The canterbury tales, p.8
The Canterbury Tales, p.8Geoffrey Chaucer
For an analysis of the evidence, see Charles Barber and Nicholas Barber, ‘The Versification of The Canterbury Tales: A Computer-Based Statistical Study’, Leeds Studies in English, n.s. 21 (1990), 81–103, and n.s. 22 (1991), 57–83, and the introductory section on ‘The Grammar of Chaucer’s Final E in Relation to Editorial Problems of Metre’, in the Cowen and Kane edition of Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, pp. 112–23.
Derek Pearsall, ‘The Weak Declension of the Adjective and its Importance in Chaucerian Metre’, in Chaucer in Perspective: Middle English Essays in Honour of Norman Blake, ed. Geoffrey Lester (Sheffield, 1999), pp. 178–93, at p. 182.
See J. D. Burnley, ‘Inflexion in Chaucer’s Adjectives’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 83 (1982), 169–77; Cowen and Kane, Legend of Good Women, pp. 115–16; and the article by Pearsall cited in the preceding note.
The spelling in the Manly-Rickert edition is a regularized version of that found in El and Hg. See Manly-Rickert I, x, 151. M. L. Samuels has argued that editors should base their spellings on the Hengwrt manuscript since its spellings are closest to Chaucer’s own usage (‘Chaucer’s Spelling’, Middle English Studies Presented to Norman Davis, ed. Douglas Gray and E. G. Stanley (Oxford, 1983), pp. 17–37; reprinted in The English of Chaucer and his Contemporaries: Essays by M. L. Samuels and J. J. Smith, ed. J. J. Smith (Aberdeen, 1988), pp. 23–37), but Larry Benson has (to my mind) convincingly dismantled Samuels’s case (‘Chaucer’s Spelling Reconsidered’, EnglishManuscript Studies 1100–1700, 3 (1992), 1–28; reprinted in L. Benson, Contradictions: From Beowulf to Chaucer, ed. Theodore M. Andersson and Stephen A. Barney (Aldershot, 1995), pp. 70–99).
Thus, for example, martyr, tyraunt, crye, seye are spelled with a y, whereas veine, ride, wide, cride, seide are spelled with an i, and ‘wis’ and ‘wisely’, meaning ‘wise’, ‘wisely’, are spelled with a medial -i- to distinguish them from ‘iwys’, ‘wysly’, meaning ‘indeed’, ‘surely’.
For further discussion and bibliography, see the note to WB 847.
A Concordance to the Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. John S. P. Tatlock and Arthur G. Kennedy (Washington, 1927; repr. Gloucester, MA, 1963). Though still useful, this concordance has now been replaced by A Glossarial Concordance to the Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry D. Benson (New York, 1993).
A Chaucer Glossary, ed. Norman Davis, Douglas Gray, Patricia Ingham and Anne Wallace-Hadrill (Oxford, 1979).
Abbreviations of the Canterbury Tales
Cl The Clerk’s Prologue and Tale
Co The Cook’s Prologue and Tale
CY The Canon’s Yeoman’s Prologue and Tale
Fri The Friar’s Prologue and Tale
Fkl The Squire–Franklin Link, The Franklin’s Prologue and Tale
GP The General Prologue
Kn The Knight’s Tale
Mch The Merchant’s Prologue, Tale, and Epilogue
Mcp The Manciple’s Prologue and Tale
Mel The Thopas–Melibee Link and The Tale of Melibee
Mil The Miller’s Prologue and Tale
Mk The Monk’s Prologue and Tale
ML The Man of Law’s Prologue, Tale [and Epilogue]
NP The Nun’s Priest’s Prologue, Tale [and Epilogue]
Pard The Physician–Pardoner Link, The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale
Pars The Parson’s Prologue and Tale
Phys The Physician’s Tale
Pri The Shipman–Prioress Link, The Prioress’s Prologue and Tale
Retr Chaucer’s Retractions
Rv The Reeve’s Prologue and Tale
Sh The Shipman’s Tale
SN The Second Nun’s Prologue and Tale
Sq The Squire’s Prologue and Tale
Sum The Summoner’s Prologue and Tale
Th The Prioress–Sir Thopas Link and Sir Thopas
WB The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale
Where necessary, Prologue or Tale is specified by adding Pr or T to the above abbreviations.
