The canterbury tales, p.55
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.55

           Geoffrey Chaucer
 

  That hath ymaad hir housbond cokewold,382

  Swich folk shal have no power ne no grace

  To offren to my relikes in this place.

  385 And whoso findeth him out of swich blame,

  He wol come up and offre, a Goddes name,386

  And I assoille him, by th’auctoritee387

  Which that by bulle ygraunted was to me.”

  ‘By this gaude have I wonne, yeer by yeer,389

  390 An hundred mark sith I was pardoner.390

  I stonde lik a clerk in my pulpet,

  And whan the lewed peple is doun set,392

  I preche so as ye han herd bifore,

  And telle an hundred false japes394 more.

  395 Thanne peine I me395 to strecche forth the nekke,

  And est and west upon the peple I bekke396,

  As dooth a dowve sitting on a berne397.

  Mine handes and my tonge goon so yerne398

  That it is joye to se my bisinesse.

  400 Of avarice and of swich cursednesse

  Is al my preching, for to make hem free401

  To yeve hir pens, and namely unto me.

  For min entente403 is nat but for to winne,

  And nothing for correccioun of sinne.

  405 I rekke never405, whan that they been beried,

  Thogh that hir soules goon a-blakeberied!406

  For certes, many a predicacioun

  Comth ofte time of ivel entencioun:

  Som for plesance of409 folk and flaterye,

  410 To been avanced410 by ypocrisye,

  And som for veine glorye, and som for hate.

  For whan I dar noon oother412 weyes debate,

  Thanne wol I stinge him with my tonge413 smerte

  In preching, so that he shal nat414 asterte

  415 To been defamed415 falsly, if that he

  Hath trespased416 to my bretheren or to me.

  For thogh I telle noght his propre name,

  Men shal wel knowe that it is the same,

  By signes and by othere circumstances.

  420 Thus quite I420 folk that doon us displesances;

  Thus spitte I out my venim under hewe421

  Of holinesse, to seme holy and trewe.

  ‘But shortly min entente I wol devise:423

  I preche of nothing but for coveitise424.

  425 Therfore my theme is yet, and evere was:

  “Radix malorum est cupiditas.”

  Thus kan I preche again427 that same vice

  Which that I use, and that is avarice.

  But though myself be gilty in that sinne,

  430 Yet kan I maken oother folk to430 twinne

  From avarice, and soore to repente.

  But that is nat my principal entente;

  I preche nothing but for coveitise.

  Of this matere it oghte inow suffise.

  435 ‘Thanne telle I hem ensamples435 many oon

  Of olde stories longe time agoon.

  For lewed437 peple loven tales olde;

  Swiche thinges kan they wel reporte and holde.

  What, trowe ye439, that whiles I may preche,

  440 And winne gold and silver for440 I teche,

  That I wol live in poverte wilfully441?

  Nay, nay, I thoghte it nevere, trewely!

  For I wol preche and begge in sondry landes.

  I wol nat do no labour with mine handes,

  445 Ne make baskettes and live therby,

  Bicause I wol nat beggen idelly;446

  I wol noon of the apostles countrefete447.

  I wol have moneye, wolle, chese, and whete,

  Al were it yeven449 of the povereste page

  450 Or of the povereste widwe in a village,

  Al sholde hir children sterve451 for famine.

  Nay, I wol drinke licour of the vine,

  And have a joly wenche in every toun!

  ‘But herkneth, lordinges, in conclusioun:

  455 Youre liking455 is that I shal telle a tale.

  Now have I dronke a draghte of corny456 ale,

  By God, I hope I shal yow telle a thing

  That shal by resoun458 been at youre liking!

  For thogh myself be a ful vicious man,

  460 A moral tale yet I yow telle kan,

  Which I am wont461 to preche for to winne.

  Now holde youre pees; my tale I wol biginne.’

  THE PARDONER’S TALE

  Heere biginneth the Pardoners Tale.

  In Flaundres whilom463 was a compaignye

  Of yonge folk that haunteden folye464,

  465 As riot, hasard465, stewes, and tavernes,

  Whereas with harpes, lutes, and giternes466,

  They daunce and pleyen at dees467 bothe day and night,

  And ete also and drinke over hir might468,

  Thurgh which they doon the devel sacrifise

  470 Withinne that develes temple in cursed wise

  By superfluitee abhominable.

