1.1 General Prologue

The Middle English text is from Larry D. Benson., Gen. ed., The Riverside Chaucer,
Houghton-Mifflin Company; used with permission of the publisher.

1         Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
                  When April with its sweet-smelling showers
2         The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
                 Has pierced the drought of March to the root,
3         And bathed every veyne in swich licour
                 And bathed every vein (of the plants) in such liquid
4         Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
                 By which power the flower is created;
5         Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
                 When the West Wind also with its sweet breath,
6         Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
                 In every wood and field has breathed life into
7         The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
                 The tender new leaves, and the young sun
8         Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,
                 Has run half its course in Aries,
9         And smale foweles maken melodye,
                 And small fowls make melody,
10         That slepen al the nyght with open ye
                 Those that sleep all the night with open eyes
11         (So priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
                 (So Nature incites them in their hearts),
12         Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
                 Then folk long to go on pilgrimages,
13         And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
                 And professional pilgrims to seek foreign shores,
14         To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
                 To distant shrines, known in various lands;
15         And specially from every shires ende
                 And specially from every shire's end
16         Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
                 Of England to Canterbury they travel,
17         The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
                 To seek the holy blessed martyr,
18         That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
                 Who helped them when they were sick.

19         Bifil that in that seson on a day,
                 It happened that in that season on one day,
20         In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay
                 In Southwark at the Tabard Inn as I lay
21         Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage
                 Ready to go on my pilgrimage
22         To Caunterbury with ful devout corage,
                 To Canterbury with a very devout spirit,
23         At nyght was come into that hostelrye
                 At night had come into that hostelry
24         Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye
                 Well nine and twenty in a company
25         Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
                 Of various sorts of people, by chance fallen
26         In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,
                 In fellowship, and they were all pilgrims,
27         That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde.
                 Who intended to ride toward Canterbury.
28         The chambres and the stables weren wyde,
                 The bedrooms and the stables were spacious,
29         And wel we weren esed atte beste.
                 And we were well accommodated in the best way.
30         And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,
                 And in brief, when the sun was (gone) to rest,
31         So hadde I spoken with hem everichon
                 I had so spoken with everyone of them
32         That I was of hir felaweshipe anon,
                 That I was of their fellowship straightway,
33         And made forward erly for to ryse,
                 And made agreement to rise early,
34         To take oure wey ther as I yow devyse.
                 To take our way where I (will) tell you.

35         But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space,
                 But nonetheless, while I have time and opportunity,
36         Er that I ferther in this tale pace,
                 Before I proceed further in this tale,
37         Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun
                 It seems to me in accord with reason
38         To telle yow al the condicioun
                 To tell you all the circumstances
39         Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,
                 Of each of them, as it seemed to me,
40         And whiche they weren, and of what degree,
                 And who they were, and of what social rank,
41         And eek in what array that they were inne;
                 And also what clothing that they were in;
42         And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne.
                 And at a knight then will I first begin.

43         A KNYGHT ther was, and that a worthy man,
                 A KNIGHT there was, and that (one was) a worthy man,
44         That fro the tyme that he first bigan
                 Who from the time that he first began
45         To riden out, he loved chivalrie,
                 To ride out, he loved chivalry,
46         Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie.
                 Fidelity and good reputation, generosity and courtesy.
47         Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,
                 He was very worthy in his lord's war,
48         And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre,
                 And for that he had ridden, no man farther,
49         As wel in cristendom as in hethenesse,
                 As well in Christendom as in heathen lands,
50         And evere honoured for his worthynesse;
                 And (was) ever honored for his worthiness;
51         At Alisaundre he was whan it was wonne.
                 He was at Alexandria when it was won.
52         Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bigonne
                 He had sat very many times in the place of honor,
53         Aboven alle nacions in Pruce;
                 Above (knights of) all nations in Prussia;
54         In Lettow hadde he reysed and in Ruce,
                 He had campaigned in Lithuania and in Russia,
55         No Cristen man so ofte of his degree.
                 No Christian man of his rank so often.
56         In Gernade at the seege eek hadde he be
                 Also he had been in Grenada at the siege
57         Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye.
                 Of Algeciras, and had ridden in Morocco.
58         At Lyeys was he and at Satalye,
                 He was at Ayash and at Atalia,
59         Whan they were wonne, and in the Grete See
                 When they were won, and in the Mediterranean
60         At many a noble armee hadde he be.
                 He had been at many a noble expedition.
61         At mortal batailles hadde he been fiftene,
                 He had been at fifteen mortal battles,
62         And foughten for oure feith at Tramyssene
                 And fought for our faith at Tlemcen
63         In lystes thries, and ay slayn his foo.
                 Three times in formal duels, and each time slain his foe.
64         This ilke worthy knyght hadde been also
                 This same worthy knight had also been
65         Somtyme with the lord of Palatye
                 At one time with the lord of Balat
66         Agayn another hethen in Turkye;
                 Against another heathen in Turkey;
67         And everemoore he hadde a sovereyn prys.
                 And evermore he had an outstanding reputation
68         And though that he were worthy, he was wys,
                 And although he was brave, he was prudent,
69         And of his port as meeke as is a mayde.
                 And of his deportment as meek as is a maid.
70         He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde
                 He never yet said any rude word
71         In al his lyf unto no maner wight.
                 In all his life unto any sort of person.
72         He was a verray, parfit gentil knyght.
                 He was a truly perfect, noble knight.
73         But for to tellen yow of his array,
                 But to tell you of his clothing,
74         His hors were goode, but he was nat gay.
                 His horses were good, but he was not gaily dressed.
75         Of fustian he wered a gypon
                 He wore a tunic of coarse cloth
76         Al bismotered with his habergeon,
                 All stained (with rust) by his coat of mail,
77         For he was late ycome from his viage,
                 For he was recently come (back) from his expedition,
78         And wente for to doon his pilgrymage.
                 And went to do his pilgrimage.

79         With hym ther was his sone, a yong SQUIER,
                 With him there was his son, a young SQUIRE,
80         A lovyere and a lusty bacheler,
                 A lover and a lively bachelor,
81         With lokkes crulle as they were leyd in presse.
                 With locks curled as if they had been laid in a curler.
82         Of twenty yeer of age he was, I gesse.
                 He was twenty years of age, I guess.
83         Of his stature he was of evene lengthe,
                 Of his stature he was of moderate height,
84         And wonderly delyvere, and of greet strengthe.
                 And wonderfully agile, and of great strength.
85         And he hadde been somtyme in chyvachie
                 And he had been for a time on a cavalry expedition
86         In Flaundres, in Artoys, and Pycardie,
                 In Flanders, in Artois, and Picardy,
87         And born hym weel, as of so litel space,
                 And conducted himself well, for so little a space of time,
88         In hope to stonden in his lady grace.
                 In hope to stand in his lady's good graces.
89         Embrouded was he, as it were a meede
                 He was embroidered, as if it were a mead
90         Al ful of fresshe floures, whyte and reede.
                 All full of fresh flowers, white and red.
91         Syngynge he was, or floytynge, al the day;
                 Singing he was, or fluting, all the day;
92         He was as fressh as is the month of May.
                 He was as fresh as is the month of May.
93         Short was his gowne, with sleves longe and wyde.
                 His gown was short, with long and wide sleeves.
94         Wel koude he sitte on hors and faire ryde.
                 He well knew how to sit on horse and handsomely ride.
95         He koude songes make and wel endite,
                 He knew how to make songs and well compose (the words),
96         Juste and eek daunce, and weel purtreye and write.
                 Joust and also dance, and well draw and write.
97         So hoote he lovede that by nyghtertale
                 He loved so passionately that at nighttime
98         He sleep namoore than dooth a nyghtyngale.
                 He slept no more than does a nightingale.
99         Curteis he was, lowely, and servysable,
                 Courteous he was, humble, and willing to serve,
100         And carf biforn his fader at the table.
                 And carved before his father at the table.

101         A YEMAN hadde he and servantz namo
                 He (the Knight) had A YEOMAN and no more servants
102         At that tyme, for hym liste ride so,
                 At that time, for it pleased him so to travel,
103         And he was clad in cote and hood of grene.
                 And he (the yeoman) was clad in coat and hood of green.
104         A sheef of pecok arwes, bright and kene,
                 A sheaf of peacock arrows, bright and keen,
105         Under his belt he bar ful thriftily
                 He carried under his belt very properly
106         (Wel koude he dresse his takel yemanly;
                 (He well knew how to care for his equipment as a yeoman should;
107         His arwes drouped noght with fetheres lowe),
                 His arrows did not fall short because of drooping feathers),
108         And in his hand he baar a myghty bowe.
                 And in his hand he carried a mighty bow.
109         A not heed hadde he, with a broun visage.
                 He had a close-cropped head, with a brown face.
110         Of wodecraft wel koude he al the usage.
                 He well knew all the practice of woodcraft.
111         Upon his arm he baar a gay bracer,
                 He wore an elegant archer's wrist-guard upon his arm,
112         And by his syde a swerd and a bokeler,
                 And by his side a sword and a small shield,
113         And on that oother syde a gay daggere
                 And on that other side an elegant dagger
114         Harneised wel and sharp as point of spere;
                 Well ornamented and sharp as the point of a spear;
115         A Cristopher on his brest of silver sheene.
                 A Christopher-medal of bright silver on his breast.
116         An horn he bar, the bawdryk was of grene;
                 He carried a horn, the shoulder strap was green;
117         A forster was he, soothly, as I gesse.
                 He was a forester, truly, as I guess.

