The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Prologue

When that Aprille with his showres swoot

The drought of Marche hath percèd to the root,

And bathèd every veyn in suche licoúr,

From which vertu engendred is the flour;

When Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

Enspirèd hath in every holte and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Hath in the Ram his halfe course runne,

And smale fowles maken melodie,

That slepen al the night with open eye,

So pricketh them natúre in their coráges:—

Thenne longen folk to go on pilgrimàges,

And palmers for to seeken strange strandes,

To distant seintes, known in sondry landes;

And specially, from every shires ende

Of Engelond, to Canturbury they wende,

The holy blisful martir for to seeke,

That them hath holpen when that they were weeke.

Byfel that, in that seson on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabbard as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimáge
To Canturbury with ful devout coráge,
At night was come into that hostelrie
Wel nyne and twenty in a companye,
Of sondry folk, by áventúre i-falle
In felowshipe, and pilgryms were they alle,
That toward Canturbury wolden ryde.
The chambres and the stables weren wyde,
And wel we weren lodgèd at the beste.
And shortly, when the sonne was to reste,
So hadde I spoken with them everyone,
That I was of their felowshipe anon,
And made covenant erly to aryse,
To take oure weye where I shal you devyse.
But nonetheles, whiles I have tyme and space,
Or that I ferther in this tale pace,
Me thinketh it according to resoún,
To telle you alle the condicioún
Of eche of them, so as it semèd me,
And who they weren, and of what degree;
And eek in what array that they were inne:
And at a knight than wil I first bygynne.

A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
That from the tyme that he ferst bigan
To ryden out, he lovèd chyvalrye,
Trouth and honoúr, fredóm and curtesie.
Ful worthi was he in his Lordes warre,
And thereto had he riden, noman so farre,
As wel in Cristendom as hethenesse,
And ever honoured for his worthinesse.
At Alisandre he was when it was wonne,
Ful ofte tyme he hadde the feast begunne
Aboven alle the knights that were in Pruce.
In Lettowe had he ridden and in Ruce
No cristen man so ofte of his degree.
In Gernade at the siege eek had he be
Of Algesir, and riden in Belmarie.
At Lieys was he, and at Satalie,
When they were wonne; and in the Grete see
At many a noble landyng had he be.
At mortal batailles had he been fiftene,
And foughten for oure feith at Tramassene
In lystes thrice, and ever slayn his foe.
This same worthi knight had ben also
Somtyme with the lord of Palatye,
Ageynst another hethen in Turkye:
And evermore he hadde a sovereyn price.
And though that he was worthy he was wyse,
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet no vilonye had sayde
In al his lyf, unto no manner of wight.
He was a very perfit gentil knight.
But for to telle you of his array,
His hors was good, but yet he was not gay.
Of fustyan he ware a cotepleyn
Whereon his hauberk left ful many a stain.
For he was late come from his voyáge,
And wente for to do his pilgrimáge.

With him ther was his sone, a yong Squyer,
A lover, and a lusty bacheler,
With lokkes curled as if they lay in presse.
Of twenty yeer he was of age I gesse.
Of his statúre he was of even lengthe,
And wondrous quik he was, and gret of strengthe.
And he had been somtyme in chivalrye,
In Flaundres, in Artoys, and in Picardie,
And born him wel, though in so litel space,
In hope to standen in his ladies grace.
Embroidred was he, as it were a mead
Al ful of fresshe floures, white and red.
Syngynge he was, or flutynge, al the day;
He was as fressh as is the month of May.
Short was his goune, with sleeves long and wyde.
Wel coud he sitte on hors, and faire ryde.
He coude songes make and wel endite,
Joust and eek daunce, and wel purtray and write.
So much he lovèd, that by nightertale
He slept nomore than doth a nightyngale.
Curteous he was, lowly, and servisable,
And carved byfore his fader at the table.

A Yeoman had he, and servántes nomo
At that tyme, for him liste ryde so;
And he was clad in cote and hood of grene.
A shef of pecok arrows bright and kene
Under his belte he bare ful thriftily.
Wel coude he dresse his tackel yeomanly;
His arrows droopèd nought with fetheres low.
And in his hond he bare a mighty bowe.
A round-hed had he with a broun viságe.
Of woode-craft wel knew he al the uságe.
Upon his arme he bar a gay bracer,
And by his side a swerd and buckeler,
And on that other side a gay daggere,
Adornèd wel, and sharp as poynt of spere;
A buckle on his brest of silver shene.
An horn he bare, the girdle was of grene;
A forester was he soothly, as I gesse.

