The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale Love Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
He cast his eye upon Emelya,
And therwithal he bleynte, and cryede 'A!'
For Palamon, it's love at first sight. The second he sees Emily, he's done for. Courtly love, a system of rules surrounding the love of a knight for a noble damsel, talks about the love for a woman striking the heart of a man like a dart. That's probably why Palamon cries out, "A!" here: to show he's been struck.
This prison caused me nat for to crye,
But I was hurt right now thurgh-out myn ye
Into myn herte, that wol my bane be.
The fairnesse of that lady, that I see
Yond in the gardyn romen to and fro,
Is cause of al my criyng and my wo.
Palamon speaks of his sudden lovesickness for Emily like a poison or "bane." It has entered through his eye and made its way to its heart, where it will destroy him. Why will it destroy him? Well, in courtly love language it's common to speak of a love as a sickness that causes one to almost die from sadness at not possessing the beloved. (For more on this, check out "Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory.")
'I noot wher she be womman or goddesse,
But Venus is it, soothly as I gesse.'
And therwithal, on knees doun he fil,
And seyde, 'Venus, if it be thy wil,
Yow in this gardyn thus to transfigure
Bifore me, sorweful wrecched creature,
Out of this prisoun helpe that we may scapen!'
The courtly lover places his lady on a pedestal so high that she is almost more than human. Here, she's a goddess. And to show that this is not just a metaphor or a manner of speaking, Palamon even prays to Venus, the goddess of love, to help him escape from prison.