Poems » gilbert white » the summoner s prologue and tale in the hengwrt manuscript of the canterbury tales


{{Folio 78v}}

¶The Prologe of the Somnours tale

This Somnour in his Stiropes / hye he {s}tood
Vp on this frere / his herte was {s}o wood
That lyk an A{s}pen lief / he quook for Ire
¶Lordynges quod he / but o thyng I de{s}ire
I yow bi{s}eke / that of youre curtei{s}ye
Syn ye had herd / this fal{s}e frere lye
As suffreth me / I may my tale telle
This frere bo{s}teth / that he knoweth helle
And god it woot/ that it is litel wonder
ffreres and feendes / been but lyte a {s}onder

{{Folio 79r}}

ffor pardee / ye han ofte tyme herd telle
How that a frere / rauy{ss}hed was to helle
In Spirit ones / by avi{s}ioun
And as an Aungel / ladde hym vp and down
To shewen hym / the peynes |þt| ther were
In al the place / say he nat a frere
Of oother folk / he say ynowe in wo
Vn to this Aungel / spak the frere tho
¶Now Sire quod he / han freres swich a |gra|ce
That noon of hem / shal come to this place
¶Yis quod this Aungel / many a Milioun
And vn to Sathanas / he ladde hym doun
And now hath Sathanas / seith he a tayl
Brodder / than of a Carryk is the sayl
Hold vp thy tayl / thow Sathanas quod he
Shewe forth thyn ers / and lat the frere se
Where is the ne{s}t of freres / in this place
And er |þt| / half a furlong wey of space
Right {s}o as bees / out swarmen from an hyue
Out of the deueles ers / ther gonne dryue
Twenty thou{s}and freres / on a route
And thurgh out helle / swarmeden aboute
And comen again / as fa{s}te as they may gon
And in his ers / they crepten euerychon
He clapte his tayl agayn / and lay ful stille
This frere / whan he looked hadde his fille
Vp on the tormentz / of this sory place
His spirit/ god re{s}tored of his grace
Vn to his body agayn / and he awook/
But nathelees / for fere yet he quook/
So was the deueles ers / ay in his mynde
That is his heritage / of verray kynde
God saue yow alle / saue this cur{s}ed frere
My prologe / wol I ende / in this manere

¶Here endeth the prologe of the Somn|our|s tale

{{Folio 79v}}

¶Here bygynneth the Somnours tale

Lordynges / ther is in York{s}hire / as I ge{ss}e
A Mer{ss}h contree / called holderne{ss}e
In which / ther wente a lymytour aboute
To |pre|che / and eek to begge / it is no doute
And so bifel / that on a day this frere
Hadde |pre|ched at a chirche / in his manere
And specially / abouen e|uer|y thyng/
Excyted he the peple / in his |pre|chyng/
To trentals / and to yeue for goddes sake
Wher with men myghte / holy hou{s}es make
Ther as dyuyne seruice / is honoured
Nat ther / as it is wa{s}ted and deuoured
Ne ther / it nedeth nat/ to be yeue
As to po{ss}e{ss}ioners / that mowen lyue
Thanked be god / in wele and habundaunce
Trentals seyde he / deli|uer|eth from penaunce
Hir freendes soules / as wel olde as yonge
Ye / whan that they / been ha{s}tily y{s}onge
Nat for to holde a pree{s}t/ Ioly and gay
He syngeth nat/ but o ma{ss}e in a day
Deliuereth out quod he / anon the soules
fful hard it is / |with| fle{ss}h hook / or |with| oules
To been y clawed / or to brenne / or bake
Now spede yow ha{s}tily / for cri{s}tes sake
And whan this frere / hadde seyd al his entente
With qui cum patre / forth his wey he wente
Whan folk in chirche / hadde yeue hym / what hem le{s}te
He wente his wey / no lenger wolde he re{s}te
With scryppe and typped staf / y tukked hye
In euery hous / he gan to poure and prye
And beggeth Mele / and che{s}e / or ellis corn
His felawe hadde a staf / typped with horn
A peyre of tables / al of yuory
And a poyntel / poly{ss}hed feti{s}ly
And wroot the names / alwey as he {s}tood
Of alle folk / that yaf hem any good

