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PROLOGUE to the CANTERBURY TALES.
Befelle, that, in that seson, on a day,
And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste,
But, natheles, while I have time and space,
A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man;
At Alisandre was he whan it was wonne,
This ilke worthy Knight hadde ben also,
But, for to tellen you of his araie,-
With him, ther was his sone, a yonge Squier,
Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
Curteis he was, lowly, and servisable; And carf before his fader at the table.
A Yeman hadde he; and servantes no mo At that time; for him luste to ride so:
And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene;
A Monk ther was, a fayre for the maistrie, A shefe of peacock arwes bright and kene
An out-rider, that loved venerie; Under his belt he bare ful thriftily;
A manly man, to ben an abbot able. Wel coude he dresse his takel yemanly:
Ful many a deinte hors hadde he in stable; His arwes drouped not with fetheres lowe,
And when he rode, men mighte his bridel here
Gingeling, in a whistling wind, as clere
Ther as this lord was keper of the celle.
The reule of Seint Maure and of Seint Beneit, And by his side, a swerd and a bokeler;
Because that it was olde and somdele streit, And on that other side, a gaie daggere,
This ilke monk lette olde thinges pace Harneised wel, and sharpe as point of spere:
And held after the newe world the trace. A Cristofre on his brest of silver shene.
He yave not of the text a pulled hen, An horne he bare, the baudrik was of grene.
That saith that hunters ben not holy men ; A forster was he, sothely, as I gesse.
Ne that a monk, whan he is rekkeles,
Is like to a fish that is waterles;
This ilke text he held not worth an oistre.
And I say, his opinion was good: Ful wel she sange the service divine,
What! shulde he studie, and make himselven wood,
Upon a book in cloistre alway to pore,
As Austin bit; how shal the world be served ?
Let Austin have his swink to him reserved. At mete was she wel ytaughte withalle;
Therfore he was a prickasoure a right: She lette no morsel from hire lippes falle;
Greihoundes he hadde as swift as foul of flight: Ne wette hire fingres in hire sauce depe.
Of pricking, and of hunting for the hare Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe, Was all his lust; for no cost wolde he spare. That no drope ne fell upon hire brest,
I saw his sleves purfiled at the hond In curtesie was sette, ful moche, hire lest:
With gris, and that the finest of the lond, Hire over lippe wiped she so clene,
And, for to fasten his hood, under his chinne That in hire cuppe was no ferthing sene
He hadde, of gold ywrought, a curious pinne,Of grese,
whan she dranken hadde hire draught. A love-knotte in the greter ende ther was. Full semely after hire mete she raught.
His hed was balled, and shone as any glas, And, sikerly, she was of grete disport,
And eke his face, as it hadde ben anoint. And ful pleasant and amiable of port;
He was a lord ful fat and in good point. And peined hire, to contrefeten chere
His eyen stepe, and rolling in his hed, Of court, and ben estatelich of manere,
That stemed as a furneis of a led; And to ben holden digne of reverence.
His bootes souple, his hors in gret estat; But for to speken of lire conscience,
Now certainly he was a fayre prelat. She was so charitable and so pitous,
He was not pale as a forpined gost. She wolde wepe if that she saw a mous
A fat swan loved he best of
any Caughte in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde. His palfrey was as broune as is a bery. Of sinale houndes hadde she, that she fedde
A Frere there was, a wanton and a mery, With rosted flesh, and milk, and wastel-brede;
A limitour, a ful solempne man, But sore wept she if on of hem were dede,
In all the ordres foure, is non that can Or if men smote it with a yerde smert:
So moche of daliance and fayre langage. And all was conscience and tendre herte.
He hadde ymade ful many a mariage Ful semely hire wimple ypinched was;
Of yonge wimmen, at his owen cost; Hire nose tretis; hire eyen grey as glas;
Until his ordre he was a noble post. Hire mouth ful smale, and therto soft and red; Ful wel beloved, and familier was he But, sikerly, she hadde a faire forehed,
With frankeleins, over all, in his contree; It was almost a spanne brode I trowe;
And, eke, with worthy wimmen of the toun; For hardily she was not undergrowe.
For he had power of confession, Ful fetise was hire cloke, as I was ware.
As saide himselfe, more than a curat, Of smale corall, about hire arm, she bare
For of his ordre he was a licentiat. A pair of bedes gauded all with grene;
Ful swetely herde he confession, And theron heng a broche of gold, ful shene,
And plesant was his absolution. On whiche was first ywritten a crouned A,
He was an esy man to give penance, And after Amor vincit omnia.
