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At Rome she hadde been, and at Boloigne1,
In Galice at seint lame2, and at Coloigne3.
She coude moche of wandring by the weye.
Gat-tothed* was she, soothly for to seye.
Up on an amblere5 esily she sat,
Y-wimpled wel, and on hir heed an hat 470
As brood as is a bokeler* or a targe;
A foot-mantel7 aboute hir hipes large,
And on hir feet a paire of spores sharps.
In felaweschip wel coude she laughe and carpe8.
Of remedies of love* she knew per-chaunce,
For she coude of that art the olde daunce.
A good man was ther of religioun,
And was a povre Pereounio of a toun;
But riche he was of holy thoght and werk.
He was also a lerned man, a clerk, 480
That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
His parisshens devoutly wolde he teche.
Benigne he was, and wonder diligent,
And in adversitee ful pacient;
And swich he was y-prevedn ofte sythesi2.
Ful looth were him to cursen for his tythesis,
But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute,
Un-to his povre parisshens aboute
Of his offring'*, and eek of his substaunce15.
He coude in litel thing han suffisaunce. 490
Wyd was his parisshe, and houses fer a-sonder,
But he ne lafte nat'8, for reyn ne thonder,
In siknes nor in meschief" to visyte
The ferresteis in his parisshe, moche and lyte18,
Up-on his feet, and in his hand a staf.
This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf,
That first he wroghte, and afterward he
Out of the gospel he tho20 wordes caughte;
And this figure he added eek ther-to,
That if gold ruste, what shal yren^i do? BOO
For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
No wonder is a lewed22 man to ruste;
And shame it *s, if a preest take keep28,
A [spotted] shepherde and a clene sheep.
Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive,
By his clennesse, how that his sheep shold live.
He sette nat his benefice to hyre2*,
And leet his sheep encombred in the myre,
13 be was loath to ex-
who would not pay
li gifts made to him
ie ceased not
1 Where there was an
Image of the Virgin.
2 to the shrine of St.
James in Gallcla
3 Where according to
legend the bones of the Three Wise Men of the East were kept.
4 gap-toothed : 1. e., with
teeth wide apart s nag « shield
7 riding skirt
»love-charms 10 parson
i» rich and poor
22 Ignorant 28 notice
24 he did not sub-let his parish
And ran to London, un to seynt Poules,
To seken him a chaunterie25 for soules,
Or with a bretherhed to been withholde28, 610
But dwelte at hoom, and kepte wel his folde,
So that the wolf ne made it nat miscarie;
He was a shepherde and no mercenarie27.
And though he holy were, and vertuous,
He was to sinful man nat despitous=s,
Ne of his speche daungerous2" ne digne3°,
But in his teching discreet and benigne.
To drawen folk to heven by fairnesse
By good ensample, this was his bisynesse: 620
But it were any persone obstinat,
What so he were, of heigh or lowe estat,
Him wolde he snibbensi sharply for the nones82.
A bettre preest, I trowe that nowher non is.
He wayted after no pompe and reverence,
Ne makcd him a spyced83 conscience,
But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve,
He taughte, but first he folwed it him-selve.
With him ther was a Plowman, was his
That hadde y-lad8* of dong ful many a fother88,
A trewe swinkere88 and a good was he,
Livinge in pees and parfit charitee.
God loved he best with al his hole herto
At alle tymes, thogh him gamed or smerte87,
And thanne his neighebour right as him-selve.
He wolde thresshe, and ther-to dyke88 and
For Cristes sake, for every povre wight,
Withouten hyre3», if it lay in his might.
His tythes payed he ful faire and wel,
Bothe of his propre«o swink and his catel". 640
In a tabard he rood upon a mere42.
Ther was also a Reve*8 and a Millere,
A Somnour« and a Pardoner" also,
A Maunciple*8, and my-self; there were namn".
The Miller was a stout carl<8, for the
Ful big he was of braun, and eek of bones;
That proved wel, for over-al therso he cam,
At wrastling he wolde have alwey the ram".
