The Summoner’s Tale

From The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

SumT 1709 Lordynges, ther is in Yorkshire, as I gesse,
SumT 1710 A mersshy contree called Holdernesse,
SumT 1711 In which ther wente a lymytour aboute
SumT 1712 To preche, and eek to begge, it is no doute.
SumT 1713 And so bifel that on a day this frere
SumT 1714 Hadde preched at a chirche in his manere,
SumT 1715 And specially, aboven every thyng,
SumT 1716 Excited he the peple in his prechyng
SumT 1717 To trentals, and to yeve, for Goddes sake,
SumT 1718 Wherwith men myghte hooly houses make,
SumT 1719 Ther as divine servyce is honoured,
SumT 1720 Nat ther as it is wasted and devoured,
SumT 1721 Ne ther it nedeth nat for to be yive,
SumT 1722 As to possessioners, that mowen lyve,
SumT 1723 Thanked be God, in wele and habundaunce.
SumT 1724 “Trentals,” seyde he, “deliveren fro penaunce
SumT 1725 Hir freendes soules, as wel olde as yonge —
SumT 1726 Ye, whan that they been hastily ysonge,
SumT 1727 Nat for to holde a preest joly and gay —
SumT 1728 He syngeth nat but o masse in a day.
SumT 1729 Delivereth out,” quod he, “anon the soules!
SumT 1730 Ful hard it is with flesshhook or with oules
SumT 1731 To been yclawed, or to brenne or bake.
SumT 1732 Now spede yow hastily, for Cristes sake!”
SumT 1733 And whan this frere had seyd al his entente,
SumT 1734 With qui cum patre forth his wey he wente.
SumT 1735 Whan folk in chirche had yeve him what hem leste,
SumT 1736 He wente his wey; no lenger wolde he reste.
SumT 1737 With scrippe and tipped staf, ytukked hye,
SumT 1738 In every hous he gan to poure and prye,
SumT 1739 And beggeth mele and chese, or elles corn.
SumT 1740 His felawe hadde a staf tipped with horn,
SumT 1741 A peyre of tables al of yvory,
SumT 1742 And a poyntel polysshed fetisly,
SumT 1743 And wroot the names alwey, as he stood,
SumT 1744 Of alle folk that yaf hym any good,
SumT 1745 Ascaunces that he wolde for hem preye.
SumT 1746 “Yif us a busshel whete, malt, or reye,
SumT 1747 A Goddes kechyl, or a trype of chese,
SumT 1748 Or elles what yow lyst, we may nat cheese;
SumT 1749 A Goddes halfpeny, or a masse peny,
SumT 1750 Or yif us of youre brawn, if ye have eny;
SumT 1751 A dagon of youre blanket, leeve dame,
SumT 1752 Oure suster deere — lo! Heere I write youre name —
SumT 1753 Bacon or beef, or swich thyng as ye fynde.”
SumT 1754 A sturdy harlot wente ay hem bihynde,
SumT 1755 That was hir hostes man, and bar a sak,
SumT 1756 And what men yaf hem, leyde it on his bak.
SumT 1757 And whan that he was out at dore, anon
SumT 1758 He planed awey the names everichon
SumT 1759 That he biforn had writen in his tables;
SumT 1760 He served hem with nyfles and with fables.
SumT 1761 “Nay, ther thou lixt, thou Somonour!” quod the Frere.
SumT 1762 “Pees,” quod oure Hoost, “for Cristes mooder deere!
SumT 1763 Tel forth thy tale, and spare it nat at al.”
SumT 1764 “So thryve I,” quod this Somonour, “so I shal!”
SumT 1765 So longe he wente, hous by hous, til he
SumT 1766 Cam til an hous ther he was wont to be
SumT 1767 Refresshed moore than in an hundred placis.
SumT 1768 Syk lay the goode man whos that the place is;
SumT 1769 Bedrede upon a couche lowe he lay.
SumT 1770 “Deus hic!” quod he, “O Thomas, freend, good day!”
SumT 1771 Seyde this frere, curteisly and softe.
SumT 1772 “Thomas,” quod he, “God yelde yow! Ful ofte
SumT 1773 Have I upon this bench faren ful weel;
SumT 1774 Heere have I eten many a myrie meel.”
SumT 1775 And fro the bench he droof awey the cat,
SumT 1776 And leyde adoun his potente and his hat,
SumT 1777 And eek his scrippe, and sette hym softe adoun.
SumT 1778 His felawe was go walked into toun
SumT 1779 Forth with his knave, into that hostelrye
SumT 1780 Where as he shoop hym thilke nyght to lye.
