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◈ The Canterbury Tales ◈

◇ The General Prologue ◇

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 1. The General Prologue

1. The General Prologue

0 When that April with his showers sweet
1 The drought of March has pierced root deep,
2 And bathed each vein with liquor of such power
3 That engendered from it is the flower,
4 When Zephyrus too with his gentle strife,
5 To every field and wood, has brought new life
6 In tender shoots, and the youthful sun
7 Half his course through the Ram has run,
8 And little birds are making melody,
9 Who all the night with open eye do sleep
10 Nature their hearts in every way so pricks
11 Then people long to go on pilgrimage,
12 And palmers who seek out foreign strands,
13 To far-off shrines, renowned in sundry lands;
14 And specially, from every shire’s end
15 Of England, down to Canterbury they wend,
16 The holy blissful martyr there to seek,
17 Who had aided them when they were sick.
 
18 It befell that in that season on a day,
19 In Southwark at The Tabard as I lay,
20 Ready to set out on my pilgrimage
21 To Canterbury with pious courage,
22 There came at night to that hostelry
23 Quite nine and twenty in a company
24 Of sundry folk who had chanced to fall
25 Into a fellowship, and pilgrims all,
26 That towards Canterbury meant to ride.
27 The chambers and the stables were full wide,
28 And we housed at our ease, and of the best;
29 And shortly, when the sun had gone to rest,
30 I had such speech with each and everyone,
31 That of their fellowship I soon made one,
32 Agreeing I would make an early rise,
33 To take our way there, as I now advise.
 
34 Nonetheless while I have time and space,
35 Before a step more of my tale I pace,
36 It seems to me in full accord with reason,
37 To tell you everything of their condition,
38 Of each of them, as they appeared to me,
39 And who they were, and of what degree,
40 And what apparel they were travelling in;
41 And with a knight then I will first begin.
 
42 There was a KNIGHT and he a worthy man,
43 That from the day on which he first began,
44 To ride abroad, had followed chivalry,
45 Truth, honour, courtesy and charity.
46 He had fought nobly in his lord’s war,
47 And ridden to the fray, and no man more,
48 As much in Christendom as heathen place,
49 And ever honoured for his worth and grace.
50 When we took Alexandria was there;
51 Often at table held the place of honour,
52 Above all other nations too in Prussia;
53 Campaigned in Lithuania and Russia,
54 No Christian man of his rank more often.
55 At the siege of Algeciras had he been,
56 In Granada, and on Moroccan shore;
57 He was at Ayash and Antalya
58 When taken, and many times had been
59 In action on the Mediterranean Sea.
60 Of mortal battles he had seen fifteen,
61 And fought for the faith at Tramissene
62 Thrice in the lists and always slain his foe.
63 This same worthy knight had been also
64 With the Emir of Balat once, at work
65 With him against some other heathen Turk;
66 Won him a reputation highly prized,
67 And though he was valiant, he was wise,
68 And in his manner modest as a maid.
69 And never a discourtesy he said
70 In all his life to those who met his sight;
71 He was a very perfect gentle knight.
72 But to tell of his equipment, his array,
73 His horses fine, he wore no colours gay
74 Sported a tunic, padded fustian
75 On which his coat of mail left many a stain;
76 For he was scarcely back from his voyage,
77 And going now to make his pilgrimage.
 
78 With him there was his son, a young SQUIRE,
79 Lover and lively bachelor entire
80 With locks as crisp as from a curling-press;
81 Of twenty years of age he was, I guess.
82 Of his stature, he was of middle height,
83 Wonderfully agile, powerful in a fight.
84 And had served a while in the cavalry,
85 In Flanders, in Artois and Picardy,
86 And done so well, and in so short a space,
87 He hoped for favour from his lady’s grace.
88 Like to a meadow he was embroidered,
89 One full of fresh flowers white and red.
90 Singing he was, or playing flute all day;
91 He was as fresh as is the month of May.
92 Short was his gown, with sleeves both long and wide;
93 He knew how to sit a horse, and could ride.
94 He could make songs, and compose aright,
95 Joust and dance, and draw things well and write.
96 He loved so hotly night through without fail
97 He slept no more than does the nightingale.
98 Courteous he was, humble, attentive, able,
99 And carved for his father at the table.
 
