The General Prologue from the Hengwrt Manuscript of the Canterbury Tales

Original Text: 
Nat. Lib. Wales Peniarth 392. From Geoffrey Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales: A Facsimile and Transcription of the Hengwrt Manuscript, with Variants from the Ellesmere Manuscript, ed. Paul G. Ruggiers, introduction by Donald C. Baker, A. I. Doyle, and M. B. Parkes. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1979. PR 1866 .R8 1979 Robarts Library
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Here bygynneth the Book{/} of the tales of Can|ter|bury
2The droghte of March / hath |per|ced to the roote
3And bathed euery veyne in swich lycour
4Of which |ver|tu engendred is the flour
5Whan zephirus eek / |with| his sweete breeth
6In{s}pired hath in euery holt/ and heeth
7The tendre croppes / and the yonge sonne
8Hath in the Ram / his half cours yronne
9And sm[a]le foweles / maken melodye
10That sl[epen] al the nyght/ with open Iye
11So priketh hem nature / in hir corages
12Than[ne longen] folk/ to goon on pilgrymages
13And Palmere[s] for to seeken straunge strondes
14To ferne halwes / kouthe in sondry londes
15And specially / from euery shyres ende
16Of Engelond / to Caunterbury they wende
17The holy bli{s}ful martir / for to seke
18That hem hath holpen whan |þt| they weere seeke
19Bifel |þt| in that se{s}o|un| on a day
20In Southwerk/ at the Tabard / as .I. lay
21Redy to weenden / on my pilgrymage
22To [Ca]unterbury / with ful deuout corage
23At nyght/ was come / in to that ho{s}telrye
24Wel .xxix. in a compaignye
25Of sondry folk / by auenture yfalle
26In felawe{s}hipe / and pilgrymes weere they alle
27That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde
28The chambres and the stables / weeren wyde
29And wel we weeren e{s}ed / at the be{s}te
30And shortly whan the sonne was to re{s}te
31So hadde I spoken with hem euerichoon
32That I was of hir felawe{s}hipe anon
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33And maade / erly for to ry{s}e
34To take oure wey / ther as .I. yow deuy{s}e
35¶But nathelees / while .I. haue tyme and space
36Er that I ferther / in this tale pace
37Me thynketh it/ acordant to re{s}o|un|
38To telle yow / al the condicio|un|
39Of eech of hem / so as it seemed me
40And whiche they weere / and of what degree
41And eek/ in what array / |þt| they weere Inne
42And at a knyght/ thanne wol I fir{s}t bigynne
43¶A knyght ther was / and that a worthy man
44That fro the tyme / |þt| he fir{s}t bigan
45To ryden out/ he loued chiualrye
46Trouthe and hon|our| / fredom and curtei{s}ye
47fful worthy was he / in his lordes werre
48And ther to hadde he ryden / no man ferre
49As wel in cri{s}tendom / as hethene{ss}e
50And euere honured / for his worthyne{ss}e
51¶At Ali{s}aundre he was / whan it was wonne
52fful ofte tyme / he hadde the bord bigonne
53Abouen alle nacions / in Pruce
54In lectow / hadde he rey{s}ed / and in Ruce
55No cri{s}ten man so ofte / of his degree
56In Gernade at the seege eek hadde he be
57At Algizir / and ryden in Belmarye
58At lyeys was he / and at Satalye
59Whan they weere wonne / and in the grete See
60At many a noble armee / hadde he bee
61¶At mortal batailles / hadde he been fiftene
62And foghten for oure feyth / at Tramy{ss}ene
63In ly{s}tes thryes / and ay slayn his foo
64¶This ilke worthy knyght/ hadde been al{s}o
65Som tyme / with the lord of Palatye
66Agayn another hethen in Turkye
67And e|uer|e moore / he hadde a souereyn prys
68And thogh |þt| he weere worthy / he was wys
69And of his poort/. as meke / as is a mayde
70Ne neuere yet/ no vileynye he sayde
71In al his lyf/ vn to no manere wight
72He was a verray |per|fit/ gentil knyght/
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73But for to tellen yow / of his array
74Hi{s}e hors weere goode / but he ne was nat gay
75Of ffu{s}tian / he wered a gypo|un|
76Al bi{s}motered / with his haubergeo|un|
77ffor he was laate / comen from his viage
78And wente / for to doon his pilgrymage
79¶With hym / ther was his sone a yong/ Squyer
80A louere / and a lu{s}ty Bachiler
81With lokkes crulle / as they weere leyd in |pre|{ss}e
82Of .xx. yeer / he was of age I ge{ss}e
83Of his stature / he was of euene lengthe
84And wonderly delyuere / and of greet strengthe
85And he hadde been som tyme / in chiu[ac]hye
86In fflaundres / in Artoys / and Picardye
87And born hym wel / as in so litel space
88In hope / to stonden / in his lady grace
89¶Embrouded was he / as it weere a meede
90Al ful of fre{ss}he floures / white and reede
91Syngynge he was / or floytynge al the day
92He was as fre{ss}h / as is the Monthe of May
93Short was his gowne / with sleues / longe |&| wyde
94Wel koude he sitte on hors / and faire ryde
95He koude songes wel make / and endite
96Iu{s}te and eek daunce / and wel portreye and write
97So hoote he loued / that by nyghtertale
98He slepte namoore / than dooth a nyghtyngale
99Curteys he was / lowely / and seruy{s}able
100And carf biforn his fader / at the table
101¶A yeman he hadde / and seruantz namo
102At that tyme / for hym li{s}te ryde so
103And he was clad / in coote and hood of greene