{{Folio 80r}}

A{s}caunces / that he wolde for hem preye
Yif vs a bu{ss}hel whete / Malt/ or Reye
A goddes kechyl / or a tryp of chee{s}e
Or ellis what yow ly{s}t/ we may nat che{s}e
A goddes half peny / or a ma{ss}e peny
Or yif vs of youre brawn / if ye haue eny
A dagon of youre Blanket/ leeue dame
Oure su{s}ter deere / lo heere I write your name
Baco|un| / or boef / or swich thyng as ye fynde
A sturdy / harlot/ wente ay hem bihynde
That was hir ho{s}tes man / and baar a sak/
And what men yaf hem / leyde it on his bak/
And whan |þt| he was out at dore anon
He planed awey / the names euerichon
That he biforn / hadde writen in his tables
He {s}erued hem / with nyfles and |with| fables
¶Nay ther thow lixt/ thow Somn|our| quod the frere
¶Pees quod oure hoo{s}t/ for cri{s}tes moder deere
Tel forth thy tale / and spare it nat at al
¶So thryue I quod this Somn|our| / so I shal
So longe he wente / hous by hous / til he
Cam til an hous / ther he was wont to be
Refre{ss}hed moore / than in an hundred placis
Syk lay the goode man / whos the place is
Bedrede vp on a couche  / lowe he lay
Deus hic/ quod he / o Thomas freend good day
Seyde this frere / curtei{s}ly and softe
Thomas quod he / god yelde yow ful ofte
Haue I vp on this bench / faren ful wel
Heere haue I eten / many a murye mel
And fro the bench / he droof awey the cat/
And leyde adoun / his potente and his hat/
And eek his scrippe / and sette hym {s}ofte adown
His felawe / was go walked in to town
fforth with his knaue / in to that ho{s}telrye
Wher as he shoop hym / thilke nyght to lye
¶O deere mai{s}ter / quod this syke man
How han ye fare / sith that March bigan
I say yow noght/ this fourtnyght/ or moore
¶God woot quod he / laboured I haue ful soore

{{Folio 80v}}

And specially / for thy sauacio|un|
Haue I seyd / many a |pre|cious ori{s}o|un|
And for oure othere freendes / god hem ble{ss}e
I haue to day / been at youre chirche (at me{ss}e)
And seyd a sermon / after my symple wit
Nat al / after the text/ of holy writ
ffor it is hard to yow / as I suppo{s}e
And ther fore / wol I teche yow al the glo{s}e
Glo{s}yng/ is a glorious thyng |cer|teyn
ffor lettre sleeth / so as we clerkes seyn
Ther haue I taught hem / to be charitable
And spende hir good / ther it is re{s}onable
And ther I say oure dame / a wher is she
¶Yond in the yerd / I trowe |þt| she be
Seyde this man / and she wol come anon
¶Ey mai{s}ter / wel come be ye / by Seint |Iohan|
Seyde this wyf / how fare ye hertely
¶The frere ari{s}eth vp / ful curtei{s}ly
And hir embraceth / in hi{s}e armes narwe
And ki{s}te hir swete / and chirteth as a Sparwe
With his lippes / dame quod he / right wel
As he / that is youre seruant/ euery del
Thanked be god / that yow yaf soule and lyf
Yet say I nat this day / so fair a wyf
In al the chirche / god so saue me
¶Ye god amende defautes / {s}ir quod she
Algates / wel come be ye / by my fey
¶Graunt |mer|cy dame / this haue I founde alwey
But/ of youre grete goodne{ss}e / by youre leue
I wolde pray yow / that ye nat yow greue
I wol with Thomas / speke a litel throwe
Thi{s}e Curatz / been ful necligent/ and slowe
To grope tendrely / a con{s}cience
In shrift/ in |pre|chyng/ is my diligence
And studie / in Petres wordes / and in Poules
I walke / and fi{ss}he / cri{s}ten mennes soules
To yelden |Iesu| cri{s}t/. his |prop|re rente
To sprede his word / is set al myn entente
¶Now by youre leeue / o deere {s}ire quod she
Chideth hym wel / for Seinte Trinitee

