The canterbury tales, p.36
The Canterbury Tales,
Nat for to holde a preest joly1727 and gay;
He singeth nat but o masse in a day.
Delivereth out’, quod he, ‘anon the soules!
1730 Ful hard it is with flessh-hook1730 or with oules
To been yclawed, or to brenne1731 or bake.
Now spede yow hastily, for Cristes sake!’
And whan this frere hadde seid al his entente1733,
With qui cum patre1734 forth his wey he wente.
1735 Whan folk in chirche hadde yeve him what hem leste1735,
He wente his wey – no lenger wolde he reste –
With scrippe1737 and tipped staf, ytukked hye.
In every hous he gan to poure1738 and prye,
And beggeth mele1739 and chese, or ellis corn.
1740 His felawe hadde a staf, tipped with horn,
A peire of tables1741, al of ivory,
And a pointel1742, polisshed fetisly,
And wroot the names alwey, as he stood,
Of alle folk that yaf hem any good,
1745 Ascaunces1745 that he wolde for hem preye.
‘Yif us a busshel whete, malt or reye1746,
A Goddes kechil1747, or a trip of chese,
Or ellis what yow list1748; we may nat chese.
A Goddes halfpeny1749, or a masse-peny,
1750 Or yif us of youre brawn, if ye have any;
A dagoun1751 of youre blanket, leeve dame,
Oure suster deere – lo, heere I write youre name –
Bacoun or beef, or swich thing as ye finde.’
A sturdy harlot1754 wente ay hem bihinde,
1755 That was hir hostes man1755, and baar a sak,
And what men yaf hem, leide it on his bak;
And whan that he was out at dore, anon
He planed1758 awey the names everychon
That he biforn had writen in his tables;
1760 He served hem with nifles1760 and with fables.
‘Nay, ther thow lixt1761, thow Somnour!’ quod the Frere.
‘Pees!’ quod oure Hoost, ‘for Cristes moder deere!
Tel forth thy tale, and spare1763 it nat at al.’
‘So thrive I,’ quod this Somnour, ‘so I shal.’
1765 So longe he wente hous by hous, til he
Cam til an hous ther he was wont to be
Refresshed moore than in an hundred placis.
Sik lay the goode man1768 whos the place is;
Bedred1769 upon a couche lowe he lay.
1770 ‘Deus hic!’1770 quod he, ‘O Thomas, freend, good day!’
Seide this frere curteisly and softe1771.
‘Thomas,’ quod he, ‘God yelde1772 yow, ful ofte
Have I upon this bench faren ful wel!
Heere have I eten many a murye mel1774.’
1775 And fro the bench he droof awey the cat,
And leide adoun his potente1776 and his hat,
And eek his scrippe, and sette him softe1777 adoun.
His felawe1778 was go walked into toun,
Forth with his knave, into that hostelrye
1780 Wheras he shoop him1780 thilke night to lie.
‘O deere maister,’ quod this sike man,
‘How han ye fare1782, sith that March bigan?
I saw yow noght this fourtenight or moore.’
‘God woot,’ quod he, ‘laboured I have ful soore1784,
1785 And specially, for thy savacioun
Have I seid many a precious orisoun1786,
And for oure othere freendes, God hem blesse!
I have today been at youre chirche at messe1788,
And seid a sermon after my simple wit –
1790 Nat al after1790 the text of holy writ,
For it is hard to yow, as I suppose,
And therfore wol I teche yow al the glose.
Glosing1793 is a glorious thing, certein,
For lettre sleeth1794, so as we clerkes seyn.
1795 Ther have I taught hem to be charitable,
And spende hir good ther it is resonable;
And ther I saugh our dame – a, where is she?’
‘Yond in the yerd1798 I trowe that she be,’
Seide this man, ‘and she wol come anon.’
1800 ‘Ey, maister, welcome be ye, by Seint John!’
Seide this wif, ‘How fare ye, hertely1801?’
The frere ariseth up ful curteisly,
And hire embraceth in his armes narwe1803,
And kiste hir swete and chirketh1804 as a sparwe
1805 With his lippes. ‘Dame,’ quod he, ‘right wel,
As he that is youre servant everydel1806,
Thanked be God that yow yaf soule and lif!
Yet saugh I nat this day so fair a wif
In al the chirche, God so save me!’
1810 ‘Ye, God amende defautes1810, sire,’ quod she.
