The Nun’s Priest’s Tale

From The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

NPT 2821 A povre wydwe, somdeel stape in age,
NPT 2822 Was whilom dwellyng in a narwe cotage,
NPT 2823 Biside a grove, stondynge in a dale.
NPT 2824 This wydwe, of which I telle yow my tale,
NPT 2825 Syn thilke day that she was last a wyf
NPT 2826 In pacience ladde a ful symple lyf,
NPT 2827 For litel was hir catel and hir rente.
NPT 2828 By housbondrie of swich as God hire sente
NPT 2829 She foond hirself and eek hir doghtren two.
NPT 2830 Thre large sowes hadde she, and namo,
NPT 2831 Three keen, and eek a sheep that highte Malle.
NPT 2832 Ful sooty was hire bour and eek hir halle,
NPT 2833 In which she eet ful many a sklendre meel.
NPT 2834 Of poynaunt sauce hir neded never a deel.
NPT 2835 No deyntee morsel passed thurgh hir throte;
NPT 2836 Hir diete was accordant to hir cote.
NPT 2837 Repleccioun ne made hire nevere sik;
NPT 2838 Attempree diete was al hir phisik,
NPT 2839 And exercise, and hertes suffisaunce.
NPT 2840 The goute lette hire nothyng for to daunce,
NPT 2841 N’ apoplexie shente nat hir heed.
NPT 2842 No wyn ne drank she, neither whit ne reed;
NPT 2843 Hir bord was served moost with whit and blak —
NPT 2844 Milk and broun breed, in which she foond no lak,
NPT 2845 Seynd bacoun, and somtyme an ey or tweye,
NPT 2846 For she was, as it were, a maner deye.
NPT 2847 A yeerd she hadde, enclosed al aboute
NPT 2848 With stikkes, and a drye dych withoute,
NPT 2849 In which she hadde a cok, hight Chauntecleer.
NPT 2850 In al the land, of crowyng nas his peer.
NPT 2851 His voys was murier than the murie orgon
NPT 2852 On messe-dayes that in the chirche gon.
NPT 2853 Wel sikerer was his crowyng in his logge
NPT 2854 Than is a clokke or an abbey orlogge.
NPT 2855 By nature he knew ech ascencioun
NPT 2856 Of the equynoxial in thilke toun;
NPT 2857 For whan degrees fiftene weren ascended,
NPT 2858 Thanne crew he that it myghte nat been amended.
NPT 2859 His coomb was redder than the fyn coral,
NPT 2860 And batailled as it were a castel wal;
NPT 2861 His byle was blak, and as the jeet it shoon;
NPT 2862 Lyk asure were his legges and his toon;
NPT 2863 His nayles whitter than the lylye flour,
NPT 2864 And lyk the burned gold was his colour.
NPT 2865 This gentil cok hadde in his governaunce
NPT 2866 Sevene hennes for to doon al his plesaunce,
NPT 2867 Whiche were his sustres and his paramours,
NPT 2868 And wonder lyk to hym, as of colours;
NPT 2869 Of whiche the faireste hewed on hir throte
NPT 2870 Was cleped faire damoysele Pertelote.
NPT 2871 Curteys she was, discreet, and debonaire,
NPT 2872 And compaignable, and bar hyrself so faire
NPT 2873 Syn thilke day that she was seven nyght oold
NPT 2874 That trewely she hath the herte in hoold
NPT 2875 Of Chauntecleer, loken in every lith;
NPT 2876 He loved hire so that wel was hym therwith.
NPT 2877 But swich a joye was it to here hem synge,
NPT 2878 Whan that the brighte sonne gan to sprynge,
NPT 2879 In sweete accord, “My lief is faren in londe!” —
NPT 2880 For thilke tyme, as I have understonde,
NPT 2881 Beestes and briddes koude speke and synge.
NPT 2882 And so bifel that in a dawenynge,
NPT 2883 As Chauntecleer among his wyves alle
NPT 2884 Sat on his perche, that was in the halle,
NPT 2885 And next hym sat this faire Pertelote,
NPT 2886 This Chauntecleer gan gronen in his throte,
NPT 2887 As man that in his dreem is drecched soore.
NPT 2888 And whan that Pertelote thus herde hym roore,
NPT 2889 She was agast and seyde, “Herte deere,
NPT 2890 What eyleth yow, to grone in this manere?
NPT 2891 Ye been a verray sleper; fy, for shame!”
NPT 2892 And he answerde, and seyde thus: “Madame,
NPT 2893 I pray yow that ye take it nat agrief.
NPT 2894 By God, me mette I was in swich meschief
NPT 2895 Right now that yet myn herte is soore afright.
NPT 2896 Now God,” quod he, “my swevene recche aright,
NPT 2897 And kepe my body out of foul prisoun!