118         Ther was also a Nonne, a PRIORESSE,
                 There was also a Nun, a PRIORESS,
119         That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy;
                 Who was very simple and modest in her smiling;
120         Hire gretteste ooth was but by Seinte Loy;
                 Her greatest oath was but by Saint Loy;
121         And she was cleped madame Eglentyne.
                 And she was called Madam Eglantine.
122         Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne,
                 She sang the divine service very well,
123         Entuned in hir nose ful semely;
                 Intoned in her nose in a very polite manner;
124         And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,
                 And she spoke French very well and elegantly,
125         After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe,
                 In the manner of Stratford at the Bow,
126         For Frenssh of Parys was to hire unknowe.
                 For French of Paris was to her unknown.
127         At mete wel ytaught was she with alle;
                 At meals she was well taught indeed;
128         She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle,
                 She let no morsel fall from her lips,
129         Ne wette hir fyngres in hir sauce depe;
                 Nor wet her fingers deep in her sauce;
130         Wel koude she carie a morsel and wel kepe
                 She well knew how to carry a morsel (to her mouth) and take good care
131         That no drope ne fille upon hire brest.
                 That no drop fell upon her breast.
132         In curteisie was set ful muchel hir lest.
                 Her greatest pleasure was in good manners.
133         Hir over-lippe wyped she so clene
                 She wiped her upper lip so clean
134         That in hir coppe ther was no ferthyng sene
                 That in her cup there was seen no tiny bit
135         Of grece, whan she dronken hadde hir draughte.
                 Of grease, when she had drunk her drink.
136         Ful semely after hir mete she raughte.
                 She reached for her food in a very seemly manner.
137         And sikerly she was of greet desport,
                 And surely she was of excellent deportment,
138         And ful plesaunt, and amyable of port,
                 And very pleasant, and amiable in demeanor,
139         And peyned hire to countrefete cheere
                 And she took pains to imitate the manners
140         Of court, and to been estatlich of manere,
                 Of court, and to be dignified in behavior,
141         And to ben holden digne of reverence.
                 And to be considered worthy of reverence.
142         But for to speken of hire conscience,
                 But to speak of her moral sense,
143         She was so charitable and so pitous
                 She was so charitable and so compassionate
144         She wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous
                 She would weep, if she saw a mouse
145         Kaught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde.
                 Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bled.
146         Of smale houndes hadde she that she fedde
                 She had some small hounds that she fed
147         With rosted flessh, or milk and wastel-breed.
                 With roasted meat, or milk and fine white bread.
148         But soore wepte she if oon of hem were deed,
                 But sorely she wept if one of them were dead,
149         Or if men smoot it with a yerde smerte;
                 Or if someone smote it smartly with a stick;
150         And al was conscience and tendre herte.
                 And all was feeling and tender heart.
151         Ful semyly hir wympul pynched was,
                 Her wimple was pleated in a very seemly manner,
152         Hir nose tretys, hir eyen greye as glas,
                 Her nose well formed, her eyes gray as glass,
153         Hir mouth ful smal, and therto softe and reed.
                 Her mouth very small, and moreover soft and red.
154         But sikerly she hadde a fair forheed;
                 But surely she had a fair forehead;
155         It was almoost a spanne brood, I trowe;
                 It was almost nine inches broad, I believe;
156         For, hardily, she was nat undergrowe.
                 For, certainly, she was not undergrown.
157         Ful fetys was hir cloke, as I was war.
                 Her cloak was very well made , as I was aware.
158         Of smal coral aboute hire arm she bar
                 About her arm she bore of small coral
159         A peire of bedes, gauded al with grene,
                 A set of beads, adorned with large green beads,
160         And theron heng a brooch of gold ful sheene,
                 And thereon hung a brooch of very bright gold,
161         On which ther was first write a crowned A,
                 On which there was first written an A with a crown,
162         And after Amor vincit omnia.
                 And after "Love conquers all."

163         Another NONNE with hire hadde she,
                 She had another NUN with her,
164         That was hir chapeleyne, and preestes thre.
                 Who was her secretary, and three priests.

165         A MONK ther was, a fair for the maistrie,
                 There was a MONK, an extremely fine one,
166         An outridere, that lovede venerie,
                 An outrider (a monk with business outside the monastery), who loved hunting,
167         A manly man, to been an abbot able.
                 A virile man, qualified to be an abbot.
168         Ful many a deyntee hors hadde he in stable,
                 He had very many fine horses in his stable,
169         And whan he rood, men myghte his brydel heere
                 And when he rode, one could hear his bridle
170         Gynglen in a whistlynge wynd als cleere
                 Jingle in a whistling wind as clear
171         And eek as loude as dooth the chapel belle
                 And also as loud as does the chapel belle
172         Ther as this lord was kepere of the celle.
                 Where this lord was prior of the subordinate monastery.
173         The reule of Seint Maure or of Seint Beneit --
                 The rule of Saint Maurus or of Saint Benedict --
174         By cause that it was old and somdel streit
                 Because it was old and somewhat strict
175         This ilke Monk leet olde thynges pace,
                 This same Monk let old things pass away,
176         And heeld after the newe world the space.
                 And followed the broader customs of modern times.
177         He yaf nat of that text a pulled hen,
                 He gave not a plucked hen for that text
178         That seith that hunters ben nat hooly men,
                 That says that hunters are not holy men,
179         Ne that a monk, whan he is recchelees,
                 Nor that a monk, when he is heedless of rules,
180         Is likned til a fissh that is waterlees --
                 Is like a fish that is out of water --
181         This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloystre.
                 This is to say, a monk out of his cloister.
182         But thilke text heeld he nat worth an oystre;
                 But he considered that same text not worth an oyster;
183         And I seyde his opinion was good.
                 And I said his opinion was good.
184         What sholde he studie and make hymselven wood,
                 Why should he study and make himself crazy,
185         Upon a book in cloystre alwey to poure,
                 Always to pore upon a book in the cloister,
186         Or swynken with his handes, and laboure,
                 Or work with his hands, and labor,
187         As Austyn bit? How shal the world be served?
                 As Augustine commands? How shall the world be served?
188         Lat Austyn have his swynk to hym reserved!
                 Let Augustine have his work reserved to him!
189         Therfore he was a prikasour aright:
                 Therefore he was indeed a vigorous horseman:
190         Grehoundes he hadde as swift as fowel in flight;
                 He had greyhounds as swift as fowl in flight;
191         Of prikyng and of huntyng for the hare
                 Of tracking and of hunting for the hare
192         Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare.
                 Was all his pleasure, by no means would he refrain from it.
193         I seigh his sleves purfiled at the hond
                 I saw his sleeves lined at the hand
194         With grys, and that the fyneste of a lond;
                 With squirrel fur, and that the finest in the land;
195         And for to festne his hood under his chyn,
                 And to fasten his hood under his chin,
196         He hadde of gold ywroght a ful curious pyn;
                 He had a very skillfully made pin of gold;
197         A love-knotte in the gretter ende ther was.
                 There was an elaborate knot in the larger end.
198         His heed was balled, that shoon as any glas,
                 His head was bald, which shone like any glass,
199         And eek his face, as he hadde been enoynt.
                 And his face did too, as if he had been rubbed with oil.
200         He was a lord ful fat and in good poynt;
                 He was a very plump lord and in good condition;
201         His eyen stepe, and rollynge in his heed,
                 His eyes were prominent, and rolling in his head,
202         That stemed as a forneys of a leed;
                 Which gleamed like a furnace under a cauldron;
203         His bootes souple, his hors in greet estaat.
                 His boots supple, his horse in excellent condition.
204         Now certeinly he was a fair prelaat;
                 Now certainly he was a handsome ecclesiastical dignitary;
205         He was nat pale as a forpyned goost.
                 He was not pale as a tormented spirit.
206         A fat swan loved he best of any roost.
                 A fat swan loved he best of any roast.
207         His palfrey was as broun as is a berye.
                 His saddle horse was as brown as is a berry.

