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◈ The Canterbury Tales (캔터베리 이야기) ◈

◇ The Friar’s Prologue and Tale, and the Summoner’s Prologue and Tale ◇

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 1. The Friar’s Prologue
 2. The Friar’s Tale
 3. The Summoner’s Prologue
 4. The Summoner’s Tale

1. The Friar’s Prologue

0 The Prologue to the FriarsTale
 
1 The worthy Limiter, our noble Friar,
2 Kept glancing round with a scowl of ire
3 Towards the Summoner, but from honesty
4 No villainous word as yet spoke he.
5 But at last he turned to the Wife:
6 Dame,’ quoth he, ‘God grant you a good life!
7 You have here touched, I must agree,
8 On high matters of great difficulty.
9 You have said many things well, I say.
10 But, dame, here as we ride by the way,
11 We are but asked to speak and play a game,
12 And leave true authority, in God’s name,
13 To the preachers and the schools of clergy.
14 But if it’s pleasing to this company,
15 I’ll tell you of a summoner, the same.
16 Pardee, you may know just by the name
17 Of summoner there’s no good to be said
18 I pray that none of you will be offended.
19 A summoner runs up and down the nation
20 With summonses concerning fornication,
21 Him people thrash at every town’s end.’
 
22 Our Host then spoke: ‘Ah, sire, please extend
23 Courtesy, as of a man in your estate!
24 In company well have no such debate.
25 Tell your tale, and let the Summoner be!’
 
26 Nay,’ quoth the Summoner, ‘let him call me
27 Whatever he wishes; when I tune my note
28 By God, I’ll repay him every groat!
29 I’ll tell him, then, how great an honour
30 It is to be a flattering limiter,
31 And of the many other kinds of crime
32 That need no rehearsing at this time,
33 And explain his office to him, as it is!’
 
34 Our Host answered: ‘Peace, no more of this!’
35 And after that he turned to the Friar:
36 Tell forth your tale, now, my good sire.’
 

2. The Friar’s Tale

0 Here begins the Friar’s Tale
 
1 Once there was, dwelling in my country,
2 An archdeacon, a man of high degree,
3 Who boldly served the law’s execution
4 In the punishment of fornication,
5 Of witchcraft, and also of bawdry,
6 Of defamation, and adultery,
7 Of church robbery, and of testaments
8 Of contracts, and neglect of sacraments,
9 Of usury, and of simony also.
10 But on the lechers he served greatest woe;
11 He made them sing, if less than innocent,
12 And small tithe-payers if they missed the rent,
13 If any parson should of them complain.
14 They could not avoid pecuniary pain;
15 For short tithes and short offerings
16 He made the people piteously sing.
17 For ere the bishop caught them with his crook,
18 They were down in the archdeacon’s book,
19 And then had he, through his jurisdiction,
20 Power to administer correction.
 
21 He had a summoner ready to his hand;
22 A slyer lad was none in all England.
23 For subtly he set spies on the trail
24 Who showed him his profit without fail.
25 He would spare the lechers, three or four,
26 To lead the way to four and twenty more.
27 For though our man go mad as a hare,
28 To tell his wickedness I will not spare;
29 For we are free from his correction.
30 Over us they have no jurisdiction,
31 Nor ever shall, throughout their lives.
 
32 St Peter! Thus the women in the dives,’
33 Quoth the Summoner, ‘are past our cure!’
 
34 Peace to mischance and misadventure!’
35 So said our Host – ‘and let him tell his tale.
36 Now tell it forth, though the Summoner pale;
37 And spare him not, my own good sire.’
38 This false thief, this summonerquoth the Friar
39 Had pimps always ready to his hand,
40 As any hawk to lure in all England,
41 Who told him all the secrets that they knew,
42 For their acquaintance was nothing new;
43 They were his private agents, his spies.
44 He made himself great profits thereby;
45 His master knew not always what he won.
46 And without a warrant he would summon
47 Some lewd man, on pain of Christ’s curse,
48 And all would be content to fill his purse,
49 And buy him great feasts at the inn.
50 And just as Judas had his purse, his sin
51 Being theft, just such a thief was he.
52 His master received but half the duty.
53 He was, if I should praise him and applaud,
54 A thief, and then a summoner, and a bawd.
55 And he had wenches in his retinue
56 That, whether Sir Robert or Sir Hugh,
57 Or Jack or Ralph, whoever might appear
58 And lie with them, they told it in his ear.
59 So were the wench and he of one intent.
60 And he would fetch a forged writ hence,
61 And summon both to Chapter Court and so
62 He’d fleece the man and let the wench go.
 
63 Then would he say: ‘Friend, for you, alack,
64 I’ll strike her name out of our letters black.
65 You need no more in her cause travail;
66 I am your friend, in this I may avail.’
67 Certain he knew of swindles old and new,
68 More than could be told in a year or two.
69 For in this world no dog that tracks the bow
70 Could tell a hurt deer from a whole one so
71 Well as this summoner could a sly lecher,
72 Or an adulterer, or yet a lover.
73 And as that was the bulk of all his rent,
74 Therefore on that he set his whole intent.
 