104A sheef of Pecok arwes / bright/ and keene
105Vnder his belt/ he bar ful thriftily
106Wel koude he dre{ss}e his takel yemanly
107His arwes drowped noght/ with fetheres lowe
108And in his hand / he bar a myghty bowe
109A not heed hadde he / with a broun vi{s}age
110Of wodecraft / koude he wel al the v{s}age
111Vp on his arm / he bar a gay bracer
112And by his syde / a swerd and a Bokeler
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113And on that oother syde / a gay daggere
114Harney{s}ed wel / and sharp / as poynt/ of spere
115A |christ|ofre on his bre{s}t/ of siluer sheene
116An horn he bar / the bawdryk/ was of greene
117A ffor{s}ter was he / soothly as I ge{ss}e
118¶Ther was al{s}o / a Nonne a Priore{ss}e
119That of hir smylyng/ was ful symple and coy
120Hir grette{s}te ooth / was but by Seint Loy
121And she was clepyd / madame Eglentyne
122fful wel she soong/ the seruyce dyuyne
123Entuned in hir no{s}e / ful semely
124And fren{ss}h she spak / ful faire and feti{s}ly
125After the scole / of Stratford at the Bowe
126ffor fren{ss}h of Parys / was to hire vnknowe
127At mete / wel ytaught/ was she with alle
128She leet/ no mor{s}el / from hir lyppes falle
129Ne wette hir fyngres / in hir sauce deepe
130Wel koude she carye a mor{s}el / and wel keepe
131That no drope / fille vp on hir bri{s}t/
132In curtei{s}ye / was set muchel hir li{s}t/
133Hir ouer lyppe / wyped she so cleene
134That in hir coppe / ther was no ferthyng/ seene
135Of grece / whan she dronken hadde hir draghte
136fful semely / after hir mete she raghte
137And sikerly / she was of greet/ de{s}port/
138And ful ple{s}aunt/ and amyable of port/
139And peyned hire / to countrefete chiere
140Of Court/ and been e{s}tatlich of manere
141And to been holden / digne of re|uer|ence
142But for to speken / of hir con{s}cience
143She was so charitable / and so pitous
144She wolde{^}{{wepe}} / if |þt| she sawe a Mous
145Caught in a trappe / if it weere deed / or bledde
146Of smale houndes / hadde she / |þt| she fedde
147With ro{s}ted fle{ss}h / or mylk/ and wa{s}tel breed
148But soore wepte she / if oon of hem weere deed
149Or if men smoot/ it / with a yerde smerte
150And al was con{s}cience / and tendre herte
151fful semely / hir wympel pynched was
152Hir no{s}e tretez / hir eyen / greye as glas
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153Hir mouth ful smal / and ther to / softe and reed
154But sikerly / she hadde a fair forheed
155It was almoo{s}t/ a spanne brood I trowe
156ffor hardily / she was nat vndergrowe
157fful fetys was hir cloke / as I was war
158Of smal Coral / aboute hir arm she bar
159A peyre of bedes / gauded al with greene
160And ther on heeng/ a brooch of gold ful sheene
161On which / was fir{s}t writen / a crowned .A.
162And after / Amor vincit/ omnia.
163¶Another Nonne / with hire hadde she
Nonne Chapeleyne
164That was hire Chapeleyne / and pree{s}tes thre
and thre pre{s}tes
165¶A Monk ther was / a fair for the may{s}trye
166An outrydere / that/ louede venerye
167A manly man / to been an Abbot able
168fful many a deyntee hors / hadde he in stable
169And whanne he rood / men myghte his brydel heere
170Gyngle in a whi{s}tlynge wynd / as cleere
171And eek/ as loude / as dooth the Chapel belle
172There as this lord / is kepere of the Selle
173The rule of Seint Maure / or of Seint Beneyt/
174By cau{s}e |þt| it was oold / and som deel streyt/
175This ilke Monk/ leet oolde thynges pace
176And heeld / after the newe world the space
177He yaf noght of that text/ a pulled hen
178That seith / |þt| hunterys been none holy men
179Ne |þt| a Monk/. whan he is recchelees
180Is likned / til a fi{ss}h / |þt| is waterlees
181This is to seyn / a Monk/ out of his Cloy{s}tre
182But thilke text/ heeld he nat worth an Oy{s}tre
183And I seyde / his opynyon was good
184What sholde he studie / and make hym seluen wood
185Vp on a book/ in Cloy{s}tre alwey to poure
186Or swynke with his handes / and laboure
187As Au{s}tyn bit/. how shal the world be serued
188Lat Au{s}tyn haue his swynk/. to hym re{s}erued
189Ther fore / he was a pryka{s}our aryght/
190Grehoundes he hadde / as swift/ as fowel in flyght/
191Of prikyng/ and of huntyng/ for the haare
192Was al his lu{s}t/. for no co{s}t wolde he spaare
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193I saugh his sleues / |pur|filed at the hond
194With grys / and that the fyne{s}te of a lond
195And for to fe{s}tne his hood / vnder his chyn
196He hadde / of gold / wroght a ful curious pyn
197A loue knotte / in the gretter ende ther was
198His heed was balled / that shoon as any glas
199And eek his face / as he hadde been enoynt/
200He was a lord ful fat/ and in good poynt/
201Hi{s}e eyen steepe / and rollynge in his heed
202That stemed / as a fourneys of a leed
203Hi{s}e bootes souple / his hors / in greet e{s}taat/
204Now certeynly / he was a fair |pre|lat/
205He was nat paale / as is a forpyned goo{s}t/
206A fat swan / loued he / be{s}t of any roo{s}t/
207His palfrey / was as broun as any berye
208¶A frere ther was / a wantowne and a merye
209A lymytour / a ful solempne man
210In alle the ordres foure / is noon |þt| kan
