Poems » gilbert white » the general prologue from the hengwrt manuscript of the canterbury tales


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Whan that Aueryll |with| his Shoures soote
The droghte of March / hath |per|ced to the roote
And bathed euery veyne in swich lycour
Of which |ver|tu engendred is the flour
Whan zephirus eek / |with| his sweete breeth
In{s}pired hath in euery holt/ and heeth
The tendre croppes / and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram / his half cours yronne
And sm[a]le foweles / maken melodye
That sl[epen] al the nyght/ with open Iye
So priketh hem nature / in hir corages
Than[ne longen] folk/ to goon on pilgrymages
And Palmere[s] for to seeken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes / kouthe in sondry londes
And specially / from euery shyres ende
Of Engelond / to Caunterbury they wende
The holy bli{s}ful martir / for to seke
That hem hath holpen whan |þt| they weere seeke
Bifel |þt| in that se{s}o|un| on a day
In Southwerk/ at the Tabard / as .I. lay
Redy to weenden / on my pilgrymage
To [Ca]unterbury / with ful deuout corage
At nyght/ was come / in to that ho{s}telrye
Wel .xxix. in a compaignye
Of sondry folk / by auenture yfalle
In felawe{s}hipe / and pilgrymes weere they alle
That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde
The chambres and the stables / weeren wyde
And wel we weeren e{s}ed / at the be{s}te
And shortly whan the sonne was to re{s}te
So hadde I spoken with hem euerichoon
That I was of hir felawe{s}hipe anon

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And maade  / erly for to ry{s}e
To take oure wey / ther as .I. yow deuy{s}e
¶But nathelees / while .I. haue tyme and space
Er that I ferther / in this tale pace
Me thynketh it/ acordant to re{s}o|un|
To telle yow / al the condicio|un|
Of eech of hem / so as it seemed me
And whiche they weere / and of what degree
And eek/ in what array / |þt| they weere Inne
And at a knyght/ thanne wol I fir{s}t bigynne


¶A knyght ther was / and that a worthy man
That fro the tyme / |þt| he fir{s}t bigan
To ryden out/ he loued chiualrye
Trouthe and hon|our| / fredom and curtei{s}ye
fful worthy was he / in his lordes werre
And ther to hadde he ryden / no man ferre
As wel in cri{s}tendom / as hethene{ss}e
And euere honured / for his worthyne{ss}e
¶At Ali{s}aundre he was / whan it was wonne
fful ofte tyme / he hadde the bord bigonne
Abouen alle nacions / in Pruce
In lectow / hadde he rey{s}ed / and in Ruce
No cri{s}ten man so ofte / of his degree
In Gernade at the seege eek hadde he be
At Algizir / and ryden in Belmarye
At lyeys was he / and at Satalye
Whan they weere wonne / and in the grete See
At many a noble armee / hadde he bee
¶At mortal batailles / hadde he been fiftene
And foghten for oure feyth / at Tramy{ss}ene
In ly{s}tes thryes / and ay slayn his foo
¶This ilke worthy knyght/ hadde been al{s}o
Som tyme / with the lord of Palatye
Agayn another hethen in Turkye
And e|uer|e moore / he hadde a souereyn prys
And thogh |þt| he weere worthy / he was wys
And of his poort/. as meke / as is a mayde
Ne neuere yet/ no vileynye he sayde
In al his lyf/ vn to no manere wight
He was a verray |per|fit/ gentil knyght/

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But for to tellen yow / of his array
Hi{s}e hors weere goode / but he ne was nat gay
Of ffu{s}tian / he wered a gypo|un|
Al bi{s}motered / with his haubergeo|un|
ffor he was laate / comen from his viage
And wente / for to doon his pilgrymage


¶With hym / ther was his sone a yong/ Squyer
A louere / and a lu{s}ty Bachiler
With lokkes crulle / as they weere leyd in |pre|{ss}e
Of .xx. yeer / he was of age I ge{ss}e
Of his stature / he was of euene lengthe
And wonderly delyuere / and of greet strengthe
And he hadde been som tyme / in chiu[ac]hye
In fflaundres / in Artoys / and Picardye
And born hym wel / as in so litel space
In hope / to stonden / in his lady grace
¶Embrouded was he / as it weere a meede
Al ful of fre{ss}he floures / white and reede
Syngynge he was / or floytynge al the day
He was as fre{ss}h / as is the Monthe of May
Short was his gowne / with sleues / longe |&| wyde
Wel koude he sitte on hors / and faire ryde
He koude songes wel make / and endite
Iu{s}te and eek daunce / and wel portreye and write
So hoote he loued / that by nyghtertale
He slepte namoore / than dooth a nyghtyngale
Curteys he was / lowely / and seruy{s}able
And carf biforn his fader / at the table


¶A yeman he hadde / and seruantz namo
At that tyme / for hym li{s}te ryde so
And he was clad / in coote and hood of greene
A sheef of Pecok arwes / bright/ and keene
Vnder his belt/ he bar ful thriftily
Wel koude he dre{ss}e his takel yemanly
His arwes drowped noght/ with fetheres lowe
And in his hand / he bar a myghty bowe
A not heed hadde he / with a broun vi{s}age
Of wodecraft / koude he wel al the v{s}age
Vp on his arm / he bar a gay bracer
And by his syde / a swerd and a Bokeler

