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The wisdom of an heep of lerned men ? Ther nas quik-silver, litarge, ne brimstoon,
whyte, Of any lord that is in Engelond,
Nor of the knobbes sittinge on his chekes. To make him live by his propre good, Wel loved he garleek, oynons, and eek lekes, In honour dettelees, but he were wood, And for to drinken strong wyn, reed as Or live as scarsly as him list desire;
blood. And able for to helpen al a sbire
Thanne wolde he speke, and crye as he were In any cas that mighte falle or happe;
wood. And yit this maunciple sette hir aller cappe. And whan that he wel dronken hadde the The Reve was a sclendre colerik man,
wyn, His berd was shave as ny as ever he can. Than wolde he speke no word but Latyn. His heer was by his eres round y-shorn. 591 A fewe termes hadde he, two or three, His top was dokked lyk a preest biforn. That he had lerned out of som decree; Ful longe were his legges, and ful lene, | No wonder is, he herde it al the day; Y-lyk a staf, ther was no calf y-sene. And eek ye knowen wel, how that a lay Wel coude he kepe a gerner and a binne; Can clepen Watte,'as well as can the pope. Ther was noon auditour coude on him winne. | But who-so coude in other thing him grope, Wel wiste he, by the droghte, and by the Thanne hadde be spent al his philosophye; reyn,
Ay · Questio quid iuris' wolde he crye. The yelding of his seed, and of his greyn. He was a gentil harlot and a kinde; His lordes sheep, his neet, his dayerye, 599 A bettre felawe sholde men noght finde. 650 His swyn, his hors, his stoor, and his pultrye, | He wolde suffre, for a quart of wyn, Was hoolly in this reves governing,
A good felawe to have his concubyn And by his covenaunt yaf the rekening, A twelf-month, and excuse him atte fulle : Sin that his lord was twenty yeer of age; Ful prively a finch eek coude he pulle. Ther coude no man bringe him in arrerage. And if he fond o-wher a good felawe, Ther nas baillif, ne herde, ne other hyne, He wolde techen him to have non awe, That he ne knew his sleighte and his covyne; In swich cas, of the erchedeknes curs, They were adrad of him, as of the deeth. | But-if a mannes soule were in his purs; His woning was ful fair up-on an beeth, For in his purs he sholde y-punisshed be. With grene treës shadwed was his place. • Purs is the erchedeknes helle,' seyde he. He conde bettre than his lord purchace. 610 But wel I woot he lyed right in dede; 661 Ful riche he was astored prively,.
| Of cursing oghte ech gilty man him drede His lord wel coude he plesen subtilly, For curs wol slee, right as assoilling savTo yeve and lene him of his owne good,
And knew hir counseil, and was al hir reed.
Rome. A SOMNOUR was ther with us in that place, Ful loude he song, .Com hider, love, to me.' That hadde a fyr-reed cherubinnes face, This somnour bar to him a stif burdoun, For sawcefleem he was, with eyen narwe. Was never trompe of half so greet a soun. As hoot he was, and lecherous, as a sparwe; | This pardoner hadde heer as yelow as wex, With scalled browes blake, and piled berd; | But smothe it heng, as dooth a strike of Of his visage children were aferd.
By ounces henge bis lokkes that he hadde, Ne thogh I speke hir wordes properly.
Everich a word, if it be in his charge,
brother; Bret-ful of pardoun come from Rome al | He moot as wel seye o word as another. 740 hoot.
Crist spak him-self ful brode in holy writ, A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot. 690 And wel ye woot, no vileinye is it. No berd hadde he, ne never sholde have, Eek Plato seith, who-so that can him rede, As smothe it was as it were late y-sbave; The wordes mote be cosin to the dede. I trowe he were a gelding or a mare.