211So muche of daliaunce / and fair langage
212He hadde maked / ful many a mariage
213Of yonge wommen / at his owene co{s}t/
214Vn to his ordre / he was a noble po{s}t/
215fful wel biloued / and famylier was hee
216With ffrankeleyns / ouer al in his contree
217And eek/ with worthy wommen / of the town
218ffor he hadde / power of confe{ss}ioun
219As seyde hym self / moore than a curaat/
220ffor of his ordre / he was licenciaat/
221fful swetely / herde he confe{ss}io|un|
222And ple{s}ant/. was his ab{s}olucio|un|
223He was an e{s}y man / to yeue penaunce
224Ther as he wi{s}te / to haue a good pitaunce
225ffor vn to a poure ordre / for to yeue
226Is signe / that a man / is wel y{s}hryue
227ffor if he yaf/ he dor{s}te make auaunt/
228He wi{s}te / |þt| a man was repentaunt/
229ffor many a man / so hard is of his herte
230He may nat weepe / thogh |þt| he soore smerte
231Ther fore / in {s}tede of wepynge / and preyeres
232Men moote yeue siluer / to the poure freres
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233¶His typet/ was ay far{s}ed ful of knyues
234And pynnes / for to yeuen faire wyues
235And certeynly / he hadde a murye noote
236Wel koude he synge / and pleyen on a roote
237Of yeddynges / he bar outrely the prys
238His nekke whit was / as the flour delys
239Ther to he stroong/ was / as a Champioun
240He knew the tauernes wel in euery town
241And euery ho{s}tiler / and Tappe{s}tere
242Bet / than a lazer / or a begge{s}tere
243ffor vn to swich a worthy man / as he
244Acorded nat / as by his facultee
245To haue / with syke lazers aqueyntaunce
246It is nat hone{s}te / it may noght auaunce
247ffor to deelen / with no swich poraille
248But al with riche / and sellerys of vitaille
249And ouer al / ther as |pro|fit sholde ary{s}e
250Curteys he was / and lowely of seruy{s}e
251Ther was no man / nowheer / {s}o |ver|tuous
252He was the be{s}te beggere / of his hous
253And yaf a |cer|teyn ferme / for the graunt/
254Noon of his bretheren / cam ther in his haunt/
255ffor thogh a wydwe / hadde noght/ a sho
256So ple{s}ant/ was his In principio
257Yet wolde he haue a ferthyng/ er he wente
258His purchaas / was wel bettre than his rente
259And rage he koude / as it weere right a whelp
260In louedayes / koude he muchel help
261ffor there / he was nat lyk/ a Cloy{s}trer
262With a threedbare cope / as is a poure scoler
263But he was lyk a mai{s}ter / or a Pope
264Of double wor{s}tede / was his semycope
265And rounded as a belle / out of the pre{ss}e
266Somwhat he lyp{s}ed / for his wantowne{ss}e
267To make his engly{ss}h / sweete vp on his tonge
268And in his harpyng/ whan |þt| he hadde songe
269hi{s}e eyen twynkled / in his heed aryght/
270As doon the {s}terres / in the fro{s}ty nyght/
271This worthy lymytour / was cleped huberd
272¶A Marchant was ther / with a forked berd
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273In Motlee / and hye on hors he sat/
274Vp on his heed / a fflaundry{ss}h Be|uer|e hat/
275his bootes cla{s}ped / faire and feti{s}ly
276Hi{s}e re{s}ons / he spak ful solempnely
277Sownyng/ alwey / thencrees of his wynnyng/
278He woolde / the see weere kept/ for any thyng/
279Bitwixen Myddelburgh / and Orewelle
280Wel koude he / in e{s}chaunge / sheeldes selle
281This worthy man / ful wel his wit bi{s}ette
282Ther wi{s}te no wight/. that he was in dette
283So e{s}taatly was he / of his go|uer|naunce
284With his bargaynes / and |with| his cheuy{s}aunce
285ffor soothe / he was a worthy man with alle
286But sooth to seyn / I noot how men hym calle
¶Clerc/ of Oxenford
287¶A Clerc/ ther was / of Oxenford al{s}o
288That vn to logyk/. hadde longe ygo
289As leene was his hors / as is a rake
290And he was noght right fat/ I vndertake
291But looked holwe / and ther to sobrely
292fful threedbaare / was his o|uer|e{s}te Courtepy
293ffor he hadde / geten hym yet/ no benefice
294Ne was {s}o worldly / for to haue office
295ffor hym was leuere / haue at his beddes heed
296Twenty bookes / clad / in blak / or reed
297Of Ari{s}totle / and his Philo{s}ophye
298Than robes riche / or ffithele / or gay Sautrye
299But al be / that he was a Philo{s}ophre
300Yet hadde he / but litel gold in Cofre
301But al that he myghte / of his frendes hente
302On bookes / and on lernynge / he it spente
303And bi{s}ily / gan for the soules preye
304Of hem / that yaf hym / wher with to scoleye
305Of studye / took he moo{s}t cure and moo{s}t heede
306Noght oo word spak/ he / moore than was neede
307And that was spoke / in forme / and reuerence
308And short/ and quyk/ and ful of heigh sentence
309Sownynge in moral |ver|tu / was his speche
310And gladly wolde he lerne / and gladly teche
¶Sergeaunt of Lawe
311¶A Sergeaunt of lawe / waar / and wys
312That often / hadde been at the Parvys
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313Ther was al{s}o /ful ryche of excellence
314Di{s}creet he was / and of greet re|uer|ence
315He {s}eemed swich / hi{s}e wordes weeren {s}o wy{s}e
316Iu{s}tice he was / ful often in A{ss}i{s}e
317By patente / and by pleyn c|om|mi{ss}io|un|
318ffor his science / and for his heigh reno|un|
