« PreviousContinue »
At night was come into that hostelrie
Wel nine and twenty in a compagnie
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
In felawship, and pilgrimes were they alle.
That toward Canterbury wolden 14 ride.
The chambres and the stables weren wide,
And wel we weren esed attè beste.
And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste,
So hadde I spoken with hem everich on
That I was of hir felawship anon,
And made forword erly for to rise,
To take oure way ther as I you devise.
But natheles, while I have time and space,
Or that I forther in this talè pace,
Me thinketh it accordant to resòn,
To tellen you alle the condition
Of eche of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degre;
And eke in what araie that they were inne:
And at a knight than wol I firste beginne.
15 Every one.
A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the timè that he firste began
To riden out, he loved Chevalrie,
Trouthe and honòur, fredom and curtesie.
Ful worthy was he in his lordès werre,1
And therto hadde he ridden, no man ferre,'
As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse,
And ever honoured for his worthinesse.
At Alisandre he was whan it was wonne.
Ful often time he hadde the bord3 begoni •*
Aboven allè nations in Pruce.
In Lettowe hadde he reysed and in Ruce,
No cristen man so ofte of his degre.
In Gernade at the siege eke hadde he be
Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie.
At Leyès was he, and at Satalie,
Whan they were wonne; and in the Grete see
At many a noble armee hadde he be.
At mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene,
And foughten for our faith at Tramissène
In listès thries, and ay slain his fo.
This ilke worthy knight hadde ben alsò
8 4 Been placed at the head of the table.
Sometime with the Lord of Palatie,
Agen another hethen in Turkie:
And evern:ore he hadde a sovereine pris."
And though that he was worthy he was wise,
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet no vilanie ne sayde
In alle his lif, unto no manere wight.
He was a veray parfit gentil knight.
But for to tellen you of his araie,
His hors was good, but he ne was not gaie.
Of fustian he wered a gipòn,7
Alle besmotred with his habergeon,
For he was late ycome fro his viàge,
And wentè for to don his pilgrimage.
7 Wore a short cassock.
Ther was alsò a Nonne, a Prioresse,
That of hire smiling was full simple and coy;
Hire gretest othe n'as but by Seint Eloy;
And she was cleped1 Madame Eglentine.
Ful wel she sangè the service devine,
Entuned in hire nose ful swetely;
And Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisly."
After the scole of Stratford attè Bowe,
For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.
At metè was she wel ytaughte withalle;
She lette no morsel from her lippès fall,
Ne wette hire fingres in hire saucè depe.
Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe
Thattè no drope ne fell upon hire brest.
In curtesie was sette ful moche hire lest.3
Hire over lippè wiped she so clene,
That in hire cuppè was no ferthing sene
Of gresè, whan she dronken hadde hire draught.
Ful semèly after her mete she raught."
And sikerly she was of grete disport,
And ful plesànt, and amiable of port,
And peined hire to contrefeten' chere
Of court, and ben estatelich of manère,
And to ben holden digne of reverence.
But for to speken of hire conscience,
She was so charitable and so pitous,
She wolde wepe if that she saw a mous
4 Smallest spot. 5 Rose.
Caughte in a trappe, if it were dec or bledde.
Of smalè houndès hadde she, that she fedde
With rosted flesh, and milk, and wastel brede.
But sore wept she if on of hem were dede.
Or if men smote it with a yerdè9 smert, 10
And all was conscience and tendre herte.
Full semely hire wimple ypinched was;
Hire nose tretis; " hire eyen grey as glas;
Hire mouth ful smale, and therto soft and red;
But sikerly she hadde a fayre forehèd.
It was almost a spannè brode I trowe;
For hardily she was not under growe.
Ful fetise was hire cloke, as I was ware.
Of smale coràll aboute hire arm she bare
A pair of bedès, gauded all with grene;
And theron heng a broche of gold ful shene,
On whiche was first ywriten a crouned A,
And after, Amor vincit omnia.
