Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury.
1 Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote,
2 The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
3 And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
4 Of which vertu engendred is the flour; 1
5 Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth 2
6 Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
7 The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
8 Hath in the Ram3 his halfe cours yronne,
9 And smale foweles maken melodye,
10 That slepen al the nyght with open ye-4
11 So priketh hem Nature in hir corages-5
12 Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages6
13 And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
14 To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
15 And specially, from every shires ende
16 Of Engelond, to Caunturbury they wende,
17 The hooly blisful martir for the seke7
18 That hem hath holpen8, whan that they were seeke.
19 Bifil that in that seson, on a day,
20 In Southwerk at the Tabard9 as I lay,
21 Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage
22 To Caunterbury, with ful devout corage10,
23 At nyght were come into that hostelrye
24 Wel nyne and twenty11 in a compaignye
25 Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
26 In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,
27 That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde.
28 The chambres and the stables weren wyde,
29 And wel we weren esed atte beste12;
30 And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,
31 So hadde I spoken with hem everychon
32 That I was of hir felaweshipe13 anon,
33 And made forward14 erly for to ryse
34 To take our wey, ther as I yow devyse.
35 But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space,
36 Er that I ferther in this tale pace,
37 Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun15
38 To telle yow al the condicioun
39 Of ech of hem, so as it semed me16,
40 And whiche they weren, and of what degree17,
41 And eek in what array that they were inne;
42 And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne.
43 A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man,
44 That fro the tyme that he first bigan
45 To riden out18, he loved chivalrie,
46 Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie19.
47 Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre20,
48 And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre,
49 As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse,
50 And evere honoured for his worthynesse.
51 At Alisaundre21 he was, whan it was wonne;
52 Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bigonne22
53 Aboven alle nacions in Pruce;
54 In Lettow hadde he reysed, and in Ruce23,
55 No cristen man so ofte24 of his degree.
56 In Gernade25 at the seege eek hadde he be
57 Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye;