75 And so befell it once that on a day,
76 This summoner, ever waiting on his prey,
77 Rode to summon an old widow of the tribe,
78 Feigning a cause, expecting a bribe;
79 And chanced to see before him on the ride
80 A merry yeoman under a forest side.
81 A bow he bore, and arrows bright and keen;
82 He wore a woollen jacket all in green,
83 A hat upon his head with fringes black.
 
84 Sire,’ quoth this Summoner, reigning back,
85 Hail and well met! And every good man more!’
86 Whither ride you under this greenwood shaw?’
87 Said the yeoman: ‘Go you far today?’
 
88 The summoner answered him and said: ‘Nay;
89 Here close by,’ quoth he, ‘it’s my intent
90 To ride, and then to summon up a rent
91 That is owing there to my lord, you see,’
 
92 You are a bailiff then?’ ‘Yesquoth he.
93 He dare not, for very stain and shame,
94 Say that he was a summoner, by name.
95 Depardieux,’ quoth the yeoman, ‘dear brother,
96 You are a bailiff, and I am another.
97 I am a stranger now to this country;
98 For your acquaintance I would beg thee,
99 And brotherhood as well, if you wish.
100 I have gold and silver in my chest;
101 If you chance to cross into our shire,
102 All shall be yours, as much as you desire.’
 
103 Graunt mercy,’ quoth the summoner, ‘by my faith!’
104 Each on the other’s hand his truth pledged
105 To be brothers sworn till their dying day,
106 And rode chatting pleasantly on their way.
 
107 The summoner, who was as full of words
108 As full of venom are the butcher-birds,
109 And ever enquiring about everything,
110 Brother,’ quoth he, ‘where is your dwelling,
111 If I were to seek you out another day?
112 The yeoman answered in his soft-spoken way:
113 Brother,’ quoth he, ‘far in the north country,
114 Where I hope some time youll visit me.
115 Ere we part, I’ll tell you where it is,
116 So my house there you shall never miss.’
 
117 Now brother,’ quoth the summoner, ‘I pray,
118 Tell me, while we are riding on our way
119 Since you are a bailiff the same as me
120 Some subtle trick, and tell me faithfully
121 In my office how I may most win;
122 And spare not for conscience or for sin,
123 But as my brother tell me how do ye.’
 
124 Now my by troth, dear brother,’ said he,
125 ‘I will tell you then a faithful tale:
126 My wages are scanty, right small ale,
127 My lord is hard to me, ungenerous,
128 And my office is thus laborious,
129 And therefore by extortion do I live;
130 Forsooth, I take whatever men will give.
131 Any way, by tricks or violence,
132 From year to year I cover my expense.
133 I can no better tell it, truthfully.’
 
134 Well, now,’ quoth the summoner, ‘same as me!’
135 I never hesitate to take, God knows,
136 Long as it’s not too hot or heavy though.
 
137 What I may get in private, secretly,
138 Is not a question of conscience, to me.
139 Were it not for extortion, I’d no living.
140 Nor of such tricks shall I be shriven;
141 Feeling or conscience know I none.
142 I curse those confessors ever a one!
143 Well are we met, by God and by Saint James!
144 But, dear brother, tell me then your name.’
145 Quoth the summoner. Now, all the while
146 The yeoman had displayed a little smile.
 
147 Brother,’ quoth he, ‘would you have me tell?
148 I am a fiend; my dwelling is in Hell.
149 And here I ride about my purchasing
150 To see if men will give me anything.
151 My profit is the total, just like rent.
152 Look how you ride upon the same intent,
153 To win your profityou don’t care how
154 Well so fare I, for ride I would right now
155 Unto the world’s end following my prey.’
 
156 Ah,’ quoth the summoner, ‘benedicite!
157 What’s this? I thought you were a yeoman, truly;
158 You have a man’s shape as well as me.
159 Have you another shape determinate
160 In Hell, where you are in your own true state?
 
161 Nay, for sure,’ quoth he, ‘there have we none.
162 But when we choose, then we can don one,
163 Or else make you believe we have a shape.
164 Sometimes were like a man, or like an ape,
165 Or like an angel can I ride and go.
166 It is no wondrous thing though it be so;
167 A louse-ridden juggler can deceive thee,
168 And, pardee, I’ve much more power than he.’
 
169 Why,’ quoth the summoner, ‘do you ride and run
170 In sundry shape, and not always in one?’
171 That we,’ quoth he, ‘may such forms awake
172 As are most useful when our prey we take.’
 
173 What makes you undertake all this labour?’
174 Many a reason, dear sir summoner,’
175 Said the fiend, ‘but all things in good time.
176 The day is short, and it is long past prime,
177 And yet I’ve gathered nothing all this day.
178 I must attend to profit if I may,
179 And our stratagems I’ll not declare;
180 For, brother mine, your wit is all too bare
181 To understand, though I should tell them thee.
182 But as you asked why so labour we:
183 Sometimes we are God’s own instruments,
184 The means to execute his commandments,
185 When he wishes to, upon his creatures,
186 In various ways and under various features.
187 Without him we have no power, again,
188 If he should wish to stand against our aim.
189 And sometimes at our request we have leave
190 Only the body, but not the soul, to grieve;
191 Witness Job, whom we brought such woe.
192 But sometimes we have power over both:
193 That is to say of body and soul also.
194 And sometimes we are allowed to go
195 Attack a man, and bring his soul unrest,
196 And not his body, then all is for the best
197 If he withstands our sore temptation;
198 Since it is a cause of his salvation,
199 Albeit that such was never our intent
200 To save, but rather to have him pent.
201 And sometimes we are servants to some man,
202 As to the archbishop Saint Dunstan;
203 To the Apostles a servant once was I.’
 