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And on that oother syde / a gay daggere
Harney{s}ed wel / and sharp / as poynt/ of spere
A |christ|ofre on his bre{s}t/ of siluer sheene
An horn he bar / the bawdryk/ was of greene
A ffor{s}ter was he / soothly as I ge{ss}e


¶Ther was al{s}o / a Nonne a Priore{ss}e
That of hir smylyng/ was ful symple and coy
Hir grette{s}te ooth / was but by Seint Loy
And she was clepyd / madame Eglentyne
fful wel she soong/ the seruyce dyuyne
Entuned in hir no{s}e / ful semely
And fren{ss}h she spak / ful faire and feti{s}ly
After the scole / of Stratford at the Bowe
ffor fren{ss}h of Parys / was to hire vnknowe
At mete / wel ytaught/ was she with alle
She leet/ no mor{s}el / from hir lyppes falle
Ne wette hir fyngres / in hir sauce deepe
Wel koude she carye a mor{s}el / and wel keepe
That no drope / fille vp on hir bri{s}t/
In curtei{s}ye / was set muchel hir li{s}t/
Hir ouer lyppe / wyped she so cleene
That in hir coppe / ther was no ferthyng/ seene
Of grece / whan she dronken hadde hir draghte
fful semely / after hir mete she raghte
And sikerly / she was of greet/ de{s}port/
And ful ple{s}aunt/ and amyable of port/
And peyned hire / to countrefete chiere
Of Court/ and been e{s}tatlich of manere
And to been holden / digne of re|uer|ence
But for to speken / of hir con{s}cience
She was so charitable / and so pitous
She wolde{^}{{wepe}} / if |þt| she sawe a Mous
Caught in a trappe / if it weere deed / or bledde
Of smale houndes / hadde she / |þt| she fedde
With ro{s}ted fle{ss}h / or mylk/ and wa{s}tel breed
But soore wepte she / if oon of hem weere deed
Or if men smoot/ it / with a yerde smerte
And al was con{s}cience / and tendre herte
fful semely / hir wympel pynched was
Hir no{s}e tretez / hir eyen / greye as glas

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Hir mouth ful smal / and ther to / softe and reed
But sikerly / she hadde a fair forheed
It was almoo{s}t/ a spanne brood I trowe
ffor hardily / she was nat vndergrowe
fful fetys was hir cloke / as I was war
Of smal Coral / aboute hir arm she bar
A peyre of bedes / gauded al with greene
And ther on heeng/ a brooch of gold ful sheene
On which / was fir{s}t writen / a crowned .A.
And after / Amor vincit/ omnia.
¶Another Nonne / with hire hadde she

Nonne Chapeleyne

That was hire Chapeleyne / and pree{s}tes thre

and thre pre{s}tes


¶A Monk ther was / a fair for the may{s}trye
An outrydere / that/ louede venerye
A manly man / to been an Abbot able
fful many a deyntee hors / hadde he in stable
And whanne he rood / men myghte his brydel heere
Gyngle in a whi{s}tlynge wynd / as cleere
And eek/ as loude / as dooth the Chapel belle
There as this lord / is kepere of the Selle
The rule of Seint Maure / or of Seint Beneyt/
By cau{s}e |þt| it was oold / and som deel streyt/
This ilke Monk/ leet oolde thynges pace
And heeld / after the newe world the space
He yaf noght of that text/ a pulled hen
That seith / |þt| hunterys been none holy men
Ne |þt| a Monk/. whan he is recchelees
Is likned / til a fi{ss}h / |þt| is waterlees
This is to seyn / a Monk/ out of his Cloy{s}tre
But thilke text/ heeld he nat worth an Oy{s}tre
And I seyde / his opynyon was good
What sholde he studie / and make hym seluen wood
Vp on a book/ in Cloy{s}tre alwey to poure
Or swynke with his handes / and laboure
As Au{s}tyn bit/. how shal the world be serued
Lat Au{s}tyn haue his swynk/. to hym re{s}erued
Ther fore / he was a pryka{s}our aryght/
Grehoundes he hadde / as swift/ as fowel in flyght/
Of prikyng/ and of huntyng/ for the haare
Was al his lu{s}t/. for no co{s}t wolde he spaare

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I saugh his sleues / |pur|filed at the hond
With grys / and that the fyne{s}te of a lond
And for to fe{s}tne his hood / vnder his chyn
He hadde / of gold / wroght a ful curious pyn
A loue knotte / in the gretter ende ther was
His heed was balled / that shoon as any glas
And eek his face / as he hadde been enoynt/
He was a lord ful fat/ and in good poynt/
Hi{s}e eyen steepe / and rollynge in his heed
That stemed / as a fourneys of a leed
Hi{s}e bootes souple / his hors / in greet e{s}taat/
Now certeynly / he was a fair |pre|lat/
He was nat paale / as is a forpyned goo{s}t/
A fat swan / loued he / be{s}t of any roo{s}t/
His palfrey / was as broun as any berye


