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GEOFFREY CHAUCER 1

TRUTH

LAK OF STEDFASTNESSE

BALADE DE BON CONSEYL

BALADE FLEE fro the prees, and dwelle with soth- Som tyme this world was so stedfast and fastnesse,

stable duffyce unto thy good, though hit be smal; That mannes word was obligacioun, For hord hath hate, and climbing tikel- And now hit is so fals and deceivable, nesse,

That word and deed, as in conclusioun, Prees hath envye, and wele blent overal; Ben no-thing lyk, for turned up so doun Savour no more than thee bihove shal; Is al this world for mede and wilfulWerk wel thy-self, that other folk canst

nesse, rede;

That al is lost for lak of stedfastnesse. And trouthe shal delivere, hit is no drede.

What maketh this world to be so variTempest thee noght al croked to redresse,

able In trust of hir that turneth as a bal:

But lust that folk have in dissensioun ? Gret reste stant in litel besivesse;

Among us now a man is holde unable, And eek be war to sporne ageyn an al;

But-if

he can, by som collusionin, Stryve noght, as doth the crokke with the Don his neighbour wrong or oppressionn. wal.

What causeth this, but wilful wrecchedDaunte thy-self, that dauntest otheres dede;

nesse, And trouthe shal delivere, hit is no drede. That al is lost, for lak of stedfastnesse ? That thee is sent, receyve in buxumnesse, Trouthe is put doun, resoun is holden fable; The wrastling for this worlde axeth a fal. Vertu bath now no dominacioun, Her nis non hoom, her nis but wildernesse: Pitee exyled, no man is merciable. Forth, pilgrim, forth ! Forth, beste, out of Through covetyse is blent discrecioun; thy stal!

The world hath mad a permutacioun know thy contree, look up, thank God of al; Fro right to wrong, fro trouthe to fikelHold the hye wey, and lat thy gost thee lede:

nesse, Aud trouthe shal delivere, hit is no drede. That al is lost, for lak of stedfastnesse.

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ENVOY

LENVOY TO KING RICHARD

Therfore, thou vache, leve thyn old wrecch- O prince, desyre to be honourable, ednesse

Cherish thy folk and hate extorción! Unto the worlde; leve now to be thral; Suffre no thing, that may be reprevable Crve him mercy, that of his hy goodnesse To thyn estat, don in thy regiou. Made thee of noght, and in especial

Shew forth thy swerd of castigacioun, Draw unto him, and pray in general

Dred God, do law, love trouthe and worthiFor thee, and eek for other, hevenlich mede; nesse, And trouthe shal delivere, hit is no drede. And wed thy folk agein to stedfastnesse. Explicit Le bon counseill de G. Chaucer

Explicit · The text adopted in these extracts is that of the Skeat edition. -- ED.

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THE CANTERBURY

TALES.

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THE PROLOGUE Here biginneth the Book of the Tales of

Caunterbury Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote The droghte of Marche hath perced to the

rote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour, Of which vertu engendred is the flour; Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth Inspired hath in every holt and heeth The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne, And smale fowles maken melodye, That slepen al the night with open yë, (So priketh hem nature in hir corages): Thai longen folk to goon on pilgrimages (And palmers for to seken straunge

strondes) To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes; And specially, from every shires ende Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende, The holy blisful martir for to seke, Tbat hem hath holpen, whan that they were

seke. Bifel that, in that seson on a day, In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage To Caunterbury with ful devout corage, At night was come in-to that hostelrye Wel nyne and twenty in a companye, Of sondry folk, by aventure y-falle In felawshipe, and pilgrims were they alle, That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde; The chambres and the stables weren wyde, And wel we weren esed atte beste. And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste, 30 So hadde I spoken with hem everichon, That I was of hir felawshipe anon, And made forward erly for to ryse, To take our wey,

ther as I yow devyse. But natheles, whyl I have ty me and space, Er that I ferther in this tale pace, Me thinketh it acordaunt to resoun, To telle yow al the condicionn Of ech of hem, so as it semed me, And whiche they weren, and of what de

gree; And eek in what array that they were inne: And at a knight than wol I first biginne.

A Knight ther was, and that a worthy

man, That fro the tyme that he first bigan To ryden out, he loved chivalrye, Troutbe and honour, fredom avd curteisye. Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre, And therto hadde he riden (no man ferre) As wel in Cristendom as hethenesse, And ever honoured for his worthinesse.