204 Then tell me,’ quoth the summoner, ‘speak no lie,
205 Make you your new bodies thus always
206 From the elements?’ The fiend answered: ‘Nay.
207 Sometimes were illusions, sometimes rise
208 With corpsesbodies in sundry wise,
209 And speak as fluently and fair and well
210 As, to the Witch of Endor, Samuel.
211 (And yet some men say it was not he
212 I grant no worth to your theology.)
213 But one thing I warn you of, it’s no jape:
214 Youll know one day how we find a shape;
215 You shall hereafter, my brother dear,
216 Come where you need not lend an ear!
217 For you will, from your own experience,
218 Be able to lecture in word and sentence
219 Better than Virgil when he was alive,
220 Or Dante. Now let us swiftly ride,
221 For I will keep company with thee,
222 Till you may choose to forsake me.’
 
223 Nay,’ quoth the summoner, ‘let us ride!
224 I’m a yeoman known both far and wide;
225 My pledge will I keep, as I have done.
226 For though you were the devil himself, Satan,
227 My pledge will I keep to you, my brother,
228 As I swore, and each swore to the other,
229 To be a true brother in every case.
230 And both can go about our purchase;
231 Take you your share of what men will give,
232 And I will mine; thus we both may live.
233 And if either has more than the other,
234 Let him be true, and share with his brother.’
 
235 Agreed,’ quoth the devil, ‘by my faith!’
236 And with that they rode forth on their way,
237 And right at the start of the town end
238 To which this summoner planned to wend,
239 They saw a cart loaded up with hay,
240 That a carter drove forth on his way.
241 Deep was the mud, and the cart was stuck;
242 The carter shouted out like mad, and struck:
243 Hey Brock! Hup, Scot! Mind you the stones?
244 The fiend,’ quoth he, ‘take you, skin and bones,
245 As surely as ever that you were foaled,
246 So much is the woe you bring, all told!
247 The devil take all, horse, cart and hay!’
 
248 The summoner said: ‘Here’s good play!’
249 And as if naught were doing, he drew near,
250 And quietly whispered in his friend’s ear:
251 Hearken, my brother, hearken, by my faith!
252 Do you not hear what the carter says?
253 Take them anon, for he has given them thee,
254 Hay and cart, and also his horses three.’
 
255 Nay,’ quoth the devil, ‘God knows, never a bit!
256 Trust me well, he’s never a wish for it.
257 Ask him yourself, if you trust not me,
258 Or else wait a while and you will see.’
 
259 The carter struck his horses on the rump,
260 And they began to haul, as he thumped.
261 Gee up,’ quoth he, ‘and Jesus Christ bless,
262 You and all his handiwork, both great and less!
263 That was well pulled, my own Grey Boy!
264 I pray God save you, and His Saint Loy.
265 Now is my cart out of the slough, pardee!’
 
266 Lo, brother,’ quoth the fiend, ‘what told I thee?
267 Here you may see, my own dear brother,
268 The man spoke one thing, but meant another.
269 Les us sally forth on our voyage;
270 Here I win nothing, goods or carriage.’
 
271 When they were some way out of town,
272 The summoner softly began to sound:
273 Brother,’ quoth he, ‘here lives an old wreck,
274 Who would almost as soon lose her neck
275 As give you a pennyworth of what she has.
276 I’ll have twelve pence of her, though she wax mad,
277 Or I’ll have to summon her to our office
278 And yet, God knows, of her I know no vice.
279 But since you have failed in this country
280 To gain a profit, well then, learn from me.’
 
281 The summoner knocked at the widow’s gate.
282 Come out,’ quoth he, ‘you old reprobate!
283 I swear youve some friar or priest with thee.’
 
284 Who’s knocking?’ cried the wife, ‘benedicitee!
285 God save you, sire; what is your good will?’
 
286 ‘I have,’ quoth he, ‘with me a summons-bill.
287 On pain of excommunication, you shall be
288 To-morrow at the arch-deacon’s knee
289 To answer in his court to certain things.’
 
290 Now, Lord,’ quoth she, ‘Christ Jesus, King of Kings,
291 Help me, for sure, as only You may!
292 I have been sick, and that for many a day;
293 I cannot go so far,’ quoth she,’ nor ride,
294 Except I die, it pricks so in my side.
295 May I not have a writ, sir summoner,
296 And answer there yet through my lawyer
297 To such charges as men press against me?’
 
298 Yes,’ quoth the summoner, ‘paylet’s see
299 Twelve pence to me, and I may you acquit.
300 I shall not profit by it, not a bit.
301 My master takes the profit, none to me.
302 Quick now, I must ride on and hurriedly;
303 Give me twelve pence, for I cannot tarry.’
 
