Heere bigynneth the Nonnes Preestes tale of the Cok and
Hen, Chauntecleer and Pertelote.
A povre wydwe, somdel stape in age,
Was whilom dwellyng in a narwe cotage
Biside a greve, stondynge in a dale.
This wydwe, of which I telle yow my tale,
Syn thilke day that she was last a wyf,
In pacience ladde a ful symple lyf,
For litel was hir catel and hir rente.
By housbondrie, of swich as God hir sente,
She foond hirself and eek hire doghtren two.
Thre large sowes hadde she, and namo,
Three keen, and eek a sheep that highte Malle.
Ful sooty was hir bour and eek hire halle,
In whidh she eet ful many a sklendre meel —
Of poynaunt sauce hir neded never a deel.
No deyntee morsel passed thurgh hir throte,
Hir diete was accordant to hir cote.
Repleccioun ne made hir nevere sik,
Attempree diete was al hir phisik,
And exercise, and hertes suffisaunce.
The goute lette hir nothyng for to daunce,
Napoplexie shente nat hir heed.
No wyn ne drank she, neither whit ne reed,
Hir bord was served moost with whit and blak,
Milk and broun breed, in which she foond no lak,
Seynd bacoun, and somtyme an ey or tweye,
For she was as it were a maner deye.
A yeerd she hadde, enclosed al aboute
With stikkes, and a drye dych withoute,
In which she hadde a Cok, heet Chauntecleer,
In al the land of crowyng nas his peer.
His voys was murier than the murle orgon
On messedayes, that in the chirche gon.
Wel sikerer was his crowyng in his logge,
Than is a clokke, or an abbey orlogge.
By nature he crew eche ascencioun
Of the equynoxial in thilke toun;
For whan degrees fiftene weren ascended,
Thanne crew he, that it myghte nat been amended.
His coomb was redder than the fyn coral,
And batailled, as it were a castel wal.
His byle was blak, and as the jeet it shoon,
Lyk asure were hise legges and his toon,
Hise nayles whiter than the lylye flour,
And lyk the burned gold was his colour.
This gentil cok hadde in his governaunce
Sevene hennes, for to doon al his plesaunce,
Whiche were hise sustres and his paramours,
And wonder lyk to hym as of colours;
Of whiche the faireste hewed on hir throte
Was cleped faire damoysele Pertelote.
Curteys she was, discreet, and debonaire
And compaignable, and bar hyrself so faire
Syn thilke day that she was seven nyght oold,
That trewely she hath the herte in hoold
Of Chauntecleer loken in every lith.
He loved hir so, that wel was hym therwith.
But swiche a joye was it to here hem synge
Whan that the brighte sonne gan to sprynge,
In sweete accord, “My lief is faren in londe,” —
For thilke tyme, as I have understonde,
Beestes and briddes koude speke and synge.
And so bifel, that in the dawenynge,
As Chauntecleer, among hise wyves alle,
Sat on his perche, that was in the halle,
And next hym sat this faire Pertelote,
This Chauntecleer gan gronen in his throte
As man that in his dreem is drecched soore.
And whan that Pertelote thus herde hym roore
She was agast, and seyde, “O herte deere,
What eyleth yow, to grone in this manere?
Ye been a verray sleper, fy for shame!”
And he answerde and seyde thus, “Madame,
I pray yow that ye take it nat agrief.
By God, me thoughte I was in swich meschief
Right now, that yet myn herte is soore afright.
Now God,” quod he, “my swevene recche aright,
And kepe my body out of foul prisoun.
Me mette how that I romed up and doun
Withinne our yeerd, wheer as I saugh a beest
Was lyk an hound, and wolde han maad areest
Upon my body, and han had me deed.
His colour was bitwixe yelow and reed,
And tipped was his tayl and bothe hise eeris;
With blak, unlyk the remenant of hise heeris;
His snowte smal, with glowynge eyen tweye.
Yet of his look, for feere almoost I deye!