Also I prey yow to foryeve it me, But of his craft, fro Berwik into Ware, Al have I wat set folk in bir degree Ne was ther swich another pardoner. Here in this tale, as that they sholde stonde; For in his male he hadde a pilwe-beer, My wit is short, ye may wel understonde. Which that, he seyde, was our lady veyl: Greet chere made our hoste us everichon, He seyde, he badde a gobet of the seyi And to the soper sette he us anon; 750 That sëynt Peter hadde, whan that he And served us with vitaille at the beste. wente
Strong was the wyn, and wel to drinke us Cp-on the see, til Iesu Crist him hente. 700
leste. He hadde a croys of latoun, ful of stones, A semely man our hoste was with-alle And in a glas he hadde pigges bones. For to han been a marshal in an halle; Bnt with thise relikes, whan that he fond A large man he was with eyen stepe, A povre person dwelling up-on lond, A fairer burgeys is ther noon in Chepe: l'pon a day he gat him more moneye Bold of his speche, and wys, and wel yThan that the person gat in monthes tweye.
taught, And thus, with feyned flaterye and Iapes, And of manhood him lakkede right naught. He made the person and the peple his apes. Eek therto he was right a mery man, But trewely to tellen, atte laste,
And after soper pleyen he bigan, 760 He was in chirche a noble ecclesiaste. 710 And spak of mirthe amonges othere thinges, Wel coude he rede a lessoun or a storie, Whan that we hadde maad our rekeninges; But alderbest he song an offertorie;
And seyde thus: “Now, lordinges, trewely, For wel he wiste, whan that song was songe, Ye been to me right welcome hertely: He moste preche, and wel affyle his tonge, For by my trouthe, if that I shal nat lye, To winne silver, as he ful wel coude; I ne saugh this yeer so mery a companye Therefore he song so meriely and loude. At ones in this herberwe as is now.
Now have I told you shortly, in a clause, Fayn wolde I doon yow mirthe, wiste I how. Thestat, tbarray, the nombre, and eek the | And of a nirthe I am right now bithoght, cause
To doon yow ese, and it shal coste noght. 770 Why that assembled was this companye Ye goon to Caunterbury; God yow spede, In South werk, at this gentil hostelrye, 720 The blisful martir quyte yow your mede. That bigbte the Tabard, faste by the Belle. And wel I woot, as ye goon by the weye, But now is tyme to yow for to telle
Ye shapen yow to talen and to pleye; *How that we baren us that ilke night, For trewely, confort ne mirthe is noon Whan we were in that hostelrye alight. To ryde by the weye doumb as a stoon; Aud after wol I telle of our viage,
And therfore wol I maken yow disport, And al the remenaunt of our pilgrimage. | As I seyde erst, and doon yow som confort. But first I pray yow, of your curteisye, And if yow lyketh alle, by oon assent, That ye narette it nat my vileinye,
Now for to stonden at my Iugement, 780 Thogh that I pleynly speke in this matere, And for to werken as I shal yow seye, To telle yow hir wordes and hir chere; 730 | To-morwe, whan ye ryden by the weye,
Now, by my fader soule, that is deed, Lat se now who shal telle the firste tale.
Our counseil was nat longe for to seche; Shal paye for al that by the weye is spent. Us thoughte it was noght worth to make it Now draweth cut, er that we ferrer twinne; wys,
He which that bath the shortest shal biAnd graunted him withouten more avys,
ginne.' And bad him seye his verdit, as him leste.
Here endeth the prolog of this book. • Lordinges,' quod be, ‘now herkneth for the beste;
790 But tak it not, I prey yow, in desdeyn; THE PRIORESSES PROLOGUE This is the poynt, to speken short and pleyn
Bihold the mery wordes of the Host to the That ech of yow, to shorte with your weye,
Shipman and to the lady Prioresse In this viage, shal telle tales tweye, To Caunterbury-ward, I mene it so,
*Wel seyd, by corpus dominus, quod our And hom-ward he shal tellen othere two,
hoste, Of aventures that whylom han bifalle. Now longe moot thou sayle by the coste, And which of yow that bereth him best of Sir gentil maister, gentil marineer! alle,
God yeve this monk a thousand last quad That is to seyn, that telleth in this cas
yeer! Tales of best sentence and most solas, 800 A ha! felawes! beth ware of swiche a Shal have a soper at our aller cost
Iape! Here in this place, sitting by this post, The monk putte in the mannes hood an Whan that we come agayn fro Caunterbury.
ape, And for to make yow the more mery, And in his wyves eek, by seint Austin! I wol my-selven gladly with yow ryde, Draweth no monkes more un-to your in. Right at myn owne cost, and be your gyde. "But now passe over, and lat us seke And who-so wol my Iugement withseye
aboute, Shal paye al that we spenden by the weye. | Who shal now telle first, of al this route, no And if ye vouche-sauf that it be so,
Another tale;' and with that word he Tel me anon, with-outen wordes mo, 810
sayde, And I wol erly shape me therfore.'