58 At Lyeys26 was he, and at Satalye,
59 Whan they were wonne; and in the Grete See27
60 At many a noble arive hadde he be.
61 At mortal batailles hadde he been fiftene,
62 And foughten for oure feith at Tramyssene
63 In lystes28 thries, and ay slayn his foo.
64 This ilke worthy knyght hadde been also
65 Somtyme with the lord of Palatye29
66 Agayn another hethen in Turkye,
67 And everemoore he hadde a sovereyn prys.
68 And though that he were worthy, he was wys30,
69 And of his port as meeke as is a mayde31;
70 He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde32
71 In al his lyf unto no maner wight33;
72 He was a verray parfit gentil knyght34.
73 But for to tellen35 yow of his array,
74 His hors weren goode36, but he was nat gay.
75 Of fustian he wered a gypoun,
76 Al bismotered with his habergeoun;
77 For he was late ycome from his viage37,
78 And wente for to doon his pilgrymage.
79 With hym ther was his sone, a yong Squier,
80 A lovyere and a lusty bacheler38,
81 With lokkes crulle, as they were leyd in presse.39
82 Of twenty yeer of age he was, I gesse.
83 Of his stature he was of evene lengthe40,
84 And wonderly delyvere, and of greet strengthe.
85 And he hadde been somtyme in chyvachie
86 In Flaundres, in Artoys, and Pycardie41,
87 And born hym weel, as of so litel space42,
88 In hope to stonden in his lady grace43.
89 Embrouded was he, as it were a meede44,
90 Al ful of fresshe floures whyte and reede;
91 Syngynge he was, or floytynge, al the day,
92 He was as fressh as is the monthe of May.
93 Short was his gowne45, with sleves longe and wyde.
94 Wel koude he sitte on hors, and faire ryde,
95 He koude songes make, and wel endite,
96 Juste, and eek daunce, and weel purtreye and write46.
97 So hoote he lovede, that by nyghtertale
98 He slepte namoore than dooth a nyghtyngale.
99 Curteis he was, lowely, and servysable47,
100 And carf biforn his fader48 at the table.
101 A Yeman hadde he, and servantz namo
102 At that tyme, for hym liste49 ride soo;
103 And he was clad in cote and hood of grene,
104 A sheef of pecok arwes50 bright and kene
105 Under his belt he bar ful thriftily-
106 Wel koude he dresse his takel yemanly51,
107 Hise arwes drouped noght52 with fetheres lowe-
108 And in his hand he baar a myghty bowe.
109 A not heed hadde he, with a broun visage53,
110 Of woodecraft wel koude he al the usage54.
111 Upon his arm he baar a gay bracer,
112 And by his syde a swerd and a bokeler,
113 And on that oother syde a gay daggere,
114 Harneised wel, and sharpe as point of spere.
115 A Cristophere55 on his brest of silver sheene,
116 An horn56 he bar, the bawdryk was of grene.
117 A Forster was he, soothly, as I gesse.
118 Ther was also a Nonne, a Prioresse,
119 That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy57.
120 Hir gretteste ooth was but by Seinte Loy58,
121 And she was cleped Madame Eglentyne59.
122 Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne,
123 Entuned in hir nose ful semely60;
124 And Frenssh she spak61 ful faire and fetisly
125 After the scole of Stratford-atte-Bowe62,
126 For Frenssh of Parys was to hir unknowe.
127 At mete wel ytaught was she63 withalle;
128 She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle,
129 Ne wette hir fyngres64 in hir sauce depe.
130 Wel koude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe
131 That no drope ne fille upon hir brist.
132 In curteisie was set ful muche hir list65;
133 Hire over-lippe wyped she so clene,
134 That in hir coppe ther was no ferthyng sene
135 Of grece66, whan she dronken hadde hir draughte.
136 Ful semely after hir mete she raughte67;
137 And sikerly, she was of greet desport68,
138 And ful plesaunt, and amyable of port69,
139 And peyned hir to countrefete cheere
140 Of court70, and been estatlich of manere,
141 And to ben holden digne of reverence71.
142 But for to speken of hir conscience72,
143 She was so charitable and so pitous,
144 She wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous
145 Kaught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde.
146 Of smale houndes hadde she, that she fedde
147 With rosted flessh, or milk and wastel-breed73.
148 But soore weep she if oon of hem were deed,
149 Or if men smoot it with a yerde smerte;
150 And al was conscience, and tendre herte.
151 Ful semyly hir wympul pynched was,
152 Hire nose tretys, hir eyen greye as glas,
153 Hir mouth ful smal, and therto softe and reed;
154 But sikerly, she hadde a fair forheed74,
155 It was almoost a spanne brood, I trowe,
156 For, hardily, she was nat undergrowe75.
157 Ful fetys was hir cloke, as I was war;
158 Of smal coral aboute hir arm she bar
159 A peire of bedes76, gauded al with grene,
160 An theron heng a brooch of gold ful sheene77,
161 On which ther was first write a crowned `A,'
162 And after,`Amor vincit omnia.'78
163 Another Nonne79 with hir hadde she,
164 That was hire Chapeleyne80, and preestes thre.
165 A Monk ther was, a fair for the maistrie81,
166 An outridere82, that lovede venerie,
167 A manly man, to been an abbot83 able.
168 Ful many a deyntee hors hadde he in stable;
169 And whan he rood, men myghte his brydel heere
170 Gynglen84 in a whistlynge wynd als cleere,
171 And eek as loude, as dooth the chapel belle,
172 Ther as this lord was keper of the celle85.
173 The reule of Seint Maure86, or of Seint Beneit,
174 Bycause that it was old and somdel streit-
175 This ilke Monk leet olde thynges pace,
176 And heeld after the newe world the space.
177 He yaf nat of that text a pulled hen,
178 That seith that hunters beth nat hooly men,
179 Ne that a monk, whan he is recchelees,
180 Is likned til87 a fissh that is waterlees-
181 This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloystre-
182 But thilke text heeld he nat worth an oystre!88
183 And I seyde his opinioun was good,89
184 What sholde he90 studie, and make hymselven wood,
185 Upon a book in cloystre alwey to poure91,
186 Or swynken with his handes and laboure
187 As Austyn bit? How shal the world be served?92
188 Lat Austyn have his swynk to him reserved!93
189 Therfore he was a prikasour aright,
190 Grehoundes he hadde, as swift as fowel in flight;
191 Of prikyng and of huntyng for the hare
192 Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare94.
