The Manciple's Prologue
Here folweth the Prologe of the Maunciples Tale.
1 Woot ye nat where ther stant a litel toun
Know you not where there stands a little town
2 Which that ycleped is Bobbe-up-and-doun,
Which is called Bobbe-up-and-down,
3 Under the Blee, in Caunterbury Weye?
Under the Blee, in Canterbury Way?
4 Ther gan oure Hooste for to jape and pleye,
There began our Host to joke and play,
5 And seyde, "Sires, what! Dun is in the myre!
And said, "Sirs, what! Dun is in the mire!
6 Is ther no man, for preyere ne for hyre,
Is there no man, for prayer nor for hire,
7 That wole awake oure felawe al bihynde?
That will awake our fellow far behind us?
8 A theef myghte hym ful lightly robbe and bynde.
A thief might full easily rob and bind him.
9 See how he nappeth! See how, for cokkes bones,
See how he naps! See how, for cock's bones,
10 That he wol falle fro his hors atones!
That he will soon fall from his horse!
11 Is that a cook of Londoun, with meschaunce?
Is that a cook of London, with bad luck (to him)?
12 Do hym come forth, he knoweth his penaunce;
Make him come forth, he knows his penance;
13 For he shal telle a tale, by my fey,
For he shall tell a tale, by my faith,
14 Although it be nat worth a botel hey.
Although it be not worth a bundle of hay.
15 Awake, thou Cook," quod he, "God yeve thee sorwe!
Awake, thou Cook," said he, "God give thee sorrow!
16 What eyleth thee to slepe by the morwe?
What ails thee to sleep in the morning?
17 Hastow had fleen al nyght, or artow dronke?
Hast thou had fleas all night, or art thou drunk?
18 Or hastow with som quene al nyght yswonke,
Or hast thou with some prostitute all night labored,
19 So that thow mayst nat holden up thyn heed?"
So that thou can not hold up thy head?"
20 This Cook, that was ful pale and no thyng reed,
This Cook, who was full pale and not at all red,
21 Seyde to oure Hoost, "So God my soule blesse,
Said to our Host, "God bless my soul,
22 As ther is falle on me swich hevynesse,
There is fallen on me such heaviness,
23 Noot I nat why, that me were levere slepe
Know I not why, that I would rather sleep
24 Than the beste galon wyn in Chepe."
Than (have) the best gallon of wine in Cheapside."
25 "Wel," quod the Maunciple, "if it may doon ese
"Well," said the Manciple, "if it may give relief
26 To thee, sire Cook, and to no wight displese,
To thee, sir Cook, and be displeasing to no person,
27 Which that heere rideth in this compaignye,
Who rides here in this company,
28 And that oure Hoost wole, of his curteisye,
And (providing) that our Host would (agree), of his courtesy,
29 I wol as now excuse thee of thy tale.
I will for now excuse thee of thy tale.
30 For, in good feith, thy visage is ful pale,
For, in good faith, thy visage is full pale,
31 Thyne eyen daswen eek, as that me thynketh,
Thy eyes are dazed also, as it seems to me,
32 And, wel I woot, thy breeth ful soure stynketh:
And, well I know, thy breath full sourly stinks:
33 That sheweth wel thou art nat wel disposed.
That shows well thou art not in good health.
34 Of me, certeyn, thou shalt nat been yglosed.
By me, certainly, thou shalt not be deceived.
35 See how he ganeth, lo, this dronken wight,
See how he yawns, lo, this drunken fellow,
36 As though he wolde swolwe us anonright.
As though he would swallow us right away.
37 Hoold cloos thy mouth, man, by thy fader kyn!
Keep thy mouth closed, man, by thy father's kin!
38 The devel of helle sette his foot therin!
The devil of hell set his foot therein!
39 Thy cursed breeth infecte wole us alle.
Thy cursed breath would infect us all.
40 Fy, stynkyng swyn! Fy, foule moote thee falle!
Fie, stinking swine! Fie, may foul fortune thee befall!