Ther as he wiste to han a good pitance; Another Nonne also with hire hadde she
For unto a poure ordre for to give, That was hire chapelleine, and Preestes thre.
Is signe that a man is wel yshrive;
For if he gave,—he dorste make avant,
As lene was his hors as is a rake,
And he was not right fat, I undertake;
But looked holwe, and therto soberly.
For he hadde getcn him yet no benefice,
He was nought worldly to have an office.
For him was lever han, at his beddes hed,
Twenty bokes, clothed in black or red,
Of Aristotle and his philosophie,
Than robes riche; or fidel; or sautrie:
But all be that he was a philosophre,
Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre;
But all that he might of his frendes hente,
On bokes and on lerning he it spente;
And besily gan for the soules praie
Of hem that yave him wherwith to scolaie.
Of studie toke he most cure and hede.
Not a word spake he more than was nede;
And that was said in forme and reverence, It is not honest, it may not avance;
And short and quike, and full of high sentence :
Souning in moral vertue was his speche;
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.
A Sergeant of the Lawe ware and wise,
That often hadde ben at the parvis,
Ther was also; ful riche of excellence.
Discrete he was, and of gret reverence;
He semed swiche; his wordes were so wise:
Justice he was full often in assise,
By patent, and by pleine commissioun;
For his science, and for his high renoun.
Of fees and robes had he many on.
So grete a pourchaser was no wher non:
All was fee simple to him in effect,
His pourchasing might not ben in suspect.
No wher so besy a man as he ther n'as,
And yet he semed besier than he was.
In termes had he cas and domes alle
That fro the time of King Will. weren falle:
Therto, he coude endite and make a thing; Somwhat he lisped for his wantonnesse,
Ther coude no wight pinche at his writing. swete upon his tonge ;
And every statute coude he plaine hy rote.
He rode but homely,-in a medlee cote,
Girt with a seint of silk, with barres smale.
Of his array tell I no lenger tale.
A Frankelein was in this compagnie;
White was his berd as is the dayesie.
Of his complexion he was sanguin.
Wel loved he by the morwe a sop in win.
To liven in delit was ever his wone.
For he was Epicures owen sone,
That beld opinion, that plein delit
Was veraily felicite parfite.
An housholder, and that a grete was he;
Seint Julian he was in his contree.
His brede, his ale, was alway after on ;
A better envyned man was no wher non.
Withouten bake mete never was his hous,
Of fish and Resh, and that so plenteous,
It snewed in his hous of mete and drinke,
Of alle deintees that men coud of thinke.
After the sondry sesons of the yere,
So changed he his mete and his soupere,
To make his English
Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in mewe;
With us ther was a Doctour of Phisike; And many a breme, and many a luce, in stewe. In all this world, ne was ther non him like, Wo was his coke but if his sauce were
To speke of phisike and of surgerie; Poinant and sharpe, and redy all his gere.
For he was grounded in astronomie. His table, dormant in his halle, alway
He kept his patient a ful gret del Stode redy covered alle the longe day.
In houres, by his magike naturel: At sessions ther was he lord and sirc;
Wel coude fortunen the ascendent Ful often time he was knight of the shire.
Of his images, for his patient. An anelace and a gipciere all of silk
He knew the cause of every maladie, Hleng at his girdel, white as morwe milk.
Were it of cold, or hote, or moist, or drie, A shereve hadde he ben and a countour.
And wher engendred, and of what humour: Was no wher swiche a worthy vavasour.
He was a veray parfite practisour. An Haberdasher, and a Carpenter,
The cause yknowe, and of his harm the rote,A Webbe, a Deyer, and a Tapiser,
Anon he gave to the sike man his bote. Were alle yclothed in o livere
Ful redy hadde he his apothecaries, Of a solempne and grete fraternite.
To send him drugges and his lettuaries; Ful freshe and newe hir gere ypiked was.
For eche of hem made other for to winne;
Hir frendship n'as not newe to beginne.
And Dioscorides and eke Rufus,
Old Hippocras, Hali, and Gallien, To sitten in a gild halle, on the deis.
Serapion, Rasis, and Avicen, Everich, for the wisdom that he can,
Averrois, Damascene, and Constantin, Was shapelich for to ben an alderman.