This caused me my gronyng, doutelees.”
“Avoy!” quod she, “Fly on yow hertelees!
Allas,” quod she, “for by that God above
Now han ye lost myn herte and al my love!
I kan nat love a coward, by my feith,
For certes, what so any womman seith,
We alle desiren, if it myght bee,
To han housbondes hardy, wise, and free,
And secree, and no nygard, ne no fool,
Ne hym that is agast of every tool,
Ne noon avauntour; by that God above,
How dorste ye seyn for shame unto youre love
That any thyng myghte make yow aferd?
Have ye no mannes herte, and han a berd?
Allas, and konne ye been agast of swevenys?
No thyng, God woot, but vanitee in swevene is!
Swevenes engendren of replecciouns,
And ofte of fume and of complecciouns,
Whan humours been to habundant in a wight.
Certes, this dreem which ye han met tonyght
Cometh of greet superfluytee
Of youre rede colera, pardee,
Which causeth folk to dreden in hir dremes
Of arwes, and of fyre with rede lemes,
Of grete beestes, that they wol hem byte,
Of contekes, and of whelpes grete and lyte;
Right as the humour of malencolie
Causeth ful many a man in sleep to crie
For feere of blake beres, or boles blake,
Or elles blake develes wole hem take.
Of othere humours koude I telle also
That werken many a man in sleep ful wo,
But I wol passe as lightly as I kan.
Lo Catoun, which that was so wys a man,
Seyde he nat thus, ‘ne do no fors of dremes‘?
Now sire,” quod she, “whan ye flee fro the bemes,
For goddes love as taak som laxatyf!
Up peril of my soule, and of my lyf,
I conseille yow the beste, I wol nat lye,
That bothe of colere and of malencolye
Ye purge yow; and for ye shal nat tarie,
Though in this toun is noon apothecarie,
I shal myself to herbes techen yow,
That shul been for youre hele and for youre prow.
And in oure yeerd tho herbes shal I fynde,
The whiche han of hir propretee by kynde
To purge yow bynethe and eek above.
Foryet nat this, for Goddes owene love!
Ye been ful coleryk of compleccioun;
Ware the sonne in his ascencioun
Ne fynde yow nat repleet of humours hoote.
And if it do, I dar wel leye a grote
That ye shul have a fevere terciane,
Or an agu that may be youre bane.
A day or two ye shul have digestyves
Of wormes, er ye take youre laxatyves
Of lawriol, centaure, and fumetere,
Or elles of ellebor that groweth there,
Of katapuce, or of gaitrys beryis,
Of herbe yve, growyng in oure yeerd, ther mery is!
Pekke hem up right as they growe, and ete hem yn!
Be myrie, housbonde, for youre fader kyn,
Dredeth no dreem, I kan sey yow namoore!”
“Madame,” quod he, “graunt mercy of youre loore,
But nathelees, as touchyng Daun Catoun,
That hath of wysdom swich a greet renoun,
Though that he bad no dremes for to drede,
By God, men may in olde bookes rede
Of many a man moore of auctorite
Than evere Caton was, so moot I thee,
That al the revers seyn of this sentence,
And han wel founden by experience
That dremes been significaciouns
As wel of joye as of tribulaciouns
That folk enduren in this lif present.
Ther nedeth make of this noon argument,
The verray preeve sheweth it in dede.
Oon of the gretteste auctours that men rede
Seith thus, that whilom two felawes wente
On pilgrimage in a ful good entente;
And happed so, they coomen in a toun
Wher as ther was swich congregacioun
Of peple, and eek so streit of herbergage,
That they ne founde as muche as o cotage
In which they bothe myghte logged bee;
Wherfore they mosten of necessitee
As for that nyght departen compaignye,
And ech of hem gooth to his hostelrye,
And took his loggyng as it wolde falle.
That oon of hem was logged in a stalle,
Fer in a yeerd, with oxen of the plough;
That oother man was logged wel ynough,
As was his aventure or his fortune,
That us governeth alle as in commune.