He was short-sholdred, brood, a thikke knarre",
Ther nas no dore that he nolde heve of harre4,
Or breke it, at a renning, with his heed. 651
His berd as any sowe or fox was reed,
And ther-to brood, as though it were a spade.
Up on the cop2 right of his nose he hade
A werte3, and ther-on stood a tuft of heres,
Reed as the bristles of a sowes eres4;
His nose-thirles3 Make were and wyde.
A swerd and bokeler bar he by his syde;
His mouth as greet was as a greet forneys.
He was a Ianglere* and a goliardeys7, 660
And that was most of sinne and harlotryes'.
Wei coude he stelen corn, and tollen thryes";
And yet he haddc a thombe of goldio, pardee.
A whyt cote and a blew hood wered he.
A baggepype wel coude he bio we and sowne11,
And therwithal he broghte us out of towne.
A gentil Maunciple was ther of a templei2,
Of which achatours13 mighte take exemple
For to be wyse in bying of vitaille. 669
For whether that he payde, or took by taille14,
Algate he wayted15 so in his achat18,
That he was ay biforn and in good stat.
Now is nat that of God a ful fair grace,
That swich a lewed17 mannes wit shal pace13
The wisdom of an heep of lerned men!
Of maistres hadde he moio than thryes ten,
That were of lawe expert and curious;
Of which ther were a doseyn in that hous,
Worthy to been stiwardes of rente and lond
Of any lord that is in Engelond, 680
To make him live by his propre good,
In honour dettelees, but he were wood20,
Or live as scarsly24 as him list desire;
And able for to helpen al a shire
In any cas that mighte falle or happe;
And yit this maunciple sette hir alter cappc22.
The Reve was a sclendre coterik23 man,
His berd was shave as ny as ever he can.
His heer was by his eres round y-shorn.
His top was dokked24 lyk a preest biforn. 690
Ful longe were his legges, and ful lene,
Y-lyk a staf, ther was no calf y-sene.
Wel coude he kepe a gerner25 and a binne;
Ther was noon auditour coude on him winne.
Wel wiste he, by the droghte, and by the reyn,
The yeldyng of his seed, and of his greyn.
12 lawyers' quarters
14 tally, 1. e., Od credit
is always he was so
22 cheated them all
24 cut short
1 could not heave off Its
e bold talker
»take toll three times (Instead of once)
to worth gold (because with it he tested his flour)
li play upon
His lordes sheep, his nect2B, his dayerye,
His swyn, his hors, his stoor27, and his pultrye,
Was hoolly in this reves governing,
And by his covenaunt yaf the rekening23 600
Sin2* that his lord was twenty yeer of age;
Ther coude no man bringe him in arrerage3".
Ther nas baillif, ne herde", ne other hyne32,
That he ne knew his sleighte and his covyne33;
They were adrad of him, as of the deeth.
His woning34 was ful fair up-on an heeth,
With grene trees shadwed was his place.
He coude bettre than his lord purchace.
Ful riche he was astored prively,
His lord wel coude he plesen subtilly, 610
To yeve and lene him of his owne good,
And have a thank, and yet a cote, and hood35.
In youthe he lerned hadde a good mister3';
He was a wel good wrighte, a carpenter.
This reve sat up-on a ful good stot37,
That was al pomely38 grey, and highte Scot.
A long surcote of pers33 up-on he hade,
And by his syde he bar a rusty blade.
Of Northfolk was this reve, of which I telle,
Bisyde a toun men clepen Baldeswelle. 620
Tukked10 he was, as is a frere, aboute,
And cvere he rood the hindreste of our route.
A Somnour was ther with us in that place,
That hadde a fyr-reed cherubinnes face,
For sawceflem44 he was, with eyen narwe.
With stalled42 browes blakc, and piled43 berd;
Of his visage children were aferd.
Ther nas quik-silver, litargc44, ne brimstoon,
Boras4", ceruee44, nc oille of tartre noon, 630
Ne oynement that wolde dense and byte,
That him mighte helpen of his whelkes49 whyte,
Ne of the knobbes sittinge on his chekes.
Wel loved he garleek, oynons, and eek lekes,
And for to drinken strong wyn, reed as blood.