319Of fees and robes / hadde he many oon
320So greet a purcha{s}our / was nowher noon
321Al was fee symple / to hym / in effect/
322His purcha{s}yng/ myghte nat been infect/
323Nowher {s}o bi{s}y a man as he / ther nas
324And yet he {s}eemed / bi{s}yer than he was
325In |ter|mes / hadde he caas / and doomes alle
326That from tyme of kyng william / weere falle
327Ther to / he koude endite / and make a thyng/
328Ther koude no wight/ pynchen at his writyng/
329And euery statut/. koude he pleyn by roote
330He rood but hoomly / in a medlee coote
331Girt with a ceynt of sylk/. with barres smale
332Of his array / telle I no lenger tale
333A ffrankeleyn / was in his compaignye
334Whit was his berd / as is the daye{s}ye
335Of his complexcion / he was sangwyn
336Wel loued he by the morwe / a sop in wyn
337To lyuen in delyt/ was euere his wone
338ffor he was / Epicurus owene sone
339That heeld opynyo|un| / |þt| pleyn delit
340Was verray / felicitee parfit/
341An hou{s}holdere / and that a greet was hee
342Seint Iulyan he was / in his contree
343His breed / his ale / was alweys after oon
344A bettre envyned man / was neuere noon
345With outen bake mete / was neuere his hous
346Of fre{ss}h fi{ss}h / and fle{ss}h / and that so plentevous
347It snewed in his hous / of mete and drynke
348Of alle deyntees / |þt| men koude bithynke
349After / the sondry se{s}ons / of the yeer
350So chaunged he / his mete / and his soper
351fful many a fat partrych / hadde he in Muwe
352And many a breem / and many a luce in Stuwe
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353Wo was his Cook/ / but if his sauce weere
354Poynaunt/ and sharp / and redy al his geere
355Hys table dormaunt/ in his halle alway
356Stood redy couered / al the longe day
357At Se{ss}ions / ther was he / lord and Sire
358fful ofte tyme / he was knyght of the Shire
359An Anlaas / and a Gip{s}er / al of Sylk/
360Heeng/ at his girdel / whit as morne mylk/
361A shirreue hadde he been / and Countour
362Was nowheer / swich a worthy vaua{s}our
363¶An haberda{ss}here / and a Carpenter
364A Webbe / a Dyere / and a Tapycer
365And they weere clothed alle / in oo ly|uer|ee
366Of a solempne / and a greet fra|ter|nytee
367fful fre{ss}h and newe / hir geere apyked was
368Hir knyues weere chaped / noght with bras
369But al with siluer / wroght ful cleene and wel
370Hir girdles / and hir pouches / euerydel
371Wel {s}eemed eech of hem / a fair Burgeys
372To sitten in a yeldehalle / on a deys
373Euerych / for the wi{s}dom / |þt| he kan
374Was shaply / for to been an Alderman
375ffor catel / hadde they ynogh / and rente
376And eek hir wyues / wolde it wel a{ss}ente
377And ellis certeyn / they weere to blame
378It is ful fair / to been yclepyd madame
379And goon to vigilies / al bifore
380And haue a Mantel / realliche ybore
381¶A Cook they hadde with hem / for the nones
382To boille the chiknes / with the Marybones
383And poudre marchaunt/. tart/ and / Galyngale
384Wel koude he knowe / a draghte of london ale
385He koude roo{s}te / and seethe / and broille / |&| frye
386Maken Mortreux / and wel bake a pye
387But greet harm was it / as it thoughte me
388That on his Shyne / a Mormal hadde he
389ffor Blankmanger / that maade he with the be{s}te
390¶A Shipman was ther / wonyng fer by we{s}te
391ffor aught I woot/ he was of Dertemouthe
392He rood vp on a Rouncy / as he kouthe
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393In a gowne of faldyng/ to the knee
394A daggere hangynge on a laas / hadde he
395Aboute his nekke / vnder his arm adown
396The hoote Somer / hadde maad his hewe al brown
397And certeynly / he was a good felawe
398fful many a draghte of wyn / hadde he drawe
399ffro Burdeuxward/ whil |þt| the Chapman sleep
400Of nyce con{s}cience / took he no keep
401If |þt| he faught/ and hadde the hyer hond
402By watre he sente hem hoom / to euery lond
403But of his craft/ to rekene wel his tydes
404His stremys / and his daungers hym bi{s}ydes
405His {^}{{herberwe}} and his moone / his lodmenage
406Ther was noon swich / from hull to Cartage
407Hardy he was / and wys to vndertake
408With many a tempe{s}t/ hadde his beerd been shake
409He knew alle the hauenes / as they weere
410ffro Gootlond / to the cape of ffyny{s}teere
411And euery cryke / in Britaigne / and in Spaigne
412His barge / yclepyd was the Mawdelayne
Doct|our| of
413¶With vs / ther was / a Doctour of Phi{s}yk/
414In al this world / ne was ther noon hym lyk/
415To speken of Phi{s}yk/ and of Surgerye
416ffor he was grounded / in A{s}tronomye
417He kepte his pacient/ a ful greet deel
418In houres / by his magyk natureel
419Wel koude he fortunen / the a{s}cendent/
420Of hi{s}e ymages / for his pacient/
421He knew the cau{s}e / of euery maladye
422Weere it/ of hoot/ or coold / or moy{s}te / or drye
423And where it engendred / and of what humour
424He was a verray / |per|fit practi{s}our
425The cau{s}e yknowe / and of his harm the roote
426Anoon he yaf / the sike man his boote
427¶fful redy hadde he / hi{s}e Apothecaryes
428To senden hym / his drogges / and his letuaryes
429ffor eech of hem / maade oother for to wynne
430Hir frend{s}hipe / was noght newe to bigynne