41 A, taketh heede, sires, of this lusty man.
Ah, take heed, sirs, of this lusty man.
42 Now, sweete sire, wol ye justen atte fan?
Now, sweet sir, will you joust at the quintain?
43 Therto me thynketh ye been wel yshape!
It seems to me you are in good shape for that!
44 I trowe that ye dronken han wyn ape,
I believe that you have drunk until you act like an ape,
45 And that is whan men pleyen with a straw."
And that is when men play with a straw."
46 And with this speche the Cook wax wrooth and wraw,
And with this speech the Cook became angry and enraged,
47 And on the Manciple he gan nodde faste
And on the Manciple he began to shake his head fast
48 For lakke of speche, and doun the hors hym caste,
For lack of speech, and down the horse him threw,
49 Where as he lay, til that men hym up took.
Where he lay, until men lifted him up.
50 This was a fair chyvachee of a cook!
This was a fine feat of horsemanship by a cook!
51 Allas, he nadde holde hym by his ladel!
Alas, he had not kept himself by his ladle (i.e., stayed home)!
52 And er that he agayn were in his sadel,
And before he was again in his saddle,
53 Ther was greet showvyng bothe to and fro
There was great shoving both to and fro
54 To lifte hym up, and muchel care and wo,
To lift him up, and much care and woe,
55 So unweeldy was this sory palled goost.
So unwieldy was this sorry enfeebled soul.
56 And to the Manciple thanne spak oure Hoost:
And to the Manciple then spoke our Host:
57 "By cause drynke hath dominacioun
"Because drink has domination
58 Upon this man, by my savacioun,
Upon this man, by my salvation,
59 I trowe he lewedly wolde telle his tale.
I believe he would tell his tale badly.
60 For, were it wyn or oold or moysty ale
For, were it wine or old or new ale
61 That he hath dronke, he speketh in his nose,
That he has drunk, he speaks in his nose,
62 And fneseth faste, and eek he hath the pose.
And sneezes fast, and also he has a head cold.
63 "He hath also to do moore than ynough
"He has also more than enough to do
64 To kepen hym and his capul out of the slough;
To keep him and his horse out of the mud;
65 And if he falle from his capul eftsoone,
And if he fall from his horse again,
66 Thanne shal we alle have ynogh to doone
Then shall we all have enough to do
67 In liftyng up his hevy dronken cors.
In lifting up his heavy drunken body.
68 Telle on thy tale; of hym make I no fors.
Tell on thy tale; of him I take no account.
69 "But yet, Manciple, in feith thou art to nyce,
"But yet, Manciple, in faith thou art too foolish,
70 Thus openly repreve hym of his vice.
Thus openly to reprove him of his vice.
71 Another day he wole, peraventure,
Another day he would, perhaps,
72 Reclayme thee and brynge thee to lure;
Recall thee and bring thee to the lure (like a hawk);
73 I meene, he speke wole of smale thynges,
I mean, he would speak of small things,
74 As for to pynchen at thy rekenynges,
As for to find fault with thy accounts,
75 That were nat honest, if it cam to preef."
That may not be honest, if it comes to proof."
76 "No," quod the Manciple, "that were a greet mescheef!
"No," said the Manciple, "that would be a great mischief!
77 So myghte he lightly brynge me in the snare.
In that way he could easily bring me into the trap.
78 Yet hadde I levere payen for the mare
Yet I would rather pay for the mare
79 Which he rit on, than he sholde with me stryve.
That he rides on, than he should strive with me.
80 I wol nat wratthen hym, also moot I thryve!
I will not anger him, as I may thrive!
81 That that I spak, I seyde it in my bourde.
That which I spoke, I said it in my joking.
82 And wite ye what? I have heer in a gourde
And do you know what? I have here in a gourd
83 A draghte of wyn, ye, of a ripe grape,
A draught of wine, yes, of a ripe grape,
84 And right anon ye shul seen a good jape.
And right away you shall see a good joke.
85 This Cook shal drynke therof, if I may.
This Cook shall drink thereof, if I may.
