Whan that Aprill with his shoures sooteThe narrator opens the General Prologue with a description of the return of spring. He describes the April rains, the burgeoning flowers and leaves, and the chirping birds. Around this time of year, the narrator says, people begin to feel the desire to go on a pilgrimage. Many devout English pilgrims set off to visit shrines in distant holy lands, but even more choose to travel to Canterbury to visit the relics of Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, where they thank the martyr for having helped them when they were in need. The narrator tells us that as he prepared to go on such a pilgrimage, staying at a tavern in Southwark called the Tabard Inn, a great company of twenty-nine travelers entered. The travelers were a diverse group who, like the narrator, were on their way to Canterbury. They happily agreed to let him join them. That night, the group slept at the Tabard, and woke up early the next morning to set off on their journey. Before continuing the tale, the narrator declares his intent to list and describe each of the members of the group.
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote . . .
AnalysisThe invocation of spring with which the General Prologue begins is lengthy and formal compared to the language of the rest of the Prologue. The first lines situate the story in a particular time and place, but the speaker does this in cosmic and cyclical terms, celebrating the vitality and richness of spring. This approach gives the opening lines a dreamy, timeless, unfocused quality, and it is therefore surprising when the narrator reveals that he’s going to describe a pilgrimage that he himself took rather than telling a love story. A pilgrimage is a religious journey undertaken for penance and grace. As pilgrimages went, Canterbury was not a very difficult destination for an English person to reach. It was, therefore, very popular in fourteenth-century England, as the narrator mentions. Pilgrims traveled to visit the remains of Saint Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, who was murdered in 1170 by knights of King Henry II. Soon after his death, he became the most popular saint in England. The pilgrimage in The Canterbury Tales should not be thought of as an entirely solemn occasion, because it also offered the pilgrims an opportunity to abandon work and take a vacation.
In line 20, the narrator abandons his unfocused, all-knowing point of view, identifying himself as an actual person for the first time by inserting the first person—“I”—as he relates how he met the group of pilgrims while staying at the Tabard Inn. He emphasizes that this group, which he encountered by accident, was itself formed quite by chance (25–26). He then shifts into the first-person plural, referring to the pilgrims as “we” beginning in line 29, asserting his status as a member of the group.
The narrator ends the introductory portion of his prologue by noting that he has “tyme and space” to tell his narrative. His comments underscore the fact that he is writing some time after the events of his story, and that he is describing the characters from memory. He has spoken and met with these people, but he has waited a certain length of time before sitting down and describing them. His intention to describe each pilgrim as he or she seemed to him is also important, for it emphasizes that his descriptions are not only subject to his memory but are also shaped by his individual perceptions and opinions regarding each of the characters. He positions himself as a mediator between two groups: the group of pilgrims, of which he was a member, and us, the audience, whom the narrator explicitly addresses as “you” in lines 34 and 38.
On the other hand, the narrator’s declaration that he will tell us about the “condicioun,” “degree,” and “array” (dress) of each of the pilgrims suggests that his portraits will be based on objective facts as well as his own opinions. He spends considerable time characterizing the group members according to their social positions. The pilgrims represent a diverse cross section of fourteenth-century English society. Medieval social theory divided society into three broad classes, called “estates”: the military, the clergy, and the laity. (The nobility, not represented in the General Prologue, traditionally derives its title and privileges from military duties and service, so it is considered part of the military estate.) In the portraits that we will see in the rest of the General Prologue, the Knight and Squire represent the military estate. The clergy is represented by the Prioress (and her nun and three priests), the Monk, the Friar, and the Parson. The other characters, from the wealthy Franklin to the poor Plowman, are the members of the laity. These lay characters can be further subdivided into landowners (the Franklin), professionals (the Clerk, the Man of Law, the Guildsmen, the Physician, and the Shipman), laborers (the Cook and the Plowman), stewards (the Miller, the Manciple, and the Reeve), and church officers (the Summoner and the Pardoner). As we will see, Chaucer’s descriptions of the various characters and their social roles reveal the influence of the medieval genre of estates satire.
1 Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
When April with its sweet-smelling showers
2 The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
Has pierced the drought of March to the root,
3 And bathed every veyne in swich licour
And bathed every vein (of the plants) in such liquid
4 Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
By which power the flower is created;
5 Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
When the West Wind also with its sweet breath,
6 Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
In every wood and field has breathed life into
7 The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
The tender new leaves, and the young sun
8 Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,
Has run half its course in Aries,
9 And smale foweles maken melodye,
And small fowls make melody,
10 That slepen al the nyght with open ye
Those that sleep all the night with open eyes
11 (So priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
(So Nature incites them in their hearts),
12 Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
Then folk long to go on pilgrimages,
13 And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
And professional pilgrims to seek foreign shores,
14 To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
To distant shrines, known in various lands;
15 And specially from every shires ende
And specially from every shire's end
16 Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
Of England to Canterbury they travel,
17 The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
To seek the holy blessed martyr,
18 That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
Who helped them when they were sick.
19 Bifil that in that seson on a day,
It happened that in that season on one day,
20 In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay
In Southwark at the Tabard Inn as I lay
21 Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage
Ready to go on my pilgrimage
22 To Caunterbury with ful devout corage,
To Canterbury with a very devout spirit,
23 At nyght was come into that hostelrye
At night had come into that hostelry
24 Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye
Well nine and twenty in a company
25 Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
Of various sorts of people, by chance fallen
26 In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,
In fellowship, and they were all pilgrims,
27 That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde.
Who intended to ride toward Canterbury.
28 The chambres and the stables weren wyde,
The bedrooms and the stables were spacious,
29 And wel we weren esed atte beste.
And we were well accommodated in the best way.
30 And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,
And in brief, when the sun was (gone) to rest,
31 So hadde I spoken with hem everichon
I had so spoken with everyone of them
32 That I was of hir felaweshipe anon,
That I was of their fellowship straightway,
33 And made forward erly for to ryse,
And made agreement to rise early,
34 To take oure wey ther as I yow devyse.
To take our way where I (will) tell you.
35 But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space,
But nonetheless, while I have time and opportunity,
36 Er that I ferther in this tale pace,
Before I proceed further in this tale,
37 Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun
It seems to me in accord with reason
38 To telle yow al the condicioun
To tell you all the circumstances
39 Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,
Of each of them, as it seemed to me,
40 And whiche they weren, and of what degree,
And who they were, and of what social rank,
41 And eek in what array that they were inne;
And also what clothing that they were in;
42 And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne.
And at a knight then will I first begin.
43 A KNYGHT ther was, and that a worthy man,
A KNIGHT there was, and that (one was) a worthy man,
44 That fro the tyme that he first bigan
Who from the time that he first began
45 To riden out, he loved chivalrie,
To ride out, he loved chivalry,
46 Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie.
Fidelity and good reputation, generosity and courtesy.
47 Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,
He was very worthy in his lord's war,
48 And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre,
And for that he had ridden, no man farther,
49 As wel in cristendom as in hethenesse,
As well in Christendom as in heathen lands,
50 And evere honoured for his worthynesse;
And (was) ever honored for his worthiness;
51 At Alisaundre he was whan it was wonne.
He was at Alexandria when it was won.
52 Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bigonne
He had sat very many times in the place of honor,
53 Aboven alle nacions in Pruce;
Above (knights of) all nations in Prussia;
54 In Lettow hadde he reysed and in Ruce,
He had campaigned in Lithuania and in Russia,
55 No Cristen man so ofte of his degree.
No Christian man of his rank so often.
56 In Gernade at the seege eek hadde he be
Also he had been in Grenada at the siege
57 Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye.
Of Algeciras, and had ridden in Morocco.
58 At Lyeys was he and at Satalye,
He was at Ayash and at Atalia,
59 Whan they were wonne, and in the Grete See
When they were won, and in the Mediterranean
60 At many a noble armee hadde he be.
He had been at many a noble expedition.
61 At mortal batailles hadde he been fiftene,
He had been at fifteen mortal battles,
62 And foughten for oure feith at Tramyssene
And fought for our faith at Tlemcen
63 In lystes thries, and ay slayn his foo.
Three times in formal duels, and each time slain his foe.
64 This ilke worthy knyght hadde been also
This same worthy knight had also been
65 Somtyme with the lord of Palatye
At one time with the lord of Balat
66 Agayn another hethen in Turkye;
Against another heathen in Turkey;
67 And everemoore he hadde a sovereyn prys.
And evermore he had an outstanding reputation
68 And though that he were worthy, he was wys,
And although he was brave, he was prudent,
69 And of his port as meeke as is a mayde.
And of his deportment as meek as is a maid.
70 He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde
He never yet said any rude word
71 In al his lyf unto no maner wight.
In all his life unto any sort of person.
72 He was a verray, parfit gentil knyght.
He was a truly perfect, noble knight.
73 But for to tellen yow of his array,
But to tell you of his clothing,
74 His hors were goode, but he was nat gay.
His horses were good, but he was not gaily dressed.
75 Of fustian he wered a gypon
He wore a tunic of coarse cloth
76 Al bismotered with his habergeon,
All stained (with rust) by his coat of mail,
77 For he was late ycome from his viage,
For he was recently come (back) from his expedition,
78 And wente for to doon his pilgrymage.
And went to do his pilgrimage.
79 With hym ther was his sone, a yong SQUIER,
With him there was his son, a young SQUIRE,
80 A lovyere and a lusty bacheler,
A lover and a lively bachelor,
81 With lokkes crulle as they were leyd in presse.
With locks curled as if they had been laid in a curler.
