General Prologue

From The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

GP 1 Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
GP 2 The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
GP 3 And bathed every veyne in swich licour
GP 4 Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
GP 5 Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
GP 6 Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
GP 7 The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
GP 8 Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,
GP 9 And smale foweles maken melodye,
GP 10 That slepen al the nyght with open ye
GP 11 (So priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
GP 12 Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
GP 13 And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
GP 14 To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
GP 15 And specially from every shires ende
GP 16 Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
GP 17 The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
GP 18 That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
GP 19 Bifil that in that seson on a day,
GP 20 In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay
GP 21 Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage
GP 22 To Caunterbury with ful devout corage,
GP 23 At nyght was come into that hostelrye
GP 24 Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye
GP 25 Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
GP 26 In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,
GP 27 That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde.
GP 28 The chambres and the stables weren wyde,
GP 29 And wel we weren esed atte beste.
GP 30 And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,
GP 31 So hadde I spoken with hem everichon
GP 32 That I was of hir felaweshipe anon,
GP 33 And made forward erly for to ryse,
GP 34 To take oure wey ther as I yow devyse.
GP 35 But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space,
GP 36 Er that I ferther in this tale pace,
GP 37 Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun
GP 38 To telle yow al the condicioun
GP 39 Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,
GP 40 And whiche they weren, and of what degree,
GP 41 And eek in what array that they were inne;
GP 42 And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne.
GP 43 A KNYGHT ther was, and that a worthy man,
GP 44 That fro the tyme that he first bigan
GP 45 To riden out, he loved chivalrie,
GP 46 Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie.
GP 47 Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,
GP 48 And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre,
GP 49 As wel in cristendom as in hethenesse,
GP 50 And evere honoured for his worthynesse;
GP 51 At Alisaundre he was whan it was wonne.
GP 52 Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bigonne
GP 53 Aboven alle nacions in Pruce;
GP 54 In Lettow hadde he reysed and in Ruce,
GP 55 No Cristen man so ofte of his degree.
GP 56 In Gernade at the seege eek hadde he be
GP 57 Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye.
GP 58 At Lyeys was he and at Satalye,
GP 59 Whan they were wonne, and in the Grete See
GP 60 At many a noble armee hadde he be.
GP 61 At mortal batailles hadde he been fiftene,
GP 62 And foughten for oure feith at Tramyssene
GP 63 In lystes thries, and ay slayn his foo.
GP 64 This ilke worthy knyght hadde been also
GP 65 Somtyme with the lord of Palatye
GP 66 Agayn another hethen in Turkye;
GP 67 And everemoore he hadde a sovereyn prys.
GP 68 And though that he were worthy, he was wys,
GP 69 And of his port as meeke as is a mayde.
GP 70 He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde
GP 71 In al his lyf unto no maner wight.
GP 72 He was a verray, parfit gentil knyght.
GP 73 But for to tellen yow of his array,
GP 74 His hors were goode, but he was nat gay.
GP 75 Of fustian he wered a gypon
GP 76 Al bismotered with his habergeon,
GP 77 For he was late ycome from his viage,
GP 78 And wente for to doon his pilgrymage.
GP 79 With hym ther was his sone, a yong SQUIER,
GP 80 A lovyere and a lusty bacheler,
GP 81 With lokkes crulle as they were leyd in presse.
GP 82 Of twenty yeer of age he was, I gesse.
GP 83 Of his stature he was of evene lengthe,
GP 84 And wonderly delyvere, and of greet strengthe.
GP 85 And he hadde been somtyme in chyvachie
GP 86 In Flaundres, in Artoys, and Pycardie,
GP 87 And born hym weel, as of so litel space,
GP 88 In hope to stonden in his lady grace.
GP 89 Embrouded was he, as it were a meede
GP 90 Al ful of fresshe floures, whyte and reede.
GP 91 Syngynge he was, or floytynge, al the day;
GP 92 He was as fressh as is the month of May.
GP 93 Short was his gowne, with sleves longe and wyde.
GP 94 Wel koude he sitte on hors and faire ryde.
GP 95 He koude songes make and wel endite,
GP 96 Juste and eek daunce, and weel purtreye and write.
GP 97 So hoote he lovede that by nyghtertale
GP 98 He sleep namoore than dooth a nyghtyngale.
GP 99 Curteis he was, lowely, and servysable,
GP 100 And carf biforn his fader at the table.
GP 101 A YEMAN hadde he and servantz namo
GP 102 At that tyme, for hym liste ride so,
GP 103 And he was clad in cote and hood of grene.
GP 104 A sheef of pecok arwes, bright and kene,
GP 105 Under his belt he bar ful thriftily
GP 106 (Wel koude he dresse his takel yemanly;
GP 107 His arwes drouped noght with fetheres lowe),
GP 108 And in his hand he baar a myghty bowe.
GP 109 A not heed hadde he, with a broun visage.
GP 110 Of wodecraft wel koude he al the usage.
GP 111 Upon his arm he baar a gay bracer,
GP 112 And by his syde a swerd and a bokeler,
GP 113 And on that oother syde a gay daggere
GP 114 Harneised wel and sharp as point of spere;
GP 115 A Cristopher on his brest of silver sheene.
GP 116 An horn he bar, the bawdryk was of grene;
GP 117 A forster was he, soothly, as I gesse.
GP 118 Ther was also a Nonne, a PRIORESSE,
GP 119 That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy;
GP 120 Hire gretteste ooth was but by Seinte Loy;
GP 121 And she was cleped madame Eglentyne.
GP 122 Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne,
GP 123 Entuned in hir nose ful semely;
GP 124 And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,
GP 125 After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe,
GP 126 For Frenssh of Parys was to hire unknowe.