100 A YEOMAN had he (servants did forgo
101 Other than this, and chose to travel so),
102 One who was clad in coat and hood of green.
103 A sheaf of peacock arrows, bright and keen
104 Sheathed in his belt he bore right properly
105 Well could he dress his gear, yeomanly;
106 His arrows never drooped with feathers low
107 And in his hand he bore a mighty bow.
108 Cropped hair he had, and a nut-brown visage;
109 Of woodcraft he well knew all the usage.
110 On his arm an archer’s brace he wore,
111 And by his side a buckler and a sword,
112 And at the other side a jaunty dagger
113 Ornamented, and sharp as any spear;
114 On his breast St Christopher did gleam.
115 He bore a horn, the baldric was of green.
116 He truly was a forester, I guess.
 
117 There was also a nun, a PRIORESS,
118 Her smile itself ingenuous and coy.
119 Her greatest oath was onlyby Saint Loy’,
120 And she was called Madame Eglentine.
121 Full well she sung the service, divine,
122 Intoning through her nose, all seemly,
123 And fair French she spoke, all elegantly,
124 After the school of Stratford-atte-Bowe;
125 For French of Paris was not hers to know.
126 At meals she had been taught well withal;
127 And from her lips she let no morsel fall,
128 Nor dipped her fingers in the sauce too deep;
129 Well could she take a morsel and then keep
130 The slightest drop from falling on her breast;
131 Courtesy it was that pleased her best.
132 Her upper lip she would wipe so clean
133 That in her cup no trace of grease was seen
134 When she had drunk her draught; and to eat,
135 In a most seemly manner took her meat.
136 And certainly she had a cheerful manner,
137 Pleasant and amiable in her behaviour,
138 Took pains to imitate the ways of court,
139 Display a stately bearing as she ought,
140 And be considered worthy of reverence.
141 As for consideration of her conscience,
142 She was so charitable, tender, anxious,
143 She would weep if she but saw a mouse
144 Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bled.
145 Of slender hounds she had, that she fed
146 With roasted flesh, or milk, and fine white bread;
147 But wept sorely when one of them was dead
148 Or if men struck it with a stick too hard,
149 And all was sentiment and tender heart.
150 Her wimple was pleated in a seemly way,
151 Her nose was elegant, her eyes blue-grey;
152 Her lips quite fine, and also soft and red,
153 But certainly she had a fair forehead,
154 It was almost a span broad, I deem,
155 For she was not small of build, I mean.
156 Her cloak was very elegant, I saw;
157 Fine coral round her arm she wore
158 A rosary, the larger beads were green,
159 And from it hung a brooch of golden sheen,
160 On which there first was writ a crowned A,
161 And after: ‘Amor vincit omnia’.
 
162 Another NUN she had with her, and she
163 Was her chaplain, and with them priests three.
 
164 A MONK there was, of the highest degree,
165 Who loved to hunt, agent of a monastery,
166 A manly man, for an Abbot’s role quite able.
167 Full many a fine horse had he in his stable,
168 His bridle, when he rode, men might hear
169 Jingling in a whistling wind as clear,
170 And quite as loud as does the chapel bell.
171 Now as this lord was prior of his cell,
172 The rule of Saint Benedict and Saint Mawr,
173 As old and somewhat strict he would ignore,
174 This same monk scorned the old world’s pace,
175 And spurred after the new world, apace.
176 He gave not for that text a plucked hen
177 That says that hunters are not holy men,
178 And that a monk when he grows heedless
179 Is like a fish that’s all waterless
180 That is to say a monk out of his cloister
181 But he held that text not worth an oyster.
182 And I agreed his views were scarcely bad:
183 What! Should he study, drive himself quite mad,
184 In his cloister over a book must pore,
185 Or labour with his hands, and toil the more
186 As Augustine bids? How would the world run?
187 Let Augustine keep his labour for his own!
 
188 Therefore he was a hunting man outright.
189 Greyhounds he had, as swift as birds in flight;
190 Tracking with dogs and hunting the hare
191 Was all his pleasure, no cost did he spare.
192 I saw his sleeves were trimmed at the wrist
193 With grey fur, and of the country’s finest;
194 And to fasten his hood beneath his chin,
195 He had a wrought-gold elaborate pin;
196 A love-knot in the larger end there was.
197 His head was bald, and shone like any glass,
198 And his face, as if he had been anointed;
199 He was a lord full fat, and well appointed.
200 His bulging eyeballs, rolling in his head,
201 Glowing like a cauldron-fire well-fed;
202 Supple his boots, his horse in perfect state.
203 Now certainly he was a fair prelate;
204 He was not pale like some tormented ghost.
205 A fat swan he loved best of any roast;
206 His palfrey was as brown as is a berry.
 