{{Folio 81r}}

He is as angry / as a Pi{ss}emyre
Thogh that he haue / al that he kan de{s}ire
Thogh I hym wrye a nyght/ and make hym warm
And on hym leye / my leg/ outher myn arm
He groneth lyk oure boor / lyth in oure Sty
Oother di{s}port/ right noon of hym haue I
I may nat ple{s}e hym / in no maner cas
¶O Thomas Ie vous dy / Thomas / Thomas
This maketh the feend / this mo{s}te been amended
Ire is a thyng/ that hye god defended
And ther of / wol I speke / a word / or two
¶Now mai{s}ter quod the wyf / er |þt| I go
What wol ye dyne / I wol go ther aboute
¶Now dame quod he / now Ie vous dy {s}anz doute
Haue I nat of a Capo|un| / but the lyuere
And of youre softe breed / nat but a Shyuere
And after that/ a ro{s}ted pigges heed
But |þt| I nolde / no bee{s}t for me were deed
Thanne hadde I with yow / homly suffi{s}aunce
I am a man / of litel su{s}tenaunce
My spirit/ hath his fo{s}tryng/ in the bible
The body is ay / so redy and penyble
To wake / that my stomak/ is de{s}troyed
I pray yow dame / ye be nat anoyed
Thogh I {s}o freendly / yow my con{s}eil shewe
By god / i wolde nat telle it/ but a fewe
¶Now sire quod she / but o word / er I go
My child is deed / with Inne thi{s}e wykes two
Soone after/ that ye wente / out of this town
¶His deeth say I / by reuelacioun
Seith this frere / at hom in oure dortour
I dar wel seyn / that er |þt| half an hour
After his deeth / I say hym born to bli{ss}e
In myn avi{s}io|un| / so god me wi{ss}e
So dide oure Sexteyn / and oure ffermerer
That han been trewe freres fifty yeer
They may now / god be thanked / of his lone
Maken hir Iubillee / and walke allone
And vp I roos / and al oure Couent eke
With many a teere / triklyng on my cheke

{{Folio 81v}}

With outen noy{s}e / or clateryng of belles
Te deum was oure song/ and no thyng elles
Saue that to cri{s}t / I seyde an ori{s}o|un|
Thankynge hym / of his reuelacio|un|
ffor sire and dame / tru{s}teth me right wel
Oure ori{s}ons / been wel moore effectuel
And moore we seen / of cri{s}tes secree thynges
Than burell folk/ al thogh |þt| they were kynges
We lyue in pouerte / and in ab{s}tinence
And burell folk/ in riche{ss}e and di{s}pence
Of mete and drynke / and in hir foul delit/
We han this worldes lu{s}t/ al in de{s}pit
Lazar and Diues / lyueden diuer{s}ly
And di|uer|{s}e gerdo|un| / hadde they ther by
Who {s}o wol praye / he moot fa{s}te and be clene
And fatte his soule / and make his body lene
We fare as seith thapo{s}tle / clooth and foode
Suffi{s}eth vs / thogh they be nat ful goode
Then clenne{ss}e / and the fa{s}tyng/ of vs freres
Maketh / that cri{s}t accepteth oure prayeres
¶Lo Moy{s}es / fourty dayes / and fourty nyght/
ffa{s}ted / er that the heighe god of myght/
Spak with hym / in the mountayne of Synay
With empty wombe / fa{s}tynge many a day
Receyued he the lawe / that was writen
With goddes fynger / and Elye wel ye witen
In Mount Oreb / er he hadde any speche
With hye god / that is oure lyues leche
He fa{s}ted longe / and was in contemplaunce
Aaron / that hadde the temple in gouernaunce
And eek/ that othere pree{s}tes euerichon
In to the temple / whan they sholde gon
To preye for the peple / and do seruy{s}e
They nolden drynken / in no maner wy{s}e
No drynke / which that myghte hem dronke make
But there in ab{s}tinence / preye and wake
Le{s}t that they deyden / tak hede what I seye
But they be sobre / that for the peple preye
War that I seye namoore / for it suffi{s}eth
Oure lord |Iesu| / as holy writ deuy{s}eth