GP 127 At mete wel ytaught was she with alle;
GP 128 She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle,
GP 129 Ne wette hir fyngres in hir sauce depe;
GP 130 Wel koude she carie a morsel and wel kepe
GP 131 That no drope ne fille upon hire brest.
GP 132 In curteisie was set ful muchel hir lest.
GP 133 Hir over-lippe wyped she so clene
GP 134 That in hir coppe ther was no ferthyng sene
GP 135 Of grece, whan she dronken hadde hir draughte.
GP 136 Ful semely after hir mete she raughte.
GP 137 And sikerly she was of greet desport,
GP 138 And ful plesaunt, and amyable of port,
GP 139 And peyned hire to countrefete cheere
GP 140 Of court, and to been estatlich of manere,
GP 141 And to ben holden digne of reverence.
GP 142 But for to speken of hire conscience,
GP 143 She was so charitable and so pitous
GP 144 She wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous
GP 145 Kaught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde.
GP 146 Of smale houndes hadde she that she fedde
GP 147 With rosted flessh, or milk and wastel-breed.
GP 148 But soore wepte she if oon of hem were deed,
GP 149 Or if men smoot it with a yerde smerte;
GP 150 And al was conscience and tendre herte.
GP 151 Ful semyly hir wympul pynched was,
GP 152 Hir nose tretys, hir eyen greye as glas,
GP 153 Hir mouth ful smal, and therto softe and reed.
GP 154 But sikerly she hadde a fair forheed;
GP 155 It was almoost a spanne brood, I trowe;
GP 156 For, hardily, she was nat undergrowe.
GP 157 Ful fetys was hir cloke, as I was war.
GP 158 Of smal coral aboute hire arm she bar
GP 159 A peire of bedes, gauded al with grene,
GP 160 And theron heng a brooch of gold ful sheene,
GP 161 On which ther was first write a crowned A,
GP 162 And after Amor vincit omnia.
GP 163 Another NONNE with hire hadde she,
GP 164 That was hir chapeleyne, and preestes thre.
GP 165 A MONK ther was, a fair for the maistrie,
GP 166 An outridere, that lovede venerie,
GP 167 A manly man, to been an abbot able.
GP 168 Ful many a deyntee hors hadde he in stable,
GP 169 And whan he rood, men myghte his brydel heere
GP 170 Gynglen in a whistlynge wynd als cleere
GP 171 And eek as loude as dooth the chapel belle
GP 172 Ther as this lord was kepere of the celle.
GP 173 The reule of Seint Maure or of Seint Beneit —
GP 174 By cause that it was old and somdel streit
GP 175 This ilke Monk leet olde thynges pace,
GP 176 And heeld after the newe world the space.
GP 177 He yaf nat of that text a pulled hen,
GP 178 That seith that hunters ben nat hooly men,
GP 179 Ne that a monk, whan he is recchelees,
GP 180 Is likned til a fissh that is waterlees —
GP 181 This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloystre.
GP 182 But thilke text heeld he nat worth an oystre;
GP 183 And I seyde his opinion was good.
GP 184 What sholde he studie and make hymselven wood,
GP 185 Upon a book in cloystre alwey to poure,
GP 186 Or swynken with his handes, and laboure,
GP 187 As Austyn bit? How shal the world be served?
GP 188 Lat Austyn have his swynk to hym reserved!
GP 189 Therfore he was a prikasour aright:
GP 190 Grehoundes he hadde as swift as fowel in flight;
GP 191 Of prikyng and of huntyng for the hare
GP 192 Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare.
GP 193 I seigh his sleves purfiled at the hond
GP 194 With grys, and that the fyneste of a lond;
GP 195 And for to festne his hood under his chyn,
GP 196 He hadde of gold ywroght a ful curious pyn;
GP 197 A love-knotte in the gretter ende ther was.
GP 198 His heed was balled, that shoon as any glas,
GP 199 And eek his face, as he hadde been enoynt.
GP 200 He was a lord ful fat and in good poynt;
GP 201 His eyen stepe, and rollynge in his heed,
GP 202 That stemed as a forneys of a leed;
GP 203 His bootes souple, his hors in greet estaat.
GP 204 Now certeinly he was a fair prelaat;
GP 205 He was nat pale as a forpyned goost.
GP 206 A fat swan loved he best of any roost.
GP 207 His palfrey was as broun as is a berye.
GP 208 A FRERE ther was, a wantowne and a merye,
GP 209 A lymytour, a ful solempne man.
GP 210 In alle the ordres foure is noon that kan
GP 211 So muchel of daliaunce and fair langage.
GP 212 He hadde maad ful many a mariage
GP 213 Of yonge wommen at his owene cost.
GP 214 Unto his ordre he was a noble post.
GP 215 Ful wel biloved and famulier was he
GP 216 With frankeleyns over al in his contree,
GP 217 And eek with worthy wommen of the toun;
GP 218 For he hadde power of confessioun,
GP 219 As seyde hymself, moore than a curat,
GP 220 For of his ordre he was licenciat.
GP 221 Ful swetely herde he confessioun,
GP 222 And plesaunt was his absolucioun:
GP 223 He was an esy man to yeve penaunce,
GP 224 Ther as he wiste to have a good pitaunce.
GP 225 For unto a povre ordre for to yive
GP 226 Is signe that a man is wel yshryve;
GP 227 For if he yaf, he dorste make avaunt,
GP 228 He wiste that a man was repentaunt;
GP 229 For many a man so hard is of his herte,
GP 230 He may nat wepe, althogh hym soore smerte.
GP 231 Therfore in stede of wepynge and preyeres
GP 232 Men moote yeve silver to the povre freres.