207 A FRIAR there was, a wanton one and merry,
208 A Limiter, a very jovial man.
209 In all the friarsfour orders none that can
210 Lead a discussion in fairer language.
211 And he had arranged many a marriage
212 Of young women, granting each a dower.
213 He was a noble pillar of his Order.
214 Well-beloved and intimate was he
215 With Franklins within his boundary,
216 And also worthy women of the town;
217 Had power to confess coat and gown
218 As he said himselfmore than a curate,
219 Having licence from his bishop to do it.
220 Full sweetly he would hear confessions,
221 And very pleasant were his absolutions.
222 He was an easy man at granting penance
223 From which he made more than a pittance.
224 When to a poor Order alms are given
225 It is a token that a man’s well-shriven;
226 Since he dared claim that from the intent,
227 Of giving, then the man was penitent.
228 For many a man is so hard of heart
229 He cannot weep, though he feels the smart.
230 Therefore instead of weeping and prayer,
231 Better to give the poor friars silverware.
232 His sleeve’s end was stuffed with pocket-knives
233 And gilded pins, to give to pretty wives.
234 He could hold a note for sure; could sing
235 And play quite sweetly on the tuneful string.
236 Such competitions he won easily.
237 His neck was white as the fleur-de-lis;
238 And he was as strong as any champion.
239 He knew the taverns well in every town,
240 And all the barmaids and innkeepers,
241 Rather than the lepers and the beggars
242 Since such a worthy man as he
243 It suited not his calling or degree,
244 With such lepers to maintain acquaintance.
245 It is not seemlyhelps no man advance
246 To have dealings with such poor people,
247 Only with the rich, sellers of victuals.
248 An everywhere a profit might arise,
249 He wore a courteous and humble guise;
250 There was no man half so virtuous.
251 He was the finest beggar of his house
252 and paid a fixed fee for the right;
253 None of his brethren poached in his sight.
254 For though a widow lacked a shoe
255 So pleasant was hisIn principio’,
256 He yet would gain a farthing as he went.
257 His income was far greater than his rent,
258 And he romped around, like any whelp.
259 In settling disputes he could help,
260 Not like a friar from a cloister,
261 With threadbare cloak, like needy scholar,
262 But he was like a doctor or a pope;
263 Of double worsted was his demi-cloak,
264 A bell shaped from the mould, its fashion.
265 He lisped a little out of affectation,
266 To sound his English sweet upon the tongue;
267 And in his harping, whenever he had sung,
268 His eyes would twinkle in his head aright
269 As do the stars on high in frosty night.
270 Hubert his name, this worthy Limiter.
 
271 A MERCHANT was there, with a forked beard,
272 Dressed in motley, high on horse he sat.
273 Upon his head a Flemish beaver hat,
274 Buckled his boots were, fair and neatly.
275 He made his comments solemnly, fully,
276 Boasting of profits ever increasing,
277 Wishing sea-trade secure, more than anything,
278 Twixt Middleburgh and the River Orwell.
279 He could exchange monies, buy and sell.
280 This worthy man made such use of his wits;
281 No one knew he was beset by debts,
282 So stately his manner of behaving,
283 In his bargaining, and money-lending.
284 Truly a worthy man then, all in all,
285 But truth to tell, I know not what he’s called.
 
286 A CLERK there was of Oxford town also,
287 Who had set himself to logic long ago.
288 Thinner was his horse than many a rake,
289 And he was none too fat, I’ll undertake,
290 But gazed quite hollowly, and soberly.
291 His jacket threadbare, where the eye could see;
292 For he had not yet found a benefice,
293 Far too unworldly ever to seek office.
294 He would rather have at his bed-head
295 Twenty books, clad in black or red,
296 Of Aristotle and his philosophy,
297 Than rich robes, fiddle, and sweet psaltery.
298 But though he was a true philosopher
299 No stone for making gold lay in his coffer!
300 But every single penny his friends lent,
301 On books and on learning it was spent,
302 And for the souls he offered up a prayer,
303 Of those who funded him to be a scholar.
304 Of study he took most care, and most heed.
305 He spoke not one word more than he need,
306 And that was formal, said with reverence,
307 Short, and quick, and in a noble sentence.
308 Agreeing with moral virtue all his speech,
309 And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach.
 