Thanne wolde he speke, and crye as he were
And whan that he wel dronken hadde the wyn,
Than wolde he speke no word but Latyn.
A fewe termes hadde he, two or thre,
That he had lerned out of som decree; 6*0
No wonder is, he herde it al the day;
And eek ye knowen wel, how that a lay
Can clepen 'Watte,'i as well as can the pope.
But who so coude in other thing him grope2,
Thanne hadde he spent al his philosophye;
Ay 'Questio quid turn'* wolde he crye.
He was a gen til harlot4 and a kynde;
A bettre felawe sholde men noght fynde.
He wolde suffre for* a quart of wyn
A good felawe to have his [wikked Bin] 660
A twelf-month, and excuse him atte fulle:
And prively a finch eek coude he pulle6.
And if he fond owner7 a good felawe,
He wolde techen him to have non awe,
In swich cas, of the erchedeknes curs8,
But-if» a mannes soule were in his pursio;
For in his purs he sholde y-punisshed be.
'Purs is the erchedeknes helle,' seyde he.
But wel I woot he lyed right in dede; 659
Of cursing oghte ech gulty man him drede11—
For curs wol slee right as assoilling12 saveth—
And also war him of a significavit13.
In daungern hadde he at his owne gyse15
The yonge girlcs'« of the diocyse,
And knew hir counseil, and was al hir reed17.
A gerland hadde he set up-on his heed,
As greet as it were for an ale-stake18;
A bokeler hadde he maad him of a cake.
With him ther rood a gentil Pardoner Of Rouncivalc10, his frend and his compeer, 670 That streight was comen fro the court of Kome. Ful loude he song, 1 Com hider, love, to me.' This somnour bar to him a stif burdoun-o, Was nevere trompcsi of half so greet a soun. This pardoner hadde heer as yelow as wex, But smothe it heng, as doth a strike of flex--; By ounces2* henge his lokkes that he hadde24, And ther-with he his shuldres overspraddc; But thinne it lay, by colpons25 oon and oon; But hood, for Iolitee, ne wered he noon, 680 For it was trussed up in his walet. Him thoughte28, he rood al of the newe let27; Dischevele, save his cappe, he rood al bare. Swiche glaringe eyen hadde he as an hare.
A vernicle28 hadde he sowed on his cappe.
His walet lay biforn him in his lappe,
Bret-ful29 of pardoun come from Borne al hoot.
A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot.
No berd hadde he, ne nevere sholde have,
As smothe it was as it were late y-shave; 690
But of his craft, fro Berwik unto Wares0,
Ne was ther swich another pardoner.
For in his males1 he hadde a pilwe-beer32,
Which that, he seyde, was our lady veyl33:
He seyde, he hadde a gobet3* of the seyl35
That seynt Peter hadde, whan that he wente
Up on the see, til Iesu Crist him hente38.
He hadde a croys37 of latoun38, ful of stones,
And in a glas he hadde pigges bones. 700
But with thise relikes, whan that he fond
A povre person dwelling up on lond30,
Up-on a day he gat him more moneye
Than that the person gat in monthes tweye.
And thus with feyned flaterye and Iapes40,
He made the person and the peple his apes.
But trewely to tellen, atte laste,
He was in chirche a noble ecclesiaste.
Wel coude he rede a lessoun or a stone,
But alderbest41 he song an offertorie; 710
For wel he wiste, whan that song was songe,
He moste preche, and wel affyle*2 his tonge,
To winne silver, as he ful wel coude;
Therefore he song so meriely and loude.
Now have I told you shortly, in a clause,
Thestat, tharray, the nombre, and eek the cause
Why that assembled was this compaignye
In Southwerk, at this gentil hostelrye,
That highte the Tabard, faste by the Belle.
But now is tyme to yow for to telle 720
How that we baren us that ilke night,
Whan we were in that hostelrye alight.
And after wol I telle of our viage,
And al the reir.enaunt of our pilgrimage.
But first I pray yow of your curteisye,
That ye narette it nat my vileinye",
Thogh that I pleynly speke in this matere,
To telle yow hir wordes and hir ehere";
Xe thogh I speke hir wordes proprely**.
