Page images




Befelle, that in that season on a day,
In Southwark at the Tabard as I lay,
Ready to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury, with devout courage,
At night was come into that hostelrie
Well nine and twenty in a companie
Of sundry folk, by aventure yfalle
In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all
That toward Canterbury wolden ride.
The chambers and the stables weren wide,
And well we weren eased at best.
And shortly, when the sun was gone to rest
So had I spoken with them every one,
That I was of their fellowship anon,
And made agreement early for to rise,

[ocr errors]

To take our way there as I you advise,

But natheless, while I have the time and space

Before I further in the tale do pass,
It seemeth me accordant unto reason,
To tell unto you all the condition
Of each of them, so as it seemed me,
And who they weren, and of what degree;
And eke in what array they all were in,
And at a Knight then will I first begin.

A KNIGHT there was, and that a worthy me
That from the time that he at first began
To riden out, he loved chivalrie,
Truthe and honour, freedom and courtesie.
Full worthy was he in his lord's war,
And thereto had he ridden, near and farre,
As well in Christendom as in Heatheness,
And ever honoured for his worthiness.
At Alisandr" he was when it was won,
Full oftentime he had the field outdone
Aboven all the nations warring in Prusse.
In Lettone had he travelled, and in Russe

* * :* * # * * * With many a noble army had he been. Of mortal battles had he seen fifteen,

* * * +: * # And evermore he had a sovereign praise, And though that he was worthy he was wise, And of his port as meek as is a maid, lie never yet no villany had saide In all his life, unto no man or wight, He was a very perfect noble Knight.

But for to tellen you of his array,
His horse was good, but yet he was not gay,
Of fustian he weared a gipon,
All besmutted with his habergeon,
For he was lately come from his voyage,
And wenten for to do his pilgrimage.

With him there was his son, a fresh young Squire A lover and a lusty bachelor, With locks curled as they were laid in press; Of twenty years of age he was I guess. Of his stature he was of equal length, And wonderfly agile, and great of strength; And he had something seen of chivalrie, In Flanders, in Artois, and Picardie, And borne him well, as of so little space, In hope to standen in his ladies grace.

Embroidered was he, as it were a meade All full of fresh flowers, white and red, Singing he was, or fluting all the day, He was as fresh as is the month of May. Short was his gown, with sleeves full long and wide Well could he sit on horse, and fairly ride. He could songs make, and well endite, Juste, and eke dance, and well pourtray and write. Courteous he was, lowly and serviceable, And carved for his father at the table.

A YeoMAN had he, and servants no mo
At that time, for him pleased to ride so;
And he was clad in coat and hood of green,
A sheafe of peacock arrows bright and keen

« PreviousContinue »