82 Of twenty yeer of age he was, I gesse.
He was twenty years of age, I guess.
83 Of his stature he was of evene lengthe,
Of his stature he was of moderate height,
84 And wonderly delyvere, and of greet strengthe.
And wonderfully agile, and of great strength.
85 And he hadde been somtyme in chyvachie
And he had been for a time on a cavalry expedition
86 In Flaundres, in Artoys, and Pycardie,
In Flanders, in Artois, and Picardy,
87 And born hym weel, as of so litel space,
And conducted himself well, for so little a space of time,
88 In hope to stonden in his lady grace.
In hope to stand in his lady's good graces.
89 Embrouded was he, as it were a meede
He was embroidered, as if it were a mead
90 Al ful of fresshe floures, whyte and reede.
All full of fresh flowers, white and red.
91 Syngynge he was, or floytynge, al the day;
Singing he was, or fluting, all the day;
92 He was as fressh as is the month of May.
He was as fresh as is the month of May.
93 Short was his gowne, with sleves longe and wyde.
His gown was short, with long and wide sleeves.
94 Wel koude he sitte on hors and faire ryde.
He well knew how to sit on horse and handsomely ride.
95 He koude songes make and wel endite,
He knew how to make songs and well compose (the words),
96 Juste and eek daunce, and weel purtreye and write.
Joust and also dance, and well draw and write.
97 So hoote he lovede that by nyghtertale
He loved so passionately that at nighttime
98 He sleep namoore than dooth a nyghtyngale.
He slept no more than does a nightingale.
99 Curteis he was, lowely, and servysable,
Courteous he was, humble, and willing to serve,
100 And carf biforn his fader at the table.
And carved before his father at the table.
101 A YEMAN hadde he and servantz namo
He (the Knight) had A YEOMAN and no more servants
102 At that tyme, for hym liste ride so,
At that time, for it pleased him so to travel,
103 And he was clad in cote and hood of grene.
And he (the yeoman) was clad in coat and hood of green.
104 A sheef of pecok arwes, bright and kene,
A sheaf of peacock arrows, bright and keen,
105 Under his belt he bar ful thriftily
He carried under his belt very properly
106 (Wel koude he dresse his takel yemanly;
(He well knew how to care for his equipment as a yeoman should;
107 His arwes drouped noght with fetheres lowe),
His arrows did not fall short because of drooping feathers),
108 And in his hand he baar a myghty bowe.
And in his hand he carried a mighty bow.
109 A not heed hadde he, with a broun visage.
He had a close-cropped head, with a brown face.
110 Of wodecraft wel koude he al the usage.
He well knew all the practice of woodcraft.
111 Upon his arm he baar a gay bracer,
He wore an elegant archer's wrist-guard upon his arm,
112 And by his syde a swerd and a bokeler,
And by his side a sword and a small shield,
113 And on that oother syde a gay daggere
And on that other side an elegant dagger
114 Harneised wel and sharp as point of spere;
Well ornamented and sharp as the point of a spear;
115 A Cristopher on his brest of silver sheene.
A Christopher-medal of bright silver on his breast.
116 An horn he bar, the bawdryk was of grene;
He carried a horn, the shoulder strap was green;
117 A forster was he, soothly, as I gesse.
He was a forester, truly, as I guess.
118 Ther was also a Nonne, a PRIORESSE,
There was also a Nun, a PRIORESS,
119 That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy;
Who was very simple and modest in her smiling;
120 Hire gretteste ooth was but by Seinte Loy;
Her greatest oath was but by Saint Loy;
121 And she was cleped madame Eglentyne.
And she was called Madam Eglantine.
122 Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne,
She sang the divine service very well,
123 Entuned in hir nose ful semely;
Intoned in her nose in a very polite manner;
124 And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,
And she spoke French very well and elegantly,
125 After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe,
In the manner of Stratford at the Bow,
126 For Frenssh of Parys was to hire unknowe.
For French of Paris was to her unknown.
127 At mete wel ytaught was she with alle;
At meals she was well taught indeed;
128 She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle,
She let no morsel fall from her lips,
129 Ne wette hir fyngres in hir sauce depe;
Nor wet her fingers deep in her sauce;
130 Wel koude she carie a morsel and wel kepe
She well knew how to carry a morsel (to her mouth) and take good care
131 That no drope ne fille upon hire brest.
That no drop fell upon her breast.
132 In curteisie was set ful muchel hir lest.
Her greatest pleasure was in good manners.
133 Hir over-lippe wyped she so clene
She wiped her upper lip so clean
134 That in hir coppe ther was no ferthyng sene
That in her cup there was seen no tiny bit
135 Of grece, whan she dronken hadde hir draughte.
Of grease, when she had drunk her drink.
136 Ful semely after hir mete she raughte.
She reached for her food in a very seemly manner.
137 And sikerly she was of greet desport,
And surely she was of excellent deportment,
138 And ful plesaunt, and amyable of port,
And very pleasant, and amiable in demeanor,
139 And peyned hire to countrefete cheere
And she took pains to imitate the manners
140 Of court, and to been estatlich of manere,
Of court, and to be dignified in behavior,
141 And to ben holden digne of reverence.
And to be considered worthy of reverence.
142 But for to speken of hire conscience,
But to speak of her moral sense,
143 She was so charitable and so pitous
She was so charitable and so compassionate
144 She wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous
She would weep, if she saw a mouse
145 Kaught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde.
Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bled.
146 Of smale houndes hadde she that she fedde
She had some small hounds that she fed
147 With rosted flessh, or milk and wastel-breed.
With roasted meat, or milk and fine white bread.
148 But soore wepte she if oon of hem were deed,
But sorely she wept if one of them were dead,
149 Or if men smoot it with a yerde smerte;
Or if someone smote it smartly with a stick;
150 And al was conscience and tendre herte.
And all was feeling and tender heart.
151 Ful semyly hir wympul pynched was,
Her wimple was pleated in a very seemly manner,
152 Hir nose tretys, hir eyen greye as glas,
Her nose well formed, her eyes gray as glass,
153 Hir mouth ful smal, and therto softe and reed.
Her mouth very small, and moreover soft and red.
154 But sikerly she hadde a fair forheed;
But surely she had a fair forehead;
155 It was almoost a spanne brood, I trowe;
It was almost nine inches broad, I believe;
156 For, hardily, she was nat undergrowe.
For, certainly, she was not undergrown.
157 Ful fetys was hir cloke, as I was war.
Her cloak was very well made , as I was aware.
158 Of smal coral aboute hire arm she bar
About her arm she bore of small coral
159 A peire of bedes, gauded al with grene,
A set of beads, adorned with large green beads,
160 And theron heng a brooch of gold ful sheene,
And thereon hung a brooch of very bright gold,
161 On which ther was first write a crowned A,
On which there was first written an A with a crown,
162 And after Amor vincit omnia.
And after "Love conquers all."
163 Another NONNE with hire hadde she,
She had another NUN with her,
164 That was hir chapeleyne, and preestes thre.
Who was her secretary, and three priests.
165 A MONK ther was, a fair for the maistrie,
There was a MONK, an extremely fine one,
166 An outridere, that lovede venerie,
An outrider (a monk with business outside the monastery), who loved hunting,
167 A manly man, to been an abbot able.
A virile man, qualified to be an abbot.
168 Ful many a deyntee hors hadde he in stable,
He had very many fine horses in his stable,
169 And whan he rood, men myghte his brydel heere
And when he rode, one could hear his bridle
170 Gynglen in a whistlynge wynd als cleere
Jingle in a whistling wind as clear
171 And eek as loude as dooth the chapel belle
And also as loud as does the chapel belle
172 Ther as this lord was kepere of the celle.
Where this lord was prior of the subordinate monastery.
173 The reule of Seint Maure or of Seint Beneit --
The rule of Saint Maurus or of Saint Benedict --
174 By cause that it was old and somdel streit
Because it was old and somewhat strict
175 This ilke Monk leet olde thynges pace,
This same Monk let old things pass away,
176 And heeld after the newe world the space.
And followed the broader customs of modern times.
177 He yaf nat of that text a pulled hen,
He gave not a plucked hen for that text
178 That seith that hunters ben nat hooly men,
That says that hunters are not holy men,
179 Ne that a monk, whan he is recchelees,
Nor that a monk, when he is heedless of rules,
180 Is likned til a fissh that is waterlees --
Is like a fish that is out of water --
181 This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloystre.
This is to say, a monk out of his cloister.
182 But thilke text heeld he nat worth an oystre;
But he considered that same text not worth an oyster;
183 And I seyde his opinion was good.
And I said his opinion was good.
184 What sholde he studie and make hymselven wood,
Why should he study and make himself crazy,
185 Upon a book in cloystre alwey to poure,
Always to pore upon a book in the cloister,
186 Or swynken with his handes, and laboure,
Or work with his hands, and labor,
187 As Austyn bit? How shal the world be served?
As Augustine commands? How shall the world be served?
188 Lat Austyn have his swynk to hym reserved!
Let Augustine have his work reserved to him!
189 Therfore he was a prikasour aright:
Therefore he was indeed a vigorous horseman:
190 Grehoundes he hadde as swift as fowel in flight;
He had greyhounds as swift as fowl in flight;
191 Of prikyng and of huntyng for the hare
Of tracking and of hunting for the hare
192 Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare.
Was all his pleasure, by no means would he refrain from it.