Ther was also a Nonne, a Prioresse,
That of her smylyng was ful symple and coy;
Her grettest oth was only — by seynt Loy;
And she was namèd madame Englentyne.
Ful wel she sang the servises divyne,
Entunèd in her nose ful seemely;
And Frensh she spake ful faire and sweetely,
After the scole of Stratford-atte- Bowe,
For Frensh of Parys was to her unknowe.
At mete wel i-taught was she in all;
She let no morsel from her lippes falle,
Nor wet her fyngres in her sauce deepe.
Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel keepe,
That never drope upon her brest should be.
For al her thoughte was sett on curtesie.
Her overlippe wypèd she so clene,
That in her cuppe was no ferthing sene
Of greese, when she dronken hadde withinne.
Ful semely to ete she did beginne.
And certeynly she was of gret disport,
And ful plesánt, and amyable of port,
And peynèd her to counterfete cheere
Of court, and to be stately of manére,
And to be holden digne of reverence.
But for to speken of her conscience,
She was so charitable and so piteous,
She wolde weepe if that she saw a mous
Caught in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde.
Of smale houndes had she, that she fedde
With rosted flessh, and mylk, and wastel breed.
But sore wepte she if one of them were ded,
Or if men smote it with a stikke smerte:
And al was conscience and tendre herte.
Ful semely her cloke i- pynchèd was;
Her nose streight; her eyen grey as glas;
Her mouth ful smal, and therto soft and red;
But certeynly she hadde a fair forheed.
It was almost a spanne broad, I trowe:
For verrily she was not undergrowe.
Ful faire was her robe, as I was war.
Of smal corál aboute her arme she bare
A paire of bedes, the greatest were of grene;
And theron hung a broch of gold ful shene,
On which was first i-writ a crownèd A,
And after, Amor vincit omnia.
Another Nonne also with her had she,
That was her chapelleyn, and Prestes three.

A Monk ther was, wel fit for sovereyntee,
An out-rydere, that lovèd venerye;
A manly man, to be an abbot able.
Ful many a dainty hors had he in stable:
And whan he rode, men might his bridel here
Jyngle in a whistlyng wynd so cleere,
And eek as loude as doth — the chapel belle.
Where that this lord was keper of the celle,
The rule of seynt Maure or of seint Beneyt,
Bycause that it was old and somwhat streyt,
This ilke monk let pass the olde day,
And helde after the newe time alway.
He gaf nat for that text a pullèd hen,
That seith, that hunters be no holy men;
Nor that a monk, when he is cloysterless,
Is likened to a fisshe that is watirless,
This is to sey, a monk out of his cloystre.
But that same text held he not worth an oystre.
And I seide his opinioun was good.
Why! shulde he studie, and make himselve wood,
Uppon a book in cloystre alway to pore,
Or diggen with his handes, and laboúre,
As Austyn bad? How shal the world be served?
Lat Austyn have his toil to him reserved.
Therefore a horsman ever he was aright;
Greyhoundes he had as swifte as fowl in flight;
Of prickyng and of huntyng for the hare
Was his delight, for no cost wolde he spare.
I saw his sleves rounded at the hand
With fur, and that the fynest in the land.
And for to fastne his hood under his chyn
He hadde of gold y-wrought a curious pyn:
A love-knotte in the gretter ende ther was.
His heed was bald, and shon as eny glas,
And eek his face as he had been anoynt.
He was a lord ful fat and in good poynt;
His eyen bright, and rollyng in his heed,
That stemèd al as doth a furnace red;
His bootes souple, his hors in gret estate.
Now certeinly he was a fair prelate;
He was not pale as a for-pynèd ghost.
A fat swan loved he best of eny roast.
His palfray was as broun as is a berye.