208         A FRERE ther was, a wantowne and a merye,
                 There was a FRIAR, a pleasure-loving and merry one,
209         A lymytour, a ful solempne man.
                 A limiter (with an assigned territory), a very solemn man.
210         In alle the ordres foure is noon that kan
                 In all the four orders of friars is no one that knows
211         So muchel of daliaunce and fair langage.
                 So much of sociability and elegant speech.
212         He hadde maad ful many a mariage
                 He had made very many a marriage
213         Of yonge wommen at his owene cost.
                 Of young women at his own cost.
214         Unto his ordre he was a noble post.
                 He was a noble supporter of his order.
215         Ful wel biloved and famulier was he
                 Very well beloved and familiar was he
216         With frankeleyns over al in his contree,
                 With landowners every where in his country,
217         And eek with worthy wommen of the toun;
                 And also with worthy women of the town;
218         For he hadde power of confessioun,
                 For he had power of confession,
219         As seyde hymself, moore than a curat,
                 As he said himself, more than a parish priest,
220         For of his ordre he was licenciat.
                 For he was licensed by his order.
221         Ful swetely herde he confessioun,
                 He heard confession very sweetly,
222         And plesaunt was his absolucioun:
                 And his absolution was pleasant:
223         He was an esy man to yeve penaunce,
                 He was a lenient man in giving penance,
224         Ther as he wiste to have a good pitaunce.
                 Where he knew he would have a good gift.
225         For unto a povre ordre for to yive
                 For to give to a poor order (of friars)
226         Is signe that a man is wel yshryve;
                 Is a sign that a man is well confessed;
227         For if he yaf, he dorste make avaunt,
                 For if he gave, he (the friar) dared to assert,
228         He wiste that a man was repentaunt;
                 He knew that a man was repentant;
229         For many a man so hard is of his herte,
                 For many a man is so hard in his heart,
230         He may nat wepe, althogh hym soore smerte.
                 He can not weep, although he painfully suffers.
231         Therfore in stede of wepynge and preyeres
                 Therefore instead of weeping and prayers
232         Men moote yeve silver to the povre freres.
                 One may give silver to the poor friars.
233         His typet was ay farsed ful of knyves
                 His hood was always stuffed full of knives
234         And pynnes, for to yeven faire wyves.
                 And pins, to give to fair wives.
235         And certeinly he hadde a murye note:
                 And certainly he had a merry voice:
236         Wel koude he synge and pleyen on a rote;
                 He well knew how to sing and play on a rote (string instrument);
237         Of yeddynges he baar outrely the pris.
                 He absolutely took the prize for reciting ballads.
238         His nekke whit was as the flour-de-lys;
                 His neck was white as a lily flower;
239         Therto he strong was as a champioun.
                 Furthermore he was strong as a champion fighter.
240         He knew the tavernes wel in every toun
                 He knew the taverns well in every town
241         And everich hostiler and tappestere
                 And every innkeeper and barmaid
242         Bet than a lazar or a beggestere,
                 Better than a leper or a beggar-woman,
243         For unto swich a worthy man as he
                 For unto such a worthy man as he
244         Acorded nat, as by his facultee,
                 It was not suitable, in view of his official position,
245         To have with sike lazars aqueyntaunce.
                 To have acquaintance with sick lepers.
246         It is nat honest; it may nat avaunce,
                 It is not respectable; it can not be profitable,
247         For to deelen with no swich poraille,
                 To deal with any such poor people,
248         But al with riche and selleres of vitaille.
                 But all with rich people and sellers of victuals.
249         And over al, ther as profit sholde arise,
                 And every where, where profit should arise,
250         Curteis he was and lowely of servyse;
                 He was courteous and graciously humble;
251         Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous.
                 There was no man anywhere so capable (of such work).
252         He was the beste beggere in his hous;
                 He was the best beggar in his house;
252a         [And yaf a certeyn ferme for the graunt;
            [And he gave a certain fee for his grant (of begging rights);
252a         Noon of his bretheren cam ther in his haunt;]
            None of his brethren came there in his territory;]
253         For thogh a wydwe hadde noght a sho,
                 For though a widow had not a shoe,
254         So plesaunt was his "In principio,"
                 So pleasant was his "In the beginning,"
255         Yet wolde he have a ferthyng, er he wente.
                 Yet he would have a farthing, before he went away.
256         His purchas was wel bettre than his rente.
                  His total profit was much more than his proper income.
257         And rage he koude, as it were right a whelp.
                 And he knew how to frolic, as if he were indeed a pup.
258         In love-dayes ther koude he muchel help,
                 He knew how to be much help on days for resolving disputes,
259         For ther he was nat lyk a cloysterer
                 For there he was not like a cloistered monk
260         With a thredbare cope, as is a povre scoler,
                 With a threadbare cope, like a poor scholar,
261         But he was lyk a maister or a pope.
                 But he was like a master of arts or a pope.
262         Of double worstede was his semycope,
                 Of wide (expensive) cloth was his short cloak,
263         That rounded as a belle out of the presse.
                 Which was round as a bell fresh from the clothespress.
264         Somwhat he lipsed, for his wantownesse,
                 Somewhat he lisped, for his affectation,
265         To make his Englissh sweete upon his tonge;
                 To make his English sweet upon his tongue;
266         And in his harpyng, whan that he hadde songe,
                 And in his harping, when he had sung,
267         His eyen twynkled in his heed aryght
                 His eyes twinkled in his head exactly
268         As doon the sterres in the frosty nyght.
                 As do the stars in the frosty night.
269         This worthy lymytour was cleped Huberd.
                 This worthy friar was called Huberd.

270         A MARCHANT was ther with a forked berd,
                 There was a MERCHANT with a forked beard,
271         In mottelee, and hye on horse he sat;
                 Wearing parti-colored cloth, and proudly he sat on his horse;
272         Upon his heed a Flaundryssh bever hat,
                 Upon his head (he wore a) Flemish beaver hat,
273         His bootes clasped faire and fetisly.
                 His boots were buckled handsomely and elegantly.
274         His resons he spak ful solempnely,
                 His opinions he spoke very solemnly,
275         Sownynge alwey th' encrees of his wynnyng.
                 Concerning always the increase of his profits.
276         He wolde the see were kept for any thyng
                 He wanted the sea to be guarded at all costs
277         Bitwixe Middelburgh and Orewelle.
                 Between Middelburgh (Holland) and Orwell (England).
278         Wel koude he in eschaunge sheeldes selle.
                 He well knew how to deal in foreign currencies.
279         This worthy man ful wel his wit bisette:
                 This worthy man employed his wit very well:
280         Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette,
                 There was no one who knew that he was in debt,
281         So estatly was he of his governaunce
                 He was so dignified in managing his affairs
282         With his bargaynes and with his chevyssaunce.
                 With his buying and selling and with his financial deals.
283         For sothe he was a worthy man with alle,
                 Truly, he was a worthy man indeed,
284         But, sooth to seyn, I noot how men hym calle.
                 But, to say the truth, I do not know what men call him.

285         A CLERK ther was of Oxenford also,
                 There was also a CLERK (scholar) from Oxford,
286         That unto logyk hadde longe ygo.
                 Who long before had begun the study of logic.
287         As leene was his hors as is a rake,
                 His horse was as lean as is a rake,
288         And he nas nat right fat, I undertake,
                 And he was not very fat, I affirm,
289         But looked holwe, and therto sobrely.
                 But looked emaciated, and moreover abstemious.
290         Ful thredbare was his overeste courtepy,
                 His short overcoat was very threadbare,
291         For he hadde geten hym yet no benefice,
                 For he had not yet obtained an ecclesiastical living,
292         Ne was so worldly for to have office.
                 Nor was he worldly enough to take secular employment.
293         For hym was levere have at his beddes heed
                 For he would rather have at the head of his bed
294         Twenty bookes, clad in blak or reed,
                 Twenty books, bound in black or red,
295         Of Aristotle and his philosophie
                 Of Aristotle and his philosophy
296         Than robes riche, or fithele, or gay sautrie.
                 Than rich robes, or a fiddle, or an elegant psaltery.
297         But al be that he was a philosophre,
                 But even though he was a philosopher,
298         Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre;
                 Nevertheless he had but little gold in his strongbox;
299         But al that he myghte of his freendes hente,
                 But all that he could get from his friends,
300         On bookes and on lernynge he it spente,
                 He spent on books and on learning,
301         And bisily gan for the soules preye
                 And diligently did pray for the souls
302         Of hem that yaf hym wherwith to scoleye.
                 Of those who gave him the wherewithal to attend the schools.
303         Of studie took he moost cure and moost heede.
                 He took most care and paid most heed to study.
304         Noght o word spak he moore than was neede,
                 He spoke not one word more than was needed,
305         And that was seyd in forme and reverence,
                 And that was said with due formality and respect,
306         And short and quyk and ful of hy sentence;
                 And short and lively and full of elevated content;
307         Sownynge in moral vertu was his speche,
                 His speech was consonant with moral virtue,
308         And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche.
                 And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.

309         A SERGEANT OF THE LAWE, war and wys,
                 A SERGEANT OF THE LAW (high-ranking attorney), prudent and wise,
310         That often hadde been at the Parvys,
                 Who often had been at the Porch of St. Paul's (where lawyers gather)
311         Ther was also, ful riche of excellence.
                 Was also there, very rich in superior qualities.
312         Discreet he was and of greet reverence --
                 He was judicious and of great dignity --
313         He semed swich, his wordes weren so wise.
                 He seemed such, his words were so wise.
314         Justice he was ful often in assise,
                 He was very often a judge in the court of assizes,
315         By patente and by pleyn commissioun.
                 By royal appointment and with full jurisdiction.
316         For his science and for his heigh renoun,
                 For his knowledge and for his excellent reputation,
317         Of fees and robes hadde he many oon.
                 He had many grants of yearly income.
318         So greet a purchasour was nowher noon:
                 There was nowhere so great a land-buyer:
319         Al was fee symple to hym in effect;
                 In fact, all was unrestricted possession to him;
320         His purchasyng myghte nat been infect.
                 His purchasing could not be invalidated.
321         Nowher so bisy a man as he ther nas,
                 There was nowhere so busy a man as he,
322         And yet he semed bisier than he was.
                 And yet he seemed busier than he was.
323         In termes hadde he caas and doomes alle
                 He had in Year Books all the cases and decisions
324         That from the tyme of kyng William were falle.
                 That from the time of king William have occurred.
325         Therto he koude endite and make a thyng,
                 Furthermore, he knew how to compose and draw up a legal document,
326         Ther koude no wight pynche at his writyng;
                 So that no one could find a flaw in his writing;
327         And every statut koude he pleyn by rote.
                 And he knew every statute completely by heart.
328         He rood but hoomly in a medlee cote,
                 He rode but simply in a parti-colored coat,
329         Girt with a ceint of silk, with barres smale;
                 Girded with a belt of silk, with small stripes;
330         Of his array telle I no lenger tale.
                 I tell no longer tale of his clothing.

