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VI.: A COMPLEINT TO HIS LADY. - Geoffrey Chaucer, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 1 (Romaunt of the Rose, Minor Poems) 
The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols.
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A COMPLEINT TO HIS LADY.
Of these fragments there are but two MS. copies, viz. in Shirley’s MS. Harl. 78, here called ‘Sh.’ and in Ph. = MS. Phil. 9053, in which (as in Ed. = ed. 1561) it is written in continuation of the Complaint unto Pity. Ph. is copied from Sh. The spelling is bad, and I alter it throughout.
[P. 362: l. 76.]The final stop should be a comma.
[1. ]Sh. nightes; see l. 8.
[2, 3. ]hir] Sh. theyre.
[7. ]Ed. (1561) dispaired.
[12. ]Sh. me; Ed. my.
[14. ]All insert now before doth.
[16. ]Sh. This loue that hathe me set; I omit that, and supply eek.
[17. ]I supply he (i. e. Love).
[19. ]Sh. and yit my; I omit yit, and supply fro.
[31. ]Sh. is eek.
[32. ]Sh. The wyse eknytte; Ph. The wise I-knyt (corrupt?)
[33. ]Sh. hir she; I omit she.
[36. ]Corrupt? Perhaps read richest creature.
[40. ]Sh. fury.
[42. ]Read of alle his?
[44. ]Sh. In; I read With-in.
[45. ]I supply eek.
[54. ]Sh. ins. lo after is.
[55. ]Sh. ins. lo after fere.
[57. ]Sh. ins. lo after lede.
[68. ]Sh. euer do.
[70. ]I supply that.
[71. ]I supply a.
[72. ]Sh. ins. of after bothe.
[76. ]Sh. koude best; Ph. om. best.
[77. ]Sh. noon fayner.
[78. ]Sh. youre; read yow.
[79. ]Sh. wist that were; om. that. Sh. your hyenesse (repeated from l. 76; wrongly); read yow distresse.
[82. ]Sh. ins. þane before is.
[83. ]Sh. wille; Ph. Ed. wil.
[86. ]Sh. better.
[88. ]Sh. leuethe; Ph. lovith.
[96. ]I supply now.
[98. ]Sh. ne wil (for nil).
[100. ]Ed. (1561) has set so hy vpon your whele.
[102. ]Sh. beon euer.
[103. ]Sh. man can; I omit man. I supply here; the line is imperfect.
[104. ]Sh. But the; I omit But.
[113. ]Ed. om. a.
[114. ]Sh. nought; read nothing.
[116. ]Sh. whyles.
[118. ]I supply me.
[120. ]Sh. no trewer so verrayly; Ed. no trewer verely (false rime).
[121. ]I supply Why.
[126. ]I supply is.
[127. ]Ph. For wele; omit For.
[129. ]Ph. That yow myght offenden.
[132. ]Ph. no blisse.
[133. ]Ph. dwelle withyn. Colophon. Ph. Explicit Pyte: dan Chaucer Lauteire (?).
[1.]MSS. nightes. This will not scan, nor does it make good sense. Read night; cf. l. 8, and Book of the Duchess, l. 22.
[3.]Cf. Compl. Pite, 81—‘Allas! what herte may hit longe endure?’
[7.]Desespaired, full of despair. This, and not dispaired (as in ed. 1561), is the right form. Cf. desespeir, in Troil. i. 605.
[8, 9.]Cf Anelida, 333, 334.
[14, 15.]I repeat this line, because we require a rime to fulfille, l. 17; whilst at the same time l. 14 evidently ends a stanza.
[16.]I omit that, and insert eek, in order to make sense.
[17.]I supply he, meaning Love. Love is masculine in l. 42, precisely as in the Parl. of Foules, l. 5.
[19.]I alter and yit to and fro, to make sense; the verb to arace absolutely requires from or fro; see Clerkes Tale, E 1103, and particularly l. 18 of sect. XXI, where we find the very phrase ‘fro your herte arace.’ Cf. Troilus, v. 954.
[24.]I supply this line from Compl. Mars, 189, to rime with l. 22.