A Frere ther was, a wanton and a merye,
A prechour, and a ful solemne man.
In alle the ordres foure is non that can
So moche of daliaunce and fair langáge.
He had i-made many a mariáge
Of yonge wymmen, at his owne cost.
Unto his ordre he was a noble post.
Ful wel biloved and familiar was he
With frankeleyns everywhere in his cuntree,
And eek with worthi wommen of the toun:
For he hadde power of confessioún,
As seyde himself, more than a curáte,
For of his ordre he was licenciat.
Ful sweetly herde he their confessioún,
And plesaunt was his absolucioún;
He was an esy man to geve penance
When that he thought to have a good pitance
For unto a poore ordre for to give
Is signe that a man is wel i-shrive.
For if he gaf, he dorste make avaunt,
He wiste that a man was répentaúnt.
For many a man so hard is of his herte,
He may not wepe though he sore smerte.
Therefore in-stede of wepyng and prayéres,
Men may give silver to the pore freres.
His typet was ay stuffèd ful of knyfes
And pynnes, for to give to faire wyfes.
And certaynly he hadde a mery note.
Wel coude he synge and pleyen on a flute.
Of songes he bar utterly the price.
His nekke whit was as the fluer-de-lys.
Therto he strong was as a champioún.
He knew the tavernes wel in every toun,
And every ostiller or gay tapstere,
Better than lazars or the pore beggere,
For unto such a worthi man as he
It was not right, as by his facultee,
To have with such sick lazars áqueyntaúnce.
It is not honest, it may not advaunce,
For a good Frere to dele with such poraile,
But al with riche and sellers of vitaille,
And specially when profyt shulde arise.
Curteous he was, and gentil of servyse.
Ther was no man nowher so vertuous.
He was the beste begger in al his hous,
For though a widewe hadde but one shoe,
So plesaunt was his In principio,
Yet wolde he have a ferthing ere he wente.
His begging was far better than his rente.
And rage he coude and pleye right as a whelpe,
In love-dayes coude he people helpe.
For then was he not like a cloysterer,
With a thredbare cope as a pore scolér,
But he was like a maister or a pope.
Of double worsted was his semy-cope,
That round was, as a belle, out of the presse.
Somwhat he lipsed, for his wantounesse,
To make his Englissh swete upon his tunge;
And in his harpyng, when that he hadde sunge,
His eyen twynkled in his hed aright,
As do the sterres in the frosty night.
This worthi prechour was y-called Huberd.

A Marchaunt was ther with a forked berd,
In motteleye, and high on horse he sat,
Uppon his hed a Flaundrish bever hat;
His botes buckled faire and properly.
His resons spak he ful solemnely,
Touching alway the encrease of his wynnyngs.
He wolde the see were guarded for his thinges
Betwixe Middulburgh and Orewelle.
Wel coude he in eschange sheeldes selle.
This worthi man ful wel his wittes sette;
Ther wiste no man that he was in dette,
So éstately was he of governaunce,
With his bargayns, and with his sufficience.
For sothe he was a worthi man withalle,
I know not, sooth to say, what men him calle.

A Clerk ther was of Oxenford also,
That unto logik had long tyme i-go.
As lene was his hors as is a rake,
And he was not right fat, I undertake;
But lokede hollow, and therto soberly.
Ful thredbare was his overest cloke to see,
For he hadde nought geten him a benefice,
Nor was so worldly to have high office.
For he wold rather have at his beddes hed
Twenty bookes, clothed in blak and red,
Of Aristotil, and his philosophie,
Then robes riche, or fiddle, or psaltery.
But although that he were a philosóphre,
Yet had he but a litul gold in cofre;
But al that he might gete, and his frendes sent,
On bookes and his lernyng he it spent,
And busily gan for the soules pray
Of them that gaf him money to scolay.
Of studie tooke he most cure and most heede.
Not one word spak he more than was need;
Al that he spak it was of heye prudence,
And short, and quyk, and ful of gret sentence.
Sowndynge in moral virtu was his speche,
And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.

A Sergeant of Lawe, wys and war,
That often hadde ben wher lawyers are,
Ther was also, ful riche of excellence.
Discret he was, and of gret reverence
He semèd such, his wordes were so wise.
Justice he was ful often in assise,
By patent, and by pleyn commissioún;
For his science, and for his high renoun,
Of fees and robes had he many a one.
So gret a lawyer was there nowher noon.
Al was fee symple to him in effecte,
His word of law might never be suspecte.
Nowher so busy a man in eny case,
And yet he semèd busier than he was.
In termes of lawe had he the judgementes al,
That from the tymes of kyng Will were falle.
Thereto he coude endite, and make a thing,
Ther coude no man blame aught of his writyng.
And every statute coude he pleyn by rote.
He rode but hoomly in a medly cote,
Girt with a girdle of silk, with barres smale;
Of his array telle I no lenger tale.

