The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

Sir Thopas.

Here biginneth Chaucers Tale of Thopas.

Listeth, lordes, in good entent,

And I wol telle verrayment

 Of mirthe and of solas;


Al of a knyght was fair and gent

In bataille and in tourneyment,

 His name was sir Thopas.

Heading. From E. (E. Heere).

Y-born he was in fer contree,

In Flaundres, al biyonde the see,


 At Popering, in the place;


His fader was a man ful free,

And lord he was of that contree,

 As it was goddes grace.

Sir Thopas wex a doghty swayn,


Whyt was his face as payndemayn,

 His lippes rede as rose;

His rode is lyk scarlet in grayn,

And I yow telle in good certayn,

 He hadde a semely nose.


His heer, his berd was lyk saffroun,


That to his girdel raughte adoun;

 His shoon of Cordewane.

Of Brugges were his hosen broun,

His robe was of ciclatoun,


 That coste many a Iane.

1922. E. shoos; Hn. Pt. shoon; rest schoon, schon, schone.

He coude hunte at wilde deer,

And ryde an hauking for riveer,

 With grey goshauk on honde;

Ther-to be was a good archeer,


Of wrastling was ther noon his peer,


 Ther any ram shal stonde.

1927. E. Hn. Cm. Hl. for; Cp. by þe; Pt. Ln. for þe.   1931. E. Hn. Cm. Hl. shal; Cp. schulde; Pt. shulde; Ln. scholde.

Ful many a mayde, bright in bour,

They moorne for him, paramour,

 Whan hem were bet to slepe;


But he was chast and no lechour,

And sweet as is the bremble-flour

 That bereth the rede hepe.

And so bifel up-on a day,

For sothe, as I yow telle may,


 Sir Thopas wolde out ryde;


He worth upon his stede gray,

And in his honde a launcegay,

 A long swerd by his syde.

1938. Hn. Hl. it fel; Cm. it fil.

He priketh thurgh a fair forest,


Ther-inne is many a wilde best,

 Ye, bothe bukke and hare;

And, as he priketh north and est,

I telle it yow, him hadde almest

 Bitid a sory care.

1949. Cm. Hl. Bytid; rest Bitidde, Betydde (!).


Ther springen herbes grete and smale,


The lycorys and cetewale,

 And many a clowe-gilofre;

And notemuge to putte in ale,

Whether it be moyste or stale,


 Or for to leye in cofre.

The briddes singe, it is no nay,

The sparhauk and the papeiay,

 That Ioye it was to here;

The thrustelcok made eek his lay,


The wodedowve upon the spray


 She sang ful loude and clere.

1959. E. hir; rest his.   1960. E. a; rest the.

Sir Thopas fil in love-longinge

Al whan he herde the thrustel singe,

 And priked as he were wood:


His faire stede in his prikinge

So swatte that men mighte him wringe,

 His sydes were al blood.

Sir Thopas eek so wery was

For prikinge on the softe gras,


 So fiers was his corage,


That doun he leyde him in that plas

To make his stede som solas,

 And yaf him good forage.

‘O seinte Marie, benedicite!


What eyleth this love at me

 To binde me so sore?

Me dremed al this night, pardee,

An elf-queen shal my lemman be,

 And slepe under my gore.


An elf-queen wol I love, y-wis,


For in this world no womman is

[T. 13722

 Worthy to be my make

[T. 13722

        In toune;

[T. 13723

Alle othere wommen I forsake,


And to an elf-queen I me take

 By dale and eek by doune!’

1980. Hn. Cm. Hl. haue; rest loue.

In-to his sadel he clamb anoon,

And priketh over style and stoon

 An elf-queen for tespye,


Til he so longe had riden and goon


That he fond, in a privee woon,

[T. 13731

 The contree of Fairye

[T. 13734

        So wilde;

For in that contree was ther noon


That to him dorste ryde or goon,

 Neither wyf ne childe.

1989. So E. Hn. Cm.; Cp. Pt. Ln. to aspie; Hl. to spye.   1995. Not in the best Mss.; supplied from MS. Reg. 17 D. 15 (Tyrwhitt).

Til that ther cam a greet geaunt,

His name was sir Olifaunt,

 A perilous man of dede;


He seyde, ‘child, by Termagaunt,


But-if thou prike out of myn haunt,

[T. 13743

 Anon I slee thy stede

[T. 13743

        With mace.

Heer is the queen of Fayërye,


With harpe and pype and simphonye

 Dwelling in this place.’

2000. Hl. swar; rest seyde.   2004. Cp. Hl. fayerye; E. Hn. Cm. Fairye.   2005. Hl. lute; rest pype or pipe.

The child seyde, ‘al-so mote I thee,

Tomorwe wol I mete thee

 Whan I have myn armoure;


And yet I hope, par ma fay,


That thou shalt with this launcegay

[T. 13752

 Abyen it ful soure;

[T. 13752

        Thy mawe

Shal I percen, if I may,


Er it be fully pryme of day,

 For heer thou shalt be slawe.’