Bernard, and Gatisden, and Gilbertin. For catel hadden they ynough, and rent.
Of his diete mesurable was he, And, eke, hir wives wolde it wel assent,
For it was of no superfluitee, And elles certainly they were to blame,
But of gret nourishing, and digestible. It is full fayre to 'ben ycleped Madame,
His studie was but litel on the Bible. And for to gon to vigiles all before,
In sanguin, and in perse, he clad was alle,
Lined with taffata, and with sendalle.
For gold in phisike is a cordial;
But she was som del defe, and that was scathe. (But gret harm was it, as it thoughte me
Of cloth making she hadde swiche an haunt, That on his shinne a mormal hadde he.)
She passed hem of Ipres, and of Gaunt. For blanc manger-that made he with the best. In all the parish, wif ne was ther non
A Shipman was ther-woned fer by West: That to the offring before hire shulde gon,-For ought I wote, he was of Dertemouth.
And if ther did, certain so wroth was she, He rode upon a rouncie, as he couthe,
That she was out of alle charitee. All in a goun of falding to the knee.
Hire coverchiefs weren ful fine of ground, A dagger hanging by a las hadde hee
(I dorste swere they weyeden a pound,) About his nekke, under his arm, adoun.
That on the Sonday were upon hire hede;
Ful streite yteyed, and shoon ful moist and newe.
Bold was hire face, and fayre and rede of hew.
Housbondes, at the chirche dore, had she had five,
But therof nedeth not to speke as nouthe. But, of his craft,—to reken wel his tides,
And thries hadde she ben at Jerusaleme;
She had passed many a strange streme:
In Galice at Seint James; and at Coloine:
She coude moche of wandring by the way,
Upon an ambler esily she sat,
Ywimpled wel; and on hire hede an hat,
A fore-mantel about hire hippes large;
And than his neighebour, right as himselve.
Ile wolde thresh, and therto dike and delve,
For Cristes sake, for every poure wight,
Withouten hire, if it lay in his might.
His tithes paied he ful fayre and wel
Both of his propre swinke, and his catel.
Ther was also a Reve and a Millere,
A Sompnour, and a Pardoner also,
A Manciple, and myself; ther n'ere no mo.
The Miller was a stout carl for the nones,
Ful bigge he was of braun, and eke of bones;
That proved wel; for over all ther he came,
At wrastling he wold bere away the ram.
He was short shuldered, brode, a thikke gnarre,
Ther n'as no dore, that he näolde heve of barre,
Or breke it at a renning with his hede.
His berd as any sowe or fox was rede,
And therto brode, as though it were a spade:
Upon the cop right of his nose he hade
A wert, and theron stode a tufte of beres,
Rede as the bristles of a sowes eres:
His nose-thirles blacke were and wide.
A swerd and bokeler bare he by his side.
His mouth as wide was as a forneis:
He was a jangler, and a goliardeis,
And that was most of sinne and harlotries.
Wel coude he stelen corne and tollen thries.
And yet he had a thomb of gold parde.
A white cote and a blew hode wered he.
A baggepipe wel coude he blowe and soune,
And therwithall he brought us out of toune. By his clenenesse, how his shepe shulde live.
A gentil Manciple was ther of a temple,He sette not his benefice to hire,
Of which achatours mighten take ensemple
For to ben wise in bying of vitaille.
For whether that he paide, or toke by taille,
Algate he waited so in his achate,
That he was, ay, before, in good estate.
Now is not that of God a ful favre grace,
That swiche a lewed mannes wit shal pace
The wisdom of an hepe of lered men ?
Of maisters had he mo than thries ten,
That were of lawe expert and curious;
Of which ther was a dosein in that hous,
Worthy to ben stewardes of rent and lond
Of any lord that is in Englelond,
To maken him live by his propre good,
In honour detteles, (but if he were wood,)
Or live as scarsly as him list desire,
And able for to helpen all a shire,
In any cas that might fallen or happe;
And yet this Manciple sette hir aller cappe.
The Reve was a slendre colerike man
His berd was shave as neighe as ever he can:
His here was by his eres round yshorne;
His top was docked like a preest beforne:
Ylike a staff, ther was no calf ysene.
Wel coude he kepe a garner and a binne ;
Ther was non auditour coude on him winne. Living in pees and parfite charitee.
Wel wiste he, by the drought and by the rain, God loved he beste with alle his herte
The yelding of his seed and of his grain. At alle times, were it gain or smerte;