GP 233 His typet was ay farsed ful of knyves
GP 234 And pynnes, for to yeven faire wyves.
GP 235 And certeinly he hadde a murye note:
GP 236 Wel koude he synge and pleyen on a rote;
GP 237 Of yeddynges he baar outrely the pris.
GP 238 His nekke whit was as the flour-de-lys;
GP 239 Therto he strong was as a champioun.
GP 240 He knew the tavernes wel in every toun
GP 241 And everich hostiler and tappestere
GP 242 Bet than a lazar or a beggestere,
GP 243 For unto swich a worthy man as he
GP 244 Acorded nat, as by his facultee,
GP 245 To have with sike lazars aqueyntaunce.
GP 246 It is nat honest; it may nat avaunce,
GP 247 For to deelen with no swich poraille,
GP 248 But al with riche and selleres of vitaille.
GP 249 And over al, ther as profit sholde arise,
GP 250 Curteis he was and lowely of servyse;
GP 251 Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous.
GP 252 He was the beste beggere in his hous;
GP 252a [And yaf a certeyn ferme for the graunt;
GP 252b Noon of his bretheren cam ther in his haunt;]
GP 253 For thogh a wydwe hadde noght a sho,
GP 254 So plesaunt was his “In principio,”
GP 255 Yet wolde he have a ferthyng, er he wente.
GP 256 His purchas was wel bettre than his rente.
GP 257 And rage he koude, as it were right a whelp.
GP 258 In love-dayes ther koude he muchel help,
GP 259 For ther he was nat lyk a cloysterer
GP 260 With a thredbare cope, as is a povre scoler,
GP 261 But he was lyk a maister or a pope.
GP 262 Of double worstede was his semycope,
GP 263 That rounded as a belle out of the presse.
GP 264 Somwhat he lipsed, for his wantownesse,
GP 265 To make his Englissh sweete upon his tonge;
GP 266 And in his harpyng, whan that he hadde songe,
GP 267 His eyen twynkled in his heed aryght
GP 268 As doon the sterres in the frosty nyght.
GP 269 This worthy lymytour was cleped Huberd.
GP 270 A MARCHANT was ther with a forked berd,
GP 271 In mottelee, and hye on horse he sat;
GP 272 Upon his heed a Flaundryssh bever hat,
GP 273 His bootes clasped faire and fetisly.
GP 274 His resons he spak ful solempnely,
GP 275 Sownynge alwey th’ encrees of his wynnyng.
GP 276 He wolde the see were kept for any thyng
GP 277 Bitwixe Middelburgh and Orewelle.
GP 278 Wel koude he in eschaunge sheeldes selle.
GP 279 This worthy man ful wel his wit bisette:
GP 280 Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette,
GP 281 So estatly was he of his governaunce
GP 282 With his bargaynes and with his chevyssaunce.
GP 283 For sothe he was a worthy man with alle,
GP 284 But, sooth to seyn, I noot how men hym calle.
GP 285 A CLERK ther was of Oxenford also,
GP 286 That unto logyk hadde longe ygo.
GP 287 As leene was his hors as is a rake,
GP 288 And he nas nat right fat, I undertake,
GP 289 But looked holwe, and therto sobrely.
GP 290 Ful thredbare was his overeste courtepy,
GP 291 For he hadde geten hym yet no benefice,
GP 292 Ne was so worldly for to have office.
GP 293 For hym was levere have at his beddes heed
GP 294 Twenty bookes, clad in blak or reed,
GP 295 Of Aristotle and his philosophie
GP 296 Than robes riche, or fithele, or gay sautrie.
GP 297 But al be that he was a philosophre,
GP 298 Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre;
GP 299 But al that he myghte of his freendes hente,
GP 300 On bookes and on lernynge he it spente,
GP 301 And bisily gan for the soules preye
GP 302 Of hem that yaf hym wherwith to scoleye.
GP 303 Of studie took he moost cure and moost heede.
GP 304 Noght o word spak he moore than was neede,
GP 305 And that was seyd in forme and reverence,
GP 306 And short and quyk and ful of hy sentence;
GP 307 Sownynge in moral vertu was his speche,
GP 308 And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche.
GP 309 A SERGEANT OF THE LAWE, war and wys,
GP 310 That often hadde been at the Parvys,
GP 311 Ther was also, ful riche of excellence.
GP 312 Discreet he was and of greet reverence —
GP 313 He semed swich, his wordes weren so wise.
GP 314 Justice he was ful often in assise,
GP 315 By patente and by pleyn commissioun.
GP 316 For his science and for his heigh renoun,
GP 317 Of fees and robes hadde he many oon.
GP 318 So greet a purchasour was nowher noon:
GP 319 Al was fee symple to hym in effect;
GP 320 His purchasyng myghte nat been infect.
GP 321 Nowher so bisy a man as he ther nas,
GP 322 And yet he semed bisier than he was.
GP 323 In termes hadde he caas and doomes alle
GP 324 That from the tyme of kyng William were falle.
GP 325 Therto he koude endite and make a thyng,
GP 326 Ther koude no wight pynche at his writyng;
GP 327 And every statut koude he pleyn by rote.
GP 328 He rood but hoomly in a medlee cote,
GP 329 Girt with a ceint of silk, with barres smale;
GP 330 Of his array telle I no lenger tale.
GP 331 A FRANKELEYN was in his compaignye.
GP 332 Whit was his berd as is the dayesye;
GP 333 Of his complexioun he was sangwyn.
GP 334 Wel loved he by the morwe a sop in wyn;
GP 335 To lyven in delit was evere his wone,
GP 336 For he was Epicurus owene sone,
GP 337 That heeld opinioun that pleyn delit
GP 338 Was verray felicitee parfit.