‘Algates1811 welcome be ye, by my fey!’
‘Graunt mercy, dame, this have I founde alwey.
But of youre grete goodnesse, by youre leve,
I wolde pray yow that ye nat yow greve1814:
1815 I wol with Thomas speke a litel throwe1815.
Thise curatz been ful necligent and slowe
To grope1817 tendrely a conscience.
In shrift1818, in preching, is my diligence,
And studye in Petres wordes and in Poules1819.
1820 I walke and fisshe Cristen mennes soules,
To yelden1821 Jesu Crist his propre rente;
To sprede his word is set al min entente.’
‘Now, by youre leeve, O deere sire,’ quod she,
‘Chideth1824 him wel, for seinte Trinitee!
1825 He is as angry as a pissemire1825,
Thogh that he have al that he kan desire.
Thogh I him wrye1827 a-night and make him warm,
And over him leye my leg outher min arm,
He groneth lik oure boor1829, lith in oure sty.
1830 Oother disport1830 right noon of him have I;
I may nat plese him in no maner cas1831.’
‘O Thomas, je vous dy1832, Thomas, Thomas!
This maketh the feend, this moste been amended!
Ire is a thing that hye God defended1834,
1835 And therof wol I speke a word or two.’
‘Now, maister,’ quod the wif, ‘er that I go,
What wol ye dine1837? I wol go theraboute.’
‘Now, dame,’ quod he, ‘now je vous dy sanz doute1838,
Have I nat of a capoun but1839 the livere,
1840 And of youre softe breed nat but a shivere1840,
And after that a rosted pigges heed –
But that I nolde no beest for me were deed –
Thanne hadde I with yow homly suffisaunce1843.
I am a man of litel sustenaunce;
1845 My spirit hath his fostring1845 in the Bible.
The body is ay so redy and penible1846
To wake1847, that my stomak is destroyed.
I pray yow, dame, ye be nat anoyed,
Thogh I so freendly yow my conseil shewe1849.
1850 By God, I wolde nat telle it but a fewe1850!’
‘Now, sire,’ quod she, ‘but o1851 word er I go:
My child is deed withinne thise wikes1852 two,
Soone after that ye wente out of this toun.’
‘His deeth saugh I by revelacioun,’
1855 Seide this frere, ‘at hom in oure dortour1855.
I dar wel seyn that, er that half an hour
After his deeth, I saugh him born to blisse1857
In min avisioun, so God me wisse1858!
So dide oure sextein1859 and oure fermerer,
1860 That han been trewe freres fifty yeer;
They may now, God be thanked of his lone1861,
Maken hir jubilee1862 and walke allone.
And up I roos, and al oure covent1863 eke,
With many a tere trikling on my cheke,
1865 Withouten noise or clatering1865 of belles.
Save that to Crist I seide an orisoun,
Thankinge him of1868 his revelacioun.
For, sire and dame, trusteth me right wel,
1870 Oure orisons been moore effectuel,
And moore we seen of Cristes secree thinges
Than burel folke1872, althogh they weren kinges.
We live in poverte and in abstinence,
And burel folk in richesse and dispence1874
1875 Of mete and drink, and in hir foul delit.
We han this worldes lust al in despit1876.
Lazar and Dives liveden diversly1877,
And diverse guerdoun1878 hadden they therby.
Whoso wol1879 praye, he moot faste and be clene,
1880 And fatte1880 his soule, and make his body lene.
We fare1881 as seyth th’Apostle: clooth and foode
Suffiseth1882 us, thogh they be nat ful goode.
The clennesse1883 and the fasting of us freres
Maketh1884 that Crist accepteth oure prayeres.
1885 ‘Lo, Moises fourty dayes and fourty night
Fasted, er that the heighe God of might
Spak with him in the mountaine of Sinai;
With empty wombe1888, fastinge many a day,
Received he the lawe that was writen
1890 With Goddes finger; and Elie, wel ye witen1890,
In Mount Oreb er he hadde any speche
With hye God, that is oure lives leche1892,
He fasted longe and was in contemplaunce1893.
‘Aaron, that hadde the temple in governaunce1894,
1895 And eek the othere preestes everychon,
Into the temple whan they sholde gon
To preye for the peple and do servise,
They nolden drinken in no maner wise1898
No drinke which that mighte hem dronke make,
1900 But there in abstinence preye and wake,
Lest that they deiden. Tak hede what I seye:
But they be sobre that for the peple preye1902,
War1903 that I seye; namoore, for it suffiseth!