331         A FRANKELEYN was in his compaignye.
                 A FRANKLIN was in his company.
332         Whit was his berd as is the dayesye;
                 His beard was white as a daisy;
333         Of his complexioun he was sangwyn.
                 As to his temperament, he was dominated by the humor blood.
334         Wel loved he by the morwe a sop in wyn;
                 He well loved a bit of bread dipped in wine in the morning;
335         To lyven in delit was evere his wone,
                 His custom was always to live in delight,
336         For he was Epicurus owene sone,
                 For he was Epicurus' own son,
337         That heeld opinioun that pleyn delit
                 Who held the opinion that pure pleasure
338         Was verray felicitee parfit.
                 Was truly perfect happiness.
339         An housholdere, and that a greet, was he;
                 He was a householder, and a great one at that;
340         Seint Julian he was in his contree.
                 He was Saint Julian (patron of hospitality) in his country.
341         His breed, his ale, was alweys after oon;
                 His bread, his ale, was always of the same (good) quality;
342         A bettre envyned man was nowher noon.
                 Nowhere was there any man better stocked with wine.
343         Withoute bake mete was nevere his hous,
                 His house was never without baked pies
344         Of fissh and flessh, and that so plentevous
                 Of fish and meat, and that so plentiful
345         It snewed in his hous of mete and drynke;
                 That in his house it snowed with food and drink;
346         Of alle deyntees that men koude thynke,
                 Of all the dainties that men could imagine,
347         After the sondry sesons of the yeer,
                 In accord with the various seasons of the year,
348         So chaunged he his mete and his soper.
                 So he varied his midday meal and his supper.
349         Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in muwe,
                 He had very many fat partridges in pens,
350         And many a breem and many a luce in stuwe.
                 And many a bream and many a pike in his fish pond.
351         Wo was his cook but if his sauce were
                 Woe was his cook unless his sauce was
352         Poynaunt and sharp, and redy al his geere.
                 Hotly spiced and sharp, and ready all his cooking equipment.
353         His table dormant in his halle alway
                 In his hall his dining table always
354         Stood redy covered al the longe day.
                 Stood covered (with table cloth) and ready all the long day.
355         At sessiouns ther was he lord and sire;
                 He presided as lord and sire at court sessions;
356         Ful ofte tyme he was knyght of the shire.
                 He was a member of parliament many times.
357         An anlaas and a gipser al of silk
                 A dagger and a purse all of silk
358         Heeng at his girdel, whit as morne milk.
                 Hung at his belt, white as morning milk.
359         A shirreve hadde he been, and a contour.
                 He had been a sheriff, and an auditor of taxes.
360         Was nowher swich a worthy vavasour.
                 There was nowhere such a worthy landowner.

                 A HABERDASHER and a CARPENTER,
362         A WEBBE, a DYERE, and a TAPYCER --
                 A WEAVER, a DYER, and a TAPESTRY-MAKER --
363         And they were clothed alle in o lyveree
                 And they were all clothed in one livery
364         Of a solempne and a greet fraternitee.
                 Of a solemn and a great parish guild.
365         Ful fressh and newe hir geere apiked was;
                 Their equipment was adorned all freshly and new;
366         Hir knyves were chaped noght with bras
                 Their knives were not mounted with brass
367         But al with silver, wroght ful clene and weel,
                 But entirely with silver, wrought very neatly and well,
368         Hire girdles and hir pouches everydeel.
                 Their belts and their purses every bit.
369         Wel semed ech of hem a fair burgeys
                 Each of them well seemed a solid citizen
370         To sitten in a yeldehalle on a deys.
                 To sit on a dais in a city hall.
371         Everich, for the wisdom that he kan,
                 Every one of them, for the wisdom that he knows,
372         Was shaply for to been an alderman.
                 Was suitable to be an alderman.
373         For catel hadde they ynogh and rente,
                 For they had enough possessions and income,
374         And eek hir wyves wolde it wel assente;
                 And also their wives would well assent to it;
375         And elles certeyn were they to blame.
                 And otherwise certainly they would be to blame.
376         It is ful fair to been ycleped "madame,"
                 It is very fine to be called "my lady,"
377         And goon to vigilies al bifore,
                 And go to feasts on holiday eves heading the procession,
378         And have a mantel roialliche ybore.
                 And have a gown with a train royally carried.

379         A COOK they hadde with hem for the nones
                 A COOK they had with them for the occasion
380         To boille the chiknes with the marybones,
                 To boil the chickens with the marrow bones,
381         And poudre-marchant tart and galyngale.
                 And tart poudre-marchant and galingale (spices).
382         Wel koude he knowe a draughte of Londoun ale.
                 He well knew how to judge a draft of London ale.
383         He koude rooste, and sethe, and broille, and frye,
                 He knew how to roast, and boil, and broil, and fry,
384         Maken mortreux, and wel bake a pye.
                 Make stews, and well bake a pie.
385         But greet harm was it, as it thoughte me,
                 But it was a great harm, as it seemed to me,
386         That on his shyne a mormal hadde he.
                 That he had an open sore on his shin.
387         For blankmanger, that made he with the beste.
                 As for white pudding, he made that of the best quality.

388         A SHIPMAN was ther, wonynge fer by weste;
                 A SHIPMAN was there, dwelling far in the west;
389         For aught I woot, he was of Dertemouthe.
                 For all I know, he was from Dartmouth.
390         He rood upon a rouncy, as he kouthe,
                 He rode upon a cart horse, insofar as he knew how,
391         In a gowne of faldyng to the knee.
                 In a gown of woolen cloth (that reached) to the knee.
392         A daggere hangynge on a laas hadde he
                 He had a dagger hanging on a cord
393         Aboute his nekke, under his arm adoun.
                 About his neck, down under his arm.
394         The hoote somer hadde maad his hewe al broun;
                 The hot summer had made his hue all brown;
395         And certeinly he was a good felawe.
                 And certainly he was a boon companion.
396         Ful many a draughte of wyn had he ydrawe
                 He had drawn very many a draft of wine
397         Fro Burdeux-ward, whil that the chapman sleep.
                 While coming from Bordeaux, while the merchant slept.
398         Of nyce conscience took he no keep.
                 He had no concern for a scrupulous conscience.
399         If that he faught and hadde the hyer hond,
                 If he fought and had the upper hand,
400         By water he sente hem hoom to every lond.
                 He sent them home by water to every land (they walked the plank).
401         But of his craft to rekene wel his tydes,
                 But of his skill to reckon well his tides,
402         His stremes, and his daungers hym bisides,
                 His currents, and his perils near at hand,
403         His herberwe, and his moone, his lodemenage,
                 His harbors, and positions of his moon, his navigation,
404         Ther nas noon swich from Hulle to Cartage.
                 There was none other such from Hull to Cartagena (Spain).
405         Hardy he was and wys to undertake;
                 He was bold and prudent in his undertakings;
406         With many a tempest hadde his berd been shake.
                 His beard had been shaken by many a tempest.
407         He knew alle the havenes, as they were,
                 He knew all the harbors, how they were,
408         Fro Gootlond to the cape of Fynystere,
                 From Gotland to the Cape of Finisterre,
409         And every cryke in Britaigne and in Spayne.
                 And every inlet in Brittany and in Spain.
410         His barge ycleped was the Maudelayne.
                 His ship was called the Maudelayne.

411         With us ther was a DOCTOUR OF PHISIK;
                 With us there was a DOCTOR OF MEDICINE
412         In al this world ne was ther noon hym lik,
                 In all this world there was no one like him,
413         To speke of phisik and of surgerye,
                 To speak of medicine and of surgery,
414         For he was grounded in astronomye.
                 For he was instructed in astronomy.
415         He kepte his pacient a ful greet deel
                 He took care of his patient very many times
416         In houres by his magyk natureel.
                 In (astronomically suitable) hours by (use of) his natural science.
417         Wel koude he fortunen the ascendent
                 He well knew how to calculate the planetary position
418         Of his ymages for his pacient.
                 Of his astronomical talismans for his patient.
419         He knew the cause of everich maladye,
                 He knew the cause of every malady,
420         Were it of hoot, or coold, or moyste, or drye,
                 Were it of hot, or cold, or moist, or dry elements,
421         And where they engendred, and of what humour.
                 And where they were engendered, and by what bodily fluid.
422         He was a verray, parfit praktisour:
                 He was a truly, perfect practitioner:
423         The cause yknowe, and of his harm the roote,
                 The cause known, and the source of his (patient's) harm,
424         Anon he yaf the sike man his boote.
                 Straightway he gave the sick man his remedy.
425         Ful redy hadde he his apothecaries
                 He had his apothecaries all ready
426         To sende hym drogges and his letuaries,
                 To send him drugs and his electuaries,
427         For ech of hem made oother for to wynne --
                 For each of them made the other to profit --
428         Hir frendshipe nas nat newe to bigynne.
                 Their friendship was not recently begun.
429         Wel knew he the olde Esculapius,
                 He well knew the old Aesculapius,
430         And Deyscorides, and eek Rufus,
                 And Dioscorides, and also Rufus,
431         Olde Ypocras, Haly, and Galyen,
                 Old Hippocrates, Haly, and Galen,
432         Serapion, Razis, and Avycen,
                 Serapion, Rhazes, and Avicenna,
433         Averrois, Damascien, and Constantyn,
                 Averroes, John the Damascan, and Constantine,
434         Bernard, and Gatesden, and Gilbertyn.
                 Bernard, and Gaddesden, and Gilbertus.
435         Of his diete mesurable was he,
                 He was moderate in his diet,
436         For it was of no superfluitee,
                 For it was of no excess,
437         But of greet norissyng and digestible.
                 But greatly nourishing and digestible.
438         His studie was but litel on the Bible.
                 His study was but little on the Bible.
439         In sangwyn and in pers he clad was al,
                 He was clad all in red and in blue,
440         Lyned with taffata and with sendal.
                 Lined with taffeta and with silk.
441         And yet he was but esy of dispence;
                 And yet he was moderate in spending;
442         He kepte that he wan in pestilence.
                 He kept what he earned in (times of) plague.
443         For gold in phisik is a cordial,
                 Since in medicine gold is a restorative for the heart,
444         Therefore he lovede gold in special.
                 Therefore he loved gold in particular.


