The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Pardoneres Tale

Oure Oste gan to swere as he were wood;

“Harrow!” quoth he, “by nayles and by blood!

This was a cursed thef, a fals justice.

As shameful deth as herte can devise

So falle upon his body and his bones!

To the devil I deliver him at once!

Allas! too deere boughte she hir beautee.

Wherfore I say, that alle men maye see,

That giftes of fortúne or of natúre

Be cause of deth of many a créatúre.

Hir beautee was hir deth, I dar wel sayn

Allas! so piteously as she was slayn.

Bot here of wil I not procede nowe,

Men have of beautee grete harme I know.

“But trewely, myn owne maister deere,
This was a piteous tale for to heere;
But natheles, pas over, the mayde is ded.
I pray to God to save thi gentil hed,
And al thine urinales, and thi jordanes,
Thine Ypocras, and thine Galiounes,
And every box ful of thi medicine,
God blesse them and oure lady make thee win,
For I wil swere thou art a propre man,
And lik a prelat, by seint Runyan.
Sayde I not wel? can I not speke a thing?
But wel wot, thou dost myn herte to wring,
I have almost y-caught a cardiacle;
By corpus bones, but-yf I have treàcle,
Or else a draught of moyst and corny ale,
Or if I here not now a mery tale,
Myn hert is broste for pitee of that mayde.
Thou, pardoner, thou, belamy,” he sayde,
“Tel us a tale, for thou canst many oon.”

“It shal be doon,” quoth he, “and that anon
But first,” quoth he, “her at this ale-stake
I wil bothe drynke and byten on a cake.”
But right anon the gentils gan to crie,
“Nay, let him tellen us no ribaldrye.
Tel us som moral thing, that we may here.”
“Gladly,” quoth he, “I wil that ye requere.”
But in the cuppe wil I me bethinke
Upon some honest tale, whil that I drinke.”—
“Lordyngs,” quoth he, “in chirches whan I preche,
I peyne me to have a loude speche,
And ryng it out, as clere as doth a belle,
For I know al by rote which that I telle.
My theeme is alway oon, and ever was;
Radix malorum est cupiditas.

“First I pronounce whence that I come,
And thenne my bulles shewe I alle and some;
Oure liege lordes seal on my patént,
That shewe I first my body to warrant,
That no man be so hardy, prest ne clerk,
Me to desturbe in Cristes holy werk.
And after that than tel I forth my tales.
Bulles of popes, and of cardynales,
Of patriarkes, and of bisshops, I shewe,
And in Latyn I speke wordes fewe
To savore with my predicacioun,
And for to stir men to devocioun.
Thenne shewe I forth my longe crystal stones,
I-crammèd ful of cloutes and of boones,
Reliks thay be, as wene thei each one.
Than have I tipped with brass a shulder boon,
Which that was of an holy Jewes sheep.
‘Good men,’ say I, ‘tak of my wordes keep;
If that this boon be wasshed in eny welle,
If cow, or calf, or sheep, or oxe swelle,
That eny worm hath ete, or worm i-stonge,
Tak water of that welle, and wasch his tonge,
And it is hool anon. And forthermore
Of pokkes, and of scabbe, and every sore,
Shal every sheep be whole, that of this welle
Drynketh a draught. Tak heed eek what I telle;
If that the goode man, that the beest owneth,
Wil every day, ere that the cok him croweth,
Fastynge, drynke of this welle a deepe draught,
As thilke holy Jew oure eldres taught,
His beestes and his stoor shal multiplie.
And, sires, also it heleth jalousie.
For though a man be ful in jalous rage,
Let make with this water his potàge,
And never shal he more his wyf mystrust,
Though he the soth of hir defaulte wist;
Though hadde she take prestes tuo or thre.
Her is a mitten eek, that ye may see;
He that his honde put in this mitten,
He shal have multiplying of his grayn,
Whan he hath sowen, be it whete or otes,
If that ye offre pense or else grootes.
And, men and wommen, oon thing warne I you;
If eny wight be in this chirche now,
That hath doon synnes orrible, that he
Dar nought for shame of them y-schryven be;
Or ony womman, be she yong or old,
That hath y-made hir housbond cokewold,
Suche folk shal have no power and no grace
To offre to my relikes in this place.
And who so fint him out in suche blame,
Thay wil come up and offre in Goddes name,
And I assoile them by the auctoritee,
Which that by bulle was i-graunted me.’