193 I seigh his sleves purfiled at the hond
I saw his sleeves lined at the hand
194 With grys, and that the fyneste of a lond;
With squirrel fur, and that the finest in the land;
195 And for to festne his hood under his chyn,
And to fasten his hood under his chin,
196 He hadde of gold ywroght a ful curious pyn;
He had a very skillfully made pin of gold;
197 A love-knotte in the gretter ende ther was.
There was an elaborate knot in the larger end.
198 His heed was balled, that shoon as any glas,
His head was bald, which shone like any glass,
199 And eek his face, as he hadde been enoynt.
And his face did too, as if he had been rubbed with oil.
200 He was a lord ful fat and in good poynt;
He was a very plump lord and in good condition;
201 His eyen stepe, and rollynge in his heed,
His eyes were prominent, and rolling in his head,
202 That stemed as a forneys of a leed;
Which gleamed like a furnace under a cauldron;
203 His bootes souple, his hors in greet estaat.
His boots supple, his horse in excellent condition.
204 Now certeinly he was a fair prelaat;
Now certainly he was a handsome ecclesiastical dignitary;
205 He was nat pale as a forpyned goost.
He was not pale as a tormented spirit.
206 A fat swan loved he best of any roost.
A fat swan loved he best of any roast.
207 His palfrey was as broun as is a berye.
His saddle horse was as brown as is a berry.
208 A FRERE ther was, a wantowne and a merye,
There was a FRIAR, a pleasure-loving and merry one,
209 A lymytour, a ful solempne man.
A limiter (with an assigned territory), a very solemn man.
210 In alle the ordres foure is noon that kan
In all the four orders of friars is no one that knows
211 So muchel of daliaunce and fair langage.
So much of sociability and elegant speech.
212 He hadde maad ful many a mariage
He had made very many a marriage
213 Of yonge wommen at his owene cost.
Of young women at his own cost.
214 Unto his ordre he was a noble post.
He was a noble supporter of his order.
215 Ful wel biloved and famulier was he
Very well beloved and familiar was he
216 With frankeleyns over al in his contree,
With landowners every where in his country,
217 And eek with worthy wommen of the toun;
And also with worthy women of the town;
218 For he hadde power of confessioun,
For he had power of confession,
219 As seyde hymself, moore than a curat,
As he said himself, more than a parish priest,
220 For of his ordre he was licenciat.
For he was licensed by his order.
221 Ful swetely herde he confessioun,
He heard confession very sweetly,
222 And plesaunt was his absolucioun:
And his absolution was pleasant:
223 He was an esy man to yeve penaunce,
He was a lenient man in giving penance,
224 Ther as he wiste to have a good pitaunce.
Where he knew he would have a good gift.
225 For unto a povre ordre for to yive
For to give to a poor order (of friars)
226 Is signe that a man is wel yshryve;
Is a sign that a man is well confessed;
227 For if he yaf, he dorste make avaunt,
For if he gave, he (the friar) dared to assert,
228 He wiste that a man was repentaunt;
He knew that a man was repentant;
229 For many a man so hard is of his herte,
For many a man is so hard in his heart,
230 He may nat wepe, althogh hym soore smerte.
He can not weep, although he painfully suffers.
231 Therfore in stede of wepynge and preyeres
Therefore instead of weeping and prayers
232 Men moote yeve silver to the povre freres.
One may give silver to the poor friars.
233 His typet was ay farsed ful of knyves
His hood was always stuffed full of knives
234 And pynnes, for to yeven faire wyves.
And pins, to give to fair wives.
235 And certeinly he hadde a murye note:
And certainly he had a merry voice:
236 Wel koude he synge and pleyen on a rote;
He well knew how to sing and play on a rote (string instrument);
237 Of yeddynges he baar outrely the pris.
He absolutely took the prize for reciting ballads.
238 His nekke whit was as the flour-de-lys;
His neck was white as a lily flower;
239 Therto he strong was as a champioun.
Furthermore he was strong as a champion fighter.
240 He knew the tavernes wel in every toun
He knew the taverns well in every town
241 And everich hostiler and tappestere
And every innkeeper and barmaid
242 Bet than a lazar or a beggestere,
Better than a leper or a beggar-woman,
243 For unto swich a worthy man as he
For unto such a worthy man as he
244 Acorded nat, as by his facultee,
It was not suitable, in view of his official position,
245 To have with sike lazars aqueyntaunce.
To have acquaintance with sick lepers.
246 It is nat honest; it may nat avaunce,
It is not respectable; it can not be profitable,
247 For to deelen with no swich poraille,
To deal with any such poor people,
248 But al with riche and selleres of vitaille.
But all with rich people and sellers of victuals.
249 And over al, ther as profit sholde arise,
And every where, where profit should arise,
250 Curteis he was and lowely of servyse;
He was courteous and graciously humble;
251 Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous.
There was no man anywhere so capable (of such work).
252 He was the beste beggere in his hous;
He was the best beggar in his house;
252a [And yaf a certeyn ferme for the graunt;
[And he gave a certain fee for his grant (of begging rights);
252a Noon of his bretheren cam ther in his haunt;]
None of his brethren came there in his territory;]
253 For thogh a wydwe hadde noght a sho,
For though a widow had not a shoe,
254 So plesaunt was his "In principio,"
So pleasant was his "In the beginning,"
255 Yet wolde he have a ferthyng, er he wente.
Yet he would have a farthing, before he went away.
256 His purchas was wel bettre than his rente.
His total profit was much more than his proper income.
257 And rage he koude, as it were right a whelp.
And he knew how to frolic, as if he were indeed a pup.
258 In love-dayes ther koude he muchel help,
He knew how to be much help on days for resolving disputes,
259 For ther he was nat lyk a cloysterer
For there he was not like a cloistered monk
260 With a thredbare cope, as is a povre scoler,
With a threadbare cope, like a poor scholar,
261 But he was lyk a maister or a pope.
But he was like a master of arts or a pope.
262 Of double worstede was his semycope,
Of wide (expensive) cloth was his short cloak,
263 That rounded as a belle out of the presse.
Which was round as a bell fresh from the clothespress.
264 Somwhat he lipsed, for his wantownesse,
Somewhat he lisped, for his affectation,
265 To make his Englissh sweete upon his tonge;
To make his English sweet upon his tongue;
266 And in his harpyng, whan that he hadde songe,
And in his harping, when he had sung,
267 His eyen twynkled in his heed aryght
His eyes twinkled in his head exactly
268 As doon the sterres in the frosty nyght.
As do the stars in the frosty night.
269 This worthy lymytour was cleped Huberd.
This worthy friar was called Huberd.
270 A MARCHANT was ther with a forked berd,
There was a MERCHANT with a forked beard,
271 In mottelee, and hye on horse he sat;
Wearing parti-colored cloth, and proudly he sat on his horse;
272 Upon his heed a Flaundryssh bever hat,
Upon his head (he wore a) Flemish beaver hat,
273 His bootes clasped faire and fetisly.
His boots were buckled handsomely and elegantly.
274 His resons he spak ful solempnely,
His opinions he spoke very solemnly,
275 Sownynge alwey th' encrees of his wynnyng.
Concerning always the increase of his profits.
276 He wolde the see were kept for any thyng
He wanted the sea to be guarded at all costs
277 Bitwixe Middelburgh and Orewelle.
Between Middelburgh (Holland) and Orwell (England).
278 Wel koude he in eschaunge sheeldes selle.
He well knew how to deal in foreign currencies.
279 This worthy man ful wel his wit bisette:
This worthy man employed his wit very well:
280 Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette,
There was no one who knew that he was in debt,
281 So estatly was he of his governaunce
He was so dignified in managing his affairs
282 With his bargaynes and with his chevyssaunce.
With his buying and selling and with his financial deals.
283 For sothe he was a worthy man with alle,
Truly, he was a worthy man indeed,
284 But, sooth to seyn, I noot how men hym calle.
But, to say the truth, I do not know what men call him.
285 A CLERK ther was of Oxenford also,
There was also a CLERK (scholar) from Oxford,
286 That unto logyk hadde longe ygo.
Who long before had begun the study of logic.
287 As leene was his hors as is a rake,
His horse was as lean as is a rake,
288 And he nas nat right fat, I undertake,
And he was not very fat, I affirm,
289 But looked holwe, and therto sobrely.
But looked emaciated, and moreover abstemious.
290 Ful thredbare was his overeste courtepy,
His short overcoat was very threadbare,
291 For he hadde geten hym yet no benefice,
For he had not yet obtained an ecclesiastical living,
292 Ne was so worldly for to have office.
Nor was he worldly enough to take secular employment.
293 For hym was levere have at his beddes heed
For he would rather have at the head of his bed
294 Twenty bookes, clad in blak or reed,
Twenty books, bound in black or red,
295 Of Aristotle and his philosophie
Of Aristotle and his philosophy
296 Than robes riche, or fithele, or gay sautrie.
Than rich robes, or a fiddle, or an elegant psaltery.
297 But al be that he was a philosophre,
But even though he was a philosopher,
298 Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre;
Nevertheless he had but little gold in his strongbox;
299 But al that he myghte of his freendes hente,
But all that he could get from his friends,
300 On bookes and on lernynge he it spente,
He spent on books and on learning,
301 And bisily gan for the soules preye
And diligently did pray for the souls
302 Of hem that yaf hym wherwith to scoleye.
Of those who gave him the wherewithal to attend the schools.
303 Of studie took he moost cure and moost heede.
He took most care and paid most heed to study.