As curteisly as it had been a mayde, This thing was graunted, and our othes *My lady Prioresse, by your leve, swore
So that I wiste I sholde yow nat greve, With ful glad herte, and preyden him also I wolde demen that ye tellen sholde That he wold vouche-sauf for to do so, A tale next, if so were that ye wolde. And that he wolde been our governour, Now wol ye voucbe-sauf, my lady dere ?' And of our tales Iuge and reportour,
Gladly,' quod she, and seyde as ye shal And sette a soper at a certeyn prys;
here. And we wold reuled been at his devys,
THE PRIORESSES TALE
Domine, dominus noster Up roos our host, and was our aller cok, O LORD our lord, thy name how merveilAnd gadrede us togidre, alle in a flok,
lous And forth we riden, a litel more than pas, Is in this large worlde y-sprad — quod Un-to the watering of seint Thomas. And there our bost bigan his hors areste, For noght only thy laude precious And seyde; •Lordinges, herkneth, if yow | Parfourned is by men of dignitee, leste.
830 But by the mouth of children thy bountee Yewoot your forward, and I it yow recorde. Parfourned is, for on the brest soukinge If even-song and morwe-song acorde, | Som tyme she wen they thyn heryinge.
Wherfor in laude, as I best can or may, Swich maner doctrine as men used there, Of thee, and of the whyte lily flour
This is to seyn, to singen and to rede, Which that thee bar, and is a mayde alway, As smale children doon in hir childhede. To telle a storie I wol do my labour; Not that I may encresen hir honour;
Among thise children was a widwes sone, 50 For she hir-self is honour, and the rote A litel clergeon, seven yeer of age, Of bountee, next bir sone, and soules That day by day to scole was his wone, bote. —
And eek also, wher-as he saugh thimage
Of Cristes moder, hadde he in usage, O moder mayde! O mayde moder free! As him was taught, to knele adoun and O bush unbrent, brenninge in Moyses
His Ave Marie, as he goth by the weye. That ravisedest doun fro the deitee, Thurgh thyn humblesse, the goost that in | Thus hath this widwe hir litel sone y-taught thalighte,
Our blisful lady, Cristes moder dere, Of whos vertu, whan he thyn herte lighte, To worshipe ay, and he forgat it naught, Conceived was the fadres sapience,
For sely child wol alday sone lere; 60 Help me to telle it in thy reverence ! But ay, whan I remembre on this matere,
Seint Nicholas stant ever in my presence, Lady! thy bountee, thy magnificence, For he so yong to Crist did reverence. Thy vertu, and thy grete humilitee Ther may no tonge expresse in no science; This litel child, his litel book lerninge, For som-tyme, lady, er men praye to thee, As he sat in the scole at his prymer, Thon goost biforn of thy benignitee,
He Alma redemptoris herde singe, And getest as the light, thurgh thy pre As children lerned hir antiphoner; yere,
And, as he dorste, he drough him ner and To gyden us un-to thy sone so dere.
And herkned ay the wordes and the note, My conning is so wayk, O blisful quene, Till he the firste vers coude al by rote. 70 For to declare thy grete worthinesse, 30 That I ne may the weighte nat sustene, Noght wiste he what this Latin was to seye, But as a child of twelf monthe old, or For he so yong and tendre was of age; lesse,
But on a day his felaw gan he preye That can unnethes any word expresse, Texpounden him this song in his langage, Right so fare I, and therfor I yow preye, Or telle him why this song was in usage; Gydeth my song that I shal of yow seye. This preyde he him to construe and declare Explicit
Ful ofte tyme upon his knowes bare.