193 I seigh his sleves ypurfiled at the hond
194 With grys,95 and that the fyneste of a lond;96
195 And for to festne his hood under his chyn
196 He hadde of gold ywroght a curious pyn;97
197 A love-knotte98 in the gretter ende ther was.
198 His heed was balled, that shoon as any glas,
199 And eek his face, as it hadde been enoynt.99
200 He was a lord ful fat and in good poynt,100
201 Hise eyen stepe, and rollynge in his heed,
202 That stemed as a forneys of a leed;101
203 His bootes souple, his hors in greet estaat;102
204 Now certeinly he was a fair prelaat!
205 He was nat pale as a forpyned goost,103
206 A fat swan loved he best of any roost.
207 His palfrey was as broun as is a berye,
208 A Frere ther was, a wantowne and a merye,
209 A lymytour,104 a ful solempne man,
210 In alle the ordres foure105 is noon that kan
211 So muchel of daliaunce and fair langage106.
212 He hadde maad ful many a mariage
213 Of yonge wommen at his owene cost.107
214 Unto his ordre he was a noble post,108
215 And wel biloved and famulier was he
216 With frankeleyns109 overal in his contree
217 And eek with worthy wommen of the toun,
218 For he hadde power of confessioun,110
219 As seyde hymself, moore than a curat,
220 For of his ordre he was licenciat.
221 Ful swetely herde he confessioun,
222 And plesaunt was his a absolucioun,
223 He was an esy man to yeve penaunce
224 Ther as he wiste to have a good pitaunce;111
225 For unto a povre ordre for to yive112
226 Is signe that a man is wel yshryve;
227 For, if he yaf, he dorste make avaunt,113
228 He wiste that a man was repentaunt.
229 For many a man so harde is of his herte,
230 He may nat wepe, al thogh hym soore smerte;
231 Therfore, in stede of wepynge and preyeres,
232 Men moote yeve silver to the povre freres.
233 His typet was ay farsed ful of knyves
234 And pynnes, for to yeven yonge wyves.114
235 And certeinly he hadde a murye note,
236 Wel koude he synge, and pleyen on a rote,
237 Of yeddynges he baar outrely the pris.115
238 His nekke whit116 was as the flour delys;
239 Therto he strong was as a champioun,
240 He knew the tavernes wel in every toun
241 And everich hostiler and tappestere
242 Bet than a lazar or a beggestere.
243 For unto swich a worthy man as he
244 Acorded nat, as by his facultee,117
245 To have with sike lazars aqueyntaunce;
246 It is nat honeste,118 it may nat avaunce,
247 For to deelen with no swich poraille,119
248 But al with riche and selleres of vitaille;120
249 And overal, ther as profit sholde arise,
250 Curteis he was, and lowely of servyse.121
251 Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous;122
252 He was the beste beggere in his hous,123
253 (And yaf a certeyn ferme for the graunt
254 Noon of his brethren cam ther in his haunt;)124
255 For thogh a wydwe hadde noght a sho,125
256 So plesaunt was his `In principio' 126
257 Yet wolde he have a ferthyng er he wente;
258 His purchas was wel bettre than his rente.127
259 And rage he koude, as it were right a whelpe;128
260 In love-dayes129 ther koude he muchel helpe;
261 For there he was nat lyk a cloysterer,
262 With a thredbare cope, as is a povre scoler,130
263 But he was lyk a maister131 or a pope;
264 Of double worstede was his semycope,132
265 That rounded as a belle out of the presse.133
266 Somwhat he lipsed for his wantownesse134
267 To make his Englissh sweete upon his tonge,135
268 And in his harpyng,136 whan that he hadde songe,
269 Hise eyen twynkled137 in his heed aryght
270 As doon the sterres in the frosty nyght.
271 This worthy lymytour was cleped Huberd.
272 A Marchant was ther, with a forkek berd,
273 In mottelee,138 and hye on horse he sat,
274 Upon his heed a Flaundryssh bevere hat,139
275 His bootes clasped faire and fetisly.
276 Hise resons he spak ful solempnely,140
277 Sownynge alway thencrees of his wynnyng.141
278 He wolde the see were kept for any thyng142
279 Bitwixe Middelburgh143 and Orewelle.
280 Wel koude he in eschaunge sheeldes selle.144
281 This worthy man ful wel his wit bisette;145
282 Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette,
283 So estatly was he of his governaunce,146
284 With his bargaynes and with his chevyssaunce.147
285 Forsothe, he was a worthy man with-alle,148
286 But, sooth to seyn, I noot how men hym calle.149
287 A Clerk ther was of Oxenford also,150
288 That unto logyk hadde longe ygo.151
289 As leene was his hors as is a rake,
290 And he nas nat right fat, I undertake,152
291 But looked holwe and therto sobrely.153
292 Ful thredbare was his overeste courtepy,154
293 For he hadde geten hym yet no benefice,155
294 Ne was so worldly for to have office,156
295 For hym was levere have at his beddes heed 157
296 Twenty bookes, clad in blak or reed,158
297 Of Aristotle and his plilosophie,
298 Than robes riche, or fithele, or gay sautrie.
299 But al be that he was a philosophre,159
300 Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre;
