The canterbury tales, p.74
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.74

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  A man that clothed was in clothes blake,

  And undernethe he hadde a whit surplis558.

  His hakeney559, that was al pomely gris,

  560 So swatte560 that it wonder was to see;

  It semed as he hadde priked561 miles three.

  The hors eek that his yeman rood upon

  So swatte that unnethe563 mighte it gon.

  Aboute the peitrel564 stood the foom ful hye;

  565 He was of foom al flekked as a pie565.

  A male tweyfolde566 on his croper lay;

  It semed that he caried lite array567.

  Al light for somer rood this worthy man.

  And in min herte to wondren I bigan

  570 What that he was, til that I understood

  How that his cloke was sowed to his hood;

  For which, whan I hadde longe avised me572,

  I demed him som chanoun573 for to be.

  His hat heeng574 at his bak doun by a laas,

  575 For he hadde riden moore than trot or paas575;

  He hadde ay priked lik as576 he were wood.

  A clote-leef577 he hadde under his hood,

  For swoot578, and for to kepe his heed from heete.

  But it was joye for to seen him swete!

  580 His forheed dropped as a stillatorye580

  Were581 ful of plantaine and of paritorye.

  And whan that he was come, he gan to crye,

  ‘God save’, quod he, ‘this joly583 compaignye!

  Faste have I priked’, quod he, ‘for youre sake,

  585 Bicause that I wolde yow atake,

  To riden in this mirye compaignye.’

  His yeman eek was ful of curteisye,

  And seide, ‘Sires, now in the morwe-tide588,

  Out of youre hostelrye I saugh yow ride,

  590 And warned590 heer my lord and soverain,

  Which that to riden with yow is ful fain591

  For his desport592; he loveth daliaunce.’

  ‘Freend, for thy warning God yeve thee good chaunce593!’

  Thanne seide oure Hoost, ‘– for, certein, it wolde seme

  595 Thy lord were wis, and so I may wel deme595.

  He is ful jocunde596 also, dar I leye!

  Can he oght597 telle a mirye tale or tweye,

  With which he glade may598 this compaignye?’

  ‘Who, sire, my lord? ye, ye, withouten lie!

  600 He kan of mirthe, and eek of jolitee,

  Nat but inogh601; also, sire, trusteth me,

  And602 ye him knewe as wel as do I,

  Ye wolde wondre how wel and craftily

  He koude werke, and that in sondry wise.

  605 He hath take on him many a greet emprise605,

  Which were606 ful hard for any that is heere

  To bringe aboute, but607 they of him it leere.

  As hoomly as he rit608 amonges yow,

  If ye him knewe, it wolde be for youre prow609.

  610 Ye wolde nat forgoon610 his aqueintaunce

  For muchel good, I dar leye in balaunce611

  Al that I have in my possessioun!

  He is a man of heigh discrecioun;

  I warne614 yow wel, he is a passing man.’

  615 ‘Wel,’ quod oure Hoost, ‘I pray thee, tel me than,

  Is he a clerk, or noon? Telle what he is.’

  ‘Nay, he is gretter than a clerk, iwys,’

  Seide this Yeman, ‘and in wordes fewe,

  Hoost, of his craft somwhat I wol yow shewe.

  620 ‘I seye, my lord kan620 swich subtilitee –

  But al his craft ye may nat wite at621 me –

  And somwhat helpe I yet to his wirking –622

  That al this ground on which we been riding,

  Til that we come to Caunterbury toun,

  625 He koude al clene625 turne it up-so-doun,

  And pave it al of silver and of gold.’

  And whan this Yeman hadde this tale ytold

  Unto oure Hoost, he seide, ‘Benedicitee!

  This thing is wonder merveillous to me –

  630 Sin that thy lord is of so heigh prudence,

  Bicause of which men sholde him reverence –

  That of his worship632 rekketh he so lite.

  His oversloppe633 nis nat worth a mite,

  As in effect634, to him, so moot I go!

  635 It is al baudy635, and to-tore also.

  Why is thy lord so sluttissh636, I thee preye?

  – And is of power bettre cloth to beye637,

  If that his dede acorde with638 thy speche.

  Telle me that, and that I thee641 biseche!’

  640 ‘Why?’ quod this Yeman, ‘wherto axe ye me?

  God help me so, for he shal nevere thee!

  – But I wol nat avowe642 that I seye,

  And therfore kepe it secree, I yow preye –

  He is to wis, in feith, as I bileve.