NPT 2898 Me mette how that I romed up and doun
NPT 2899 Withinne our yeerd, wheer as I saugh a beest
NPT 2900 Was lyk an hound, and wolde han maad areest
NPT 2901 Upon my body, and wolde han had me deed.
NPT 2902 His colour was bitwixe yelow and reed,
NPT 2903 And tipped was his tayl and bothe his eeris
NPT 2904 With blak, unlyk the remenant of his heeris;
NPT 2905 His snowte smal, with glowynge eyen tweye.
NPT 2906 Yet of his look for feere almoost I deye;
NPT 2907 This caused me my gronyng, doutelees.”
NPT 2908 “Avoy!” quod she, “fy on yow, hertelees!
NPT 2909 Allas,” quod she, “for, by that God above,
NPT 2910 Now han ye lost myn herte and al my love!
NPT 2911 I kan nat love a coward, by my feith!
NPT 2912 For certes, what so any womman seith,
NPT 2913 We alle desiren, if it myghte bee,
NPT 2914 To han housbondes hardy, wise, and free,
NPT 2915 And secree — and no nygard, ne no fool,
NPT 2916 Ne hym that is agast of every tool,
NPT 2917 Ne noon avauntour, by that God above!
NPT 2918 How dorste ye seyn, for shame, unto youre love
NPT 2919 That any thyng myghte make yow aferd?
NPT 2920 Have ye no mannes herte, and han a berd?
NPT 2921 Allas! And konne ye been agast of swevenys?
NPT 2922 Nothyng, God woot, but vanitee in sweven is.
NPT 2923 Swevenes engendren of replecciouns,
NPT 2924 And ofte of fume and of complecciouns,
NPT 2925 Whan humours been to habundant in a wight.
NPT 2926 Certes this dreem, which ye han met to-nyght,
NPT 2927 Cometh of the greete superfluytee
NPT 2928 Of youre rede colera, pardee,
NPT 2929 Which causeth folk to dreden in hir dremes
NPT 2930 Of arwes, and of fyr with rede lemes,
NPT 2931 Of rede beestes, that they wol hem byte,
NPT 2932 Of contek, and of whelpes, grete and lyte;
NPT 2933 Right as the humour of malencolie
NPT 2934 Causeth ful many a man in sleep to crie
NPT 2935 For feere of blake beres, or boles blake,
NPT 2936 Or elles blake develes wole hem take.
NPT 2937 Of othere humours koude I telle also
NPT 2938 That werken many a man sleep ful wo;
NPT 2939 But I wol passe as lightly as I kan.
NPT 2940 “Lo Catoun, which that was so wys a man,
NPT 2941 Seyde he nat thus, ‘Ne do no fors of dremes’?
NPT 2942 “Now sire,” quod she, “whan we flee fro the bemes,
NPT 2943 For Goddes love, as taak som laxatyf.
NPT 2944 Up peril of my soule and of my lyf,
NPT 2945 I conseille yow the beste — I wol nat lye —
NPT 2946 That bothe of colere and of malencolye
NPT 2947 Ye purge yow; and for ye shal nat tarie,
NPT 2948 Though in this toun is noon apothecarie,
NPT 2949 I shal myself to herbes techen yow
NPT 2950 That shul been for youre hele and for youre prow;
NPT 2951 And in oure yeerd tho herbes shal I fynde
NPT 2952 The whiche han of hire propretee by kynde
NPT 2953 To purge yow bynethe and eek above.
NPT 2954 Foryet nat this, for Goddes owene love!
NPT 2955 Ye been ful coleryk of compleccioun;
NPT 2956 Ware the sonne in his ascencioun
NPT 2957 Ne fynde yow nat repleet of humours hoote.
NPT 2958 And if it do, I dar wel leye a grote,
NPT 2959 That ye shul have a fevere terciane,
NPT 2960 Or an agu that may be youre bane.
NPT 2961 A day or two ye shul have digestyves
NPT 2962 Of wormes, er ye take youre laxatyves
NPT 2963 Of lawriol, centaure, and fumetere,
NPT 2964 Or elles of ellebor, that groweth there,
NPT 2965 Of katapuce, or of gaitrys beryis,
NPT 2966 Of herbe yve, growyng in oure yeerd, ther mery is;
NPT 2967 Pekke hem up right as they growe and ete hem yn.
NPT 2968 Be myrie, housbonde, for youre fader kyn!
NPT 2969 Dredeth no dreem; I kan sey yow namoore.”
NPT 2970 “Madame,” quod he, “graunt mercy of youre loore.