301 But al that he myghte of his freendes hente,
302 On bookes and his lernynge he it spente,
303 And bisily gan for the soules preye 160
304 Of hem that yaf hym wherwith to scoleye.
305 Of studie took he moost cure and moost heede,161
306 Noght o word spak he moore than was neede,
307 And that was seyd in forme and reverence,162
308 And short and quyk, and ful of hy sentence.163
309 Sownynge in moral vertu was his speche,164
310 And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.
311 A Sergeant of the Lawe, war and wys,165
312 That often hadde been at the parvys,166
313 Ther was also, ful riche of excellence.167
314 Discreet he was, and of greet reverence,-
315 He semed swich, hise wordes weren so wise.168
316 Justice he was ful often in assise,169
317 By patente, and by pleyn commissioun.170
318 For his science, and for his heigh renoun,171
319 Of fees and robes hadde he many oon. 172
320 So greet a purchasour was nowher noon, 173
321 Al was fee symple to hym in effect, 174
322 His purchasyng myghte nat been infect.175
323 Nowher so bisy a man as he ther nas,
324 And yet he semed bisier than he was;
325 In termes hadde he caas and doomes alle,
326 That from the tyme of Kyng William were falle.176
327 Therto he koude endite, and make a thyng,177
328 Ther koude no wight pynche at his writyng.178
329 And every statut koude he pleyn by rote.179
330 He rood but hoomly in a medlee cote 180
331 Girt with a ceint of silk, with barres smale;-181
332 Of his array telle I no lenger tale.
333 A Frankeleyn was in his compaignye;
334 Whit was his berd as is a dayesye.
335 Of his complexioun he was sangwyn.182
336 Wel loved he by the morwe a sope in wyn,183
337 To lyven in delit was evere his wone;
338 For he was Epicurus owene sone,184
339 That heeld opinioun that pleyn delit
340 Was verraily felicitee parfit,185
341 An housholdere, and that a greet, was he;186
342 Seint Julian was he in his contree.187
343 His breed, his ale, was alweys after oon,188
344 A bettre envyned man was nowher noon.189
345 Withoute bake mete was nevere his hous,190
346 Of fissh and flessh, and that so plentevous,
347 It snewed in his hous of mete and drynke,191
348 Of alle deyntees that men koude thynke.
349 After the sondry sesons of the yeer 192
350 So chaunged he his mete and his soper.
351 Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in muwe,
352 And many a breem and many a luce in stuwe.193
353 Wo was his cook, but if his sauce were 194
354 Poynaunt, and sharp, and redy al his geere.195
355 His table dormant in his halle alway 196
356 Stood redy covered al the longe day.197
357 At sessiouns ther was he lord and sire;198
358 Ful ofte tyme he was knyght of the shire.199
359 An anlaas and a gipser al of silk
360 Heeng at his girdel, whit as morne milk.200
361 A shirreve hadde he been, and a countour,201
362 Was nowher swich a worthy vavasour.
363 An Haberdasshere and a Carpenter,
364 A Webbe, a Dyere, and a Tapycer-
365 And they were clothed alle in o lyveree 202
366 Of a solempne and a greet fraternitee.
367 Ful fressh and newe hir geere apiked was,
368 Hir knyves were chaped noght with bras,203
369 But al with silver wroght ful clene and weel,
370 Hir girdles and hir pouches everydeel.
371 Wel semed ech of hem a fair burgeys
372 To sitten in a yeldehalle on a deys.204
373 Everich for the wisdom that he kan 205
374 Was shaply for to been an alderman;206
375 For catel hadde they ynogh, and rente,207
376 And eek hir wyves wolde it wel assente-208
377 And eles, certeyn, were they to blame!209
378 It is ful fair to been ycleped `madame,'210
379 And goon to vigilies al bifore,211
380 And have a mantel roialliche ybore.212
381 A Cook they hadde with hem for the nones,
382 To boille the chiknes with the marybones,213
383 And poudre-marchant tart, and galyngale.214
384 Wel koude he knowe a draughte of London ale;215
385 He koude rooste, and sethe, and broille, and frye,
386 Maken mortreux, and wel bake a pye.216
387 But greet harm was it, as it thoughte me,217
388 That on his shyne a mormal hadde he!
389 For blankmanger, that made he with the beste.218
390 A Shipman was ther, wonynge fer by weste;219
391 For aught I woot, he was of Dertemouthe.220
392 He rood upon a rouncy, as he kouthe,221
393 In a gowne of faldyng to the knee.
394 A daggere hangynge on a laas hadde he
395 Aboute his nekke, under his arm adoun.222
396 The hoote somer hadde maad his hewe al broun,
397 And certeinly he was a good felawe.
398 Ful many a draughte of wyn had he ydrawe
399 Fro Burdeuxward, whil that the chapman sleep.223
400 Of nyce conscience took he no keep;224
401 If that he faught, and hadde the hyer hond,
402 By water he sente hem hoom to every lond.225
403 But of his craft, to rekene wel his tydes,226
404 His stremes, and his daungers hym bisides,227
405 His herberwe and his moone, his lodemenage, 228
406 Ther nas noon swich from Hulle to Cartage.229
407 Hardy he was, and wys to undertake,230
408 With many a tempest hadde his berd been shake;
409 He knew alle the havenes as they were 231
410 From Gootlond to the Cape of Fynystere, 232
411 And every cryke in Britaigne and in Spayne.233
412 His barge yeleped was the Maudelayne.234
413 With us ther was a Doctour of Phisik;
414 In al this world ne was ther noon hym lik,
415 To speke of phisik and of surgerye; 235
416 For he was grounded in astronomye. 236
417 He kepte his pacient a ful greet deel
418 In houres, by his magyk natureel. 237
419 Wel koude he fortunen the ascendent 238