{{Folio 82r}}

Yaf vs en{s}ample / of fa{s}tyng / and prayeres
Ther fore / we mendynantz / we sely freres
Been wedded / to pouerte and continence
To charitee / humble{ss}e and ab{s}tinence
To |per|{s}ecucio|un| / for rightwi{s}ne{ss}e
To wepyng/ mi{s}ericorde and clenne{ss}e
And ther fore may ye se / that oure prayeres
I speke of vs / we mendinantz / we freres
Be to the hye god / moore acceptable
Than youres / with youre fe{s}tes at the table
ffro Paradys fir{s}t/ if I shal nat lye
Was man out chaced / for his glotonye
And chaa{s}t was man / in Paradys certeyn
¶But herkne Thomas / what I shal seyn
I ne haue no text/ of it/ as I suppo{s}e
But I shal fynde it/ in a maner glo{s}e
That specially / oure swete lord |Iesus|
Spak this by freres / whan he seyde thus
Ble{ss}ed be they / that poure in spirit been
And so forth / al the go{s}pel / may ye seen
Wher it be likker / oure profe{ss}io|un|
Or hire / that swymmen in po{ss}e{ss}io|un|
ffy on hir pompe / and hir glotonye
And for hir lewedne{ss}e / I hem diffye
Me thynketh / they been lyk Iouynyan
ffat as a whale / and walkyng as a swan
Al vynolent/ as Botel in the Spence
Hir preyere is / of ful greet re|uer|ence
Whan they for soules / seye the p{s}alm of Dauit/
Lo buf they seye / cor meum eructauit/
Who folweth cri{s}tes go{s}pel / and his foore
But we that |hum|ble been / and chaa{s}t / and poore
Werkers of goddes word / nat Auditours
Ther fore / right as an hauk / vp at a sours
Vp spryngeth in to theyr / right {s}o prayeres
Of charitable / and cha{s}te bi{s}y freres
Maken hir sours / to goddes erys two
Thomas / Thomas / {s}o mote I ryde or go
And by that lord / that clepid is Seint yue
Nere thow oure brother / sholde{s}tow nat thryue

{{Folio 82v}}

[In o]ure chapitre / praye we day and nyght/
To cri{s}t/ that he thee sende / heele and myght/
Thy body / for to welden ha{s}tily
¶God woot quod he / no thyng ther of feele I
As help me cri{s}t/ as I in fewe yeres
Haue spended / vp on di|uer|{s}e manere freres
fful many a pound / yet fare I ne|uer|e the bet
Certeyn / my good haue I almoo{s}t bi{s}et/
ffarwel my gold / for it is al ago
¶The frere an{s}werde / o Thomas doo{s}tow so
What nedeth yow / di|uer|{s}e freres seche
What nedeth hym / that hath a |per|fit leche
To sechen / othere leches in the town
Youre incon{s}tance / is youre confu{s}ioun
Holde ye thanne me / or ellis oure Couent/
To preye for yow / been in{s}ufficient/
Thomas / that Iape / nys nat worth a myte
Youre maladye / is for we han to lyte
A yif that Couent / half a quarter otes
A yif that Couent/ {.}xxiiij{.} grotes
A yif that frere a peny / and lat hym go
Nay nay Thomas / it may no thyng be {s}o
What is a ferthyng worth / parted in twelue
Lo / ech thyng / that is oned in hym selue
Is moore {s}trong/ than whan it is to {s}catered
Thomas / of me / thow shalt nat been yflatered
Thow wolde{s}t han oure labour / al for noght/
The hye god / that al this world hath wroght/
Seith / that the werkman / worthy is his hire
Thomas / noght of youre tre{s}or I de{s}ire
As for my self / but that al oure Couent
To praye for yow / is ay {s}o diligent/
And for to buylden / cri{s}tes owene chirche
Thomas / if ye wol lernen for to wirche
Of buyldyng vp of chirches / may ye fynde
If it be good / in Thomas lyf of Inde
Ye lye heere / ful of Anger and of Ire
¶This Cartere / taketh his hors {^}{{vp}} on the croupe
With which / the deuel {s}et youre herte afire
And chiden heere / the sely Innocent /
Youre wyf / that is {s}o meke and pacient/