SumT 1781 “O deere maister,” quod this sike man,
SumT 1782 “How han ye fare sith that March bigan?
SumT 1783 I saugh yow noght this fourtenyght or moore.”
SumT 1784 “God woot,” quod he, “laboured I have ful soore,
SumT 1785 And specially for thy savacion
SumT 1786 Have I seyd many a precious orison,
SumT 1787 And for oure othere freendes, God hem blesse!
SumT 1788 I have to day been at youre chirche at messe,
SumT 1789 And seyd a sermon after my symple wit —
SumT 1790 Nat al after the text of hooly writ,
SumT 1791 For it is hard to yow, as I suppose,
SumT 1792 And therfore wol I teche yow al the glose.
SumT 1793 Glosynge is a glorious thyng, certeyn,
SumT 1794 For lettre sleeth, so as we clerkes seyn —
SumT 1795 There have I taught hem to be charitable,
SumT 1796 And spende hir good ther it is resonable;
SumT 1797 And there I saugh oure dame — A! Where is she?”
SumT 1798 “Yond in the yerd I trowe that she be,”
SumT 1799 Seyde this man, “and she wol come anon.”
SumT 1800 “Ey, maister, welcome be ye, by Seint John!”
SumT 1801 Seyde this wyf, “How fare ye, hertely?”
SumT 1802 The frere ariseth up ful curteisly,
SumT 1803 And hire embraceth in his armes narwe,
SumT 1804 And kiste hire sweete, and chirketh as a sparwe
SumT 1805 With his lyppes: “Dame,” quod he, “right weel,
SumT 1806 As he that is youre servant every deel,
SumT 1807 Thanked be God, that yow yaf soule and lyf!
SumT 1808 Yet saugh I nat this day so fair a wyf
SumT 1809 In al the chirche, God so save me!”
SumT 1810 “Ye, God amende defautes, sire,” quod she.
SumT 1811 “Algates, welcome be ye, by my fey!”
SumT 1812 “Graunt mercy, dame, this have I founde alwey.
SumT 1813 But of youre grete goodnesse, by youre leve,
SumT 1814 I wolde prey yow that ye nat yow greve,
SumT 1815 I wole with Thomas speke a litel throwe.
SumT 1816 Thise curatz been ful necligent and slowe
SumT 1817 To grope tendrely a conscience
SumT 1818 In shrift; in prechyng is my diligence,
SumT 1819 And studie in Petres wordes and in Poules.
SumT 1820 I walke and fisshe Cristen mennes soules
SumT 1821 To yelden Jhesu Crist his propre rente;
SumT 1822 To sprede his word is set al myn entente.”
SumT 1823 “Now, by youre leve, o deere sire,” quod she,
SumT 1824 “Chideth him weel, for seinte Trinitee!
SumT 1825 He is as angry as a pissemyre,
SumT 1826 Though that he have al that he kan desire;
SumT 1827 Though I hym wrye a-nyght and make hym warm,
SumT 1828 And over hym leye my leg outher myn arm,
SumT 1829 He groneth lyk oure boor, lith in oure sty.
SumT 1830 Oother desport right noon of hym have I;
SumT 1831 I may nat plese hym in no maner cas.”
SumT 1832 “O Thomas, je vous dy, Thomas! Thomas!
SumT 1833 This maketh the feend; this moste ben amended.
SumT 1834 Ire is a thyng that hye God defended,
SumT 1835 And therof wol I speke a word or two.”
SumT 1836 “Now, maister,” quod the wyf, “er that I go,
SumT 1837 What wol ye dyne? I wol go theraboute.”
SumT 1838 “Now, dame,” quod he, “now je vous dy sanz doute,
SumT 1839 Have I nat of a capon but the lyvere,
SumT 1840 And of youre softe breed nat but a shyvere,
SumT 1841 And after that a rosted pigges heed —
SumT 1842 But that I nolde no beest for me were deed —
SumT 1843 Thanne hadde I with yow hoomly suffisaunce.
SumT 1844 I am a man of litel sustenaunce;
SumT 1845 My spirit hath his fostryng in the Bible.
SumT 1846 The body is ay so redy and penyble
SumT 1847 To wake, that my stomak is destroyed.
SumT 1848 I prey yow, dame, ye be nat anoyed,
SumT 1849 Though I so freendly yow my conseil shewe.
SumT 1850 By God! I wolde nat telle it but a fewe.”
SumT 1851 “Now, sire,” quod she, “but o word er I go.
SumT 1852 My child is deed withinne thise wykes two,
SumT 1853 Soone after that ye wente out of this toun.”