¶A frere ther was / a wantowne and a merye
A lymytour / a ful solempne man
In alle the ordres foure / is noon |þt| kan
So muche of daliaunce / and fair langage
He hadde maked / ful many a mariage
Of yonge wommen / at his owene co{s}t/
Vn to his ordre / he was a noble po{s}t/
fful wel biloued / and famylier was hee
With ffrankeleyns / ouer al in his contree
And eek/ with worthy wommen / of the town
ffor he hadde / power of confe{ss}ioun
As seyde hym self / moore than a curaat/
ffor of his ordre / he was licenciaat/
fful swetely / herde he confe{ss}io|un|
And ple{s}ant/. was his ab{s}olucio|un|
He was an e{s}y man / to yeue penaunce
Ther as he wi{s}te / to haue a good pitaunce
ffor vn to a poure ordre / for to yeue
Is signe / that a man / is wel y{s}hryue
ffor if he yaf/ he dor{s}te make auaunt/
He wi{s}te / |þt| a man was repentaunt/
ffor many a man / so hard is of his herte
He may nat weepe / thogh |þt| he soore smerte
Ther fore / in {s}tede of wepynge / and preyeres
Men moote yeue siluer / to the poure freres

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¶His typet/ was ay far{s}ed ful of knyues
And pynnes / for to yeuen faire wyues
And certeynly / he hadde a murye noote
Wel koude he synge / and pleyen on a roote
Of yeddynges / he bar outrely the prys
His nekke whit was / as the flour delys
Ther to he stroong/ was / as a Champioun
He knew the tauernes wel in euery town
And euery ho{s}tiler / and Tappe{s}tere
Bet / than a lazer / or a begge{s}tere
ffor vn to swich a worthy man / as he
Acorded nat / as by his facultee
To haue / with syke lazers aqueyntaunce
It is nat hone{s}te / it may noght auaunce
ffor to deelen / with no swich poraille
But al with riche / and sellerys of vitaille
And ouer al / ther as |pro|fit sholde ary{s}e
Curteys he was / and lowely of seruy{s}e
Ther was no man / nowheer / {s}o |ver|tuous
He was the be{s}te beggere / of his hous
And yaf a |cer|teyn ferme / for the graunt/
Noon of his bretheren / cam ther in his haunt/
ffor thogh a wydwe / hadde noght/ a sho
So ple{s}ant/ was his In principio
Yet wolde he haue a ferthyng/ er he wente
His purchaas / was wel bettre than his rente
And rage he koude / as it weere right a whelp
In louedayes / koude he muchel help
ffor there / he was nat lyk/ a Cloy{s}trer
With a threedbare cope / as is a poure scoler
But he was lyk a mai{s}ter / or a Pope
Of double wor{s}tede / was his semycope
And rounded as a belle / out of the pre{ss}e
Somwhat he lyp{s}ed / for his wantowne{ss}e
To make his engly{ss}h / sweete vp on his tonge
And in his harpyng/ whan |þt| he hadde songe
hi{s}e eyen twynkled / in his heed aryght/
As doon the {s}terres / in the fro{s}ty nyght/
This worthy lymytour / was cleped huberd


¶A Marchant was ther / with a forked berd

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In Motlee / and hye on hors he sat/
Vp on his heed / a fflaundry{ss}h Be|uer|e hat/
his bootes cla{s}ped / faire and feti{s}ly
Hi{s}e re{s}ons / he spak ful solempnely
Sownyng/ alwey / thencrees of his wynnyng/
He woolde / the see weere kept/ for any thyng/
Bitwixen Myddelburgh / and Orewelle
Wel koude he / in e{s}chaunge / sheeldes selle
This worthy man / ful wel his wit bi{s}ette
Ther wi{s}te no wight/. that he was in dette
So e{s}taatly was he / of his go|uer|naunce
With his bargaynes / and |with| his cheuy{s}aunce
ffor soothe / he was a worthy man with alle
But sooth to seyn / I noot how men hym calle

¶Clerc/ of Oxenford

¶A Clerc/ ther was / of Oxenford al{s}o
That vn to logyk/. hadde longe ygo
As leene was his hors / as is a rake
And he was noght right fat/ I vndertake
But looked holwe / and ther to sobrely
fful threedbaare / was his o|uer|e{s}te Courtepy
ffor he hadde / geten hym yet/ no benefice
Ne was {s}o worldly / for to haue office
ffor hym was leuere / haue at his beddes heed
Twenty bookes / clad / in blak / or reed
Of Ari{s}totle / and his Philo{s}ophye
Than robes riche / or ffithele / or gay Sautrye
But al be / that he was a Philo{s}ophre
Yet hadde he / but litel gold in Cofre
But al that he myghte / of his frendes hente
On bookes / and on lernynge / he it spente
And bi{s}ily / gan for the soules preye
Of hem / that yaf hym / wher with to scoleye
Of studye / took he moo{s}t cure and moo{s}t heede
Noght oo word spak/ he / moore than was neede
And that was spoke / in forme / and reuerence
And short/ and quyk/ and ful of heigh sentence
Sownynge in moral |ver|tu / was his speche
And gladly wolde he lerne / and gladly teche

¶Sergeaunt of Lawe

¶A Sergeaunt of lawe / waar / and wys
That often / hadde been at the Parvys

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Ther was al{s}o /ful ryche of excellence
Di{s}creet he was / and of greet re|uer|ence
He {s}eemed swich / hi{s}e wordes weeren {s}o wy{s}e
Iu{s}tice he was / ful often in A{ss}i{s}e
By patente / and by pleyn c|om|mi{ss}io|un|
ffor his science / and for his heigh reno|un|
Of fees and robes / hadde he many oon
So greet a purcha{s}our / was nowher noon
Al was fee symple / to hym / in effect/
His purcha{s}yng/ myghte nat been infect/
Nowher {s}o bi{s}y a man as he / ther nas
And yet he {s}eemed / bi{s}yer than he was
In |ter|mes / hadde he caas / and doomes alle
That from tyme of kyng william / weere falle
Ther to / he koude endite / and make a thyng/
Ther koude no wight/ pynchen at his writyng/
And euery statut/. koude he pleyn by roote
He rood but hoomly / in a medlee coote
Girt with a ceynt of sylk/. with barres smale
Of his array / telle I no lenger tale


