« PreviousContinue »
So priketh hem' nature in hir2 corages;
To serve halwes, couthe' in sondry londes ;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Englelond, to Canterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martyr for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.
Befelle, that, in that seson on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
That toward Canterbury wolden ride.
The chambres and the stables weren wide,
And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste. So hadde I spoken with hem everich on,
That I was of hir felawship anon,
And made forword erly for to rise,
To take oure way ther as I you devise.
But natheles, while I have time and space,
Or that I forther in this tale pace,
Me thinketh it accordant to reson,
To tellen you alle the condition
Of eche of hem, so as it semed me,
A KNIGHT ther was, and that a worthy man, That fro the time that he firste began To riden out, he loved chevalrie, Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie. Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,' And therto hadde he ridden, no man ferre,2 As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse, And ever honoured for his worthinesse.
At Alisandre 3 he was whan it was wonne. Ful often time he hadde the bord begonne + Aboven alle nations in Pruce."
In Lettowe hadde he reysed' and in Ruce,
In Gernade at the siege eke hadde he be
Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie.
At Leyes was he, and at Satalie,
Whan they were wonne; and in the Grete see At many a noble armee hadde he be.
At mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene,
And foughten for our faith at Tramissene
This ilke worthy knight hadde ben also
Agen another hethen in Turkie :
And evermore he hadde a sovereine pris.
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet no villanie ne sayde
In alle his lif, unto no manere wight.'
He was a veray parfit gentil knight.
But for to tellen you of his araie,
Of fustian he wered a gipon,2
Alle besmotred with his habergeon,3
For he was late ycome fro his viage,
And wente for to don his pilgrimage.
With him ther was his sone a yonge SQUIER,
A lover, and a lusty bacheler,
With lockes crull as they were laide in presse.
Of twenty yere of age he was I gesse.
Of his stature he was of even lengthe,
And wonderly deliver and grete of strengthe.
1 Kind of man.
2 Short coat.
5 Military expedition
3 Coat of mail.
And borne him wel, as of so litel space,
Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
Singing he was, or floyting alle the day,
He coude songes make, and wel endite,
Juste and eke dance, and wel pourtraie and write.
So hote he loved, that by nightertale '
He slep no more than doth the nightingale.
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 luste2 to ride so;
And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene.
Wel coude he dresse his takel yemanly:
A not-hed hadde he, with a broune visage.
There was also a Nonne, a PRIORESSE,
3 St. Christopher.