And so bifel, that longe er it were day
This man mette in his bed, ther as he lay,
How that his felawe gan upon hym calle
And seyde, ‘Allas, for in an oxes stalle
This nyght I shal be mordred, ther I lye!
Now help me, deere brother, or I dye;
In alle haste com to me!” he sayde.
This man out of his sleep for feere abrayde;
But whan that he was wakened of his sleep,
He turned hym and took of it no keep.
Hym thoughte, his dreem nas but a vanitee.
Thus twies in his slepyng dremed hee,
And atte thridde tyme yet his felawe
Cam, as hym thoughte, and seide, ‘I am now slawe,
Bihoold my bloody woundes depe and wyde;
Arys up erly in the morwe-tyde,
And at the west gate of the toun,’ quod he,
‘A carte ful of donge ther shaltow se,
In which my body is hid ful prively.
Do thilke carte arresten boldely;
My gold caused my mordre, sooth to sayn.’ —
And tolde hym every point, how he was slayn,
With a ful pitous face, pale of hewe;
And truste wel, his dreem he foond ful trewe.
For on the morwe, as soone as it was day,
To his felawes in he took the way,
And whan that he cam to this oxes stalle,
After his felawe he bigan to calle.
The hostiler answerde hym anon,
And seyde, ‘Sire, your felawe is agon,
As soone as day he wente out of the toun.’
This man gan fallen in suspecioun,
Remembrynge on hise dremes that he mette,
And forth he gooth, no lenger wolde he lette,
Unto the westgate of the toun; and fond
A dong carte, as it were to donge lond,
That was arrayed in that same wise,
As ye han herd the dede man devyse.
And with an hardy herte he gan to crye,
‘Vengeance and justice of this felonye;
My felawe mordred is this same myght,
And in this carte he lith gapyng upright.
I crye out on the ministres,’ quod he,
‘That sholden kepe and reulen this citee!
Harrow! allas, heere lith my felawe slayn!’
What sholde I moore unto this tale sayn?
The peple out-sterte, and caste the cart to grounde,
And in the myddel of the dong they founde
The dede man, that mordred was al newe.
O blisful God, that art so just and trewe!
Lo, howe that thou biwreyest mordre alway!
Mordre wol out, that se we, day by day.
Mordre is so wlatsom and abhomynable
To God that is so just and resonable,
That he ne wol nat suffre it heled be,
Though it abyde a yeer, or two, or thre.
Mordre wol out, this my conclusioun.
And right anon ministres of that toun
Han hent the carter, and so soore hym pyned,
And eek the hostiler so soore engyned
That they biknewe hire wikkednesse anon,
And were anhanged by the nekke bon.
Heere may men seen, that dremes been to drede!
And certes, in the same book I rede
Right in the nexte chapitre after this —
I gabbe nat, so have I joye or blis —
Two men that wolde han passed over see
For certeyn cause, into a fer contree,
If that the wynd ne hadde been contrarie,
That made hem in a citee for to tarie,
That stood ful myrie upon an haven-syde —
But on a day, agayn the even-tyde,
The wynd gan chaunge, and blew right as hem leste.
Jolif and glad they wente unto hir reste,
And casten hem ful erly for to saille,
But herkneth, to that o man fil a greet mervaille;
That oon of hem, in slepyng as he lay,
Hym mette a wonder dreem agayn the day.
Hym thoughte a man stood by his beddes syde,
And hym comanded that he sholde abyde,
And seyde hym thus, ‘If thou tomorwe wende
Thow shalt be dreynt; my tale is at an ende.’
He wook, and tolde his felawe what he mette,
And preyde hym his viage for to lette,
As for that day, he preyede hym to byde.
His felawe, that lay by his beddes syde,
Gan for to laughe and scorned him ful faste.
‘No dreem,’ quod he, ‘may so myn herte agaste
That I wol lette for to do my thynges.
