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The Canterbury Tales

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Whan that Arcite to Thebes comen was,
Ful ofte a day he swelte and seyde ‘allas,’
For seen his lady shal he never-mo.
And shortly to concluden al his wo,
So muche sorwe had never creature
That is, or shal, whyl that the world may dure.
His sleep, his mete, his drink is him biraft,
That lene he wex, and drye as is a shaft.
His eyen holwe, and grisly to biholde;
His hewe falwe, and pale as asshen colde,
And solitarie he was, and ever allone,
And wailling al the night, making his mone.
And if he herde song or instrument,
Then wolde he wepe, he mighte nat be stent;
So feble eek were his spirits, and so lowe,
And chaunged so, that no man coude knowe
His speche nor his vois, though men it herde.
And in his gere, for al the world he ferde
Nat oonly lyk the loveres maladye
Of Hereos, but rather lyk manye
Engendred of humour malencolyk,
Biforen, in his celle fantastyk.
And shortly, turned was al up-so-doun
Bothe habit and eek disposicioun
Of him, this woful lovere daun Arcite.
After Arcite made it back to Thebes, he wallowed in self-pity because he knew he’d never again see the woman he loved. He wasn’t interested in food or sleep or wine, and he began wasting away until he was just a bony twig of a man. His skin became as pale as ashes, and his eyes sunk into his head. He spent all of his time alone, and he moaned to himself at night. Music would only make him cry unconsolably. He became so depressed that no one could recognize his voice anymore. And he was so lovesick that he didn’t even look lovesick anymore, but looked like he’d gone completely insane. To put it simply, Arcite suffered more than anyone had ever suffered before or since and everything about him had changed completely.

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