A ffrankeleyn / was in his compaignye
Whit was his berd / as is the daye{s}ye
Of his complexcion / he was sangwyn
Wel loued he by the morwe / a sop in wyn
To lyuen in delyt/ was euere his wone
ffor he was / Epicurus owene sone
That heeld opynyo|un| / |þt| pleyn delit
Was verray / felicitee parfit/
An hou{s}holdere / and that a greet was hee
Seint Iulyan he was / in his contree
His breed / his ale / was alweys after oon
A bettre envyned man / was neuere noon
With outen bake mete / was neuere his hous
Of fre{ss}h fi{ss}h / and fle{ss}h / and that so plentevous
It snewed in his hous / of mete and drynke
Of alle deyntees / |þt| men koude bithynke
After / the sondry se{s}ons / of the yeer
So chaunged he / his mete / and his soper
fful many a fat partrych / hadde he in Muwe
And many a breem / and many a luce in Stuwe

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Wo was his Cook/ / but if his sauce weere
Poynaunt/ and sharp / and redy al his geere
Hys table dormaunt/ in his halle alway
Stood redy couered / al the longe day
At Se{ss}ions / ther was he / lord and Sire
fful ofte tyme / he was knyght of the Shire
An Anlaas / and a Gip{s}er / al of Sylk/
Heeng/ at his girdel / whit as morne mylk/
A shirreue hadde he been / and Countour
Was nowheer / swich a worthy vaua{s}our


¶An haberda{ss}here / and a Carpenter


A Webbe / a Dyere / and a Tapycer


And they weere clothed alle / in oo ly|uer|ee


Of a solempne / and a greet fra|ter|nytee


fful fre{ss}h and newe / hir geere apyked was
Hir knyues weere chaped / noght with bras
But al with siluer / wroght ful cleene and wel
Hir girdles / and hir pouches / euerydel
Wel {s}eemed eech of hem / a fair Burgeys
To sitten in a yeldehalle / on a deys
Euerych / for the wi{s}dom / |þt| he kan
Was shaply / for to been an Alderman
ffor catel / hadde they ynogh / and rente
And eek hir wyues / wolde it wel a{ss}ente
And ellis certeyn / they weere to blame
It is ful fair / to been yclepyd madame
And goon to vigilies / al bifore
And haue a Mantel / realliche ybore


¶A Cook they hadde with hem / for the nones
To boille the chiknes / with the Marybones
And poudre marchaunt/. tart/ and / Galyngale
Wel koude he knowe / a draghte of london ale
He koude roo{s}te / and seethe / and broille / |&| frye
Maken Mortreux / and wel bake a pye
But greet harm was it / as it thoughte me
That on his Shyne / a Mormal hadde he
ffor Blankmanger / that maade he with the be{s}te


¶A Shipman was ther / wonyng fer by we{s}te
ffor aught I woot/ he was of Dertemouthe
He rood vp on a Rouncy / as he kouthe

{{Folio 7r}}

In a gowne of faldyng/ to the knee
A daggere hangynge on a laas / hadde he
Aboute his nekke / vnder his arm adown
The hoote Somer / hadde maad his hewe al brown
And certeynly / he was a good felawe
fful many a draghte of wyn / hadde he drawe
ffro Burdeuxward/ whil |þt| the Chapman sleep
Of nyce con{s}cience / took he no keep
If |þt| he faught/ and hadde the hyer hond
By watre he sente hem hoom / to euery lond
But of his craft/ to rekene wel his tydes
His stremys / and his daungers hym bi{s}ydes
His {^}{{herberwe}} and his moone / his lodmenage
Ther was noon swich / from hull to Cartage
Hardy he was / and wys to vndertake
With many a tempe{s}t/ hadde his beerd been shake
He knew alle the hauenes / as they weere
ffro Gootlond / to the cape of ffyny{s}teere
And euery cryke / in Britaigne / and in Spaigne
His barge / yclepyd was the Mawdelayne

Doct|our| of

¶With vs / ther was / a Doctour of Phi{s}yk/


In al this world / ne was ther noon hym lyk/
To speken of Phi{s}yk/ and of Surgerye
ffor he was grounded / in A{s}tronomye
He kepte his pacient/ a ful greet deel
In houres / by his magyk natureel
Wel koude he fortunen / the a{s}cendent/
Of hi{s}e ymages / for his pacient/
He knew the cau{s}e / of euery maladye
Weere it/ of hoot/ or coold / or moy{s}te / or drye
And where it engendred / and of what humour
He was a verray / |per|fit practi{s}our
The cau{s}e yknowe / and of his harm the roote
Anoon he yaf / the sike man his boote
¶fful redy hadde he / hi{s}e Apothecaryes
To senden hym / his drogges / and his letuaryes
ffor eech of hem / maade oother for to wynne
Hir frend{s}hipe / was noght newe to bigynne
Wel knew he / the oolde E{s}culapyus
And Di{s}corides / and eek/ Ru{s}us

