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PROLOGUE to the CANTERBURY TALES.
WHANNE that April with his shoures sote
Befelle, that, in that seson, on a day,
And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste,
But, natheles, while I have time and space,
A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
At Alisandre was he whan it was wonne,
This ilke worthy Knight hadde ben also,
But, for to tellen you of his araie,-
With him, ther was his sone, a yonge Squier,
Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
Curteis he was, lowly, and servisable; And carf before his fader at the table.
A Yeman hadde he; and servantes no mo At that time; for him luste to ride so:
And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene; A Monk ther was, a fayre for the maistrie,
An out-rider, that loved venerie;
manly man, to ben an abbot able. Wel coude he dresse his takel yemanly:
Ful many a deinte hors hadde he in stable; His arwes drouped not with fetheres lowe,
And when he rode, men mighte his bridel here And in his hand he bare a mighty bowe.
Gingeling, in a whistling wind, as elere
Ther as this lord was keper of the celle.
The reule of Seint Maure and of Seint Beneit, And by his side, a swerd and a bokeler;
Because that it was olde and somdele streit, And on that other side, a gaie daggere,
This ilke monk lette olde thinges pace Harneised wel, and sharpe as point of spere:
And held after the newe world the trace. A Cristofre on his brest of silver shene.
He yave not of the text a pulled hen, An horne he bare, the baudrik was of grene.
That saith that hunters ben not holy men ; A forster was he, sothely, as I gesse.
Ne that a monk, whan he is rekkeles,
Is like to a fish that is waterles;
This ilke text he held not worth an oistre.
And I say, his opinion was good: Ful wel she sange the service divine,
What! shulde he studie, and make himselven wood, Entuned in hire nose ful swetely ;
Upon a book in cloistre alway to pore,
As Austin bit; how shal the world be served? For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.
Let Austin have his swink to him reserved. At mete was she wel ytaughte withalle;
Therfore he was a prickasoure a right: She lette no morsel from hire lippes falle;
Greihoundes he hadde as swift as foul of Aight: Ne wette hire fingres in hire sauce depe.
Of pricking, and of hunting for the hare Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe, Was all his lust; for no cost wolde he spare. That no drope ne fell upon hire brest,
I saw his sleves purfiled at the hond In curtesie was sette, ful moche, hire lest:
With gris, and that the finest of the lond, Hire over lippe wiped she so clene,
And, for to fasten his hood, under his chinne That in hire cuppe was no ferthing sene
He hadde, of gold ywrought, a curious pinne,Of grese, whan she dranken hadde hire draught. A love-knotte in the greter ende ther was. Full semely after hire mete she raught.
His hed was balled, and shone as any glas, And, sikerly, she was of grete disport,
And eke his face, as it hadde ben anoint. And ful pleasant and amiable of port;
He was a lord ful fat and in good point. And peined hire, to contrefeten chere
His eyen stepe, and rolling in his hed, Of court, and ben estatelich of manere,
That stemed as a furneis of a led; And to ben holden digne of reverence.
His bootes souple, his hors in gret estat; But for to speken of lire conscience,
Now certainly he was a fayre prelat. She was so charitable and so pitous,
He was not pale as a forpined gost. She wolde wepe if that she saw a mous
A fat swan loved he best of any rost. Caughte in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde. His palfrey was as broune as is a bery. Of sinale houndes hadde she, that she fedde
A Frere there was, a wanton and a mery, With rosted flesh, and milk, and wastel-brede;
A limitour, a ful solempne man, But sore wept she is on of hem were dede,
In all the ordres foure, is non that can Or if men smote it with a yerde smert:
So moche of daliance and fayre langage. And all was conscience and tendre herte.
He hadde ymade ful many a mariage Ful semely hire wimple ypinched was;
Of yonge wimmen, at his owen cost; Hire nose tretis; hire eyen grey as glas;
Until his ordre he was a noble post. Hire mouth ful smale, and therto soft and red; Ful wel beloved, and familier was he But, sikerly, she hadde a faire forehed,
With frankeleins, over all, in his contree; It was almost a spanne brode I trowe;
And, eke, with worthy wimmen of the toun; For hardily she was not undergrowe.
For he had power of confession, Ful fetise was hire cloke, as I was ware.
As saide himselfe, more than a curat, Of smale corall, about hire arm, she bare
For of his ordre he was a licentiat. A pair of bedes gauded all with grene;
Ful swetely herde he confession, And theron heng a broche of gold, ful shene, And plesant was his absolution. On whiche was first ywritten a crouned A,
He was an esy man to give penance, And after Amor vincit omnia.