“By this gaude have I wonnen every yeer
An hundred mark, synce I was pardoner.
I stonde lik a clerk in my pulpit,
And whan the foolish people is doun i-set,
I preche so as ye have herd before,
And telle them an hondred japes more.
Than peyne I me to strecche forth my necke,
And est and west upon the people I bekke,
As doth a pigeon, syttyng on a loft;
Myn hondes and my tonge move so oft,
That it is joye to see my busynesse.
Of avarice and of suche cursednesse
Is al my preching, for to make hem free
To give their pence, and namely unto me.
For myn entent is nought but for to wynne,
And no thing for correccioun of synne.
I rekke never at their burying,
Though that there soules go blakeberying.

“For certes many a predicacioun;
Cometh oft tyme of evel entencioun;
Som for plesaùns of folk and flaterie,
To be avauncèd by ypocrisie;
And some for veine glory, and som for hate.
For when I dar not other ways debate,
Than wil I stynge him with my tonge smerte
In preching, so that he shal nothing start
To be diffamèd falsly, if that he
Hath trespast to my bretheren or to me.
For though I telle not his propre name,
Men shal wel knowe that it is the same
By signes, and by other circumstances.
Thus quyt I folk, that do us dìsplesaùnces;
Thus put I out my venom under hewe
Of holynes, to semen holy and trewe.
But shortly myn entent I wil devyse,
I preche no thing but of coveityse.
Therfor my theem is yit, and ever was,
Radix malorum est cupiditas.

“Thus can I preche agayn the same vice
Which that I use, and that is avarice.
But though myself be gilty in the same,
Yit can I maken other folk to blame
Their avarice, and soone to repente,
But that is not my principal entente;
I preche no thing but for coveitise.
Of this matèr it ought i-nough suffise.

“Than telle I them ensamples many oon
Of olde stories longe tyme agon.
For silly people loven tales olde;
Which thinges can thay wel report and holde.
What? trowe ye, whiles that I may preche
And wynne gold and silver when I teche,
That I wil lyve in povert wilfully?
Nay, nay, I thought it never trewely.
For I wol preche and begge in sondry londes.
I wil not do no labour with myn hondes,
Nor make basketis and lyve therby,
Bycause I wil nought beggen idelly.
I wol noon of the apostles counterfete;
I wol have money, woolle, chese, and whete,
Though it were geven by the prestes page,
Or by the porest wydow in a villáge,
While that hir children sterve for famyn.
Nay, I wil drinke licour of the wyn,
And have a joly wenche in every toun.
But herkne, lordynges, in conclusioun,
Youre likyng is that I shal telle a tale.
Now that I dronk a draught of corny ale,
By God, I hope I shal telle you a thing,
That shal by resoun be at your liking;
For though myself be a ful vicious man,
A moral tale yit I you telle can,
Which I am wont to preche, for to wynne.
Now hold your pees, my tale I wil byginne.”

In Flaundres whilom was a companye
Of yonge folkes, that haunted al folye,
As ryot, hasard, brothels, and tavernes;
Wher as with lutes, harpes, and citherns,
Thay daunce and play at dice, bothe day and night,
And ete also, and drynk above their might;
Thurgh which thay do the devyl sacrifise
Withinne the develes temple, in cursèd wise,
By superfluitee abhominable.
Their othes be so greet and so damnàble,
That it is grisly for to here them swere.
Our blisful Lordes body thay al tear;
They thoughte Jewes rent him nought y-nough;
And ech of them at otheres synne laugh.
And right anon ther come tumbelers,
With bodies smal and wommen fruiterers,
Singers with harpes, baudes, wafereres,
Whiche that be verray develes officeres,
To kyndle and blowe the fyr of leccherie,
That is anexid unto glotonye.
The holy wryt take I to my witnésse,
That lust is al in wyn and dronkenesse.
Lo, how that dronken Lot unkyndely
Lay by his doughtres tuo unwityngly,
So dronk he was he knew not what he wroughte,
Herodes, who-so wel the story soughte,
Whan he of wyn was répleet at his fest,
Right at his oune table gaf his hest
To slay the baptist John ful gilteles.
Seneca seith a good word douteles;
He saith he can no difference fynde
Betwyx a man that is out of his mynde,
And one that is al dronken in his witt;
But that madness when men have fallen on it,
Persevereth lenger than doth dronkenesse.