At Alisaundre he was, whan it was wonne; Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bigonne Aboven alle naciouns in Pruce. In Lettow hadde he reysed and in Ruce, No Cristen man so ofte of his degree. In Gernade at the sege eek hadde he be Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye. At Lyeys was he, and at Satalye, Whan they were wonne; and in the Grete

See At many a noble aryve hadde he be. At mortal batailles hadde he been fiftene, And foughten for our feith at Tramissene In listes thryes, and ay slayn his foo. This ilke worthy knight had been also Somtyme with the lord of Palatye, Ageyn another hethen in Turkye: And evermore he hadde a sovereyn prys. And though that he were worthy, he was wys, And of his port as meke as is a mayde. He never yet no vileinye ne sayde In al his lyf, un-to no maner wight. He was a verray parfit gentil knight. But for to tellen yow of his array, His hors were gode, but he was nat gay. Of fustian he wered a gipoun Al bismotered with his habergeoun; For he was late y-come from his viage, And wente for to doon his pilgrimage. With him ther was his sone, a yong

SQUYER, A lovyere, and a lusty bacheler, With lokkes crulle, as they were leydi in

presse. Of twenty yeer

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gesse. Of his stature he was of evene lengthe, And wonderly deliver, and greet of

strengthe.
And he had been somtyme in chivachye,
In Flaundres, in Artoys, and Picardye,
And born him wel, as of so litel space,
In hope to stonden in his lady grace.
Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
Alful of fresshe floures, whyte and rede.
Singinge he was, or floytinge, al the day;
He was as fresh as is the month of May.

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Short was his goune, with sleves longe and She was so charitable and so pitous, wyde.

She wolde wepe, if that she sawe a mous Wel coude he sitte on hors, and faire ryde. Caught in a trappe, if it were deed or He coude songes make and wel endyte,

bledde. luste and eek daunce, and wel purtreye and Of smale houndes had she, that she fedde wryte.

With rosted flesh, or milk and wastel-breed. So hote he lovede, that by nightertale But sore weep she if oon of hem were deed, He sleep namore than dooth a nightingale. Or if men smoot it with a yerde smerte : Curteys he was, lowly, and servisable, And al was conscience and tendre herte. And carf biforn his fader at the table. Ful semely hir wimpel pinched was;

A YEMAN hadde he, and servaunts namo Hir nose tretys; hir eyen greye as glas; At that tyme, for him liste ryde so;

Hir mouth ful smal, and ther-to softe and And he was clad in cote and hood of grene;

reed; A sheef of pecok-arwes brighte and kene But sikerly she hadde a fair forheed; Under his belt he bar ful thriftily;

It was almost a spanne brood, I trowe; (Wel coude he dresse his takel yemanly: For, hardily, she was nat undergrowe. His arwes drouped noght with fetheres Ful fetis was hir cloke, as I was war. lowe),

Of smal coral aboute hir arm she bar And in his hand he bar a mighty bowe. A peire of bedes, gauded al with grene; A not-beed hadde he, with a broun visage. And ther-on heng a broche of gold ful Of wode-craft wel coude he al the usage.

shene, L'pon bis arm he bar a gay bracer,

On which ther was first write a crowned A, And by his syde a swerd and a bokeler, And after, Amor vincit omnia. And on that other syde a gay daggere, Another Nonne with hir hadde she, Harneised wel, and sharp as point of spere; That was hir chapeleyne, and PREESTES A Cristofre on his brest of silver shene.

three. An horn he bar, the bawdrik was of grene; A Monk ther was, a fair for the maise A forster was he, soothly, as I gesse.

trye, Ther was also a Nonne, a PRIORESSE, An out-rydere, that lovede venerye; That of hir smyling was ful simple and A manly man, to been an abbot able. coy;

Ful many a deyntee hors hadde he in stable: Hir gretteste ooth was but by sëynt Loy; And, whan he rood, men mighte his brydel And she was cleped madame Eglentyne.

here Ful wel she song the service divyne, Ginglen in a whistling wind as clere, Entuned in hir nose ful semely;

And eek as loude as dooth the chapel-belle, And Frensh she spak ful faire and fetisly, Ther as this lord was keper of the celle. After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe, The reule of seint Maure or of seint Beneit, For Frensh of Paris was to hir unknowe. By-cause that it was old and som-del streit, At mete wel y-taught was she with-alle; This ilke monk leet olde thinges pace, She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle,

And held after the newe world the space. Ne wette hir fingres in hir sance depe. 129 He yaf nat of that text a pulled ben, Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe, That seith, that hunters been nat holy That no drope ne fille up-on hir brest.

men; In curteisye was set ful muche hir lest. Ne that a monk, whan he is cloisterlees, Hir over lippe wyped she so clene,

Is lykned til a fish that is waterlees; That in hir coppe was no ferthing sene This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloistre. Of grece, whan she dronken hadde hir But thilke text held he nat worth av oistre; draughte.

And I seyde, his opinioun was good. Ful semely after hir mete she raughte, What sholde he studie, and make himselyen And sikerly she was of greet disport,

wood, And ful plesannt, and amiable of port, Upon a book in cloistre alwey to poure, And peyned hir to countrefete chere

Or swinken with his handes, and laboure, Of court, and been estatlich of manere, 140 As Austin bit? How shal the world be And to ben holden digne of reverence.

served ? But, for to speken of hir conscience,

Lat Austin have his swink to him reserved.

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Therfore he was a pricasour aright; Greboundes he hadde, as swifte as fowel in

flight; Of priking and of hunting for the hare Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare. I seigh his sleves purfiled at the hond With grys, and that the fyneste of a lond; And, for to festue his hood under his chin, He hadde of gold y-wroght a curious piu: A love-knotte in the gretter ende ther was. His heed was balled, that shoon as any

glas, And eek his face, as he had been anoint. He was a lord ful fat and in good point; 200 His eyen stepe, and rollinge in his heed, That stemed as a forneys of a leed; His botes souple, his hors in greet estat. Now certeinly he was a fair prelat; He was nat pale as a for-pyned goost. A fat swan loved he best of any roost. His palfrey was as broun as is a berye. A FRERE ther was, a wantowu and a

merye, A limitour, a ful solempne man. In alle the ordres foure is noon that can So muche of daliaunce and fair langage. He hadde maad ful many a mariage Of yonge wommen, at his owne cost. Un-to his ordre he was a noble post. Ful wel biloved and famulier was he With frankeleyns over-al in his contree, And eek with worthy women of the toun: For he had power of confessioun, As seyde him-self, more than a curat, For his ordre he was licentiat. Ful swetely herde he confessioun, And plesaunt was his absolucioun; He was an esy man to yeve penaunce Ther as he wiste to han a good pitaunce; For unto a povre ordre for to yive Is signe that a man is wel y-shrive For if he yaf, he dorste make avaunt, He wiste that a man was repentaunt. For many a man so hard is of bis herte, 229 He may nat wepe al-thogh him sore smerte. Therfore, in stede of weping and preyeres, Men moot yeve silver to the povre freres. His tipet was ay farsed ful of knyves And pinnes, for to yeven faire wyves. And certeinly he hadde a inery note; Wel coude he singe and pleyen on a rote. Of yeddinges he bar utterly the prys. His nekke whyt was as the flour-de-lys; Ther-to he strong was as a champioun. He knew the tavernes wel in every toun,

And everich hostiler and tappestere
Bet than a lazar or a beggestere;
For yn-to swich a worthy man as he
Acorded nat, as by his facultee,
To have with seke lazars aqueyntaunce.
It is nat bonest, it may nat avaunce
For to delen with no swich poraille,
But al with riche and sellers of vitaille.
And over-al, ther as profit sholde aryse,
Curteys he was, and lowly of servyse.
Ther was no man no-wher so vertuous.
He was the beste beggere in his hous;
[And yaf a certeyn ferme for the grauut;
Noon of his bretheren cam ther in his

haunt;]
For thogh a widwe hadde noght a sho,
So plesaunt was his . In principio,'
Yet wolde he have a ferthing, er he wente.
His purchas was wel bettre than his rente.
And rage he coude, as it were right a

whelpe In love-dayes ther coude he muchel helpe. For there he was nat lyk a cloisterer, With a thredbar cope, as is a povre scoler, But he was lyk a maister or a pope. Of double worsted was his semi-cope, That rounded as a belle out of the presse. Somwhat he lipsed, for his wantownesse, To make his English swete up-on

bis tonge; And in his harping, whan that he had

songe, His eyen twinkled in his heed aright, As doon the sterres in the frosty night. 270 This worthy limitour was cleped Huberd. A MARCHANT was ther with a forked

berd, In mottelee, and hye on horse be sat, Up-on his heed a Flaundrish bever hat; His botes clasped faire and fetisly. His resons he spak ful solempnely, Souninge alway thencrees of his winning. He wolde the see were kept for any thing Bitwixe Middelburgh and Orewelle. Wel coude he in eschaunge sheeldes selle. This worthy man ful wel his wit bisette; 281 Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette, So estatly was he of his governaunce, With his bargaynes, and with his cheviFor sothe he was a worthy man withalle, But sooth to seyn, I noot how men him

calle. A CLERK ther was of Oxenford also, That un-to logik hadde longe y-ge.

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