86 Up peyne of deeth, he wol nat seye me nay."
Upon pain of death, he will not say me nay."
87 And certeynly, to tellen as it was,
And certainly, to tell it as it was,
88 Of this vessel the Cook drank faste, allas!
Of this vessel the Cook drank fast, alas!
89 What neded hym? He drank ynough biforn.
Why did he need that? He drank enough before.
90 And whan he hadde pouped in this horn,
And when he had blown in this horn,
91 To the Manciple he took the gourde agayn;
To the Manciple he gave the gourd again;
92 And of that drynke the Cook was wonder fayn,
And of that drink the Cook was wonderfully pleased,
93 And thanked hym in swich wise as he koude.
And thanked him in such a way as he could.
94 Thanne gan oure Hoost to laughen wonder loude,
Then began our Host to laugh wonderfully loud,
95 And seyde, "I se wel it is necessarie,
And said, "I see well it is necessary,
96 Where that we goon, good drynke with us carie;
Wherever we go, to carry good drink with us;
97 For that wol turne rancour and disese
For that will turn rancor and strife
98 T' acord and love, and many a wrong apese.
To accord and love, and appease many a wrong.
99 "O Bacus, yblessed be thy name,
"O Bacchus, blessed be thy name,
100 That so kanst turnen ernest into game!
Who so can turn earnest into game!
101 Worshipe and thank be to thy deitee!
Worship and thanks be to thy deity!
102 Of that mateere ye gete namoore of me.
Of that matter you get no more of me.
103 Telle on thy tale, Manciple, I thee preye."
Tell on thy tale, Manciple, I thee pray."
104 "Wel, sire," quod he, "now herkneth what I seye."
"Well, sir," said he, "now hearken what I say."
The Manciple's Tale
Heere bigynneth the Maunciples Tale of the Crowe.
105 Whan Phebus dwelled heere in this erthe adoun,
When Phoebus dwelled down here in this earth,
106 As olde bookes maken mencioun,
As old books make mention,
107 He was the mooste lusty bachiler
He was the most lusty bachelor
108 In al this world, and eek the beste archer.
In all this world, and also the best archer.
109 He slow Phitoun, the serpent, as he lay
He slew Phitoun, the serpent, as he lay
110 Slepynge agayn the sonne upon a day;
Sleeping in the sun upon a day;
111 And many another noble worthy dede
And many another noble worthy deed
112 He with his bowe wroghte, as men may rede.
He wrought with his bow, as men may read.
113 Pleyen he koude on every mynstralcie,
He could play on every minstrelsy,
114 And syngen that it was a melodie
And sing so that it was a pleasure
115 To heeren of his cleere voys the soun.
To hear of his clear voice the sound.
116 Certes the kyng of Thebes, Amphioun,
Certainly the king of Thebes, Amphioun,
117 That with his syngyng walled that citee,
Who with his singing walled that city,
118 Koude nevere syngen half so wel as hee.
Could never sing half so well as he.
119 Therto he was the semelieste man
Thereto he was the best looking man
120 That is or was sith that the world bigan.
That is or was since the world began.
121 What nedeth it his fetures to discryve?
What needs it his features to describe?
122 For in this world was noon so faire on-lyve.
For in this world was no one so handsome alive.
123 He was therwith fulfild of gentillesse,
He was therewith filled full of nobility,
124 Of honour, and of parfit worthynesse.
Of honor, and of perfect worthiness.
125 This Phebus, that was flour of bachilrie,
This Phoebus, which was the flower of knighthood,
126 As wel in fredom as in chivalrie,
As well in generosity as in chivalry,
127 For his desport, in signe eek of victorie
For his amusement, in sign also of victory
128 Of Phitoun, so as telleth us the storie,
Over Phitoun, as tells us the story,
129 Was wont to beren in his hand a bowe.
Was accustomed to bear in his hand a bow.
130 Now hadde this Phebus in his hous a crowe
Now had this Phoebus in his house a crow
131 Which in a cage he fostred many a day,
Which in a cage he fostered many a day,
132 And taughte it speken, as men teche a jay.
And taught it to speak, as men teach a jay.