A Frankeleyn ther was in our companye
White was his beard, as is the dayesye.
Of his complexioun he was sangwyn.
Wel loved he in the morn a sop of wyn.
To lyven in delite he loved allone,
For he was Epicurus owne son,
That held opynyoun that pleyn delite
Was verrily felicitee perfýt.
An householder, and that a gret, was he;
Seynt Julian he was in his countree.
His bred, his ale, was alway best of al;
His store of wyn was known in special.
Withoute bake mete never was his hous,
Of flessh and fissh, and that so plentyous,
It snowèd in his hous of mete and drynk,
And alle deyntees that men coude thynk.
After the sondry sesouns of the yeer,
He chaungèd them at mete and at soper.
Ful many a fat partrich had he in mewe,
And many a bream and many a luce in stewe.
Wo was his cook, unless his sauce were
Poynant and sharp, and redy al his gear.
His table dormant in his halle alway
Stood redy covered al the longe day.
At sessions there was he lord and sire.
Ful ofte tyme he was knight of the shire.
A dagger and a wallet al of silk
Heng at his gerdul, white as morning mylk.
A shirreve and a counter hadde he ben,
Was nowher such a worthi Frankeleyn.

An Haberdassher and a Carpenter,
A Webber, a Dyer, and a Tapicer,
Were with us eek, clothed in one lyveree,
Of a solemne and gret fraternitee.
Ful fressh and newe their gear y-trimmèd was;
Their knyfes were y-sette nat with bras,
But al with silver wrought ful clene and faire,
Their gurdles and their pouches every where.
Wel semèd eche of them a fair burgeys,
To sitten in a gildehalle on the dais.
Every man for the wisdom that he can,
Was fitted for to be an alderman.
For money hadde they inough, and rente,
And eek their wyfes wolde it wel assente;
And else certeyn had they ben to blame.
It is right fair for to be clept madame.
And for to go to churches al byfore,
And have a mantel roially i-bore.

A Cook thei hadde with them for the nonce,
To boyle chikens and the marrow bones,
And to make powders swete and tasten wel.
Wel coude he knowe a draught of London ale.
He coude roste, sethe, broille, and frie,
Make soupe and brawn and bake wel a pye.
But gret harm was it, as it semèd me,
That on his shin a sore wound had he;
For blankemange he made with the beste.

A Shipman was ther, dwellyng far by weste:
For ought I wot, he was of Dertemouthe.
He rode upon a hackneye, as he coude,
In gowne woollen falling to the knee.
A dagger hangyng on a lace had he
Aboute his nekke under his arm adoun.
The hot somér had made his hew al broun;
And certeinly he was a good feláwe.
Ful many a draught of wyn had he y-drawe
From Burdeaux-ward, whil that the merchant sleep.
Of nyce conscience took he no keep.
If that he foughte, and had the higher hand,
By water he sente it home to every land.
But of his craft to reckon wel the tydes,
His stremes and his dangers al bisides,
His harbour and his moone, his pilotage,

Ther was none such from Hulle to Cartage.
Hardy he was, and wys to undertake;
With many a tempest hath his beard ben shake,
He knew wel alle the havenes, as thei were,
From Scotlond to the cape of Fynestere,
And every creek in Bretayne and in Spayne;
His barge y-clepèd was the Magdelayne.
Ther was also a Doctour of Phisík,
In al this worlde was ther non him like
To speke of phisik and of surgerye;
For he was grounded in astronomye.
He kepte his pacient wondrously and wel
In al houres by his magik naturel.
Wel coude he gesse the ascending of the star
Wherein his patientes fortunes settled were.
He knew the cause of every maladye,
Were it of cold, or hete, or moyst, or drye,
And where they engendred, and of what humoúr;
He was a very parfit practisour.
The cause once knowen and his right measúre,
Anon he gaf the syke man his cure.
Ful redy hadde he his apothecaries,
To sende him drugges, and electuaries,
For eche of them made the other for to wynne;
Their frendshipe was not newe to begynne.
Wel knew he the old Esculapius,
And Deiscorides, and eek Rufus;
Old Ypocras, Haly, and Galien;
Serapyon, Razis, and Avycen;
Averrois, Damascen, and Constantyn;
Bernard, and Gatisden, and Gilbertyn.
Of his diete mesuráble was he,
For it was of no superfluitee,
But of gret norishing and digestible.
His studie was but litel on the Bible.
In blue he clad was al and in sangwyn
Lynèd with taffata and silke thin.
And yit he was but esy in dispence;
He kepte that he won in pestilence.
For gold in phisik is a cordial;
Therfore he lovèd gold in special.