NPT 2971 But nathelees, as touchyng daun Catoun,
NPT 2972 That hath of wysdom swich a greet renoun,
NPT 2973 Though that he bad no dremes for to drede,
NPT 2974 By God, men may in olde bookes rede
NPT 2975 Of many a man moore of auctorite
NPT 2976 Than evere Caton was, so moot I thee,
NPT 2977 That al the revers seyn of this sentence,
NPT 2978 And han wel founden by experience
NPT 2979 That dremes been significaciouns
NPT 2980 As wel of joye as of tribulaciouns
NPT 2981 That folk enduren in this lif present.
NPT 2982 Ther nedeth make of this noon argument;
NPT 2983 The verray preeve sheweth it in dede.
NPT 2984 “Oon of the gretteste auctour that men rede
NPT 2985 Seith thus: that whilom two felawes wente
NPT 2986 On pilgrimage, in a ful good entente,
NPT 2987 And happed so, they coomen in a toun
NPT 2988 Wher as ther was swich congregacioun
NPT 2989 Of peple, and eek so streit of herbergage,
NPT 2990 That they ne founde as muche as o cotage
NPT 2991 In which they bothe myghte ylogged bee.
NPT 2992 Wherfore they mosten of necessitee,
NPT 2993 As for that nyght, departen compaignye;
NPT 2994 And ech of hem gooth to his hostelrye,
NPT 2995 And took his loggyng as it wolde falle.
NPT 2996 That oon of hem was logged in a stalle,
NPT 2997 Fer in a yeerd, with oxen of the plough;
NPT 2998 That oother man was logged wel ynough,
NPT 2999 As was his aventure or his fortune,
NPT 3000 That us governeth alle as in commune.
NPT 3001 “And so bifel that, longe er it were day,
NPT 3002 This man mette in his bed, ther as he lay,
NPT 3003 How that his felawe gan upon hym calle,
NPT 3004 And seyde, ‘Allas, for in an oxes stalle
NPT 3005 This nyght I shal be mordred ther I lye!
NPT 3006 Now help me, deere brother, or I dye.
NPT 3007 In alle haste com to me!’ he sayde.
NPT 3008 This man out of his sleep for feere abrayde;
NPT 3009 But whan that he was wakened of his sleep,
NPT 3010 He turned hym and took of this no keep.
NPT 3011 Hym thoughte his dreem nas but a vanitee.
NPT 3012 Thus twies in his slepyng dremed hee;
NPT 3013 And atte thridde tyme yet his felawe
NPT 3014 Cam, as hym thoughte, and seide, ‘I am now slawe.
NPT 3015 Bihoold my bloody woundes depe and wyde!
NPT 3016 Arys up erly in the morwe tyde,
NPT 3017 And at the west gate of the toun,’ quod he,
NPT 3018 ‘A carte ful of dong ther shaltow se,
NPT 3019 In which my body is hid ful prively;
NPT 3020 Do thilke carte arresten boldely.
NPT 3021 My gold caused my mordre, sooth to sayn,’
NPT 3022 And tolde hym every point how he was slayn,
NPT 3023 With a ful pitous face, pale of hewe.
NPT 3024 And truste wel, his dreem he foond ful trewe,
NPT 3025 For on the morwe, as soone as it was day,
NPT 3026 To his felawes in he took the way;
NPT 3027 And whan that he cam to this oxes stalle,
NPT 3028 After his felawe he bigan to calle.
NPT 3029 “The hostiler answerede hym anon,
NPT 3030 And seyde, ‘Sire, your felawe is agon.
NPT 3031 As soone as day he wente out of the toun.’
NPT 3032 “This man gan fallen in suspecioun,
NPT 3033 Remembrynge on his dremes that he mette,
NPT 3034 And forth he gooth — no lenger wolde he lette —
NPT 3035 Unto the west gate of the toun, and fond
NPT 3036 A dong-carte, wente as it were to donge lond,
NPT 3037 That was arrayed in that same wise
NPT 3038 As ye han herd the dede man devyse.
NPT 3039 And with an hardy herte he gan to crye
NPT 3040 Vengeance and justice of this felonye:
NPT 3041 ‘My felawe mordred is this same nyght,
NPT 3042 And in this carte he lith gapyng upright.
NPT 3043 I crye out on the ministres,’ quod he,
NPT 3044 ‘That sholden kepe and reulen this citee.
NPT 3045 Harrow! Allas! Heere lith my felawe slayn!’
NPT 3046 What sholde I moore unto this tale sayn?
NPT 3047 The peple out sterte and caste the cart to grounde,
NPT 3048 And in the myddel of the dong they founde
NPT 3049 The dede man, that mordred was al newe.
NPT 3050 “O blisful God, that art so just and trewe,
NPT 3051 Lo, how that thou biwreyest mordre alway!
NPT 3052 Mordre wol out; that se we day by day.
NPT 3053 Mordre is so wlatsom and abhomynable
NPT 3054 To God, that is so just and resonable,
NPT 3055 That he ne wol nat suffre it heled be,
NPT 3056 Though it abyde a yeer, or two, or thre.
