The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Monk’s Prologue.

The mery wordes of the Host to the Monk.

Whan ended was my tale of Melibee,

3080

And of Prudence and hir benignitee,

Our hoste seyde, ‘as I am faithful man,

And by the precious corpus Madrian,

I hadde lever than a barel ale

That goode lief my wyf hadde herd this tale!

3085

For she nis no-thing of swich pacience

As was this Melibeus wyf Prudence.

By goddes bones! whan I bete my knaves,

(10)

She bringth me forth the grete clobbed staves,

And cryeth, “slee the dogges everichoon,

3090

And brek hem, bothe bak and every boon.”

And if that any neighebor of myne

Wol nat in chirche to my wyf enclyne,

Or be so hardy to hir to trespace,

Whan she comth hoom, she rampeth in my face,

3095

And cryeth, “false coward, wreek thy wyf,

By corpus bones! I wol have thy knyf,

And thou shalt have my distaf and go spinne!”

(20)

Fro day to night right thus she wol biginne; —

“Allas!” she seith, “that ever I was shape

3100

To wedde a milksop or a coward ape,

That wol be overlad with every wight!

Thou darst nat stonden by thy wyves right!”

This is my lyf, but-if that I wol fighte;

And out at dore anon I moot me dighte,

3105

Or elles I am but lost, but-if that I

Be lyk a wilde leoun fool-hardy.

I woot wel she wol do me slee som day

(30)

Som neighebor, and thanne go my wey.

For I am perilous with knyf in honde,

3110

Al be it that I dar nat hir withstonde,

For she is big in armes, by my feith,

That shal he finde, that hir misdooth or seith.

But lat us passe awey fro this matere.

Heading. From E.; Hn. Here bigynneth The Prologe of the Monkes tale.   E. murye.   3082. the] E. Hn. that.   3085. E. Hn. omit For.   3094. Pt. hoom; Hl. hom; Cp. Ln. home; E. Hn. omit.   3099. E. Hn. euere that I.   3110. E. Cp. Ln. hire nat; Hn. Cm. Pt. Hl. nat hire.

 My lord the Monk,’ quod he, ‘be mery of chere;

3115

For ye shul telle a tale trewely.

Lo! Rouchestre stant heer faste by!

Ryd forth, myn owene lord, brek nat our game,

(40)

But, by my trouthe, I knowe nat your name,

Wher shal I calle yow my lord dan Iohn,

3120

Or dan Thomas, or elles dan Albon?

Of what hous be ye, by your fader kin?

I vow to god, thou, hast a ful fair skin,

It is a gentil pasture ther thou goost;

Thou art nat lyk a penaunt or a goost.

3125

Upon my feith, thou art som officer,

Som worthy sexteyn, or som celerer,

For by my fader soule, as to my doom,

(50)

Thou art a maister whan thou art at hoom;

No povre cloisterer, ne no novys,

3130

But a governour, wyly and wys.

And therwithal of brawnes and of bones

A wel-faring persone for the nones.

I pray to god, yeve him confusioun

That first thee broghte un-to religioun;

3135

Thou woldest han been a trede-foul aright.

Haddestow as greet a leve, as thou hast might

To parfourne al thy lust in engendrure,

(60)

Thou haddest bigeten many a creature.

Alas! why werestow so wyd a cope?

3140

God yeve me sorwe! but, and I were a pope,

Not only thou, but every mighty man,

Thogh he were shorn ful hye upon his pan,

Sholde have a wyf; for al the world is lorn!

Religioun hath take up al the corn

3145

Of treding, and we borel men ben shrimpes!

Of feble trees ther comen wrecched impes.

This maketh that our heires been so sclendre

(70)

And feble, that they may nat wel engendre.

This maketh that our wyves wol assaye

3150

Religious folk, for ye may bettre paye

Of Venus payements than mowe we;

God woot, no lussheburghes payen ye!

But be nat wrooth, my lord, for that I pleye;

Ful ofte in game a sooth I have herd seye.’

3114. E. Hn. myrie.   3119, 20. E. daun.   3129. E. Hn. Pt. Ln. cloistrer.   3138. E. Hn. ful many.   3147, 8. E. om. these lines; from Hn.; Hn. Cm. sklendre; Cp. Pt. sclendre (sclendere).   3151. E. paiementz.   3152. E. Hn. lussheburgh; Cp. lussheburghes; Hl. lusscheburghes.

3155

 This worthy monk took al in pacience,

And seyde, ‘I wol doon al my diligence,

As fer as souneth in-to honestee,

(80)

To telle yow a tale, or two, or three.

And if yow list to herkne hiderward,

3160

I wol yow seyn the lyf of seint Edward;

Or elles first Tragedies wol I telle

Of whiche I have an hundred in my celle.

Tragedie is to seyn a certeyn storie,

As olde bokes maken us memorie,

3165

Of him that stood in greet prosperitee

And is y-fallen out of heigh degree

Into miserie, and endeth wrecchedly.

(90)

And they ben versifyed comunly

Of six feet, which men clepe exametron.

3170

In prose eek been endyted many oon,

And eek in metre, in many a sondry wyse.

Lo! this declaring oughte y-nough suffise.

3160. E. omits yow.   3163. Cp. Pt. Ln. for to; rest omit for.   3168. E. communely; Cm. comounly; Hn. Hl. comunly.

 Now herkneth, if yow lyketh for to here;

But first I yow biseke in this matere,

3175

Though I by ordre telle nat thise thinges,

Be it of popes, emperours, or kinges,

After hir ages, as men writen finde,

(100)

But telle hem som bifore and som bihinde,

As it now comth un-to my remembraunce;

3180

Have me excused of myn ignoraunce.’

Explicit.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/chaucer/canterbury/skeat/prologue8.html

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