A good Wif of beside Bathe ther was,
But she was ever somwhat def, allas.
In cloth-makýng she had such judgement,
She passèd them of Ypris and of Ghent.
In al the parrissh wyfe was ther none
That to the altar byfore hir shulde goon,
And if ther dide, certeyn so wroth was she,
That she was thenne out of alle charitee.
Her kerchiefs weren al ful fyne of grounde;
I durste swere they weigheden ten pounde
That on a Sonday were upon her hed.
Hir hosen were of fyne scarlett red,
Ful streyt y-tyed, and shoes ful moyste and newe
Bold was hir face, and fair, and red of hewe.
She was a worthy womman al her lyfe,
Husbondes at chirche dore hadde she fyfe,
Withouten other companye in youthe;
But thereof needeth nought to speke the truth.
And thrice she had ben at Jerusalem;
She hadde passèd many a strange streem;
At Rome she had ben, and at Boloyne,
In Galice at seynt Jame, and at Coloyne.
She knewe moche of wandrying by the weye.
Big- toothèd was she, sothly for to seye.
Upon an amblere esely she sat,
Clokèd ful wel, and on her hed an hat
As brood as is a buckler or a targe;
A foot-mantel aboute her hippes large,
And on her feet a paire of spurres sharpe.
In felawshipe wel coude she laughe and carpe.
Of remedyes of love she knew parchaunce,
For of that art she knew the olde daunce.

A good man was ther of religioún,
And was a poore Parson of a town;
But riche he was of holy thought and werk.
He was also a lernèd man, a clerk
That Cristes gospel gladly wolde preach;
His parishioners devoutly wolde he teach.
Benigne he was, and wondrous diligent,
And in adversitee ful pacient;
And such he was i-provèd ofte to be.
To cursen for his tithes ful lothe was he,
But rather wolde he given out of doute,
Unto his pore parishioners aboute,
Of his offrynge, and eek of his substaunce.
He coude in litel thing have sufficience.
Wyd was his parish, and houses far asonder,
But yet he lafte not for reyne or thonder,
In siknesse and in meschief to visíte
The ferthest in his parisshe, smal and great
Uppon his feet, and in his hand a staf.
This noble ensample unto his sheep he gaf,
That ferst he wroughte, and after that he taughte,
Out of the gospel he those wordes caughte,
And this figúre he addid yet therto,
That if gold ruste, what shulde iron do?
For if a priest be foul, on whom we truste,
No wonder if the ignorant shulde ruste;
And shame it is, if that a priest take kepe,
A dirty shepperd and a clene shepe;
Wel oughte a priest ensample for to give,
By his clennesse, how that his sheep shulde lyve.
He sette not his benefice to hire,
And lefte his sheep encombred in the myre,
And ran to Londone, unto seynte Paules,
To seeken him a chaunterie for soules,
Or with a brothurhood to be withholde;
But dwelte at hoom, and kepte wel his folde,
So that the wolfe made it not myscarye.
He was a shepperde and no mercenarie;
And though he holy were, and vertuous,
He was to sinful man ful piteous,
Nor of his speche wrathful nor yet fine,
But in his teching díscret and benigne.
To drawe folk to heven by clenenesse,
By good ensample, was his busynesse:
But were it eny person obstinat,
What-so he were of high or lowe estat,
Him wolde he snubbe sharply for the nonce.
A bettre priest I trowe ther nowher non is.
He wayted after no pompe nor reverence,
Nor made himself spicèd in conscience,
But Cristes love, and his apostles twelve,
He taught, and ferst he folwed it himselve.

With him there was a Ploughman, was his brother,
That hadde i-lad of dung ful many a fother.
A trewe worker and a good was he,
Lyvynge in pees and perfit charitee.
God loved he best with al his trewe herte
At alle tymes, though he laughed or smerte,
And thenne his neighebour right as himselve.
He wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delve,
For Cristes sake, with every pore wight,
Withouten hyre, if it laye in his might.
His tythes payèd he ful faire and wel,
Bothe by his owne work and his catel.
In a round coat he rode upon a mare.