431Wel knew he / the oolde E{s}culapyus
432And Di{s}corides / and eek/ Ru{s}us
{{Folio 7v}}
433Olde ypocras / Haly / and Galyen
434Serapion / Razis / and Avycen
435Auerroys / Dama{s}cien / and Con{s}tantyn
436Bernard / and Gate{s}den / and Gilbertyn
437Of his diete / me[a]{s}urable was hee
438ffor it was / of no su|per|fluytee
439But of greet nori{ss}ynge / and dige{s}tible
440His studye / was but litel on the Bible
441In sangwyn and in Pers / he clad was al
442Lyned with Taffata / and with Sendal
443And yet he was / but e{s}y of di{s}pence
444He kepte / |þt| he wan in pe{s}tilence
445ffor gold in Phi{s}yk/. is a Cordial
446Therfore / he loued gold in special
The goode Wyf
447¶A good wyf was ther / of bi{s}yde Bathe
of bi{s}yde Bathe
448But she was somdel deef/ and that was scathe
449Of clooth makynge / she hadde swich an haunt/
450She pa{ss}ed hem / of Ipres / and of Gaunt/
451In al the pary{ss}he / wyf ne was ther noon
452That to the offrynge / bifore hire sholde goon
453And if ther dide / certeyn / {s}o wrooth was shee
454That she was / out of alle charitee
455Hir Co|uer|chiefes / ful fyne weere of grownd
456I dor{s}te swere / they weyeden. ten pownd
457That on a Sonday / weeren vp on hir heed
458Hir ho{s}en weeren / of fyn scarlet reed
459fful streyte yteyd / and shoes / ful moy{s}te |&| newe
460Boold was hir face / and fair and reed of hewe
461She was a worthy woman / al hir lyue
462Hou{s}bondes at chirche dore / she hadde fyue
463With outen oother compaignye / in yowthe
464But ther of / nedeth noght/ to speke as nowthe
465And thries / hadde she been at Ieru{s}alem
466She hadde pa{ss}ed / many a straunge strem
467At Rome she hadde been / and at Boloyne
468In Galyce at Seint Iame / and at Coloyne
469She koude muchel / of wandrynge by the weye
470Gattothed was she / soothly for to seye
471Vp on an Amblere / e{s}ily she sat/
472Ywympled wel / and on hir heed an hat/
{{Folio 8r}}
473As brood as is / a Bokeler / or a Targe
474A foot mantel / aboute hir hypes large
475And on hir feet/ a peyre of spores sharpe
476In felawe{s}hipe / wel koude she laughe.[ ] and carpe
477Of remedies of loue / she knew |per| chaunce
478ffor she koude of that art/ the olde daunce
[Per{s}o]|un| of a town
479¶A good man / was ther / of Religioun
480And was a poure |per|{s}on / of a toun
481But riche he was / of holy thoght and werk/
482He was al{s}o / a lerned man a Clerk/
483That Cri{s}tes go{s}pel / trewely wolde |pre|che
484His pari{ss}hens / deuoutly wolde he teche
485Benygne he was / and wonder diligent
486And in aduer{s}itee / ful pacient/
487And swich he was proeued / ofte sythes
488fful looth weere hym / to cur{s}en for his tythes
489But rather wolde he yeuen / out of doute
490Vn to his poure pari{ss}hens aboute
491Of his offrynge / and eek/ of his sub{s}taunce
492He koude / in litel thyng/ haue suffi{s}aunce
493Wyd was his pari{ss}he / and hou{s}es fer a {s}onder
494But he ne lafte noght/ for reyn ne thonder
495In sikne{ss}e / nor in me{s}chief/ to vi{s}ite
496The ferre{s}te in his pari{ss}he / muche and lyte
497Vp on his feet/ and in his hond a staf/
498This noble en{s}ample / to his sheep he yaf/
499That fir{s}t he wroghte / and afterward he taughte
500Out of the go{s}pel / he tho wordes caughte
501And this figure / he added eek ther to
502That if gold ru{s}te / what sholde Iren do
503ffor if a pree{s}t be foul / in whom we tru{s}te
504No wonder is / a lewed man to ru{s}te
505And shame it is / if a pree{s}t take keep
506A shiten Shepherde / and a clene sheep
507Wel oghte a pree{s}t/ en{s}ample for to yiue
508By his clenne{ss}e / how |þt| his sheep sholde lyue
509He sette noght/. his benefice to hyre
510And leet his sheep / encombred in the Myre
511And ran to Londo|un| / vn to Seint Poules
512To seeken hym / a Chauntrye for soules
{{Folio 8v}}
513Or with a breetherede / to been withhoolde
514But dwelte at hoom / and kepte wel his foolde
515So |þt| the wolf/ ne maade it noght/ my{s}carye
516He was a sheepherde / and noght a Mercenarye
517And thogh he hooly weere / and vertuous
518He was noght/ to synful men de{s}pitous
519Ne of his speche / daungerous / ne digne
520But in his techyng/ di{s}creet/ and benygne
521To drawen folk/ to heuene / |with| fairne{ss}e
522By good en{s}ample / this was his bi{s}yne{ss}e
523But it weere / any |per|{s}one ob{s}tynaat/
524What so he weere / of heigh / or lowe e{s}taat/
525Hym wolde he snybben / sharply for the nonys
526A bettre pree{s}t/ I trowe ther nowher noon ys
527He wayted / after no pomp / and reuerence
528Ne maked hym / a spyced con{s}cience
529But Cri{s}tes loore / and hi{s}e Apo{s}tles twelue
530He taughte / but fir{s}t/ he folwed it hym selue
531¶With hym ther was a Plowman / was his broother
532That hadde ylad of donge / ful many a ffoother
533A trewe swynkere / and a good was he
534Lyuynge in pees / and |per|fit charitee
535God loued he be{s}t/ with al his hoole herte
536At alle tymes / thogh hym gamed / or smerte
537And thanne his Neighebore / right as hym selue
538He wolde thre{ss}he / and ther to / dyke and delue
539ffor Cri{s}tes sake / for euery poure wight/