133 Whit was this crowe as is a snow-whit swan,
White was this crow as is a snow-white swan,
134 And countrefete the speche of every man
And imitate the speech of every man
135 He koude, whan he sholde telle a tale.
He could, when he should tell a tale.
136 Therwith in al this world no nyghtyngale
Therewith in all this world no nightingale
137 Ne koude, by an hondred thousand deel,
Could not, by a hundred thousand times,
138 Syngen so wonder myrily and weel.
Sing so wonderfully merrily and well.
139 Now hadde this Phebus in his hous a wyf
Now had this Phoebus in his house a woman
140 Which that he lovede moore than his lyf,
Whom he loved more than his life,
141 And nyght and day dide evere his diligence
And night and day did ever his efforts
142 Hir for to plese and doon hire reverence,
To please her and do her reverence,
143 Save oonly, if the sothe that I shal sayn,
Save only, if I shall say the truth,
144 Jalous he was, and wolde have kept hire fayn.
Jealous he was, and would eagerly have kept her.
145 For hym were looth byjaped for to be,
For he was loath to be tricked,
146 And so is every wight in swich degree;
And so is every person in such a situation;
147 But al in ydel, for it availleth noght.
But all in vain, for it does not help.
148 A good wyf, that is clene of werk and thoght,
A good wife, who is clean of deed and thought,
149 Sholde nat been kept in noon awayt, certayn;
Should not be constantly watched, certainly;
150 And trewely the labour is in vayn
And truly the labor is in vain
151 To kepe a shrewe, for it wol nat bee.
To keep a shrew, for it will not be.
152 This holde I for a verray nycetee,
This hold I for a real act of folly,
153 To spille labour for to kepe wyves:
To waste labor guarding wives:
154 Thus writen olde clerkes in hir lyves.
Thus wrote old clerks in their time.
155 But now to purpos, as I first bigan:
But now to purpose, as I first began:
156 This worthy Phebus dooth al that he kan
This worthy Phoebus does all that he can
157 To plesen hire, wenynge for swich plesaunce,
To please her, supposing for such pleasing actions,
158 And for his manhede and his governaunce,
And for his manly qualities and his behavior,
159 That no man sholde han put hym from hir grace.
That no man should have put him out of her grace.
160 But God it woot, ther may no man embrace
But God knows it, there can no man embrace
161 As to destreyne a thyng which that nature
And restrain a thing which nature
162 Hath natureelly set in a creature.
Has naturally set in a creature.
163 Taak any bryd, and put it in a cage,
Take any bird, and put it in a cage,
164 And do al thyn entente and thy corage
And give all thy attention and take thy pains
165 To fostre it tendrely with mete and drynke
To foster it tenderly with food and drink
166 Of alle deyntees that thou kanst bithynke,
Of all dainties that thou can imagine,
167 And keep it al so clenly as thou may,
And keep it as cleanly as thou can,
168 Although his cage of gold be never so gay,
Although his cage of gold be never so gay,
169 Yet hath this brid, by twenty thousand foold,
Yet would this bird, by twenty thousand times,
170 Levere in a forest that is rude and coold
Rather in a forest that is rude and cold
171 Goon ete wormes and swich wrecchednesse.
Go eat worms and such wretched food.
172 For evere this brid wol doon his bisynesse
For ever this bird will work diligently
173 To escape out of his cage, yif he may.
To escape out of his cage, if he can.
174 His libertee this brid desireth ay.
His liberty this bird desires always.
175 Lat take a cat, and fostre hym wel with milk
Let's take a cat, and foster him well with milk
176 And tendre flessh, and make his couche of silk,
And tender meat, and make his couch of silk,
177 And lat hym seen a mous go by the wal,
And let him see a mouse go by the wall,
178 Anon he weyveth milk and flessh and al,
Right then he refuses milk and meat and all,
179 And every deyntee that is in that hous,
And every dainty that is in that house,
180 Swich appetit hath he to ete a mous.
Such appetite has he to eat a mouse.
