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Greet was the feste in Athenes that day,
And eek the lusty seson of that May
Made every wight to been in swich plesaunce,
That al that Monday Iusten they and daunce,
And spenden it in Venus heigh servyse.
But by the cause that they sholde ryse
Erly, for to seen the grete fight,
Unto hir reste wente they at night.
And on the morwe, whan that day gan springe,
10Of hors and harneys, noyse and clateringe
Ther was in hostelryes al aboute;
And to the paleys rood ther many a route
Of lordes, upon stedes and palfreys.
Ther maystow seen devysing of herneys
So uncouth and so riche, and wroght so weel
Of goldsmithrie, of browding, and of steel;
The sheeldes brighte, testers, and trappures;
Gold-hewen helmes, hauberks, cote-armures;
Lordes in paraments on hir courseres,
20Knightes of retenue, and eek squyeres
Nailinge the speres, and helmes bokelinge,
Gigginge of sheeldes, with layneres lacinge;
Ther as need is, they weren no-thing ydel;
The fomy stedes on the golden brydel
Gnawinge, and faste the armurers also
With fyle and hamer prikinge to and fro;
Yemen on fote, and communes many oon
With shorte staves, thikke as they may goon;
Pypes, trompes, nakers, clariounes,
30That in the bataille blowen blody sounes;
The paleys ful of peples up and doun,
Heer three, ther ten, holding hir questioun,
Divyninge of thise Thebane knightes two.
Somme seyden thus, somme seyde it shal be so;
Somme helden with him with the blake berd,
Somme with the balled, somme with the thikke-herd;
Somme sayde, he loked grim and he wolde fighte;
He hath a sparth of twenty pound of wighte.
Thus was the halle ful of divyninge,
40Longe after that the sonne gan to springe.
Well, there was a magnificent festival on Monday to celebrate the beginning of the tournament and the arrival of spring. All of Athens danced and jousted and feasted that day. And when night fell, everyone went to bed early so that they could get up early on Tuesday morning to watch the tournament. By sunrise the next morning, the whole city was already up and about. The noise was tremendous as knights rode to and fro, horses stamped their feet, and blacksmiths fine-tuned weapons and armor. You could see all sorts of interesting armor, helmets, chain mail, shields, swords, spears, and other weapons lying about, some of them very fancy and expensive, others just plain bizarre. Squires, servants, and other men were running here and there as they gathered their knights’ weapons and gear, while the horses chomped at their bits, anxious from all the commotion. The commonfolk crowded in with every kind of noisemaker you can imagine, from trumpets and horns to drums and pipes and pots. And, of course, everyone was talking about Arcite and Palamon, and which of them would win. Some people said Palamon didn’t stand a chance, while others thought that Arcite wouldn’t live to see tomorrow. Others favored the knight with the black beard, or the one with the bald head, or the one with bushy hair. You could hear people saying things such as, “Well, that guy has a mace that weighs a good twenty pounds, so he’s sure to win.”