  645 That that is overdoon645, it wol nat preve

  Aright, as clerkes seyn; it is a vice.

  Wherfore in that I holde him lewed647 and nice;

  For whan a man hath over-greet a wit648,

  Ful ofte him happeth to misusen it.

  650 So dooth my lord, and that me greveth soore.

  God it amende! I kan seye yow namoore.’

  ‘Therof no fors652, good Yeman,’ quod oure Hoost;

  ‘Sin of the konning653 of thy lord thow woost,

  Telle how he dooth, I pray thee hertely,

  655 Sin that he is so crafty and so sly655.

  Where dwelle ye, if it to telle be656?’

  ‘In the suburbes of a toun,’ quod he,

  ‘Lurkinge in hernes658 and in lanes blinde,

  Whereas659 thise robbours and thise theves by kinde

  660 Holden hir privee660 fereful residence,

  As they that dar nat shewen hir presence.

  So faren we, if I shal seye the sothe.’

  ‘Now,’ quod oure Hoost, ‘yet lat me talke to the.

  Why artow so discoloured of thy face?’

  665 ‘Peter!’ quod he, ‘God yeve it harde grace665,

  I am so used666 in the fir to blowe

  That it hath chaunged my colour, I trowe.

  I am nat wont668 in no mirour to prye,

  But swinke soore669, and lerne multiplye.

  670 We blondren670 evere, and pouren in the fir,

  And for al that, we faille of671 oure desir,

  For evere we lakken oure conclusioun672.

  To muchel folk we doon illusioun673,

  And borwe gold – be it a pound or two,

  675 Or ten, or twelve, or manye sommes mo –

  And make hem wenen676, at the leeste weye,

  That of a pound we koude make tweye.

  Yet is it fals; but ay we han good hope

  It for to doon, and after it we grope679,

  680 But that science is so fer us biforn680

  We mowen nat, althogh we hadde it sworn,

  It overtake; it slit682 awey so faste.

  It wol us maken beggers atte laste.’

  Whil this Yeman was thus in his talking,

  685 This Chanoun drough him685 neer, and herde al thing

  Which that this Yeman spak; for suspecioun

  Of mennes speche evere hadde this Chanoun.

  For Catoun seyth, that he that gilty is

  Demeth al thing be spoke689 of him, iwys.

  690 That was the cause he gan so ny him drawe

  To his Yeman, to herknen al his sawe691.

  And thus he seide unto his Yeman tho:

  ‘Hoold thow thy pees, and speke no wordes mo!

  For if thow do, thow shalt it deere abye694.

  695 Thow sclaundrest me heere in this compaignye,

  And eek discoverest that696 thow sholdest hide.’

  ‘Ye,’ quod oure Hoost, ‘telle on, whatso bitide697!

  Of al his threting698 rekke nat a mite.’

  ‘In feith,’ quod he, ‘namoore I do but lite.’

  700 And whan this Chanoun saw it wolde nat bee,

  But his Yeman wolde telle his privetee701,

  He fledde awey, for verray sorwe and shame.

  ‘A,’ quod the Yeman, ‘heere shal arise game703!

  Al that I kan704, anon now wol I telle,

  705 Sin he is goon – the foule feend him quelle705!

  For nevere heerafter wol I with him mete

  For peny ne for pound, I yow bihete707.

  He that me broghte first unto that game,

  Er that he die, sorwe have he, and shame!

  710 For it is ernest to me, by my feith.

  That feele I wel, whatso711 any man seyth.

  And yet, for al my smerte712, and al my grief,

  For al my sorwe, labour, and meschief713,

  I koude nevere leve it in no wise.

  715 Now wolde God my wit mighte suffise

  To tellen al that longeth716 to that art!

  But nathelees, yow wol I tellen part;

  Sin that my lord is gon, I wol nat spare718.

  Swich thing as that I knowe, I wol declare.’

  Heere endeth the Prologe of the Chanouns Yemannes Tale.


  Heere biginneth the Chanouns Yeman his Tale.

  720 With this Chanoun I dwelt have seven yeer,

  And of his science am I nevere the neer721.

  Al that I hadde, I have ylost ther724by,

  And, God woot, so hath many mo than I!

  Ther I was wont to be right fressh and gay

  725 Of clothing, and of oother good array725,

  Now may I were an hose726 upon min heed;

  And wher my colour was bothe fressh and reed,

  Now is it wan728 and of a leden hewe.