181 Lo, heere hath lust his dominacioun,
Lo, here has lust his domination,
182 And appetit fleemeth discrecioun.
And appetite drives away discretion.
183 A she-wolf hath also a vileyns kynde.
A she-wolf has also an evil nature.
184 The lewedeste wolf that she may fynde,
The most crude wolf that she can find,
185 Or leest of reputacioun, wol she take,
Or least of reputation, will she take,
186 In tyme whan hir lust to han a make.
In time when she lusts to have a mate.
187 Alle thise ensamples speke I by thise men
All these examples I about speak these men
188 That been untrewe, and nothyng by wommen.
That are untrue, and nothing about women.
189 For men han evere a likerous appetit
For men have ever a lecherous appetite
190 On lower thyng to parfourne hire delit
On lower things to perform their delight
191 Than on hire wyves, be they never so faire,
Than on their wives, be they never so fair,
192 Ne never so trewe, ne so debonaire.
Nor never so true, nor so gracious.
193 Flessh is so newefangel, with meschaunce,
Flesh is so fond of novelty, curses on it,
194 That we ne konne in nothyng han plesaunce
That we can not take pleasure in anything
195 That sowneth into vertu any while.
That is consonant with virtue for any length of time.
196 This Phebus, which that thoghte upon no gile,
This Phoebus, who thought upon no guile,
197 Deceyved was, for al his jolitee.
Deceived was, despite all his attractive qualities.
198 For under hym another hadde shee,
For under him another had she,
199 A man of litel reputacioun,
A man of little reputation,
200 Nat worth to Phebus in comparisoun.
Worth nothing in comparison to Phoebus.
201 The moore harm is, it happeth ofte so,
The more harm is, it happens often so,
202 Of which ther cometh muchel harm and wo.
Of which there comes much harm and woe.
203 And so bifel, whan Phebus was absent,
And so befell, when Phoebus was absent,
204 His wyf anon hath for hir lemman sent.
His wife immediately has for her sweetheart sent.
205 Hir lemman? Certes, this is a knavyssh speche!
Her sweetheart? Certes, this is a knavish speech!
206 Foryeveth it me, and that I yow biseche.
Forgive it me, and that I you beseech.
207 The wise Plato seith, as ye may rede,
The wise Plato says, as you may read,
208 The word moot nede accorde with the dede.
The word must by necessity accord with the deed.
209 If men shal telle proprely a thyng,
If men shall tell a thing properly,
210 The word moot cosyn be to the werkyng.
The word must be cousin to the deed.
211 I am a boystous man, right thus seye I:
I am an unlearned man, right thus say I:
212 Ther nys no difference, trewely,
There is no difference, truly,
213 Bitwixe a wyf that is of heigh degree,
Between a wife that is of high degree,
214 If of hir body dishonest she bee,
If of her body dishonest she bee,
215 And a povre wenche, oother than this --
And a poor wench, other than this --
216 If it so be they werke bothe amys --
If it so be they work both amiss --
217 But that the gentile, in estaat above,
Except that the gentle, higher in rank,
218 She shal be cleped his lady, as in love;
She shall be called his lady, as in love;
219 And for that oother is a povre womman,
And because that other is a poor woman,
220 She shal be cleped his wenche or his lemman.
She shall be called his wench or his sweetie.
221 And, God it woot, myn owene deere brother,
And, God it knows, my own dear brother,
222 Men leyn that oon as lowe as lith that oother.
Men lay that one as low as lies that other.
223 Right so bitwixe a titlelees tiraunt
Right so between an usurping tyrant
224 And an outlawe or a theef erraunt,
And an outlaw or an arrant thief,
225 The same I seye: ther is no difference.
The same I say: there is no difference.
226 To Alisaundre was toold this sentence,
To Alexander was told this sentence,
227 That, for the tirant is of gretter myght
That, because the tyrant is of greater might
228 By force of meynee for to sleen dounright,
By the size of his army to slay downright,
229 And brennen hous and hoom, and make al playn,
And burn house and home, and level everything,
230 Lo, therfore is he cleped a capitayn;
Lo, therefore is he called a captain;
231 And for the outlawe hath but smal meynee,
And because the outlaw has but a small group of followers,
232 And may nat doon so greet an harm as he,
And can not do as much harm as he,
233 Ne brynge a contree to so greet mescheef,
Nor bring a country to such great mischief,
234 Men clepen hym an outlawe or a theef.
Men call him an outlaw or a thief.
235 But for I am a man noght textueel,
But because I am not a learned man,
236 I wol noght telle of textes never a deel;
I will tell nothing of texts, never a bit;
237 I wol go to my tale, as I bigan.
I will go to my tale, as I began.
238 Whan Phebus wyf had sent for hir lemman,
When Phoebus wife had sent for her leman,
239 Anon they wroghten al hire lust volage.
Right away they satisfied all their reckless lust.
240 The white crowe, that heeng ay in the cage,
The white crow, that hanged always in the cage,
241 Biheeld hire werk, and seyde never a word.
Beheld their work, and said never a word.
242 And whan that hoom was come Phebus, the lord,
And when home was come Phoebus, the lord,
243 This crowe sang "Cokkow! Cokkow! Cokkow!"
This crow sang "Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!"
244 "What, bryd?" quod Phebus. "What song syngestow?
"What, bird?" said Phoebus. "What song singest thou?
245 Ne were thow wont so myrily to synge
Were thou not accustomed so merrily to sing
246 That to myn herte it was a rejoysynge
That to my heart it was a rejoicing
247 To heere thy voys? Allas, what song is this?"
To hear thy voice? Alas, what song is this?"
248 "By God," quod he, "I synge nat amys.
"By God," said he, "I sing not amiss.
249 Phebus," quod he, "for al thy worthynesse,
Phoebus," said he, "for all thy worthiness,
250 For al thy beautee and thy gentilesse,
For all thy beauty and thy nobility,
251 For al thy song and al thy mynstralcye,
For all thy song and all thy music,
252 For al thy waityng, blered is thyn ye
For all thy watching, thou hast been tricked
253 With oon of litel reputacioun,
By one of little reputation,
254 Noght worth to thee, as in comparisoun,
Not worth, compared to thee,
255 The montance of a gnat, so moote I thryve!
The value of a gnat, as I may thrive!
256 For on thy bed thy wyf I saugh hym swyve."
For on thy bed I saw him copulate with thy wife."
257 What wol ye moore? The crowe anon hym tolde,
What more do you want? The crow immediately him told,
258 By sadde tokenes and by wordes bolde,
By clear evidence and by bold words,
259 How that his wyf had doon hire lecherye,
How his wife had done her lechery,
260 Hym to greet shame and to greet vileynye,
To his great shame and to his great dishonor,
261 And tolde hym ofte he saugh it with his yen.
And told him repeatedly he saw it with his eyes.
262 This Phebus gan aweyward for to wryen,
This Phoebus began to turn away,
263 And thoughte his sorweful herte brast atwo.
And thought his sorrowful heart would break in two.
264 His bowe he bente, and sette therinne a flo,
His bow he bent, and set therein an arrow,
265 And in his ire his wyf thanne hath he slayn.
And in his ire his wife then has he slain.
266 This is th' effect; ther is namoore to sayn;
This is the substance of it; there is no more to say;
267 For sorwe of which he brak his mynstralcie,
For sorrow of which he broke his musical instruments,
268 Bothe harpe, and lute, and gyterne, and sautrie;
Both harp, and lute, and cither, and psaltery;
269 And eek he brak his arwes and his bowe,
And also he broke his arrows and his bow,
270 And after that thus spak he to the crowe:
And after that thus spoke he to the crow:
271 "Traitour," quod he, "with tonge of scorpioun,
"Traitor," said he, "with tongue of scorpion,
272 Thou hast me broght to my confusioun;
Thou hast me brought to my ruin;
273 Allas, that I was wroght! Why nere I deed?
Alas, that I was wrought! Why was I not dead?