304 Twelve pence!’ quoth she, ‘Now Lady Saint Mary
305 Defend me surely from care and sin,
306 Though this whole wide world I might win,
307 I have not twelve pence for hand to hold.
308 You well know that I am poor and old;
309 Show charity to me, a poor wretch.’
 
310 Nay, then,’ quoth he, ‘the devil may me fetch,
311 If I’ll excuse you, though you go to ruin!’
312 Alas!’ quoth she, ‘God knows, I have no coin!’
 
313 Pay me,’ quoth he, ‘by the sweet Saint Anne,
314 Or I will carry off your brand new pan
315 Against the debt you owe to me of old,
316 When you made your husband cuckold;
317 I paid back home for your correction.’
 
318 You lie!’ quoth she, ‘By my salvation,
319 I was never ere now, widow or wife,
320 Summoned to your court in all my life,
321 Nor never was I with my body untrue.
322 To the devil rough and black of hue
323 Give I your body, and my pan also!’
 
324 And when the devil heard her cursing so
325 Upon her knees, he spoke in this manner:
326 Now, Mabel, my own mother dear,
327 Is this your wish in earnest that you say?’
 
328 The devil, quoth she, ‘come fetch him today,
329 And pan and all, unless he shall repent!’
 
330 Nay, old bawd, that is not my intent,’
331 Quoth the summoner, ‘to repent, not me,
332 For anything that I have had of thee.
333 I would I had your smock, rag and cloth!’
 
334 Now, brother,’ quoth the devil, ‘be not wrath:
335 Your body and this pan are mine by right.
336 You yet shall go to Hell with me tonight,
337 Where you shall know of our mysteries
338 More than does any master of divinity.’
339 And with that the foul fiend dragged him hence;
340 Body and soul he with the devil went
341 Where summoners receive their heritage.
342 And God who made, after His own image,
343 Mankind, save and guide us, all and some,
344 And let these summoners good men become!
345 Lordings, I could have told yousaid the Friar
346 Had I the time, and this Summoner desire,
347 Drawing on texts of Christ, Paul and John,
348 And of other teachers, many a one,
349 Of torments that will freeze hearts, in some wise;
350 Although the tongue can scarcely devise,
351 Though for a thousand winters I might tell
352 Of it, the pain of this cursed house of Hell.
353 But to defend us from that cursed place,
354 Watch and pray to Jesus for his grace;
355 So guard us from the tempter Satan base.
356 Hark to my wordbeware, as in this case:
357 The lion sits in wait for us always
358 To slay the innocent, if ever he may.
359 Dispose your hearts always to withstand
360 The fiend, who would grip you in his hand.’
361 He may not tempt you beyond your might,
362 For Christ will be your champion and knight.
363 And pray that all these summoners repent
364 Of their misdeeds, before theyre summoned hence!
 
365 Here ends the Friar’s Tale
 

3. The Summoner’s Prologue

0 The Prologue to the Summoner’s Tale
 
1 The Summoner, up in his stirrups high, stood;
2 His heart against this Friar filled with blood
3 And like an aspen leaf he shook, with ire.
4 Lordings,’ quoth he, ‘but one thing I desire:
5 I beseech you that of your courtesy, I,
6 Since you have heard this false Friar lie,
7 May be suffered now my tale to tell!
8 This Friar boasts that he knows of Hell,
9 And God knows, that is little wonder;
10 Friars and fiends are seldom far asunder.
11 For, pardee, you often times heard tell
12 How that a friar was dragged off to Hell
13 In the spirit once, and in a vision,
14 And as an angel led him up and down
15 To show him all the torments of the fire,
16 In all the place he never saw a Friar;
17 Of other folk he saw enough, in woe.
18 Unto the angel spoke the Friar, though:
19 Now sire, ‘quoth he, ‘are Friars in such grace,
20 That none of them shall ever reach this place?”
21 Nay,” quoth the angel, “millions are found
22 Below! And unto Satan he led him down.
23 Now Satan you seesays he, “has a tail
24 Wider than of a carrack is the sail.
25 Hols up your tail, now Satan!” quoth he,
26 Show us your arse, and let the Friar see
27 Where is the nest for Friars in this place.”
28 And in less than half a minute’s space,
29 Just as bees swarm from out a hive,
30 Out of the devil’s arse began to drive
31 Twenty thousand Friars in a rout,
32 And off through Hell they swarmed about,
33 And returned again as fast as they had gone
34 And into his arse they crept everyone;
35 He clapped his tail again and lay still.
36 The Friar, when he had looked his fill
37 On all the torments in this sorry place,
38 His spirit God restored, of his grace,
39 To his body again, and he awoke.
40 But nevertheless for fear he still shook,
41 The devil’s arse was there yet in his mind;
42 Such is the heritage of all his kind.
43 God save you all, save this cursed Friar!
44 My prologue ends, all that I shall require.’
 