10 Smartly, adv.
A Frere ther was, a wanton and a mery,
A Limitour, a ful solempnè man.
In all the ordres foure is none that can 1
So muche of daliance and fayre langage.
He hadde ymade ful many a mariàge
Of yongè wimmin, at his owen cost.
Until his ordre he was a noble post.
Ful wel beloved, and familier was he
With frankeleins over all in his contrée,
And eke with worthy wimmen of the toun:
For he had power of confession,
As saide himselfè, more than a curàt,
For of his ordre he was licenciat.
Ful swetely herde he confession,
And plesant was his absolution.
He was an esy man to give penànce,
Ther as he wiste to han 2 a good pitànce:
For unto a poure 3 ordre for to give
Is signè that a man is well yshrive.1
For if he gave, he dorstè make avant,
He wistè that a man was repentant.
For many a man so hard is of his herte,
He may not wepe although him sorè smerte.
Therfore in stede of wering and praières
Men mote give silver to the pourè freres.
His tippet was ay farsed ful of knives,
And pinnès, for to given fayrè wives.
And certainly he hadde a mery note.
Wel coude he singe and plaien on a rote."
Of yeddinges he bare utterly the pris.
His nekke was white as the flour de lis.
Therto he strong was as a champioun,
And knew wel the tavèrnes in every toun,
And every hosteler and gay tapstère,
Better than a lazar or a beggère.
For unto swiche a worthy man as he
Accordeth nought, as by his facultè,
To haven' with sike lazars acquaintance.
It is not honest, it may not avance,
As for to delen with no swiche pouràille,1o
But all with riche, and sellers of vitaille.
And over all, ther as profit shuld arise,
Curteis he was, and lowly of servise.
Ther n' as no man no wher so vertuous.
He was the beste beggèr in all his hous:
And gave a certain fermè " for the grant,
Non of his bretheren came in his haunt.
For though a widewe hadde but a shoo,
(So plesant was his in principio)
Yet wold he have a ferthing or he went.
His pourchas was wel better than his rent,
And rage he coude as it hadde ben a whelp,
In lovèdayes,13 ther coude he mochel help.
For ther was he nat like a cloisterere,
With thredbare cope, as is a poure scolere,
But he was like a maister or a pope.
Of double worsted was his semicope, 14
That round was as a belle out of the presse.
Somwhat he lisped for his wantonnesse,
To make his English swete upon his tonge;
And in his harping, whan that he hadde songe,
His eyen twinkeled in his hed aright,
As don the sterrès in a frosty night.
This worthy limitour was cleped Hubèrd.
A stringed instrument. 8 Story telling. 9 Have. 10 Poor people.
13 Days appointed for the amicable settlement of differences.
THE DOCTOR OF PHYSIC.
With us ther was a Doctour of Phisike,
In all this world ne was ther non him like
To speke of phisike, and of surgerie :
For he was grounded in astronomie.
He kept his patient a ful gret del
In hourès by his magike natural.
Wel coude he fortunen1 the ascendent
Of his images for his patient.
He knew the cause of every maladie,
Were it of cold, or hote, or moist, or drie,
And wher engendred, and of what humoùr,
He was a veray parfite practisour.
The cause yknowe, and of his harm the rote,'
Anon he gave to the sikè man his bote.
Ful redy hadde he his apothecaries
T› send him draggès,' and his lettuaries,
For eche of hem made other for to winne;
Hir frendship n'as not newè to beginne.
Wel knew he the old Esculapius,
The Miller was a stout carl for the nones,
Ful bigge he was of braun, and eke of bones;
That proved wel, for over all ther he came,
At wrastling he wold bere away the ram.'
He was short shuldered brode, a thikkè gnarre,'
Ther n'as no dore, that he n'olde heve of barre,
Or breke it at a renning with his hede.
His berd as any sowe or fox was rede,
And therto brode, as though it were a spade.
L'pon the cop right o`his nose he hade
1 The prize.
2 A hard knot in a tree.
8 A running.