The Manciple’s Prologue

From The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

MancT 1 Woot ye nat where ther stant a litel toun
MancT 2 Which that ycleped is Bobbe-up-and-doun,
MancT 3 Under the Blee, in Caunterbury Weye?
MancT 4 Ther gan oure Hooste for to jape and pleye,
MancT 5 And seyde, “Sires, what! Dun is in the myre!
MancT 6 Is ther no man, for preyere ne for hyre,
MancT 7 That wole awake oure felawe al bihynde?
MancT 8 A theef myghte hym ful lightly robbe and bynde.
MancT 9 See how he nappeth! See how, for cokkes bones,
MancT 10 That he wol falle fro his hors atones!
MancT 11 Is that a cook of Londoun, with meschaunce?
MancT 12 Do hym come forth, he knoweth his penaunce;
MancT 13 For he shal telle a tale, by my fey,
MancT 14 Although it be nat worth a botel hey.
MancT 15 Awake, thou Cook,” quod he, “God yeve thee sorwe!
MancT 16 What eyleth thee to slepe by the morwe?
MancT 17 Hastow had fleen al nyght, or artow dronke?
MancT 18 Or hastow with som quene al nyght yswonke,
MancT 19 So that thow mayst nat holden up thyn heed?”
MancT 20 This Cook, that was ful pale and no thyng reed,
MancT 21 Seyde to oure Hoost, “So God my soule blesse,
MancT 22 As ther is falle on me swich hevynesse,
MancT 23 Noot I nat why, that me were levere slepe
MancT 24 Than the beste galon wyn in Chepe.”
MancT 25 “Wel,” quod the Maunciple, “if it may doon ese
MancT 26 To thee, sire Cook, and to no wight displese,
MancT 27 Which that heere rideth in this compaignye,
MancT 28 And that oure Hoost wole, of his curteisye,
MancT 29 I wol as now excuse thee of thy tale.
MancT 30 For, in good feith, thy visage is ful pale,
MancT 31 Thyne eyen daswen eek, as that me thynketh,
MancT 32 And, wel I woot, thy breeth ful soure stynketh:
MancT 33 That sheweth wel thou art nat wel disposed.
MancT 34 Of me, certeyn, thou shalt nat been yglosed.
MancT 35 See how he ganeth, lo, this dronken wight,
MancT 36 As though he wolde swolwe us anonright.
MancT 37 Hoold cloos thy mouth, man, by thy fader kyn!
MancT 38 The devel of helle sette his foot therin!
MancT 39 Thy cursed breeth infecte wole us alle.
MancT 40 Fy, stynkyng swyn! Fy, foule moote thee falle!
MancT 41 A, taketh heede, sires, of this lusty man.
MancT 42 Now, sweete sire, wol ye justen atte fan?
MancT 43 Therto me thynketh ye been wel yshape!
MancT 44 I trowe that ye dronken han wyn ape,
MancT 45 And that is whan men pleyen with a straw.”
MancT 46 And with this speche the Cook wax wrooth and wraw,
MancT 47 And on the Manciple he gan nodde faste
MancT 48 For lakke of speche, and doun the hors hym caste,
MancT 49 Where as he lay, til that men hym up took.
MancT 50 This was a fair chyvachee of a cook!
MancT 51 Allas, he nadde holde hym by his ladel!
MancT 52 And er that he agayn were in his sadel,
MancT 53 Ther was greet showvyng bothe to and fro
MancT 54 To lifte hym up, and muchel care and wo,
MancT 55 So unweeldy was this sory palled goost.
MancT 56 And to the Manciple thanne spak oure Hoost:
MancT 57 “By cause drynke hath dominacioun
MancT 58 Upon this man, by my savacioun,
MancT 59 I trowe he lewedly wolde telle his tale.
MancT 60 For, were it wyn or oold or moysty ale
MancT 61 That he hath dronke, he speketh in his nose,
MancT 62 And fneseth faste, and eek he hath the pose.
MancT 63 “He hath also to do moore than ynough
MancT 64 To kepen hym and his capul out of the slough;
MancT 65 And if he falle from his capul eftsoone,
MancT 66 Thanne shal we alle have ynogh to doone
MancT 67 In liftyng up his hevy dronken cors.
MancT 68 Telle on thy tale; of hym make I no fors.
MancT 69 “But yet, Manciple, in feith thou art to nyce,
MancT 70 Thus openly repreve hym of his vice.
MancT 71 Another day he wole, peraventure,
MancT 72 Reclayme thee and brynge thee to lure;
MancT 73 I meene, he speke wole of smale thynges,
MancT 74 As for to pynchen at thy rekenynges,
MancT 75 That were nat honest, if it cam to preef.”
MancT 76 “No,” quod the Manciple, “that were a greet mescheef!
MancT 77 So myghte he lightly brynge me in the snare.
MancT 78 Yet hadde I levere payen for the mare
MancT 79 Which he rit on, than he sholde with me stryve.
MancT 80 I wol nat wratthen hym, also moot I thryve!
MancT 81 That that I spak, I seyde it in my bourde.
MancT 82 And wite ye what? I have heer in a gourde
MancT 83 A draghte of wyn, ye, of a ripe grape,
MancT 84 And right anon ye shul seen a good jape.
MancT 85 This Cook shal drynke therof, if I may.
MancT 86 Up peyne of deeth, he wol nat seye me nay.”
MancT 87 And certeynly, to tellen as it was,
MancT 88 Of this vessel the Cook drank faste, allas!
MancT 89 What neded hym? He drank ynough biforn.
MancT 90 And whan he hadde pouped in this horn,
MancT 91 To the Manciple he took the gourde agayn;
MancT 92 And of that drynke the Cook was wonder fayn,
MancT 93 And thanked hym in swich wise as he koude.
MancT 94 Thanne gan oure Hoost to laughen wonder loude,
MancT 95 And seyde, “I se wel it is necessarie,
MancT 96 Where that we goon, good drynke with us carie;
MancT 97 For that wol turne rancour and disese
MancT 98 T’ acord and love, and many a wrong apese.
MancT 99 “O Bacus, yblessed be thy name,
MancT 100 That so kanst turnen ernest into game!
MancT 101 Worshipe and thank be to thy deitee!
MancT 102 Of that mateere ye gete namoore of me.
MancT 103 Telle on thy tale, Manciple, I thee preye.”
MancT 104 “Wel, sire,” quod he, “now herkneth what I seye.