SumT 1854 “His deeth saugh I by revelacioun,”
SumT 1855 Seide this frere, “at hoom in oure dortour.
SumT 1856 I dar wel seyn that, er that half an hour
SumT 1857 After his deeth, I saugh hym born to blisse
SumT 1858 In myn avision, so God me wisse!
SumT 1859 So dide oure sexteyn and oure fermerer,
SumT 1860 That han been trewe freres fifty yeer;
SumT 1861 They may now — God be thanked of his loone! —
SumT 1862 Maken hir jubilee and walke allone.
SumT 1863 And up I roos, and al oure covent eke,
SumT 1864 With many a teere trillyng on my cheke,
SumT 1865 Withouten noyse or claterynge of belles;
SumT 1866 Te Deum was oure song, and nothyng elles,
SumT 1867 Save that to Crist I seyde an orison,
SumT 1868 Thankynge hym of his revelacion.
SumT 1869 For, sire and dame, trusteth me right weel,
SumT 1870 Oure orisons been moore effectueel,
SumT 1871 And moore we seen of Cristes secree thynges,
SumT 1872 Than burel folk, although they weren kynges.
SumT 1873 We lyve in poverte and in abstinence,
SumT 1874 And burell folk in richesse and despence
SumT 1875 Of mete and drynke, and in hir foul delit.
SumT 1876 We han this worldes lust al in despit.
SumT 1877 Lazar and Dives lyveden diversly,
SumT 1878 And divers gerdon hadden they therby.
SumT 1879 Whoso wol preye, he moot faste and be clene,
SumT 1880 And fatte his soule, and make his body lene.
SumT 1881 We fare as seith th’ apostle; clooth and foode
SumT 1882 Suffisen us, though they be nat ful goode.
SumT 1883 The clennesse and the fastynge of us freres
SumT 1884 Maketh that Crist accepteth oure preyeres.
SumT 1885 “Lo, Moyses fourty dayes and fourty nyght
SumT 1886 Fasted, er that the heighe God of myght
SumT 1887 Spak with hym in the mountayne of Synay.
SumT 1888 With empty wombe, fastynge many a day,
SumT 1889 Receyved he the lawe that was writen
SumT 1890 With Goddes fynger; and Elye, wel ye witen,
SumT 1891 In mount Oreb, er he hadde any speche
SumT 1892 With hye God, that is oure lyves leche,
SumT 1893 He fasted longe and was in contemplaunce.
SumT 1894 “Aaron, that hadde the temple in governaunce,
SumT 1895 And eek the othere preestes everichon,
SumT 1896 Into the temple whan they sholde gon
SumT 1897 To preye for the peple and do servyse,
SumT 1898 They nolden drynken in no maner wyse
SumT 1899 No drynke which that myghte hem dronke make,
SumT 1900 But there in abstinence preye and wake,
SumT 1901 Lest that they deyden. Taak heede what I seye!
SumT 1902 But they be sobre that for the peple preye,
SumT 1903 War that — I seye namoore, for it suffiseth.
SumT 1904 “Oure Lord Jhesu, as hooly writ devyseth,
SumT 1905 Yaf us ensample of fastynge and preyeres.
SumT 1906 Therfore we mendynantz, we sely freres,
SumT 1907 Been wedded to poverte and continence,
SumT 1908 To charite, humblesse, and abstinence,
SumT 1909 To persecucioun for rightwisnesse,
SumT 1910 To wepynge, misericorde, and clennesse.
SumT 1911 And therfore may ye se that oure preyeres —
SumT 1912 I speke of us, we mendynantz, we freres —
SumT 1913 Been to the hye God moore acceptable
SumT 1914 Than youres, with youre feestes at the table.
SumT 1915 Fro Paradys first, if I shal nat lye,
SumT 1916 Was man out chaced for his glotonye;
SumT 1917 And chaast was man in Paradys, certeyn.
SumT 1918 “But herkne now, Thomas, what I shal seyn.
SumT 1919 I ne have no text of it, as I suppose,
SumT 1920 But I shal fynde it in a maner glose,
SumT 1921 That specially oure sweete Lord Jhesus
SumT 1922 Spak this by freres, whan he seyde thus:
SumT 1923 ‘Blessed be they that povere in spirit been.’
SumT 1924 And so forth al the gospel may ye seen,
SumT 1925 Wher it be likker oure professioun,
SumT 1926 Or hirs that swymmen in possessioun.
SumT 1927 Fy on hire pompe and on hire glotonye!
SumT 1928 And for hir lewednesse I hem diffye.
