The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Cokes Tale.

Heer bigynneth the Cokes tale.

4365

A prentis whylom dwelled in our citee,

And of a craft of vitaillers was he;

Gaillard he was as goldfinch in the shawe,

Broun as a berie, a propre short felawe,

With lokkes blake, y-kempt ful fetisly.

4370

Dauncen he coude so wel and Iolily,

That he was cleped Perkin Revelour.

He was as ful of love and paramour

As is the hyve ful of hony swete;

(10)

Wel was the wenche with him mighte mete.

4375

At every brydale wolde he singe and hoppe,

He loved bet the taverne than the shoppe.

4366. E. vitailliers.   4369. E. ykempd; Hn. ykembd; rest ykempt.

 For whan ther any ryding was in Chepe,

Out of the shoppe thider wolde he lepe.

Til that he hadde al the sighte y-seyn,

4380

And daunced wel, he wolde nat come ageyn.

And gadered him a meinee of his sort

To hoppe and singe, and maken swich disport.

And ther they setten Steven for to mete

(20)

To pleyen at the dys in swich a strete.

4385

For in the toune nas ther no prentys,

That fairer coude caste a paire of dys

Than Perkin coude, and ther-to he was free

Of his dispense, in place of privetee.

That fond his maister wel in his chaffare;

4390

For often tyme he fond his box ful bare.

For sikerly a prentis revelour,

That haunteth dys, riot, or paramour,

His maister shal it in his shoppe abye,

(30)

Al have he no part of the minstralcye;

4395

For thefte and riot, they ben convertible,

Al conne he pleye on giterne or ribible.

Revel and trouthe, as in a low degree,

They been ful wrothe al day, as men may see.

4380. E. ayeyn.   4383. Pt. Ln. steuen; rest steuene.   4385. Pt. Ln. toune; rest toun.   4396. E. Ln. ribible; rest rubible.   4397. E. lowe.

 This Ioly prentis with his maister bood,

4400

Til he were ny out of his prentishood,

Al were he snibbed bothe erly and late,

And somtyme lad with revel to Newgate;

But atte laste his maister him bithoghte,

(40)

Up-on a day, whan he his paper soghte,

4405

Of a proverbe that seith this same word,

‘Wel bet is roten appel out of hord

Than that it rotie al the remenaunt.’

So fareth it by a riotous servaunt;

It is wel lasse harm to lete him pace,

4410

Than he shende alle the servants in the place.

Therfore his maister yaf him acquitance,

And bad him go with sorwe and with meschance;

And thus this Ioly prentis hadde his leve.

(50)

Now lat him riote al the night or leve.

4402. E. Newegate.   4404. E. Hn. Hl. papir.   4406. E. Hn. Cp. Hl. Appul.   4410. E. seruantz.

4415

 And for ther is no theef with-oute a louke,

That helpeth him to wasten and to souke

Of that he brybe can or borwe may,

Anon he sente his bed and his array

Un-to a compeer of his owne sort,

4420

That lovede dys and revel and disport,

And hadde a wyf that heeld for countenance

4422

A shoppe, and swyved for hir sustenance.

Of this Cokes tale maked Chaucer na more.

[For The Tale of Gamelin, see the Appendix.]

4415-22. Hl. omits.   4415. E. Hn. Cp. Ln. lowke; Pt. louke; Cm. loke.   4416. Pt. souke; rest sowke.   4419. E. compier; Hn. compeer; Cp. Pt. Ln. conpere.   Colophon. In Hn. only. Blank space in E.

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