304 Noght o word spak he moore than was neede,
He spoke not one word more than was needed,
305 And that was seyd in forme and reverence,
And that was said with due formality and respect,
306 And short and quyk and ful of hy sentence;
And short and lively and full of elevated content;
307 Sownynge in moral vertu was his speche,
His speech was consonant with moral virtue,
308 And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche.
And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.
309 A SERGEANT OF THE LAWE, war and wys,
A SERGEANT OF THE LAW (high-ranking attorney), prudent and wise,
310 That often hadde been at the Parvys,
Who often had been at the Porch of St. Paul's (where lawyers gather)
311 Ther was also, ful riche of excellence.
Was also there, very rich in superior qualities.
312 Discreet he was and of greet reverence --
He was judicious and of great dignity --
313 He semed swich, his wordes weren so wise.
He seemed such, his words were so wise.
314 Justice he was ful often in assise,
He was very often a judge in the court of assizes,
315 By patente and by pleyn commissioun.
By royal appointment and with full jurisdiction.
316 For his science and for his heigh renoun,
For his knowledge and for his excellent reputation,
317 Of fees and robes hadde he many oon.
He had many grants of yearly income.
318 So greet a purchasour was nowher noon:
There was nowhere so great a land-buyer:
319 Al was fee symple to hym in effect;
In fact, all was unrestricted possession to him;
320 His purchasyng myghte nat been infect.
His purchasing could not be invalidated.
321 Nowher so bisy a man as he ther nas,
There was nowhere so busy a man as he,
322 And yet he semed bisier than he was.
And yet he seemed busier than he was.
323 In termes hadde he caas and doomes alle
He had in Year Books all the cases and decisions
324 That from the tyme of kyng William were falle.
That from the time of king William have occurred.
325 Therto he koude endite and make a thyng,
Furthermore, he knew how to compose and draw up a legal document,
326 Ther koude no wight pynche at his writyng;
So that no one could find a flaw in his writing;
327 And every statut koude he pleyn by rote.
And he knew every statute completely by heart.
328 He rood but hoomly in a medlee cote,
He rode but simply in a parti-colored coat,
329 Girt with a ceint of silk, with barres smale;
Girded with a belt of silk, with small stripes;
330 Of his array telle I no lenger tale.
I tell no longer tale of his clothing.
331 A FRANKELEYN was in his compaignye.
A FRANKLIN was in his company.
332 Whit was his berd as is the dayesye;
His beard was white as a daisy;
333 Of his complexioun he was sangwyn.
As to his temperament, he was dominated by the humor blood.
334 Wel loved he by the morwe a sop in wyn;
He well loved a bit of bread dipped in wine in the morning;
335 To lyven in delit was evere his wone,
His custom was always to live in delight,
336 For he was Epicurus owene sone,
For he was Epicurus' own son,
337 That heeld opinioun that pleyn delit
Who held the opinion that pure pleasure
338 Was verray felicitee parfit.
Was truly perfect happiness.
339 An housholdere, and that a greet, was he;
He was a householder, and a great one at that;
340 Seint Julian he was in his contree.
He was Saint Julian (patron of hospitality) in his country.
341 His breed, his ale, was alweys after oon;
His bread, his ale, was always of the same (good) quality;
342 A bettre envyned man was nowher noon.
Nowhere was there any man better stocked with wine.
343 Withoute bake mete was nevere his hous,
His house was never without baked pies
344 Of fissh and flessh, and that so plentevous
Of fish and meat, and that so plentiful
345 It snewed in his hous of mete and drynke;
That in his house it snowed with food and drink;
346 Of alle deyntees that men koude thynke,
Of all the dainties that men could imagine,
347 After the sondry sesons of the yeer,
In accord with the various seasons of the year,
348 So chaunged he his mete and his soper.
So he varied his midday meal and his supper.
349 Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in muwe,
He had very many fat partridges in pens,
350 And many a breem and many a luce in stuwe.
And many a bream and many a pike in his fish pond.
351 Wo was his cook but if his sauce were
Woe was his cook unless his sauce was
352 Poynaunt and sharp, and redy al his geere.
Hotly spiced and sharp, and ready all his cooking equipment.
353 His table dormant in his halle alway
In his hall his dining table always
354 Stood redy covered al the longe day.
Stood covered (with table cloth) and ready all the long day.
355 At sessiouns ther was he lord and sire;
He presided as lord and sire at court sessions;
356 Ful ofte tyme he was knyght of the shire.
He was a member of parliament many times.
357 An anlaas and a gipser al of silk
A dagger and a purse all of silk
358 Heeng at his girdel, whit as morne milk.
Hung at his belt, white as morning milk.
359 A shirreve hadde he been, and a contour.
He had been a sheriff, and an auditor of taxes.
360 Was nowher swich a worthy vavasour.
There was nowhere such a worthy landowner.
361 AN HABERDASSHERE and a CARPENTER,
A HABERDASHER and a CARPENTER,
362 A WEBBE, a DYERE, and a TAPYCER --
A WEAVER, a DYER, and a TAPESTRY-MAKER --
363 And they were clothed alle in o lyveree
And they were all clothed in one livery
364 Of a solempne and a greet fraternitee.
Of a solemn and a great parish guild.
365 Ful fressh and newe hir geere apiked was;
Their equipment was adorned all freshly and new;
366 Hir knyves were chaped noght with bras
Their knives were not mounted with brass
367 But al with silver, wroght ful clene and weel,
But entirely with silver, wrought very neatly and well,
368 Hire girdles and hir pouches everydeel.
Their belts and their purses every bit.
369 Wel semed ech of hem a fair burgeys
Each of them well seemed a solid citizen
370 To sitten in a yeldehalle on a deys.
To sit on a dais in a city hall.
371 Everich, for the wisdom that he kan,
Every one of them, for the wisdom that he knows,
372 Was shaply for to been an alderman.
Was suitable to be an alderman.
373 For catel hadde they ynogh and rente,
For they had enough possessions and income,
374 And eek hir wyves wolde it wel assente;
And also their wives would well assent to it;
375 And elles certeyn were they to blame.
And otherwise certainly they would be to blame.
376 It is ful fair to been ycleped "madame,"
It is very fine to be called "my lady,"
377 And goon to vigilies al bifore,
And go to feasts on holiday eves heading the procession,
378 And have a mantel roialliche ybore.
And have a gown with a train royally carried.
379 A COOK they hadde with hem for the nones
A COOK they had with them for the occasion
380 To boille the chiknes with the marybones,
To boil the chickens with the marrow bones,
381 And poudre-marchant tart and galyngale.
And tart poudre-marchant and galingale (spices).
382 Wel koude he knowe a draughte of Londoun ale.
He well knew how to judge a draft of London ale.
383 He koude rooste, and sethe, and broille, and frye,
He knew how to roast, and boil, and broil, and fry,
384 Maken mortreux, and wel bake a pye.
Make stews, and well bake a pie.
385 But greet harm was it, as it thoughte me,
But it was a great harm, as it seemed to me,
386 That on his shyne a mormal hadde he.
That he had an open sore on his shin.
387 For blankmanger, that made he with the beste.
As for white pudding, he made that of the best quality.
388 A SHIPMAN was ther, wonynge fer by weste;
A SHIPMAN was there, dwelling far in the west;
389 For aught I woot, he was of Dertemouthe.
For all I know, he was from Dartmouth.
390 He rood upon a rouncy, as he kouthe,
He rode upon a cart horse, insofar as he knew how,
391 In a gowne of faldyng to the knee.
In a gown of woolen cloth (that reached) to the knee.
392 A daggere hangynge on a laas hadde he
He had a dagger hanging on a cord
393 Aboute his nekke, under his arm adoun.
About his neck, down under his arm.
394 The hoote somer hadde maad his hewe al broun;
The hot summer had made his hue all brown;
395 And certeinly he was a good felawe.
And certainly he was a boon companion.
396 Ful many a draughte of wyn had he ydrawe
He had drawn very many a draft of wine
397 Fro Burdeux-ward, whil that the chapman sleep.
While coming from Bordeaux, while the merchant slept.
398 Of nyce conscience took he no keep.
He had no concern for a scrupulous conscience.
399 If that he faught and hadde the hyer hond,
If he fought and had the upper hand,
400 By water he sente hem hoom to every lond.
He sent them home by water to every land (they walked the plank).
401 But of his craft to rekene wel his tydes,
But of his skill to reckon well his tides,
402 His stremes, and his daungers hym bisides,
His currents, and his perils near at hand,
403 His herberwe, and his moone, his lodemenage,
His harbors, and positions of his moon, his navigation,
404 Ther nas noon swich from Hulle to Cartage.
There was none other such from Hull to Cartagena (Spain).
405 Hardy he was and wys to undertake;
He was bold and prudent in his undertakings;
406 With many a tempest hadde his berd been shake.
His beard had been shaken by many a tempest.
407 He knew alle the havenes, as they were,
He knew all the harbors, how they were,
408 Fro Gootlond to the cape of Fynystere,
From Gotland to the Cape of Finisterre,
409 And every cryke in Britaigne and in Spayne.
And every inlet in Brittany and in Spain.
410 His barge ycleped was the Maudelayne.
His ship was called the Maudelayne.
411 With us ther was a DOCTOUR OF PHISIK;
With us there was a DOCTOR OF MEDICINE
412 In al this world ne was ther noon hym lik,
In all this world there was no one like him,
413 To speke of phisik and of surgerye,
To speak of medicine and of surgery,
414 For he was grounded in astronomye.
For he was instructed in astronomy.