  Hir othes472 been so grete and so dampnable

  That it is grisly473 for to heere hem swere;

  Oure blissed Lordes body they to-tere474 –

  475 Hem thoughte that Jewes rente475 him noght inough –

  And ech of hem at otheres sinne lough476.

  And right anon thanne comen tombesteres477,

  Fetis478 and smale, and yonge frutesteres,

  Singeres with harpes, baudes, wafereres479,

  480 Whiche been the verray develes officeres,

  To kindle and blowe the fir of lecherye,

  That is annexed unto glotonye.

  The holy writ take I to my witnesse

  That luxurye484 is in win and dronkenesse.

  485 Lo, how that dronken Loth unkindely485

  Lay by his doghtres two, unwitingly486;

  So dronke he was, he niste487 what he wroghte.

  Herodes, whoso wel the stories soghte488,

  Whan he of win was replet489 at his feste,

  490 Right at his owene table he yaf his heste490

  To sleen491 the Baptist John, ful giltelees.

  Senec seyth a good word, doutelees:

  He seyth, he kan no difference finde

  Bitwix a man that is out of his minde

  495 And a man which that is dronkelewe495,

  But that woodnesse496, yfallen in a shrewe,

  Persevereth497 lenger than dooth dronkenesse.

  O glotonye, ful of cursednesse!

  O cause first of oure confusioun499!

  500 O original500 of oure dampnacioun,

  Til Crist hadde boght us with his blood again!

  Lo, how deere, shortly for to sayn,

  Aboght503 was thilke cursed vileinye;

  Corrupt was al this world for glotonye.

  505 Adam oure fader, and his wif also,

  Fro Paradis, to labour and to wo,

  Were driven for that vice, it is no drede507.

  For whil that Adam fasted, as I rede,

  He was in Paradis, and whan that he

  510 Eet510 of the fruit defended on the tree,

  Anon he was out cast to wo and peine.

  O glotonye, on thee wel oghte us pleine!512

  O, wiste a man513 how manye maladies

  Folwen of excesse and of glotonyes,

  515 He wolde been the moore mesurable515

  Of his diete, sitting at his table.

  Allas, the shorte throte517, the tendre mouth

  Maketh that est and west and north and south,

  In erthe, in eir, in water, men to-swinke519,

  520 To gete a glotoun520 deintee mete and drinke!

  Of this matere, O Paul, wel kanstow trete:

  ‘Mete unto wombe522, and wombe eek unto mete,

  Shal God destroyen bothe,’ as Paulus seyth.

  Allas, a foul thing is it, by my feith,

  525 To seye this word, and fouler is the dede,

  Whan man so drinketh of the white and rede526

  That of his throte he maketh his privee52
7

  Thurgh thilke cursed superfluitee.

  Th’Apostle weping seyth ful pitously:

  530 ‘Ther walken manye of whiche yow toold have I –

  I seye it now, weping with pitous vois –

  That they been enemys of Cristes crois,

  Of whiche the ende is deth; wombe is hir God.’

  O wombe, O bely, O stinking cod534,

  535 Fulfilled of donge535 and of corrupcioun,

  At either ende of thee foul is the soun!536

  How greet labour and cost is thee to finde!537

  Thise cokes538, how they stampe and streine and grinde,

  And turnen substaunce into accident539,

  540 To fulfille al thy likerous talent540.

  Out of the harde bones knokke they

  The mary542, for they caste noght awey

  That may go thurgh the golet543 softe and soote.

  Of spicerye of leef, and bark, and roote

  545 Shal been his sauce ymaked by delit545,

  To make him yet a newer appetit.

  But certes, he that haunteth547 swiche delices

  Is deed, whil that he liveth in tho vices.

  A lecherous thing is win, and dronkenesse

  550 Is ful of striving550 and of wrecchednesse.

  O dronke man, disfigured is thy face,

  Sour is thy breeth, foul artow to embrace!

  And thurgh thy dronke nose semeth the soun

  As thogh thou seidest ay554 ‘Sampsoun, Sampsoun’.

  555 –And yet, God woot, Sampsoun drank nevere no win.

  Thou fallest as it were a stiked swin556;

  Thy tonge is lost, and al thin honest cure557,

  For dronkenesse is verray sepulture558

  Of mannes wit and his discrecioun.

  560 In whom that drinke hath dominacioun,

  He kan no conseil561 kepe, it is no drede.