For this ye knowen al so wel as I, 730
Who-so shal telle a tale after a man,
He moot reherce, as ny1 as evere he can,
Everich a2 word, if it be in his charge3,
AH spekc he never so rudeliche and large8;
Or elles he moot telle his tale untrewe,
Or feyne thing, or fynde wordes newe.
He may nat spare, al-thogh he were his brother;
He moot as wel seye o word as another.
Crist spak him-self ful brode in holy writ,
And wel ye woot, no vileinye is it. 740
Eek Plato seith, who so that can him rede6,
The wordes mote7 be cosin to the dede.
Also I prey yow to foryeve it me,
Al» have I nat set folk in Mr degree
Here in this tale, as that they sholde stonde;
My wit is short, ye may wel understonde.
Greet eherc8 made our hoste us everichonio, And to the soper sette he us anon; And served us with vitaille at the beste. Strong was the wyn, and wel to drinke us lesteii.
A semely man our hoste was with-alle 751
For to ban been a marshal in an halle;
A large man he was with cyen stepe12,
A fairer burgeysis was ther noon in Chepc11:
Bold of his speche, and wys, and wel y-taught,
And of manhod him lakkedc right naught.
Eek thcrto he was right a mery man,
And after soper pleyen"> he bigan,
And spak of mirthe amonges othere thinges,
Whan that we hadde maad our rekeningesi«; 760
And seyde thus: 'Now, lordinges, trewely
Ye ben to me Tight welcome hertely:
For by my trouthe, if that I shal nat lye,
I ne saugh'7 this veer so mery a compaiguye
At ones in this herberwei" as is now.
Fayn wolde I doon yow mirthe, wiste I howi».
And of a mirthe I am right now bithoght,
To doon yow ese20, and it shal coste noght.
Ye goon to Caunterbury; God yow spede, 769 The blisful martini quyte22 yow your mede28. And wel I woot, as ye goon by the weye, Ye shapen2* yow to talen28 and to pleye; For trewely, confort ne mirthe is noon To ryde by the weye doumb as a stoon; And therefor wol 1 maken yow disport,
As I seyde erst, and doon yow som confort.
And if yow lyketh alle, by oon assent,
Now for to stonden at28 my lugement,
And for to werken as I shal yow seye,
To-morwe, whan ye ryden by the weye, 7S0
Now, by my fader soule, that is deed,
But27 ye be merye, I wol yeve yow myn heed.
Hold up your hond, withoute more speche.'
Our counseil was nat longe for to seche28;
Us thoughte it was noght worth to make it
And graunted him with-outen more avys'o,
And bad him seye his verdit, as him leste.
'Lordinges,' quod he, 'now herkneth for the
But tak it not, I prey yow, in desdeyn;
This is the poynt, to speken short and pleyn,
That ech of yow, to short e with our weye3',
In this viage, shal telle tales tweye, 792
To Caunterbury-ward, I mene it so,
And hom-ward he shal tellen othere two,
Of aventures that whylom han bifalle.
And which of yow that bereth him best of alle,
That is to seyn, that telleth in this cas
Tales of best sentence and most solas32,
Shal han a soper at our aller cost
Here in this place, sitting by this post, 800
Whan that we come agayn fro Caunterbury.
And for to make yow the more mery,
I wol my-selven gladly with yow ryde,
Right at myn owne cost, and be your gyde.
And who-so wol my lugement withseye33
Shal paye al that we spenden by the weye.
And if ye vouche-sauf that it be so,
Tel me anon, with-outen wordes mo,
And I wol erly shape84 me therfore.'
This thing was graunted, and our othes
With ful glad herte, and preyden him also
That he wold vouche-sauf for to do so,
And that he wolde been our governour,
And of our tales luge and reportour,
And sette a soper at a certeyn prys;
And we wold reuled been at his devys38,
In heigh and lowe; and thus, by oon assent,
We been acorded to his lugement.
And ther-up-on the wyn was fet88 anoon;
We dronken, and to reste wente echoon, 820
With-outen any lenger taryinge.