NPT 3057 Mordre wol out, this my conclusioun.
NPT 3058 And right anon, ministres of that toun
NPT 3059 Han hent the carter and so soore hym pyned,
NPT 3060 And eek the hostiler so soore engyned,
NPT 3061 That they biknewe hire wikkednesse anon,
NPT 3062 And were anhanged by the nekke-bon.
NPT 3063 “Heere may men seen that dremes been to drede.
NPT 3064 And certes in the same book I rede,
NPT 3065 Right in the nexte chapitre after this —
NPT 3066 I gabbe nat, so have I joye or blis —
NPT 3067 Two men that wolde han passed over see,
NPT 3068 For certeyn cause, into a fer contree,
NPT 3069 If that the wynd ne hadde been contrarie,
NPT 3070 That made hem in a citee for to tarie
NPT 3071 That stood ful myrie upon an haven-syde;
NPT 3072 But on a day, agayn the even-tyde,
NPT 3073 The wynd gan chaunge, and blew right as hem leste.
NPT 3074 Jolif and glad they wente unto hir reste,
NPT 3075 And casten hem ful erly for to saille.
NPT 3076 But herkneth! To that o man fil a greet mervaille:
NPT 3077 That oon of hem, in slepyng as he lay,
NPT 3078 Hym mette a wonder dreem agayn the day.
NPT 3079 Hym thoughte a man stood by his beddes syde,
NPT 3080 And hym comanded that he sholde abyde,
NPT 3081 And seyde hym thus: ‘If thou tomorwe wende,
NPT 3082 Thow shalt be dreynt; my tale is at an ende.’
NPT 3083 He wook, and tolde his felawe what he mette,
NPT 3084 And preyde hym his viage for to lette;
NPT 3085 As for that day, he preyde hym to byde.
NPT 3086 His felawe, that lay by his beddes syde,
NPT 3087 Gan for to laughe, and scorned him ful faste.
NPT 3088 ‘No dreem,’ quod he, ‘may so myn herte agaste
NPT 3089 That I wol lette for to do my thynges.
NPT 3090 I sette nat a straw by thy dremynges,
NPT 3091 For swevenes been but vanytees and japes.
NPT 3092 Men dreme alday of owles and of apes,
NPT 3093 And of many a maze therwithal;
NPT 3094 Men dreme of thyng that nevere was ne shal.
NPT 3095 But sith I see that thou wolt heere abyde,
NPT 3096 And thus forslewthen wilfully thy tyde,
NPT 3097 God woot, it reweth me; and have good day!’
NPT 3098 And thus he took his leve, and wente his way.
NPT 3099 But er that he hadde half his cours yseyled,
NPT 3100 Noot I nat why, ne what myschaunce it eyled,
NPT 3101 But casuelly the shippes botme rente,
NPT 3102 And ship and man under the water wente
NPT 3103 In sighte of othere shippes it bisyde,
NPT 3104 That with hem seyled at the same tyde.
NPT 3105 And therfore, faire Pertelote so deere,
NPT 3106 By swiche ensamples olde maistow leere
NPT 3107 That no man sholde been to recchelees
NPT 3108 Of dremes; for I seye thee, doutelees,
NPT 3109 That many a dreem ful soore is for to drede.
NPT 3110 “Lo, in the lyf of Seint Kenelm I rede,
NPT 3111 That was Kenulphus sone, the noble kyng
NPT 3112 Of Mercenrike, how Kenelm mette a thyng.
NPT 3113 A lite er he was mordred, on a day,
NPT 3114 His mordre in his avysioun he say.
NPT 3115 His norice hym expowned every deel
NPT 3116 His sweven, and bad hym for to kepe hym weel
NPT 3117 For traisoun; but he nas but seven yeer oold,
NPT 3118 And therfore litel tale hath he toold
NPT 3119 Of any dreem, so hooly was his herte.
NPT 3120 By God! I hadde levere than my sherte
NPT 3121 That ye hadde rad his legende, as have I.
NPT 3122 “Dame Pertelote, I sey yow trewely,
NPT 3123 Macrobeus, that writ the avisioun
NPT 3124 In Affrike of the worthy Cipioun,
NPT 3125 Affermeth dremes, and seith that they been
NPT 3126 Warnynge of thynges that men after seen.
NPT 3127 And forthermoore, I pray yow, looketh wel
NPT 3128 In the olde testament, of Daniel,
NPT 3129 If he heeld dremes any vanitee.
NPT 3130 Reed eek of Joseph, and ther shul ye see
NPT 3131 Wher dremes be somtyme — I sey nat alle —
NPT 3132 Warnynge of thynges that shul after falle.
NPT 3133 Looke of Egipte the kyng, daun Pharao,
NPT 3134 His bakere and his butiller also,
NPT 3135 Wher they ne felte noon effect in dremes.