SumT 1929 “Me thynketh they been lyk Jovinyan,
SumT 1930 Fat as a whale, and walkynge as a swan,
SumT 1931 Al vinolent as botel in the spence.
SumT 1932 Hir preyere is of ful greet reverence,
SumT 1933 Whan they for soules seye the psalm of Davit:
SumT 1934 Lo, ‘buf!’ they seye, ‘cor meum eructavit!’
SumT 1935 Who folweth Cristes gospel and his foore,
SumT 1936 But we that humble been, and chaast, and poore,
SumT 1937 Werkeris of Goddes word, nat auditours?
SumT 1938 Therfore, right as an hauk up at a sours
SumT 1939 Up springeth into th’ eir, right so prayeres
SumT 1940 Of charitable and chaste bisy freres
SumT 1941 Maken hir sours to Goddes eres two.
SumT 1942 Thomas, Thomas! So moote I ryde or go,
SumT 1943 And by that lord that clepid is Seint Yve,
SumT 1944 Nere thou oure brother, sholdestou nat thryve.
SumT 1945 In our chapitre praye we day and nyght
SumT 1946 To Crist, that he thee sende heele and myght
SumT 1947 Thy body for to weelden hastily.”
SumT 1948 “God woot,” quod he, “no thyng therof feele I!
SumT 1949 As help me Crist, as I in fewe yeres,
SumT 1950 Have spent upon diverse manere freres
SumT 1951 Ful many a pound; yet fare I never the bet.
SumT 1952 Certeyn, my good have I almoost biset.
SumT 1953 Farwel, my gold, for it is al ago!”
SumT 1954 The frere answerde, “O Thomas, dostow so?
SumT 1955 What nedeth yow diverse freres seche?
SumT 1956 What nedeth hym that hath a parfit leche
SumT 1957 To sechen othere leches in the toun?
SumT 1958 Youre inconstance is youre confusioun.
SumT 1959 Holde ye thanne me, or elles oure covent,
SumT 1960 To praye for yow been insufficient?
SumT 1961 Thomas, that jape nys nat worth a myte.
SumT 1962 Youre maladye is for we han to lyte.
SumT 1963 A, yif that covent half a quarter otes!
SumT 1964 A, yif that covent foure and twenty grotes!
SumT 1965 A, yif that frere a peny, and lat hym go!
SumT 1966 Nay, nay, Thomas, it may no thyng be so!
SumT 1967 What is a ferthyng worth parted in twelve?
SumT 1968 Lo, ech thyng that is oned in himselve
SumT 1969 Is moore strong than whan it is toscatered.
SumT 1970 Thomas, of me thou shalt nat been yflatered;
SumT 1971 Thou woldest han oure labour al for noght.
SumT 1972 The hye God, that al this world hath wroght,
SumT 1973 Seith that the werkman worthy is his hyre.
SumT 1974 Thomas, noght of youre tresor I desire
SumT 1975 As for myself, but that al oure covent
SumT 1976 To preye for yow is ay so diligent,
SumT 1977 And for to buylden Cristes owene chirche.
SumT 1978 Thomas, if ye wol lernen for to wirche,
SumT 1979 Of buyldynge up of chirches may ye fynde
SumT 1980 If it be good in Thomas lyf of Inde.
SumT 1981 Ye lye heere ful of anger and of ire,
SumT 1982 With which the devel set youre herte afyre,
SumT 1983 And chiden heere the sely innocent,
SumT 1984 Youre wyf, that is so meke and pacient.
SumT 1985 And therfore, Thomas, trowe me if thee leste,
SumT 1986 Ne stryve nat with thy wyf, as for thy beste;
SumT 1987 And ber this word awey now, by thy feith;
SumT 1988 Touchynge swich thyng, lo, what the wise seith:
SumT 1989 ‘Withinne thyn hous ne be thou no leon;
SumT 1990 To thy subgitz do noon oppression,
SumT 1991 Ne make thyne aqueyntances nat to flee.’
SumT 1992 And, Thomas, yet eft-soones I charge thee,
SumT 1993 Be war from Ire that in thy bosom slepeth;
SumT 1994 War fro the serpent that so slily crepeth
SumT 1995 Under the gras and styngeth subtilly.
SumT 1996 Be war, my sone, and herkne paciently
SumT 1997 That twenty thousand men han lost hir lyves
SumT 1998 For stryvyng with hir lemmans and hir wyves.
SumT 1999 Now sith ye han so hooly meke a wyf,
SumT 2000 What nedeth yow, Thomas, to maken stryf?