{{Folio 7v}}

Olde ypocras / Haly / and Galyen
Serapion / Razis / and Avycen
Auerroys / Dama{s}cien / and Con{s}tantyn
Bernard / and Gate{s}den / and Gilbertyn
Of his diete / me[a]{s}urable was hee
ffor it was / of no su|per|fluytee
But of greet nori{ss}ynge / and dige{s}tible
His studye / was but litel on the Bible
In sangwyn and in Pers / he clad was al
Lyned with Taffata / and with Sendal
And yet he was / but e{s}y of di{s}pence
He kepte / |þt| he wan in pe{s}tilence
ffor gold in Phi{s}yk/. is a Cordial
Therfore / he loued gold in special

The goode Wyf

¶A good wyf was ther / of bi{s}yde Bathe

of bi{s}yde Bathe

But she was somdel deef/ and that was scathe
Of clooth makynge / she hadde swich an haunt/
She pa{ss}ed hem / of Ipres / and of Gaunt/
In al the pary{ss}he / wyf ne was ther noon
That to the offrynge / bifore hire sholde goon
And if ther dide / certeyn / {s}o wrooth was shee
That she was / out of alle charitee
Hir Co|uer|chiefes / ful fyne weere of grownd
I dor{s}te swere / they weyeden. ten pownd
That on a Sonday / weeren vp on hir heed
Hir ho{s}en weeren / of fyn scarlet reed
fful streyte yteyd / and shoes / ful moy{s}te |&| newe
Boold was hir face / and fair and reed of hewe
She was a worthy woman / al hir lyue
Hou{s}bondes at chirche dore / she hadde fyue
With outen oother compaignye / in yowthe
But ther of / nedeth noght/ to speke as nowthe
And thries / hadde she been at Ieru{s}alem
She hadde pa{ss}ed / many a straunge strem
At Rome she hadde been / and at Boloyne
In Galyce at Seint Iame / and at Coloyne
She koude muchel / of wandrynge by the weye
Gattothed was she / soothly for to seye
Vp on an Amblere / e{s}ily she sat/
Ywympled wel / and on hir heed an hat/

{{Folio 8r}}

As brood as is / a Bokeler / or a Targe
A foot mantel / aboute hir hypes large
And on hir feet/ a peyre of spores sharpe
In felawe{s}hipe / wel koude she laughe.[ ] and carpe
Of remedies of loue / she knew |per| chaunce
ffor she koude of that art/ the olde daunce

[Per{s}o]|un| of a town

¶A good man / was ther / of Religioun
And was a poure |per|{s}on / of a toun
But riche he was / of holy thoght and werk/
He was al{s}o / a lerned man a Clerk/
That Cri{s}tes go{s}pel / trewely wolde |pre|che
His pari{ss}hens / deuoutly wolde he teche
Benygne he was / and wonder diligent
And in aduer{s}itee / ful pacient/
And swich he was proeued / ofte sythes
fful looth weere hym / to cur{s}en for his tythes
But rather wolde he yeuen / out of doute
Vn to his poure pari{ss}hens aboute
Of his offrynge / and eek/ of his sub{s}taunce
He koude / in litel thyng/ haue suffi{s}aunce
Wyd was his pari{ss}he / and hou{s}es fer a {s}onder
But he ne lafte noght/ for reyn ne thonder
In sikne{ss}e / nor in me{s}chief/ to vi{s}ite
The ferre{s}te in his pari{ss}he / muche and lyte
Vp on his feet/ and in his hond a staf/
This noble en{s}ample / to his sheep he yaf/
That fir{s}t he wroghte / and afterward he taughte
Out of the go{s}pel / he tho wordes caughte
And this figure / he added eek ther to
That if gold ru{s}te / what sholde Iren do
ffor if a pree{s}t be foul / in whom we tru{s}te
No wonder is / a lewed man to ru{s}te
And shame it is / if a pree{s}t take keep
A shiten Shepherde / and a clene sheep
Wel oghte a pree{s}t/ en{s}ample for to yiue
By his clenne{ss}e / how |þt| his sheep sholde lyue
He sette noght/. his benefice to hyre
And leet his sheep / encombred in the Myre
And ran to Londo|un| / vn to Seint Poules
To seeken hym / a Chauntrye for soules

{{Folio 8v}}

Or with a breetherede / to been withhoolde
But dwelte at hoom / and kepte wel his foolde
So |þt| the wolf/ ne maade it noght/ my{s}carye
He was a sheepherde / and noght a Mercenarye
And thogh he hooly weere / and vertuous
He was noght/ to synful men de{s}pitous
Ne of his speche / daungerous / ne digne
But in his techyng/ di{s}creet/ and benygne
To drawen folk/ to heuene / |with| fairne{ss}e
By good en{s}ample / this was his bi{s}yne{ss}e
But it weere / any |per|{s}one ob{s}tynaat/
What so he weere / of heigh / or lowe e{s}taat/
Hym wolde he snybben / sharply for the nonys
A bettre pree{s}t/ I trowe ther nowher noon ys
He wayted / after no pomp / and reuerence
Ne maked hym / a spyced con{s}cience
But Cri{s}tes loore / and hi{s}e Apo{s}tles twelue
He taughte / but fir{s}t/ he folwed it hym selue