NPT 3136 Whoso wol seken actes of sondry remes
NPT 3137 May rede of dremes many a wonder thyng.
NPT 3138 Lo Cresus, which that was of Lyde kyng,
NPT 3139 Mette he nat that he sat upon a tree,
NPT 3140 Which signified he sholde anhanged bee?
NPT 3141 Lo heere Andromacha, Ectores wyf,
NPT 3142 That day that Ector sholde lese his lyf,
NPT 3143 She dremed on the same nyght biforn
NPT 3144 How that the lyf of Ector sholde be lorn,
NPT 3145 If thilke day he wente into bataille.
NPT 3146 She warned hym, but it myghte nat availle;
NPT 3147 He wente for to fighte natheles,
NPT 3148 But he was slayn anon of Achilles.
NPT 3149 But thilke tale is al to longe to telle,
NPT 3150 And eek it is ny day; I may nat dwelle.
NPT 3151 Shortly I seye, as for conclusioun,
NPT 3152 That I shal han of this avisioun
NPT 3153 Adversitee; and I seye forthermoor
NPT 3154 That I ne telle of laxatyves no stoor,
NPT 3155 For they been venymes, I woot it weel;
NPT 3156 I hem diffye, I love hem never a deel!
NPT 3157 “Now let us speke of myrthe, and stynte al this.
NPT 3158 Madame Pertelote, so have I blis,
NPT 3159 Of o thyng God hath sent me large grace;
NPT 3160 For whan I se the beautee of youre face,
NPT 3161 Ye been so scarlet reed aboute youre yen,
NPT 3162 It maketh al my drede for to dyen;
NPT 3163 For al so siker as In principio,
NPT 3164 Mulier est hominis confusio —
NPT 3165 Madame, the sentence of this Latyn is,
NPT 3166 ‘Womman is mannes joye and al his blis.’
NPT 3167 For whan I feele a-nyght your softe syde —
NPT 3168 Al be it that I may nat on yow ryde,
NPT 3169 For that oure perche is maad so narwe, allas —
NPT 3170 I am so ful of joye and of solas,
NPT 3171 That I diffye bothe sweven and dreem.”
NPT 3172 And with that word he fley doun fro the beem,
NPT 3173 For it was day, and eke his hennes alle,
NPT 3174 And with a chuk he gan hem for to calle,
NPT 3175 For he hadde founde a corn, lay in the yerd.
NPT 3176 Real he was, he was namoore aferd.
NPT 3177 He fethered Pertelote twenty tyme,
NPT 3178 And trad hire eke as ofte, er it was pryme.
NPT 3179 He looketh as it were a grym leoun,
NPT 3180 And on his toos he rometh up and doun;
NPT 3181 Hym deigned nat to sette his foot to grounde.
NPT 3182 He chukketh whan he hath a corn yfounde,
NPT 3183 And to hym rennen thanne his wyves alle.
NPT 3184 Thus roial, as a prince is in his halle,
NPT 3185 Leve I this Chauntecleer in his pasture,
NPT 3186 And after wol I telle his aventure.
NPT 3187 Whan that the month in which the world bigan,
NPT 3188 That highte March, whan God first maked man,
NPT 3189 Was compleet, and passed were also,
NPT 3190 Syn March [was gon], thritty dayes and two,
NPT 3191 Bifel that Chauntecleer in al his pryde,
NPT 3192 His sevene wyves walkynge by his syde,
NPT 3193 Caste up his eyen to the brighte sonne,
NPT 3194 That in the signe of Taurus hadde yronne
NPT 3195 Twenty degrees and oon, and somwhat moore,
NPT 3196 And knew by kynde, and by noon oother loore,
NPT 3197 That it was pryme, and crew with blisful stevene.
NPT 3198 “The sonne,” he seyde, “is clomben up on hevene
NPT 3199 Fourty degrees and oon, and moore ywis.
NPT 3200 Madame Pertelote, my worldes blis,
NPT 3201 Herkneth thise blisful briddes how they synge,
NPT 3202 And se the fresshe floures how they sprynge;
NPT 3203 Ful is myn herte of revel and solas!”
NPT 3204 But sodeynly hym fil a sorweful cas,
NPT 3205 For evere the latter ende of joye is wo.
NPT 3206 God woot that worldly joye is soone ago;
NPT 3207 And if a rethor koude faire endite,
NPT 3208 He in a cronycle saufly myghte it write
NPT 3209 As for a sovereyn notabilitee.
NPT 3210 Now every wys man, lat him herkne me;
NPT 3211 This storie is also trewe, I undertake,
NPT 3212 As is the book of Launcelot de Lake,
NPT 3213 That wommen holde in ful greet reverence.