540With outen hyre / if it laye in his myght/
541His tythes payde he / ful faire and wel
542Bothe of his |prop|re swynk/ and his catel
543In a Tabard he rood / vp on a Mere
544Ther was al{s}o / a Reue / and a Millere
545A Somonour / and a Pardoner al{s}o
546A Maunciple / and my self/ ther weere namo
547¶The Millere / was a stout carl / for the nones
548fful byg/ he was / of brawen / and eek of bones
549That proeued wel / for ouer al ther he cam
550At wra{s}tlynge / he wolde haue alwey the Ram
551He was short shuldred / brood / a thikke knarre
552Ther was no dore / that he noolde heue of harre
{{Folio 9r}}
553Or breke it at a rennynge / with his heed
554His beerd / as any sowe / or fox / was reed
555And ther to brood / as thogh it weere a spaade
556Vp on the cop right of his no{s}e he haade
557A werte / and ther on stood / a tuft/ of heerys
558Reede / as the bri{s}tles / of a Sowes eerys
559Hi{s}e no{s}ethirles / blake weere and wyde
560A swerd and a bokeler / baar he by his syde
561His mouth as greet was / as a greet fourneys
562He was a Ianglere / a Golyardeys
563And that was moo{s}t/ of synne and harlotryes
564Wel koude he stelen corn / and tollen thryes
565And yet he hadde / a thombe of gold |per|dee
566A whit coote / and a blew hood wered hee
567A Baggepipe / wel koude he / blowe and sowne
568And ther with al / he broghte vs out of towne
569¶A gentil Maunciple / was ther / of a Temple
570Of which / Achatours myghte take exemple
571ffor to been wy{s}e / in byynge of vitaille
572ffor wheither |þt| he payde / or took by taille
573Algate / he wayted so / in his achaat/
574That he was ay biforn / and in good staat/
575¶Now is nat that of god / a ful greet grace
576That swich a lewed mannes wit/ shal pace
577The wy{s}dom / of a heep of lerned men
578Of Mai{s}tres hadde he mo / than thryes ten
579That weeren / of lawe / expert/ and curious
580Of whiche / ther weere a dozeyne / in that hous
581Worthy / to been Stywardes / of rente / and lond
582Of any lord / that is in Engelond
583To make hym lyue / by his |prop|re good
584In honour dettelees / but if he weere wood
585Or lyue as scar{s}ly / as hym ly{s}t de{s}ire
586And able / for to helpen / al a Shire
587In any caas / that myghte falle / or happe
588And yet this Maunciple / sette hir aller cappe
589¶The Reue / was a sclendre coleryk/ man
590His beerd was shaue / as neigh as euer he kan
591His heer was by his eerys / ful rownd y{s}horn
592His top was dokked / lyk/ a pree{s}t byforn
{{Folio 9v}}
593fful longe weere hi{s}e legges / and ful leene
594Ylik a staf / . ther / was no calf y{s}eene
595Wel koude he keepe / a Gerner and a Bynne
596Ther was noon Auditour / koude on hym wynne
597Wel wi{s}te he / by the droghte and by the reyn
598The yeldynge / of his seed / and of his greyn
599His lordes sheep / his neet / his dayerye
600His swyn / his hors / his Stoor / and his pultrye
601Was hoolly / in this Reues go|uer|nynge
602And by his couenant/. yaf the rekenynge
603Syn that his loord / was twenty yeer of age
604Ther koude no man / brynge hym in arrerage
605Ther nas Baillyf/. hierde / nor oother hyne
606That he ne knew / his sleyghte / and his couyne
607They weere adrad of hym / as of the deeth
608His wonyng/ was ful faire vp on an heeth
609With greene trees / shadwed was his place
610He koude bettre / than his lord purchace
611fful riche / he was a{s}toored pryuely
612His lord / wel koude he ple{s}en subtilly
613To yeue / and leene hym / of his owene good
614And haue a thank/. and yet a coote and hood
615In youthe / he lerned hadde / a good Mi{s}ter
616He was a wel good wrighte / a Carpenter
617This Reue sat/ vp on a wel good Stot/
618That was a Pomely gray / and highte Scot/
619A long Surcote of Pers / vp on he haade
620And by his syde / he baar a ru{s}ty blaade
621Of Northfolk was this Reue / of which I telle
622Bi{s}yde a town / men clepyn Balde{s}welle
623Tukked he was / as is a ffrere aboute
624And euere he rood / the hyndre{s}te of oure route
625¶A Somonour/ was ther was with vs / in that place
626That hadde / a fyr reed Cherubynnes face
627ffor Sawceflewm he was / with eyen{`,}narwe
628And hoot he was / and lecherous as a Sparwe
629With scaled browes blake / and pyled berd
630Of his vi{s}age / children weere aferd
631Ther nas quyk/ siluer / lytarge / ne Brym{s}toon
632Borace / Ceruce / ne Oille of Tartre noon
{{Folio 10r}}
633Ne oynement/. that wolde clen{s}e and byte
634That hym myghte helpen / of his whelkes whyte
635Nor of the knobbes / sittynge on his chekes
636Wel loued he garlek/ oynons and eek lekes
637And for to drynke strong wyn / reed as blood
638Thanne wolde he speke / and crye as he were wood
639A fewe |ter|mes hadde he / two / or thre
640That he hadde lerned / out of som decree
641No wonder is / he herde it al the day
642And eek ye knowe wel / how |þt| a Iay
643Kan clepen watte / as wel as kan the Pope
644But who {s}o koude / in oother thyng hym grope
645Thanne hadde he spent/ al his philo{s}ophie
646Ay / Que{s}tio quid iuris / wolde he crye
647¶He was a gentil harlot/ and a kynde
648A bettre felawe / sholde men noght fynde
649He wolde suffre / for a quart/ of wyn