310 A SERGEANT AT LAW, wise and cautious,
311 Often consulted at St Paul’s porch and such,
312 Was also there, rich in excellence.
313 Discreet he was, a man for reverence
314 Or so he seemed, his words being so wise.
315 He had often been a Justice at assize,
316 By letters patent and by full commission.
317 By his science and his high renown
318 Of fees and robes he garnered many a one.
319 So great a buyer of land was never known;
320 All was his in fee-simple, in effect.
321 His purchases were not the least suspect.
322 More business than he had, no man has,
323 And yet he seemed busier than he was.
324 He had correctly cases, judgements, all
325 From King William’s time in men’s recall.
326 Moreover he could draw up anything,
327 That no man might find fault with its drafting;
328 And every statute he could cite by rote,
329 He rode along in a simple striped coat,
330 Tied with a silken belt, its clasps of metal;
331 Of his array I will no further tell.
 
332 A FRANKLIN was in his company;
333 White was his beard as is the daisy.
334 Of his complexion he was sanguine;
335 He loved a sop in wine each morning.
336 To live in delight was ever his wont,
337 For he was Epicurusvery son,
338 Who held the view that perfect delight
339 Was the true felicity outright.
340 A hospitable householder was he
341 Saint Julian he was to his county.
342 His bread and ale always second to none;
343 And no better wine than his was known.
344 His house was never short of fish and flesh,
345 Of pastry dishes, and all so plenteous
346 It snowed in his house with meat and drink,
347 And all the dainties of which men might think.
348 In accordance with the seasons of the year,
349 So he changed his dinner and his supper.
350 Full many a fat partridge had he in coop,
351 And many a bream and pike in the pool.
352 Woe to his cook unless his sauces were
353 Pungent and tasty, and every dish prepared!
354 His table fixed in his hall stood always
355 Ready set with covers, every day.
356 At court-sessions he was lord and sire;
357 And oftentimes was Member for the Shire.
358 A two-edged dagger and a purse of silk
359 Hung at his girdle, white as morning milk.
360 A Sheriff had he been, and a lawyer;
361 Nowhere lived so worthy a landowner.
 
362 A HABERDASHER, CARPENTER, a WEAVER
363 A DYER too, and TAPESTRY-MAKER,
364 Were there all clothed in the livery
365 Of their imposing guild fraternity.
366 Full fresh and new their costume was;
367 Their knives were mounted not with brass
368 But all with silver, wrought clean and well,
369 Their girdles and their pouches as befell.
370 Each of them seemed a splendid burgess
371 Fit to grace a guildhall on a dais.
372 Each owning as much wisdom as man can,
373 Was suitable to be an alderman,
374 For they had property enough and rent,
375 And wives too who would give their assent.
376 They would be blamed for sure were it not done;
377 It is a fine thing to be calledMadame’,
378 And go to vigil before the celebration,
379 With mantle royally carried, on occasion.
 
380 A COOK they had with them I own
381 To boil the chickens with the marrow-bones,
382 And pungent flavouring, spices without fail.
383 Well could he distinguish London ale;
384 He could roast and seethe and boil and fry,
385 Make thick soup and bake a tasty pie.
386 But a mortal pity, it seemed to me,
387 That on his shin an ulcerous sore had he.
388 Yet a fricassee, he made it with the best.
 
389 A SHIPMAN was there, from out the west;
390 A Dartmouth man for all I understood.
391 He rode a hired hack, as best he could,
392 In a woollen gown that reached his knee,
393 A dagger hanging on a cord had he,
394 About his neck, under his arm, and down.
395 The summer heat had tanned his visage brown.
396 And certainly he was a splendid fellow;
397 Full many a draught of wine he made flow
398 From Bordeaux, the merchant fast asleep,
399 The nicer rules of conscience did not keep:
400 If he fought, and gained the upper hand,
401 He sent men home by water to every land.
402 As for his skill in calculating tides,
403 Currents, and every other risk besides,
404 Harbours and moons, on every voyage,
405 There was none such from Hull to Carthage.
406 Hardy he was, wise in his undertakings,
407 In many a tempest had his beard been shaken.
408 He knew all the havens that there were
409 From Gotland’s Isle to Cape Finisterre,
410 And every creek in Brittany and Spain;
411 The barque he owned was called the Magdalene.
 