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445         A good WIF was ther OF biside BATHE,
                 There was a good WIFE OF beside BATH,
446         But she was somdel deef, and that was scathe.
                 But she was somewhat deaf, and that was a pity.
447         Of clooth-makyng she hadde swich an haunt
                 She had such a skill in cloth-making
448         She passed hem of Ypres and of Gaunt.
                 She surpassed them of Ypres and of Ghent.
449         In al the parisshe wif ne was ther noon
                 In all the parish there was no wife
450         That to the offrynge bifore hire sholde goon;
                 Who should go to the Offering before her;
451         And if ther dide, certeyn so wrooth was she
                 And if there did, certainly she was so angry
452         That she was out of alle charitee.
                 That she was out of all charity (love for her neighbor).
453         Hir coverchiefs ful fyne weren of ground;
                 Her kerchiefs were very fine in texture;
454         I dorste swere they weyeden ten pound
                 I dare swear they weighed ten pound
455         That on a Sonday weren upon hir heed.
                 That on a Sunday were upon her head.
456         Hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed,
                 Her stockings were of fine scarlet red,
457         Ful streite yteyd, and shoes ful moyste and newe.
                 Very closely laced, and shoes very supple and new.
458         Boold was hir face, and fair, and reed of hewe.
                 Bold was her face, and fair, and red of hue.
459         She was a worthy womman al hir lyve:
                 She was a worthy woman all her life:
460         Housbondes at chirche dore she hadde fyve,
                 She had (married) five husbands at the church door,
461         Withouten oother compaignye in youthe --
                 Not counting other company in youth --
462         But thereof nedeth nat to speke as nowthe.
                 But there is no need to speak of that right now.
463         And thries hadde she been at Jerusalem;
                 And she had been three times at Jerusalem;
464         She hadde passed many a straunge strem;
                 She had passed many a foreign sea;
465         At Rome she hadde been, and at Boloigne,
                 She had been at Rome, and at Boulogne,
466         In Galice at Seint-Jame, and at Coloigne.
                 In Galicia at Saint-James (of Compostella), and at Cologne.
467         She koude muchel of wandrynge by the weye.
                 She knew much about wandering by the way.
468         Gat-tothed was she, soothly for to seye.
                 She had teeth widely set apart, truly to say.
469         Upon an amblere esily she sat,
                 She sat easily upon a pacing horse,
470         Ywympled wel, and on hir heed an hat
                 Wearing a large wimple, and on her head a hat
471         As brood as is a bokeler or a targe;
                 As broad as a buckler or a shield;
472         A foot-mantel aboute hir hipes large,
                 An overskirt about her large hips,
473         And on hir feet a paire of spores sharpe.
                 And on her feet a pair of sharp spurs.
474         In felaweshipe wel koude she laughe and carpe.
                 In fellowship she well knew how to laugh and chatter.
475         Of remedies of love she knew per chaunce,
                 She knew, as it happened, about remedies for love
476         For she koude of that art the olde daunce.
                 For she knew the old dance (tricks of the trade) of that art.

477         A good man was ther of religioun,
                 A good man was there of religion,
478         And was a povre PERSOUN OF A TOUN,
                 And (he) was a poor PARSON OF A TOWN,
479         But riche he was of hooly thoght and werk.
                 But he was rich in holy thought and work.
480         He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
                 He was also a learned man, a scholar,
481         That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
                 Who would preach Christ's gospel truly;
482         His parisshens devoutly wolde he teche.
                 He would devoutly teach his parishioners.
483         Benygne he was, and wonder diligent,
                 He was gracious, and wonderfully diligent,
484         And in adversitee ful pacient,
                 And very patient in adversity,
485         And swich he was ypreved ofte sithes.
                 And such he was proven many times.
486         Ful looth were hym to cursen for his tithes,
                 He was very reluctant to excommunicate for (nonpayment of) his tithes,
487         But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute,
                 But rather would he give, there is no doubt,
488         Unto his povre parisshens aboute
                 Unto his poor parishioners about
489         Of his offryng and eek of his substaunce.
                 Some of his offering (received at mass) and also some of his income.
490         He koude in litel thyng have suffisaunce.
                 He knew how to have sufficiency in few possessions.
491         Wyd was his parisshe, and houses fer asonder,
                 His parish was wide, and houses far apart,
492         But he ne lefte nat, for reyn ne thonder,
                 But he did not omit, for rain nor thunder,
493         In siknesse nor in meschief to visite
                 In sickness or in trouble to visit
494         The ferreste in his parisshe, muche and lite,
                 Those living farthest away in his parish, high-ranking and low,
495         Upon his feet, and in his hand a staf.
                 Going by foot, and in his hand a staff.
496         This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf,
                 He gave this noble example to his sheep,
497         That first he wroghte, and afterward he taughte.
                 That first he wrought, and afterward he taught.
498         Out of the gospel he tho wordes caughte,
                 He took those words out of the gospel,
499         And this figure he added eek therto,
                 And this metaphor he added also to that,
500         That if gold ruste, what shal iren do?
                 That if gold rust, what must iron do?
501         For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
                 For if a priest, on whom we trust, should be foul
502         No wonder is a lewed man to ruste;
                 It is no wonder for a layman to go bad;
503         And shame it is, if a prest take keep,
                 And it is a shame, if a priest is concerned:
504         A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep.
                 A shit-stained shepherd and a clean sheep.
505         Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive,
                 Well ought a priest to give an example,
506         By his clennesse, how that his sheep sholde lyve.
                 By his purity, how his sheep should live.
507         He sette nat his benefice to hyre
                 He did not rent out his benefice (ecclesiastical living)
508         And leet his sheep encombred in the myre
                 And leave his sheep encumbered in the mire
509         And ran to Londoun unto Seinte Poules
                 And run to London unto Saint Paul's
510         To seken hym a chaunterie for soules,
                 To seek an appointment as a chantry priest (praying for a patron)
511         Or with a bretherhed to been withholde;
                 Or to be hired (as a chaplain) by a guild;
512         But dwelte at hoom, and kepte wel his folde,
                 But dwelt at home, and kept well his sheep fold (parish),
513         So that the wolf ne made it nat myscarie;
                 So that the wolf did not make it go wrong;
514         He was a shepherde and noght a mercenarie.
                 He was a shepherd and not a hireling.
515         And though he hooly were and vertuous,
                 And though he was holy and virtuous,
516         He was to synful men nat despitous,
                 He was not scornful to sinful men,
517         Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne,
                 Nor domineering nor haughty in his speech,
518         But in his techyng discreet and benygne.
                 But in his teaching courteous and kind.
519         To drawen folk to hevene by fairnesse,
                 To draw folk to heaven by gentleness,
520         By good ensample, this was his bisynesse.
                 By good example, this was his business.
521         But it were any persone obstinat,
                 Unless it were an obstinate person,
522         What so he were, of heigh or lough estat,
                 Whoever he was, of high or low rank,
523         Hym wolde he snybben sharply for the nonys.
                 He would rebuke him sharply at that time.
524         A bettre preest I trowe that nowher noon ys.
                 I believe that nowhere is there a better priest.
525         He waited after no pompe and reverence,
                 He expected no pomp and ceremony,
526         Ne maked him a spiced conscience,
                 Nor made himself an overly fastidious conscience,
527         But Cristes loore and his apostles twelve
                 But Christ's teaching and His twelve apostles
528         He taughte; but first he folwed it hymselve.
                 He taught; but first he followed it himself.

529         With hym ther was a PLOWMAN, was his brother,
                 With him there was a PLOWMAN, who was his brother,
530         That hadde ylad of dong ful many a fother;
                 Who had hauled very many a cartload of dung;
531         A trewe swynkere and a good was he,
                 He was a true and good worker,
532         Lyvynge in pees and parfit charitee.
                 Living in peace and perfect love.
533         God loved he best with al his hoole herte
                 He loved God best with all his whole heart
534         At alle tymes, thogh him gamed or smerte,
                 At all times, whether it pleased or pained him,
535         And thanne his neighebor right as hymselve.
                 And then (he loved) his neighbor exactly as himself.
536         He wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delve,
                 He would thresh, and moreover make ditches and dig,
537         For Cristes sake, for every povre wight,
                 For Christ's sake, for every poor person,
538         Withouten hire, if it lay in his myght.
                 Without payment, if it lay in his power.
539         His tithes payde he ful faire and wel,
                 He paid his tithes completely and well,
540         Bothe of his propre swynk and his catel.
                 Both of his own labor and of his possessions.
541         In a tabard he rood upon a mere.
                 He rode in a tabard (sleeveless jacket) upon a mare.

542         Ther was also a REVE, and a MILLERE,
                 There was also a REEVE, and a MILLER,
543         A SOMNOUR, and a PARDONER also,
                 A SUMMONER, and a PARDONER also,
544         A MAUNCIPLE, and myself -- ther were namo.
                 A MANCIPLE, and myself -- there were no more.