GP 339 An housholdere, and that a greet, was he;
GP 340 Seint Julian he was in his contree.
GP 341 His breed, his ale, was alweys after oon;
GP 342 A bettre envyned man was nowher noon.
GP 343 Withoute bake mete was nevere his hous,
GP 344 Of fissh and flessh, and that so plentevous
GP 345 It snewed in his hous of mete and drynke;
GP 346 Of alle deyntees that men koude thynke,
GP 347 After the sondry sesons of the yeer,
GP 348 So chaunged he his mete and his soper.
GP 349 Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in muwe,
GP 350 And many a breem and many a luce in stuwe.
GP 351 Wo was his cook but if his sauce were
GP 352 Poynaunt and sharp, and redy al his geere.
GP 353 His table dormant in his halle alway
GP 354 Stood redy covered al the longe day.
GP 355 At sessiouns ther was he lord and sire;
GP 356 Ful ofte tyme he was knyght of the shire.
GP 357 An anlaas and a gipser al of silk
GP 358 Heeng at his girdel, whit as morne milk.
GP 359 A shirreve hadde he been, and a contour.
GP 360 Was nowher swich a worthy vavasour.
GP 362 A WEBBE, a DYERE, and a TAPYCER —
GP 363 And they were clothed alle in o lyveree
GP 364 Of a solempne and a greet fraternitee.
GP 365 Ful fressh and newe hir geere apiked was;
GP 366 Hir knyves were chaped noght with bras
GP 367 But al with silver, wroght ful clene and weel,
GP 368 Hire girdles and hir pouches everydeel.
GP 369 Wel semed ech of hem a fair burgeys
GP 370 To sitten in a yeldehalle on a deys.
GP 371 Everich, for the wisdom that he kan,
GP 372 Was shaply for to been an alderman.
GP 373 For catel hadde they ynogh and rente,
GP 374 And eek hir wyves wolde it wel assente;
GP 375 And elles certeyn were they to blame.
GP 376 It is ful fair to been ycleped “madame,”
GP 377 And goon to vigilies al bifore,
GP 378 And have a mantel roialliche ybore.
GP 379 A COOK they hadde with hem for the nones
GP 380 To boille the chiknes with the marybones,
GP 381 And poudre-marchant tart and galyngale.
GP 382 Wel koude he knowe a draughte of Londoun ale.
GP 383 He koude rooste, and sethe, and broille, and frye,
GP 384 Maken mortreux, and wel bake a pye.
GP 385 But greet harm was it, as it thoughte me,
GP 386 That on his shyne a mormal hadde he.
GP 387 For blankmanger, that made he with the beste.
GP 388 A SHIPMAN was ther, wonynge fer by weste;
GP 389 For aught I woot, he was of Dertemouthe.
GP 390 He rood upon a rouncy, as he kouthe,
GP 391 In a gowne of faldyng to the knee.
GP 392 A daggere hangynge on a laas hadde he
GP 393 Aboute his nekke, under his arm adoun.
GP 394 The hoote somer hadde maad his hewe al broun;
GP 395 And certeinly he was a good felawe.
GP 396 Ful many a draughte of wyn had he ydrawe
GP 397 Fro Burdeux-ward, whil that the chapman sleep.
GP 398 Of nyce conscience took he no keep.
GP 399 If that he faught and hadde the hyer hond,
GP 400 By water he sente hem hoom to every lond.
GP 401 But of his craft to rekene wel his tydes,
GP 402 His stremes, and his daungers hym bisides,
GP 403 His herberwe, and his moone, his lodemenage,
GP 404 Ther nas noon swich from Hulle to Cartage.
GP 405 Hardy he was and wys to undertake;
GP 406 With many a tempest hadde his berd been shake.
GP 407 He knew alle the havenes, as they were,
GP 408 Fro Gootlond to the cape of Fynystere,
GP 409 And every cryke in Britaigne and in Spayne.
GP 410 His barge ycleped was the Maudelayne.
GP 411 With us ther was a DOCTOUR OF PHISIK;
GP 412 In al this world ne was ther noon hym lik,
GP 413 To speke of phisik and of surgerye,
GP 414 For he was grounded in astronomye.
GP 415 He kepte his pacient a ful greet deel
GP 416 In houres by his magyk natureel.
GP 417 Wel koude he fortunen the ascendent
GP 418 Of his ymages for his pacient.
GP 419 He knew the cause of everich maladye,
GP 420 Were it of hoot, or coold, or moyste, or drye,
GP 421 And where they engendred, and of what humour.
GP 422 He was a verray, parfit praktisour:
GP 423 The cause yknowe, and of his harm the roote,
GP 424 Anon he yaf the sike man his boote.
GP 425 Ful redy hadde he his apothecaries
GP 426 To sende hym drogges and his letuaries,
GP 427 For ech of hem made oother for to wynne —
GP 428 Hir frendshipe nas nat newe to bigynne.
GP 429 Wel knew he the olde Esculapius,
GP 430 And Deyscorides, and eek Rufus,
GP 431 Olde Ypocras, Haly, and Galyen,
GP 432 Serapion, Razis, and Avycen,
GP 433 Averrois, Damascien, and Constantyn,
GP 434 Bernard, and Gatesden, and Gilbertyn.
GP 435 Of his diete mesurable was he,
GP 436 For it was of no superfluitee,
GP 437 But of greet norissyng and digestible.
GP 438 His studie was but litel on the Bible.
GP 439 In sangwyn and in pers he clad was al,
GP 440 Lyned with taffata and with sendal.
GP 441 And yet he was but esy of dispence;
GP 442 He kepte that he wan in pestilence.