  Now kepe yow fro the white and fro the rede,

  And namely fro the white win of Lepe

  That is to selle564 in Fisshstrete or in Chepe!

  565 This win of Spaigne crepeth subtilly

  In othere wines growinge faste by,

  Of which ther riseth swich fumositee567

  That whan a man hath dronken draghtes thre,

  And weneth569 that he be at hoom in Chepe,

  570 He is in Spaigne, right at the toune of Lepe –

  Nat at the Rochel, ne at Burdeux toun –

  And thanne wol he seyn ‘Sampsoun, Sampsoun’.

  But herkneth, lordinges, o word I yow preye,

  That alle the soverein574 actes, dar I seye,

  575 Of victories in the Olde Testament,

  Thurgh verray God that is omnipotent,

  Were doon in abstinence and in prayere.

  Looketh the Bible, and ther ye may it leere578.

  Looke, Attila, the grete conquerour,

  580 Deide in his sleep, with shame and dishonour,

  Bleding at his nose in dronkenesse;

  A capitain sholde live in sobrenesse!

  And over al this, aviseth583 yow right wel,

  What was comaunded unto Lamuel –

  585 Nat Samuel, but Lamuel seye I –

  Redeth the Bible, and find it expresly586,

  Of win-yeving587 to hem that han justise.

  Namoore of this, for it may wel suffise.

  And now that I have spoken of glotonye,

  590 Now wol I yow defenden590 hasardrye.

  Hasard is verray moder of lesinges591,

  And of deceite and cursed forsweringes592,

  Blaspheme593 of Crist, manslaughtre, and wast also

  Of catel594 and of time, and forthermo,

  595 It is repreve and contrarye of honour595

  For to ben holde a commune hasardour596,

  And evere the hyer he is of estaat,

  The moore is he yholden desolat598.

  If that a prince useth hasardrye,

  600 In alle governaunce and policye600

  He is, as by commune opinioun,

  Yholde the lasse in reputacioun602.

  Stilbon, that was a wis embassadour,

  Was sent to Corinthe in ful gret honour

  605 Fro Lacedomie, to make hire alliaunce.

  And whan he cam, him happede par chaunce606

  That alle the gretteste that were of that lond

  Pleyinge atte hasard he hem fond.

  For which, as soone as it mighte be,

  610 He stal him610 hoom again to his contree,

  And seide, ‘Ther wol I nat lese my name,

  N’I wol nat612 take on me so greet defame

  Yow for t’allye unto none hasardours.

  Sendeth othere wise embassadours;

  615 For, by my trouthe, me were levere615 die

  Than I yow sholde to hasardours allye.

  For ye that been so glorious in honours

  Shal nat allyen yow with hasardours

  As by my wil, ne as by my tretee.’619

  620 This wise philosophre, thus seide he.

  Looke eek, that to the king Demetrius,

  The king of Parthes, as the book seyth us,

  Sente him a paire of dees of gold in scorn,

  For he hadde used hasard therbiforn624;

  625 For which he heeld his glorye or his renoun

  At no value or reputacioun.

  Lordes may finden oothere manere pley627

  Honeste628 inow to drive the day awey.

  Now wol I speke of oothes false and grete

  630 A word or two, as olde bokes trete.

  Greet swering is a thing abhominable,

  And fals swering is yet moore reprevable632.

  The heighe God forbad swering at al;633

  Witnesse on Mathew, but in special

  635 Of swering seyth the holy Jeremie:

  ‘Thow shalt swere sooth thine othes and nat lie,

  And swere in doom637, and eek in rightwisnesse.’

  But idel638 swering is a cursednesse.

  Bihoold and se, that in the firste table639

  640 Of heighe Goddes hestes640 honurable,

  How that the seconde heste of him is this:

  ‘Take nat my name in idel642 or amis.’

  Lo, rather643 he forbedeth swich swering

  Than homicide, or many a cursed thing!

  645 I seye that as by ordre thus it standeth;

  This knowen that646 hise hestes understandeth,

  How that the seconde heste of God is that.

  And forther over648 I wol thee telle al plat

  That vengeance shal nat parten from his hous

  650 That of hise othes is to outrageous650.

  ‘By Goddes precious herte, and by his nailes,

  And by the blood of Crist that is in Hailes,

  Sevene is my chaunce553, and thin is cink and treye!653

 
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