412 With us there was a DOCTOR OF PHYSIC.
413 In all this world none ever saw his like
414 On points of physic and of surgery,
415 For he was grounded in astronomy.
416 He knew the best hours for the sick,
417 By the power of his natural magic.
418 And could select the right ascendant
419 For making talismans for his patient.
420 He knew the cause of every malady,
421 Whether of hot or cold, or moist and dry,
422 And where engendered, of what humour;
423 He was a truly perfect practitioner.
424 The cause known, and of the ill its root,
425 He gave the sick man remedy to suit.
426 To send him medicines, his apothecaries
427 And potions too, they were ever ready,
428 For each enhanced the other’s profiting
429 There needed no new friendship there to win.
430 He was well-versed in Aesculapius,
431 And Dioscorides and likewise Rufus,
432 Old Hippocrates, Hali and Galen,
433 Serapion, Rhazes and Avicen,
434 Averroes, Damascenus, Constantinus,
435 Bernard, and Gaddesden, and Gilbertus.
436 In his diet quite moderate was he,
437 For it avoided superfluity,
438 But nourishing it was, digestible.
439 He made little study of the Bible.
440 In red and blue, and colours of that ilk,
441 Lined with taffeta, was clad, and silk.
442 And yet he was most careful of expense;
443 He kept the money won from pestilence.
444 For gold in physic is a cordial;
445 Therefore he loved gold above all.
446 A good WIFE was there from next to BATH,
447 But pity was that she was somewhat deaf.
448 In cloth-making she was excellent,
449 Surpassing those of Ypres and of Ghent.
450 In all the parish there was no wife, so
451 Before her to the Offertory might go
452 And if they did, indeed, so angry she
453 That she was quite put out of charity.
454 Her kerchiefs were finely wove I found;
455 I dare to swear those weighed a good ten pounds,
456 That on a Sunday she wore on her head.
457 Here hose were of a fine scarlet red,
458 And tightly tied: her shoes full soft and new.
459 Bold was her face, and fair and red of hue.
460 Had been a worthy woman all her life;
461 Husbands at the church-door she had five,
462 Besides other company in her youth
463 No need to speak of that just now, in truth.
464 And thrice had she been to Jerusalem;
465 She had crossed many a foreign stream.
466 At Boulogne she had been, and Rome,
467 St James of Compostella, and Cologne,
468 And she knew much of wandering by the way,
469 Gap toothed was she, truthfully to say.
470 At ease upon a saddle-horse she sat,
471 Well wimpled, and on her head a hat
472 As wide as a small buckler or large shield,
473 Her large hips an over-skirt concealed,
474 And on her feet a pair of sharp spurs sat.
475 In fellowship she loved to laugh and chat;
476 And remedies for love she had, by chance,
477 For in that art she knew the oldest dance.
 
478 A holy man there was of good renown,
479 Who was a poor PARSON to a town,
480 But rich he was in holy thought and works.
481 He also was a learned man, a clerk,
482 That Christ’s gospel earnestly would preach;
483 His parishioners devoutly he would teach.
484 Benign he was and wondrous diligent,
485 And in adversity extremely patient,
486 And proven to be such as many times.
487 He was loth to curse men over tithes,
488 But preferred to give, without a doubt,
489 To the poor parishioners round about,
490 From his own goods and the offerings,
491 He found sufficiency in little things.
492 Wide was his parish, and houses far asunder,
493 But he neglected naught, in rain or thunder,
494 In sickness or affliction went to all
495 The farthest in his parish, great or small,
496 Upon his feet, and in his hand a stave.
497 This fine example to his flock he gave,
498 That first he wrought, and afterward he taught.
499 Out of the gospel he those words had caught;
500 And this maxim he would add thereto,
501 That if gold rust, what should iron do?
502 For if the priest be foul in whom we trust,
503 No wonder if the layman turn to rust!
504 And shame it is, and let priests note, to see
505 The shepherd doused in shit, the sheep still clean.
506 The true example the priest ought to give
507 Is by his cleanness how the sheep should live.
508 He did not set his benefice to hire
509 And leave his sheep encumbered in the mire,
510 Running off to London to Saint Paul’s,
511 To work a wealthy chantry for dead souls,
512 Or in guild brotherhood remain enrolled
513 But dwelt at home and cared well for his fold,
514 So that no wolf should make his task miscarry.
515 He was a shepherd not a mercenary.
516 And though he was holy and virtuous,
517 He did not scorn the sinful, nor because
518 Of it in speech was proud or over-fine,
519 But in his teaching was discreet, benign;
520 To draw folk towards heaven by gentleness,
521 By good examplesuch was his business.
522 But if anyone proved obstinate,
523 Whoever he was, of high or low estate,
524 He would rebuke him sharply, him to punish.
525 A better priest I think there nowhere none is.
526 He never looked for pomp or reverence,
527 Nor showed a too fastidious conscience,
528 But Christ’s lore, and his Apostlestwelve,
529 He taught, but first he followed it himself.
 