SumT 2001 Ther nys, ywys, no serpent so cruel,
SumT 2002 Whan man tret on his tayl, ne half so fel,
SumT 2003 As womman is, whan she hath caught an ire;
SumT 2004 Vengeance is thanne al that they desire.
SumT 2005 Ire is a synne, oon of the grete of sevene,
SumT 2006 Abhomynable unto the God of hevene;
SumT 2007 And to hymself it is destruccion.
SumT 2008 This every lewed viker or person
SumT 2009 Kan seye, how ire engendreth homycide.
SumT 2010 Ire is, in sooth, executour of pryde.
SumT 2011 I koude of ire seye so muche sorwe,
SumT 2012 My tale sholde laste til to-morwe.
SumT 2013 And therfore preye I God bothe day and nyght
SumT 2014 An irous man, God sende hym litel myght!
SumT 2015 It is greet harm and certes greet pitee
SumT 2016 To sette an irous man in heigh degree.
SumT 2017 “Whilom ther was an irous potestat,
SumT 2018 As seith Senek, that, durynge his estaat,
SumT 2019 Upon a day out ryden knyghtes two,
SumT 2020 And as Fortune wolde that it were so,
SumT 2021 That oon of hem cam hoom, that oother noght.
SumT 2022 Anon the knyght bifore the juge is broght,
SumT 2023 That seyde thus, ‘Thou hast thy felawe slayn,
SumT 2024 For which I deme thee to the deeth, certayn.’
SumT 2025 And to another knyght comanded he,
SumT 2026 ‘Go lede hym to the deeth, I charge thee.’
SumT 2027 And happed, as they wente by the weye
SumT 2028 Toward the place ther he sholde deye,
SumT 2029 The knyght cam which men wenden had be deed.
SumT 2030 Thanne thoughte they it were the beste reed
SumT 2031 To lede hem bothe to the juge agayn.
SumT 2032 They seiden, ‘Lord, the knyght ne hath nat slayn
SumT 2033 His felawe; heere he standeth hool alyve.’
SumT 2034 ‘Ye shul be deed,’ quod he, ‘so moot I thryve!
SumT 2035 That is to seyn, bothe oon, and two, and thre!’
SumT 2036 And to the firste knyght right thus spak he,
SumT 2037 ‘I dampned thee; thou most algate be deed.
SumT 2038 And thou also most nedes lese thyn heed,
SumT 2039 For thou art cause why thy felawe deyth.’
SumT 2040 And to the thridde knyght right thus he seith,
SumT 2041 ‘Thou hast nat doon that I comanded thee.’
SumT 2042 And thus he dide doon sleen hem alle thre.
SumT 2043 “Irous Cambises was eek dronkelewe,
SumT 2044 And ay delited hym to been a shrewe.
SumT 2045 And so bifel, a lord of his meynee
SumT 2046 That loved vertuous moralitee
SumT 2047 Seyde on a day bitwix hem two right thus:
SumT 2048 “‘A lord is lost, if he be vicius;
SumT 2049 And dronkenesse is eek a foul record
SumT 2050 Of any man, and namely in a lord.
SumT 2051 Ther is ful many an eye and many an ere
SumT 2052 Awaityng on a lord, and he noot where.
SumT 2053 For Goddes love, drynk moore attemprely!
SumT 2054 Wyn maketh man to lesen wrecchedly
SumT 2055 His mynde and eek his lymes everichon.’
SumT 2056 “‘The revers shaltou se,’ quod he, ‘anon,
SumT 2057 And preve it by thyn owene experience,
SumT 2058 That wyn ne dooth to folk no swich offence.
SumT 2059 Ther is no wyn bireveth me my myght
SumT 2060 Of hand ne foot, ne of myne eyen sight.’
SumT 2061 And for despit he drank ful muchel moore,
SumT 2062 An hondred part, than he hadde don bifoore;
SumT 2063 And right anon this irous, cursed wrecche
SumT 2064 Leet this knyghtes sone bifore hym fecche,
SumT 2065 Comandynge hym he sholde bifore hym stonde.
SumT 2066 And sodeynly he took his bowe in honde,
SumT 2067 And up the streng he pulled to his ere,
SumT 2068 And with an arwe he slow the child right there.
SumT 2069 ‘Now wheither have I a siker hand or noon?’
SumT 2070 Quod he; ‘Is al my myght and mynde agon?
SumT 2071 Hath wyn bireved me myn eyen sight?’
SumT 2072 What sholde I telle th’ answere of the knyght?
SumT 2073 His sone was slayn; ther is namoore to seye.