 

4. The Summoner’s Tale

0 Here begins the Summoner’s Tale
 
1 Lordings there lies, in Yorkshire as I guess,
2 A marshy country known as Holderness,
3 In which a friar, a limiter, went about
4 To preach, and to beg as well, no doubt.
5 And it befell that on a day this friar
6 He preached at a church as he desired,
7 And specially, above every other thing,
8 Excited all the people by his preaching
9 To buy masses, and give for God’s sake
10 Coins with which men might holy houses make,
11 Those where divine service is honoured
12 Not where it is wasted and devoured,
13 Nor where there’s no need for men to give,
14 As to endowed clergymen, who live,
15 Thanks be to God, in wealth and abundance!
16 Masses,’ said he, ‘deliver from all penance
17 Your friendssouls, whether old or young,
18 Yes, even when they are quickly sung
19 Not to say that a priest has gone astray;
20 Because he only sings one mass a day.
21 Deliver then, anonquoth he, ‘the souls!
22 Full hard it is with flesh-hooks and with awls
23 To be clawed, or yet to burn or bake.
24 Do it swiftly now, for Christ’s sake!’
25 And when the Friar had shown his intent,
26 With qui cum patre on his way he went.
 
27 When folk in church had given him what he wished,
28 He went his wayno longer would he rest
29 With scrip and pointed staff, his gown tucked high.
30 Into every house he’d begin to peer and pry,
31 And begged for meal and cheese, or else corn.
32 His comrade had a staff, tipped with horn,
33 A pair of writing-tables, in ivory,
34 And a stylus, polished all elegantly,
35 And wrote the names down, as he stood,
36 Of all the folk that gave him any food,
37 As if for them he’d pray, by and by.
38 Give us a bushel, wheat, malt, or rye,
39 A God’s cake, or a little piece of cheese,
40 Anything you wish; all things do please.
41 A God’s halfpenny, or a mass-penny,
42 Or give us of your brawn, if you have any;
43 A portion of your blanket, dear dame,
44 Our sister truelo, here I write your name
45 Bacon or beef, or anything you find.’
 
46 A sturdy varlet followed them behind,
47 Who was their inn-servant, and bore a sack,
48 And what men gave them, carried on his back;
49 And when he was out of doors, and alone,
50 He’d scrape away the names, every one
51 That he had written on his writing-tables;
52 He served them all with faery-tales and fables.
 
53 Nay, there you lie, you Summoner!’ quoth the Friar.
54 Peace!’ quoth our Host, ‘for Christ’s mother dear!
55 Tell us your tale, and spare us not at all.’
56 So thrive I,’ quoth the Summoner, ‘that I shall.
 
57 So along he goes from house to house, till he
58 Comes to a house where he is wont to be
59 Refreshed better than a hundred other places.
60 The good man lies sick whose house it is.
61 Bedridden there on a low couch lay he.
62 Deus hic!’ quoth he, ‘O Thomas, friend, good day!’
63 Said this friar courteously and full soft.
64 Thomas,’ quoth he, ‘God guard you, full oft
65 Have I upon this bench eaten full well!
66 Here have I eaten many a merry meal.’
67 And from the bench he drove away the cat,
68 And laid down his pointed staff and hat,
69 And his scrip too, and sat him quietly down.
70 His comrade had walked off into town,
71 Together with his knave, to the hostelry
72 Where he had thought that night to sleep.
 
73 ‘O my dear master, ‘quoth the sick man,
74 How are things with you? Since March began
75 I’ve not seen you for a fortnight or more.’
76 God knows,’ quoth he, ‘I’ve laboured full sore,
77 And especially for your salvation
78 Have I said many a precious orison,
79 And for our other friends, God them bless!
80 I have today been at your church at Mass,
81 And given a sermon, used my simple wit
82 Not using all the text of holy writ,
83 Since it’s too hard for you, as I suppose,
84 And therefore I paraphrase, for those
85 Who find it so, it’s fine to paraphrase,
86 Forthe letter killeth”, as the Bible says.
87 In it I told them to be charitable,
88 And spend their coin, in manner reasonable;
89 And there I saw your dameah, where is she?’
 
90 Yonder in the yard I think shell be.’
91 Said the man, ‘and shell be here anon.’
 
92 Ey, master, welcome be ye, by Saint John!’
93 Said the wife: ‘How fair you, heartily?’
 
94 The friar rose full of courtesy,
95 And embraced her in his arms narrow,
96 And kissed her sweet and chirped like a sparrow
97 With his lips. ‘Dame,’ quoth he, ‘right well,
98 As he that is your servant and ever shall
99 Thank God that gave you soul and life!
100 Yet saw I not today as fair a wife
101 In all the church about, God save me!’
 
102 Yet God amend my faults, sire,’ quoth she.
103 You are welcome at any rate, by my faith!’
 
104 Graunt mercy, dame, this have I found always.
105 But in your great goodness, by your leave,
106 I pray take no offence, and do not grieve,
107 If I must speak with Thomas a while though.
108 These curates are full negligent and slow
109 At groping tenderly after the conscience.
110 In shriving, preaching, is my diligence,
111 And studying of Peter’s words and Paul’s.
112 I walk and fish for Christian men’s souls,
113 To yield to Jesus Christ his proper rent;
114 To spread his word is all my true intent.’
 
115 Now, by your leave, O dear sire,’ quoth she,
116 Scold him well, by the sacred Trinity!
117 He’s irritable as an ant beside the fire,
118 Though he has all that he could desire.
119 Though I cover him at night and keep him warm,
120 And over him lay my leg or my arm,
121 He groans like the boar that’s in our sty.
122 Other sport of him right none have I;
123 I may not please him any way, alas.’
 