THE GENERAL PROLOGUE
Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote 1
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veine 3 in swich licour
Of which vertu 4 engendred is the flour,
5 Whan Zephirus 5 eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired 6 hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes 7, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours8 yronne,
And smale foweles 9 maken melodye,
10 That slepen al the night with open eye –
So priketh hem nature in hir corages 11 –
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres 13 for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes 14, kouthe in sondry londes;
15 And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martyr 17 for to seke
That hem hath holpen 18 whan that they were seeke.
Bifel that in that sesoun on a day,
20 In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,
Redy to wenden 21 on my pilgrimage
To Caunterbury with ful devout corage 22,
At night was come into that hostelrye
Wel nine and twenty in a compaignye
25 Of sondry folk, by aventure25 yfalle
In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,
That toward Caunterbury wolden 27 ride.
The chambres and the stables weren wide,
And wel we weren esed atte beste 29;
30 And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,
So hadde I spoken with hem everychon 31
That I was of hir felaweshipe anon 32,
And made forward 33 erly for to rise,
To take oure wey theras 34 I yow devise.
35 But nathelees 35, whil I have time and space,
Er that I ferther in this tale pace36,
Me thinketh it acordant to resoun37
To telle yow al the condicioun
Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,
40 And whiche they weren and of what degree 40,
And eek in what array 41 that they were inne;
And at a knight than wol I first biginne.
A KNIGHT ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro 44 the time that he first bigan
45 To riden out, he loved chivalrye,
Trouthe 46 and honour, fredom and curteisye.
Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre 47,
And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre 48,
As wel in Cristendom as hethenesse 49,
50 And evere honoured for his worthinesse.
At Alisaundre 51 he was whan it was wonne;
Ful ofte time he hadde the bord bigonne 52
Aboven alle nacions in Pruce;
In Lettow hadde he reised 54 and in Ruce,
55 No Cristen man so ofte of his degree.
In Gernade at the seege eek hadde he be 56
Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye;
At Lyeys was he and at Satalye
Whan they were wonne, and in the Grete See 59
60 At many a noble armee 60 hadde he be.
At mortal batailles hadde he been fiftene,
And foghten 62 for oure feith at Tramissene
In listes 63 thries, and ay slain his foo.
This ilke worthy knight hadde been also
65 Somtime with the lord of Palatye
Again 66 another hethen in Turkye,
And everemoore 67 he hadde a soverein pris.
And though that he were worthy 68 he was wis,
And of his port 69 as meke as is a maide,
70 Ne nevere yet no vileinye 70 he saide
In al his lif unto no maner wight 71.
He was a verray parfit gentil 72 knight.
Hise hors were goode but he was nat gay.
75 Of fustian 75 he wered a gipoun,
Al bismotered 76 with his habergeoun,
For he was late ycome 77 from his viage,
And wente for to doon his pilgrimage.
With him ther was his sone, a yong SQUIER 79,
80 A lovere and a lusty 80 bacheler,
With lokkes crulle81 as they were leid in presse;
Of twenty yeer of age he was, I gesse.
Of his stature 83 he was of evene lengthe,
And wonderly 84 delivere and of greet strengthe;
85 And he hadde been somtime in chivachye 85
In Flaundres, in Artois and Picardye,
And born him wel, as of so litel space 87,
In hope to stonden in his lady grace 88.
Embrouded 89 was he, as it were a meede,
90 Al ful of fresshe floures white and reede.
Singinge he was, or floitinge 91, al the day;
He was as fressh as is the monthe of May.
Short was his gowne, with sleves longe and wide;
Wel koude he sitte on hors and faire ride.
95 He koude songes make and wel endite 95,
Juste 96 and eek daunce, and wel purtreye and write.
So hoote he lovede, that by nightertale 97
He slepte namoore than dooth a nightingale.
Curteis he was, lowely and servisable,
100 And carf 100 biforn his fader at the table.
A YEMAN 101 hadde he (and servantz namo
At that time, for him liste 102 ride so),
And he was clad in coote 103 and hood of grene.
A sheef 104 of pecok arwes, bright and kene,
105 Under his belt he bar ful thriftily 105 –
Wel koude he dresse 106 his takel yemanly;
His arwes drouped noght with fetheres lowe 107 –
And in his hand he bar 108 a mighty bowe.
