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And eek ye knowen wel, how that a lay
Can clepen 'Watte,' as well as can the pope.
But who-so coude in other thing him grope2,
Thanne hadde he spent al his philosophye;
Ay Questio quid iuris's wolde he crye.
He was a gentil harlot and a kynde;
A vernicle28 hadde he sowed on his cappe.
His walet lay biforn him in his lappe,
Bret-ful29 of pardoun come from Rome al hoot.
A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot.
No berd hadde he, ne nevere sholde have,
As smothe it was as it were late y-shave;
A bettre felawe sholde men noght fynde.
He wolde suffre for5 a quart of wyn
A good felawe to have his [wikked sin]
A twelf-month, and excuse him atte fulle:
And prively a finch eek coude he pulled.
And if he fond owher? a good felawe,
He wolde techen him to have non awe,
In swich cas, of the erchedeknes curss,
But-if a mannes soule were in his purs10;
For in his purs he sholde y-punisshed be.
'Purs is the erchedeknes helle,' seyde he.
But wel I woot he lyed right in dede;
Of cursing oghte ech gulty man him drede11-
For curs wol slee right as assoilling 12 saveth-Than that the person gat in monthes tweye.
And also war him of a significavit13.
In daunger14 hadde he at his owne gyse15
The yonge girles16 of the diocyse,
And knew hir counseil, and was al hir reed17.
A gerland hadde he set up-on his heed,
As greet as it were for an ale-stake18;
A bokeler hadde he maad him of a cake.
With him ther rood a gentil Pardoner
Of Rouncivale19, his frend and his compeer, 670
That streight was comen fro the court of Rome.
Ful loude he song, 'Com hider, love, to me.'
This somnour bar to him a stif burdoun20,
Was nevere trompe21 of half so greet a soun.
This pardoner hadde heer as yelow as wex,
But smothe it heng, as doth a strike of flex22;
By ounces23 henge his lokkes that he hadde2+,
And ther-with he his shuldres overspradde;
But thinne it lay, by colpons25 oon and oon;
But hood, for Iolitee, ne wered he noon,
For it was trussed up in his walet.
Him thoughte26, he rood al of the newe Iet27;
Dischevele, save his cappe, he rood al bare.
Swiche glaringe eyen hadde he as an hare.
16 young people of
17 the adviser of them
18 sign-pole of an inn
(often a bush hung
up in front)
19 Possibly the Hospi-
tal of Rouncyvalle
22 handful of flax
23 small portions
24 such as he had
20 it seemed to him
But of his craft, fro Berwik unto Ware30,
Ne was ther swich another pardoner.
For in his males1 he hadde a pilwe-beer32,
Which that, he seyde, was our lady vey133:
He seyde, he hadde a gobet34 of the sey135
That seynt Peter hadde, whan that he wente
Up-on the see, til Iesu Crist him hente36.
He hadde a croys37 of latoun38, ful of stones,
And in a glas he hadde pigges bones.
But with thise relikes, whan that he fond
A povre person dwelling up-on lond39,
Up-on a day he gat him more moneye
And thus with feyned flaterye and Tapes1o,
He made the person and the peple his apes.
But trewely to tellen, atte laste,
He was in chirche a noble ecclesiaste.
Wel coude he rede a lessoun or a storie,
But alderbest41 he song an offertorie;
For wel he wiste, whan that song was songe,
He moste preche, and wel affyle42 his tonge,
To winne silver, as he ful wel coude;
Therefore he song so meriely and loude.
Now have I told you shortly, in a clause,
Thestat, tharray, the nombre, and eek the cause
Why that assembled was this compaignye
In Southwerk, at this gentil hostelrye,
That highte the Tabard, faste by the Belle.
But now is tyme to yow for to telle
How that we baren us that ilke night,
Whan we were in that hostelrye alight.
And after wol I telle of our viage,
And al the remenaunt of our pilgrimage.
But first I pray yow of your curteisye,
That ye narette it nat my vileinye43,
Thogh that I pleynly speke in this matere,
To telle yow hir wordes and hir chere11;
Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely45.
For this ye knowen al-so wel as I,
Who-so shal telle a tale after a man,
36 caught, i. e., converted
39 in the country 40 tricks
41 best of all
42 file, polish
43 attribute it not tc
He moot reherce, as ny1 as evere he can,
Everich a word, if it be in his charges,
Al4 speke he never so rudeliche and large5;
Or elles he moot telle his tale untrewe,
Or feyne thing, or fynde wordes newe.
He may nat spare, al-thogh he were his brother;
He moot as wel seye o word as another.
Crist spak him-self ful brode in holy writ,
And wel ye woot, no vileinye is it.
Eek Plato seith, who-so that can him redes,
The wordes mote? be cosin to the dede.
