The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Shipman’s Prologue.

Here biginneth the Shipmannes Prolog.

Our hoste up-on his stiropes stood anon,

And seyde, ‘good men, herkneth everich on;


This was a thrifty tale for the nones!

Sir parish prest,’ quod he, ‘for goddes bones,

Tel us a tale, as was thy forward yore.

I see wel that ye lerned men in lore

Can moche good, by goddes dignitee!’

1163-1190. From Cp., collated with Hl. Pt. Ln. Seld. Royal, and Sloane; E. Hn. Cm. omit.   1164. Cp. herkeneth; Hl. herkneth.


 The Persone him answerde, ’benedicite!

What eyleth the man, so sinfully to swere?’


 Our hoste answerde, ‘O Iankin, be ye there?

I smelle a loller in the wind,’ quod he.

‘How! good men,’ quod our hoste, ‘herkneth me;


Abydeth, for goddes digne passioun,

For we shal han a predicacioun;

This loller heer wil prechen us som-what.’

1174. Cp. herkeneth; Hl. herkneth.   1174. Hl. Now; rest How (Howe).   1175. Hl. omits.

 ‘Nay, by my fader soule! that shal be nat,’

Seyde the Shipman; ‘heer he shal nat preche,


He shal no gospel glosen heer ne teche.

We leve alle in the grete god,’ quod he,


‘He wolde sowen som difficultee,

Or springen cokkel in our clene corn;

And therfor, hoste, I warne thee biforn,


My Ioly body shal a tale telle,

And I shal clinken yow so mery a belle,

That I shal waken al this companye;

But it shal nat ben of philosophye,


Ne physices, ne termes queinte of lawe;


Ther is but litel Latin in my mawe.’

Here endeth the Shipman his Prolog.

1179. Seld. has Shipman; Roy. Slo. Cp. Pt. Ln. squier; Hl. sompnour.   1181. Seld. Hl. We leuen; Roy. Cp. Pt. Ln. He leueth.   1182. Seld. Hl. quod, which Cp. Pt. Ln. Roy. Slo. omit.   1186-90. Hl. omits.   1189. Tyrwhitt has of physike; the Mss. have the unmeaning word phislyas (Sloane phillyas; Ln. fisleas); read physices; see note.   Colophon. From Seld.

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