GP 443 For gold in phisik is a cordial,
GP 444 Therefore he lovede gold in special.
GP 445 A good WIF was ther OF biside BATHE,
GP 446 But she was somdel deef, and that was scathe.
GP 447 Of clooth-makyng she hadde swich an haunt
GP 448 She passed hem of Ypres and of Gaunt.
GP 449 In al the parisshe wif ne was ther noon
GP 450 That to the offrynge bifore hire sholde goon;
GP 451 And if ther dide, certeyn so wrooth was she
GP 452 That she was out of alle charitee.
GP 453 Hir coverchiefs ful fyne weren of ground;
GP 454 I dorste swere they weyeden ten pound
GP 455 That on a Sonday weren upon hir heed.
GP 456 Hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed,
GP 457 Ful streite yteyd, and shoes ful moyste and newe.
GP 458 Boold was hir face, and fair, and reed of hewe.
GP 459 She was a worthy womman al hir lyve:
GP 460 Housbondes at chirche dore she hadde fyve,
GP 461 Withouten oother compaignye in youthe —
GP 462 But thereof nedeth nat to speke as nowthe.
GP 463 And thries hadde she been at Jerusalem;
GP 464 She hadde passed many a straunge strem;
GP 465 At Rome she hadde been, and at Boloigne,
GP 466 In Galice at Seint-Jame, and at Coloigne.
GP 467 She koude muchel of wandrynge by the weye.
GP 468 Gat-tothed was she, soothly for to seye.
GP 469 Upon an amblere esily she sat,
GP 470 Ywympled wel, and on hir heed an hat
GP 471 As brood as is a bokeler or a targe;
GP 472 A foot-mantel aboute hir hipes large,
GP 473 And on hir feet a paire of spores sharpe.
GP 474 In felaweshipe wel koude she laughe and carpe.
GP 475 Of remedies of love she knew per chaunce,
GP 476 For she koude of that art the olde daunce.
GP 477 A good man was ther of religioun,
GP 478 And was a povre PERSOUN OF A TOUN,
GP 479 But riche he was of hooly thoght and werk.
GP 480 He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
GP 481 That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
GP 482 His parisshens devoutly wolde he teche.
GP 483 Benygne he was, and wonder diligent,
GP 484 And in adversitee ful pacient,
GP 485 And swich he was ypreved ofte sithes.
GP 486 Ful looth were hym to cursen for his tithes,
GP 487 But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute,
GP 488 Unto his povre parisshens aboute
GP 489 Of his offryng and eek of his substaunce.
GP 490 He koude in litel thyng have suffisaunce.
GP 491 Wyd was his parisshe, and houses fer asonder,
GP 492 But he ne lefte nat, for reyn ne thonder,
GP 493 In siknesse nor in meschief to visite
GP 494 The ferreste in his parisshe, muche and lite,
GP 495 Upon his feet, and in his hand a staf.
GP 496 This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf,
GP 497 That first he wroghte, and afterward he taughte.
GP 498 Out of the gospel he tho wordes caughte,
GP 499 And this figure he added eek therto,
GP 500 That if gold ruste, what shal iren do?
GP 501 For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
GP 502 No wonder is a lewed man to ruste;
GP 503 And shame it is, if a prest take keep,
GP 504 A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep.
GP 505 Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive,
GP 506 By his clennesse, how that his sheep sholde lyve.
GP 507 He sette nat his benefice to hyre
GP 508 And leet his sheep encombred in the myre
GP 509 And ran to Londoun unto Seinte Poules
GP 510 To seken hym a chaunterie for soules,
GP 511 Or with a bretherhed to been withholde;
GP 512 But dwelte at hoom, and kepte wel his folde,
GP 513 So that the wolf ne made it nat myscarie;
GP 514 He was a shepherde and noght a mercenarie.
GP 515 And though he hooly were and vertuous,
GP 516 He was to synful men nat despitous,
GP 517 Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne,
GP 518 But in his techyng discreet and benygne.
GP 519 To drawen folk to hevene by fairnesse,
GP 520 By good ensample, this was his bisynesse.
GP 521 But it were any persone obstinat,
GP 522 What so he were, of heigh or lough estat,
GP 523 Hym wolde he snybben sharply for the nonys.
GP 524 A bettre preest I trowe that nowher noon ys.
GP 525 He waited after no pompe and reverence,
GP 526 Ne maked him a spiced conscience,
GP 527 But Cristes loore and his apostles twelve
GP 528 He taughte; but first he folwed it hymselve.
GP 529 With hym ther was a PLOWMAN, was his brother,
GP 530 That hadde ylad of dong ful many a fother;
GP 531 A trewe swynkere and a good was he,
GP 532 Lyvynge in pees and parfit charitee.
GP 533 God loved he best with al his hoole herte
GP 534 At alle tymes, thogh him gamed or smerte,
GP 535 And thanne his neighebor right as hymselve.
GP 536 He wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delve,
GP 537 For Cristes sake, for every povre wight,
GP 538 Withouten hire, if it lay in his myght.
GP 539 His tithes payde he ful faire and wel,
GP 540 Bothe of his propre swynk and his catel.
GP 541 In a tabard he rood upon a mere.
GP 542 Ther was also a REVE, and a MILLERE,
GP 543 A SOMNOUR, and a PARDONER also,
GP 544 A MAUNCIPLE, and myself — ther were namo.
GP 545 The MILLERE was a stout carl for the nones;
GP 546 Ful byg he was of brawn, and eek of bones.
GP 547 That proved wel, for over al ther he cam,
GP 548 At wrastlynge he wolde have alwey the ram.