NPT 3214 Now wol I torne agayn to my sentence.
NPT 3215 A col-fox, ful of sly iniquitee,
NPT 3216 That in the grove hadde woned yeres three,
NPT 3217 By heigh ymaginacioun forncast,
NPT 3218 The same nyght thurghout the hegges brast
NPT 3219 Into the yerd ther Chauntecleer the faire
NPT 3220 Was wont, and eek his wyves, to repaire;
NPT 3221 And in a bed of wortes stille he lay
NPT 3222 Til it was passed undren of the day,
NPT 3223 Waitynge his tyme on Chauntecleer to falle,
NPT 3224 As gladly doon thise homycides alle
NPT 3225 That in await liggen to mordre men.
NPT 3226 O false mordrour, lurkynge in thy den!
NPT 3227 O newe Scariot, newe Genylon,
NPT 3228 False dissymulour, o Greek Synon,
NPT 3229 That broghtest Troye al outrely to sorwe!
NPT 3230 O Chauntecleer, acursed be that morwe
NPT 3231 That thou into that yerd flaugh fro the bemes!
NPT 3232 Thou were ful wel ywarned by thy dremes
NPT 3233 That thilke day was perilous to thee;
NPT 3234 But what that God forwoot moot nedes bee,
NPT 3235 After the opinioun of certein clerkis.
NPT 3236 Witnesse on hym that any parfit clerk is,
NPT 3237 That in scole is greet altercacioun
NPT 3238 In this mateere, and greet disputisoun,
NPT 3239 And hath been of an hundred thousand men.
NPT 3240 But I ne kan nat bulte it to the bren
NPT 3241 As kan the hooly doctour Augustyn,
NPT 3242 Or Boece, or the Bisshop Bradwardyn,
NPT 3243 Wheither that Goddes worthy forwityng
NPT 3244 Streyneth me nedely for to doon a thyng —
NPT 3245 “Nedely” clepe I symple necessitee —
NPT 3246 Or elles, if free choys be graunted me
NPT 3247 To do that same thyng, or do it noght,
NPT 3248 Though God forwoot it er that I was wroght;
NPT 3249 Or if his wityng streyneth never a deel
NPT 3250 But by necessitee condicioneel.
NPT 3251 I wol nat han to do of swich mateere;
NPT 3252 My tale is of a cok, as ye may heere,
NPT 3253 That tok his conseil of his wyf, with sorwe,
NPT 3254 To walken in the yerd upon that morwe
NPT 3255 That he hadde met that dreem that I yow tolde.
NPT 3256 Wommennes conseils been ful ofte colde;
NPT 3257 Wommannes conseil broghte us first to wo
NPT 3258 And made Adam fro Paradys to go,
NPT 3259 Ther as he was ful myrie and wel at ese.
NPT 3260 But for I noot to whom it myght displese,
NPT 3261 If I conseil of wommen wolde blame,
NPT 3262 Passe over, for I seyde it in my game.
NPT 3263 Rede auctours, where they trete of swich mateere,
NPT 3264 And what they seyn of wommen ye may heere.
NPT 3265 Thise been the cokkes wordes, and nat myne;
NPT 3266 I kan noon harm of no womman divyne.
NPT 3267 Faire in the soond, to bathe hire myrily,
NPT 3268 Lith Pertelote, and alle hire sustres by,
NPT 3269 Agayn the sonne, and Chauntecleer so free
NPT 3270 Soong murier than the mermayde in the see
NPT 3271 (For Phisiologus seith sikerly
NPT 3272 How that they syngen wel and myrily).
NPT 3273 And so bifel that, as he caste his ye
NPT 3274 Among the wortes on a boterflye,
NPT 3275 He was war of this fox, that lay ful lowe.
NPT 3276 Nothyng ne liste hym thanne for to crowe,
NPT 3277 But cride anon, “Cok! cok!” and up he sterte
NPT 3278 As man that was affrayed in his herte.
NPT 3279 For natureelly a beest desireth flee
NPT 3280 Fro his contrarie, if he may it see,
NPT 3281 Though he never erst hadde seyn it with his ye.
NPT 3282 This Chauntecleer, whan he gan hym espye,
NPT 3283 He wolde han fled, but that the fox anon
NPT 3284 Seyde, “Gentil sire, allas, wher wol ye gon?
NPT 3285 Be ye affrayed of me that am youre freend?
NPT 3286 Now, certes, I were worse than a feend,
NPT 3287 If I to yow wolde harm or vileynye!
NPT 3288 I am nat come youre conseil for t’ espye,
NPT 3289 But trewely, the cause of my comynge
NPT 3290 Was oonly for to herkne how that ye synge.
NPT 3291 For trewely, ye have as myrie a stevene
NPT 3292 As any aungel hath that is in hevene.