Also I prey yow to foryeve it me,
Als have I nat set folk in hir degree
Here in this tale, as that they sholde stonde;
My wit is short, ye may wel understonde.
Greet cheres made our hoste us everichon10,
And to the soper sette he us anon;
And served us with vitaille at the beste.
Strong was the wyn, and wel to drinke
As I seyde erst, and doon yow som confort.
And if yow lyketh alle, by oon assent,
Now for to stonden at26 my Iugement,
And for to werken as I shal yow seye,
To-morwe, whan ye ryden by the weye,
Now, by my fader soule, that is deed,
But27 ye be merye, I wol yeve yow myn heed.
Hold up your hond, withoute more speche.'
Our counseil was nat longe for to seche28;
U's thought it was noght worth to make it
And graunted him with-outen more avys30,
And bad him seye his verdit, as him leste.
'Lordinges,' quod he, 'now herkneth for the
But tak it not, I prey yow, in desdeyn;
This is the poynt, to speken short and pleyn,
That ech of yow, to shorte with our weye31,
us In this viage, shal telle tales tweye,
To Caunterbury-ward, I mene it so,
751 And hom-ward he shal tellen othere two,
Of aventures that whylom han bifalle.
And which of yow that bereth him best of alle
That is to seyn, that telleth in this cas
Tales of best sentence and most solas32,
Shal han a soper at our aller cost
Here in this place, sitting by this post, 800
Whan that we come agayn fro Caunterbury.
And for to make yow the more mery,
I wol my-selven gladly with yow ryde,
Right at myn owne cost, and be your gyde.
And who-so wol my Iugement withseye33
Shal paye al that we spenden by the weye.
And if ye vouche-sauf that it be so,
Tel me anon, with-outen wordes mo,
And I wol erly shape34 me therfore.'
This thing was graunted, and our othes
A semely man our hoste was with-alle
For to han been a marshal in an halle; .
A large man he was with eyen stepe12,
A fairer burgeys13 was ther noon in Chepe14:
Bold of his speche, and wys, and wel y-taught,
And of manhod him lakkede right naught.
Eek therto he was right a mery man,
And after soper pleyen15 he bigan,
And spak of mirthe amonges othere thinges,
Whan that we hadde maad our rekeninges16; 760
And seyde thus: "Now, lordinges, trewely
Ye ben to me right welcome hertely:
For by my trouthe, if that I shal nat lye,
I ne saugh17 this yeer so mery a compaiguye
At ones in this herberwe18 as is now.
Fayn wolde I doon yow mirthe, wiste I how19.
And of a mirthe I am right now bithoght,
To doon yow ese20, and it shal coste noght.
Ye goon to Caunterbury; God yow spede, 769
The blisful martir21 quyte22 yow your mede23.
And wel I woot, as ye goon by the weye,
Ye shapen24 yow to talen25 and to pleye;
For trewely, confort ne mirthe is noon
To ryde by the weye doumb as a stoon;
And therefor wol I maken yow disport,
With ful glad herte, and preyden him also
That he wold vouche-sauf for to do so,
And that he wolde been our governour,
And of our tales Iuge and reporteur,
And sette a soper at a certeyn prys;
And we wold reuled been at his devys35,
In heigh and lowe; and thus, by oon assent,
We been acorded to his Iugement.
And ther-up-on the wyn was fetз6 anoon;
We dronken, and to reste wente echoon,
With-outen any lenger taryinge.
A-morwe, whan that37 day bigan to springe,
Up roos our host, and was our aller cok3s,
38 cock of us all (who
woke them up)
And gadrede us togidre, alle in a flok,
And forth we riden, a litel more than pas1,
Un-to the watering of seint Thomas2.
And there our host bigan his hors areste,
And seyde; 'Lordinges, herkneth if yow leste.
Ye woot your forward3, and I it yow recorde1.
If even-song and morwe-song acorde, 830
Lat se now who shal telle the firste tale.
As evere mote I drinke wyn or ale,
Who-so be rebel to my lugement
Shal paye for al that by the weye is spent. Now draweth cut5, er that we ferrere twinne?;
He which that hath the shortest shal biginne.' 'Sire knight,' quod he, 'my maister and my lord,
Now draweth cut, for that is myn acord3. Cometh neer9,' quod he, ‘my lady prioresse; And ye, sir clerk, lat be your shamfastnesse,
Ne studieth noght10; ley hond to, every man.
Anon to drawen every wight bigan,
And shortly for to tellen, as it was,
Were it by aventure11, or sort12, or cas13,
The sothe14 is this, the cut fil to the knight,
Of which ful blythe and glad was every wight;
And telle he moste his tale, as was resoun,
By forward and by composicioun 15,
As ye han herd; what nedeth wordes mo?