I sette nat a straw by thy dremynges,
For swevenes been but vanytees and japes.
Men dreme al day of owles or of apes,
And of many a maze therwithal.
Men dreme of thyng that nevere was, ne shal;
But sith I see that thou wolt heere abyde
And thus forslewthen wilfully thy tyde,
God woot it reweth me, and have good day.’
And thus he took his leve and wente his way;
But er that he hadde half his cours yseyled,
Noot I nat why, ne what myschaunce it eyled,
But casuelly the shippes botme rente,
And ship and men under the water wente
In sighte of othere shippes it bisyde,
That with hem seyled at the same tyde.
And therfore, faire Pertelote so deere,
By swiche ensamples olde yet maistow leere,
That no man sholde been to recchelees
Of dremes, for I seye thee doutelees
That many a dreem ful soore is for to drede.
Lo, in the lyf of Seint Kenelm I rede,
That was Kenulphus sone, the noble kyng,
Of Mercenrike how Kenelm mette a thyng.
A lite er he was mordred, on a day
His mordre in his avysioun he say.
His norice hym expowned every deel
His swevene, and bad hym for to kepe hym weel
For traisoun, but he nas but seven yeer oold,
And therfore litel tale hath he toold
Of any dreem, so hooly is his herte.
By God, I hadde levere than my sherte
That ye hadde rad his legende, as have I.
Dame Pertelote, I sey yow trewely,
Macrobeus, that writ the avisioun
In Affrike of the worhty Cipioun,
Affermeth dremes, and seith that they been
Warnynge of thynges, that men after seen.
And forther-moore I pray yow looketh wel
In the olde testament of Daniel,
If he heeld dremes any vanitee!
Reed eek of Joseph, and ther shul ye see
Wher dremes be somtyme, I sey nat alle,
Warnynge of thynges that shul after falle.
Looke of Egipte the kyng, daun Pharao,
His baker and his butiller also,
Wher they ne felte noon effect in dremes!
Whoso wol seken actes of sondry remes
May rede of dremes many a wonder thyng.
Lo Cresus, which that was of Lyde kyng,
Mette he nat that he sat upon a tree,
Which signified, he sholde anhanged bee?
Lo her Adromacha, Ectores wyf,
That day that Ector sholde lese his lyf
She dremed on the same nyght biforn
How that the lyf of Ector sholde be lorn,
If thilke day he wente into bataille.
She warned hym, but it myghte nat availle;
He wente for to fighte natheles,
But he was slayn anon of Achilles.
But thilke is al to longe for to telle,
And eek it is ny day, I may nat dwelle.
Shortly I seye, as for conclusioun,
That I shal han of this avisioun
Adversitee, and I seye forthermoor
That I ne telle of laxatyves no stoor,
For they been venymes, I woot it weel,
I hem diffye, I love hem never a deel.
Now let us speke of myrthe, and stynte al this;
Madame Pertelote, so have I blis,
Of o thyng God hath sent me large grace,
For whan I se the beautee of youre face,
Ye been so scarlet reed aboute youre eyen,
It maketh al my drede for to dyen.
For, al so siker as In principio
Mulier est hominis confusio, —
Madame, the sentence of this Latyn is,
‘Womman is mannes joye and al his blis.’
For whan I felle a-nyght your softe syde,
Al be it that I may nat on yow ryde,
For that oure perche is maad so narwe, allas!
I am so ful of joye and of solas,
That I diffye bothe swevene and dreem.”
And with that word he fly doun fro the beem,
For it was day, and eke hise hennes alle;
And with a chuk he gan hem for to calle,
For he hadde founde a corn lay in the yerd.
Real he was, he was namoore aferd;
And fethered Pertelote twenty tyme,
And trad as ofte, er that it was pryme.
He looketh as it were a grym leoun,
And on hise toos he rometh up and doun,
Hym deigned nat to sette his foot to grounde.
