The canterbury tales, p.71
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.71
 

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  3250 But3250 by necessitee condicionel.

  I wol nat han to do of3251 swich matere;

  My tale is of a cok, as ye may heere,

  That took his conseil3253 of his wif, with sorwe,

  To walken in the yerd upon that morwe

  3255 That he hadde met3255 the dreem that I yow tolde.

  Wommens conseils ben ful ofte colde3256;

  Wommanes conseil broghte us first to wo,

  And made Adam fro Paradis to go,

  Theras he was ful mirye and wel at ese.

  3260 But for I noot to whom it mighte displese

  If I conseil of wommen wolde blame,

  Passe over, for I seide it in my game3262.

  Rede auctours, where they trete of swich matere,

  And what they seyn of wommen ye may heere.

  3265 Thise been the cokkes wordes, and nat mine;

  I kan noon harm of no womman devine3266.

  Faire in the sond3267, to bathe hire mirily,

  Lith3268 Pertelote, and alle hir sustres by,

  Again the sonne3269, and Chauntecleer so free

  3270 Song mirier3270 than the mermaide in the see

  (For Phisiologus seyth sikerly3271

  How that they singen wel and mirily).

  And so bifel, that as he caste his eye,

  Among the wortes, on a boterflye,

  3275 He was war of this fox that lay ful lowe.

  Nothing ne liste him3276 thanne for to crowe,

  But cride anon, ‘Cok! cok!’, and up he sterte3277,

  As man that was affrayed in his herte;

  For naturelly a beest desireth flee

  3280 Fro his contrarye3280, if he may it see,

  Though he nevere erst3281 hadde seyn it with his eye.

  This Chauntecleer, whan he gan him espye3282,

  He wolde han fled, but that the fox anon

  Seide, ‘Gentil sire, allas, wher wol ye gon?

  3285 Be ye affrayd of me that am youre freend?

  Now, certes, I were worse than a feend

  If I to yow wolde3287 harm or vileinye!

  I am nat come youre conseil for t’espye;3288

  But trewely, the cause of my cominge

  3290 Was oonly for to herkne how that ye singe.

  For trewely, ye han as mirye a stevene3291

  As any aungel hath that is in hevene.

  Therwith ye han in musik moore feelinge3293

  Than hadde Boece, or any that kan singe.

  3295 My lord youre fader – God his soule blesse! –

  And eek youre moder, of hire gentillesse3296,

  Han in min hous yben, to my greet ese.

  And certes, sire, ful fain wolde I yow plese.

  ‘But for men speke of singinge3299, I wol seye

  3300 – So mote I brouke wel mine eyen tweye –3300

  Save yow, I herde nevere man so singe

  As dide youre fader in the morweninge.

  Certes, it was of herte3303, al that he song!

  And for to make his vois the moore strong,

  3305 He wolde so peine him3305 that with bothe hise eyen

  He moste winke3306, so loude he wolde cryen,

  And stonden on his tiptoon3307 therwithal,

  And strecche forth his nekke long and smal3308;

  And eek he was of swich discrecioun

  3310 That ther nas no man in no regioun

  That him in song or wisdom mighte passe.

  I have wel rad, in Daun Burnel the Asse,

  Among his vers, how that ther was a cok,

  That, for a preestes sone yaf him a knok

  3315 Upon his leg, whil he was yong and nice3315,

  He made him for to lese his benefice3316.

  But certein, ther nis no comparisoun

  Bitwix the wisdom and discrecioun

  Of youre fader, and of his subtiltee!

  3320 Now singeth, sire, for seinte charitee3320;

  Lat se, konne ye youre fader countrefete3321!’

  This Chauntecleer hise winges gan to bete,

  As man that koude his traisoun nat espye3323,

  So was he ravisshed with his flaterye.

  3325 Allas, ye lordes, many a fals flatour3325

  Is in youre courtes, and many a losengeour3326,

  That plesen yow wel moore, by my feith,

  Than he that soothfastnesse unto yow seyth!

  Redeth Ecclesiaste of flaterye;

  3330 Beth war, ye lordes, of hir trecherye.

  This Chauntecleer stood hye upon his toos,

  Strecchinge his nekke, and heeld hise eyen cloos3332,

  And gan to crowe loude for the nones.

  And daun Russell the fox stirte3334 up atones,

  3335 And by the gargat3335 hente Chauntecleer,

  And on his bak toward the wode him beer,

  For yet ne was ther no man that him sewed3337.

  O destinee, that mayst nat been eschewed3338!