2008. E. Hl. meete with; rest omit with.   2012. E. Hn. sowre; Cm. soure; rest sore.   2014. E. Cm. Thyn hauberk shal I percen, if I may; but the rest rightly omit Thyn hauberk.

Sir Thopas drow abak ful faste;

This geaunt at him stones caste

 Out of a fel staf-slinge;


But faire escapeth child Thopas,


And al it was thurgh goddes gras,

 And thurgh his fair beringe.

2020. E. Cm. sire; rest child.

Yet listeth, lordes, to my tale

Merier than the nightingale,


 For now I wol yow roune

How sir Thopas with sydes smale,

Priking over hil and dale,

 Is come agayn to toune.

2025. Cp. Pt. Ln. insert For now, which the rest omit.   2027. hil] Hl. hul; Cp. Pt. Ln. downe.   2028. E. Cm. comen.

His merie men comanded he


To make him bothe game and glee,


 For nedes moste he fighte

With a geaunt with hevedes three,

For paramour and Iolitee

 Of oon that shoon ful brighte.

2032. E. Hn. heuedes; Hl. heedes; Cm. hedis; Cp. Pt. Ln. hedes.


‘Do come,’ he seyde, ‘my minstrales,

And gestours, for to tellen tales

 Anon in myn arminge;

Of romances that been royales,

Of popes and of cardinales,


 And eek of love-lykinge.’

2038. Hn. Pt. Hl. reales.


They fette him first the swete wyn,

And mede eek in a maselyn,

 And royal spicerye;

Of gingebreed that was ful fyn,


And lycorys, and eek comyn,

 With sugre that is so trye.

2041. E. sette; rest fette or fet.   E. Hn. Cm. omit the.   2044. E. And; Hn. Cm. Hl. Of.   Cp. Pt. Ln. omit ll. 2042-4.   2046. E. alone retains so.

He dide next his whyte lere

Of clooth of lake fyn and clere

 A breech and eek a sherte;


And next his sherte an aketoun,


And over that an habergeoun

 For percinge of his herte;

And over that a fyn hauberk,

Was al y-wroght of Iewes werk,


 Ful strong it was of plate;

And over that his cote-armour

As whyt as is a lily-flour,

 In which he wol debate.

2058. Cm. wolde; Hl. wold; rest wol, wole, wil.

His sheeld was al of gold so reed,


And ther-in was a bores heed,


 A charbocle bisyde;

And there he swoor, on ale and breed,

How that ‘the geaunt shal be deed,

 Bityde what bityde!’

2061. Hn. Cm. Pt. Hl. by his syde; Cp. him besyde.   2063. Cm. Cp. Ln. schulde.


His Iambeux were of quirboilly,

His swerdes shethe of yvory,

 His helm of laton bright;

His sadel was of rewel-boon,

His brydel as the sonne shoon,


 Or as the mone light.

2068. Pt. Hl. rowel; Cp. Ln. ruel.


His spere was of fyn ciprees,

That bodeth werre, and no-thing pees,

 The heed ful sharpe y-grounde;

His stede was al dappel-gray,


It gooth an ambel in the way

[T. 13815

 Ful softely and rounde

[T. 13815

        In londe.

Lo, lordes myne, heer is a fit!

If ye wol any more of it,


 To telle it wol I fonde.

2071. E. it was; rest omit it.

[The Second Fit.]

Now hold your mouth, par charitee,

Bothe knight and lady free,

 And herkneth to my spelle;

Of bataille and of chivalry,


And of ladyes love-drury

 Anon I wol yow telle.

2084. E. batailles; Hn. bataille; rest bataile, batail, batell.

Men speke of romances of prys,

Of Horn child and of Ypotys,

 Of Bevis and sir Gy,


Of sir Libeux and Pleyn-damour;


But sir Thopas, he bereth the flour

 Of royal chivalry.

2089. E. Pt. and of; rest omit of.

His gode stede al he bistrood,

And forth upon his wey he glood


 As sparkle out of the bronde;

Up-on his crest he bar a tour,

And ther-in stiked a lily-flour,

 God shilde his cors fro shonde!

2094. E. rood; rest glood, glod, glode.   2095. Hl. Pt. spark; Cp. Ln. sparcles.

And for he was a knight auntrous,


He nolde slepen in non hous,


 But liggen in his hode;

His brighte helm was his wonger,

And by him baiteth his dextrer

 Of herbes fyne and gode.


Him-self drank water of the wel,

As did the knight sir Percivel,

 So worthy under wede,


Til on a day ——

Here the Host stinteth Chaucer of his Tale of Thopas.

2107. Hl. worthy; E. Hn. worly; Pt. worthely; Cm. Cp. Ln. omit ll. 2105-8.   Colophon. From E. (E. Heere; Hoost).

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