He chukketh whan he hath a corn yfounde,
And to hym rennen thanne hise wyves alle.
Thus roial as a prince is in an halle,
Leve I this Chauntecleer in his pasture,
And after wol I telle his aventure.
Whan that the monthe in which the world bigan
That highte March, whan God first maked man,
Was compleet, and passed were also
Syn March bigan, thritty dayes and two,
Bifel that Chauntecleer in al his pryde,
Hise sevene wyves walkynge by his syde,
Caste up hise eyen to the brighte sonne,
That in the signe of Taurus hadde yronne
Twenty degrees and oon, and somwhat moore;
And knew by kynde, and by noon oother loore,
That it was pryme, and crew with blisful stevene.
“The sonne,” he seyde, “is clomben upon hevene
Fourty degrees and oon, and moore, ywis.
Madame Pertelote, my worldes blis,
Herkneth thise blisful briddes how they synge,
And se the fresshe floures how they sprynge.
Ful is myn herte of revel and solas.”
But sodeynly hym fil a sorweful cas,
For evere the latter ende of joye is wo.
God woot that worldly joye is soone ago,
And if a rethor koude faire endite,
He in a cronycle saufly myghte it write,
As for a sovereyn notabilitee.
Now every wys man, lat him herkne me:
This storie is al so trewe, I undertake,
As is the book of Launcelot de Lake,
That wommen holde in ful greet reverence.
Now wol I come agayn to my sentence.
A colfox, ful of sly iniquitee,
That in the grove hadde wonned yeres three,
By heigh ymaginacioun forn-cast,
The same nyght thurghout the hegges brast
Into the yerd, ther Chauntecleer the faire
Was wont, and eek hise wyves, to repaire;
And in a bed of wortes stille he lay,
Til it was passed undren of the day,
Waitynge his tyme on Chauntecleer to falle,
As gladly doon thise homycides alle
That in await liggen to mordre men.
O false mordrour, lurkynge in thy den!
O newe Scariot! newe Genyloun!
False dissymulour, O Greek synoun
That broghtest Troye al outrely to sorwe!
O Chauntecleer, acursed be that morwe
That thou into that yerd flaugh fro the bemes!
Thou were ful wel ywarned by thy dremes
That thilke day was perilous to thee;
But what that God forwoot moot nedes bee,
After the opinioun of certein clerkis.
Witnesse on hym, that any parfit clerk is,
That in scole is greet altercacioun
In this mateere, and greet disputisoun,
And hath been of an hundred thousand men; —
But I ne kan nat bulte it to the bren
As kan the hooly doctour Augustyn,
Or Boece or the Bisshop Bradwardyn, —
Wheither that Goddes worthy forwityng
Streyneth me nedefully to doon a thyng,
(Nedely clepe I symple necessitee)
Or elles, if free choys be graunted me
To do that same thyng, or do it noght,
Though God forwoot it, er that it was wroght;
Or if his wityng streyneth never a deel
But by necessitee condicioneel, —
I wel nat han to do of swich mateere;
My tale is of a Cok, as ye may heere,
That took his conseil of his wyf, with sorwe,
To walken in the yerd, upon that morwe
That he hadde met that dreem, that I of tolde.
Wommennes conseils been ful ofte colde;
Wommannes conseil broghte us first to wo,
And made Adam fro Paradys to go,
Ther as he was ful myrie, and wel at ese.
But for I noot to whom it myght displese,
If I conseil of wommen wolde blame,
Passe over, for I seye it in my game.
Rede auctours, wher they trete of swich mateere,
And what they seyn of wommen ye may heere.
Thise been the cokkes wordes, and nat myne,
I kan noon harm of no womman divyne.
Faire in the soond, to bathe hire myrily,
Lith Pertelote, and alle hir sustres by,
Agayn the sonne; and Chauntecleer so free
Soony murier than the mermayde in the see —
For Phisiologus seith sikerly
How that they syngen wel and myrily.
And so bifel, that as he cast his eye
Among the wortes on a boterflye,
He was war of this fox that lay ful lowe.
Nothyng ne liste hym thanne for to crowe,
But cride anon, “cok! cok!” and up he sterte,
As man that was affrayed in his herte.
For natureelly a beest desireth flee
Fro his contrarie, if he may it see,
Though he never erst hadde seyn it with his eye.
This Chauntecleer, whan he gan hym espye,
He wolde han fled, but that the fox anon
Seyde, “Gentil sire, allas, wher wol ye gon?
Be ye affrayed of me that am youre freend?
Now certes, I were worse than a feend
If I to yow wolde harm or vileynye.
I am nat come your conseil for tespye,
But trewely, the cause of my comynge
Was oonly for to herkne how that ye synge.
For trewely, ye have as myrie a stevene
As any aungel hath that is in hevene.
Therwith ye han in musyk moore feelynge
Than hadde Boece, or any that kan synge.
My lord youre fader — God his soule blesse! —
And eek youre mooder, of hir gentillesse
Han in myn hous ybeen, to my greet ese;
And certes, sire, ful fayn wolde I yow plese.
But for men speke of syngyng, I wol seye,
So moote I brouke wel myne eyen tweye,
Save yow I herde nevere man yet synge
As dide youre fader in the morwenynge.
Certes, it was of herte al that he song!
And for to make his voys the moore strong,
He wolde so peyne hym, that with bothe hise eyen
He moste wynke, so loude he solde cryen,
And stonden on his tiptoon therwithal,
And strecche forth his nekke long and smal.
And eek he was of swich discrecioun,
That ther nas no man in no regioun,
That hym in song or wisedom myghte passe.
I have wel rad in daun Burnel the Asse
Among hise vers, how that ther was a cok,
For that a presstes sone yaf hym a knok,
Upon his leg, whil he was yong and nyce,
He made hym for to lese his benefice.
But certeyn, ther nys no comparisoun
Bitwixe the wisedom and discrecioun
Of youre fader, and of his subtiltee.
Now syngeth, sire, for seinte charitee,
Lat se konne ye youre fader countrefete!”
This Chauntecleer hise wynges gan to bete,
As man that koude his traysoun nat espie,
So was he ravysshed with his flaterie.
Allas, ye lordes! many a fals flatour
Is in youre courtes, and many a losengeour,
That plesen yow wel moore, by my feith,
Than he that soothfastnesse unto yow seith.
Redeth Ecclesiaste of Flaterye;
Beth war, ye lordes, of hir trecherye.
This Chauntecleer stood hye upon his toos,
Strecchynge his nekke, and heeld hise eyen cloos,
And gan to crowe loude for the nones,
And daun Russell the fox stirte up atones,
And by the gargat hente Chauntecleer,
And on his bak toward the wode hym beer,
For yet ne was ther no man that hym sewed.
O destinee, that mayst nat been eschewed!
Allas, that Chauntecleer fleigh fro the bemes!
Allas, his wyf ne roghte nat of dremes!
And on a Friday fil al this meschaunce.
O Venus, that art goddesse of plesaunce!
Syn that thy servant was this Chauntecleer,
And in thy servyce dide al his poweer,
Moore for delit, than world to multiplye,
Why woltestow suffre hym on thy day to dye?
O Gaufred, deere Maister soverayn!
That whan thy worthy kyng Richard was slayn
With shot, compleynedest his deeth so soore,
Why ne hadde I now thy sentence and thy loore,
The Friday for to chide, as diden ye? —
For on a Friday soothyl slayn was he.
Thanne wolde I shewe yow, how that I koude pleyne
For Chauntecleres drede and for his peyne.
Certes, swich cry ne lamentacioun
Was nevere of ladyes maad, whan Ylioun
Was wonne, and Pirrus with his streite swerd,
Whan he hadde hent kyng Priam by the berd,
And slayn hym, as seith us Eneydos,
As maden alle the hennes in the clos,
Whan they had seyn of Chauntecleer the sighte.