A not-heed109 hadde he, with a broun visage;
110 Of wodecraft wel koude 110 he al th’usage.
Upon his arm he bar a gay bracer 111,
And by his side a swerd and a bokeler 112,
And on that oother side a gay daggere,
Harneised 114 wel and sharp as point of spere;
115 A Cristofre 115 on his brest of silver shene.
An horn he bar, the bawdrik 116 was of grene.
A forster 117 was he soothly, as I gesse.
Ther was also a nonne, a PRIORESSE,
That of hir smiling was ful simple and coy 119;
120 Hir gretteste ooth was but 120 ‘by Seinte Loy’,
And she was cleped 121 Madame Eglentine.
Ful wel she soong the service divine,
Entuned 123 in hir nose ful semely,
And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly 124,
125 After 125 the scole of Stratford-atte-Bowe,
For Frenssh of Paris was to hire unknowe 126.
At mete 127 wel ytaught was she withalle;
She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle,
Ne wette 129 hir fingres in hir sauce depe.
130 Wel koude she carye a morsel and wel kepe 130
That no drope ne fille 131 upon hir brest;
In curteisye was set ful muche hir lest 132.
Hir over-lippe 133 wiped she so clene
That in hir coppe ther was no ferthing 134 sene
135 Of grece 135, whan she dronken hadde hir draughte;
Ful semely after hir mete she raughte 136.
And sikerly she was of greet desport138 137,
And ful plesaunt and amiable of port,
And peined hire to countrefete cheere
140 Of court, and been estatlich of manere,139
And to been holden digne of reverence 141.
But for to speken of hir conscience,
She was so charitable, and so pitous,
She wolde wepe if that she sawe a mous
145 Caught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde.
Of smale houndes hadde she, that she fedde
With rosted flessh 147, or milk and wastel breed;
But soore 148 wepte she if oon of hem were deed,
Or if men smoot it with a yerde 149 smerte,
150 And al was conscience 150 and tendre herte.
Ful semely hir wimpel 151 pinched was;
Hir nose tretis 152, hir eyen greye as glas,
Hir mouth ful smal, and therto softe and reed.
But sikerly 154 she hadde a fair forheed –
155 It was almoost a spanne 155 brood, I trowe,
For hardily she was nat undergrowe 156.
Ful fetis 157 was hir cloke, as I was war;
Of smal 158 coral aboute hir arm she bar
A peire of bedes, gauded al with grene,159
160 And theron heng a brooch of gold ful shene,
On which ther was first write a crowned 161 A,
And after, ‘Amor vincit omnia 162’.
Another NONNE with hire hadde she,
That was hir chapeleine 164, and preestes thre.
165 A MONK ther was, a fair for the maistrye 165,
An outridere 166, that lovede venerye,
A manly man, to been an abbot able.
Ful many a deintee 168 hors hadde he in stable,
And whanne he rood, men mighte his bridel heere
170 Ginglen 170 in a whistlinge wind as cleere
And eek as loude as dooth the chapel belle.
Theras 172 this lord was kepere of the celle,
The reule of Seint Maure or of Seint Beneit,173
Bicause that it was old and somdel streit 174,
175 This ilke monk leet 175 olde thinges pace,
And heeld after the newe world the space.176
He yaf nat of that text a pulled 177 hen
That seyth that hunters been nat holy men,
Ne that a monk, whan he is recchelees 179,
180 Is likned til 180 a fissh that is waterlees –
This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloistre –
But thilke 182 text heeld he nat worth an oystre.
And I seide his opinioun was good:
What 184 sholde he studye, and make himselven wood,
185 Upon a book 185 in cloistre alwey to poure,
Or swinken 186 with his handes and laboure,
As Austin 187 bit? How shal the world be served?
Lat Austin have his swink to him reserved!
Therfore he was a prikasour189 aright.
190 Grehoundes 190 he hadde, as swift as fowel in flight;
Of priking 191 and of hunting for the hare
Was al his lust 192; for no cost wolde he spare.
I seigh 193 his sleves purfiled at the hond
With gris 194, and that the fineste of a lond;
195 And for to festne 195 his hood under his chin
He hadde of gold ywroght a curious 196 pin;
199A love-knotte 197 in the gretter ende ther was.
His heed was balled, that shoon as any glas,
And eek his face, as he hadde been enoint;
200 He was a lord ful fat and in good point 200.
Hise eyen stepe 201, and rollinge in his heed,
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