O glutonye, ful of al cursednesse;
O cause first of oure confusioun,
O originál of oure damnacioun,
Til Crist had bought us with his blood agayn
Look ye, how dere, and shortly for to sayn,
Abought was first this cursèd felonye;
Corupt was al this world for glotonye.
Adam our fader, and his wyf also,
From Paradys to labour and to wo
Were dryven for that vice, it is no drede.
For whilst that Adam fasted, as I rede,
He was in Paradis, and whan that he
Eet of the fruyt forbidden of a tree,
He was out cast to wo and into peyne.
O glotony, wel ought us on thee pleyne.
If a man knew how many maladyes
Follow excesse and wyn and glotonyes,
He wolde be the more mesuráble
Of his diete, sittyng at his table.
Allas! the shorte throte, the tendre mouth,
Maketh the Est and West, and North and South,
In erthe, in watir, in ayer, man to sweat,
To get a sely glotoun drynke and mete.
Of this matér, O Paul, wel canst thou trete.
Mete for the wombe, and wombe eke for the mete,
Shal God destroyen bothe, as Powel saith.
Allas! a foul thing is it by my faith
To say this word, and fouler is the dede,
When men so drynken of the whyt and rede,
That of his throte he makith his privee
Thurgh thilke cursed superfluitee.
The apostil wepyng saith ful piteously,
Ther walkith many, of which you told have I,
I say it now wepyng with piteous vois,
They are the enemeyes of Cristes cros;
Of which the ende is deth, wombe is their God.
O wombe, o bely, o stynkyng in thi load.
How gret cost and labour is thee to fill
These cokes how they stamp, and streyn, and spill,
And torne substaunce into accident,
To fulfille al thy glotynous talent.
Out of the harde bones gete thay
The marrow, for thay caste nought away
That may go thurgh the golet softe and sweete;
Of spicery and leeves, for every mete,
Shal be his sause made to his delyt
To make him have a newer appetit.
But certes he that haunteth such delices,
Is deed the whiles that he lyveth in vices.
A lecherous thing is wyn, and dronkenesse
Is ful of stryvyng and of wrecchednesse.
O dronken man, disfigured is thi face,
Sour is thy breth, foul art thou to embrace;
And thurgh thi dronken nose soundeth the soun,
As though thou seydest ay, Samsoún, Samsoún;
And yit, God wot, Samson drank never wyn.
Thou fallist, as it were a stiked swyne;
Thy tonge is lost, and al thin honest cure,
For dronkenes is verray sepulture
Of mannes witt and his discrecioun.
In whom that drynk hath dominacioun.
He can no counseil kepe, it is no drede.
Now keep you from the white and from the rede,
And namely fro the white wyn of Leepe,
That is to selle in Fleetstreet or in Chepe.
This wyn of Spayne crepith subtily
In other wynes growyng faste by,
Of which ther riseth such fumositee,
That whan a man hath dronke draughtes three,
And weneth that he be at hom in Chepe,
He is in Spayne, right at the toun of Lepe,
Nought at Rochelle nor at Burdeaux toun;
And thenne wil thai say, Samsoún, Samsoún.
But herken, lordyngs, o word, I you pray,
That alle the soverayn actes, dar I say,
Of victories in the Olde Testament,
Thorugh the verray God omnipotent
Were doon in abstinence and in prayére;
Look in the Bible, and ther ye may it here.
Loke Attila the grete conqueroúr,
Deyd in his sleep, with shame and díshonoúr,
Bleedyng ay at his nose in dronkenesse;
A captayn shuld ay lyve in sobrenesse.
And over al this, avyse you right wel,
What was comaunded unto Lamuel;
Nought Samuel, but Lamuel say I.
Rede in the Bible, and fynde expressely
Of wyn gevyng to them that have justice.
No more of this, for it may wel suffice.
And now I have i-spoke of glotonye,
Now wil I you forbid al hasardrye.