124 ‘O Thomas, je vous dy, Thomas, Thomas!
125 This is the fiend’s work, and must be mended!
126 Anger’s a thing that cannot be defended,
127 And therefore will I say a word or so.’
 
128 Now, master,’ quoth the wife, ‘ere I go,
129 What will you dine on? And then I’ll do it.’
 
130 Now dame,’ quoth he, ‘now je vous dy sanz doute,
131 Had I of a capon but the liver,
132 And of your soft bread just a sliver,
133 And after that a roasted pig’s head
134 Though just for me I’d wish no creature dead
135 Then that would be homely munificence.
136 I am a man needs little sustenance;
137 My spirit gets its nourishment from the Bible.
138 The body is so zealous, always so liable
139 To pray and wake, my appetite is destroyed.
140 I pray you dame, be not too annoyed,
141 If I speak frankly and confide in you.
142 By God, I tell such only to a few!’
 
143 Now, sire,’ quoth she, ‘one word before I go:
144 My child died scarcely two weeks ago,
145 Shortly after you had left the town.’
 
146 His death I saw in a revelation,’
147 Said the friar, ‘at home it was in our
148 Dormitory, I’d say, not half an hour
149 After his death, I saw him born to bliss
150 In a vision, God send me not amiss!
151 So did our sexton and our infirmary friars,
152 That have been true men these fifty years;
153 They may now, God be thanked for His loan,
154 Make their jubilee, and be free to walk alone.
155 And up I rose and all our convent meek,
156 With many a tear trickling down my cheek,
157 Without a noise or clattering of bells.
158 Te deum was our song, and nothing else,
159 Save that to Christ I said an orison,
160 Thanking Him for His revelation.
161 For, sire and dame, trust to me right well,
162 Our orisons are more effectual,
163 We see more into Christ’s secret things
164 Than laymen do, even though they be kings.
165 We live in poverty and abstinence,
166 While laymen live in luxury, expense
167 On meat and drink, and in their foul delight.
168 We set this world’s lust beyond our sight.
169 Lazarus and Dives lived diversely,
170 And they were rewarded differently.
171 Whoso will pray must fast and be clean,
172 And feed his soul, but keep his body lean.
173 We fare as the Gospel says: clothes and food
174 Suffice for us, though they be coarse and rude.
175 The cleanliness and fasting of us friars
176 Is what makes Jesus Christ accept our prayers.
 
177 Lo, Moses forty days and forty nights
178 Fasted, before the great God in his might
179 Spoke with him on the summit of Sinai;
180 With empty stomach, fasting fit to die,
181 He received the law that was written
182 By God’s finger; and Elijah, when
183 On Mount Horeb, before he had speech
184 With God Almighty, who acts as our leech
185 Healing us, fasted long, in contemplation.
 
186 Aaron too, that had the regulation
187 Of the Temple, and Levites every one,
188 Into the Temple when they were gone
189 To pray for the people, and serve there,
190 They would take no drink, that is, no manner
191 Of drink which might them drunken make,
192 But there in abstinence would pray and wake,
193 Lest they die. Take heed then of what I say:
194 Unless they are sober who for people pray,
195 Beware what I say; enough, that suffices!
 
196 Our Lord Jesus, as holy writ advises,
197 Is our example, in fasting and in prayers.
198 Therefore we mendicants, we simple friars,
199 Have wedded poverty and continence,
200 Charity, humility, and abstinence,
201 Persecution for our righteousness,
202 Weeping, charity, and cleanliness.
203 And therefore you can see that our prayers
204 I speak of us, we mendicants, we friars
205 Are to the high God more acceptable
206 Than yours, with your feasting at table.
207 For his gluttony, and I tell no lies,
208 Man was first driven from Paradise,
209 And man was chaste in Paradise, for sure.
 
210 But hearken now, Thomas, I say more:
211 – I have no text of what I wish to say
212 But I shall seek it in a paraphrase
213 For especially our sweet lord Jesus
214 Spoke of the friars, when he said thus:
215 Blessed be those who poor in spirit be.”
216 And so in all the Gospel you may see,
217 Whether it is more like to our profession,
218 Or theirs who swim in riches and possessions.
219 Fie on their pomp, and their gluttony! Fie,
220 And as for sinfulness, I them defy.
 
221 I liken them to that Jovinian,
222 Fat as a whale, and waddling like a swan,
223 As full of wine as a bottle, what’s the sense
224 In their saying prayers full of reverence,
225 And chanting for souls the Psalm of David:
226 Lo, burp!” they sing, “cor meum eructavit!”
227 Who follows Christgospel and his spoor,
228 But we the humble, the chaste and poor,
229 Workers of God’s word, not its auditors?
230 Therefore, right as a hawk that upward soars
231 Springs up into the air, right so the prayers
232 Of charitable, chaste and busy friars
233 Soar upwards towards God’s ears two.
234 Thomas, Thomas, as I live, say I too,
235 By that lord who is named Saint Ives,
236 Who’s not our brother, as you are, never thrives.
237 In our Chapter pray we day and night,
238 To Christ, that he send you health and might
239 To give you use of your body speedily.’
 
