The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Friar’s Prologue.

The Prologe of the Freres tale.


This worthy limitour, this noble Frere,

He made alwey a maner louring chere

Upon the Somnour, but for honestee

No vileyns word as yet to him spak he.

But atte laste he seyde un-to the Wyf,


‘Dame,’ quod he, ‘god yeve yow right good lyf!

Ye han heer touched, al-so moot I thee,

In scole-matere greet difficultee;

Ye han seyd muchel thing right wel, I seye;


But dame, here as we ryden by the weye,


Us nedeth nat to speken but of game,

And lete auctoritees, on goddes name,

To preching and to scole eek of clergye.

But if it lyke to this companye,

I wol yow of a somnour telle a game.


Pardee, ye may wel knowe by the name,

That of a somnour may no good be sayd;

I praye that noon of you be yvel apayd.

A somnour is a renner up and doun


With mandements for fornicacioun,


And is y-bet at every tounes ende.’

Heading. So E. Hn.   1266. E. chiere.   1267. E. Somonour; Hn. Somnour.   1273. E. Hn. muche; Ln. muchel; rest mochel.   1274. E. ryde; rest ryden.   1277. Hl. scoles.   E. Hn. Hl. om. eek.   1278. K. And; rest But.   1284. E. Hn. mandementz.

 Our host tho spak, ‘a! sire, ye sholde be hende

And curteys, as a man of your estaat;

In companye we wol have no debaat.

Telleth your tale, and lat the Somnour be.’

1286. Hl. oste (om. tho).


 ‘Nay,’ quod the Somnour, ‘lat him seye to me

What so him list; whan it comth to my lot,

By god, I shal him quyten every grot.


I shal him tellen which a greet honour

[T. 6876

It is to be a flateringe limitour;

[T. 6879

And his offyce I shal him telle, y-wis.’

After l. 1294 all but Hl. wrongly insert ll. 1307 and 1308; which see. Tyrwhitt also inserts them.


 Our host answerde, ‘pees, na-more of this.’

And after this he seyde un-to the Frere,

‘Tel forth your tale, leve maister deere.’

Here endeth the Prologe of the Frere.

1298. E. Hn. leeue; Hl. my; Cp. Ln. my leue; Pt. my owen.   Colophon. From Hn.; so Pt.(with Thus for Here).

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