GP 549 He was short-sholdred, brood, a thikke knarre;
GP 550 Ther was no dore that he nolde heve of harre,
GP 551 Or breke it at a rennyng with his heed.
GP 552 His berd as any sowe or fox was reed,
GP 553 And therto brood, as though it were a spade.
GP 554 Upon the cop right of his nose he hade
GP 555 A werte, and theron stood a toft of herys,
GP 556 Reed as the brustles of a sowes erys;
GP 557 His nosethirles blake were and wyde.
GP 558 A swerd and a bokeler bar he by his syde.
GP 559 His mouth as greet was as a greet forneys.
GP 560 He was a janglere and a goliardeys,
GP 561 And that was moost of synne and harlotries.
GP 562 Wel koude he stelen corn and tollen thries;
GP 563 And yet he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee.
GP 564 A whit cote and a blew hood wered he.
GP 565 A baggepipe wel koude he blowe and sowne,
GP 566 And therwithal he broghte us out of towne.
GP 567 A gentil MAUNCIPLE was ther of a temple,
GP 568 Of which achatours myghte take exemple
GP 569 For to be wise in byynge of vitaille;
GP 570 For wheither that he payde or took by taille,
GP 571 Algate he wayted so in his achaat
GP 572 That he was ay biforn and in good staat.
GP 573 Now is nat that of God a ful fair grace
GP 574 That swich a lewed mannes wit shal pace
GP 575 The wisdom of an heep of lerned men?
GP 576 Of maistres hadde he mo than thries ten,
GP 577 That weren of lawe expert and curious,
GP 578 Of which ther were a duszeyne in that hous
GP 579 Worthy to been stywardes of rente and lond
GP 580 Of any lord that is in Engelond,
GP 581 To make hym lyve by his propre good
GP 582 In honour dettelees (but if he were wood),
GP 583 Or lyve as scarsly as hym list desire;
GP 584 And able for to helpen al a shire
GP 585 In any caas that myghte falle or happe.
GP 586 And yet this Manciple sette hir aller cappe.
GP 587 The REVE was a sclendre colerik man.
GP 588 His berd was shave as ny as ever he kan;
GP 589 His heer was by his erys ful round yshorn;
GP 590 His top was dokked lyk a preest biforn.
GP 591 Ful longe were his legges and ful lene,
GP 592 Ylyk a staf; ther was no calf ysene.
GP 593 Wel koude he kepe a gerner and a bynne;
GP 594 Ther was noon auditour koude on him wynne.
GP 595 Wel wiste he by the droghte and by the reyn
GP 596 The yeldynge of his seed and of his greyn.
GP 597 His lordes sheep, his neet, his dayerye,
GP 598 His swyn, his hors, his stoor, and his pultrye
GP 599 Was hoolly in this Reves governynge,
GP 600 And by his covenant yaf the rekenynge,
GP 601 Syn that his lord was twenty yeer of age.
GP 602 Ther koude no man brynge hym in arrerage.
GP 603 Ther nas baillif, ne hierde, nor oother hyne,
GP 604 That he ne knew his sleighte and his covyne;
GP 605 They were adrad of hym as of the deeth.
GP 606 His wonyng was ful faire upon an heeth;
GP 607 With grene trees yshadwed was his place.
GP 608 He koude bettre than his lord purchace.
GP 609 Ful riche he was astored pryvely.
GP 610 His lord wel koude he plesen subtilly,
GP 611 To yeve and lene hym of his owene good,
GP 612 And have a thank, and yet a cote and hood.
GP 613 In youthe he hadde lerned a good myster:
GP 614 He was a wel good wrighte, a carpenter.
GP 615 This Reve sat upon a ful good stot
GP 616 That was al pomely grey and highte Scot.
GP 617 A long surcote of pers upon he hade,
GP 618 And by his syde he baar a rusty blade.
GP 619 Of Northfolk was this Reve of which I telle,
GP 620 Biside a toun men clepen Baldeswelle.
GP 621 Tukked he was as is a frere aboute,
GP 622 And evere he rood the hyndreste of oure route.
GP 623 A SOMONOUR was ther with us in that place,
GP 624 That hadde a fyr-reed cherubynnes face,
GP 625 For saucefleem he was, with eyen narwe.
GP 626 As hoot he was and lecherous as a sparwe,
GP 627 With scalled browes blake and piled berd.
GP 628 Of his visage children were aferd.
GP 629 Ther nas quyk-silver, lytarge, ne brymstoon,
GP 630 Boras, ceruce, ne oille of tartre noon,
GP 631 Ne oynement that wolde clense and byte,
GP 632 That hym myghte helpen of his whelkes white,
GP 633 Nor of the knobbes sittynge on his chekes.
GP 634 Wel loved he garleek, oynons, and eek lekes,
GP 635 And for to drynken strong wyn, reed as blood;
GP 636 Thanne wolde he speke and crie as he were wood.
GP 637 And whan that he wel dronken hadde the wyn,
GP 638 Thanne wolde he speke no word but Latyn.
GP 639 A fewe termes hadde he, two or thre,
GP 640 That he had lerned out of som decree —
GP 641 No wonder is, he herde it al the day;
GP 642 And eek ye knowen wel how that a jay
GP 643 Kan clepen “Watte” as wel as kan the pope.
GP 644 But whoso koude in oother thyng hym grope,
GP 645 Thanne hadde he spent al his philosophie;
GP 646 Ay “Questio quid iuris” wolde he crie.
GP 647 He was a gentil harlot and a kynde;
GP 648 A bettre felawe sholde men noght fynde.
GP 649 He wolde suffre for a quart of wyn
GP 650 A good felawe to have his concubyn
GP 651 A twelf month, and excuse hym atte fulle;
GP 652 Ful prively a fynch eek koude he pulle.