415 He kepte his pacient a ful greet deel
He took care of his patient very many times
416 In houres by his magyk natureel.
In (astronomically suitable) hours by (use of) his natural science.
417 Wel koude he fortunen the ascendent
He well knew how to calculate the planetary position
418 Of his ymages for his pacient.
Of his astronomical talismans for his patient.
419 He knew the cause of everich maladye,
He knew the cause of every malady,
420 Were it of hoot, or coold, or moyste, or drye,
Were it of hot, or cold, or moist, or dry elements,
421 And where they engendred, and of what humour.
And where they were engendered, and by what bodily fluid.
422 He was a verray, parfit praktisour:
He was a truly, perfect practitioner:
423 The cause yknowe, and of his harm the roote,
The cause known, and the source of his (patient's) harm,
424 Anon he yaf the sike man his boote.
Straightway he gave the sick man his remedy.
425 Ful redy hadde he his apothecaries
He had his apothecaries all ready
426 To sende hym drogges and his letuaries,
To send him drugs and his electuaries,
427 For ech of hem made oother for to wynne --
For each of them made the other to profit --
428 Hir frendshipe nas nat newe to bigynne.
Their friendship was not recently begun.
429 Wel knew he the olde Esculapius,
He well knew the old Aesculapius,
430 And Deyscorides, and eek Rufus,
And Dioscorides, and also Rufus,
431 Olde Ypocras, Haly, and Galyen,
Old Hippocrates, Haly, and Galen,
432 Serapion, Razis, and Avycen,
Serapion, Rhazes, and Avicenna,
433 Averrois, Damascien, and Constantyn,
Averroes, John the Damascan, and Constantine,
434 Bernard, and Gatesden, and Gilbertyn.
Bernard, and Gaddesden, and Gilbertus.
435 Of his diete mesurable was he,
He was moderate in his diet,
436 For it was of no superfluitee,
For it was of no excess,
437 But of greet norissyng and digestible.
But greatly nourishing and digestible.
438 His studie was but litel on the Bible.
His study was but little on the Bible.
439 In sangwyn and in pers he clad was al,
He was clad all in red and in blue,
440 Lyned with taffata and with sendal.
Lined with taffeta and with silk.
441 And yet he was but esy of dispence;
And yet he was moderate in spending;
442 He kepte that he wan in pestilence.
He kept what he earned in (times of) plague.
443 For gold in phisik is a cordial,
Since in medicine gold is a restorative for the heart,
444 Therefore he lovede gold in special.
Therefore he loved gold in particular.
445 A good WIF was ther OF biside BATHE,
There was a good WIFE OF beside BATH,
446 But she was somdel deef, and that was scathe.
But she was somewhat deaf, and that was a pity.
447 Of clooth-makyng she hadde swich an haunt
She had such a skill in cloth-making
448 She passed hem of Ypres and of Gaunt.
She surpassed them of Ypres and of Ghent.
449 In al the parisshe wif ne was ther noon
In all the parish there was no wife
450 That to the offrynge bifore hire sholde goon;
Who should go to the Offering before her;
451 And if ther dide, certeyn so wrooth was she
And if there did, certainly she was so angry
452 That she was out of alle charitee.
That she was out of all charity (love for her neighbor).
453 Hir coverchiefs ful fyne weren of ground;
Her kerchiefs were very fine in texture;
454 I dorste swere they weyeden ten pound
I dare swear they weighed ten pound
455 That on a Sonday weren upon hir heed.
That on a Sunday were upon her head.
456 Hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed,
Her stockings were of fine scarlet red,
457 Ful streite yteyd, and shoes ful moyste and newe.
Very closely laced, and shoes very supple and new.
458 Boold was hir face, and fair, and reed of hewe.
Bold was her face, and fair, and red of hue.
459 She was a worthy womman al hir lyve:
She was a worthy woman all her life:
460 Housbondes at chirche dore she hadde fyve,
She had (married) five husbands at the church door,
461 Withouten oother compaignye in youthe --
Not counting other company in youth --
462 But thereof nedeth nat to speke as nowthe.
But there is no need to speak of that right now.
463 And thries hadde she been at Jerusalem;
And she had been three times at Jerusalem;
464 She hadde passed many a straunge strem;
She had passed many a foreign sea;
465 At Rome she hadde been, and at Boloigne,
She had been at Rome, and at Boulogne,
466 In Galice at Seint-Jame, and at Coloigne.
In Galicia at Saint-James (of Compostella), and at Cologne.
467 She koude muchel of wandrynge by the weye.
She knew much about wandering by the way.
468 Gat-tothed was she, soothly for to seye.
She had teeth widely set apart, truly to say.
469 Upon an amblere esily she sat,
She sat easily upon a pacing horse,
470 Ywympled wel, and on hir heed an hat
Wearing a large wimple, and on her head a hat
471 As brood as is a bokeler or a targe;
As broad as a buckler or a shield;
472 A foot-mantel aboute hir hipes large,
An overskirt about her large hips,
473 And on hir feet a paire of spores sharpe.
And on her feet a pair of sharp spurs.
474 In felaweshipe wel koude she laughe and carpe.
In fellowship she well knew how to laugh and chatter.
475 Of remedies of love she knew per chaunce,
She knew, as it happened, about remedies for love
476 For she koude of that art the olde daunce.
For she knew the old dance (tricks of the trade) of that art.
477 A good man was ther of religioun,
A good man was there of religion,
478 And was a povre PERSOUN OF A TOUN,
And (he) was a poor PARSON OF A TOWN,
479 But riche he was of hooly thoght and werk.
But he was rich in holy thought and work.
480 He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
He was also a learned man, a scholar,
481 That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
Who would preach Christ's gospel truly;
482 His parisshens devoutly wolde he teche.
He would devoutly teach his parishioners.
483 Benygne he was, and wonder diligent,
He was gracious, and wonderfully diligent,
484 And in adversitee ful pacient,
And very patient in adversity,
485 And swich he was ypreved ofte sithes.
And such he was proven many times.
486 Ful looth were hym to cursen for his tithes,
He was very reluctant to excommunicate for (nonpayment of) his tithes,
487 But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute,
But rather would he give, there is no doubt,
488 Unto his povre parisshens aboute
Unto his poor parishioners about
489 Of his offryng and eek of his substaunce.
Some of his offering (received at mass) and also some of his income.
490 He koude in litel thyng have suffisaunce.
He knew how to have sufficiency in few possessions.
491 Wyd was his parisshe, and houses fer asonder,
His parish was wide, and houses far apart,
492 But he ne lefte nat, for reyn ne thonder,
But he did not omit, for rain nor thunder,
493 In siknesse nor in meschief to visite
In sickness or in trouble to visit
494 The ferreste in his parisshe, muche and lite,
Those living farthest away in his parish, high-ranking and low,
495 Upon his feet, and in his hand a staf.
Going by foot, and in his hand a staff.
496 This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf,
He gave this noble example to his sheep,
497 That first he wroghte, and afterward he taughte.
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught.
498 Out of the gospel he tho wordes caughte,
He took those words out of the gospel,
499 And this figure he added eek therto,
And this metaphor he added also to that,
500 That if gold ruste, what shal iren do?
That if gold rust, what must iron do?
501 For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
For if a priest, on whom we trust, should be foul
502 No wonder is a lewed man to ruste;
It is no wonder for a layman to go bad;
503 And shame it is, if a prest take keep,
And it is a shame, if a priest is concerned:
504 A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep.
A shit-stained shepherd and a clean sheep.
505 Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive,
Well ought a priest to give an example,
506 By his clennesse, how that his sheep sholde lyve.
By his purity, how his sheep should live.
507 He sette nat his benefice to hyre
He did not rent out his benefice (ecclesiastical living)
508 And leet his sheep encombred in the myre
And leave his sheep encumbered in the mire
509 And ran to Londoun unto Seinte Poules
And run to London unto Saint Paul's
510 To seken hym a chaunterie for soules,
To seek an appointment as a chantry priest (praying for a patron)
511 Or with a bretherhed to been withholde;
Or to be hired (as a chaplain) by a guild;
512 But dwelte at hoom, and kepte wel his folde,
But dwelt at home, and kept well his sheep fold (parish),
513 So that the wolf ne made it nat myscarie;
So that the wolf did not make it go wrong;
514 He was a shepherde and noght a mercenarie.
He was a shepherd and not a hireling.
515 And though he hooly were and vertuous,
And though he was holy and virtuous,
516 He was to synful men nat despitous,
He was not scornful to sinful men,
517 Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne,
Nor domineering nor haughty in his speech,
518 But in his techyng discreet and benygne.
But in his teaching courteous and kind.
519 To drawen folk to hevene by fairnesse,
To draw folk to heaven by gentleness,
520 By good ensample, this was his bisynesse.
By good example, this was his business.
521 But it were any persone obstinat,
Unless it were an obstinate person,
522 What so he were, of heigh or lough estat,
Whoever he was, of high or low rank,
523 Hym wolde he snybben sharply for the nonys.
He would rebuke him sharply at that time.
524 A bettre preest I trowe that nowher noon ys.
I believe that nowhere is there a better priest.
525 He waited after no pompe and reverence,
He expected no pomp and ceremony,
526 Ne maked him a spiced conscience,
Nor made himself an overly fastidious conscience,
527 But Cristes loore and his apostles twelve
But Christ's teaching and His twelve apostles
528 He taughte; but first he folwed it hymselve.
He taught; but first he followed it himself.