420 Of hisc ymages for his pacient.
421 He knew the cause of everich maladye,
422 Were it of hoot or coold, or moyste, or drye,239
423 And where they engendred, and of what humour.
424 He was a verray parfit praktisour; Notes 424-445
425 The cause yknowe, and of his harm the roote,
426 Anon he yaf the sike man his boote.
427 Ful redy hadde he hise apothecaries
428 To sende him drogges and his letuaries,
429 For ech of hem made oother for to wynne,
430 Hir frendshipe nas nat newe to bigynne.
431 Wel knew he the olde Esculapius,
432 And Deyscorides and eek Rufus,
433 Olde Ypocras, Haly, and Galyen,
434 Serapioun, Razis, and Avycen,
435 Averrois, Damascien, and Constantyn,
436 Bernard, and Gatesden, and Gilbertyn.
437 Of his diete mesurable was he,
438 For it was of no superfluitee,
439 But of greet norissyng, and digestible.
440 His studie was but litel on the Bible.
441 In sangwyn and in pers he clad was al,
442 Lyned with taffata and with sendal-
443 And yet he was but esy of dispence;
444 He kepte that he wan in pestilence.
445 For gold in phisik is a cordial,
446 Therfore he lovede gold in special.
Wife of Bath Notes
447 A good wif was ther, of biside Bathe,
448 But she was somdel deef, and that was scathe.
449 Of clooth-makyng she hadde swich an haunt,
450 She passed hem of ypres and of gaunt.
451 In al the parisshe wif ne was ther noon
452 That to the offrynge bifore hire sholde goon;
453 And if ther dide, certeyn so wrooth was she,
454 That she was out of alle charitee. Notes 447-464
455 Hir coverchiefs ful fyne weren of ground;
456 I dorste swere they weyeden ten pound
457 That on a sonday weren upon hir heed.
458 Hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed,
459 Ful streite yteyd, and shoes ful moyste and newe.
460 Boold was hir face, and fair, and reed of hewe.
461 She was a worthy womman al hir lyve:
462 Housbondes at chirche dore she hadde fyve,
463 Withouten oother compaignye in youthe, --
464 But therof nedeth nat to speke as nowthe.
465 And thries hadde she been at jerusalem;
466 She hadde passed many a straunge strem;
467 At rome she hadde been, and at boloigne,
468 In galice at seint-jame, and at coloigne.
469 She koude muchel of wandrynge by the weye.
470 Gat-tothed was she, soothly for to seye.
471 Upon an amblere esily she sat, Notes 466-478
472 Ywympled wel, and on hir heed an hat
473 As brood as is a bokeler or a targe;
474 A foot-mantel aboute hir hipes large,
475 And on hir feet a paire of spores sharpe.
476 In felaweshipe wel koude she laughe and carpe.
477 Of remedies of love she knew per chaunce,
478 For she koude of that art the olde daunce.
479 A good man was ther of religioun,
480 And was a povre persoun of a toun,
481 But riche he was of hooly thoght and werk.
482 He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
483 That cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
484 His parisshens devoutly wolde he teche.
485 Benygne he was, and wonder diligent,
486 And in adversitee ful pacient, Notes 480-528
487 And swich he was ypreved ofte sithes.
488 Ful looth were hym to cursen for his tithes,
489 But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute,
490 Unto his povre parisshens aboute
491 Of his offryng and eek of his substaunce.
492 He koude in litel thyng have suffisaunce.
493 Wyd was his parisshe, and houses fer asonder,
494 But he ne lefte nat, for reyn ne thonder,
495 In siknesse nor in meschief to visite
496 The ferreste in his parisshe, muche and lite,
497 Upon his feet, and in his hand a staf.
498 This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf,
499 That first he wroghte, and afterward he taughte.
500 Out of the gospel he tho wordes caughte,
501 And this figure he added eek therto,
502 That if gold ruste, what shal iren do?
503 For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
504 No wonder is a lewed man to ruste;
505 And shame it is, if a prest take keep,
506 A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep.
507 Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive,
508 By his clennesse, how that his sheep sholde lyve.
509 He sette nat his benefice to hyre
510 And leet his sheep encombred in the myre
511 And ran to londoun unto seinte poules
512 To seken hym a chaunterie for soules,
513 Or with a bretherhed to been withholde;
514 But dwelte at hoom, and kepte wel his folde,
515 So that the wolf ne made it nat myscarie;
516 He was a shepherde and noght a mercenarie.
517 And though he hooly were and vertuous,
518 He was to synful man nat despitous,
519 Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne,
520 But in his techyng discreet and benygne;
521 To drawen folk to hevene by fairnesse,
522 By good ensample, this was his bisynesse.
523 But it were any persone obstinat,
524 What so he were, of heigh or lough estat,
525 Hym wolde he snybben sharply for the nonys.
526 A bettre preest, I trowe, that nowher noon ys.
527 He waited after no pompe and reverence,
528 Ne maked him a spiced conscience,
529 But Cristes loore, and Hise apostles twelve
530 He taughte, but first he folwed it hym-selve.
531 With hym ther was a Plowman, was his brother,
532 That hadde ylad of dong ful many a fother.
533 A trewe swynker and a good was he,
534 Lyvynge in pees and parfit charitee.
535 God loved he best with al his hoole herte
536 At alle tymes, thogh him gamed or smerte,
537 And thanne his neighebore right as hym-selve;
538 He wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delve,
539 For Cristes sake, for every povre wight