GP 653 And if he foond owher a good felawe,
GP 654 He wolde techen him to have noon awe
GP 655 In swich caas of the ercedekenes curs,
GP 656 But if a mannes soule were in his purs;
GP 657 For in his purs he sholde ypunysshed be.
GP 658 “Purs is the ercedekenes helle,” seyde he.
GP 659 But wel I woot he lyed right in dede;
GP 660 Of cursyng oghte ech gilty man him drede,
GP 661 For curs wol slee right as assoillyng savith,
GP 662 And also war hym of a Significavit.
GP 663 In daunger hadde he at his owene gise
GP 664 The yonge girles of the diocise,
GP 665 And knew hir conseil, and was al hir reed.
GP 666 A gerland hadde he set upon his heed,
GP 667 As greet as it were for an ale-stake.
GP 668 A bokeleer hadde he maad hym of a cake.
GP 669 With hym ther rood a gentil PARDONER
GP 670 Of Rouncivale, his freend and his compeer,
GP 671 That streight was comen fro the court of Rome.
GP 672 Ful loude he soong “Com hider, love, to me!”
GP 673 This Somonour bar to hym a stif burdoun;
GP 674 Was nevere trompe of half so greet a soun.
GP 675 This Pardoner hadde heer as yelow as wex,
GP 676 But smothe it heeng as dooth a strike of flex;
GP 677 By ounces henge his lokkes that he hadde,
GP 678 And therwith he his shuldres overspradde;
GP 679 But thynne it lay, by colpons oon and oon.
GP 680 But hood, for jolitee, wered he noon,
GP 681 For it was trussed up in his walet.
GP 682 Hym thoughte he rood al of the newe jet;
GP 683 Dischevelee, save his cappe, he rood al bare.
GP 684 Swiche glarynge eyen hadde he as an hare.
GP 685 A vernycle hadde he sowed upon his cappe.
GP 686 His walet, biforn hym in his lappe,
GP 687 Bretful of pardoun comen from Rome al hoot.
GP 688 A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot.
GP 689 No berd hadde he, ne nevere sholde have;
GP 690 As smothe it was as it were late shave.
GP 691 I trowe he were a geldyng or a mare.
GP 692 But of his craft, fro Berwyk into Ware
GP 693 Ne was ther swich another pardoner.
GP 694 For in his male he hadde a pilwe-beer,
GP 695 Which that he seyde was Oure Lady veyl;
GP 696 He seyde he hadde a gobet of the seyl
GP 697 That Seint Peter hadde, whan that he wente
GP 698 Upon the see, til Jhesu Crist hym hente.
GP 699 He hadde a croys of latoun ful of stones,
GP 700 And in a glas he hadde pigges bones.
GP 701 But with thise relikes, whan that he fond
GP 702 A povre person dwellynge upon lond,
GP 703 Upon a day he gat hym moore moneye
GP 704 Than that the person gat in monthes tweye;
GP 705 And thus, with feyned flaterye and japes,
GP 706 He made the person and the peple his apes.
GP 707 But trewely to tellen atte laste,
GP 708 He was in chirche a noble ecclesiaste.
GP 709 Wel koude he rede a lessoun or a storie,
GP 710 But alderbest he song an offertorie;
GP 711 For wel he wiste, whan that song was songe,
GP 712 He moste preche and wel affile his tonge
GP 713 To wynne silver, as he ful wel koude;
GP 714 Therefore he song the murierly and loude.
GP 715 Now have I toold you soothly, in a clause,
GP 716 Th’ estaat, th’ array, the nombre, and eek the cause
GP 717 Why that assembled was this compaignye
GP 718 In Southwerk at this gentil hostelrye
GP 719 That highte the Tabard, faste by the Belle.
GP 720 But now is tyme to yow for to telle
GP 721 How that we baren us that ilke nyght,
GP 722 Whan we were in that hostelrie alyght;
GP 723 And after wol I telle of our viage
GP 724 And al the remenaunt of oure pilgrimage.
GP 725 But first I pray yow, of youre curteisye,
GP 726 That ye n’ arette it nat my vileynye,
GP 727 Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere,
GP 728 To telle yow hir wordes and hir cheere,
GP 729 Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely.
GP 730 For this ye knowen al so wel as I:
GP 731 Whoso shal telle a tale after a man,
GP 732 He moot reherce as ny as evere he kan
GP 733 Everich a word, if it be in his charge,
GP 734 Al speke he never so rudeliche and large,
GP 735 Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe,
GP 736 Or feyne thyng, or fynde wordes newe.
GP 737 He may nat spare, althogh he were his brother;
GP 738 He moot as wel seye o word as another.
GP 739 Crist spak hymself ful brode in hooly writ,
GP 740 And wel ye woot no vileynye is it.
GP 741 Eek Plato seith, whoso kan hym rede,
GP 742 The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede.
GP 743 Also I prey yow to foryeve it me,
GP 744 Al have I nat set folk in hir degree
GP 745 Heere in this tale, as that they sholde stonde.
GP 746 My wit is short, ye may wel understonde.
GP 747 Greet chiere made oure Hoost us everichon,
GP 748 And to the soper sette he us anon.
GP 749 He served us with vitaille at the beste;
GP 750 Strong was the wyn, and wel to drynke us leste.
GP 751 A semely man OURE HOOSTE was withalle
GP 752 For to been a marchal in an halle.
GP 753 A large man he was with eyen stepe —
GP 754 A fairer burgeys was ther noon in Chepe —
GP 755 Boold of his speche, and wys, and wel ytaught,
GP 756 And of manhod hym lakkede right naught.