545         The MILLERE was a stout carl for the nones;
                 The MILLER was a stout fellow indeed;
546         Ful byg he was of brawn, and eek of bones.
                 He was very strong of muscle, and also of bones.
547         That proved wel, for over al ther he cam,
                 That was well proven, for wherever he came,
548         At wrastlynge he wolde have alwey the ram.
                 At wrestling he would always take the the prize.
549         He was short-sholdred, brood, a thikke knarre;
                 He was stoutly built, broad, a large-framed fellow;
550         Ther was no dore that he nolde heve of harre,
                 There was no door that he would not heave off its hinges,
551         Or breke it at a rennyng with his heed.
                 Or break it by running at it with his head.
552         His berd as any sowe or fox was reed,
                 His beard was red as any sow or fox,
553         And therto brood, as though it were a spade.
                 And moreover broad, as though it were a spade.
554         Upon the cop right of his nose he hade
                 Upon the exact top of his nose he had
555         A werte, and theron stood a toft of herys,
                 A wart, and thereon stood a tuft of hairs,
556         Reed as the brustles of a sowes erys;
                 Red as the bristles of a sow's ears;
557         His nosethirles blake were and wyde.
                 His nostrils were black and wide.
558         A swerd and a bokeler bar he by his syde.
                 He wore a sword and a buckler by his side.
559         His mouth as greet was as a greet forneys.
                 His mouth was as large as a large furnace.
560         He was a janglere and a goliardeys,
                 He was a loudmouth and a buffoon,
561         And that was moost of synne and harlotries.
                 And that was mostly of sin and deeds of harlotry.
562         Wel koude he stelen corn and tollen thries;
                 He well knew how to steal corn and take payment three times;
563         And yet he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee.
                 And yet he had a thumb of gold, indeed.
564         A whit cote and a blew hood wered he.
                 He wore a white coat and a blue hood.
565         A baggepipe wel koude he blowe and sowne,
                 He well knew how to blow and play a bag-pipe,
566         And therwithal he broghte us out of towne.
                 And with that he brought us out of town.

567         A gentil MAUNCIPLE was ther of a temple,
                 There was a fine MANCIPLE of a temple (law school),
568         Of which achatours myghte take exemple
                 Of whom buyers of provisions might take example
569         For to be wise in byynge of vitaille;
                 For how to be wise in buying of victuals;
570         For wheither that he payde or took by taille,
                 For whether he paid (cash) or took (goods) on credit,
571         Algate he wayted so in his achaat
                 Always he watched so (carefully for his opportunity) in his purchases
572         That he was ay biforn and in good staat.
                 That he was always ahead and in good state.
573         Now is nat that of God a ful fair grace
                 Now is not that a very fair grace of God
574         That swich a lewed mannes wit shal pace
                 That such an unlearned man's wit shall surpass
575         The wisdom of an heep of lerned men?
                 The wisdom of a heap of learned men?
576         Of maistres hadde he mo than thries ten,
                 He had more than three times ten masters,
577         That weren of lawe expert and curious,
                 Who were expert and skillful in law,
578         Of which ther were a duszeyne in that hous
                 Of whom there were a dozen in that house
579         Worthy to been stywardes of rente and lond
                 Worthy to be stewards of rent and land
580         Of any lord that is in Engelond,
                 Of any lord that is in England,
581         To make hym lyve by his propre good
                 To make him live by his own wealth
582         In honour dettelees (but if he were wood),
                 In honor and debtless (unless he were crazy),
583         Or lyve as scarsly as hym list desire;
                 Or live as economically as it pleased him to desire;
584         And able for to helpen al a shire
                 And (they would be) able to help all a shire
585         In any caas that myghte falle or happe.
                 In any emergency that might occur or happen.
586         And yet this Manciple sette hir aller cappe.
                 And yet this Manciple fooled them all.

587         The REVE was a sclendre colerik man.
                 The REEVE was a slender choleric man.
588         His berd was shave as ny as ever he kan;
                 His beard was shaved as close as ever he can;
589         His heer was by his erys ful round yshorn;
                 His hair was closely cropped by his ears;
590         His top was dokked lyk a preest biforn.
                 The top of his head in front was cut short like a priest's.
591         Ful longe were his legges and ful lene,
                 His legs were very long and very lean,
592         Ylyk a staf; ther was no calf ysene.
                 Like a stick; there was no calf to be seen.
593         Wel koude he kepe a gerner and a bynne;
                 He well knew how to keep a granary and a storage bin;
594         Ther was noon auditour koude on him wynne.
                 There was no auditor who could earn anything (by catching him).
595         Wel wiste he by the droghte and by the reyn
                 He well knew by the drought and by the rain
596         The yeldynge of his seed and of his greyn.
                 (What would be) the yield of his seed and of his grain.
597         His lordes sheep, his neet, his dayerye,
                 His lord's sheep, his cattle, his herd of dairy cows,
598         His swyn, his hors, his stoor, and his pultrye
                 His swine, his horses, his livestock, and his poultry
599         Was hoolly in this Reves governynge,
                 Was wholly in this Reeve's control,
600         And by his covenant yaf the rekenynge,
                 And in accord with his contract he gave the reckoning,
601         Syn that his lord was twenty yeer of age.
                 Since his lord was twenty years of age.
602         Ther koude no man brynge hym in arrerage.
                 There was no man who could find him in arrears.
603         Ther nas baillif, ne hierde, nor oother hyne,
                 There was no farm manager, nor herdsman, nor other servant,
604         That he ne knew his sleighte and his covyne;
                 Whose trickery and treachery he did not know;
605         They were adrad of hym as of the deeth.
                 They were afraid of him as of the plague.
606         His wonyng was ful faire upon an heeth;
                 His dwelling was very nicely situated upon an heath;
607         With grene trees yshadwed was his place.
                 His place was shaded by green trees.
608         He koude bettre than his lord purchace.
                 He could buy property better than his lord could.
609         Ful riche he was astored pryvely.
                 He was secretly very richly provided.
610         His lord wel koude he plesen subtilly,
                 He well knew how to please his lord subtly,
611         To yeve and lene hym of his owene good,
                 By giving and lending him some of his lord's own possessions,
612         And have a thank, and yet a cote and hood.
                 And have thanks, and also a coat and hood (as a reward).
613         In youthe he hadde lerned a good myster:
                 In youth he had learned a good craft:
614         He was a wel good wrighte, a carpenter.
                 He was a very good craftsman, a carpenter.
615         This Reve sat upon a ful good stot
                 This Reeve sat upon a very good horse
616         That was al pomely grey and highte Scot.
                 That was all dapple gray and was called Scot.
617         A long surcote of pers upon he hade,
                 He had on a long outer coat of dark blue,
618         And by his syde he baar a rusty blade.
                 And by his side he wore a rusty sword.
619         Of Northfolk was this Reve of which I telle,
                 Of Northfolk was this Reeve of whom I tell,
620         Biside a toun men clepen Baldeswelle.
                 Near to a town men call Bawdeswelle.
621         Tukked he was as is a frere aboute,
                 He had his coat hitched up and belted, like a friar,
622         And evere he rood the hyndreste of oure route.
                 And ever he rode as the last of our company.

623         A SOMONOUR was ther with us in that place,
                 There was a SUMMONER with us in that place,
624         That hadde a fyr-reed cherubynnes face,
                 Who had a fire-red cherubim's face,
625         For saucefleem he was, with eyen narwe.
                 For it was pimpled and discolored, with swollen eyelids.
626         As hoot he was and lecherous as a sparwe,
                 He was as hot and lecherous as a sparrow,
627         With scalled browes blake and piled berd.
                 With black, scabby brows and a beard with hair fallen out.
628         Of his visage children were aferd.
                 Children were afraid of his face.
629         Ther nas quyk-silver, lytarge, ne brymstoon,
                 There was no mercury, lead monoxide, nor sulphur,
630         Boras, ceruce, ne oille of tartre noon,
                 Borax, white lead, nor any oil of tarter,
631         Ne oynement that wolde clense and byte,
                 Nor ointment that would cleanse and burn,
632         That hym myghte helpen of his whelkes white,
                 That could cure him of his white pustules,
633         Nor of the knobbes sittynge on his chekes.
                 Nor of the knobs sitting on his cheeks.
634         Wel loved he garleek, oynons, and eek lekes,
                 He well loved garlic, onions, and also leeks,
635         And for to drynken strong wyn, reed as blood;
                 And to drink strong wine, red as blood;
636         Thanne wolde he speke and crie as he were wood.
                 Then he would speak and cry out as if he were crazy.
637         And whan that he wel dronken hadde the wyn,
                 And when he had drunk deeply of the wine,
638         Thanne wolde he speke no word but Latyn.
                 Then he would speak no word but Latin.
639         A fewe termes hadde he, two or thre,
                 He had a few legal terms, two or three,
640         That he had lerned out of som decree --
                 That he had learned out of some text of ecclesiastical law --
641         No wonder is, he herde it al the day;
                 That is no wonder, he heard it all the day;
642         And eek ye knowen wel how that a jay
                 And also you know well how a jay
643         Kan clepen "Watte" as wel as kan the pope.
                 Can call out "Walter" as well as the pope can.
644         But whoso koude in oother thyng hym grope,
                 But whoever knew how to examine him in other matters,
645         Thanne hadde he spent al his philosophie;
                 (Would find that) he had used up all his learning;
646         Ay "Questio quid iuris" wolde he crie.
                 Always "The question is, what point of the law applies?" he would cry.
647         He was a gentil harlot and a kynde;
                 He was a fine rascal and a kind one;
648         A bettre felawe sholde men noght fynde.
                 One could not find a better fellow.
649         He wolde suffre for a quart of wyn
                 For a quart of wine he would allow
650         A good felawe to have his concubyn
                 A good fellow to have his concubine
651         A twelf month, and excuse hym atte fulle;
                 For twelve months, and excuse him completely;
652         Ful prively a fynch eek koude he pulle.
                 Secretly he also knew how to pull off a clever trick.
653         And if he foond owher a good felawe,
                 And if he found anywhere a good fellow,
654         He wolde techen him to have noon awe
                 He would teach him to have no awe
655         In swich caas of the ercedekenes curs,
                 Of the archdeacon's curse (of excommunication) in such a case,
656         But if a mannes soule were in his purs;
                 Unless a man's soul were in his purse;
657         For in his purs he sholde ypunysshed be.
                 For in his purse he would be punished.
658         "Purs is the ercedekenes helle," seyde he.
                 "Purse is the archdeacon's hell," he said.
659         But wel I woot he lyed right in dede;
                 But well I know he lied right certainly;
660         Of cursyng oghte ech gilty man him drede,
                 Each guilty man ought to be afraid of excommunication,
661         For curs wol slee right as assoillyng savith,
                 For excommunication will slay just as forgiveness saves,
662         And also war hym of a Significavit.
                 And let him also beware of a Significavit (order for imprisonment).
663         In daunger hadde he at his owene gise
                 In his control he had as he pleased
664         The yonge girles of the diocise,
                 The young people of the diocese,
665         And knew hir conseil, and was al hir reed.
                 And knew their secrets, and was the adviser of them all.
666         A gerland hadde he set upon his heed,
                 He had set a garland upon his heed,
667         As greet as it were for an ale-stake.
                 As large as if it were for the sign of a tavern
668         A bokeleer hadde he maad hym of a cake.
                 He had made himself a shield of a cake.