650A good felawe / to haue his concubyn
651A twelf monthe / and excu{s}en hym at the fulle
652fful pryuely / a fynch eek koude he pulle
653And if he foond owher / a good felawe
654He wolde techen hym / to haue noon awe
655In swich caas / of the Ercedeknes curs
656But if a mannes soule / were in his purs
657ffor in his purs / he sholde ypuny{ss}hed be
658Purs is the Ercedeknes helle / seyde he
659¶But wel I woot / he lyed right in dede
660Of cur{s}yng/ oghte ech gilty man drede
661ffor curs wol sle / right as a{ss}oillyng/ sauyth
662And al{s}o / war hym of a Significauit/
663¶In daunger hadde he / at his owene gy{s}e
664The yonge gerles / of the dioci{s}e
665And knew hir con{s}eil / and was al hir reed
666A gerland / hadde he set/ vp on his heed
667As greet/. as it were / for an Ale stake
668A bokeler / hadde he maad hym of a cake
669¶With hym ther rood / a gentil Pardoner
670Of Rouncyual / his freend / and his comper
671That streight was comen / fro the Court of Rome
672fful loude he {s}oong/ com hyder loue to me
{{Folio 10v}}
673This Somon|our| baar to hym / a styf burdoun
674Was ne|uer|e trompe / of half {s}o greet a soun
675¶This |per|doner / hadde heer / as yelow as wex
676But smothe it heeng/ as dooth a stryke of flex
677By ounces / henge his lokkes |þt| he hadde
678And ther with / he his shuldres ouer{s}pradde
679But thynne it lay / by colpons oon and oon
680But hood for Iolitee / wered he noon
681ffor it was tru{ss}ed vp / in his walet/
682Hym thoughte / he rood al of the newe Iet/
683Di{s}cheuellee saue his cappe / he rood al bare
684Swiche glarynge eyen / hadde he as an hare
685A vernycle / hadde he sowed / vp on his cappe
686His walet/ biforn hym / in his lappe
687Bretful of pardo|un| / comen from Rome al hoot/
688A voys he hadde / as smal / as hath a Goot/
689No berd hadde he / ne neuere sholde haue
690As smothe it was / as it were late y{s}haue
691I trowe he were a geldyng/ or a Mare
692But of his craft/. fro Berwyk in to Ware
693Ne was ther / swich another Pardoner
694ffor in his Male / he hadde a pilwe beer
695Which |þt| he seyde / was oure lady veyl
696He seyde he hadde / a gobet of the seyl
697That Seint Peter hadde / whan |þt| he wente
698Vp on the See / til |Iesu| Cri{s}t hym hente
699He hadde a cros of lato|un| / ful of stones
700And in a glas / he hadde pigges bones
701But with thi{s}e relykes / whan |þt| he foond
702A poure |per|{s}on / dwellyng vp on lond
703Vp on a day / he gat hym moore moneye
704Than |þt| the |per|{s}o|un| gat/ in Monthes tweye
705And thus / with feyned flaterye and Iapes
706He made the |per|{s}on / and the peple his apes
707But trewely / to tellen at the la{s}te
708He was in chirche / a noble Eccle{s}ia{s}te
709Wel koude he / rede a le{ss}on / and a Storie
710But alderbe{s}t/ he {s}oong an Offertorie
711ffor wel he wi{s}te / whan |þt| soong was songe
712He mo{s}te |pre|che / and wel affyle his tonge
{{Folio 11r}}
713To wynne siluer / as he ful wel koude
714Ther fore he soong/ the muryerly and loude
715¶Now haue I toold yow / soothly in a clau{s}e
716The{s}taat / tharray / the nombre / and eek the cau{s}e
717Why |þt| a{ss}embled was this compaignye
718In Southwerk/. at this gentil ho{s}telrye
719That highte the tabard / fa{s}te by the belle
720But now is tyme / to yow for to telle
721How |þt| we baren vs / that ilke nyght/
722Whan we weere / in that ho{s}telrye alyght/
723And after wol I telle / of oure viage
724And al the remenant/ of oure pilgrymage
725¶But fir{s}t I pray yow / of youre curtei{s}ye
726That ye narette it / noght my vileynye
727Though |þt| I pleynly speke / in this matere
728To telle yow / hir wordes / and hir cheere
729Ne thogh I speke / hir wordes |prop|rely
730ffor this ye knowen / al{s}o wel as I
731Who so shal telle a tale / after a man
732He moot reherce / as neigh as e|uer|e he kan
733Euerich a word / if it be in his charge
734Al speke he / neuer {s}o rudeliche and large
735Or ellis / he moot telle his tale vntrewe
736Or feyne thyng/ or fynde wordes newe
737He may noght spare / al thogh he weere his brother
738He moot as wel / seye o word / as another
739Cri{s}t spak hym self/ ful brode in holy writ /
740And wel ye woot/ no vileynye is it
741Ek Plato seith / who so kan hym rede
742The wordes / mote be co{s}yn / to the dede
743¶Al{s}o I pray yow / to foryeue it me
744Al haue I nat set folk / in hir degree
745Here in this tale / as |þt| they sholde stonde
746My wit is short/ ye may wel vnder{s}tonde
747¶Greet cheere / made oure hoo{s}t vs euerichon
748And to the souper / sette he vs anon
749He serued vs / with vitaille / at the be{s}te
750Strong was the wyn / and wel to drynke vs le{s}te
751A semely man / oure hoo{s}t was with alle
752ffor to been / a Marchal in an halle
{{Folio 11v}}
753A large man he was / with eyen stepe
754A fairer burgeys / was ther noon in Chepe
755Boold of his speche / and wys / and wel ytaught/
756And of manhode / hym lakked right naught/
757Eke ther to / he was right a murye man
758And after souper / pleyen he bigan
759And spak of murthe / amonges othere thynges
760Whan |þt| we hadde maad oure rekenynges
761And seyde thus / now lordes trewely