530 With him there was a PLOUGHMAN, was his brother,
531 Many a load of dung, one time or other,
532 He had carted, a good true worker he,
533 Living in peace and perfect charity.
534 God loved he best with all his whole heart
535 At all times, whether with delight or smart,
536 Then his neighbour loved he as himself.
537 He would thresh the corn, and dig and delve,
538 For Christ’s sake, grant the poor their hour,
539 Without reward, if it lay in his power.
540 His tithes he paid in full, fair and well,
541 Both of his labour and his capital.
542 In a loose tunic he rode on a mare.
 
543 There was a REEVE also and a MILLER,
544 A SUMMONER and a PARDONER as well,
545 A college MANCIPLE, and then myself.
 
546 The MILLER was a strong man I own;
547 A stout fellow, big in brawn and bone.
548 It served him well, for, everywhere, the man,
549 At wrestling, always looked to win the ram.
550 Broad, thick-set, short in the upper arm,
551 Off its hinges, he lifted any door,
552 Or ran at it and broke it with his head.
553 His beard, as any sow or fox, was red,
554 And broad as well, as if it were a spade.
555 On the tip of his nose he displayed
556 A wart, and on it stood a tuft of hair,
557 Red as the bristles in a sow’s ear.
558 His nostrils were as black as they were wide;
559 A sword and buckler he wore at his side.
560 His mouth as great was as a great furnace.
561 He was a loudmouth and to his disgrace
562 Told stories most of sin and harlotry.
563 He stole corn, and made one toll pay three;
564 Yet had the golden thumb, a mystery!
565 A white coat and a blue hood wore he;
566 The bagpipes he could blow well and sound,
567 And that was how he piped us out of town.
 
568 The MANCIPLE was of the Inner Temple,
569 All purchasers might follow his example
570 Of wisdom in the buying of victuals;
571 For whether he paid cash or owed it all
572 He was so careful always in his purchase,
573 That he was all prepared and acted first.
574 Now is it not a wonder of God’s grace
575 That a man so illiterate can outpace
576 The wisdom of a host of learned men?
577 Of masters he had more than thrice ten,
578 Expert in the law and meritorious,
579 Of whom there were a dozen in that house
580 Worthy to be stewards of rent and land
581 For any lord who lives in England,
582 And show him the income to be had
583 Debt-free, from his estates, less he were mad,
584 Or be as frugal as he should desire;
585 And they were able to assist a shire
586 In any case that chanced to arise
587 And yet this Manciple outdid the wise.
 
588 The REEVE was a slender, choleric man.
589 His beard was shaved as close as any can;
590 His hair by his ears was fully shorn;
591 The top was cropped like a priest before.
592 His legs were long, and very lean,
593 Like sticks they wereno calves to be seen.
594 He kept a tidy granary and bin;
595 No auditor could get the best of him.
596 Well could he judge from drought or rain
597 The yield of his seed and of his grain.
598 His lord’s sheep, beef-cattle, and his dairy,
599 His swine, his horses, stock and poultry,
600 Was wholly in this Reeve’s governance
601 And he made reckoning by covenant,
602 Since his lord had only twenty years;
603 No man could find him ever in arrears.
604 No bailiff, cowherd, servant of any kind
605 But their deceits and tricks were in his mind;
606 They feared him like the plague, is my belief.
607 He had a pleasant dwelling on a heath,
608 With green trees shadowed was the sward.
609 He could purchase better than his lord;
610 He had riches of his own privately.
611 He could please his lord subtly,
612 Giving and lending of his own goods,
613 And earn his thank you and a coat and hood.
614 In youth he had a good and learned master;
615 He was a fine craftsman, a carpenter.
616 This Reeve sat on a farm-horse that was
617 All dappled grey and bore the name of Scot.
618 A long bluish top-coat he displayed,
619 And by his side he bore a rusty blade.
620 Of Norfolk was this Reeve of whom I tell,
621 Near a town that men call Bawdeswell.
622 His gown was tucked up like a friar’s about,
623 And he always rode the hindmost on the route.
 