There was also a reeve and a mellere,
A summoner and a pardoner also,
A manciple, and my-self, ther was no mo.

The Mellere was a stout carl for the nones,
Ful big he was of braun, and eek of bones;
And proved it wel, for everywhere he cam,
At wrastlynge he wolde bere awey the ram.
He was short shuldred, broode, a thikke feláw,
There was no dore he coude not heave and drawe
Or breke it at a runnyng with his hed.
His beard as eny sowe or fox was red,
And therto brood, as though it were a spade.
Upon the cop right of his nose he had
A werte, and theron stood a tuft of heres,
Red as the berstles of a sowes eeres.
His nose- trilles blake were and wyde.
A swerd and bocler bar he by his side,
His mouth as wyde was as a gret forneys.
He was a jangler, and a singer of lays,
And that was most of synne and harlotries.
Wel coude he stele corn, and profit thrice;
In profit he hadde a thombe of gold alway.
A whit cote and a blew hood werèd he.
A baggepipe coude he blowe and sowne,
And therwithal he brought us out of towne.

A gentil Manciple was ther of a temple,
Of which al buyers mighten take exemple
For to be wys in buyyng of vitaille.
For whether that he payde, or took by taille,
Ever he watchèd so to buy or sell,
That he was ay bifore and farèd wel.
Now is not that of God a ful fair grace,
That such a simple mannes wit shal pass
The wisdom of an heep of lerned men?
Of mastres hadde he mo than thrice ten,
That were of lawe expert and curious;
Of which there were a doseyn in an hous,
Al worthi to be stiwards of rente and lond
Of any lord that is in Engelond,
To make him lyve by his propre good,
In honour detteles, unless he were wood,
Or lyve as scarsly as he can desire;
And able for to helpen al a shire
In any case that mighte happe or falle;
And yit this manciple past the wit of all.

The Reeve was a slendre colerik man,
His beard was shave as nigh as ever he can.
His heer was by his eres rounde i-shorn.
His top was dockèd lyk a priest biforn.
Ful longe were his legges, and ful lene,
Al like a staff, ther was no calf y-sene.
Wel coude he kepe a garner and a bynne;
Ther was no auditour coude from him wynne.
Wel wiste he by the drought, and by the reyn,
The yeeldyng of his seed, and of his greyn.
His lordes sheep, his cattle, his dayerie,
His swyn, his hors, his store, and his poultrie,
Was wholely in this reeves governynge,
And as he seyd so was the rekenynge,
Since that his lord of age was twenti yeer;
There coude noman bringe him in arrear.
Bailiff and herd and men of al degree,
Knewen ful wel his sleight and subtiltee;
They were adread of him, as of the deth.
His dwellyng was ful fair upon an hethe,
With grene trees i-shadewed was his place.
He coude bettre than his lord purcháce.
Ful riche he was i-storèd privily,
His lord wel coude he plese subtilly,
To geve and lend him from his owne good,
And have a thank, a cote, and eek an hood.
In youthe he hadde ben a good werker;
He was a wel good wright, a carpenter.
This reeve sat upon a wel good stot,
That was a pomely gray, and namèd Scot.
A long surcote of blew uppon he hadde,
And by his side he bar a rusty blade.
Of Northfolk was this reeve of which I telle,
Byside a toun men callen Baldeswelle.
Tuckèd he was, as is a friar, aboute,
And ever he rood the hynderest of the route.

A Summoner was with us in that place,
That hadde a fyr-red cherubynes face,
For spotted al he was, with eyen narrow.
As hot he was, and lecherous, as a sparrow,
With roughe browes blak, and shorte berd;
Of his viságe children were sore afeard.
No quyksilver, litarge, nor bremstone,
Boras, ceruce, nor oille of tartre none,
Nor oyntement that wolde clense and byte,
Might ever help him of his whelkes white,
Or of the knobbes sittyng on his cheekes.
Wel loved he garleek, oynouns, and eek leekes,
And for to drinke strong wyn red as blood.
Thenne wolde he speke, and crye as he were wood.
And when that he wel dronken had the wyn,
Than wolde he speke no word but Latyn.
A fewe termes had he, tuo or three,
That he hadde lernèd out of som decree;
No wonder is, he herde it al the day;
And eek he knowe wel, how that a jay
Can clepe “Watte,” as wel as can the king.
But who-so wolde him try in other thing,
Thenne hadde he spent al his philosophie,
Ay, Questio quid juris, wolde he crye,
He was a gentil felaw and a kynde;
A bettre summoner shulde men nowher fynde.
He wolde suffre for a quart of wyn
A good felawe to have his concubyn
A twelve month, and excuse him utterly.
And fooles coude he deceive privily.
And if he fond somewhere a good feláwe,
He wolde teche him for to have no awe
In such a case of the archedeknes curse,
Unless a mannes soule were in his purse;
For in his purs he sholde punysshed be.
“Thy purse and money is thy hell,” quoth he.
But wel I wot he lyèd right in dede;
For cursyng ought each gilty man to drede;
Cursing wil slay and bring damnation;
Bewar of excommunication.
In his control he hadde at his assise
The yonge wommen of the diocise,
And knew their counseil, and their every nede
A garland had he set upon his hed,
As gret as it were for an alehouse-stake;
A buckler had he made him of a cake.

