The Eagle Converses with Chaucer

“How farest thou?” quod he to me.
“Wel,” quod I. “Now see,” quod he,
“By thy trouthe, yond adoun,
Wher that thou knowest any toun,
Or hous, or any other thing.
And whan thou hast of ought knowyng,
Looke that thou warne me,
And y anoon shal telle the
How fer that thou art now therfro.”
And y adoun gan loken thoo,
And beheld feldes and playnes,
And now hilles, and now mountaynes,
Now valeyes, now forestes,
And now unnethes grete bestes,
Now ryveres, now citees,
Now tounes, and now grete trees,
Now shippes seyllynge in the see.
But thus sone in a while he
Was flowen fro the ground so hye
That al the world, as to myn yë,
No more semed than a prikke;
Or elles was the air so thikke
That y ne myghte not discerne.
With that he spak to me as yerne,
And seyde, “Seest thou any toun
Or ought thou knowest yonder doun?”
I sayde, “Nay.” “No wonder nys,”
Quod he, “for half so high as this
Nas Alixandre Macedo;
Ne the kyng, Daun Scipio,
That saw in drem, at poynt devys,
Helle and erthe and paradys:
Ne eke the wrechche Dedalus,
Ne his child, nyce Ykarus,
That fleigh so highe that the hete
Hys wynges malt, and he fel wete
In myd the see, and ther he dreynte,
For whom was maked moch compleynte.
“Now turn upward,” quod he, “thy face,
And behold this large space,
This eyr, but loke thou ne be
Adrad of hem that thou shalt se,
For in this region, certeyn,
Duelleth many a citezeyn,
Of which that speketh Daun Plato;
These ben the eyryssh bestes, lo!”
And so saw y all that meynee
Boothe goon and also flee.
“Now,” quod he thoo, “cast up thyn yë.
Se yonder, loo, the Galaxie,
Which men clepeth the Milky Wey
For hit ys whit (and somme, parfey,
Kallen hyt Watlynge Strete),
That ones was ybrent with hete,
Whan the sonnes sone the rede,
That highte Pheton, wolde lede
Algate hys fader carte, and gye.
The carte-hors gonne wel espye
That he koude no governaunce,
And gonne for to lepe and launce,
And beren hym now up, now doun,
Til that he sey the Scorpioun,
Which that in heven a sygne is yit.
And he for ferde loste hys wyt
Of that, and let the reynes gon
Of his hors; and they anoon
Gonne up to mounte and doun descende,
Til bothe the eyr and erthe brende,
Til Jupiter, loo, atte laste,
Hym slow, and fro the carte caste.
Loo, ys it not a gret myschaunce
To lete a fool han governaunce
Of thing that he can not demeyne?”
And with this word, soth for to seyne,
He gan alway upper to sore,
And gladded me ay more and more,
So feythfully to me spak he.
Tho gan y loken under me
And beheld the ayerissh bestes,
Cloudes, mystes, and tempestes,
Snowes, hayles, reynes, wyndes,
And th'engendrynge in hir kyndes,
All the wey thrugh which I cam.
“O God,” quod y, “that made Adam,
Moche ys thy myght and thy noblesse!”
And thoo thoughte y upon Boece,
That writ, “A thought may flee so hye
Wyth fetheres of Philosophye,
To passen everych element,
And whan he hath so fer ywent,
Than may be seen behynde hys bak
Cloude”—and al that y of spak.
Thoo gan y wexen in a were,
And seyde, “Y wot wel y am here,
But wher in body or in gost
I not, ywys, but God, thou wost,”
For more clere entendement
Nas me never yit ysent.
And than thoughte y on Marcian,
And eke on Anteclaudian,
That sooth was her descripsion
Of alle the hevenes region,
As fer as that y sey the preve;
Therfore y kan hem now beleve.
With that this egle gan to crye,
“Lat be,” quod he, “thy fantasye!
Wilt thou lere of sterres aught?”
“Nay, certeynly,” quod y, “ryght naught.”
“And why?” “For y am now to old.”
“Elles I wolde the have told,”
Quod he, “the sterres names, lo,
And al the hevenes sygnes therto,
And which they ben.” “No fors,” quod y.
“Yis, pardee,” quod he; “wostow why?
For when thou redest poetrie,
How goddes gonne stellifye
Bridd, fissh, best, or him or here,
As the Raven or eyther Bere,
Or Arionis harpe fyn,
Castor, Pollux, or Delphyn,
Or Athalantes doughtres sevene,
How alle these arn set in hevene;
For though thou have hem ofte on honde,
Yet nostow not wher that they stonde.”
“No fors,” quod y, “hyt is no nede.
I leve as wel, so God me spede,
Hem that write of this matere,
As though I knew her places here;
And eke they shynen here so bryghte,
Hyt shulde shenden al my syghte
To loke on hem.” “That may wel be,”
Quod he. And so forth bar he me
A while, and than he gan to crye,
That never herde I thing so hye,
“Now up the hed, for al ys wel;
Seynt Julyan, loo, bon hostel!
Se here the Hous of Fame, lo!
Maistow not heren that I do?”
“What?” quod I. “The grete soun,”
Quod he, “that rumbleth up and doun
In Fames Hous, full of tydynges,
Bothe of feir speche and chidynges,
And of fals and soth compouned.
Herke wel; hyt is not rouned.
Herestow not the grete swogh?”
“Yis, parde,” quod y, “wel ynogh.”
“And what soun is it lyk?” quod hee.
“Peter, lyk betynge of the see,”
Quod y, “ayen the roches holowe,
Whan tempest doth the shippes swalowe,
And lat a man stonde, out of doute,
A myle thens, and here hyt route;
Or elles lyk the last humblynge
After the clappe of a thundringe,
Whan Joves hath the air ybete.
But yt doth me for fere swete.”
“Nay, dred the not therof,” quod he;
“Hyt is nothing will byten the;
Thou shalt non harm have trewely.”
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