762Ye been to me / right wel come hertely
763ffor by my trouthe / if |þt| I shal nat lye
764I seigh noght this yeer / so murye a compaignye
765Atones in this herberwe / as is now
766ffayn wolde I doon yow myrthe / wi{s}te I how
767And of a myrthe / I am right now bithoght/
768To doon yow e{s}e / and it shal co{s}te noght/
769¶Ye goon to Caun|ter|bury / god yow spede
770The bli{s}ful Martir / quyte yow youre mede
771And wel I woot / as ye goon by the weye
772Ye shapen yow / to talen and to pleye
773ffor trewely / confort / ne murthe is noon
774To ryde by the weye / domb as stoon
775And ther fore / wol I maken yow de{s}port/
776As I seyde er{s}t/ and doon yow {s}om confort/
777And if yow liketh alle / by oon a{ss}ent/
778ffor to stonden / at my Iuggement/
779And for to werken / as I shal yow seye
780Tomorwe / whan ye ryden by the weye
781Now by my fader soule / |þt| is deed
782But ye be murye / I wol yeue yow myn heed
783Hoold vp youre hondes / with outen moore speche
784¶Oure con{s}eil / was nat longe for to seche
785Vs thoughte / it was nat worth / to make it wys
786And graunted hym / with outen moore avys
787And bade hym seye / his voirdit/ as hym le{s}te
788¶Lordynges quod he / now herkneth for the be{s}te
789But taketh it noght/ I pray yow in de{s}deyn
790This is the poynt/ to speken short and pleyn
791That ech of yow / to shorte with oure weye
792In this viage / shal tellen tales tweye
{{Folio 12r}}
793To Caunterburyward / I mene it so
794And homward / he shal tellen othere two
795Of auentures / |þt| whilom haue bifalle
796And which of yow / |þt| bereth hym be{s}t of alle
797That is to seyn / that telleth in this cas
798Tales of be{s}t sentence / and moo{s}t solas
799Shal haue a Souper / at oure aller co{s}t /
800Here in this place / sittynge by this po{s}t/
801Whan that we come agayn / fro Caun|ter|bury
802And for to make yow / the moore mury
803I wol my self/ goodly wit yow ryde
804Right at myn owene co{s}t/ and be you|re| gyde
805And who so wole / my Iuggement with {s}eye
806Shal paye / al that we spende by the weye
807And if ye vouche sauf / |þt| it be so
808Tel me anoon / with outen wordes mo
809And I wol erly / shape me ther fore
810¶This thyng was graunted / and oure othes swore
811With ful glad herte / and preyden hym al{s}o
812That he wolde vouche sauf / for to do so
813And that he wolde been / oure go|uer|nour
814And of oure tales / Iuge and reportour
815And sette a Souper / at a certeyn prys
816And we wol ruled been / at his deuys
817In heigh and logh / and thus by oon a{ss}ent/
818We been acorded / to his Iuggement/
819And ther vp on / the wyn was fet anoon
820We dronken / and to re{s}te wente echo|n_|
821With outen / any lenger taryynge
822¶A morwe / whan |þt| day bigan to sprynge
823Vp roos oure hoo{s}t/ and was oure aller cok/
824And gadred vs / togydres in a flok/
825And forth we ryden /a litel moore than pas
826Vn to the wateryng/ of Seint Thomas
827And there oure hoo{s}t / bigan his hors are{s}te
828And seyde / lordes / herkneth if yow le{s}te
829¶Ye woot youre forward / and it yow recorde
830If euen{s}ong / and morwe{s}ong/ acorde
831Lat se now / who shal telle the fir{s}te tale
832As euere mote I drynke wyn / or Ale
{{Folio 12v}}
833Who {s}o be rebel / to my Iuggement/
834Shal paye / for al / that by the wey is spent
835Now draweth cut/ er |þt| we ferrer twynne
836He which |þt| hath the shorte{s}te / shal bigynne
837¶Sire knyght quod he / my may{s}ter and my lord
838Now draweth cut/ for that is myn acord
839Cometh neer quod he / my lady Priore{ss}e
840And ye sire Clerc/. lat be youre shamefa{s}tne{ss}e
841Ne studieth noght/ ley hond to / euery man
842¶Anoon to drawen / euery wight bigan
843And shortly / for to tellen / as it was
844Were it by auenture / or sort/ or cas
845The sothe is this / the Cut fil to the knyght/
846Of which ful blithe and glad was euery wight/
847And telle he mo{s}te his tale / as was re{s}oun
848By forward / and by compo{s}icio|un|
849As ye han herd / what nedeth wordes mo
850And whan this goode man / saugh |þt| it was {s}o
851As he / |þt| wys was / and obedient/
852To kepe his forward / by his free a{ss}ent/
853He seyde / syn I shal bigynne the game
854What wel come be the Cut/ in goddes name
855Now lat vs ryde / and herkneth what I seye
856And with that word / we ryden forth oure weye
857And he bigan / with right a murye cheere
858His tale anoon / and seyde as ye may heere


1] Old spelling is retained except for ligatured letters, which are normalized. Expanded contractions and abbreviations are placed within vertical bars. The original lineation is retained, but not small capitals and the text of signatures, catchwords, and running titles. Irregularities in spacing are ignored. Reference citations are by folio numbers and editorial through-ms and through-tale line numbers.
Unusual characters are identified as follows:
{s} : long-s
{ss} : ligatured long-s long-s
{C|} : capitulum
{`,} : comma under opening single quotation mark
{?.} : punctus elevatus
{^} : caret
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Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: