The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Somnour’s Prologue

The prologe of the Somnours Tale.


This Somnour in his stiropes hye stood;

Up-on this Frere his herte was so wood,

That lyk an aspen leef he quook for yre.

Heading. So E. Hn.; E. Somonours.   1665. E. Somonour; Hl. sompnour; rest Somnour.

 ‘Lordinges,’ quod he, ‘but o thing I desyre;

I yow biseke that, of your curteisye,


Sin ye han herd this false Frere lye,

As suffereth me I may my tale telle!

This Frere bosteth that he knoweth helle,

And god it woot, that it is litel wonder;


Freres and feendes been but lyte a-sonder.


For pardee, ye han ofte tyme herd telle,

How that a frere ravisshed was to helle

In spirit ones by a visioun;

And as an angel ladde him up and doun,

To shewen him the peynes that ther were,


In al the place saugh he nat a frere;

Of other folk he saugh y-nowe in wo.

Un-to this angel spak the frere tho:

1676. E. vanysshed(!); rest rauysshed.

 “Now, sir,” quod he, “han freres swich a grace


That noon of hem shal come to this place?”


 “Yis,” quod this angel, “many a millioun!”

And un-to Sathanas he ladde him doun.

“And now hath Sathanas,” seith he, “a tayl

Brodder than of a carrik is the sayl.

Hold up thy tayl, thou Sathanas!" quod he,


“Shewe forth thyn ers, and lat the frere see

Wher is the nest of freres in this place!”

And, er that half a furlong-wey of space,

Right so as bees out swarmen from an hyve,


Out of the develes ers ther gonne dryve


Twenty thousand freres in a route,

And thurgh-out helle swarmeden aboute;

And comen agayn, as faste as they may gon,

And in his ers they crepten everichon.

He clapte his tayl agayn, and lay ful stille.


This frere, whan he loked hadde his fille

Upon the torments of this sory place,

His spirit god restored of his grace

Un-to his body agayn, and he awook;


But natheles, for fere yet he quook,


So was the develes ers ay in his minde,

That is his heritage of verray kinde.

God save yow alle, save this cursed Frere;

My prologe wol I ende in this manere.’

Here endeth the Prologe of the Somnours Tale.

1692. Pt. Hl. than; rest that.   1693. E. Hn. swarmeden; Hl. swarmed al.   1700. Cp. Hn. loked hadde; Pt. Ln. Hl. loked had; E. hadde looke al (sic).   Colophon. From Hn.

Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:06