The Romaunt of the Rose – Fragment A – Geoffrey Chaucer

I saugh a GARDIN right anoon,
Ful long and brood, and everydel
Enclos it was, and walled wel,
With hye walles enbatailled,
Portrayed without, and wel entailled         140
With many riche portraitures;
And bothe images and peyntures
Gan I biholde bisily.
And I wol telle you, redily,
Of thilke images the semblaunce,         145
As fer as I have remembraunce.

The French allegorical poem Roman de la Rose was the work of two poets: Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun. This earlier section, dating from around 1230, was composed by Lorris and is set in a walled garden, a classic setting for courtly poetry and romantic literature of the Middle Ages. It is this section of the poem which is included above, in an English translation written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the late fourteenth century.


The story begins with an allegorical dream, in which the narrator receives advice from the god of love on gaining his lady’s favor. Her love being symbolized by a rose, he is unable to get to the rose.

The second fragment is a satire on the mores of the time, with respect to courting, religious order, and religious hypocrisy. In the second fragment, the narrator is able to kiss the rose, but then the allegorical character Jealousy builds a fortress encircling it so that the narrator does not have access to it.

The third fragment of the translation takes up the poem 5,000 lines after the second fragment ends. At its beginning, the god of love is planning to attack the fortress of Jealousy with his barons. The rest of the fragment is a confession given by Fals-Semblant, or false-seeming, which is a treatise on the ways in which men are false to one another, especially the clergy to their parishioners. The third fragment ends with Fals-Semblant going to the fortress of Jealousy in the disguise of a religious pilgrim. He speaks with Wikked-Tunge that is holding one of the gates of the fortress and convinces him to repent his sins. The poem ends with Fals-Semblant absolving Wikked-Tunge of his sins.

And whan I was [ther]in, y-wis,         645
Myn herte was ful glad of this.
For wel wende I ful sikerly
Have been in paradys erth[e]ly;
So fair it was, that, trusteth wel,
It semed a place espirituel.         650
For certes, as at my devys,
Ther is no place in paradys
So good in for to dwelle or be
As in that GARDIN, thoughte me;
For there was many a brid singing,         655
Throughout the yerde al thringing.
In many places were nightingales,
Alpes, finches, and wodewales,
That in her swete song delyten
In thilke place as they habyten.         660
Ther mighte men see many flokkes
Of turtles and [of] laverokkes.
Chalaundres fele saw I there,
That wery, nigh forsongen were.
And thrustles, terins, and mavys,         665
That songen for to winne hem prys,
And eek to sormounte in hir song
These other briddes hem among.
By note made fair servyse
These briddes, that I you devyse;         670
They songe hir song as faire and wel
As angels doon espirituel.


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