And whan this goode man saugh it was so,
As he that wys was and obedient
To kepe his forward by his free assent,
He seyde: 'Sin16 I shal beginne the game,
What, welcome be the cut, a17 Goddes name!
Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye.'
And with that word we riden forth our weye; And he bigan with right a mery chere18 His tale anon, and seyde in this manere.
Ful sooty was hir bour, and eek hir halle27,
In which she eet ful many a sclendre meel.
Of poynaunt sauce hir neded28 never a deel.
No deyntee morsel passed thurgh hir throte;
Hir dyete was accordant to hir cote.
Repleccioun29 ne made hir nevere syk;
Attempree dyete was al hir phisyk,
And exercyse, and hertes suffisaunce.
The goute lette30 hir no-thing for to daunce, 20
Ne poplexye shente31 nat hir heed;
No wyn ne drank she, neither whyt ne reed; Hir bord was served most with whyt and blak, Milk and broun breed, in which she fond no
Seynd32 bacoun, and somtyme an ey33 or tweye,
For she was as it were a maner deye34.
A yerd she hadde, enclosed al aboute With stikkes, and a drye dich with-oute, In which she hadde a cok, hight Chauntecleer, In al the land of crowing nas35 his peer. His vois was merier than the merye orgon36 On messe-dayes37 that in the chirche gon; Wel sikerer38 was his crowing in his logge39, Than is a clokke, or an abbey orlogge40. By nature knew he ech ascensioun41 Of equinoxial in thilke toun;
For whan degrees fiftene were ascended, Thanne crew he, that it mighte nat ben amended42.
His comb was redder than the fyn coral,
And batailed43, as it were a castel-wal.
Here biginneth the Nonne Preestes Tale of the His bile++ was blak, and as the Ieet45 it shoon;
We alle desyren, if it mightę be,
To han housbondes hardy, wyse, and free16,.
And secree17, and no nigard, ne no fool,
Ne him that is agast of every tool18,
Ne noon avauntour19, by that God above!
How dorste ye sayn for shame unto youre love,
That any thing mighte make yow aferd?
Have ye no mannes herte, and han a berd? 100
Allas! and conne ye been agast of swevenis?
No-thing, God wot, but vanitee, in sweven is.
Swevenes engendren of replecciouns,
And ofte of fume, and of complecciouns20,
Whan humours21 been to22 habundant in a
And lyk the burned1 gold was his colour.
This gentil cok hadde in his governaunce
Sevene hennes, for to doon all his plesaunce,
Whiche were his sustres and his paramours,
And wonder lyk to him, as of2 colours.
Of whiche the faireste hewed on hir throte
Was cleped3 faire damoysele Pertelote.
Curteys she was, discreet, and debonaire,
And compaignable, and bar hir-self so faire,
Sin thilke day that she was seven night old,
That trewely she hath the herte in hold
Of Chauntecleer loken in every lith5,
He loved hir so, that wel him was therwith.
But such a Ioye was it to here hem singe,
Whan that the brighte sonne gan to springe,
In swete accord, 'my lief is faren in londes.'
For thilke? tyme, as I have understonde,
Bestes and briddes coude speke and singe.
And so bifel, that in a dawenynge,
As Chauntecleer among his wyves alle
Sat on his perche, that was in the halle,
And next him sat this faire Pertelote,
This Chauntecleer gan gronen in his throte,
As man that in his dreem is dreccheds sore.
And whan that Pertelote thus herde him rore,
She was agast, and seyde, 'o herte deere,
What eyleth yow, to grone in this manere? 70 That werken many a man in sleep ful wo;
Ye ben a verray sleper, fy for shame!'
And he answerde and seyde thus, 'madame,
I pray yow, that ye take it nat agrief":
By God, me mette10 I was in swich meschief
Right now, that yet myn herte is sore afright.
Now God,' quod he, my swevene11 rede12
And keep my body out of foul prisoun!
Me mette, how that I romed up and doun
Withinne our yerde, wher as I saugh a beste,
Was lyk an hound, and wolde han maad
Upon my body, and wolde han had me deed.
His colour was bitwixe yelwe and reed;
And tipped was his tail, and bothe his eres
With blak, unlyk the remenant of his heres;
His snowte smal, with glowinge eyen tweye.
Yet of his look for fere almost I deye;
This caused me my groning, douteles.
Certes this dreem, which ye han met23 to-night,
Cometh of the grete superfluitee
Of youre rede colera24, pardee,
Which causeth folk to dremen in here25 dremes
Of arwes26, and of fyr with rede lemes27,
Of grete bestes, that they wol hem byte,
Of contek28, and of whelpes grete and lyte;
Right as the humour of malencolye29
Causeth ful many a man, in sleep, to crye,
For fere of blake beres, or boles30 blake,
Or elles, blake develes wole him take.