274 O deere wyf! O gemme of lustiheed!
O dear wife! O gem of delight!
275 That were to me so sad and eek so trewe,
Who were to me so stable and also so true,
276 Now listow deed, with face pale of hewe,
Now liest thou dead, with face pale of hue,
277 Ful giltelees, that dorste I swere, ywys!
Full guiltless, that dare I swear, indeed!
278 O rakel hand, to doon so foule amys!
O rash hand, to do so foul a crime!
279 O trouble wit, O ire recchelees,
O troubled wit, O reckless anger,
280 That unavysed smyteth gilteles!
That recklessly smites the guiltless!
281 O wantrust, ful of fals suspecion,
O mistrust, full of false suspicion,
282 Where was thy wit and thy discrecion?
Where was thy wit and thy discretion?
283 O every man, be war of rakelnesse!
O every man, beware of rashness!
284 Ne trowe no thyng withouten strong witnesse.
Do not believe any thing without strong evidence.
285 Smyt nat to soone, er that ye witen why,
Smite not too soon, before you know why,
286 And beeth avysed wel and sobrely
And be advised well and soberly
287 Er ye doon any execucion
Before you act in any way
288 Upon youre ire for suspecion.
Upon your anger caused by suspicion.
289 Allas, a thousand folk hath rakel ire
Alas, a thousand folk has rash anger
290 Fully fordoon, and broght hem in the mire.
Completely undone, and brought them in the mire.
291 Allas! For sorwe I wol myselven slee!"
Alas! For sorrow I will myself slay!"
292 And to the crowe, "O false theef!" seyde he,
And to the crow, "O false thief!" said he,
293 "I wol thee quite anon thy false tale.
"I will pay thee back immediately (for) thy false tale.
294 Thou songe whilom lyk a nyghtyngale;
Thou once sang like a nightingale;
295 Now shaltow, false theef, thy song forgon,
Now shalt thou, false thief, give up thy song,
296 And eek thy white fetheres everichon,
And also thy white feathers every one,
297 Ne nevere in al thy lif ne shaltou speke.
Nor never in all thy life shalt thou speak.
298 Thus shal men on a traytour been awreke;
Thus shall men on a traitor be avenged;
299 Thou and thyn ofspryng evere shul be blake,
Thou and thy offspring ever shall be black,
300 Ne nevere sweete noyse shul ye make,
Nor never sweet noise shall you make,
301 But evere crie agayn tempest and rayn,
But ever cry in anticipation of tempest and rain,
302 In tokenynge that thurgh thee my wyf is slayn."
As a sign that through thee my wife is slain."
303 And to the crowe he stirte, and that anon,
And to the crow he rushed, and that right away,
304 And pulled his white fetheres everychon,
And pulled out his white feathers every one,
305 And made hym blak, and refte hym al his song,
And made him black, and took away all his song,
306 And eek his speche, and out at dore hym slong
And also his speech, and out the door slung him
307 Unto the devel, which I hym bitake;
Unto the devil, to whom I commit him;
308 And for this caas been alle crowes blake.
And because of this case all crows are black.
309 Lordynges, by this ensample I yow preye,
Gentlemen, by this example I you pray,
310 Beth war, and taketh kep what that ye seye:
Beware, and take care what you say:
311 Ne telleth nevere no man in youre lyf
And tell never any man in your life
312 How that another man hath dight his wyf;
How another man has copulated with his wife;
313 He wol yow haten mortally, certeyn.
He will hate you mortally, certainly.
314 Daun Salomon, as wise clerkes seyn,
Dan Salomon, as wise clerks say,
315 Techeth a man to kepen his tonge weel.
Teaches a man to guard his tongue well.
316 But, as I seyde, I am noght textueel.
But, as I said, I am not learned.
317 But nathelees, thus taughte me my dame:
But nonetheless, thus taught me my mother:
318 "My sone, thenk on the crowe, a Goddes name!