529 With hym ther was a PLOWMAN, was his brother,
With him there was a PLOWMAN, who was his brother,
530 That hadde ylad of dong ful many a fother;
Who had hauled very many a cartload of dung;
531 A trewe swynkere and a good was he,
He was a true and good worker,
532 Lyvynge in pees and parfit charitee.
Living in peace and perfect love.
533 God loved he best with al his hoole herte
He loved God best with all his whole heart
534 At alle tymes, thogh him gamed or smerte,
At all times, whether it pleased or pained him,
535 And thanne his neighebor right as hymselve.
And then (he loved) his neighbor exactly as himself.
536 He wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delve,
He would thresh, and moreover make ditches and dig,
537 For Cristes sake, for every povre wight,
For Christ's sake, for every poor person,
538 Withouten hire, if it lay in his myght.
Without payment, if it lay in his power.
539 His tithes payde he ful faire and wel,
He paid his tithes completely and well,
540 Bothe of his propre swynk and his catel.
Both of his own labor and of his possessions.
541 In a tabard he rood upon a mere.
He rode in a tabard (sleeveless jacket) upon a mare.
542 Ther was also a REVE, and a MILLERE,
There was also a REEVE, and a MILLER,
543 A SOMNOUR, and a PARDONER also,
A SUMMONER, and a PARDONER also,
544 A MAUNCIPLE, and myself -- ther were namo.
A MANCIPLE, and myself -- there were no more.
545 The MILLERE was a stout carl for the nones;
The MILLER was a stout fellow indeed;
546 Ful byg he was of brawn, and eek of bones.
He was very strong of muscle, and also of bones.
547 That proved wel, for over al ther he cam,
That was well proven, for wherever he came,
548 At wrastlynge he wolde have alwey the ram.
At wrestling he would always take the the prize.
549 He was short-sholdred, brood, a thikke knarre;
He was stoutly built, broad, a large-framed fellow;
550 Ther was no dore that he nolde heve of harre,
There was no door that he would not heave off its hinges,
551 Or breke it at a rennyng with his heed.
Or break it by running at it with his head.
552 His berd as any sowe or fox was reed,
His beard was red as any sow or fox,
553 And therto brood, as though it were a spade.
And moreover broad, as though it were a spade.
554 Upon the cop right of his nose he hade
Upon the exact top of his nose he had
555 A werte, and theron stood a toft of herys,
A wart, and thereon stood a tuft of hairs,
556 Reed as the brustles of a sowes erys;
Red as the bristles of a sow's ears;
557 His nosethirles blake were and wyde.
His nostrils were black and wide.
558 A swerd and a bokeler bar he by his syde.
He wore a sword and a buckler by his side.
559 His mouth as greet was as a greet forneys.
His mouth was as large as a large furnace.
560 He was a janglere and a goliardeys,
He was a loudmouth and a buffoon,
561 And that was moost of synne and harlotries.
And that was mostly of sin and deeds of harlotry.
562 Wel koude he stelen corn and tollen thries;
He well knew how to steal corn and take payment three times;
563 And yet he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee.
And yet he had a thumb of gold, indeed.
564 A whit cote and a blew hood wered he.
He wore a white coat and a blue hood.
565 A baggepipe wel koude he blowe and sowne,
He well knew how to blow and play a bag-pipe,
566 And therwithal he broghte us out of towne.
And with that he brought us out of town.
567 A gentil MAUNCIPLE was ther of a temple,
There was a fine MANCIPLE of a temple (law school),
568 Of which achatours myghte take exemple
Of whom buyers of provisions might take example
569 For to be wise in byynge of vitaille;
For how to be wise in buying of victuals;
570 For wheither that he payde or took by taille,
For whether he paid (cash) or took (goods) on credit,
571 Algate he wayted so in his achaat
Always he watched so (carefully for his opportunity) in his purchases
572 That he was ay biforn and in good staat.
That he was always ahead and in good state.
573 Now is nat that of God a ful fair grace
Now is not that a very fair grace of God
574 That swich a lewed mannes wit shal pace
That such an unlearned man's wit shall surpass
575 The wisdom of an heep of lerned men?
The wisdom of a heap of learned men?
576 Of maistres hadde he mo than thries ten,
He had more than three times ten masters,
577 That weren of lawe expert and curious,
Who were expert and skillful in law,
578 Of which ther were a duszeyne in that hous
Of whom there were a dozen in that house
579 Worthy to been stywardes of rente and lond
Worthy to be stewards of rent and land
580 Of any lord that is in Engelond,
Of any lord that is in England,
581 To make hym lyve by his propre good
To make him live by his own wealth
582 In honour dettelees (but if he were wood),
In honor and debtless (unless he were crazy),
583 Or lyve as scarsly as hym list desire;
Or live as economically as it pleased him to desire;
584 And able for to helpen al a shire
And (they would be) able to help all a shire
585 In any caas that myghte falle or happe.
In any emergency that might occur or happen.
586 And yet this Manciple sette hir aller cappe.
And yet this Manciple fooled them all.
587 The REVE was a sclendre colerik man.
The REEVE was a slender choleric man.
588 His berd was shave as ny as ever he kan;
His beard was shaved as close as ever he can;
589 His heer was by his erys ful round yshorn;
His hair was closely cropped by his ears;
590 His top was dokked lyk a preest biforn.
The top of his head in front was cut short like a priest's.
591 Ful longe were his legges and ful lene,
His legs were very long and very lean,
592 Ylyk a staf; ther was no calf ysene.
Like a stick; there was no calf to be seen.
593 Wel koude he kepe a gerner and a bynne;
He well knew how to keep a granary and a storage bin;
594 Ther was noon auditour koude on him wynne.
There was no auditor who could earn anything (by catching him).
595 Wel wiste he by the droghte and by the reyn
He well knew by the drought and by the rain
596 The yeldynge of his seed and of his greyn.
(What would be) the yield of his seed and of his grain.
597 His lordes sheep, his neet, his dayerye,
His lord's sheep, his cattle, his herd of dairy cows,
598 His swyn, his hors, his stoor, and his pultrye
His swine, his horses, his livestock, and his poultry
599 Was hoolly in this Reves governynge,
Was wholly in this Reeve's control,
600 And by his covenant yaf the rekenynge,
And in accord with his contract he gave the reckoning,
601 Syn that his lord was twenty yeer of age.
Since his lord was twenty years of age.
602 Ther koude no man brynge hym in arrerage.
There was no man who could find him in arrears.
603 Ther nas baillif, ne hierde, nor oother hyne,
There was no farm manager, nor herdsman, nor other servant,
604 That he ne knew his sleighte and his covyne;
Whose trickery and treachery he did not know;
605 They were adrad of hym as of the deeth.
They were afraid of him as of the plague.
606 His wonyng was ful faire upon an heeth;
His dwelling was very nicely situated upon an heath;
607 With grene trees yshadwed was his place.
His place was shaded by green trees.
608 He koude bettre than his lord purchace.
He could buy property better than his lord could.
609 Ful riche he was astored pryvely.
He was secretly very richly provided.
610 His lord wel koude he plesen subtilly,
He well knew how to please his lord subtly,
611 To yeve and lene hym of his owene good,
By giving and lending him some of his lord's own possessions,
612 And have a thank, and yet a cote and hood.
And have thanks, and also a coat and hood (as a reward).
613 In youthe he hadde lerned a good myster:
In youth he had learned a good craft:
614 He was a wel good wrighte, a carpenter.
He was a very good craftsman, a carpenter.
615 This Reve sat upon a ful good stot
This Reeve sat upon a very good horse
616 That was al pomely grey and highte Scot.
That was all dapple gray and was called Scot.
617 A long surcote of pers upon he hade,
He had on a long outer coat of dark blue,
618 And by his syde he baar a rusty blade.
And by his side he wore a rusty sword.
619 Of Northfolk was this Reve of which I telle,
Of Northfolk was this Reeve of whom I tell,
620 Biside a toun men clepen Baldeswelle.
Near to a town men call Bawdeswelle.
621 Tukked he was as is a frere aboute,
He had his coat hitched up and belted, like a friar,
622 And evere he rood the hyndreste of oure route.
And ever he rode as the last of our company.
623 A SOMONOUR was ther with us in that place,
There was a SUMMONER with us in that place,
624 That hadde a fyr-reed cherubynnes face,
Who had a fire-red cherubim's face,
625 For saucefleem he was, with eyen narwe.
For it was pimpled and discolored, with swollen eyelids.
626 As hoot he was and lecherous as a sparwe,
He was as hot and lecherous as a sparrow,
627 With scalled browes blake and piled berd.
With black, scabby brows and a beard with hair fallen out.
628 Of his visage children were aferd.
Children were afraid of his face.
629 Ther nas quyk-silver, lytarge, ne brymstoon,
There was no mercury, lead monoxide, nor sulphur,
630 Boras, ceruce, ne oille of tartre noon,
Borax, white lead, nor any oil of tarter,
631 Ne oynement that wolde clense and byte,
Nor ointment that would cleanse and burn,
632 That hym myghte helpen of his whelkes white,
That could cure him of his white pustules,
633 Nor of the knobbes sittynge on his chekes.
Nor of the knobs sitting on his cheeks.