¶With hym ther was a Plowman / was his broother
That hadde ylad of donge / ful many a ffoother
A trewe swynkere / and a good was he
Lyuynge in pees / and |per|fit charitee
God loued he be{s}t/ with al his hoole herte
At alle tymes / thogh hym gamed / or smerte
And thanne his Neighebore / right as hym selue
He wolde thre{ss}he / and ther to / dyke and delue
ffor Cri{s}tes sake / for euery poure wight/
With outen hyre / if it laye in his myght/
His tythes payde he / ful faire and wel
Bothe of his |prop|re swynk/ and his catel
In a Tabard he rood / vp on a Mere
Ther was al{s}o / a Reue / and a Millere
A Somonour / and a Pardoner al{s}o
A Maunciple / and my self/ ther weere namo


¶The Millere / was a stout carl / for the nones
fful byg/ he was / of brawen / and eek of bones
That proeued wel / for ouer al ther he cam
At wra{s}tlynge / he wolde haue alwey the Ram
He was short shuldred / brood / a thikke knarre
Ther was no dore / that he noolde heue of harre

{{Folio 9r}}

Or breke it at a rennynge / with his heed
His beerd / as any sowe / or fox / was reed
And ther to brood / as thogh it weere a spaade
Vp on the cop right of his no{s}e he haade
A werte / and ther on stood / a tuft/ of heerys
Reede / as the bri{s}tles / of a Sowes eerys
Hi{s}e no{s}ethirles / blake weere and wyde
A swerd and a bokeler / baar he by his syde
His mouth as greet was / as a greet fourneys
He was a Ianglere / a Golyardeys
And that was moo{s}t/ of synne and harlotryes
Wel koude he stelen corn / and tollen thryes
And yet he hadde / a thombe of gold |per|dee
A whit coote / and a blew hood wered hee
A Baggepipe / wel koude he / blowe and sowne
And ther with al / he broghte vs out of towne


¶A gentil Maunciple / was ther / of a Temple
Of which / Achatours myghte take exemple
ffor to been wy{s}e / in byynge of vitaille
ffor wheither |þt| he payde / or took by taille
Algate / he wayted so / in his achaat/
That he was ay biforn / and in good staat/
¶Now is nat that of god / a ful greet grace
That swich a lewed mannes wit/ shal pace
The wy{s}dom / of a heep of lerned men
Of Mai{s}tres hadde he mo / than thryes ten
That weeren / of lawe / expert/ and curious
Of whiche / ther weere a dozeyne / in that hous
Worthy / to been Stywardes / of rente / and lond
Of any lord / that is in Engelond
To make hym lyue / by his |prop|re good
In honour dettelees / but if he weere wood
Or lyue as scar{s}ly / as hym ly{s}t de{s}ire
And able / for to helpen / al a Shire
In any caas / that myghte falle / or happe
And yet this Maunciple / sette hir aller cappe


¶The Reue / was a sclendre coleryk/ man
His beerd was shaue / as neigh as euer he kan
His heer was by his eerys / ful rownd y{s}horn
His top was dokked / lyk/ a pree{s}t byforn

{{Folio 9v}}

fful longe weere hi{s}e legges / and ful leene
Ylik a staf / . ther / was no calf y{s}eene
Wel koude he keepe / a Gerner and a Bynne
Ther was noon Auditour / koude on hym wynne
Wel wi{s}te he / by the droghte and by the reyn
The yeldynge / of his seed / and of his greyn
His lordes sheep / his neet / his dayerye
His swyn / his hors / his Stoor / and his pultrye
Was hoolly / in this Reues go|uer|nynge
And by his couenant/. yaf the rekenynge
Syn that his loord / was twenty yeer of age
Ther koude no man / brynge hym in arrerage
Ther nas Baillyf/. hierde / nor oother hyne
That he ne knew / his sleyghte / and his couyne
They weere adrad of hym / as of the deeth
His wonyng/ was ful faire vp on an heeth
With greene trees / shadwed was his place
He koude bettre / than his lord purchace
fful riche / he was a{s}toored pryuely
His lord / wel koude he ple{s}en subtilly
To yeue / and leene hym / of his owene good
And haue a thank/. and yet a coote and hood
In youthe / he lerned hadde / a good Mi{s}ter
He was a wel good wrighte / a Carpenter
This Reue sat/ vp on a wel good Stot/
That was a Pomely gray / and highte Scot/
A long Surcote of Pers / vp on he haade
And by his syde / he baar a ru{s}ty blaade
Of Northfolk was this Reue / of which I telle
Bi{s}yde a town / men clepyn Balde{s}welle
Tukked he was / as is a ffrere aboute
And euere he rood / the hyndre{s}te of oure route


¶A Somonour/ was ther was with vs / in that place
That hadde / a fyr reed Cherubynnes face
ffor Sawceflewm he was / with eyen{`,}narwe
And hoot he was / and lecherous as a Sparwe
With scaled browes blake / and pyled berd
Of his vi{s}age / children weere aferd
Ther nas quyk/ siluer / lytarge / ne Brym{s}toon
Borace / Ceruce / ne Oille of Tartre noon