NPT 3293 Therwith ye han in musyk moore feelynge
NPT 3294 Than hadde Boece, or any that kan synge.
NPT 3295 My lord youre fader — God his soule blesse! —
NPT 3296 And eek youre mooder, of hire gentillesse,
NPT 3297 Han in myn hous ybeen to my greet ese;
NPT 3298 And certes, sire, ful fayn wolde I yow plese.
NPT 3299 But, for men speke of syngyng, I wol seye —
NPT 3300 So moote I brouke wel myne eyen tweye —
NPT 3301 Save yow, I herde nevere man so synge
NPT 3302 As dide youre fader in the morwenynge.
NPT 3303 Certes, it was of herte, al that he song.
NPT 3304 And for to make his voys the moore strong,
NPT 3305 He wolde so peyne hym that with bothe his yen
NPT 3306 He moste wynke, so loude he wolde cryen,
NPT 3307 And stonden on his tiptoon therwithal,
NPT 3308 And strecche forth his nekke long and smal.
NPT 3309 And eek he was of swich discrecioun
NPT 3310 That ther nas no man in no regioun
NPT 3311 That hym in song or wisedom myghte passe.
NPT 3312 I have wel rad in ‘Daun Burnel the Asse,’
NPT 3313 Among his vers, how that ther was a cok,
NPT 3314 For that a preestes sone yaf hym a knok
NPT 3315 Upon his leg whil he was yong and nyce,
NPT 3316 He made hym for to lese his benefice.
NPT 3317 But certeyn, ther nys no comparisoun
NPT 3318 Bitwixe the wisedom and discrecioun
NPT 3319 Of youre fader and of his subtiltee.
NPT 3320 Now syngeth, sire, for seinte charitee;
NPT 3321 Lat se; konne ye youre fader countrefete?”
NPT 3322 This Chauntecleer his wynges gan to bete,
NPT 3323 As man that koude his traysoun nat espie,
NPT 3324 So was he ravysshed with his flaterie.
NPT 3325 Allas, ye lordes, many a fals flatour
NPT 3326 Is in youre courtes, and many a losengeour,
NPT 3327 That plesen yow wel moore, by my feith,
NPT 3328 Than he that soothfastnesse unto yow seith.
NPT 3329 Redeth Ecclesiaste of flaterye;
NPT 3330 Beth war, ye lordes, of hir trecherye.
NPT 3331 This Chauntecleer stood hye upon his toos,
NPT 3332 Strecchynge his nekke, and heeld his eyen cloos,
NPT 3333 And gan to crowe loude for the nones.
NPT 3334 And daun Russell the fox stirte up atones,
NPT 3335 And by the gargat hente Chauntecleer,
NPT 3336 And on his bak toward the wode hym beer,
NPT 3337 For yet ne was ther no man that hym sewed.
NPT 3338 O destinee, that mayst nat been eschewed!
NPT 3339 Allas, that Chauntecleer fleigh fro the bemes!
NPT 3340 Allas, his wyf ne roghte nat of dremes!
NPT 3341 And on a Friday fil al this meschaunce.
NPT 3342 O Venus, that art goddesse of plesaunce,
NPT 3343 Syn that thy servant was this Chauntecleer,
NPT 3344 And in thy servyce dide al his poweer,
NPT 3345 Moore for delit than world to multiplye,
NPT 3346 Why woldestow suffre hym on thy day to dye?
NPT 3347 O Gaufred, deere maister soverayn,
NPT 3348 That whan thy worthy kyng Richard was slayn
NPT 3349 With shot, compleynedest his deeth so soore,
NPT 3350 Why ne hadde I now thy sentence and thy loore,
NPT 3351 The Friday for to chide, as diden ye?
NPT 3352 For on a Friday, soothly, slayn was he.
NPT 3353 Thanne wolde I shewe yow how that I koude pleyne
NPT 3354 For Chauntecleres drede and for his peyne.
NPT 3355 Certes, swich cry ne lamentacion
NPT 3356 Was nevere of ladyes maad whan Ylion
NPT 3357 Was wonne, and Pirrus with his streite swerd,
NPT 3358 Whan he hadde hent kyng Priam by the berd,
NPT 3359 And slayn hym, as seith us Eneydos,
NPT 3360 As maden alle the hennes in the clos,
NPT 3361 Whan they had seyn of Chauntecleer the sighte.
NPT 3362 But sovereynly dame Pertelote shrighte
NPT 3363 Ful louder than dide Hasdrubales wyf,
NPT 3364 Whan that hir housbonde hadde lost his lyf
NPT 3365 And that the Romayns hadde brend Cartage.
NPT 3366 She was so ful of torment and of rage
NPT 3367 That wilfully into the fyr she sterte
NPT 3368 And brende hirselven with a stedefast herte.