His felaw, which that elder was than he, Here biginneth the Prioresses Tale
Answerde him thus: “this song, I have herd Ther was in Asie, in a greet citee,
seye, Amonges Cristen folk, a lewerye,
Was maked of our blisful lady free, 80 Sustened by a lord of that contree
Hir to salue, and eek bir for to preye For fonle usure and lucre of vilanye, To been our help and socour whan we Hateful to Crist and to his companye; 40
deye. And tburgh the strete men mighte ryde or I can no more expounde in this matere; wende,
I lerne song, I can but smal grammere.' For it was free, and open at either ende.
• And is this song maked in reverence A litel scole of Cristen folk ther stood Of Cristes moder?' seyde this innocent; Doun at the ferther ende, in which ther Now certes, I wol do my diligence were
To conne it al, er Cristemasse is went; Children an heep, y-comen of Cristen Though that I for my prymer shal be shent, blood,
And shal be beten thryës in an houre, 90 That lerned in that scole yeer by yere | I wol it conne, our lady for to honoure.'
His felaw taughte him homward prively, | Til finally she gan so fer espye
And ever on Cristes moder meke and kinde
She frayneth and she preyeth pitously The swetues hath his herte perced so
To every Iew that dwelte in thilke place, 149 Of Cristes moder, that, to hir to preye, To telle bir, if hir child wente oght for-by. He can nat stinte of singing by the weye. They seyde, nay'; but Iesu, of his grace,
Yaf in hir thought, in with a litel space, Our firste fo, the serpent Sathanas,
That in that place after bir sone she cryde, That hath in Lewes herte his waspes nest, Wher he was casten in a pit bisyde. Up swal, and seide, 'o Hebraik peple, allas! Is this to yow a thing that is honest, 109 O grete god, that parfournest thy laude That swich a boy shal walken as him lest By mouth of innocents, lo heer thy might! In your despyt, and singe of swich sentence, This gemme of chastitee, this emeraude, Which is agayn your lawes reverence ?'. And eek of martirdom the ruby bright,
Ther be with throte y-corven lay upright, Fro thennes forth the lewes ban conspyred He • Alma redemptoris' gan to singe 160 This innocent out of this world to chace; So loude, that al the place gan to ringe. An homicyde ther-to han they hyred, That in an aley hadde a privee place; The Cristen folk, that thurgh the strete And as the child gan for-by for to pace,
wente, This cursed Iew him hente and heeld him In coomen, for to wondre up-on this thing, faste,
And hastily they for the provost sente; And kitte his throte, and in a pit himn caste. He cam anon with-outen tarying,
And herieth Crist that is of heven king, I seye that in a wardrobe they him threwe And eek his moder, honour of mankinde, Wher-as these Iewes purgen bir entraille. And after that, the Iewes leet he binde. O cursed folk of Herodes al newe, 122 What may your yvel entente yow availle ? This child with pitous lamentacioun Mordre wol out, certein, it wol nat faille, Up-taken was, singing his song alway; 170 And namely ther thonour of god shal sprede, And with honour of greet processioun The blood out cryeth on your cursed dede. They carien him un-to the nexte abbay.
His moder swowning by the bere lay; O martir, souded to virginitee,
Unnethe might the peple that was there Now maystou singen, folwing ever in oon This newe Rachel bringe fro his bere. The whyte lamb celestial,' quod she, 129 Of which the grete evangelist, seint Iohn, With torment and with shamful deth echon In Pathmos wroot, which seith that they This provost dooth thise Iewes for to sterve that goon
That of this mordre wiste, and that anon; Biforn this lamb, and singe a song al newe, He nolde no swich cursednesse observe. That never, fleshly, wommen they ne knewe.' Yvel shal have, that yvel wol deserve. 180
Therfor with wilde hors he dide hem drawe, This povre widwe awaiteth al that night And after that he beng her by the lawe. After bir litel child, but he cam noght; For which, as sone as it was dayes light, Up-on his bere ay lyth this innocent With face pale of drede and bisy thoght, Biforn the chief auter, whyl masse laste, She hath at scole and elles-wher him soght, And after that, the abbot with his covent