{{Folio 10r}}

Ne oynement/. that wolde clen{s}e and byte
That hym myghte helpen / of his whelkes whyte
Nor of the knobbes / sittynge on his chekes
Wel loued he garlek/ oynons and eek lekes
And for to drynke strong wyn / reed as blood
Thanne wolde he speke / and crye as he were wood
A fewe |ter|mes hadde he / two / or thre
That he hadde lerned / out of som decree
No wonder is / he herde it al the day
And eek ye knowe wel / how |þt| a Iay
Kan clepen watte / as wel as kan the Pope
But who {s}o koude / in oother thyng hym grope
Thanne hadde he spent/ al his philo{s}ophie
Ay / Que{s}tio quid iuris / wolde he crye
¶He was a gentil harlot/ and a kynde
A bettre felawe / sholde men noght fynde
He wolde suffre / for a quart/ of wyn
A good felawe / to haue his concubyn
A twelf monthe / and excu{s}en hym at the fulle
fful pryuely / a fynch eek koude he pulle
And if he foond owher / a good felawe
He wolde techen hym / to haue noon awe
In swich caas / of the Ercedeknes curs
But if a mannes soule / were in his purs
ffor in his purs / he sholde ypuny{ss}hed be
Purs is the Ercedeknes helle / seyde he
¶But wel I woot / he lyed right in dede
Of cur{s}yng/ oghte ech gilty man drede
ffor curs wol sle / right as a{ss}oillyng/ sauyth
And al{s}o / war hym of a Significauit/
¶In daunger hadde he / at his owene gy{s}e
The yonge gerles / of the dioci{s}e
And knew hir con{s}eil / and was al hir reed
A gerland / hadde he set/ vp on his heed
As greet/. as it were / for an Ale stake
A bokeler / hadde he maad hym of a cake


¶With hym ther rood / a gentil Pardoner
Of Rouncyual / his freend / and his comper
That streight was comen / fro the Court of Rome
fful loude he {s}oong/ com hyder loue to me

{{Folio 10v}}

This Somon|our| baar to hym / a styf burdoun
Was ne|uer|e trompe / of half {s}o greet a soun
¶This |per|doner / hadde heer / as yelow as wex
But smothe it heeng/ as dooth a stryke of flex
By ounces / henge his lokkes |þt| he hadde
And ther with / he his shuldres ouer{s}pradde
But thynne it lay / by colpons oon and oon
But hood for Iolitee / wered he noon
ffor it was tru{ss}ed vp / in his walet/
Hym thoughte / he rood al of the newe Iet/
Di{s}cheuellee saue his cappe / he rood al bare
Swiche glarynge eyen / hadde he as an hare
A vernycle / hadde he sowed / vp on his cappe
His walet/ biforn hym / in his lappe
Bretful of pardo|un| / comen from Rome al hoot/
A voys he hadde / as smal / as hath a Goot/
No berd hadde he / ne neuere sholde haue
As smothe it was / as it were late y{s}haue
I trowe he were a geldyng/ or a Mare
But of his craft/. fro Berwyk in to Ware
Ne was ther / swich another Pardoner
ffor in his Male / he hadde a pilwe beer
Which |þt| he seyde / was oure lady veyl
He seyde he hadde / a gobet of the seyl
That Seint Peter hadde / whan |þt| he wente
Vp on the See / til |Iesu| Cri{s}t hym hente
He hadde a cros of lato|un| / ful of stones
And in a glas / he hadde pigges bones
But with thi{s}e relykes / whan |þt| he foond
A poure |per|{s}on / dwellyng vp on lond
Vp on a day / he gat hym moore moneye
Than |þt| the |per|{s}o|un| gat/ in Monthes tweye
And thus / with feyned flaterye and Iapes
He made the |per|{s}on / and the peple his apes
But trewely / to tellen at the la{s}te
He was in chirche / a noble Eccle{s}ia{s}te
Wel koude he / rede a le{ss}on / and a Storie
But alderbe{s}t/ he {s}oong an Offertorie
ffor wel he wi{s}te / whan |þt| soong was songe
He mo{s}te |pre|che / and wel affyle his tonge

{{Folio 11r}}

To wynne siluer / as he ful wel koude
Ther fore he soong/ the muryerly and loude
¶Now haue I toold yow / soothly in a clau{s}e
The{s}taat / tharray / the nombre / and eek the cau{s}e
Why |þt| a{ss}embled was this compaignye
In Southwerk/. at this gentil ho{s}telrye
That highte the tabard / fa{s}te by the belle
But now is tyme / to yow for to telle
How |þt| we baren vs / that ilke nyght/
Whan we weere / in that ho{s}telrye alyght/
And after wol I telle / of oure viage
And al the remenant/ of oure pilgrymage
¶But fir{s}t I pray yow / of youre curtei{s}ye
That ye narette it / noght my vileynye
Though |þt| I pleynly speke / in this matere
To telle yow / hir wordes / and hir cheere
Ne thogh I speke / hir wordes |prop|rely
ffor this ye knowen / al{s}o wel as I
Who so shal telle a tale / after a man
He moot reherce / as neigh as e|uer|e he kan
Euerich a word / if it be in his charge
Al speke he / neuer {s}o rudeliche and large
Or ellis / he moot telle his tale vntrewe
Or feyne thyng/ or fynde wordes newe
He may noght spare / al thogh he weere his brother
He moot as wel / seye o word / as another
Cri{s}t spak hym self/ ful brode in holy writ /
And wel ye woot/ no vileynye is it
Ek Plato seith / who so kan hym rede
The wordes / mote be co{s}yn / to the dede
¶Al{s}o I pray yow / to foryeue it me
Al haue I nat set folk / in hir degree
Here in this tale / as |þt| they sholde stonde
My wit is short/ ye may wel vnder{s}tonde
¶Greet cheere / made oure hoo{s}t vs euerichon
And to the souper / sette he vs anon
He serued vs / with vitaille / at the be{s}te
Strong was the wyn / and wel to drynke vs le{s}te
A semely man / oure hoo{s}t was with alle
ffor to been / a Marchal in an halle