SumT 2074 Beth war, therfore, with lordes how ye pleye.
SumT 2075 Syngeth Placebo and ‘I shal, if I kan,’
SumT 2076 But if it be unto a povre man.
SumT 2077 To a povre man men sholde his vices telle,
SumT 2078 But nat to a lord, thogh he sholde go to helle.
SumT 2079 “Lo irous Cirus, thilke Percien,
SumT 2080 How he destroyed the ryver of Gysen,
SumT 2081 For that an hors of his was dreynt therinne,
SumT 2082 Whan that he wente Babiloigne to wynne.
SumT 2083 He made that the ryver was so smal
SumT 2084 That wommen myghte wade it over al.
SumT 2085 Lo, what seyde he that so wel teche kan?
SumT 2086 ‘Ne be no felawe to an irous man,
SumT 2087 Ne with no wood man walke by the weye,
SumT 2088 Lest thee repente;’ I wol no ferther seye.
SumT 2089 “Now, Thomas, leeve brother, lef thyn ire;
SumT 2090 Thou shalt me fynde as just as is a squyre.
SumT 2091 Hoold nat the develes knyf ay at thyn herte —
SumT 2092 Thyn angre dooth thee al to soore smerte —
SumT 2093 But shewe to me al thy confessioun.”
SumT 2094 “Nay,” quod the sike man, “by Seint Symoun!
SumT 2095 I have be shryven this day at my curat.
SumT 2096 I have hym toold hoolly al myn estat;
SumT 2097 Nedeth namoore to speken of it,” seith he,
SumT 2098 “But if me list, of myn humylitee.”
SumT 2099 “Yif me thanne of thy gold, to make oure cloystre,”
SumT 2100 Quod he, “for many a muscle and many an oystre,
SumT 2101 Whan othere men han ben ful wel at eyse,
SumT 2102 Hath been oure foode, our cloystre for to reyse.
SumT 2103 And yet, God woot, unnethe the fundement
SumT 2104 Parfourned is, ne of our pavement
SumT 2105 Nys nat a tyle yet withinne oure wones.
SumT 2106 By God, we owen fourty pound for stones.
SumT 2107 “Now help, Thomas, for hym that harwed helle!
SumT 2108 For elles moste we oure bookes selle.
SumT 2109 And if yow lakke oure predicacioun,
SumT 2110 Thanne goth the world al to destruccioun.
SumT 2111 For whoso wolde us fro this world bireve,
SumT 2112 So God me save, Thomas, by youre leve,
SumT 2113 He wolde bireve out of this world the sonne.
SumT 2114 For who kan teche and werchen as we konne?
SumT 2115 And that is nat of litel tyme,” quod he,
SumT 2116 “But syn Elye was, or Elise,
SumT 2117 Han freres been — that fynde I of record —
SumT 2118 In charitee, ythanked be oure Lord!
SumT 2119 Now Thomas, help, for seinte charitee!”
SumT 2120 And doun anon he sette hym on his knee.
SumT 2121 This sike man wax wel ny wood for ire;
SumT 2122 He wolde that the frere had been on-fire
SumT 2123 With his false dissymulacioun.
SumT 2124 “Swich thyng as is in my possessioun,”
SumT 2125 Quod he, “that may I yeve, and noon oother.
SumT 2126 Ye sey me thus, how that I am youre brother?”
SumT 2127 “Ye, certes,” quod the frere, “trusteth weel.
SumT 2128 I took oure dame oure lettre with oure seel.”
SumT 2129 “Now wel,” quod he, “and somwhat shal I yive
SumT 2130 Unto youre hooly covent whil I lyve;
SumT 2131 And in thyn hand thou shalt it have anon,
SumT 2132 On this condicion, and oother noon,
SumT 2133 That thou departe it so, my deere brother,
SumT 2134 That every frere have also muche as oother.
SumT 2135 This shaltou swere on thy professioun,
SumT 2136 Withouten fraude or cavillacioun.”
SumT 2137 “I swere it,” quod this frere, “by my feith!”
SumT 2138 And therwithal his hand in his he leith,
SumT 2139 “Lo, heer my feith; in me shal be no lak.”
SumT 2140 “Now thanne, put in thyn hand doun by my bak,”
SumT 2141 Seyde this man, “and grope wel bihynde.
SumT 2142 Bynethe my buttok there shaltow fynde
SumT 2143 A thyng that I have hyd in pryvetee.”
SumT 2144 “A!” thoghte this frere, “That shal go with me!”
SumT 2145 And doun his hand he launcheth to the clifte
SumT 2146 In hope for to fynde there a yifte.