624 A SUMMONER was with us in that place,
625 Who had a fiery-red cherubim’s face,
626 Carbuncled so, and his eyes were narrow.
627 He was hot and lecherous as a sparrow,
628 With scabby black brows and scrubby beard;
629 Of his visage children were a-feared.
630 No quicksilver, lead salve, or brimstone,
631 Borax, ceruse, or oil of tartar known,
632 No ointment that would cleanse and bite,
633 Could cure him of his pimples white,
634 Or of the lumps rising from his cheeks.
635 Well loved he garlic, onions, and leeks,
636 And to drink strong wine, as red as blood;
637 Making him speak, and cry, as madman would.
638 And when he had drunk, and the wine was in,
639 Then he would speak no word but Latin.
640 A few tags he had, some two or three,
641 That he had learned out of some decree
642 No wonder, since he heard them every day.
643 And you well know moreover how a jay
644 Can sayWalterbetter than the Pope
645 But try any other matter’s scope,
646 Then had he spent all his philosophy;
647 AyQuestio quid iuriswas his plea.
648 He was a noble rogue and a kind;
649 A better fellow no man could find.
650 He would allow, for a quart of wine,
651 A good friend to keep a concubine
652 A twelvemonth and excuse him fully;
653 And he could pluck a fool privately.
654 And if he made a good friend anywhere,
655 He would teach him not to have a care
656 In such a case of the Archdeacon’s curse,
657 Unless a man’s soul lay in his purse,
658 For in his purse he should punished be.
659 The purse is the Archdeacon’s hell,’ said he.
660 But well I know he lied in what he said;
661 For his curse each guilty man should dread,
662 Since absolution saves, but slays that writ,
663 And so ware of that word Significavit.
664 He had in his power as he pleased
665 All the young folk of the diocese,
666 Knew their secrets, they by him were led.
667 A garland had he set upon his head,
668 Big as an inn-sign’s holly on a stake;
669 A buckler he had made him of a cake.
 
670 With him there rode a noble PARDONER
671 Of Charing Cross, his friend and his peer,
672 Returned directly from the Court of Rome.
673 He sang out loud: ‘Come hither, love, to me!’
674 The Summoner sang a powerful bass around;
675 Never a trumpet of half so great a sound.
676 The Pardoner had hair as yellow as wax,
677 But smooth it hung like a hank of flax.
678 In clusters hung the locks he possessed,
679 With which his shoulders he overspread;
680 But thin they fell, in strands, one by one.
681 But hood, to adorn them, he wore none,
682 For it was trussed up in his wallet
683 He thought he rode fashionably set;
684 Dishevelled, save his cap, he rode all bare.
685 Such bulging eyeballs had he as a hare.
686 A pilgrim badge had he sewn on his cap;
687 His wallet lay before him in his lap,
688 Brimful of pardons, come from Rome hotfoot.
689 A voice he had as small as has a goat;
690 No beard had he, nor ever looked to have;
691 As smooth it were as it were lately shaved
692 I judge he was a gelding or a mare.
693 But of his craft, from Berwick unto Ware,
694 Never was such another Pardoner.
695 And in his bag a pillow-case was there,
696 Which he claimed was Our Lady’s veil;
697 He said he had a fragment of the sail
698 That Saint Peter used, when he skimmed
699 Upon the sea till Jesus summoned him.
700 He had a cross of brass set with stones,
701 And in a glass, he had pigsbones.
702 And with these relics, when he had to hand
703 Some poor parson living on the land,
704 In one day he gathered in more money
705 Than the parson in a month of Sundays.
706 And thus with feigned flattery, his japes
707 Made people and the parson his apes.
708 But to tell true from first to last,
709 He was in church a noble ecclesiast.
710 He read a lesson well or a story,
711 But best of all he sang an Offertory.
712 For well he knew, when that song was sung,
713 He must preach and well tune his tongue
714 To win silver, as he well knew how;
715 Therefore he sang more sweetly and loud.
 
716 Now I have told you in a brief clause,
717 The array, condition, number and the cause
718 Whereby assembled was this company,
719 In Southwark at that noble hostelry
720 Called The Tabard, fast by The Bell.
721 But now the time has come for me to tell
722 How we behaved on that same night,
723 At that hostelry where we did alight;
724 And after will I tell, at every stage,
725 All the remainder of our pilgrimage.
726 But first I pray you of your courtesy,
727 Not to consider me unmannerly
728 If I speak plainly in this matter,
729 In telling you their words hereafter,
730 Though I speak their words literally;
731 For this you know as well as me,
732 Whoso tells the tale of another man
733 Must repeat as closely as he can
734 Every word, if it be in his power,
735 However coarse or broad his dower
736 Of words, or else his tale will be untrue,
737 Or feign things, inventing words anew.
738 He may spare none, though it were his brother,
739 Must say the one word if he says the other.
740 Christ himself spoke plain in Holy Writ,
741 And you well know no coarseness is in it.
742 As Plato says, to any who can read,
743 The words must be cousin to the deed.
744 Also I beg you, if you will, forgive me
745 If I have not placed folk in due degree
746 Here in this tale, as they indeed should stand;
747 I lack the wit, you may well understand.
 