669         With hym ther rood a gentil PARDONER
                 With him there rode a fine PARDONER
670         Of Rouncivale, his freend and his compeer,
                 Of Rouncivale, his friend and his companion,
671         That streight was comen fro the court of Rome.
                 Who had come straight from the court of Rome.
672         Ful loude he soong "Com hider, love, to me!"
                 Very loud he sang "Come hither, love, to me!"
673         This Somonour bar to hym a stif burdoun;
                 This Summoner harmonized with him in a strong bass;
674         Was nevere trompe of half so greet a soun.
                 There was never a trumpet of half so great a sound.
675         This Pardoner hadde heer as yelow as wex,
                 This Pardoner had hair as yellow as wax,
676         But smothe it heeng as dooth a strike of flex;
                 But smooth it hung as does a clump of flax;
677         By ounces henge his lokkes that he hadde,
                 By small strands hung such locks as he had,
678         And therwith he his shuldres overspradde;
                 And he spread them over his shoulders;
679         But thynne it lay, by colpons oon and oon.
                 But thin it lay, by strands one by one.
680         But hood, for jolitee, wered he noon,
                 But to make an attractive appearance, he wore no hood,
681         For it was trussed up in his walet.
                 For it was trussed up in his knapsack.
682         Hym thoughte he rood al of the newe jet;
                 It seemed to him that he rode in the very latest style;
683         Dischevelee, save his cappe, he rood al bare.
                 With hair unbound, save for his cap, he rode all bare-headed.
684         Swiche glarynge eyen hadde he as an hare.
                 He had glaring eyes such as has a hare.
685         A vernycle hadde he sowed upon his cappe.
                 He had sewn a Veronica upon his cap.
686         His walet, biforn hym in his lappe,
                 Before him in his lap, (he had) his knapsack,
687         Bretful of pardoun comen from Rome al hoot.
                 Brimful of pardons come all fresh from Rome.
688         A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot.
                 He had a voice as small as a goat has.
689         No berd hadde he, ne nevere sholde have;
                 He had no beard, nor never would have;
690         As smothe it was as it were late shave.
                 It (his face) was as smooth as if it were recently shaven.
691         I trowe he were a geldyng or a mare.
                 I believe he was a eunuch or a homosexual.
692         But of his craft, fro Berwyk into Ware
                 But as to his craft, from Berwick to Ware
693         Ne was ther swich another pardoner.
                 There was no other pardoner like him.
694         For in his male he hadde a pilwe-beer,
                 For in his pouch he had a pillow-case,
695         Which that he seyde was Oure Lady veyl;
                 Which he said was Our Lady's veil;
696         He seyde he hadde a gobet of the seyl
                 He said he had a piece of the sail
697         That Seint Peter hadde, whan that he wente
                 That Saint Peter had, when he went
698         Upon the see, til Jhesu Crist hym hente.
                 Upon the sea, until Jesus Christ took him.
699         He hadde a croys of latoun ful of stones,
                 He had a cross of latten (brass-like alloy) covered with stones,
700         And in a glas he hadde pigges bones.
                 And in a glass container he had pigs' bones.
701         But with thise relikes, whan that he fond
                 But with these relics, when he found
702         A povre person dwellynge upon lond,
                 A poor parson dwelling in the countryside,
703         Upon a day he gat hym moore moneye
                 In one day he got himself more money
704         Than that the person gat in monthes tweye;
                 Than the parson got in two months;
705         And thus, with feyned flaterye and japes,
                 And thus, with feigned flattery and tricks,
706         He made the person and the peple his apes.
                 He made fools of the parson and the people.
707         But trewely to tellen atte laste,
                 But truly to tell at the last,
708         He was in chirche a noble ecclesiaste.
                 He was in church a noble ecclesiast.
709         Wel koude he rede a lessoun or a storie,
                 He well knew how to read a lesson or a story,
710         But alderbest he song an offertorie;
                 But best of all he sang an Offertory;
711         For wel he wiste, whan that song was songe,
                 For he knew well, when that song was sung,
712         He moste preche and wel affile his tonge
                 He must preach and well smooth his speech
713         To wynne silver, as he ful wel koude;
                 To win silver, as he very well knew how;
714         Therefore he song the murierly and loude.
                 Therefore he sang the more merrily and loud.

715         Now have I toold you soothly, in a clause,
                 Now have I told you truly, briefly,
716         Th' estaat, th' array, the nombre, and eek the cause
                 The rank, the dress, the number, and also the cause
717         Why that assembled was this compaignye
                 Why this company was assembled
718         In Southwerk at this gentil hostelrye
                 In Southwark at this fine hostelry
719         That highte the Tabard, faste by the Belle.
                 That is called the Tabard, close by the Bell.
720         But now is tyme to yow for to telle
                 But now it is time to tell to you
721         How that we baren us that ilke nyght,
                 How we conducted ourselves that same night,
722         Whan we were in that hostelrie alyght;
                 When we had arrived in that hostelry;
723         And after wol I telle of our viage
                 And after that I will tell of our journey
724         And al the remenaunt of oure pilgrimage.
                 And all the rest of our pilgrimage.
725         But first I pray yow, of youre curteisye,
                 But first I pray yow, of your courtesy,
726         That ye n' arette it nat my vileynye,
                 That you do not attribute it to my rudeness,
727         Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere,
                 Though I speak plainly in this matter,
728         To telle yow hir wordes and hir cheere,
                 To tell you their words and their behavior,
729         Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely.
                 Nor though I speak their words accurately.
730         For this ye knowen al so wel as I:
                 For this you know as well as I:
731         Whoso shal telle a tale after a man,
                 Whoever must repeat a story after someone,
732         He moot reherce as ny as evere he kan
                 He must repeat as closely as ever he knows how
733         Everich a word, if it be in his charge,
                 Every single word, if it be in his power,
734         Al speke he never so rudeliche and large,
                 Although he may speak ever so rudely and freely,
735         Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe,
                 Or else he must tell his tale inaccurately,
736         Or feyne thyng, or fynde wordes newe.
                 Or make up things, or find new words.
737         He may nat spare, althogh he were his brother;
                 He may not refrain from (telling the truth), although he were his brother;
738         He moot as wel seye o word as another.
                 He must as well say one word as another.
739         Crist spak hymself ful brode in hooly writ,
                 Christ himself spoke very plainly in holy writ,
740         And wel ye woot no vileynye is it.
                 And you know well it is no rudeness.
741         Eek Plato seith, whoso kan hym rede,
                 Also Plato says, whosoever knows how to read him,
742         The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede.
                 The words must be closely related to the deed.
743         Also I prey yow to foryeve it me,
                 Also I pray you to forgive it to me,
744         Al have I nat set folk in hir degree
                 Although I have not set folk in order of their rank
745         Heere in this tale, as that they sholde stonde.
                 Here in this tale, as they should stand.
746         My wit is short, ye may wel understonde.
                 My wit is short, you can well understand.