With him there rood a gentil Pardoner
Of Rouncival, his friend and his compeer,
That streyt was comen from the court of Rome.
Ful loude he sang, Come hider, love, to me.
This summoner sang to him in deepe tone,
Was nevere trumpe of half so gret a soun.
This pardoner had heer as yellow as wex,
But smothe it hung, as doth a strike of flex;
By ounces hunge his lokkes that he hadde,
And therwith he his shuldres overspredde.
Ful thinne it lay, in lengthes, one by one,
And hood, for jolitee, werèd he none,
For it was trussèd up in his wallet.
He thought he rode al of the newe set,
Disheveled, save his cappe, he rode al bare.
Suche glaryng eyen hadde he as an hare.
A Christes image hung upon his cappe.
His wallet lay byfore him in his lappe,
Brim-ful of pardouns come from Rome al hot.
A voys he had as smale as eny goat.
No beard had he, nor never beard sholde have,
As smothe it was as it ware late i-shave;
I trow he were a geldyng or a mare.
But of his craft, from Berwyk unto Ware,
Ther was not such another pardoner.
For in his bag he hadde a pilow there,
Which that he saide, was oure Ladys veyl:
He seide, he hadde a gobet of the seyl
That seynt Peter hadde, when that he wente
Uppon the see, til Jhesu Crist him hente.
He hadde a cros of brasse ful of stones,
And in a glas he hadde pigges bones.
But with these reliques, whenne that he found
A pore persoun dwellyng uppon ground,
Upon a day he gat him more moneye
Than that the parsoun gat in monthes tweye.
And thus with feynèd flaterie and japes,
He made the parsoun and the people his apes.
But trewely to tellen at the laste,
He was in churche a noble ecclesiaste.
Wel cowde he rede a lessoun or a storye,
But best of al he sang an offertorie;
For wel knew he, when that the song was songe,
He muste preche, and wel affyle his tunge,
To wynne silver, as he right wel coude;
Therefore he sang ful merily and loude.

Now have I told you shortly in a clause
Thestate, tharray, the nombre, and eek the cause
Why that assembled was this companye
In Southwerk at this gentil ostelrie,
That highte the Tabbard, faste by the Belle.
But now is tyme to you for to telle
How that we bare us in that same night,
When we were in that ostelrie alight;
And after wil I telle of oure viáge,
And al the remnaunt of oure pilgrimage.
But ferst I pray you of your curtesie,
That ye ne think it not my vilanye,
Though that I speke al pleyn in this matére,
To tellen you their wordes and their cheere;
Nor though I speke their wordes properly.
For this ye knowen al-so wel as I,
Who-so shal telle a tale after a man,
He moste reherce, as nigh as ever he can,
Every word, if it be in his charge,
Though speke he never so rudely nor so large;
Or else must he telle his tale untrewe,
Or feyne thing, or fynde wordes newe.
He may not spare, though he were his brother;
He moste as wel say one word as another.
Crist spak himself ful broade in holy writ,
And wel ye wot no vilanye is it.
Eke Plato seith, who-so that can him rede,
The wordes must be cosyn to the dede.
Also I pray you to forgeve it me,
If I have folk not set in their degree
Here in this tale, as that they shulde stonde;
My wit is thynne, ye may wel understonde.