SumT 2147 And whan this sike man felte this frere
SumT 2148 Aboute his tuwel grope there and heere,
SumT 2149 Amydde his hand he leet the frere a fart;
SumT 2150 Ther nys no capul, drawynge in a cart,
SumT 2151 That myghte have lete a fart of swich a soun.
SumT 2152 The frere up stirte as dooth a wood leoun —
SumT 2153 “A, false cherl,” quod he, “for Goddes bones!
SumT 2154 This hastow for despit doon for the nones.
SumT 2155 Thou shalt abye this fart, if that I may!”
SumT 2156 His meynee, whiche that herden this affray,
SumT 2157 Cam lepynge in and chaced out the frere;
SumT 2158 And forth he gooth, with a ful angry cheere,
SumT 2159 And fette his felawe, ther as lay his stoor.
SumT 2160 He looked as it were a wilde boor;
SumT 2161 He grynte with his teeth, so was he wrooth.
SumT 2162 A sturdy paas doun to the court he gooth,
SumT 2163 Wher as ther woned a man of greet honour,
SumT 2164 To whom that he was alwey confessour.
SumT 2165 This worthy man was lord of that village.
SumT 2166 This frere cam as he were in a rage,
SumT 2167 Where as this lord sat etyng at his bord;
SumT 2168 Unnethes myghte the frere speke a word,
SumT 2169 Til atte laste he seyde, “God yow see!”
SumT 2170 This lord gan looke, and seide, “Benedicitee!
SumT 2171 What, frere John, what maner world is this?
SumT 2172 I se wel that som thyng ther is amys;
SumT 2173 Ye looken as the wode were ful of thevys.
SumT 2174 Sit doun anon, and tel me what youre grief is,
SumT 2175 And it shal been amended, if I may.”
SumT 2176 “I have,” quod he, “had a despit this day,
SumT 2177 God yelde yow, adoun in youre village,
SumT 2178 That in this world is noon so povre a page
SumT 2179 That he nolde have abhomynacioun
SumT 2180 Of that I have receyved in youre toun.
SumT 2181 And yet ne greveth me nothyng so soore,
SumT 2182 As that this olde cherl with lokkes hoore
SumT 2183 Blasphemed hath oure hooly covent eke.”
SumT 2184 “Now, maister,” quod this lord, “I yow biseke –“
SumT 2185 “No maister, sire,” quod he, “but servitour,
SumT 2186 Thogh I have had in scole that honour.
SumT 2187 God liketh nat that ‘Raby’ men us calle,
SumT 2188 Neither in market ne in youre large halle.”
SumT 2189 “No fors,” quod he, “but tel me al youre grief.”
SumT 2190 “Sire,” quod this frere, “an odious meschief
SumT 2191 This day bityd is to myn ordre and me,
SumT 2192 And so, per consequens, to ech degree
SumT 2193 Of hooly chirche — God amende it soone!”
SumT 2194 “Sire,” quod the lord, “ye woot what is to doone.
SumT 2195 Distempre yow noght; ye be my confessour;
SumT 2196 Ye been the salt of the erthe and the savour.
SumT 2197 For Goddes love, youre pacience ye holde!
SumT 2198 Tel me youre grief.” And he anon hym tolde,
SumT 2199 As ye han herd biforn — ye woot wel what.
SumT 2200 The lady of the hous ay stille sat
SumT 2201 Til she had herd what the frere sayde.
SumT 2202 “Ey, Goddes mooder,” quod she, “Blisful mayde!
SumT 2203 Is ther oght elles? Telle me feithfully.”
SumT 2204 “Madame,” quod he, “how thynke ye herby?”
SumT 2205 “How that me thynketh?” quod she. “So God me speede,
SumT 2206 I seye a cherl hath doon a cherles dede.
SumT 2207 What shold I seye? God lat hym nevere thee!
SumT 2208 His sike heed is ful of vanytee;
SumT 2209 I holde hym in a manere frenesye.”
SumT 2210 “Madame,” quod he, “by God, I shal nat lye,
SumT 2211 But I on oother wyse may be wreke,
SumT 2212 I shal disclaundre hym over al ther I speke,
SumT 2213 This false blasphemour that charged me
SumT 2214 To parte that wol nat departed be
SumT 2215 To every man yliche, with meschaunce!”
SumT 2216 The lord sat stille as he were in a traunce,
SumT 2217 And in his herte he rolled up and doun,
SumT 2218 “How hadde this cherl ymaginacioun
SumT 2219 To shewe swich a probleme to the frere?