540 Withouten hire, if it lay in his myght.
541 Hise tithes payed he ful faire and wel,
542 Bothe of his propre swynk and his catel.
543 In a tabard he rood, upon a mere.
544 Ther was also a Reve and a Millere,
545 A Somnour and a Pardoner also,
546 A Maunciple, and myself, ther were namo.
547 The Millere was a stout carl for the nones,
548 Ful byg he was of brawn and eek of bones-
549 That proved wel, for overal ther he cam
550 At wrastlyng he wolde have alwey the ram.
551 He was short-sholdred, brood, a thikke knarre,
552 Ther was no dore that he nolde heve of harre,
553 Or breke it at a rennyng with his heed. Notes 547-567
554 His berd as any sowe or fox was reed,
555 And therto brood, as though it were a spade.
556 Upon the cop right of his nose he hade
557 A werte, and thereon stood a toft of heres
558 Reed as the brustles of a sowes eres;
559 Hise nosethirles blake were and wyde.
560 A swerd and bokeler bar he by his syde.
561 His mouth as greet was as a greet forneys,
562 He was a janglere and a goliardeys,
563 And that was moost of synne and harlotries.
564 Wel koude he stelen corn, and tollen thries,
565 And yet he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee.
566 A whit cote and a blew hood wered he.
567 A baggepipe wel koude he blowe and sowne,
568 And therwithal he broghte us out of towne.
569 A gentil Maunciple was ther of a temple,
570 Of which achatours myghte take exemple
571 For to be wise in byynge of vitaille;
572 For wheither that he payde or took by taille,
573 Algate he wayted so in his achaat Notes 569-588
574 That he was ay biforn, and in good staat.
575 Now is nat that of God a ful fair grace,
576 That swich a lewed mannes wit shal pace
577 The wisdom of an heep of lerned men?
578 Of maistres hadde he mo than thries ten,
579 That weren of lawe expert and curious,
580 Of whiche ther weren a duszeyne in that hous
581 Worthy to been stywardes of rente and lond
582 Of any lord that is in Engelond,
583 To maken hym lyve by his propre good,
584 In honour dettelees, but if he were wood;
585 Or lyve as scarsly as hym list desire,
586 And able for to helpen al a shire
587 In any caas that myghte falle or happe-
588 And yet this manciple sette hir aller cappe!
589 The Reve was a sclendre colerik man;
590 His berd was shave as ny as ever he kan,
591 His heer was by his erys ful round yshorn,
592 His top was dokked lyk a preest biforn.
593 Ful longe were his legges, and ful lene,
594 Ylyk a staf, ther was no calf ysene. Notes 589-624
595 Wel koude he kepe a gerner and a bynne,
596 Ther was noon auditour koude on him wynne.
597 Wel wiste he, by the droghte, and by the reyn,
598 The yeldynge of his seed and of his greyn.
599 His lordes sheep, his neet, his dayerye,
600 His swyn, his hors, his stoor, and his pultrye,
601 Was hooly in this reves governyng
602 And by his covenant yaf the rekenyng,
603 Syn that his lord was twenty yeer of age;
604 Ther koude no man brynge hym in arrerage.
605 Ther nas baillif, ne hierde, nor oother hyne,
606 That he ne knew his sleighte and his covyne,
607 They were adrad of hym as of the deeth.
608 His wonyng was ful faire upon an heeth,
609 With grene trees shadwed was his place.
610 He koude bettre than his lord purchace.
611 Ful riche he was astored pryvely;
612 His lord wel koude he plesen subtilly
613 To yeve and lene hym of his owene good,
614 And have a thank, and yet a cote and hood.
615 In youthe he hadde lerned a good myster,
616 He was a wel good wrighte, a carpenter.
617 This reve sat upon a ful good stot,
618 That was al pomely grey, and highte Scot.
619 A long surcote of pers upon he hade,
620 And by his syde he baar a rusty blade.
621 Of Northfolk was this reve, of which I telle,
622 Bisyde a toun men clepen Baldeswelle.
623 Tukked he was, as is a frere, aboute,
624 And evere he rood the hyndreste of oure route.
625 A Somonour was ther with us in that place,
626 That hadde a fyr-reed cherubynnes face,
627 For sawcefleem he was, with eyen narwe.
628 As hoot he was, and lecherous, as a sparwe,
629 With scalled browes blake, and piled berd,
630 Of his visage children were aferd. Notes 626-670
631 Ther nas quyk-silver, lytarge, ne brymstoon,
632 Boras, ceruce, ne oille of tartre noon,
633 Ne oynement, that wolde clense and byte,
634 That hym myghte helpen of his whelkes white,
635 Nor of the knobbes sittynge on his chekes.
636 Wel loved he garleek, oynons, and eek lekes,
637 And for to drynken strong wyn, reed as blood;
638 Thanne wolde he speke and crie as he were wood.
639 And whan that he wel dronken hadde the wyn,
640 Than wolde he speke no word but Latyn.
641 A fewe termes hadde he, two or thre,
642 That he had lerned out of som decree-
643 No wonder is, he herde it al the day,
644 And eek ye knowen wel how that a jay
645 Kan clepen `watte' as wel as kan the Pope.
646 But who so koude in oother thyng hym grope,
647 Thanne hadde he spent al his plilosophie;
648 Ay `questio quid juris' wolde he crie.
649 He was a gentil harlot and a kynde,
650 A bettre felawe sholde men noght fynde;
651 He wolde suffre, for a quart of wyn,
652 A good felawe to have his concubyn
653 A twelf-monthe, and excuse hym atte fulle-
654 Ful prively a fynch eek koude he pulle.
655 And if he foond owher a good felawe,
656 He wolde techen him to have noon awe,
657 In swich caas, of the erchedekeness curs,
658 But if a mannes soule were in his purs;
659 For in his purs he sholde ypunysshed be,
660 `Purs is the erchedekenes helle,' seyde he.