Hasard is verray moder of lyinges,
And of deceipt and cursed fórsweringes;
Blaspheme of Crist, manslaught, and waste also
Of catel, and of tyme; and forthermo
It is a shame, and contrair to honoúr,
For to be holde a comun hasardour.
And ever the heyer he is of estaat,
The more wil he be holden desolaat,
If that a prince use eny hasardrie,
In alle governance and policie
He is, as by común opinioún,
Holden the lesse in reputacioun.
Stilbon, that was a wis ambasidour,
Was sent unto Corinthe with gret honoúr
Fro Lacidome, to make their alliaúnce;
And whan he cam, him happede par chaunce,
That alle the grettest that were of that lond
Playing at hasard in Corinthe he them fond.
For the which sighte, as soone as it might be,
He stole him hom agein to his contree,
And saide ther, “I wil nought lose my name,
I wil not take on me so gret diffame,
You for to allie unto no hasardoures.
Sende ye other wiser ambasidoures,
For by my trothe, me were rather dye,
Than I you sholde to hasardours allye.
For ye, that be so glorious in honoúres,
Shal not allien you with hasardoures,
As by my wil, nor as by my tretee.”
This wise philosóphre thus sayd he.

Loke eek that to the king Demetrius
The king of Parthes, as the book saith us
Sent him a paire dice of gold in scorn,
For he had usèd hasard ther to-forn;
For which he held his glory and his renoun
At no value or reputacioun.
Lordes maye fynden other maner play
Honest y-nough to dryve away the day.

Now wil I speke of othes fals and grete
A word or tuo, as other bookes trete.
Gret swering is a thing abhominable,
And fals sweríng is more reprovable.
The hyhe God forbad sweryng at al,
Witnes on Mathew; but in special
Of sweryng saith the holy Jeremye,
Thou shalt say sooth thin othes, and not lye;
And swere in judgment, and in rightwisnes;
But ydel sweryng is a cursednes.
Bihold and see, ther in the firste table
Of hihe Goddes heste honurable,
How that the secounde heste of him is this;
Tak not in vaine Goddes name amys.
Lo, he rather forbedith such sweryng,
Than homicide, or many a corsed thing.
I say that in the order thus it stondith;
This knoweth he that the hestes understondeth.
How that the second hest of God is that.
And forthermore, I wil the telle it flat,
The vengance shal not parte fro his hous,
That of his othes is outrageous.
“By Goddis precious hert, and by his nayles,
And by the blood of Christ, that is in Hayles,
Seven is my chaunce, and also five and three!
By Goddes armes, if thou falsly play,
This daggere shal thorough thin herte go!”
This fruyt cometh of the cursed bones tuo,
Forswering, ire, falsnes, homicide.
Now for the love of Crist that for us dyde,
Leve ye youre othis, bothe gret and smale.
But, sirs, now wil I tellen forth my tale.

