Troilus and Criseyde: A Translation

Troilus and Criseyde

Taken from Book III, lines 1422-1477
Troilus and Criseyde

“Myn hertes lif, my trist, al my plesaunce,
That I was born, allas, what me is wo,
That day of us moot make disseveraunce!
For tyme it is to ryse and hennes go,
Or ellis I am lost for evere mo!
O nyght, allas, why nyltow over us hove
As longe as whan Almena lay by Jove?

“O blake nyght, as folk in bokes rede,
That shapen art by God this world to hide
At certeyn tymes wyth thi derke wede,
That under that men myghte in reste abide,
Wel oughten bestes pleyne and folk the chide,
That there was day wyth labour wolde us breste,
That thow thus fleest, and deynest us nought rest.

“Thow doost, allas, to shortly thyn office,
Thow rakle nyght! Ther God, maker of kynde,
The, for thyn haste and thyn unkynde vice,
So faste ay to oure hemysperie bynde
That nevere more under the ground thow wynde!
For now, for thow so hiest out of Troie,
Have I forgon thus hastili my joie!”

This Troilus, that with tho wordes felte,
As thoughte hym tho, for piëtous distresse
The blody teris from his herte melte,
As he that nevere yet swich hevynesse
Assayed hadde, out of so gret gladnesse,
Gan therwithal Criseyde, his lady deere,
In armes streyne, and seyde in this manere:

“O cruel day, accusour of the joie
That nyght and love han stole and faste iwryen,
Acorsed be thi comyng into Troye,
For every bore hath oon of thi bryghte yën!
Envyous day, what list the so to spien?
What hastow lost? Why sekestow this place?
Ther God thi light so quenche, for his grace!

“Allas, what have thise loveris the agylt,
Dispitous day? Thyn be the peyne of helle!
For many a lovere hastow slayn, and wilt;
Thy pourynge in wol nowher lat hem dwelle.
What profrestow thi light here for to selle?
Go selle it hem that smale selys grave;
We wol the nought; us nedeth no day have.”

And ek the sonne, Titan, gan he chide,
And seyde, “O fool, wel may men the dispise,
That hast the dawyng al nyght by thi syde,
And suffrest hire so soone up fro the rise
For to disese loveris in this wyse.
What, holde youre bed ther, thow, and ek thi Morwe!
I bidde God, so yeve yow bothe sorwe!”

Therwith ful soore he syghte, and thus he seyde:
“My lady right, and of my wele or wo
The welle and roote, O goodly myn Criseyde,
And shal I rise, allas, and shal I so?
Now fele I that myn herte moot a-two,
For how sholde I my lif an houre save,
Syn that with yow is al the lif ich have?”

“With my heart, my trust, my joy, my life,
What woe is me that I was born, alas,
That the coming of day should separate us!
For the time has come for us to rise and go,
Or else I’ll be lost in eternity!
Oh night, alas, why do you not hover over us
As long as when Alcmena laid by Jove?

“Oh black night, as we’ve read in books,
Created by the craft of God:—
Who hides the world at certain times
Within his cloak of darkness so that men may rest—
Often beasts and men may complain
That the day with its labor breaks us in two,
That you, night, flee and deny us rest.

“Alas, too shortly do you do your purpose,
Thou hasty night! May God, maker of nature,
For your hasty and unkind malice,
Fasten you to our hemisphere
So that nevermore under the horizon you may go!
For now, since you have left Troy
I have forsaken hastily all of my joy!”

With her words Troilus felt
A pitious distress, and he thought
Bloody tears were dripping from his melting heart,
For he never felt such a heavy sadness
Grow from so great a gladness.
He held his dear lady Criseyde
In his arms and spoke thus:

“Oh cruel day, betrayer and thief of the joy
That night and love have hidden,
Curse you for your coming into Troy,
For every hole bears one of your bright eyes!
Envious day, why do you wish to spy on us?
What have you lost? Why do you seek this place?
In His grace, may God quench your light!

“Alas, how have these lovers offended you,
Pitiless day? May the pain of hell be yours!
You have slain and will slay many lovers;
You spy on us and will let us dwell nowhere.
Why do you offer to sell your light here?
Go sell it to those who engrave small seals;
We ask not nor have need for daylight here.”

He also scolded the sun, Titan,
And said, “Oh fool, men may well dispise you
Who has the dawn all night by your side,
And suffer her so soon to rise
To plague lovers by her coming.
Titan! Hold to your bed with Aurora!
I bid to God to give you sorrow!

Thence full of sadness he sighed, and thus he said:
“My lady at the root of both my wellness and woe,
Oh my goodly Criseyde,
Shall I, like Titan, so rise?
Now I feel my heart breaking in two,
For how should I save my life after just an hour
Since with you is all of the life I have?”