661 But wel I woot he lyed right in dede;
662 Of cursyng oghte ech gilty man him drede-
663 For curs wol slee, right as assoillyng savith-
664 And also war him of a Significavit.
665 In daunger hadde he at his owene gise
666 The yonge girles of the diocise,
667 And knew hir conseil, and was al hir reed.
668 A gerland hadde he set upon his heed
669 As greet as it were for an ale-stake;
670 A bokeleer hadde he maad him of a cake.
671 With hym ther rood a gentil Pardoner
672 Of Rouncivale, his freend and his compeer,
673 That streight was comen fro the court of Rome.
674 Ful loude he soong `com hider, love, to me.'
675 This Somonour bar to hym a stif burdoun,
676 Was nevere trompe of half so greet a soun.
677 This Pardoner hadde heer as yelow as wex,
678 But smothe it heeng as dooth a strike of flex;
679 By ounces henge hise lokkes that he hadde,
680 And therwith he hise shuldres overspradde;
681 But thynne it lay by colpons oon and oon.
682 But hood, for jolitee, wered he noon, Notes 672-723
683 For it was trussed up in his walet.
684 Hym thoughte he rood al of the newe jet,
685 Dischevele, save his cappe, he rood al bare.
686 Swiche glarynge eyen hadde he as an hare.
687 A vernycle hadde he sowed upon his cappe.
688 His walet lay biforn hym in his lappe
689 Bret-ful of pardoun come from Rome al hoot.
690 A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot,
691 No berd hadde he, ne nevere sholde have,
692 As smothe it was as it were late shave,
693 I trowe he were a geldyng or a mare.
694 But of his craft, fro Berwyk into Ware,
695 Ne was ther swich another Pardoner;
696 For in his male he hadde a pilwe-beer,
697 Which that he seyde was Oure Lady veyl;
698 He seyde, he hadde a gobet of the seyl
699 That Seinte Peter hadde, whan that he wente
700 Upon the see, til Jesu Crist hym hente.
701 He hadde a croys of latoun, ful of stones,
702 And in a glas he hadde pigges bones;
703 But with thise relikes whan that he fond
704 A povre persoun dwellyng up-on-lond,
705 Upon a day he gat hym moore moneye
706 Than that the person gat in monthes tweye,
707 And thus with feyned flaterye and japes
708 He made the persoun and the peple his apes.
709 But trewely to tellen atte laste,
710 He was in chirche a noble ecclesiaste;
711 Wel koude he rede a lessoun or a storie,
712 But alderbest he song an offertorie,
713 For wel he wiste, whan that song was songe
714 He moste preche, and wel affile his tonge;
715 To wynne silver, as he ful wel koude,
716 Therfore he song the murierly and loude.
717 Now have I toold you shortly in a clause
718 Thestaat, tharray, the nombre, and eek the cause
719 Why that assembled was this compaignye
720 In Southwerk, at this gentil hostelrye,
721 That highte the Tabard, faste by the Belle.
722 But now is tyme to yow for to telle
723 How that we baren us that ilke nyght
724 Whan we were in that hostelrie alyght,
725 And after wol I telle of our viage,
726 And all the remenaunt of oure pilgrimage.
727 But first I pray yow, of youre curteisye,
728 That ye narette it nat my vileynye,
729 Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere
730 To telle yow hir wordes and hir cheere,
731 Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely.
