Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: The Monk's Tale (Selections)
  • Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best

  • Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    The Monk's Tale (Selections)

    Who shall me yeven tears to complain
    The death of gentillesse and of franchise
    That all the world wielded in his domain,
    And yet him thought it might not suffice?
    45So full was his corage of high emprise.
    Alas, who shall me help to indite
    False Fortune, and poison to despise,
    The which two of all this woe I wite?
    By wisdom, manhood, and by great labor
    50From humble bed to royal majesty,
    Up rose he, Julius the conqueror,
    That won all th'occident by land and sea,
    By strength of hand, or else by treaty,
    And unto Rome made them tributary;
    55And since of Rome the emperor was he,
    Till that Fortune wax his adversary.
    O mighty Caesar, that in Thessaly
    Against Pompeius, father thine in law,
    That of th'orient had all the chivalry
    60As far as that the day beginneth dawe,
    Thou through thy knighthood hast them take and slew,
    Save few folk that with Pompeius fled,
    Through which thou puttest all th'orient in awe.
    Thank Fortune, that so well thee sped!
    65But now a little while I will bewail
    This Pompeius, this noble governor
    Of Rome which that flee at this battle;
    I say one of his men, a false traitor,
    His head off smote, to winnen him favor
    70Of Julius, and him the head he brought.
    Alas, Pompey, of th'orient conqueror,
    That Fortune unto such a fin thee brought!
    To Rome again repaireth Julius
    With his triumph, laureate full high,
    75But on a time Brutus, Cassius,
    That ever had of his high estate envy,
    Full privily hath made conspiracy
    Against this Julius, in subtle wise,
    And cast the place, in which he should die
    80With bodkins, as I shall you devise.