These rioters, these three, of which I telle,
Longe before prime had rongen eny belle,
Were set them in a tavern for to drynke;
And as thay satte, thay herd a belle clinke
Bifore a corps, was caried to the grave;
That oon of them gan calle unto his knave,
“Go out,” quoth he, “and axe redily,
What corps is that, that passeth here forthby;
And loke that thou reporte his name wel.”
“Sir,” quoth he, “but that nedeth never a del;
It was me told ere ye com heer tuo houres;
He was, pardy, an old feláw of youres,
And sodeinly he was i-slayn to night;
For-dronk as he sat on his bench upright,
Ther com a privy theef, men clepen Deth,
That is this contree al the peple slayeth;
And with his spere he smot his hert a-tuo,
And went his way withoute wordes mo.
He hath a thousand slayn this pestilence.
And, maister, ere ye come in his presence,
Me thinketh that it is ful necessarie,
For to be war of such an adversarie;
Be redy for to meete him evermore.
Thus taughte me my dame, I say nomore.”
“By seinte Mary!” sayde the taverner,
“The child saith soth; for he hath slayn this yeer,
Hence over a myle, withinne a gret villáge,
Bothe man and womman, child, peasánt, and page;
I trowe his habitacioun be there.
To be avysèd gret wisdom it were,
Ere that he dede a man that dishonoúr.”
“Yea, Goddis armes!” quoth this ryottour,
“Is it such peril with him for to meete?
I shal him seeke by way and eek by strete,
I make avow to Goddis digne blood!
Herkne, felaws, we three be stout and good;
Let ech of us hold up his hond to other,
And ech of us bycome the others brother,
And we wil slee this false traitour Deth;
He shal be slayne, that so many sleeth,
By Goddis dignetee ere it be night!”
Togider have these three their trothes plight
To lyve and deye ech of them with the other,
As though he were his oune sworne brother.
And up thay starten, al dronke in this rage,
And forth thay go towardes that villáge,
Of which the taverner hath spoke biforn,
And many a grisly oth than have thay sworn,
And Cristes blessed body thay to-rente,
Deth shal be deed, if that they may him hente.
Right as thay wolde have tornèd over a style,
When thai have goon nought fully half a myle,
An old man and a pore with them mette.
This olde man ful mekely them grette,
And saide thus, “Lordynges, God you see!”
The proudest of the ryotoures three
Answerd agein, “What, carle, with sory grace,
Why art thou al for-wrappèd save thi face?
Whi lyvest thou longe in so gret an age?”
This olde man gan loke on his viságe
And saide thus, “For that I can not fynde
A man, though that I walkèd into Inde,
Neither in citee noon, or in villáge,
That wil exchaunge his youthe for myn age;
And therfore moot I have myn age stille
As longe tyme as it is Goddes wille.
And Deth, allas! ne wil not have my lif.
Thus walk I lik a resteless caytif,
And on the ground, which is my modres gate,
I knokke with my staf, erly and late,
And saye, ‘Deere moder, let me in
Lo, how I wane, flesh and blood and skyn.
Allas! when shal my boones be at rest?
Moder, to you wil I give al my chest,
That in my chamber longe tyme hath be,
Yea, for an haire shroud to wrap-in me.’
But yet to me she wil not do that grace,
For which ful pale and withered is my face.
But, sirs, to you it is no curtesye
To speke unto an old man vilonye,
Save he trespás in word or else in dede.
In holy writ ye may your self wel rede,
Bifore an old man, hoar upon his hede,
Ye shold arise; wherefor I you bid,
Do not unto an old man more harm now,
No more than ye wolde men dede unto you
In age, if that ye may so long abyde.
And God be with you, wherso ye go or ryde!
I moot go thider where I have to go.”
“Nay, olde cherl, by God! thou shalt not so,”
Sayde that other hasardour anon;
“Thou partist nought so lightly, by seint John!
Thou spake right now of thilke traitour Deth,
That in this contree alle oure frendes slayeth;
Have here my troth, thou art of his a spy;
Tel wher he is, or else thou shalt dye,
By God and by that holy sacrament!
For sothly thou art oon of his assent
To slay us yonge folk, thou false theef.”
“Now, sirs, then if that you be so leef
To fynde Deth, torn up this croked way,
For in that grove I laft him, by my fay,
Under a tree, and ther he wil abyde;
Nor for your boast he wil him no thing hyde.
See ye that oak? right ther ye shal him fynde.
God save you, that bought agein mankynde,
And you amend.” Thus sayde this olde man,
And each of these riotoures ran,
Til thay come to the tree, and ther thay founde
Of florins fyn of gold y-coynèd rounde,
Wel nygh a seven busshels, as they thoughte.
No lenger thenne to fynde Deth thay soughte.
But ech of them so glad was of that sighte,
For that the florens so faire were and brighte
That doun thay sette them by that precious hord.
The yongest of them spak the firste word.
“Bretheren,” quoth he, “take keep what I shal saye;
My witte is gret, though that I dice and playe.
This tresour hath fortúne to us yiven
In mirth and jolytee our lif to lyven,
And lightly as it comth, so wil we spende.
Ey, Goddis precious dignitee, who wende
To day, that we shuld have so fair a grace?
But mighte this gold be caried from this place
Hom to myn hous, or else hom unto youres,
(For wel I wot that this gold is nought oures),
Than were we in hey felicitee.
But trewely by day it may not be;
Men wolde saye that we were theves stronge,
And for oure tresour do us for to honge.
This tresour moste caried be by nighte
As wysly and as slyly as it mighte.
Wherfore I say, that cut among us alle
Be drawn, and let see wher the cut wil falle;
And he that hath the cut, with herte boon
Shal runne to the toun, and that ful soon,
To bring us bred and wyn ful privily;
And tuo of us shal kepe subtilly
This tresour wel; and if he will not tarie,
Whan it is night, we wil this tresour carie
By oon assent, whereas we liketh best.”