{{Folio 83r}}

And ther fore Thomas / trowe me if thee le{s}te
Ne stryue nat with thy wyf/ as for thy be{s}te
And bere this word awey / now by thy feith
Touchynge swich thyng/ lo what the wi{s}e man seith
¶With Inne thyn hous / ne be thow no leo|un|
To thy subgitz / do noon o|pp'|{ss}io|un|
Ne make thyne aqueyntances / nat for to flee
And Thomas / yet eft {s}oones I charge thee
Be war from hire / that in thy bo{s}om slepeth
War fro the serpent/ that {s}o sleighly crepeth
Vnder the gras / and styngeth subtilly
Be war my sone / and herkne paciently
That twenty thou{s}and men / han lo{s}t hir lyues
ffor stryuyng/ with hir lemmans and hir wyues
Now sith ye han / {s}o holy meke a wyf
What nedeth yow Thomas / to maken stryf/
Ther nys ywis / no serpent {s}o cruel
Whan man tret on his tayl / ne half {s}o fel
As womman is / whan she hath caught an Ire
Vengeance is thanne / al that they de{s}ire
Ire is a synne / oon of the grete of seuene
Abhomynable / vn to the god of heuene
And to hym self / it is de{s}truccio|un|
This euery lewed viker / or |per|{s}o|un|
Kan seye / how Ire engendreth homicide
Ire is in sooth / executour of pryde
I koude of Ire / seye {s}o muche sorwe
My tale / sholde la{s}te til to morwe
And ther fore praye I god / bothe day and nyght
An Irous man / god {s}ende hym litel myght/
It is greet harm / and |cer|tes greet pitee
To sette an Irous man in heigh degree
Whilom / ther was an Irous pote{s}tat/
As seith Senek/ that durynge his e{s}tat/
Vp on a day / our ryden knyghtes two
And as ffortune wolde / that it wer {s}o
That oon of hem cam hom / that oother noght/
Anon the knyght/ bifore the Iuge is broght/
That seyde thus / thow ha{s}t thy felawe slayn
ffor which / I deme thee to the deeth certayn

{{Folio 83v}}

[An]d to another knyght/ comanded he
Go leed hym to the deeth / I charge thee
And happed / as they wente by the weye
Toward the place / ther he sholde deye
The knyght cam / which men wenden had be deed
Thanne thoghten they / it were the be{s}te reed
To lede hem bothe / to the Iuge agayn
They seyden / lord / the knyght ne hath nat slayn
His felawe / heere he stant hool alyue
¶Ye shul be deed quod he / so moot I thryue
This is to seyn / bothe oon and two and thre
And to the fir{s}te knyght/ right thus spak / he
¶I dampned thee / thou mo{s}t algate be deed
And thow al{s}o / mo{s}t nedes le{s}e thyn heed
ffor thow art cau{s}e / why thy felawe deyth
And to the thridde knyght/ right thus he seith
Thow ha{s}t nat doon /that I comanded thee
And thus he dide / do sleen hem alle thre
¶Irous Camby{s}es / was eek dronkelewe
And ay delited hym / to been a shrewe
And {s}o bifel / a lord of his meynee
That louede / vertuous moralitee
Seyde on a day / bitwix hem two right thus
¶A lord is lo{s}t/ if/ he be vicius
And dronkene{ss}e / is eek a foul record
Of any man / and namely in a lord
Ther is ful many an eighe / and many an ere
Awaityng on a lord / he noot nat where
ffor goddes loue / drynk moore attemprely
Wyn maketh man / to le{s}en wrecchedly
His mynde / and eek his lymes e|uer|ychon
¶The reuers shaltow se / quod he anon
And preue it/ by thyn owene experience
That wyn ne dooth to folk/ no swich offence
Ther is no wyn / bireueth me my myght/
Of hond ne foot/ ne of myne eyen sight/
And for de{s}pit/ he drank ful muchel moore
An hundred part/ than he hadde doon bifore
And right anon / this Irous cur{s}ed wrecche