634 Wel loved he garleek, oynons, and eek lekes,
He well loved garlic, onions, and also leeks,
635 And for to drynken strong wyn, reed as blood;
And to drink strong wine, red as blood;
636 Thanne wolde he speke and crie as he were wood.
Then he would speak and cry out as if he were crazy.
637 And whan that he wel dronken hadde the wyn,
And when he had drunk deeply of the wine,
638 Thanne wolde he speke no word but Latyn.
Then he would speak no word but Latin.
639 A fewe termes hadde he, two or thre,
He had a few legal terms, two or three,
640 That he had lerned out of som decree --
That he had learned out of some text of ecclesiastical law --
641 No wonder is, he herde it al the day;
That is no wonder, he heard it all the day;
642 And eek ye knowen wel how that a jay
And also you know well how a jay
643 Kan clepen "Watte" as wel as kan the pope.
Can call out "Walter" as well as the pope can.
644 But whoso koude in oother thyng hym grope,
But whoever knew how to examine him in other matters,
645 Thanne hadde he spent al his philosophie;
(Would find that) he had used up all his learning;
646 Ay "Questio quid iuris" wolde he crie.
Always "The question is, what point of the law applies?" he would cry.
647 He was a gentil harlot and a kynde;
He was a fine rascal and a kind one;
648 A bettre felawe sholde men noght fynde.
One could not find a better fellow.
649 He wolde suffre for a quart of wyn
For a quart of wine he would allow
650 A good felawe to have his concubyn
A good fellow to have his concubine
651 A twelf month, and excuse hym atte fulle;
For twelve months, and excuse him completely;
652 Ful prively a fynch eek koude he pulle.
Secretly he also knew how to pull off a clever trick.
653 And if he foond owher a good felawe,
And if he found anywhere a good fellow,
654 He wolde techen him to have noon awe
He would teach him to have no awe
655 In swich caas of the ercedekenes curs,
Of the archdeacon's curse (of excommunication) in such a case,
656 But if a mannes soule were in his purs;
Unless a man's soul were in his purse;
657 For in his purs he sholde ypunysshed be.
For in his purse he would be punished.
658 "Purs is the ercedekenes helle," seyde he.
"Purse is the archdeacon's hell," he said.
659 But wel I woot he lyed right in dede;
But well I know he lied right certainly;
660 Of cursyng oghte ech gilty man him drede,
Each guilty man ought to be afraid of excommunication,
661 For curs wol slee right as assoillyng savith,
For excommunication will slay just as forgiveness saves,
662 And also war hym of a Significavit.
And let him also beware of a Significavit (order for imprisonment).
663 In daunger hadde he at his owene gise
In his control he had as he pleased
664 The yonge girles of the diocise,
The young people of the diocese,
665 And knew hir conseil, and was al hir reed.
And knew their secrets, and was the adviser of them all.
666 A gerland hadde he set upon his heed,
He had set a garland upon his heed,
667 As greet as it were for an ale-stake.
As large as if it were for the sign of a tavern
668 A bokeleer hadde he maad hym of a cake.
He had made himself a shield of a cake.
669 With hym ther rood a gentil PARDONER
With him there rode a fine PARDONER
670 Of Rouncivale, his freend and his compeer,
Of Rouncivale, his friend and his companion,
671 That streight was comen fro the court of Rome.
Who had come straight from the court of Rome.
672 Ful loude he soong "Com hider, love, to me!"
Very loud he sang "Come hither, love, to me!"
673 This Somonour bar to hym a stif burdoun;
This Summoner harmonized with him in a strong bass;
674 Was nevere trompe of half so greet a soun.
There was never a trumpet of half so great a sound.
675 This Pardoner hadde heer as yelow as wex,
This Pardoner had hair as yellow as wax,
676 But smothe it heeng as dooth a strike of flex;
But smooth it hung as does a clump of flax;
677 By ounces henge his lokkes that he hadde,
By small strands hung such locks as he had,
678 And therwith he his shuldres overspradde;
And he spread them over his shoulders;
679 But thynne it lay, by colpons oon and oon.
But thin it lay, by strands one by one.
680 But hood, for jolitee, wered he noon,
But to make an attractive appearance, he wore no hood,
681 For it was trussed up in his walet.
For it was trussed up in his knapsack.
682 Hym thoughte he rood al of the newe jet;
It seemed to him that he rode in the very latest style;
683 Dischevelee, save his cappe, he rood al bare.
With hair unbound, save for his cap, he rode all bare-headed.
684 Swiche glarynge eyen hadde he as an hare.
He had glaring eyes such as has a hare.
685 A vernycle hadde he sowed upon his cappe.
He had sewn a Veronica upon his cap.
686 His walet, biforn hym in his lappe,
Before him in his lap, (he had) his knapsack,
687 Bretful of pardoun comen from Rome al hoot.
Brimful of pardons come all fresh from Rome.
688 A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot.
He had a voice as small as a goat has.
689 No berd hadde he, ne nevere sholde have;
He had no beard, nor never would have;
690 As smothe it was as it were late shave.
It (his face) was as smooth as if it were recently shaven.
691 I trowe he were a geldyng or a mare.
I believe he was a eunuch or a homosexual.
692 But of his craft, fro Berwyk into Ware
But as to his craft, from Berwick to Ware
693 Ne was ther swich another pardoner.
There was no other pardoner like him.
694 For in his male he hadde a pilwe-beer,
For in his pouch he had a pillow-case,
695 Which that he seyde was Oure Lady veyl;
Which he said was Our Lady's veil;
696 He seyde he hadde a gobet of the seyl
He said he had a piece of the sail
697 That Seint Peter hadde, whan that he wente
That Saint Peter had, when he went
698 Upon the see, til Jhesu Crist hym hente.
Upon the sea, until Jesus Christ took him.
699 He hadde a croys of latoun ful of stones,
He had a cross of latten (brass-like alloy) covered with stones,
700 And in a glas he hadde pigges bones.
And in a glass container he had pigs' bones.
701 But with thise relikes, whan that he fond
But with these relics, when he found
702 A povre person dwellynge upon lond,
A poor parson dwelling in the countryside,
703 Upon a day he gat hym moore moneye
In one day he got himself more money
704 Than that the person gat in monthes tweye;
Than the parson got in two months;
705 And thus, with feyned flaterye and japes,
And thus, with feigned flattery and tricks,
706 He made the person and the peple his apes.
He made fools of the parson and the people.
707 But trewely to tellen atte laste,
But truly to tell at the last,
708 He was in chirche a noble ecclesiaste.
He was in church a noble ecclesiast.
709 Wel koude he rede a lessoun or a storie,
He well knew how to read a lesson or a story,
710 But alderbest he song an offertorie;
But best of all he sang an Offertory;
711 For wel he wiste, whan that song was songe,
For he knew well, when that song was sung,
712 He moste preche and wel affile his tonge
He must preach and well smooth his speech
713 To wynne silver, as he ful wel koude;
To win silver, as he very well knew how;
714 Therefore he song the murierly and loude.
Therefore he sang the more merrily and loud.
715 Now have I toold you soothly, in a clause,
Now have I told you truly, briefly,
716 Th' estaat, th' array, the nombre, and eek the cause
The rank, the dress, the number, and also the cause
717 Why that assembled was this compaignye
Why this company was assembled
718 In Southwerk at this gentil hostelrye
In Southwark at this fine hostelry
719 That highte the Tabard, faste by the Belle.
That is called the Tabard, close by the Bell.
720 But now is tyme to yow for to telle
But now it is time to tell to you
721 How that we baren us that ilke nyght,
How we conducted ourselves that same night,
722 Whan we were in that hostelrie alyght;
When we had arrived in that hostelry;
723 And after wol I telle of our viage
And after that I will tell of our journey
724 And al the remenaunt of oure pilgrimage.
And all the rest of our pilgrimage.
725 But first I pray yow, of youre curteisye,
But first I pray yow, of your courtesy,
726 That ye n' arette it nat my vileynye,
That you do not attribute it to my rudeness,
727 Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere,
Though I speak plainly in this matter,
728 To telle yow hir wordes and hir cheere,
To tell you their words and their behavior,
729 Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely.
Nor though I speak their words accurately.
730 For this ye knowen al so wel as I:
For this you know as well as I:
731 Whoso shal telle a tale after a man,
Whoever must repeat a story after someone,
732 He moot reherce as ny as evere he kan
He must repeat as closely as ever he knows how
733 Everich a word, if it be in his charge,
Every single word, if it be in his power,
734 Al speke he never so rudeliche and large,
Although he may speak ever so rudely and freely,
735 Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe,
Or else he must tell his tale inaccurately,
736 Or feyne thyng, or fynde wordes newe.
Or make up things, or find new words.
737 He may nat spare, althogh he were his brother;
He may not refrain from (telling the truth), although he were his brother;
738 He moot as wel seye o word as another.
He must as well say one word as another.
739 Crist spak hymself ful brode in hooly writ,
Christ himself spoke very plainly in holy writ,
740 And wel ye woot no vileynye is it.
And you know well it is no rudeness.
741 Eek Plato seith, whoso kan hym rede,
Also Plato says, whosoever knows how to read him,
742 The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede.
The words must be closely related to the deed.
743 Also I prey yow to foryeve it me,
Also I pray you to forgive it to me,
744 Al have I nat set folk in hir degree
Although I have not set folk in order of their rank
745 Heere in this tale, as that they sholde stonde.
Here in this tale, as they should stand.
746 My wit is short, ye may wel understonde.
My wit is short, you can well understand.