The oon of them the cut brought in his fist,
And bad them drawe and loke wher it wil falle;
And it fel on the youngest of them alle;
And forth toward the toun he went anon.
And soone as he was from the rest agoon,
The oon of them spak thus unto the other;
“Thou knowest wel thou art my sworne brother.
Thy profyt wil I telle thee anon.
Thou knowest wel our felaw is agon,
And here is gold, and that ful gret plentee,
That shal departed be among us three.
But nonetheles, if I can shape it so,
That it departed were bitwix us tuo,
Hadde I not doon a frendes turn to thee?”
That other answered, “How may that wel be?
He wot wel that the gold is with us tway.
What shulde we than do? or what schuld we say?”
“Shal it be counsail?” sayde the ferste shrewe,
“And I shal telle thee in wordes fewe
What we shal do, and bringe it wel aboute.”
“I graunte,” quoth that other, “withoute doute,
That by my trothe I wil thee nought bytraye.”

“Now,” quoth the first, “thou knowest wel we be twaye,
And two of us shal strenger be than oon.”
Loke, whanne he is y-sett, and that anon,
Arys, as though thou woldest with him pleye;
And I shal stikke him thurgh the sydes tweye,
Whiles thou strogelest with him as in game,
And with thi dagger loke thou do the same;
And than shal al the gold departed be,
My dere friend, bitwixe thee and me;
Than may we two oure lustes al fulfille,
And play at dice right at our owne wille.”
And thus accorded be these shrewes twayn,
To sley the thirdde, as ye have herd me sayn.

This yongest, which that wente to the toun,
Ful fast in hert he rollith up and doun
The beautee of the florins newe and brighte;
“O Lord!” quoth he, “if so were that I mighte
Have al this gold unto my self allone,
Ther is no man that lyveth under the trone
Of God, that shulde lyve so mery as I.”
And atte last the feend, oure enemy,
Put in his thought, that he shulde poysoun buy
With which he mighte sley his felawes tweye.
For- why, the feend fond him in such lyvynge,
That he hadde leve to sorrow him to brynge.
For this was utterly his ful entente
To sley them bothe, and never to repente.
And forth he goth, no lenger wold he tarye,
Into the toun unto a pothecarye,
And prayèd him that he him wolde selle
Som poysoun, that he might his rattis quelle.
And eek ther was a polecat in his farm,
That, as he sayde, his capons dide harm;
And said he wold him quell, if that he mighte,
The vermyn, that destroyed them by nighte.
The apothecary answerd: “Thou shalt have
A thing that, also God my soule save,
In al this world ther is no créatúre,
That ete or dronk had of this cónfectúre,
Nought but the mountaunce of a corn of whete,
That he shuld not his lif anon for-lete;
Yea, die he shal, and that in lesse while,
Than thou wilt go a pace beyond a myle,
The poysoun is so strong and violent.”
This cursed man hath in his hond i-hent
This poysoun in a box, and then he ran
Into the nexte stret unto a man,
And borrowed of him large botels three;
And in the two his poysoun pourèd he;
The third he kepèd clene for his own,
For al the night he mente to the toun
To cary al the gold out of that place.
And whan this riotour, with sory grace,
Hath filled with wyn his grete botels three,
To his felaws agein repaireth he.