Leet this knyghtes sone .a./ bifore hym fecche

{{Folio 84r}}

Comandynge hym / he sholde bifore hym {s}tonde
And sodeynly / he took his bowe in honde
And vp the {s}treng/ he pulled to his ere
And with an arwe / he slow the child right there
Now / wheither haue I / a siker hand or noon
Quod he / is al my myght and mynde agoon
Hath wyn byreued me / myn eye sight
¶What sholde I telle / than{s}were of the knyght/
His {s}one was slayn / ther is namoore to seye
Beth war ther fore / with lordes how ye pleye
Syngeth Placebo / and I shal if I kan
But if it/ be / vn to a poure man
To a poure man / men sholde his vices telle
But nat to a lord / thogh he sholde go to helle
¶Lo Irous Syrus / thilke Percien
How he de{s}troyed / the ryuer of Gy{s}en
ffor that an hors of his / was dreynt ther Inne
Whan that he wente / Babiloyne to wynne
He made / that the Ryuer was {s}o smal
That wommen / myghte wade it o|uer| al
Lo what seyde he / that {s}o wel teche kan
Ne be no felawe / to an Irous man
Ne with no wood man / walke by the weye
Le{s}t thee repente / I wol no ferther seye
¶Now Thomas leeue brother / lef thyn Ire
Thow shalt me fynde / as Iu{s}t/ as is a Squyre
Hoold nat the deueles knyf / ay at thyn herte
Thyn angre dooth thee / al to {s}oore smerte
But shewe to me / al thy confe{ss}io|un|
¶Nay quod the sike man /by Seint Symo|un|
I haue be shryuen this day / at my Curat/
I haue hym toold / hoolly al myn e{s}tat/
Nedeth namoore to speke of it seith he
But if my li{s}t/ of myn humylitee
¶Yif me thanne of thy gold / to make oure cloy{s}tre
Quod he / for many a Mu{s}cle / and many an Oy{s}tre
Whan othere men / han been ful wel atey{s}e
Hath been oure foode / oure Cloy{s}tre for to rey{s}e
And yet god woot/ vnnethe the fundement /
Parfourned is / ne of oure pauement/

{{Folio 84v}}

[N]ys nat a tyle / yet/ with Inne oure wones
By god / we owen fourty pound for stones
Now help Thomas / for hym |þt| harwed helle
Or ellis mote we / oure bookes selle
And if yow lakke / oure predicacio|un|
Thanne gooth the world / al to de{s}truccio|un|
ffor who so / fro this world / wolde vs bireue
So god me saue / Thomas by youre leue
He wolde bireue / out of the world the sonne
ffor who kan teche / and werchen as we konne
And that is nat/ of litel tyme quod he
But sith Elie was / or Elize
Han freres been / that fynde I of record
In charitee / thonked be oure lord
Now Thomas / help for Seinte charitee
And down anon / he {s}et hym on his knee
¶This sike man / weex wel neigh wood for Ire
He wolde / that the frere / hadde been afire
With his fal{s}e di{ss}imulacio|un|
Swich thyng / as is in my po{ss}e{ss}i|oun|
Quod he/{?.} that may I yeue and noon oother
Ye sey me thus / how that I am youre brother
¶Ye certes quod the frere / tru{s}teth wel
I took oure dame / oure lettre with oure sel
¶Now wel quod he / and {s}om what/ shal I yeue
Vn to youre holy Couent/ whil I lyue
And in thyn hand / thow shalt it han anon
On this condicio|un| / and oother noon
That thow departe it {s}o / my deere brother
That euery frere / haue as muche as oother
This shaltow swere / on thy |pro|fe{ss}io|un|
With outen fraude / or cauelacio|un|
¶I swere it quod this frere / vp on my feith
And ther with al / his hand in his he leith
Lo here my feith / in me / shal be no lak
¶Now thanne put thyn hand / down by my bak/
Seyde this man / and grope wel bihynde
Bynethe by buttok/ there shaltow fynde
A thyng/ that I haue hyd in pryuetee
¶A thoghte this frere / that shal go with me