GP 757 Eek therto he was right a myrie man;
GP 758 And after soper pleyen he bigan,
GP 759 And spak of myrthe amonges othere thynges,
GP 760 Whan that we hadde maad oure rekenynges,
GP 761 And seyde thus: “Now, lordynges, trewely,
GP 762 Ye been to me right welcome, hertely;
GP 763 For by my trouthe, if that I shal nat lye,
GP 764 I saugh nat this yeer so myrie a compaignye
GP 765 Atones in this herberwe as is now.
GP 766 Fayn wolde I doon yow myrthe, wiste I how.
GP 767 And of a myrthe I am right now bythoght,
GP 768 To doon yow ese, and it shal coste noght.
GP 769 “Ye goon to Caunterbury — God yow speede,
GP 770 The blisful martir quite yow youre meede!
GP 771 And wel I woot, as ye goon by the weye,
GP 772 Ye shapen yow to talen and to pleye;
GP 773 For trewely, confort ne myrthe is noon
GP 774 To ride by the weye doumb as a stoon;
GP 775 And therfore wol I maken yow disport,
GP 776 As I seyde erst, and doon yow som confort.
GP 777 And if yow liketh alle by oon assent
GP 778 For to stonden at my juggement,
GP 779 And for to werken as I shal yow seye,
GP 780 Tomorwe, whan ye riden by the weye,
GP 781 Now, by my fader soule that is deed,
GP 782 But ye be myrie, I wol yeve yow myn heed!
GP 783 Hoold up youre hondes, withouten moore speche.”
GP 784 Oure conseil was nat longe for to seche.
GP 785 Us thoughte it was noght worth to make it wys,
GP 786 And graunted hym withouten moore avys,
GP 787 And bad him seye his voirdit as hym leste.
GP 788 “Lordynges,” quod he, “now herkneth for the beste;
GP 789 But taak it nought, I prey yow, in desdeyn.
GP 790 This is the poynt, to speken short and pleyn,
GP 791 That ech of yow, to shorte with oure weye,
GP 792 In this viage shal telle tales tweye
GP 793 To Caunterbury-ward, I mene it so,
GP 794 And homward he shal tellen othere two,
GP 795 Of aventures that whilom han bifalle.
GP 796 And which of yow that bereth hym best of alle —
GP 797 That is to seyn, that telleth in this caas
GP 798 Tales of best sentence and moost solaas —
GP 799 Shal have a soper at oure aller cost
GP 800 Heere in this place, sittynge by this post,
GP 801 Whan that we come agayn fro Caunterbury.
GP 802 And for to make yow the moore mury,
GP 803 I wol myselven goodly with yow ryde,
GP 804 Right at myn owene cost, and be youre gyde;
GP 805 And whoso wole my juggement withseye
GP 806 Shal paye al that we spenden by the weye.
GP 807 And if ye vouche sauf that it be so,
GP 808 Tel me anon, withouten wordes mo,
GP 809 And I wol erly shape me therfore.”
GP 810 This thyng was graunted, and oure othes swore
GP 811 With ful glad herte, and preyden hym also
GP 812 That he wolde vouche sauf for to do so,
GP 813 And that he wolde been oure governour,
GP 814 And of oure tales juge and reportour,
GP 815 And sette a soper at a certeyn pris,
GP 816 And we wol reuled been at his devys
GP 817 In heigh and lough; and thus by oon assent
GP 818 We been acorded to his juggement.
GP 819 And therupon the wyn was fet anon;
GP 820 We dronken, and to reste wente echon,
GP 821 Withouten any lenger taryynge.
GP 822 Amorwe, whan that day bigan to sprynge,
GP 823 Up roos oure Hoost, and was oure aller cok,
GP 824 And gadrede us togidre alle in a flok,
GP 825 And forth we riden a litel moore than paas
GP 826 Unto the Wateryng of Seint Thomas;
GP 827 And there oure Hoost bigan his hors areste
GP 828 And seyde, “Lordynges, herkneth, if yow leste.
GP 829 Ye woot youre foreward, and I it yow recorde.
GP 830 If even-song and morwe-song accorde,
GP 831 Lat se now who shal telle the firste tale.
GP 832 As evere mote I drynke wyn or ale,
GP 833 Whoso be rebel to my juggement
GP 834 Shal paye for al that by the wey is spent.
GP 835 Now draweth cut, er that we ferrer twynne;
GP 836 He which that hath the shorteste shal bigynne.
GP 837 Sire Knyght,” quod he, “my mayster and my lord,
GP 838 Now draweth cut, for that is myn accord.
GP 839 Cometh neer,” quod he, “my lady Prioresse.
GP 840 And ye, sire Clerk, lat be youre shamefastnesse,
GP 841 Ne studieth noght; ley hond to, every man!”
GP 842 Anon to drawen every wight bigan,
GP 843 And shortly for to tellen as it was,
GP 844 Were it by aventure, or sort, or cas,
GP 845 The sothe is this: the cut fil to the Knyght,
GP 846 Of which ful blithe and glad was every wyght,
GP 847 And telle he moste his tale, as was resoun,
GP 848 By foreward and by composicioun,
GP 849 As ye han herd; what nedeth wordes mo?
GP 850 And whan this goode man saugh that it was so,
GP 851 As he that wys was and obedient
GP 852 To kepe his foreward by his free assent,
GP 853 He seyde, “Syn I shal bigynne the game,
GP 854 What, welcome be the cut, a Goddes name!
GP 855 Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye.”
GP 856 And with that word we ryden forth oure weye,
GP 857 And he bigan with right a myrie cheere
GP 858 His tale anon, and seyde as ye may heere.