  Whoso it useth, soore729 shal he rewe!

  730 And of my swink730 yet blered is min eye.

  Lo, which731 avantage is to multiplye!

  That slidinge732 science hath me maad so bare

  That I have no good, wher that evere I fare733.

  And yet I am endetted734 so therby,

  735 Of gold that I have borwed, trewely,

  That whil I live I shal it quite736 nevere.

  Lat every man be war by737 me for evere!

  What maner man that casteth him therto738,

  If he continue, I holde his thrift ydo739.

  740 So helpe me God, therby shal he nat winne,

  But empte his purs, and make his wittes thinne741.

  And whan he, thurgh his madnesse and folye,

  Hath lost his owene good thurgh jupartye743,

  Thanne he exciteth oother folk therto,

  745 To lese hir good745, as he himself hath do.

  For unto shrewes746 joye it is and ese

  To have hir felawes in peine and disese747.

  – Thus was I ones lerned of a clerk.

  Of that no charge749; I wol speke of oure werk.

  750 Whan we been thereas we shul excercise750

  Oure elvisshe751 craft, we semen wonder wise;

  Oure termes been so clergial752 and so queinte.

  I blowe the fir til that min herte feinte753.

  What sholde I tellen ech proporcioun

  755 Of thinges whiche that we werche upon?

  – As on five or sixe ounces, may wel be,

  Of silver, or som oother quantitee –

  And bisye me758 to telle yow the names

  Of orpiment759, brent bones, iren squames,

  760 That into poudre grounden been ful smal760;

  And in an erthen pot how put is al,

  And salt yput in, and also papeer762,

  Biforn thise poudres that I speke of heer,

  And wel ycovered with a lampe764 of glas;

  765 And of muche oother thing which that ther was;

  And of the pot and glasses enluting766,

  That of the eir mighte passe out nothing;

  And of the esy fir768, and smerte also,

  Which that was maad, and of the care769 and wo

  770 That we hadde in oure matires subliming770,

  And in amalgaming771 and calcening

  Of quiksilver, yclept772 mercurye crude?

  For alle oure sleightes773 we kan nat conclude.

  Oure orpiment and sublimed774 mercurye,

  775 Oure grounden litarge775 eek, on the porfurye;

  Of ech of thise of ounces a certein776 –

  Noght helpeth us; oure labour is in vein!

  Ne eek oure spirites778 ascencioun,

  Ne oure matires that lien al fix779 adoun

  780 Mowe in oure werking nothing us availle,

  For lost is al oure labour and travaille.

  And al the cost, a twenty devel weye782,

  Is lost also, which we upon it leye.

  Ther is also ful many another thing

  785 That is unto oure craft apertening785,

  Though I by ordre hem nat reherce786 kan,

  Bicause that I am a lewed787 man.

  Yet wol I telle hem as they come to minde,

  Thogh I ne kan nat sette hem in hir kinde789:

  790 – As bole armoniak790, vertgrees, boras,

  And sondry vessels maad of erthe and glas,

  Oure urinals, and oure descensories792,

  Violes793, crosletz, and sublimatories,

  Cucurbites794 and alembikes eek,

  795 And othere swiche, deere inogh a leek795 –

  Nat nedeth it for to reherce hem alle –

  Watres rubifying797, and boles galle,

  Arsenik798, sal armoniak, and brimstoon;

  And herbes koude I telle eek many oon

  800 – As egremoine800, valerian, and lunarye,

  And othere swiche, if that me liste801 tarye.

  Oure lampes802 brenning, bothe night and day,

  To bringe aboute oure purpos, if we may;

  Oure fourneis804 eek of calcinacioun,

  805 And of watres albificacioun805;

  Unslekked lim806, chalk, and gleire of an ey,

  Poudres diverse, asshes, donge807, pisse, and cley,

  Cered poketz808, sal peter, vitriole,

  And divers fires maad of wode and cole809;

  810 Sal tartre810, alkali, and sal preparat,

  And combust811 matires and coagulat;

  Cley maad with hors or mannes heer, and oile

  Of tartre, alum glas813, berm, wort, argoile,

  Resalgar814, and oure matires embibing;

  815 And eek of oure matires encorporing815,

  And of oure silver citrinacioun816,

  Oure cementing817 and fermentacioun,

  Oure ingottes, testes818, and many mo.

  I wol yow telle, as was me taught, also,

  820 The foure spirites820 and the bodies sevene,

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