{{Folio 11v}}

A large man he was / with eyen stepe
A fairer burgeys / was ther noon in Chepe
Boold of his speche / and wys / and wel ytaught/
And of manhode / hym lakked right naught/
Eke ther to / he was right a murye man
And after souper / pleyen he bigan
And spak of murthe / amonges othere thynges
Whan |þt| we hadde maad oure rekenynges
And seyde thus / now lordes trewely
Ye been to me / right wel come hertely
ffor by my trouthe / if |þt| I shal nat lye
I seigh noght this yeer / so murye a compaignye
Atones in this herberwe / as is now
ffayn wolde I doon yow myrthe / wi{s}te I how
And of a myrthe / I am right now bithoght/
To doon yow e{s}e / and it shal co{s}te noght/
¶Ye goon to Caun|ter|bury / god yow spede
The bli{s}ful Martir / quyte yow youre mede
And wel I woot / as ye goon by the weye
Ye shapen yow / to talen and to pleye
ffor trewely / confort / ne murthe is noon
To ryde by the weye / domb as stoon
And ther fore / wol I maken yow de{s}port/
As I seyde er{s}t/ and doon yow {s}om confort/
And if yow liketh alle / by oon a{ss}ent/
ffor to stonden / at my Iuggement/
And for to werken / as I shal yow seye
Tomorwe / whan ye ryden by the weye
Now by my fader soule / |þt| is deed
But ye be murye / I wol yeue yow myn heed
Hoold vp youre hondes / with outen moore speche
¶Oure con{s}eil / was nat longe for to seche
Vs thoughte / it was nat worth / to make it wys
And graunted hym / with outen moore avys
And bade hym seye / his voirdit/ as hym le{s}te
¶Lordynges quod he / now herkneth for the be{s}te
But taketh it noght/ I pray yow in de{s}deyn
This is the poynt/ to speken short and pleyn
That ech of yow / to shorte with oure weye
In this viage / shal tellen tales tweye

{{Folio 12r}}

To Caunterburyward / I mene it so
And homward / he shal tellen othere two
Of auentures / |þt| whilom haue bifalle
And which of yow / |þt| bereth hym be{s}t of alle
That is to seyn / that telleth in this cas
Tales of be{s}t sentence / and moo{s}t solas
Shal haue a Souper / at oure aller co{s}t /
Here in this place / sittynge by this po{s}t/
Whan that we come agayn / fro Caun|ter|bury
And for to make yow / the moore mury
I wol my self/ goodly wit yow ryde
Right at myn owene co{s}t/ and be you|re| gyde
And who so wole / my Iuggement with {s}eye
Shal paye / al that we spende by the weye
And if ye vouche sauf / |þt| it be so
Tel me anoon / with outen wordes mo
And I wol erly / shape me ther fore
¶This thyng was graunted / and oure othes swore
With ful glad herte / and preyden hym al{s}o
That he wolde vouche sauf / for to do so
And that he wolde been / oure go|uer|nour
And of oure tales / Iuge and reportour
And sette a Souper / at a certeyn prys
And we wol ruled been / at his deuys
In heigh and logh / and thus by oon a{ss}ent/
We been acorded / to his Iuggement/
And ther vp on / the wyn was fet anoon
We dronken / and to re{s}te wente echo|n_|
With outen / any lenger taryynge
¶A morwe / whan |þt| day bigan to sprynge
Vp roos oure hoo{s}t/ and was oure aller cok/
And gadred vs / togydres in a flok/
And forth we ryden /a litel moore than pas
Vn to the wateryng/ of Seint Thomas
And there oure hoo{s}t / bigan his hors are{s}te
And seyde / lordes / herkneth if yow le{s}te
¶Ye woot youre forward / and it yow recorde
If euen{s}ong / and morwe{s}ong/ acorde
Lat se now / who shal telle the fir{s}te tale
As euere mote I drynke wyn / or Ale

{{Folio 12v}}

Who {s}o be rebel / to my Iuggement/
Shal paye / for al / that by the wey is spent
Now draweth cut/ er |þt| we ferrer twynne
He which |þt| hath the shorte{s}te / shal bigynne
¶Sire knyght quod he / my may{s}ter and my lord
Now draweth cut/ for that is myn acord
Cometh neer quod he / my lady Priore{ss}e
And ye sire Clerc/. lat be youre shamefa{s}tne{ss}e
Ne studieth noght/ ley hond to / euery man
¶Anoon to drawen / euery wight bigan
And shortly / for to tellen / as it was
Were it by auenture / or sort/ or cas
The sothe is this / the Cut fil to the knyght/
Of which ful blithe and glad was euery wight/
And telle he mo{s}te his tale / as was re{s}oun
By forward / and by compo{s}icio|un|
As ye han herd / what nedeth wordes mo
And whan this goode man / saugh |þt| it was {s}o
As he / |þt| wys was / and obedient/
To kepe his forward / by his free a{ss}ent/
He seyde / syn I shal bigynne the game
What wel come be the Cut/ in goddes name
Now lat vs ryde / and herkneth what I seye
And with that word / we ryden forth oure weye
And he bigan / with right a murye cheere
His tale anoon / and seyde as ye may heere