747         Greet chiere made oure Hoost us everichon,
                 Our Host made great hospitality to everyone of us,
748         And to the soper sette he us anon.
                 And to the supper he set us straightway.
749         He served us with vitaille at the beste;
                 He served us with victuals of the best sort;
750         Strong was the wyn, and wel to drynke us leste.
                 The wine was strong, and it well pleased us to drink.
751         A semely man OURE HOOSTE was withalle
                 OUR HOST was an impressive man indeed
752         For to been a marchal in an halle.
                 (Qualified) to be a master of ceremonies in a hall.
753         A large man he was with eyen stepe --
                 He was a large man with prominent eyes --
754         A fairer burgeys was ther noon in Chepe --
                 There was no better business man in Cheapside --
755         Boold of his speche, and wys, and wel ytaught,
                 Bold of his speech, and wise, and well mannered,
756         And of manhod hym lakkede right naught.
                 And he lacked nothing at all of the qualities proper to a man.
757         Eek therto he was right a myrie man;
                 Also moreover he was a right merry man;
758         And after soper pleyen he bigan,
                 And after supper he began to be merry,
759         And spak of myrthe amonges othere thynges,
                 And spoke of mirth among other things,
760         Whan that we hadde maad oure rekenynges,
                 When we had paid our bills,
761         And seyde thus: "Now, lordynges, trewely,
                 And said thus: "Now, gentlemen, truly,
762         Ye been to me right welcome, hertely;
                 You are right heartily welcome to me;
763         For by my trouthe, if that I shal nat lye,
                 For by my word, if I shall not lie (I must say),
764         I saugh nat this yeer so myrie a compaignye
                 I saw not this year so merry a company
765         Atones in this herberwe as is now.
                 At one time in this lodging as is (here) now.
766         Fayn wolde I doon yow myrthe, wiste I how.
                 I would gladly make you happy, if I knew how.
767         And of a myrthe I am right now bythoght,
                 And I have just now thought of an amusement,
768         To doon yow ese, and it shal coste noght.
                 To give you pleasure, and it shall cost nothing.

769         "Ye goon to Caunterbury -- God yow speede,
                 "You go to Canterbury -- God give you success,
770         The blisful martir quite yow youre meede!
                 May the blessed martyr give you your reward!
771         And wel I woot, as ye goon by the weye,
                 And well I know, as you go by the way,
772         Ye shapen yow to talen and to pleye;
                 You intend to tell tales and to amuse yourselves;
773         For trewely, confort ne myrthe is noon
                 For truly, it is no comfort nor mirth
774         To ride by the weye doumb as a stoon;
                 To ride by the way dumb as a stone;
775         And therfore wol I maken yow disport,
                 And therefore I will make a game for you,
776         As I seyde erst, and doon yow som confort.
                 As I said before, and provide you some pleasure.
777         And if yow liketh alle by oon assent
                 And if pleases you all unanimously
778         For to stonden at my juggement,
                 To be subject to my judgment,
779         And for to werken as I shal yow seye,
                 And to do as I shall tell you,
780         Tomorwe, whan ye riden by the weye,
                 Tomorrow, when you ride by the way,
781         Now, by my fader soule that is deed,
                 Now, by the soul of my father who is dead,
782         But ye be myrie, I wol yeve yow myn heed!
                 Unless you be merry, I will give you my head!
783         Hoold up youre hondes, withouten moore speche."
                 Hold up your hands, without more speech."

784         Oure conseil was nat longe for to seche.
                 Our decision was not long to seek out.
785         Us thoughte it was noght worth to make it wys,
                 It seemed to us it was not worthwhile to deliberate on it,
786         And graunted hym withouten moore avys,
                 And (we) granted his request without more discussion,
787         And bad him seye his voirdit as hym leste.
                 And asked him to say his decision as it pleased him.
788         "Lordynges," quod he, "now herkneth for the beste;
                 "Gentlemen," said he, "now listen for the best course of action;
789         But taak it nought, I prey yow, in desdeyn.
                 But, I pray yow, do not take it in disdain (scorn it).
790         This is the poynt, to speken short and pleyn,
                 This is the point, to speak briefly and clearly,
791         That ech of yow, to shorte with oure weye,
                 That each of yow, to make our way seem short by this means,
792         In this viage shal telle tales tweye
                 Must tell two tales in this journey
793         To Caunterbury-ward, I mene it so,
                 On the way to Canterbury, that is what I mean,
794         And homward he shal tellen othere two,
                 And on the homeward trip he shall tell two others,
795         Of aventures that whilom han bifalle.
                 About adventures that in old times have happened.
796         And which of yow that bereth hym best of alle --
                 And whoever of you who does best of all --
797         That is to seyn, that telleth in this caas
                 That is to say, who tells in this case
798         Tales of best sentence and moost solaas --
                 Tales of best moral meaning and most pleasure --
799         Shal have a soper at oure aller cost
                 Shall have a supper at the cost of us all
800         Heere in this place, sittynge by this post,
                 Here in this place, sitting by this post,
801         Whan that we come agayn fro Caunterbury.
                 When we come back from Canterbury.
802         And for to make yow the moore mury,
                 And to make you the more merry,
803         I wol myselven goodly with yow ryde,
                 I will myself gladly ride with you,
804         Right at myn owene cost, and be youre gyde;
                 Entirely at my own cost, and be your guide;
805         And whoso wole my juggement withseye
                 And whosoever will not accept my judgment
806         Shal paye al that we spenden by the weye.
                 Shall pay all that we spend by the way.
807         And if ye vouche sauf that it be so,
                 And if you grant that it be so,
808         Tel me anon, withouten wordes mo,
                 Tell me straightway, without more words,
809         And I wol erly shape me therfore."
                 And I will get ready early for this."

810         This thyng was graunted, and oure othes swore
                 This thing was granted, and our oaths sworn
811         With ful glad herte, and preyden hym also
                 With very glad hearts, and (we) prayed him also
812         That he wolde vouche sauf for to do so,
                 That he would consent to do so,
813         And that he wolde been oure governour,
                 And that he would be our governor,
814         And of oure tales juge and reportour,
                 And judge and score keeper of our tales,
815         And sette a soper at a certeyn pris,
                 And set a supper at a certain price,
816         And we wol reuled been at his devys
                 And we will be ruled as he wishes
817         In heigh and lough; and thus by oon assent
                 In every respect; and thus unanimously
818         We been acorded to his juggement.
                 We are accorded to his judgment.
819         And therupon the wyn was fet anon;
                 And thereupon the wine was fetched immediately;
820         We dronken, and to reste wente echon,
                 We drank, and each one went to rest,
821         Withouten any lenger taryynge.
                 Without any longer tarrying.

822         Amorwe, whan that day bigan to sprynge,
                 In the morning, when day began to spring,
823         Up roos oure Hoost, and was oure aller cok,
                 Our Host arose, and was the rooster of us all (awakened us).
824         And gadrede us togidre alle in a flok,
                 And gathered us together all in a flock,
825         And forth we riden a litel moore than paas
                 And forth we rode at little more than a walk
826         Unto the Wateryng of Seint Thomas;
                 Unto the Watering of Saint Thomas;
827         And there oure Hoost bigan his hors areste
                 And there our Host stopped his horse
828         And seyde, "Lordynges, herkneth, if yow leste.
                 And said, "Gentlemen, listen, if you please.
829         Ye woot youre foreward, and I it yow recorde.
                 You know your agreement, and I remind you of it.
830         If even-song and morwe-song accorde,
                 If what you said last night agrees with what you say this morning,
831         Lat se now who shal telle the firste tale.
                 Let's see now who shall tell the first tale.
832         As evere mote I drynke wyn or ale,
                 As ever I may drink wine or ale,
833         Whoso be rebel to my juggement
                 Whosoever may be rebel to my judgment
834         Shal paye for al that by the wey is spent.
                 Shall pay for all that is spent by the way.
835         Now draweth cut, er that we ferrer twynne;
                 Now draw straws, before we depart further (from London);
836         He which that hath the shorteste shal bigynne.
                 He who has the shortest shall begin.
837         Sire Knyght," quod he, "my mayster and my lord,
                 Sir Knight," said he, "my master and my lord,
838         Now draweth cut, for that is myn accord.
                 Now draw a straw, for that is my decision.
839         Cometh neer," quod he, "my lady Prioresse.
                 Come nearer," he said, "my lady Prioress.
840         And ye, sire Clerk, lat be youre shamefastnesse,
                 And you, sir Clerk, let be your modesty,
841         Ne studieth noght; ley hond to, every man!"
                 And study not; lay hand to (draw a straw), every man!"
842         Anon to drawen every wight bigan,
                 Every person began straightway to draw,
843         And shortly for to tellen as it was,
                 And shortly to tell as it was,
844         Were it by aventure, or sort, or cas,
                 Were it by chance, or destiny, or luck,
845         The sothe is this: the cut fil to the Knyght,
                 The truth is this: the draw fell to the Knight,
846         Of which ful blithe and glad was every wyght,
                 For which everyone was very happy and glad,
847         And telle he moste his tale, as was resoun,
                 And he must tell his tale, as was reasonable,
848         By foreward and by composicioun,
                 By our previous promise and by formal agreement,
849         As ye han herd; what nedeth wordes mo?
                 As you have heard; what more words are needed?
850         And whan this goode man saugh that it was so,
                 And when this good man saw that it was so,
851         As he that wys was and obedient
                 Like one who was wise and obedient
852         To kepe his foreward by his free assent,
                 To keep his agreement by his free assent,
853         He seyde, "Syn I shal bigynne the game,
                 He said, "Since I must begin the game,
854         What, welcome be the cut, a Goddes name!
                 What! Welcome be the draw, in God's name!
855         Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye."
                 Now let us ride, and listen to what I say."
856         And with that word we ryden forth oure weye,
                 And with that word we rode forth on our way,
857         And he bigan with right a myrie cheere
                 And he began with a truly merry demeanor
858         His tale anon, and seyde as ye may heere.
                 To tell his tale straightway, and said as you may hear.