240 God knows, quoth he, ‘none of it I feel!
241 So help me Christ, in but a few years
242 I have spent on every manner of friars
243 Full many a pound, yet never the better.
244 Indeed, it’s almost left me now a debtor;
245 Farewell my gold, it is gone long ago!’
 
246 The Friar answered: ‘O Thomas, say you so?
247 What needed you those various friars seek?
248 What need has he who has a perfect leech
249 To go seeking other leeches round the town?
250 Your inconstancy shall bring you down!
251 Do you maintain that my, or else our convent’s,
252 Prayers for you have been insufficient?
253 Thomas, that raillery’s not worth a fiddle!
254 Your malady’s because we prayed too little.
255 Ah, give that convent half a quarter of oats!
256 Ah, give that convent four and twenty groats!
257 Ah, give that friar a penny and let him go!
258 Nay, nay, Thomas, it should not be so!
259 What is a farthing worth that’s cut in twelve?
260 Lo, each thing that’s united in itself
261 Is stronger than when it’s widely scattered.
262 Thomas, by me you shall not be flattered:
263 You would have all our labour for naught.
264 The great God, who all this world has wrought,
265 Says that the workman’s worthy of his hire.
266 Thomas, naught of your treasure I desire,
267 For myself, but only that our convent
268 Should pray for you and be diligent,
269 And for to build Christ’s own church.
270 Thomas if you would learn to do good works,
271 You may find if building, for your sin,
272 Is good, in the life of Thomas Saint of Inde.
273 You lie here full of anger and of ire
274 With which the devil sets your heart afire,
275 And chide here this foolish innocent
276 Your wife, who is so meek and so patient.
277 And therefore Thomasbelieve me as you wish
278 Strive not with your wife: that’s for the best.
279 And bear this word away now, by your faith,
280 Touching all thishear, what the wise say:
281 Within your house act not like a lion;
282 Against your household raise no oppression,
283 Nor serve to make your acquaintance flee.”
284 And Thomas, a second time I charge thee:
285 Beware of her that in your bosom sleeps!
286 Beware the serpent that so slyly creeps
287 Below the grass, and stings with subtlety.
288 Beware, my son, and listen patiently,
289 For twenty thousand men have lost their lives
290 In striving with their lovers and their wives.
291 Now since you have so holy and meek a wife,
292 What need have you, Thomas, to make strife?
293 Truly there is no serpent half so cruel
294 When man treads on his tail, or half so fell,
295 As woman is when she is full of fire,
296 Vengeance then is all that they desire.
297 Anger is sin, one of the deadly seven,
298 Abominable to the great God of Heaven,
299 And to the man himself it is destruction.
300 This every illiterate vicar or parson
301 Can tell you, ire engenders homicide.
302 Ire is, in truth, the executor of pride.
303 I could of ire tell you so much sorrow
304 My tale should last until tomorrow;
305 And therefore I pray God, both day and night,
306 God send the angry man no power or might!
307 It does great harm, and brings great misery,
308 To yield a wrathful man the mastery.
 
309 One there was a wrathful potentate,
310 Seneca says, and while he ruled the state,
311 One fine day out rode there knights two.
312 And as Fortune willed, as she will do,
313 One of them came home, the other not.
314 Anon the knight before the judge was brought,
315 Who said thus: “You have your fellow slain,
316 For which I sentence you to death, again.”
317 And to another knight commanded he:
318 Go, lead him to his death, I order thee.”
319 And so it came to pass as they went by
320 Towards the place where he should die,
321 The knight appeared whom men thought dead.
322 Then it seemed best that both be led
323 Straight back, returned to the judge again.
324 They said: “Lord, the knight has not slain
325 His fellow; here he stands, whole alive.”
326 You shall die,” quoth he, “as I thrive!
327 That is to say, one and two and three.”
328 And to the first knight thus right spoke he:
329 “I condemned you; and you shall be dead.
330 And you, his fellow, also lose your head,
331 For you are the reason why this man must die.”
332 And on the third knight he cast his eye:
333 You have not done as I commanded thee” –
334 And thus he had the knights slain, all three.
 
335 Wrathful Cambyses was a drunkard too,
336 And loved to be a villain through and through.
337 And it so befell a lord of his company,
338 Who valued virtuous morality,
339 Said one day in private speech right thus:
340 “A lord is lost if he is vicious,
341 And drunkenness is foul to record
342 Of any man, especially a lord.
343 There is full many an eye and many an ear
344 Near to a lord, of which he’s not aware.
345 For God’s love, drink more temperately!
346 Wine makes man lose most wretchedly
347 His mind, and his limbsuse, every one.”
 
348 The reverse,’ quoth the King, “youll see anon,
349 And prove it by your own experience,
350 That wine does to folk no such offence.
351 There is no wine shall rob me of my might
352 In hand or foot, nor of my own eyesight.”
353 And at that he drank as much and more
354 A hundredfold as he had done before.
355 And right anon this wrathful cursed wretch
356 Had this knight’s son before him fetched,
357 Commanding that before him he should stand,
358 And suddenly he took his bow in hand,
359 And pulled the string taut towards his ear,
360 And with an arrow slew the child right there.
361 Now do I have a steady hand, or none?”
362 Quoth he. “Is all my mind and power gone?
363 Has wine deprived me of my eyesight?”
 