[32.]I suspect some corruption; MS. Sh. has The wyse eknytte, Ph. has The wise I-knyt, and ed. 1561 has The Wise, eknit. As it stands, it means—‘Her surname moreover is the Fair Ruthless one, (or) the Wise one, united with Good Fortune.’ Fair Ruthless is a translation of the French phrase La Belle Dame sans Merci, which occurs as the title of a poem once attributed to Chaucer. The Wise one, &c., means that she is wise and fortunate, and will not impair her good fortune by bestowing any thought upon her lover. Shirley often writes e for initial y-.
[35.]Almost identical with Anelida, 222—‘More then myself, an hundred thousand sythe.’
[36.]Obviously corrupt; neither sound nor sense is good. Read:—‘Than al this worldes richest (or riche) creature.’ Creature may mean ‘created thing.’ Or scan by reading world’s richéss’.
[39.]Cf. Kn. Tale, l. 380 (A 1238)—‘Wel hath Fortune y-turned thee the dys.’
[41.]My swete fo. So in Anelida, l. 272; and cf. l. 64 below.
[42, 43.]Cf. Parl. of Foules, ll. 439, 440.
[44.]Ed. 1561 also reads In. Perhaps the original reading was Inwith. Moreover, the copies omit eek in l. 45, which I supply.
[47-49.]This remarkable statement re-appears twice elsewhere; see Parl. Foules, 90, 91, and note; and Compl. of Pite, ll. 99-104.
[50.]Repeated in Anelida, 237.
[51, 52.]Cf. Anelida, 181, 182; Compl. Pite, 110; Parl. Foules, 7.
[55.]Cf. Anelida, 214—‘That turned is to quaking al my daunce.’
[56.]Here a line is missing, as again at l. 59. This appears from the form of the stanza, in which the rimes are arranged in the order a a b a a b c d d c. I supply the lines from Anelida, 181, 182.
[63.]Cf. the use of y-whet in Anelida, 212.
[64, 65.]Cf. Anelida, 272—‘My swete fo, why do ye so for shame?’
[73.]For leest, ed. 1561 has best!
[79.]The MSS. have—‘What so I wist that were to youre hyenesse’; where youre hyenesse is absurdly repeated from l. 76. Ed. 1561 has the same error. It is obvious that the right final word is distresse, to be preceded by yow or your; of which I prefer yow.
[83.]Ch. uses both wille and wil; the latter is, e. g., in Cant. Ta. A 1104. We must here read wil.
[86.]shal, i. e. shall be. See also XXII. ll. 78, 87.
[88.]leveth wel, believe me wholly. MS. Ph. and ed. 1561 wrongly have loveth.
[98.]I read nil, as being simpler. The MSS. have ne wil, which would be read—‘That I n’wil ay’; which comes to much the same thing.
[100.]set, fixed, bound. Ed. 1561 has—‘For I am set so hy vpon your whele,’ which disturbs the rimes.
[102.]MS. Sh. beon euer als trewe; ed. 1561 has—bene euer as trewe.
[103.]MS. Sh. ‘As any man can er may on lyue’; ed. 1561 and MS. Ph. have—‘As any man can or maye on liue.’ It is clear that a final word has been dropped, because the scribe thought the line ought to rime with fyve (l. 98). The dropped word is clearly here, which rimes with manere in the Miller’s Prologue, and elsewhere. After here was dropped, man was awkwardly inserted, to fill up the line. Ch. employs here at the end of a line more than thirty times; cf. Kn. Tale, A 1260, 1670, 1711, 1819, &c.
[107, 108.]Cf. Anelida, 247, 248.
[123.]Cf. Anelida, 216. MS. Ph. alone preserves ll. 124-133.
[124.]My lyf and deeth seems to be in the vocative case. Otherwise, my is an error for in.
[125.]For hoolly I perhaps we should read I hoolly.
[126.]The rime by me, tyme, is Chaucerian; see Cant. Ta. G 1204.
[130.]This resembles Cant. Tales, F 974 and A 2392.
[133.]trouble, troubled. A like use occurs in Boethius, bk. i. met. 7, l. 2. Drope, hope, rime in Troil. i. 939, and Gower, C. A., ii. 286.