SumT 2220 Nevere erst er now herde I of swich mateere.
SumT 2221 I trowe the devel putte it in his mynde.
SumT 2222 In ars-metrike shal ther no man fynde,
SumT 2223 Biforn this day, of swich a question.
SumT 2224 Who sholde make a demonstracion
SumT 2225 That every man sholde have yliche his part
SumT 2226 As of the soun or savour of a fart?
SumT 2227 O nyce, proude cherl, I shrewe his face!
SumT 2228 Lo, sires,” quod the lord, “with harde grace!
SumT 2229 Who evere herde of swich a thyng er now?
SumT 2230 To every man ylike? Tel me how.
SumT 2231 It is an inpossible; it may nat be.
SumT 2232 Ey, nyce cherl, God lete him nevere thee!
SumT 2233 The rumblynge of a fart, and every soun,
SumT 2234 Nis but of eir reverberacioun,
SumT 2235 And evere it wasteth litel and litel awey.
SumT 2236 Ther is no man kan deemen, by my fey,
SumT 2237 If that it were departed equally.
SumT 2238 What, lo, my cherl, lo, yet how shrewedly
SumT 2239 Unto my confessour to-day he spak!
SumT 2240 I holde hym certeyn a demonyak!
SumT 2241 Now ete youre mete, and lat the cherl go pleye;
SumT 2242 Lat hym go honge hymself a devel weye!”
SumT 2243 Now stood the lordes squier at the bord,
SumT 2244 That karf his mete, and herde word by word
SumT 2245 Of alle thynges whiche I have yow sayd.
SumT 2246 “My lord,” quod he, “be ye nat yvele apayd,
SumT 2247 I koude telle, for a gowne-clooth,
SumT 2248 To yow, sire frere, so ye be nat wrooth,
SumT 2249 How that this fart sholde evene deled be
SumT 2250 Among youre covent, if it lyked me.”
SumT 2251 “Tel,” quod the lord, “and thou shalt have anon
SumT 2252 A gowne-clooth, by God and by Seint John!”
SumT 2253 “My lord,” quod he, “whan that the weder is fair,
SumT 2254 Withouten wynd or perturbynge of air,
SumT 2255 Lat brynge a cartwheel heere into this halle;
SumT 2256 But looke that it have his spokes alle —
SumT 2257 Twelve spokes hath a cartwheel comunly.
SumT 2258 And bryng me thanne twelve freres. Woot ye why?
SumT 2259 For thrittene is a covent, as I gesse.
SumT 2260 Youre confessour heere, for his worthynesse,
SumT 2261 Shal parfourne up the nombre of his covent.
SumT 2262 Thanne shal they knele doun, by oon assent,
SumT 2263 And to every spokes ende, in this manere,
SumT 2264 Ful sadly leye his nose shal a frere.
SumT 2265 Youre noble confessour — there God hym save! —
SumT 2266 Shal holde his nose upright under the nave.
SumT 2267 Thanne shal this cherl, with bely stif and toght
SumT 2268 As any tabour, hyder been ybroght;
SumT 2269 And sette hym on the wheel right of this cart,
SumT 2270 Upon the nave, and make hym lete a fart.
SumT 2271 And ye shul seen, up peril of my lyf,
SumT 2272 By preeve which that is demonstratif,
SumT 2273 That equally the soun of it wol wende,
SumT 2274 And eke the stynk, unto the spokes ende,
SumT 2275 Save that this worthy man, youre confessour,
SumT 2276 By cause he is a man of greet honour,
SumT 2277 Shal have the firste fruyt, as resoun is.
SumT 2278 The noble usage of freres yet is this,
SumT 2279 The worthy men of hem shul first be served;
SumT 2280 And certeinly he hath it weel disserved.
SumT 2281 He hath to-day taught us so muche good
SumT 2282 With prechyng in the pulpit ther he stood,
SumT 2283 That I may vouche sauf, I sey for me,
SumT 2284 He hadde the firste smel of fartes thre;
SumT 2285 And so wolde al his covent hardily,
SumT 2286 He bereth hym so faire and hoolily.”
SumT 2287 The lord, the lady, and ech man, save the frere,
SumT 2288 Seyde that Jankyn spak, in this matere,
SumT 2289 As wel as Euclide [dide] or Ptholomee.
SumT 2290 Touchynge the cherl, they seyde, subtiltee
SumT 2291 And heigh wit made hym speken as he spak;
SumT 2292 He nys no fool, ne no demonyak.
SumT 2293 And Jankyn hath ywonne a newe gowne —
SumT 2294 My tale is doon; we been almoost at towne.