Internet Shakespeare Editions

Editor: Michael Best
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The Monk's Tale (Selections)

1I will bewail in manner of tragedy
The harm of them that stood in high degree,
And fallen so that there was no remedy
To bring them out of their adversity;
5For certain, when that Fortune list to flee
There may no man the course of her withhold.
Let no man trust on blind prosperity;
Beware by these examples true and old.
The story of Alexander is so common,
10That every wight that hath discretiòn
Hath heard somewhat or all of his fortune.
This wide world, as in conclusiòn,
He won by strength, or for his high renown
They weren glad for peace unto him send.
15The pride of man and beast he laid a-down,
Whereso he came, unto the worldès end.
Comparison might never yet be maked
Betwixt him and another conqueror,
For all this world for dread of him hath quaked.
20He was of knighthood and of freedom flower;
Fortune him made the heir of her honor;
Save wine and women, nothing might assuage
His high intent in arms and labor,
So was he full of leonine courage.
25What praise were it to him, though I you told
Of Darius, and an hundred thousand more,
Of kings, princes, earls, dukes bold,
Which he conquered, and brought them into woe?
I say, as far as man may ride or go
30The world was his, what should I more devise?
For though I write or told you evermo
Of his knighthood, it might not suffice.
Twelve year he reigned, as saith Maccabee;
Philip's son of Macedone he was,
35That first was king in Greece the country.
O worthy gentle Alexander, alas,
That ever should fallen such a case!
Empoisoned of thine own folk thou were;
Thy six fortune hath turned into ace;
40And for thee nor weep she never a tear!