‘Oure Lord Jesu, as holy writ deviseth1904,
1905 Yaf us ensample of fasting and prayeres.
Therfore we mendinantz1906, we sely freres,
Been wedded to poverte and continence,
To charitee, humblesse, and abstinence,
To persecucioun for rightwisnesse,
1910 To weping, misericorde1910, and clennesse.
And therfore may ye se that oure prayeres –
I speke of us, we mendinantz, we freres –
Be to the hye God moore acceptable
Than youres, with youre festes at the table.
1915 Fro Paradis first, if I shal nat lie,
Was man out chaced1916 for his glotonye,
And chaast was man in Paradis, certein.
‘But herkne now, Thomas, what I shal seyn:
– I ne have no text of it, as I suppose,
1920 But I shal finde it in a maner glose1920 –
That specially oure swete Lord Jesus
Spak this by freres, whan he seide thus:
“Blessed be they that povre in spirit been.”
And so forth al the gospel may ye seen,
1925 Wher it be likker oure professioun1925,
Or hirs1926 that swimmen in possessioun.
Fy on hir pompe and on hir glotonye!
And for hir lewednesse1928 I hem diffye.
‘Me thinketh1929 they been lik Jovinian,
1930 Fat as1930 a whale, and walking as a swan,
Al vinolent1931 as botel in the spence.
Hir preyere is of ful greet reverence,
Whan they for soules seye the Psalm of Davit1933:
“Lo, buf1934!” they seye, “cor meum eructavit!”
1935 Who folweth Cristes gospel and his foore1935,
But we that humble been and chaast and poore,
Werkers of Goddes word, nat auditours1937?
Therfore, right as an hauk up at a sours1938
Up springeth into th’eir, right so prayeres
1940 Of charitable and chaste bisy freres
Maken hir sours to Goddes eres1941 two.
Thomas, Thomas, so mote I ride or go1942,
And by that lord that clepid is Seint Ive,
Nere thow oure brother, sholdestow nat thrive1944.
1945 In oure chapitre1945 praye we day and night
To Crist, that he thee sende heele1946 and might
Thy body for to welden1947 hastily.’
‘God woot,’ quod he, ‘nothing therof feele I!
As help me Crist, as I in fewe yeres
1950 Have spended upon diverse manere freres
Ful many a pound, yet fare I nevere the bet1951.
Certein, my good have I almoost biset1952;
Farwel my gold, for it is al ago1953!’
The frere answerde, ‘O Thomas, dostow so?
1955 What nedeth yow diverse freres seche?1955
What nedeth him that hath a parfit leche1956
To sechen othere leches in the toun?
Youre inconstance1958 is youre confusioun!
Holde ye1959 than me, or ellis oure covent,
1960 To preye for yow been insufficient?
Thomas, that jape1961 nis nat worth a mite!
Youre maladye is for we han to lite1962.
A, yif that covent half a quarter otes1963!
A, yif that covent foure and twenty grotes1964!
1965 A, yif that frere a peny and lat him go!
Nay, nay, Thomas, it may nothing1966 be so!
What is a ferthing1967 worth parted in twelve?
Lo, ech thing that is oned1968 in himselve
Is moore strong than whan it is to-scatered1969.
1970 Thomas, of1970 me thow shalt nat been yflatered:
Thow woldest han oure labour al for noght.
The hye God, that al this world hath wroght,
Seyth that the werkman worthy is his hire.
Thomas, noght of youre tresor I desire
1975 As for myself, but that al oure covent
To praye for yow is ay so diligent,
And for to builden Cristes owene chirche.
Thomas, if ye wol lernen for to wirche1978,
Of building up of chirches may ye finde,
1980 If it be good1980, in Thomas lif of Inde.
Ye lie heere ful of anger and of ire
With which the devel set1982 youre herte afire,
And chiden heere the sely1983 innocent,
Youre wif, that is so meke and pacient.
1985 And therfore Thomas – trowe me if thee leste –
Ne strive nat with thy wif, as for thy beste1986.
And bere this word awey now, by thy feith,
Touchinge1988 swich thing – lo, what the wise seyth:
“Withinne thin hous ne be thow no leoun;
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