  Allas, that Chauntecler fleigh3339 fro the bemes!

  3340 Allas, his wif ne roghte nat3340 of dremes!

  – And on a Friday fil al this meschaunce.

  O Venus, that art goddesse of plesaunce,

  Sin that3343 thy servant was this Chauntecleer,

  And in thy service dide al his power,

  3345 Moore for delit than world to multiplye,

  Why woldestow suffre3346 him on thy day to die?

  O Gaufred, deere maister soverain3347,

  That, whan thy worthy king Richard was slain

  With shot3349, compleinedest his deth so soore,

  3350 Why nadde I now thy sentence3350 and thy loore,

  The Friday for to chide, as diden ye?

  – For on a Friday, soothly, slain was he.

  Thanne wolde I shewe yow how that I koude pleine3353

  For Chauntecleres drede, and for his peine3354.

  3355 Certes, swich cry ne lamentacioun

  Was nevere of ladies maad whan Ilioun

  Was wonne, and Pirrus with his streite swerd3357,

  Whan he hadde hent King Priam by the berd

  And slain him, as seyth us Eneydos,

  3360 As maden alle the hennes in the clos3360

  Whan they hadde seyn3361 of Chauntecleer the sighte.

  But sovereinly3362 dame Pertelote shrighte,

  Ful louder than dide Hasdrubales wif,

  Whan that hire housbonde hadde ylost his lif,

  3365 And that the Romains hadden brend3365 Cartage;

  She was so ful of torment and of rage

  That wilfully3367 into the fir she sterte,

  And brende hirselven with a stedefast herte.

  O woful hennes, right so criden ye

  3370 As, whan that Nero brende the citee

  Of Rome, criden senatoures wives,

  For that hir housbondes losten alle hire lives;

  Withouten gilt this Nero hath hem slain.

  Now wol I turne to my tale again.

  3375 The sely3375 widwe, and eek hire doghtres two,

  Herden thise hennes crye and maken wo,

  And out at dores stirten3377 they anon,

  And syen3378 the fox toward the grove gon,

  And bar upon his bak the cok away,

  3380 And criden, ‘Out! Harrow!’ and ‘Weilaway3380!

  Ha, ha, the fox!’ – and after him they ran,

  And eek with staves3382 many another man.

  Ran Colle oure dogge, and Talbot, and Gerland,

  And Malkin with a distaf in hire hand;

  3385 Ran cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges,

  So fered for3386 the berking of the dogges,

  And showtinge of the men and wommen eek,

  They ronne so, hem thoughte hir herte breek3388.

  They yelleden as fendes doon in helle;

  3390 The dokes criden as3390 men wolde hem quelle;

  The gees for feere flowen3391 over the trees;

  Out of the hive cam the swarm of bees.

  So hidous was t
he noise – a, benedicitee! –

  Certes, he Jakke Straw and his meinee3394

  3395 Ne made nevere shoutes half so shrille,

  Whan that they wolden any Fleming kille,

  As thilke day was maad upon the fox.

  Of bras they broghten bemes3398, and of box,

  Of horn, of boon, in whiche they blewe and powped3399,

  3400 And therwithal they skriked3400 and they howped;

  It semed as that hevene sholde falle!

  Now, goode men, I prey yow, herkneth alle:

  Lo, how Fortune turneth sodeinly

  The hope and pride eek of hire enemy!

  3405 This cok, that lay upon the foxes bak,

  In al his drede unto the fox he spak

  And seide, ‘Sire, if that I were as ye,

  Yit3408 sholde I seyn, as wis God helpe me,

  “Turneth again, ye proude cherles alle!

  3410 A verray pestilence3410 upon yow falle!

  Now I am come unto this wodes side,

  Maugree youre heed3412, the cok shal here abide.

  I wol him ete, in feith, and that anon!”’

  The fox answerde, ‘In feith, it shal be don!’

  3415 – And as he spak that word, al sodeinly

  This cok brak from his mouth deliverly3416,

  And hye upon a tree he fley3417 anon.

  And whan the fox say3418 that the cok was gon,

  ‘Allas!’ quod he, ‘O Chauntecleer, allas!

  3420 I have to yow’, quod he, ‘ydoon trespas3420,

  Inasmuche as I maked yow aferd,

  Whan I yow hente and broghte out of the yerd.

  But sire, I dide it in no wikke entente3423;

  Com doun, and I shal telle yow what I mente.