But sovereynly dame Pertelote shrighte
Ful louder than dide Hasdrubales wyf,
Whan that hir housbonde hadde lost his lyf,
And that the Romayns hadde brend Cartage;
She was so ful of torment and of rage
That wilfully into the fyr she sterte,
And brende hirselven with a stedefast herte.
O woful hennes, right so criden ye,
As whan that Nero brende the Citee
Of Rome, cryden senatoures wyves,
For that hir husbondes losten alle hir lyves,
Withouten gilt this Nero hath hem slayn.
Now I wole turne to my tale agayn.
This sely wydwe, and eek hir doghtres two,
Herden thise hennes crie, and maken wo,
And out at dores stirten they anon,
And seyn the fox toward the grove gon,
And bar upon his bak the cok away;
And cryden, “Out! harrow! and weylaway!
Ha! ha! the fox!” and after hym they ran,
And eek with staves many another man,
Ran Colle, oure dogge, and Talbot, and Gerland,
And Malkyn with a dystaf in hir hand,
Ran cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges,
So were they fered for berkying of the dogges,
And shoutyng of the men and wommen eek,
They ronne so, hem thoughte hir herte breek;
They yolleden as feends doon in helle,
The dokes cryden as men wolde hem quelle,
The gees for feere flowen over the trees,
Out of the hyve cam the swarm of bees,
So hydous was the noyse, a! benedicitee!
Certes, he Jakke Straw and his meynee
Ne made nevere shoutes half so shille,
Whan that they wolden any Flemyng kille,
As thilke day was maad upon the fox.
Of bras they broghten bemes and of box,
Of horn, of boon, in whiche they blewe and powped,
And therwithal they skriked and they howped,
It seemed as that hevene sholde falle!
Now, goode men, I pray yow, herkneth alle.
Lo, how Fortune turneth sodeynly
The hope and pryde eek of hir enemy!
This cok, that lay upon the foxes bak,
In al his drede unto the fox he spak,
And seyde, “Sire, if that I were as ye,
Yet wolde I seyn, as wys God helpe me,
‘Turneth agayn, ye proude cherles alle,
A verray pestilence upon yow falle!
Now am I come unto the wodes syde,
Maugree youre heed, the cok shal heere abyde,
I wol hym ete, in feith, and that anon,’”
The fox answerde, “In feith, it shal be don.”
And as he spak that word, al sodeynly
This cok brak from his mouth delyverly,
And heighe upon a tree he fleigh anon.
And whan the fox saugh that he was gon,
“Allas!” quod he, “O Chauntecleer, allas!
I have to yow,” quod he, “ydoon trespas,
In as muche as I maked yow aferd,
Whan I yow hente and broght into this yerd.
But, sire, I dide it of no wikke entente,
Com doun, and I shal telle yow what I mente;
I shal seye sooth to yow, God help me so.”
“Nay, thanne,” quod he, “I shrewe us bothe two,
And first I shrewe myself bothe blood and bones,
If thou bigyle me ofter than ones.
Thou shalt namoore, thurgh thy flaterye,
Do me to synge and wynke with myn eye;
For he that wynketh whan he sholde see,
Al wilfully, God lat him nevere thee.”
“Nay,” quod the fox, “but God yeve hym meschaunce,
That is so undiscreet of governaunce,
That jangleth, whan he sholde holde his pees.”
Lo, swich it si for to be recchelees,
And necligent, and truste on flaterye!
But ye that holden this tale a folye,
As of a fox, or of a cok and hen,
Taketh the moralite, goode men;
For seint Paul seith, that al that writen is,
To oure doctrine it is ywrite, ywis.
Taketh the fruyt, and lat the chaf be stille.
Now goode God, if that it be thy wille,
As seith my lord, so make us alle goode men,
And brynge us to his heighe blisse. Amen.
Heere is ended the Nonnes Preestes tale.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48