732 For this ye knowen also wel as I, Notes 724-752
733 Who-so shal telle a tale after a man,
734 He moot reherce as ny as evere he kan
735 Everich a word, if it be in his charge,
736 Al speke he never so rudeliche or large;
737 Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe,
738 Or feyne thyng, or fynde wordes newe.
739 He may nat spare, al thogh he were his brother,
740 He moot as wel seye o word as another.
741 Crist spak hym-self ful brode in Hooly Writ,
742 And, wel ye woot, no vileynye is it.
743 Eek Plato seith, who so kan hym rede,
744 The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede.
745 Also I prey yow to foryeve it me,
746 Al have I nat set folk in hir degree
747 Heere in this tale, as that they sholde stonde-
748 My wit is short, ye may wel understonde.
749 Greet chiere made oure hoost us everichon,
750 And to the soper sette he us'anon.
751 He served us with vitaille at the beste;
752 Strong was the wyn, and wel to drynke us lestel
753 A semely man oure Hooste was withalle Host Notes
754 For to been a marchal in an halle.
755 A large man he was, with eyen stepe,
756 A fairer burgeys was ther noon in Chepe;
757 Boold of his speche, and wys, and well ytaught,
758 And of manhod hym lakkede right naught.
759 Eek therto he was right a myrie man;
760 And after soper pleyen he bigan, Notes 754-811
761 And spak of myrthe amonges othere thynges,
762 Whan that we hadde maad our rekenynges,
763 And seyde thus: Now lordynges, trewely,
764 Ye been to me right welcome hertely,
765 For by my trouthe, if that I shal nat lye,
766 I saugh nat this yeer so myrie a compaignye
767 Atones in this herberwe, as is now.
768 Fayn wolde I doon yow myrthe, wiste I how-
769 And of a myrthe I am right now bythoght
770 To doon yow ese, and it shal coste noght.
771 Ye goon to Caunterbury, God yow speede-
772 The blisful martir quite yow youre meede-
773 And wel I woot, as ye goon by the weye,
774 Ye shapen yow to talen and to pleye,
775 For trewely, confort ne myrthe is noon
776 To ride by the weye doumb as stoon,
777 And therfore wol I maken yow disport,
778 As I seyde erst, and doon yow som confort;
779 And if yow liketh alle by oon assent
780 For to stonden at my juggement,
781 And for to werken as I shal yow seye,
782 To-morwe, whan ye riden by the weye,
783 Now, by my fader soule that is deed,
784 But ye be myrie I wol yeve yow myn heed!
785 Hoold up youre hond, withouten moore speche.
786 Oure conseil was nat longe for to seche-
787 Us thoughte it was noght worth to make it wys-
788 And graunted hym, withouten moore avys,
789 And bad him seye his voirdit, as hym leste.
790 Lordynges, quod he, now herkneth for the beste,
791 But taak it nought, I prey yow, in desdeyn.
792 This is the poynt, to speken short and pleyn,
793 That ech of yow, to shorte with oure weye,
794 In this viage shal telle tales tweye,
795 To Caunterburyward I mene it so,
796 And homward he shal tellen othere two,
797 Of aventures that whilom han bifalle.
798 And which of yow that bereth hym best of alle-
799 That is to seyn, that telleth in this caas
800 Tales of best sentence and moost solaas-
801 Shal have a soper at oure aller cost,
802 Heere in this place, sittynge by this post,
803 Whan that we come agayn fro Caunterbury.
804 And for to make yow the moore mury
805 I wol my-selven goodly with yow ryde
806 Right at myn owene cost, and be youre gyde.
807 And who so wole my juggement withseye
808 Shal paye al that we spenden by the weye.
809 And if ye vouchesauf that it be so,
810 Tel me anon, withouten wordes mo,
811 And I wol erly shape me therfore.
812 This thyng was graunted, and oure othes swore
813 With ful gald herte, and preyden hym also
814 That he wolde vouchesauf for to do so,
815 And that he wolde been oure governour,
816 And of our tales juge and reportour,
817 And sette a soper at a certeyn pris,
818 And we wol reuled been at his devys
819 In heigh and lough; and thus by oon assent
820 We been acorded to his juggement;
821 And therupon the wyn was fet anon,
822 We dronken, and to reste wente echon
823 Withouten any lenger taryynge.
824 Amorwe, whan that day bigan to sprynge, Notes 813-859
825 Up roos oure Hoost, and was oure aller cok,
826 And gadrede us to gidre, alle in a flok,
827 And forth we riden, a litel moore than paas,
828 Unto the wateryng of Seint Thomas.
829 And there oure Hoost bigan his hors areste,
830 And seyde, Lordynges, herkneth if yow leste,
831 Ye woot youre foreward, and I it yow recorde;
832 If even-song and morwe-song accorde,
833 Lat se now who shal telle the firste tale.
834 As evere mote I drynke wyn or ale,
835 Whoso be rebel to my juggement
836 Shal paye for al that by the wey is spent.
837 Now draweth cut, er that we ferrer twynne,
838 He which that hath the shorteste shal bigynne.
839 Sire knyght, quod he, my mayster and my lord,
840 Now draweth cut, for that is myn accord,
841 Cometh neer, quod he, my lady Prioresse,
842 And ye, Sir Clerk, lat be your shamefastnesse,
843 Ne studieth noght; ley hond to, every man.
844 Anon to drawen every wight bigan,
845 And shortly for to tellen as it was,
846 Were it by aventure, or sort, or cas,
847 The sothe is this, the cut fil to the knyght,
848 Of which ful blithe and glad was every wyght.
849 And telle he moste his tale, as was resoun,
850 By foreward and by composicioun,-
851 As ye han herd, what nedeth wordes mo?
852 And whan this goode man saugh that it was so,
853 As he that wys was and obedient
854 To kepe his foreward by his free assent,
855 He seyde, Syn I shal bigynne the game,
856 What, welcome be the cut, a Goddes name!
857 Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye.
858 And with that word we ryden forth oure weye,
859 And he bigan with right a myrie cheere
860 His tale anon, and seyde in this manere.