747 Greet chiere made oure Hoost us everichon,
Our Host made great hospitality to everyone of us,
748 And to the soper sette he us anon.
And to the supper he set us straightway.
749 He served us with vitaille at the beste;
He served us with victuals of the best sort;
750 Strong was the wyn, and wel to drynke us leste.
The wine was strong, and it well pleased us to drink.
751 A semely man OURE HOOSTE was withalle
OUR HOST was an impressive man indeed
752 For to been a marchal in an halle.
(Qualified) to be a master of ceremonies in a hall.
753 A large man he was with eyen stepe --
He was a large man with prominent eyes --
754 A fairer burgeys was ther noon in Chepe --
There was no better business man in Cheapside --
755 Boold of his speche, and wys, and wel ytaught,
Bold of his speech, and wise, and well mannered,
756 And of manhod hym lakkede right naught.
And he lacked nothing at all of the qualities proper to a man.
757 Eek therto he was right a myrie man;
Also moreover he was a right merry man;
758 And after soper pleyen he bigan,
And after supper he began to be merry,
759 And spak of myrthe amonges othere thynges,
And spoke of mirth among other things,
760 Whan that we hadde maad oure rekenynges,
When we had paid our bills,
761 And seyde thus: "Now, lordynges, trewely,
And said thus: "Now, gentlemen, truly,
762 Ye been to me right welcome, hertely;
You are right heartily welcome to me;
763 For by my trouthe, if that I shal nat lye,
For by my word, if I shall not lie (I must say),
764 I saugh nat this yeer so myrie a compaignye
I saw not this year so merry a company
765 Atones in this herberwe as is now.
At one time in this lodging as is (here) now.
766 Fayn wolde I doon yow myrthe, wiste I how.
I would gladly make you happy, if I knew how.
767 And of a myrthe I am right now bythoght,
And I have just now thought of an amusement,
768 To doon yow ese, and it shal coste noght.
To give you pleasure, and it shall cost nothing.
769 "Ye goon to Caunterbury -- God yow speede,
"You go to Canterbury -- God give you success,
770 The blisful martir quite yow youre meede!
May the blessed martyr give you your reward!
771 And wel I woot, as ye goon by the weye,
And well I know, as you go by the way,
772 Ye shapen yow to talen and to pleye;
You intend to tell tales and to amuse yourselves;
773 For trewely, confort ne myrthe is noon
For truly, it is no comfort nor mirth
774 To ride by the weye doumb as a stoon;
To ride by the way dumb as a stone;
775 And therfore wol I maken yow disport,
And therefore I will make a game for you,
776 As I seyde erst, and doon yow som confort.
As I said before, and provide you some pleasure.
777 And if yow liketh alle by oon assent
And if pleases you all unanimously
778 For to stonden at my juggement,
To be subject to my judgment,
779 And for to werken as I shal yow seye,
And to do as I shall tell you,
780 Tomorwe, whan ye riden by the weye,
Tomorrow, when you ride by the way,
781 Now, by my fader soule that is deed,
Now, by the soul of my father who is dead,
782 But ye be myrie, I wol yeve yow myn heed!
Unless you be merry, I will give you my head!
783 Hoold up youre hondes, withouten moore speche."
Hold up your hands, without more speech."
784 Oure conseil was nat longe for to seche.
Our decision was not long to seek out.
785 Us thoughte it was noght worth to make it wys,
It seemed to us it was not worthwhile to deliberate on it,
786 And graunted hym withouten moore avys,
And (we) granted his request without more discussion,
787 And bad him seye his voirdit as hym leste.
And asked him to say his decision as it pleased him.
788 "Lordynges," quod he, "now herkneth for the beste;
"Gentlemen," said he, "now listen for the best course of action;
789 But taak it nought, I prey yow, in desdeyn.
But, I pray yow, do not take it in disdain (scorn it).
790 This is the poynt, to speken short and pleyn,
This is the point, to speak briefly and clearly,
791 That ech of yow, to shorte with oure weye,
That each of yow, to make our way seem short by this means,
792 In this viage shal telle tales tweye
Must tell two tales in this journey
793 To Caunterbury-ward, I mene it so,
On the way to Canterbury, that is what I mean,
794 And homward he shal tellen othere two,
And on the homeward trip he shall tell two others,
795 Of aventures that whilom han bifalle.
About adventures that in old times have happened.
796 And which of yow that bereth hym best of alle --
And whoever of you who does best of all --
797 That is to seyn, that telleth in this caas
That is to say, who tells in this case
798 Tales of best sentence and moost solaas --
Tales of best moral meaning and most pleasure --
799 Shal have a soper at oure aller cost
Shall have a supper at the cost of us all
800 Heere in this place, sittynge by this post,
Here in this place, sitting by this post,
801 Whan that we come agayn fro Caunterbury.
When we come back from Canterbury.
802 And for to make yow the moore mury,
And to make you the more merry,
803 I wol myselven goodly with yow ryde,
I will myself gladly ride with you,
804 Right at myn owene cost, and be youre gyde;
Entirely at my own cost, and be your guide;
805 And whoso wole my juggement withseye
And whosoever will not accept my judgment
806 Shal paye al that we spenden by the weye.
Shall pay all that we spend by the way.
807 And if ye vouche sauf that it be so,
And if you grant that it be so,
808 Tel me anon, withouten wordes mo,
Tell me straightway, without more words,
809 And I wol erly shape me therfore."
And I will get ready early for this."
810 This thyng was graunted, and oure othes swore
This thing was granted, and our oaths sworn
811 With ful glad herte, and preyden hym also
With very glad hearts, and (we) prayed him also
812 That he wolde vouche sauf for to do so,
That he would consent to do so,
813 And that he wolde been oure governour,
And that he would be our governor,
814 And of oure tales juge and reportour,
And judge and score keeper of our tales,
815 And sette a soper at a certeyn pris,
And set a supper at a certain price,
816 And we wol reuled been at his devys
And we will be ruled as he wishes
817 In heigh and lough; and thus by oon assent
In every respect; and thus unanimously
818 We been acorded to his juggement.
We are accorded to his judgment.
819 And therupon the wyn was fet anon;
And thereupon the wine was fetched immediately;
820 We dronken, and to reste wente echon,
We drank, and each one went to rest,
821 Withouten any lenger taryynge.
Without any longer tarrying.
822 Amorwe, whan that day bigan to sprynge,
In the morning, when day began to spring,
823 Up roos oure Hoost, and was oure aller cok,
Our Host arose, and was the rooster of us all (awakened us).
824 And gadrede us togidre alle in a flok,
And gathered us together all in a flock,
825 And forth we riden a litel moore than paas
And forth we rode at little more than a walk
826 Unto the Wateryng of Seint Thomas;
Unto the Watering of Saint Thomas;
827 And there oure Hoost bigan his hors areste
And there our Host stopped his horse
828 And seyde, "Lordynges, herkneth, if yow leste.
And said, "Gentlemen, listen, if you please.
829 Ye woot youre foreward, and I it yow recorde.
You know your agreement, and I remind you of it.
830 If even-song and morwe-song accorde,
If what you said last night agrees with what you say this morning,
831 Lat se now who shal telle the firste tale.
Let's see now who shall tell the first tale.
832 As evere mote I drynke wyn or ale,
As ever I may drink wine or ale,
833 Whoso be rebel to my juggement
Whosoever may be rebel to my judgment
834 Shal paye for al that by the wey is spent.
Shall pay for all that is spent by the way.
835 Now draweth cut, er that we ferrer twynne;
Now draw straws, before we depart further (from London);
836 He which that hath the shorteste shal bigynne.
He who has the shortest shall begin.
837 Sire Knyght," quod he, "my mayster and my lord,
Sir Knight," said he, "my master and my lord,
838 Now draweth cut, for that is myn accord.
Now draw a straw, for that is my decision.
839 Cometh neer," quod he, "my lady Prioresse.
Come nearer," he said, "my lady Prioress.
840 And ye, sire Clerk, lat be youre shamefastnesse,
And you, sir Clerk, let be your modesty,
841 Ne studieth noght; ley hond to, every man!"
And study not; lay hand to (draw a straw), every man!"
842 Anon to drawen every wight bigan,
Every person began straightway to draw,
843 And shortly for to tellen as it was,
And shortly to tell as it was,
844 Were it by aventure, or sort, or cas,
Were it by chance, or destiny, or luck,
845 The sothe is this: the cut fil to the Knyght,
The truth is this: the draw fell to the Knight,
846 Of which ful blithe and glad was every wyght,
For which everyone was very happy and glad,
847 And telle he moste his tale, as was resoun,
And he must tell his tale, as was reasonable,
848 By foreward and by composicioun,
By our previous promise and by formal agreement,
849 As ye han herd; what nedeth wordes mo?
As you have heard; what more words are needed?
850 And whan this goode man saugh that it was so,
And when this good man saw that it was so,
851 As he that wys was and obedient
Like one who was wise and obedient
852 To kepe his foreward by his free assent,
To keep his agreement by his free assent,
853 He seyde, "Syn I shal bigynne the game,
He said, "Since I must begin the game,
854 What, welcome be the cut, a Goddes name!
What! Welcome be the draw, in God's name!
855 Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye."
Now let us ride, and listen to what I say."
856 And with that word we ryden forth oure weye,
And with that word we rode forth on our way,
857 And he bigan with right a myrie cheere
And he began with a truly merry demeanor
858 His tale anon, and seyde as ye may heere.
To tell his tale straightway, and said as you may hear.