Greet cheere made oure host us every one,
And to the souper sette he us anon;
And servèd us with vitaille as he could,
Strong was the wyn, and wel we drynken wolde.
A semely man oure ostewas withalle
For to have been a marchal in an halle;
A large man was he with eyen deep,
A fairere burgeys is ther noon in Chepe:
Bold of his speche, and wys, and wel i-taught,
And of manhoode lakkèd he right naught.
Eke therto he was right a mery man,
And after soper playen he bygan,
And spak of myrthe amonges other thinges,
When that we al hadde made our rekonynges;
And saydethus: “Lo, lordynges, trewely
Ye be to me right welcome hertily:
For by my trothe, if that I shal not lye,
I never saw so mery a companye
At one time in this harbour as is now.
Fayn wold I do you merthe, wiste I how.
And of a merthe I am right now bythought,
To do you ese, and it shal coste nought.
Ye go to Caunturbury; God you speede,
The blisful martir give you al youre meede!
And wel I wot, as ye go by the weye,
Ye shapen you to talken and to pleye;
For trewely comfórt and merthe is none
To ryde by the weye domb as a stoon;
And therfore wil I make you some disport,
As I seyde erst, and do you som confórt.
And if you liketh alle by one assent
Now for to standen at my judgement,
And for to werken as I shal you seye,
To morrow, when ye riden by the weye,
Now by my fadres soule that is ded,
Save ye be merye, smyteth off myn hed.
Hold up youre hond withoute more speche.”
Oure counseil was not longe for to seche;
Us thoughte it was not worth to say him nay,
And graunted him withoute more delay,
And bad him say his verdite, as him leste.
“Lordynges,” quoth he, “now herken for the beste;
But take it not, I pray you, in disdayn;
This is the poynt, to speken short and playn,
That each of you to shorten this youre weie,
In this viáge, shal telle tales tweye,
To Caunturburi- ward, I mene it so,
And hom-ward he shal tellen other tuo,
Of áventúres that there have bifalle.
And which of you that bereth him best of alle,
That is to seye, that telleth in this case
Tales of best senténce and of soláce,
Shal have a soper at the cost of al
Here in this place sittynge in this halle,
When that we comen ageyn from Canturbery.
And for to make you the more mery,
I wil myselven gladly with you ryde,
Right at myn owen cost, and be youre gyde.
And who-so wile my judgement withseie
Shal paye for al we spenden by the weye.
And if ye vouchesafe that it be so,
Telle me anon, withouten wordes mo,
And I wil erly shape me therfore.”
This thing was graunted, and oure othes swore
With ful glad herte, and prayden him also
That he would vouchesafe for to do so,
And that he wolde be oure governour,
And of our tales judge and réportour,
And sette a souper at a certeyn prys;
And we wolde rewlèd be at his devys,
In high and lowe; and thus by one assent
We be accorded to his judgement.
And therupon the wyn was fet anon;
We dronken, and to reste wente each one,
Withouten eny lengere taryinge.
And when the morning day bigan to sprynge,
Up rose oure ost, and broughte us out of sleep,
And gadered us togider alle in a heep,
And forth we riden a litel more than pace,
Unto the waterynge of seint Thomas.
And there oure ost bigan his hors areste,
And seyde, “Lordes, herken if you liste.
Ye wot youre covenant, and I it you recorde.
If eve-song and morning-song acorde,
Let see now who telle ferst a tale.
As evere I may drinke wyn or ale,
Who-so be rebel to my judgement
Shal paye for al that by the weye is spent.
Now draw the straws, ere that we forther win;
And he that hath the shortest shal bygynne.”
“Sir knight,” quoth he, “my maister and my lord,
Now draw the cut, for that is myn acord.
Come near,” quoth he, “my lady prioresse;
And ye, sir clerk, let be your shamfastnesse,
Ne studie not; ley hand to, every man.”

Anon to drawen every wight bigan,
And shortly for to tellen as it was,
Were it by áventure, or other case,
The sooth is this, the cut fil to the knight,
Of which ful glad and blithe was every wight;
And telle he moste his tale as was resoún,
By covenant and composicioún,
As ye have herd; what needeth worde mo?
And when this good man saw that it was so,
As one that wys was and obedient
To kepe his covenant by his free assent,
He seyde: “Since I shal then bygynne the game,
What! welcome be the cut, in Goddes name!
Now lat us ryde, and herken what I seye.”

And with that word we riden forth oure weye:
And he bigan with right a merie chere
His tale, and seide right in this manére.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/chaucer/canterbury/burrell/prologue.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37