What nedith it therof to sermoun more?
For right as thay hadde cast his deth bifore,
Right so thay have him slayn, and that anon.
And whan this was i-don, thus spak that oon:
“Now let us drynk and sitte, and make us mery
And afterward we wil his body bery.”
And al at once it happèd him par cas,
To take the botel where the poysoun was,
And drank, and gaf his felaw drink also,
For which anon thay dyèd bothe tuo.
But certes I suppose that Avycen
Wrot never in that book, that men call Fen,
More wonder sorrows of empoisonyng,
Than hadde these wrecches tuo at their endyng.
Thus endid be these homicides tuo,
And eek the fals empoysoner also.

O cursed synne ful of cursednesse!
O traytorous homicide! O wikkednesse!
O glotony, luxúrie, and hasardrye!
Thou blásphemour of Crist with vilanye,
And othes grete, of usage and of pride!
Allas! mankynde, how may it bytyde,
That to thy créatoúr, which that thee wroughte,
And with his precious herte-blood thee boughte,
Thou art so fals and so unkynde, allas!

“Now, good men, God forgeve you your trespás,
And ware you fro the synne of avarice.
Myn holy pardoun may you alle suffise,
So that ye give nobles or coin sterling,
Or else a silver spone, a broche, or ryng,
Bow down your hedes under this holy bulle.
Come forth, ye wyves, and offer your woolle;
Your names I entre here in my rolle anon;
Into the blis of heven shal ye goon;
I you assoile by myn high power,
If ye wil offre, as clene and eek als clere
As ye were born. And, sirs, lo, thus I preche;
And Jhesu Crist, that is oure soules leech,
So graunte you his pardoun to receyve;
For that is best, I wil not you disceyve.
But, sirs, one word forgat I in my tale;
I have reliks and pardoun without faile,
As fair as eny man in Engelond,
Which were me given by the popes hond.
If eny of you wil of devocioun
Offren, and have myn absolucioun,
Come forth anon, and kneel ye here adoun,
And ye shal have here al my pardoun.
Or else take pardoun, as ye wende,
Al newe and fressh at every townes ende,
So that ye offre alway new and newe
Nobles and pens, which that be good and trewe.
It is an honour to every that is heer,
That ye may have a suffisaunt pardoner
To assoil you in the contree as ye ryde,
For áventúres which that may bytyde.
For of you al ther may falle oon, or tuo,
Doun off his hors, and breke his nekke a-tuo.
Loke, such a suretee is to you alle
That I am in your felawschip i-falle,
That may assoyle you bothe more or lesse,
Whan that the soule shal fro the body passe.
I counsel that oure hoste shal bygynne,
For he is most envoliped in synne.
Com forth, sire ost, and offer first anon,
And thou shalt kisse the reliques every one,
Yea, for a grote; unbocle anone thi purs.”

“Nay, nay,” quoth he, “than have I Cristes curs!
Let be,” quoth he, “that shal not I, for one.
Thou woldest make me kisse thin olde bone,
Thou and thy reliks are not worth a hen.”
This Pardoner answerde nat again;
So wroth he was, he wolde no word saye.

“Now,” quoth oure Host, “I wil no lenger playe
With thee, nor with no other angry man.”
But right anon this worthy Knight bygan,
(Whan that he saw that al the peple laugh)
“No more of this, for it is right y- nough.
Sir pardoner, be glad and mery of cheere;
And ye, sir host, that be to me so deere,
I pray you that ye kisse the pardoner;
And pardoner, I pray you draw you near,
And as we dede, let us laugh and playe.”
Anon thay kisse, and riden forth their waye.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52