Ther as he wiste to han a good pitance; Another Nonne also with hire hadde she
For unto a poure ordre for to give, That was hire chapelleine, and Preestes thre. Is signe that a man is wel yshrive;
For if he gave,-he dorste make avant,
As lene was his hors as is a rake, He wiste, that a man was repentant;
And he was not right fat, I undertake; For many a man so hard is of his herte,
But looked holwe, and therto soberly. He may not wepe although him sore smerte: Ful thredbare was his overest courtepy, Therfore, in stede of weping and praieres,
For he hadde geten him yet no benefice, Men mote give silver to the poure freres.
He was nought worldly to have an ofhce. His tippet was, ay, farsed full of knives,
For him was lever han, at his beddes hed, And pinnes, for to given fayre wives.
Twenty bokes, clothed in black or red, And, certainly, he hadde a mery note;
Of Aristotle and his philosophie, Wel coude he singe and plaien on a rote,
Than robes riche; or fidel; or sautrie: Of yeddinges he bare utterly the pris;
But all be that he was a philosophre, His nekke was white as the flour de lis.
Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre; Therto, he strong was as a champioun;
But all that he might of his frendes hente, And knew wel the tavernes in every toun,
On bokes and on lerning he it spente; And every hosteler and gay tapstere,
And besily gan for the soules praie Better than a lazar or a beggere;
Of hem that yave him wherwith to scolaie. For unto swiche a worthy man as he
Of studie toke he most cure and hede. Accordeth nought, as by his faculte,
Not a word spake he more than was nede; To haven with sike lazars acquaintance;
And that was said in forme and reverence, It is not honest, it may not avance;
And short and quike, and full of high sentence: As for to delen with no swiche pouraille,
Souning in moral vertue was his speche; But all with riche and sellers of vitaille.
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche. And, over all, ther as profit shuld arise
A Sergeant of the Lawe ware and wise, Curteis he was, and lowly of servise ;
That often hadde ben at the parvis, Ther n'as no man no wher so vertuous,
Ther was also; ful riche of excellence. He was the beste begger in all his hous;
Discrete he was, and of gret reverence; And gave a certain ferme for the grant,
He semed swiche; his wordes were so wise: Non of his brethren came in his haunt.
Justice he was full often in assise, For though a widewe hadde but a shoo,
By patent, and by pleine commissioun; (So plesant was his In Principio)
For his science, and for his high renoun. Yet wold he have a ferthing or he went;
Of fees and robes had he many on. His pourchas was wel better than his rent.
So grete a pourchaser was no wher non: And rage he coude as it hadde ben a whelp, All was fee simple to him in effect, In lovedayes, there coude he mochel help; His pourchasing might not ben in suspect. For ther was he-nat like a cloisterere,
No wher so besy a man as he ther n'as, With thredbare cope, as is a poure scolere- And yet he semed besier than he was. But he was like a maister or a pope.
In termes had he cas and domes alle Of double worsted was his semicope,
That fro the time of King Will. weren falle: That round was as a belle out of the presse,
Therto, he coude endite and make a thing; Somw hat he lisped for his wantonnesse,
Ther coude no wight pinche at his writing. To make his English swete upon his tonge;
And every statute coude he plaine by rote. And in his harping, whan that he hadde songe,
He rode but homely,-in a medlee cote, His eyen twinkeled in his hed aright,
Girt with a seint of silk, with barres smale. As don the sterres in a frosty night.
Of his array tell I no lenger tale. This worthy limitour was cleped Huberd.
A Frankelein was in this compagnie; A Marchant was ther with a forked berd, White was his berd as is the dayesie. la mottelee, and highe on hors he sat,
Of his complexion he was sanguin. And on his hed a Flaundrish bever hat,
Wel loved he by the morwe a sop in win. His bootes clapsed fayre and fetisly,
To liven in delit was ever his wone. His resons spake he ful solempnely,
For he was Epicures owen sone, Souning alway the encrese of his winning.
That held opinion, that plein delit He wold the see were kept, for any thing,
Was veraily felicite parfite. Betwixen Middelburgh and Orewell.
An housholder, and that a grete was he ; Wel coud he in eschanges sheldes selle.
Seint Julian he was in his contree. This worthy man ful wel his wit besette;
His brede, his ale, was alway after on; Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette,
A better envyned man was no wher non. So stedfastly didde he in his governance,
Withouten bake mete never was his hous, With his bargeines, and with his chevisance. Of fish and flesh, and that so plenteous, Forsothe he was a worthy man withalle.
It snewed in his hous of mete and drinke, But soth to sayn, I no't how men him calle.
Of alle deintees that men coud of thinke. A Clerk ther was of Oxenforde also,
After the sondry sesons of the yere,
So changed he his mete and his soupere.
Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in mewe;
At sessions ther was he lord and sire;
An Haberdasher, and a Carpenter,
A Coke they hadden with hem for the nones,
A Shipman was ther-woned fer by West:
With us ther was a Doctour of Phisike;
He knew the cause of every maladie,
A good Wif was ther of beside Bathe;
And on hire fete a pair of sporres sharpe.
And than his neighebour, right as himselve. In felawship, wel coude she laughe and carpe Ile wolde thresh, and therto dike and delve, Of remedies of love she knew perchance;
For Cristes sake, for every poure wight, For, of that arte, she coude the olde dance.
Withouten hire, if it lay in his might. A good man ther was of religioun,
His tithes paied he ful fayre and wel
Both of his propre swinke, and his catel.
Ther was also a Reve and a Millere,
A Sompnour, and a Pardoner also, His parishens devoutly would he teche,
A Manciple, and myself; ther n'ere no mo. Benigne he was, and wonder diligent,
The Miller was a stout carl for the nones, And in adversite ful patient,
Ful bigge he was of braun, and eke of bones; And swiche he was ypreved often sithes:
That proved wel; for over all ther he came, Ful loth were him to cursen for his tithes :
At wrastling he wold bere away the ram. But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute,
He was short shuldered, brode, a thikke gnarre, Unto his poure parishens, aboute,
Ther n'as no dore, that he n'olde heve of barre, Of his offring, and, eke, of his substance.
Or breke it at a renning with his hede. He coude in litel thing have suffisance.
His berd as any sowe or fox was rede, Wide was his parish, and houses fer asonder; And therto brode, as though it were a spade: But he ne left nought, for no rain ne thonder,
Upon the cop right of his nose he hade In sikeness and in mischief to visite
A wert, and theron stode a tufte of heres, The ferrest in his parish, moche and lite,
Rede as the bristles of a sowes eres:
His nose-thirles blacke were and wide.
He was a jangler, and a goliardeis,
And that was most of sinne and harlotries, That if gold ruste, what shulde iron do?
Wel coude he stelen corne and tollen thries. For if a preest be foule, on whom we trust,
And yet he had a thomb of gold parde. No wonder is a lewed man to rust:
A white cote and a blew hode wered he. And shame it is, if that a preest take kepe,
A baggepipe wel coude he blowe and soune, To see a shitten shepherd, and clene shepe.
And therwithall he brought us out of toune. Wel ought a preest ensample for to yeve
A gentil Manciple was ther of a temple,By his clenenesse, how his shepe shulde live. Of which achatours mighten take ensemple He sette not his benefice to hire,
For to ben wise in bying of vitaille. And lette his shepe acombred in the mire,
For whether that he paide, or toke by taille, And ran unto London, unto Seint Poules,
Algate he waited so in his achate, To seken him a chanterie for soules;
That he was, ay, before, in good estate. Or with a brotherhede to be withold;
Now is not that of God a ful fayre grace, But dwelt at home and kepte wel his fold,
That swiche a lewed mannes wit shal pace So that the wolf ne made it not miscarie;
The wisdom of an hepe of lered men ? He was a shepherd and no mercenarie,
Of maisters had he mo than thries ten, And though he holy were, and vertuous,
That were of lawe expert and curious ; He was, to sinful men, not dispitous;
Of which ther was a dosein in that hous, Ne of his speche dangerous ne digne;
Worthy to ben stewardes of rent and lond But, in his teching, discrete and benigne.
Of any lord that is in Englelond, To drawen folk to heven, with fairenesse,
To maken him live by his propre good, By good ensample, was his besinesse :
In honour detteles, (but if he were wood,) But it were any persone obstinat,
Or live as scarsly as him list desire, What so he were of highe, or low estat,
And able for to helpen all a shire, Him wolde he snibben sharply for the nones.
In any cas that might fallen or happe; A better preest I trowe that no wher non is. And yet this Manciple sette hir aller cappe. He waited after no pompe ne reverence,
The Reve was a slendre colerike man Ne maked him no spiced conscience:
His berd was shave as neighe as ever he can: But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve,
His here was by his eres round yshorne; He taught-but first he folwed it himselve.
His top was docked like a preest beforne: With him ther was a Plowman, was his brother, Ful longe were his legges, and ful lene, That hadde ylaid of dong ful many a fother.
Ylike a staff, ther was no calf ysene. A trewe swinker, and a good was he,
Wel coude he kepe a garner and a binne ; Living in pees and parfite charitee.
Ther was non auditour coude on him winne. God loved he beste with alle his herte
Wel wiste he, by the drought and by the rain, At alle times, were it gain or smerte;
The yelding of his seed and of his grain.