NPT 3369 O woful hennes, right so criden ye
NPT 3370 As whan that Nero brende the citee
NPT 3371 Of Rome cryden senatoures wyves
NPT 3372 For that hir husbondes losten alle hir lyves —
NPT 3373 Withouten gilt this Nero hath hem slayn.
NPT 3374 Now wole I turne to my tale agayn.
NPT 3375 This sely wydwe and eek hir doghtres two
NPT 3376 Herden thise hennes crie and maken wo,
NPT 3377 And out at dores stirten they anon,
NPT 3378 And syen the fox toward the grove gon,
NPT 3379 And bar upon his bak the cok away,
NPT 3380 And cryden, “Out! Harrow and weylaway!
NPT 3381 Ha, ha! The fox!” and after hym they ran,
NPT 3382 And eek with staves many another man.
NPT 3383 Ran Colle oure dogge, and Talbot and Gerland,
NPT 3384 And Malkyn, with a dystaf in hir hand;
NPT 3385 Ran cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges,
NPT 3386 So fered for the berkyng of the dogges
NPT 3387 And shoutyng of the men and wommen eeke
NPT 3388 They ronne so hem thoughte hir herte breeke.
NPT 3389 They yolleden as feendes doon in helle;
NPT 3390 The dokes cryden as men wolde hem quelle;
NPT 3391 The gees for feere flowen over the trees;
NPT 3392 Out of the hyve cam the swarm of bees.
NPT 3393 So hydous was the noyse — a, benedicitee! —
NPT 3394 Certes, he Jakke Straw and his meynee
NPT 3395 Ne made nevere shoutes half so shrille
NPT 3396 Whan that they wolden any Flemyng kille,
NPT 3397 As thilke day was maad upon the fox.
NPT 3398 Of bras they broghten bemes, and of box,
NPT 3399 Of horn, of boon, in whiche they blewe and powped,
NPT 3400 And therwithal they skriked and they howped.
NPT 3401 It semed as that hevene sholde falle.
NPT 3402 Now, goode men, I prey yow herkneth alle:
NPT 3403 Lo, how Fortune turneth sodeynly
NPT 3404 The hope and pryde eek of hir enemy!
NPT 3405 This cok, that lay upon the foxes bak,
NPT 3406 In al his drede unto the fox he spak,
NPT 3407 And seyde, “Sire, if that I were as ye,
NPT 3408 Yet sholde I seyn, as wys God helpe me,
NPT 3409 ‘Turneth agayn, ye proude cherles alle!
NPT 3410 A verray pestilence upon yow falle!
NPT 3411 Now I am come unto the wodes syde;
NPT 3412 Maugree youre heed, the cok shal heere abyde.
NPT 3413 I wol hym ete, in feith, and that anon!'”
NPT 3414 The fox answerde, “In feith, it shal be don.”
NPT 3415 And as he spak that word, al sodeynly
NPT 3416 This cok brak from his mouth delyverly,
NPT 3417 And heighe upon a tree he fleigh anon.
NPT 3418 And whan the fox saugh that the cok was gon,
NPT 3419 “Allas!” quod he, “O Chauntecleer, allas!
NPT 3420 I have to yow,” quod he, “ydoon trespas,
NPT 3421 In as muche as I maked yow aferd
NPT 3422 Whan I yow hente and broghte out of the yerd.
NPT 3423 But, sire, I dide it in no wikke entente.
NPT 3424 Com doun, and I shal telle yow what I mente;
NPT 3425 I shal seye sooth to yow, God help me so!”
NPT 3426 “Nay thanne,” quod he, “I shrewe us bothe two.
NPT 3427 And first I shrewe myself, bothe blood and bones,
NPT 3428 If thou bigyle me ofter than ones.
NPT 3429 Thou shalt namoore thurgh thy flaterye
NPT 3430 Do me to synge and wynke with myn ye;
NPT 3431 For he that wynketh, whan he sholde see,
NPT 3432 Al wilfully, God lat him nevere thee!”
NPT 3433 “Nay,” quod the fox, “but God yeve hym meschaunce,
NPT 3434 That is so undiscreet of governaunce
NPT 3435 That jangleth whan he sholde holde his pees.”
NPT 3436 Lo, swich it is for to be recchelees
NPT 3437 And necligent, and truste on flaterye.
NPT 3438 But ye that holden this tale a folye,
NPT 3439 As of a fox, or of a cok and hen,
NPT 3440 Taketh the moralite, goode men.
NPT 3441 For Seint Paul seith that al that writen is,
NPT 3442 To oure doctrine it is ywrite, ywis;
NPT 3443 Taketh the fruyt, and lat the chaf be stille.
NPT 3444 Now, goode God, if that it be thy wille,
NPT 3445 As seith my lord, so make us alle goode men,
NPT 3446 And brynge us to his heighe blisse! Amen.