{{Folio 85r}}

And down his hand / he launcheth to the clifte
In hope / for to fynde there a yifte
And whan this sike man / felte this frere
Aboute his tuwel / grope there and heere
Amydde his hand / he leet the frere a fart/
Ther is no capul / drawyng in a Cart/
That myghte han late a fart/ of swich a sown
¶The frere vp stirte / as dooth a wood leoun
A fal{s}e cherl quod he / for goddes bones
This ha{s}tow for de{s}pit/ doon for the nones
Thow shalt abye this fart/ if |þt| I may
His meynee / which that herden this affray
Cam lepyng In / and chaced out the frere
And forth he gooth / with a ful angry cheere
And fette his felawe / ther as lay his stoor
He looked / as he were a wilde boor
He grynt with his teeth / so was he wrooth
A sturdy paas / doun to the court he gooth
Wher as ther woned / a man of greet honour
To whom / that he was alwey confe{ss}our
This worthy man / was lord of that village
This frere cam / as he were in a rage
Where as this lord / {s}at etyng/ at his boord
Vnnethe / myghte the frere speke a woord
Til atte la{s}te / he seyde / god yow see
¶This lord gan looke / and seyde benedicitee
What frere |Iohan| / what manere world is this
I se wel / that {s}om thyng/ ther is amys
Ye looken / as the wode were ful of theuys
Sit doun anon / and tel me what youre grief is
And it shal been amended / if I may
¶I haue quod he / had a de{s}pit to day
God yelde yow / adown in youre village
That in this world / ther nys {s}o poure a page
That he nolde haue / abhomynacioun
Of that/ I haue receyued in youre toun
And yet/ ne greueth me / no thyng {s}o {s}oore
As that this olde cherl / with lokkes hoore
Bla{s}phemed hath / oure hooly Couent eke
¶Now mai{s}ter quod this lord / I yow bi{s}eke

{{Folio 85v}}

¶No mai{s}ter sire quod he / but seruytour
Thogh I haue had in scole / that honour
God liketh nat/ that Raby men vs calle
Neither in Market/ nyn youre large halle
¶No force quod he / but tel me al youre grief
¶Sire quod this frere / an odious me{s}chief
This day bityd is / to myn ordre and me
And so |per| con{s}equens / to ech degree
Of holy chirche / god amende it {s}oone
¶Sire quod the lord / ye woot what is to doone
Di{s}tempre yow noght/ ye be my confe{ss}our
Ye been the salt of therthe / and the sauour
ffor goddes loue / youre pacience ye holde
Tel me youre grief / and he anon hym tolde
As ye han herd biforn / ye woot wel what
The lady of the hous / ay stille sat/
Til she hadde herd / what the frere sayde
¶Ey goddes moder quod she / bli{s}ful mayde
Is ther aught ellis / tel me feithfully
¶Madame quod he / how thynketh yow ther by
¶How |þt| me thynketh quod she / so god me spede
I seye / a cherl / hath doon a cherles dede
What sholde I seye / god lat hym ne|uer|e thee
His sike heed / is ful of vanytee
I holde hym / in a manere frene{s}ye
¶Madame quod he / by god I shal nat lye
But I / on oother wi{s}e / may be wreke
I shal diffame hym / ouer al wher I speke
The fal{s}e bla{s}phemour / that charged me
To parte / that wol nat departed be
To euery man yliche / with me{s}chaunce
¶The lord sat stille / as he were in a traunce
And in his herte / he rolled vp and down
How hadde this cherl / ymaginacioun
To shewe swich a probleme / to the frere
Ne|uer|e er{s}t er now / herde I swich matere
I trowe the deuel / putte it in his mynde
In Ar{s}metrik/ shal ther no man fynde
Bifore this day / of swich a que{s}ti|oun|
Who sholde / make a demon{s}tracio|un|