A-morwe, whan that8T day bigan to springe,
Up roos our host, and was our aller cok3»,
And gadrede ns togidre, alle in a flok,
And forth we riden, a litel more than pas1,
Un to the watering of seint Thomas2.
And there our host bigan his hors areste,
And seyde; 'Lordinges, herkneth if yow leste.
Ye woot your forward3, and I it yow recorde4.
If even-song and morwe-song acorde, 830
Lat M now who shal telle the firste tale.
As evere mote I drinke wyn or ale,
Who so be rebel to my lugement
Shal paye for al that by the weye is spent.
Now draweth cut5, er that we ferrer8
He which that hath the shortest shal biginne.' 'Sire knight,' quod he, 'my maister and my lord,
Now draweth cut, for that is myn acord8. Cometh neer»,' quod he, 'my lady prioresse; And ye, sir clerk, lat be your shamfast
Ne studieth noght10; ley bond to, every man.'
Anon to drawen every wight bigan, And shortly for to tellen, as it was, Were it by averture11, or sort12, or cas'8, The sothe14 is this, the cut fil to the knight, Of which ful blythe and glad was every wight; And telle he moste his tale, as was rcsoun, By forward and by coniposicioun1^, As ye ban herd; what nedeth wordes mot And whan this goode man saugh it was so, As he that wys was and obedient 851 To kepe his forward by his free assent, He seyde: 'Sin1" I shal beginne the game, What, welcome be the cut, a17 Goddes name! Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye.'
And with that word we riden forth our weye; And he bigan with right a mery ehere18 His tale anon, and seyde in this manere.
The Nonne Pkeestes Tale* Here biginneih the Nonne Precstes Talc of the Cok and Hen, Chaunteclecr and Pertelote.
A povre widwe somdel stope1" in age,
Was whylom^o dwelling in a narwe21 cotage,
Bisyde a grove, stondyng in a dale.
This widwe, of which I telle yow my tale,
20 onco upon a time
21 nnrrow this Is the twentieth tale.
1 faster than a walk
2 Two mil''* on the way
to Canterbury, s agreement
4 remind you of It
10 don't meditate
• In the Elleamere MS
Sin thilke22 day that Bhe was last a wyf,
In pacience ladde a ful simple lyf,
For litel was hir catel and hir rent28;
By housbondrye, of such as God hir sente,
She fond24 hir-self, and eek hir doghtren2' two.
Three large sowes hadde she, and namo, 10
Three kyn, and eek a sheep that highte28
Ful sooty was hir bour, and eek hir halle27,
In which sho eet ful many a sclcndre meel.
Of poynaunt sauce hir neded28 never a deel.
No deyntee morsel passed thurgh hir throte;
Hir dyete was accordant to hir cote.
Repleccioun2" no made hir nevere syk;
Attempree dyete was al hir phisyk,
And exercyse, and hertes suffisaunce.
The goute letter hir no-thing for to daunce, 20
N» poplexye shente81 nat hir heed;
No wyn no drank she, neither whyt ne reed;
Hir bonl was served most with whyt and blak,
Milk and broun breed, in which she fond no
Seynd82 bacoun, and somtyme an eyss or tweye,
For she was as it were a maner deye84.
A yerd she hadde, enclosed al aboute With stikkes, and a drye dich with-oute, In which she hadde a cok, hight Chauntocleer, In al the land of crowing nas3s his peer. 80 His vois was mericr than the merye orgon8* On messe-daycs37 that in the chirche gon; Wei sikerer3* was his crowing in his logge88, Than is a clokke, or an abbey orlogge40. By nature knew he ech ascensioun4! Of equinoxial in thilke toun; For whan degrees fiftene were ascended, Thanne crew he, that it mighte nat
amended42. His comb was redder than the fyn coral, And batailod48, as it were a castel-wal. His bile4* was blak, and as the Ieet45 it ahoon; Lyk asur were his legges, and his toon48; His nayles whytter than the lilie flour,
Sir John, the "Nun's Priest," was an escort of Madame Eglentyne; see Prologue. 164. His tale l» an old one, found in various languages.