364 What answer was there for the sorry knight?
365 His son was slain; there is no more to say.
366 Beware, therefore, with lords how you play.
367 Sing: “Placebo”, and “I shall if I can”,
368 Unless it be to some poor old man.
369 To a poor man men should his vices tell,
370 But not to a lord, though on his way to Hell.
 
371 Behold, wrathful Cyrus, the Persian,
372 Who brought the river Gindes to ruin,
373 Because a horse of his was drowned therein,
374 When that he went for Babylon to win.
375 He ensured the river was left so narrow,
376 That women might wade across its shallows.
377 Lo, what Solomon taught, as none can:
378 Be not the fellow to a wrathful man,
379 Nor with an angry man walk by the way
380 Lest you repent of it; that is all I say.”
 
381 Now, Thomas, dear brother, cease your anger.
382 Youll find me true as is a joiner’s square.
383 Hold not the devil’s knife towards your heart
384 Your anger causes you a bitter smart
385 But make to me your whole confession.’
 
386 Nay,’ quoth the sick man, ‘by Saint Simon,
387 I’ve been shriven today by my curate.
388 I have told him of my whole estate;
389 There’s no more need to speak of it, said he,
390 Unless I wish, out of humility.’
 
391 Give me of your gold then for our cloister,’
392 Quoth he, ‘for many a mussel and many an oyster,
393 When others have eaten well, many a day,
394 Have been our food, our cloister for to raise.
395 And yet, God knows, the bare foundation
396 Nor yet our pavement, is scarcely done
397 There’s not a tile yet been laid,’ he groans,
398 By God, we still owe forty pounds for stones!
399 Now help, Thomas, for Him that harrowed Hell,
400 Or else must we our books go and sell.
401 And if you lacked our true instruction,
402 Then goes the world to its destruction.
403 For who would this world of us bereave,
404 So God me save, Thomas, by your leave,
405 He would bereave this world of the sun.
406 For who can teach and work as we can?
407 And have, for no little time,’ quoth he,
408 For since Elijah, and Elisha, we,
409 The friars, have, as the books record,
410 Done charity, and thanks be to our Lord!
411 Now, Thomas, help, for holy charity!’
412 And down anon he went on bended knee.
413 The sick man was well nigh mad with ire;
414 He wished the friar might be set afire,
415 With his falsehood and dissimulation.
416 Such as I have in my possession
417 Quoth he, ‘that may I give, I have no other.
418 Did you say to me I am your brother?’
 
419 Yes, certainly,’ the friar said, ‘trust me;
420 I gave your dame a letter with our seal.’
 
421 Well now,’ quoth he, ‘something I shall give
422 Unto your holy convent while I live.
423 And in your hand have it you shall anon
424 On this and on no other condition:
425 That you share it out, my dear brother,
426 So each friar has as much as every other.
427 This shall you swear, on your profession,
428 Without fraud or equivocation.’
 
429 ‘I swear it,’ quoth the friar, ‘on my faith!’
430 And with that his hand in his he laid.
431 Lo here’s my faith, in me youll find no lack.’
 
432 Now then, put your hand down behind my back,’
433 Said the man, ‘and grope around behind,
434 Beneath my buttocks; there you will find
435 A thing that I have hidden secretly.’
436 Ah!’ thought the friar, ‘that will do for me!’
437 And down his hand he sank to the cleft,
438 In hopes of finding there a little gift.
439 And when the sick man felt the friar
440 Groping round his arse, here and there,
441 Into the friar’s hand he let fall a fart.
442 There was no dray-horse pulling on a cart
443 That could have farted with a louder sound.
 
444 The friar started up like an angry lion.
445 Ah, false churl!’ quoth he, ‘by God’s bones,
446 This was done for spite!’ The friar moans:
447 Youll pay dearly for that fart, some day!’
 
448 The servants, who heard the whole affray,
449 Came leaping in and chased him from the place,
450 And off he went with a full angry face,
451 And fetched his comrade and all his store
452 Of goods, and fierce as champs a wild boar,
453 He ground his teeth, so great was his wrath.
454 At a swift pace to the manor he strode off,
455 Where there lived a man of great honour,
456 To whom he had ever been his confessor;
457 This worthy man was lord of the village.
458 The friar came there in a blinding rage
459 Where the lord sat eating at his board.
460 The friar could hardly utter a word,
461 Till at last he said, ‘God be with thee!’
 
462 The lord looked up, and said, ‘Benedicitee!
463 What, Friar John, what in the world is this?
464 I can see that something’s well amiss.
465 You look as if the wood was full of thieves!
466 Sit down anon, and tell me now what grieves,
467 And it shall be amended, if I may.’
 
468 ‘I have,’ quoth he, ‘received insult today,
469 God keep you, down there in your village,
470 Such that there’s never so lowly a page
471 But that he would find it an abomination
472 That which I have received in your town.
473 And yet nothing grieves me so sore
474 As that this old churl with locks hoar,
475 Has blasphemed our holy convent too.’
476 Now master,’ quoth the lord, ‘I beseech you –’
477 Not master,’ quoth he, ‘but your servitor!
478 Though the schools have done me that honour,
479 God wishes not thatRabbimen should call,
480