{{Folio 86r}}

That euery man sholde han / ylike his part /
As of a {s}oun / or {s}auour / of a fart/
O nyce prowde cherl / I shrewe his face
¶Lo sires quod the lord / with harde grace
Who euere herde / of swich a thyng/ er now
To euery man ylike / tel me how
It is an inpo{ss}ible / it may nat be
Ey nyce cherl / god lat hym ne|uer|e thee
The rumblyng of a fart/ and euery {s}oun
Nys but of Eyr / reuerberacioun
And ther it wa{s}teth / lite and lite awey
Ther nys no man / kan deme by my fey
If that it were / departed equally
What lo my cherl / lo yet how shrewedly
Vn to my confe{ss}our / to day he spak /
I holde hym certeynly / demonyak/
Now ete youre mete / and lat the cherl go pleye
Lat hym go hange hym self/ a deuel weye
¶Now stood / the lordes Squyer at the boord
That carf his mete / and herde word by woord
Of alle thyng/ of which I haue yow sayd
¶My lord quod he / be ye nat yuele apayd
I koude telle / for a gowne clooth
To yow sire frere / so ye be nat wrooth
How that this fart/ sholde euene ydeled be
Among youre Couent/ if it liked me
¶Tel quod the lord / and thow shalt haue anon
A gowne clooth / by god and by Seint |Iohan|
¶My lord quod he / whan that the weder is fair
With outen wynd / or |per|turbynge of Air
Lat brynge a Cartwheel / heere in to this halle
But looke that it haue / his spokes alle
Twelf spokes / hath a Cartwheel comunly
And brynge me thanne twelf freres / woot ye why
ffor thrittene / is a Couent/ as I ge{ss}e
Youre confe{ss}our heere / for his worthyne{ss}e
Shal |per|fourne vp / the nombre of this Couent/
Thanne shal they knele adown / by oon a{ss}ent/
And to euery spokes ende / in this manere
fful {s}adly / leye his no{s}e / shal a frere

{{Folio 86v}}

[Y]oure noble Confe{ss}our / ther god hym saue
Shal holde his no{s}e / vp right vnder the Naue
Thanne shal this cherl / with baly / stif and toght/
As any tabour / hider been ybroght/
And sette hym on the wheel / right of this Cart/
Vp on the Naue / and make hym lete a fart/
And ye shal {s}een / on |per|il of my lyf
By proue / which that is demon{s}tratyf
That equally / the {s}oun of it wol wende
And eek the stynk / vn to the spokes ende
Saue / that this worthy man / youre Confe{ss}our
By cau{s}e / he is a man of greet honour
Shal han the fir{s}te fruyt/ as re{s}on is
The noble v{s}age of freres / yet is this
The worthy men of hem / shul fir{s}t be {s}erued
And certeynly / he hath it wel di{ss}erued
He hath to day / taught/ vs {s}o muchel good
With |pre|chyng/ in the pulput/ ther he {s}tood
That I may vouche sauf / I seye for me
He hadde the fir{s}te smel / of fartes thre
And so wolde / al his Couent hardily
He bereth hym / {s}o faire and holily
¶The lord / the lady / ech man / {s}aue the frere
Seyden / that Iankyn / spak in this matere
As wel / as Euclyde / or Protholomee
Touchynge the cherl / they seyde subtiltee
And hy wit/ made hym speke / as he spak
He nys no fool / ne no demonyak/
And Iankyn hath ywonne / a newe gowne
My tale is doon / we been almoo{s}t at towne

¶Here endeth the Somnours tale