at all their lord.
   Then they made it grievous for her,
For they swung the basket.
From one beam to another they threw it.
Never had the old woman felt such abuse!
First down, and then up,
In such pain and torment
Have they tossed her for so long
That they’ve nearly taken her life.
She really thinks they’ve ravished her —
Devils or other demons!
   When they were made all hot
From the shaking, they let go of the ropes.
The basket they let fall to the ground,
And the old woman flies out to the side.
When she got up, she acted senseless.
Why should I make a long tale?
She hurtled so much about the house
Till she came to her bed,
Trembling like a fragile leaf
That the north wind shakes,
Like one who could hardly talk.
   She says to the lady, with extreme grief:
“May an evil fire burn your blanket!
Such an uproar’s been stirred up tonight!
I’ve been given a wicked turn.
[Cursed are] ladies out traveling by night!”
   They took great entertainment in it —
The two lovers when they knew the deed,
And those who had tossed her.
Thus did the knight come and go.
Never more would the old woman
Get up after she’d gone to bed —
When she remembered her suffering,
She had no desire to go out!
Never afterwards — no matter how much she heard   
The blanket shake — did she get up
For any need that she might have.
For it’s right that one who strives for wrong
Should in turn have wrong done to him.
   Thus ends, without fail,
The Old Woman and the Basket.

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Go To Art. 83, De mal mariage, introduction
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