Of othere humours coude I telle also,
Lo Catoun31, which that was so wys a man,
Seyde he nat thus, ne do no fors32 of dremes?
Now, sire,' quod she, 'whan we flee fro the
For Goddes love, as33 tak som laxatyf;
Up peril of my soule, and of my lyf,
I counseille yow the beste, I wol nat lye,
That both of colere, and of malencolye29
Ye purge yow; and for ye shul nat tarie,
Though in this toun is noon apotecarie,
I shal my-self to herbes techen yow,
That shul ben for your hele, and for your
And in our yerd tho herbes shal I fynde,
The whiche han of here propretee, by kynde35,
To purgen yow binethe, and eek above.
Forget not this, for Goddes owene love!
Ye been ful colerik of compleccioun.
Wares the sonne in his ascencioun
Ne fynde yow nat repleet of humours hote;
And if it do, I dar wel leye a grote1,
That ye shul have a fevere terciane2,
Or an agu, that may be youre bane.
A day or two ye shul have digestyves
Of wormes, er ye take your laxatyves,
Of lauriol, centaure, and fumetere3,
Or elles of ellebor1, that groweth there,
Of catapuces, or of gaytress beryis,
This night I shal be mordred ther19 I lye.
Now help me, dere brother, or I dye;
140 In alle haste com to me,' he sayde..
This man out of his sleep for fere abrayde20;
But whan that he was wakned of his sleep,
He turned him, and took of this no keep21, 196
Him thoughte22 his dreem nas but a vanitee.
Thus twyes in his sleping dremed he.
And atte thridde tyme yet his felawe
Com, as him thoughte, and seide, 'I am now
Of erbe yve, growing in our yerd, that mery is;
Pekke hem up right as they growe, and ete
Be mery, housbond, for your fader kyn!
Dredeth no dreem; I can say yow namore.
'Madame,' quod he, 'graunt mercy of your
But natheles, as touching dauns Catoun,
That hath of wisdom such a gret renoun,
Though that he bad no dremes for to drede,
By God, men may in olde bokes rede
Of many a man, more of auctoritee
Than evere Catoun was, so moot I thee",
That al the revers10 seyn of this sentence11,
And han wel founden by experience,
That dremes ben significaciouns,
As wel of Ioye as tribulaciouns
Bihold my bloody woundes, depe and wyde!
Arys up erly in the morwe-tyde24,
And at the west gate of the toun,' quod he,
'A carte ful of donge ther shaltow see,
151 In which my body is hid ful prively;
Do thilke carte arresten 25 boldely.
My gold caused my mordre, sooth to sayn;'
And tolde him every poynt how he was slayn,
With a ful pitous face, pale of hewe.
And truste wel, his dreem he fond ful trewe;
For on the morwe, as sone as it was day,
To his felawes in he took the way;
And whan that he cam to this oxes stalle,
After his felawe he bigan to calle.
The hostiler answerde him anon,
And seyde, sire, your felawe is agon,
As sone as day he wente out of the toun.'
This man gan fallen in suspecioun,
Remembring on his dremes that he mette,
And forth he goth, no lenger wolde he lette26,
Unto the west gate of the toun, and fond
A dong-carte, as it were to donge lond,
That was arrayed in that same wyse
As ye han herd the dede man devyse27;
And with an hardy herte he gan to crye
Vengeaunce and Iustice of this felonye: 220
'My felawe mordred is this same night,
And in this carte he lyth gapinge upright.
I crye out on the ministres28,' quod he,
"That sholden kepe and reulen this citee;
Harrow! allas! her lyth my felawe slayn!'
What sholde I more un-to this tale sayn?
The peple out-sterte, and caste the cart to
That folk enduren in this lyf present.
Ther nedeth make of this noon argument;
The verray preve12 sheweth it in dede.
Oon of the gretteste auctours that men rede13
Seith thus, that whylom two felawes wente
On pilgrimage, in a ful good entente;
And happed so, thay come into a toun,
Wher as ther was swich congregacioun
Of peple, and eek so streit1 of herbergage15,
That they ne founde as muche as o cotage, 170
In which they bothe mighte y-logged be.
Wherfor thay mosten, of necessitee,
As for that night, departen compaignye;
And ech of hem goth to his hostelrye,
And took his logging as it wolde falle.
That oon of hem was logged in a stalle,
Fer16 in a yerd, with oxen of the plough;
That other man was logged wel y-nough,
As was his aventure17, or his fortune,
That us governeth alle as in commune18.
And so bifel, that, long er it were day,
This man mette in his bed, ther as he lay,
How that his felawe gan up-on him calle,
And seyde, 'allas! for in an oxes stalle