748 Our HOST made great cheer for everyone,
749 And down to supper set us all anon.
750 He served us with victuals of the best:
751 Strong was the wine, we drank with zest.
752 A handsome man our Host was withal,
753 And fit to be a marshal in a hall.
754 A large man he was with striking eyes;
755 No fairer burgess was there in Cheapside.
756 Bold in his speech, and wise, and well taught,
757 And of honest manhood he lacked naught.
758 Add that he was a truly merry man;
759 And after supper jokingly began
760 To speak of entertainment and other things,
761 After we had paid our reckonings,
762 Saying to us: ‘Now lordings, truly
763 To me you are right welcome, heartily!
764 For by my troth and telling you no lie,
765 I have not seen this year such folk go by
766 As gathered together in this tavern now.
767 And I would entertain, if I knew how,
768 Yet there is an entertainment, in my thoughts,
769 To amuse you and it will cost you naught.
 
770 You go to CanterburyGod you speed!
771 May the blissful martyr bless you indeed! –
772 And well I know, as you go on your way
773 You intend to chatter and make hay.
774 For truly, comfort and delight is none
775 In riding on the way dumb as a stone.
776 And therefore I offer you some sport,
777 As I first said, to give you some comfort.
778 And if you agree as one and consent
779 Each of you to accept my judgement,
780 And to work it as I to you will say,
781 Tomorrow when you ride on your way,
782 Now, by my father’s soul, he being dead,
783 If you lack merriment, be it on my head!
784 Hold up your hands, without longer speech.’
 
785 Our decision was not long to seek:
786 We thought it not worth serious debating,
787 And gave him leave, without deliberating,
788 And bade him give his orders as he wished,
789 Lordings,’ quoth he, ‘now listen to the rest
790 But hear me out, I pray, without disdain
791 Here is the point, to tell you short and plain:
792 That each of you, to speed you on your way,
793 On the journey there, shall tell two tales,
794 Till Canterbury, I mean it so,
795 And on the homeward way another two,
796 Of adventures that did once befall.
797 And which of you that bears them best of all
798 That is to say, who tells in this case
799 Tales the most serious that most solace
800 Shall have a supper and we pay the cost,
801 Here in this place, sitting by this post,
802 When that we come again from Canterbury.
803 And to make you all the more merry,
804 I will myself gladly with you ride,
805 All at my own cost, and be your guide.
806 And whoever my judgement does gainsay
807 Shall pay all that we spend by the way.
808 And if you will agree it shall be so,
809 Tell me now, without more ado,
810 And I will get me ready for the dawn.’
 
811 The thing was agreed, and our oath sworn
812 With right good heart, and we begged also
813 That he accordingly would do so,
814 And that he act then as our governor,
815 And of our tales be judge and recorder,
816 And fix the supper at a certain price,
817 And we would be ruled by his device,
818 In high and low, and thus by one assent
819 We all agreed to his true judgement.
820 And the wine was brought, thereupon
821 We drank, and to rest went everyone,
822 Without our any longer tarrying.
 
823 Next morning, when the day began to spring,
824 Up rose our Host and roused us like the cock,
825 And gathered us together in a flock;
826 And forth we rode, at barely walking-pace
827 To Saint Thomas, and his watering place.
828 And there our Host held the reins still,
829 And said: ‘Lordings, hearken if you will!
830 You know what you agreed, as I record.
831 If even-song and morning-song accord,
832 Let us see who shall tell the first tale.
833 As ever I hope to drink wine and ale,
834 Whoever is a rebel to my judgement
835 Shall pay for all that on the way is spent.
836 Now draw a straw before our journeying;
837 And he that has the shortest shall begin.
838 Sir Knight,’ quoth he, ‘my master and my lord,
839 Now make the draw for that is our accord.
840 Come near,’ quoth he, ‘my lady Prioress,
841 And you, Sir Cleric, hide your bashfulness,
842 No pondering now – a hand from everyone!’
 
843 At once by each the draw was begun;
844 And to tell you how it was, as I relate,
845 Whether by happenstance or chance or fate,
846 The truth is this: the lot fell to the Knight,
847 Which filled us all with joy and delight.
848 And tell his tale he must, in due season,
849 According to our pact and our decision,
850 As you have heardwhat needs more ado?
851 And when this good man saw that it was so,
852 As he was wise and given to obedience
853 And keeping promises with free assent,
854 He said: ‘Since I shall begin the game,
855 Why, welcome is the outcome, in God’s name!
856 Now let us ride, and hark at what I say.’
857 And with that word we rode forth on our way,
858 And he began, all merry and full of cheer
859 His tale anon, and spoke as you may hear.
 
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◈ The Canterbury Tales ◈

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페이지 최종 수정일: 2004년 1월 1일