  3425 I shal seye sooth to yow, God help me so!’

  ‘Nay, thanne’, quod he, ‘I shrewe3426 us bothe two!

  And first I shrewe myself, bothe blood and bones,

  If thow bigile me any ofter than ones!

  Thou shalt namoore, thurgh thy flaterye,

  3430 Do me to singe3430 and winken with min eye;

  For he that winketh whan he sholde see,

  Al wilfully, God lat him nevere thee3432!’

  ‘Nay,’ quod the fox, ‘but God yeve him meschaunce

  That is so undiscreet of governaunce3434

  3435 That jangleth3435 whan he sholde holde his pees!’

  Lo, swich it is for to be recchelees3436,

  And necligent, and truste on flaterye!

  But ye that holden this tale a folye,

  As of a fox, or of a cok and hen,

  3440 Taketh the moralitee, goode men.

  For Seint Paul seyth that al that writen is,

  To oure doctrine it is ywrite, iwys.

  Taketh the fruit, and lat the chaf3443 be stille.

  Now, goode God, if that it be thy wille

  3445 (As seyth my lord), so make us alle goode men,

  And bringe us to thy heighe blisse! Amen.

  Heere is ended the Nonnes Preestes Tale.

  THE EPILOGUE TO THE NUN’S PRIEST’S TALE

  ‘Sire Nonnes Preest,’ oure Hooste seide anoon,

  ‘Iblissed be thy breche3448, and every stoon!

  This was a murye tale of Chauntecleer.

  3450 But, by my trouthe, if thou were seculer,

  Thou woldest ben a tredefoul3451 aright;

  For if thou have corage as thou hast might,

  The were nede3453 of hennes, as I wene,

  Ya, mo than sevene times seventene!

  3455 Se, whiche braunes3455 hath this gentil preest,

  So gret a nekke, and swich a large breest!

  He loketh as a sparhauke3457 with hise eyen;

  Him nedeth nat his colour for to dyghen3458

  With brasile3459, ne with grein of Portingale.

  3460 Now, sire, faire falle yow3460 for youre tale!’

  And after that he, with ful merye chere,

  Seide unto another, as ye shuln heere.

  THE SECOND NUN’S PROLOGUE

  The Prologe of the Seconde Nonnes Tale.

  The ministre1 and the norice unto vices,

  Which that men clepe2 in Englissh idelnesse,

  That porter of the gate is of delices3,

  To eschue, and by hir contrarye hire oppresse4

  5 –That is to seyn, by leveful bisinesse5 –

  Wel oghten we to doon al oure entente6,

  Lest that the feend7 thurgh idelnesse us hente.

  For he, that with his thousand cordes slye8

  Continuelly us waiteth9 to biclappe,

  10 Whan he may man in idelnesse espye,

  He kan so lightly11 cacche him in his trappe,

  Til that a man be hent right by the lappe12,

  He nis nat war the feend hath him in honde13!

  Wel oghte us14 werche, and idelnesse withstonde.

  15 And thogh men dradden nevere15 for to die,

  Yet seen men wel by resoun, doutelees,

  That idelnesse is roten slogardye,

  Of which ther nevere comth no good n’encrees,

  And seen that slouthe hir holdeth in a lees19

  20 Oonly to slepe, and for to ete and drinke,

  And to devouren al that othere swinke21.

  And for to putte us from swich idelnesse

  That cause is of so23 greet confusioun,

  I have here doon my feithful bisinesse24,

  25 After25 the legende in translacioun

  Right of thy glorious lif and passioun26 –

  Thow with thy gerland wroght27 of rose and lilye,

  Thee mene I, maide and martyr, Seinte Cecilye.

  And thow, that flour of virgines art alle,

  30 Of whom that Bernard list30 so wel to write,

  To thee at my biginning first I calle;

  Thow confort of us wrecches, do m32’endite

  Thy maidens deeth, that wan thurgh hir merite

  The eternal lif, and of the feend victorye,

  35 As man may after reden in hir storye.

  Thow maide and moder, doghter of thy sone,

  Thow welle37 of mercy, sinful soules cure,

  In whom that God for bountee chees38 to wone,

  Thow humble, and heigh over every creature,

  40 Thow nobledest40 so ferforth oure nature

  That no desdein the Makere hadde of kinde41

  His sone in blood and flessh to clothe and winde.

  Withinne the cloistre blisful43 of thy sidis

  Took mannes shap the eternal love and pees,

  45 That of the trine compas45 lord and gide is,

  Whom erthe, and see, and hevene, out of relees46,

 
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