"My son, think on the crow, in God's name!
319 My sone, keep wel thy tonge, and keep thy freend.
My son, hold well thy tongue, and keep thy friend.
320 A wikked tonge is worse than a feend;
A wicked tongue is worse than a fiend;
321 My sone, from a feend men may hem blesse.
My son, from a fiend men can bless themselves.
322 My sone, God of his endelees goodnesse
My son, God of his endless goodness
323 Walled a tonge with teeth and lippes eke,
Walled a tongue with teeth and lips also,
324 For man sholde hym avyse what he speeke.
So that man should think about what he may speak.
325 My sone, ful ofte, for to muche speche
My son, very often, for too much speech
326 Hath many a man been spilt, as clerkes teche,
Has many a man been ruined, as clerks teach,
327 But for litel speche avysely
But for little speech well considered
328 Is no man shent, to speke generally.
Is no man harmed, to speak generally.
329 My sone, thy tonge sholdestow restreyne
My son, thy tongue thou should restrain
330 At alle tymes, but whan thou doost thy peyne
At all times, but when thou make an effort
331 To speke of God, in honour and preyere.
To speak of God, in honor and prayer.
332 The firste vertu, sone, if thou wolt leere,
The first virtue, son, if thou will learn,
333 Is to restreyne and kepe wel thy tonge;
Is to restrain and guard well thy tongue;
334 Thus lerne children whan that they been yonge.
Thus learn children when they are young.
335 My sone, of muchel spekyng yvele avysed,
My son, of much ill-considered speaking,
336 Ther lasse spekyng hadde ynough suffised,
Where less speaking had well enough sufficed,
337 Comth muchel harm; thus was me toold and taught.
Comes much harm; thus was me told and taught.
338 In muchel speche synne wanteth naught.
In much speech sin is not lacking.
339 Wostow wherof a rakel tonge serveth?
Knowest thou what a rash tongue serves for?
340 Right as a swerd forkutteth and forkerveth
Right as a sword cuts and carves
341 An arm a-two, my deere sone, right so
An arm in two, my dear son, just so
342 A tonge kutteth freendshipe al a-two.
A tongue cuts friendship all in two.
343 A jangler is to God abhomynable.
A tale-teller is to God abominable.
344 Reed Salomon, so wys and honurable;
Read Salomon, so wise and honorable;
345 Reed David in his psalmes; reed Senekke.
Read David in his psalms; read Seneca.
346 My sone, spek nat, but with thyn heed thou bekke.
My son, speak not, but with thy head thou nod.
347 Dissimule as thou were deef, if that thou heere
Act as if thou were deaf, if thou hear
348 A janglere speke of perilous mateere.
A tale-teller speak of perilous matter.
349 The Flemyng seith, and lerne it if thee leste,
The Fleming says, and learn it if thou please,
350 That litel janglyng causeth muchel reste.
That little tale-telling causes much rest.
351 My sone, if thou no wikked word hast seyd,
My son, if thou no wicked word hast said,
352 Thee thar nat drede for to be biwreyd;
Thou need not dread to be betrayed;
353 But he that hath mysseyd, I dar wel sayn,
But he who has spoken evil, I dare well say,
354 He may by no wey clepe his word agayn.
He can by no way call his word back.
355 Thyng that is seyd is seyd, and forth it gooth,
Thing that is said is said, and forth it goes,
356 Though hym repente, or be hym nevere so looth.
Though he repent, or be ever so unwilling (it be known).
357 He is his thral to whom that he hath sayd
He is his slave to whom he has said
358 A tale of which he is now yvele apayd.
A tale of which he is now very sorry.
359 My sone, be war, and be noon auctour newe
My son, beware, and be no author new
360 Of tidynges, wheither they been false or trewe.
Of tidings, whether they be false or true.
361 Whereso thou come, amonges hye or lowe,
Wherever thou come, amongst high or low,
362 Kepe wel thy tonge and thenk upon the crowe."
Hold well thy tongue and think upon the crow."