The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales



The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

General Prologue


1: Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
2: The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
3: And bathed every veyne in swich licour
4: Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
5: Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
6: Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
7: Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
8: Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
9: And smale foweles maken melodye,
10: That slepen al the nyght with open ye
11: (so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
12: Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
13: And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
14: To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
15: And specially from every shires ende
16: Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
17: The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
18: That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
19: Bifil that in that seson on a day,
20: In southwerk at the tabard as I lay
21: Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage
22: To caunterbury with ful devout corage,
23: At nyght was come into that hostelrye
24: Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye,
25: Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
26: In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,
27: That toward caunterbury wolden ryde.
28: The chambres and the stables weren wyde,
29: And wel we weren esed atte beste.
30: And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,
31: So hadde I spoken with hem everichon
32: That I was of hir felaweshipe anon,
33: And made forward erly for to ryse,
34: To take oure wey ther as I yow devyse.
35: But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space,
36: Er that I ferther in this tale pace,
37: Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun
38: To telle yow al the condicioun
39: Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,
40: And whiche they weren, and of what degree,
41: And eek in what array that they were inne;
42: And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne.


"The Miller's Tale"


3109: Whan that the knyght had thus his tale ytoold,
3110: In al the route nas ther yong ne oold
3111: That he ne seyde it was a noble storie,
3112: And worthy for to drawen to memorie;
3113: And namely the gentils everichon.
3114: Oure hooste lough and swoor, so moot I gon,
3115: This gooth aright; unbokeled is the male.
3116: Lat se now who shal telle another tale;
3117: For trewely the game is wel bigonne.
3118: Now telleth ye, sir monk, if that ye konne
3119: Somwhat to quite with the knyghtes tale.
3120: The millere, that for dronken was al pale,
3121: So that unnethe upon his hors he sat,
3122: He nolde avalen neither hood ne hat,
3123: Ne abyde no man for his curteisie,
3124: But in pilates voys he gan to crie,
3125: And swoor, by armes, and by blood and bones,
3126: I kan a noble tale for the nones,
3127: With which I wol now quite the knyghtes tale.
3128: Oure hooste saugh that he was dronke of ale,
3129: And seyde, abyd, robyn, my leeve brother;
3130: Som bettre man shal telle us first another.
3131: Abyd, and lat us werken thriftily.
3132: By goddes soule, quod he, that wol nat I;
3133: For I wol speke, or elles go my wey.
3134: Oure hoost answerde, tel on, a devel wey!
3135: Thou art a fool; thy wit is overcome.
3136: Now herkneth, quod the millere, alle and some!
3137: But first I make a protestacioun
3138: That I am dronke, I knowe it by my soun;
3139: And therfore if that I mysspeke or seye,
3140: Wyte it the ale of southwerk, I you preye.
3141: For I wol telle a legende and a lyf
3142: Bothe of a carpenter and of his wyf,
3143: How that a clerk hath set the wrightes cappe.
3144: The reve answerde and seyde, stynt thy clappe!
3145: Lat be thy lewed dronken harlotrye.
3146: It is a synne and eek a greet folye
3147: To apeyren any man, or hym defame,
3148: And eek to bryngen wyves in swich fame.
3149: Thou mayst ynogh of othere thynges seyn.
3150: This dronke millere spak ful soone ageyn
3151: And seyde, leve brother osewold,
3152: Who hath no wyf, he is no cokewold.
3153: But I sey nat therfore that thou art oon;
3154: Ther been ful goode wyves many oon,
3155: And evere a thousand goode ayeyns oon badde.
3156: That knowestow wel thyself, but if thou madde.
3157: Why artow angry with my tale now?
3158: I have a wyf, pardee, as wel as thow;
3159: Yet nolde I, for the oxen in my plogh,
3160: Take upon me moore than ynogh,
3161: As demen of myself that I were oon;
3162: I wol bileve wel that I am noon.
3163: An housbonde shal nat been inquisityf
3164: Of goddes pryvetee, nor of his wyf.
3165: So he may fynde goddes foyson there,
3166: Of the remenant nedeth nat enquere.
3167: What sholde I moore seyn, but this millere
3168: He nolde his wordes for no man forbere,
3169: But tolde his cherles tale in his manere.
3170: M' athynketh that I shal reherce it heere.
3171: And therfore every gentil wight I preye,
3172: For goddes love, demeth nat that I seye
3173: Of yvel entente, but for I moot reherce
3174: Hir tales alle, be they bettre or werse,
3175: Or elles falsen som of my mateere.
3176: And therfore, whoso list it nat yheere,
3177: Turne over the leef and chese another tale;
3178: For he shal fynde ynowe, grete and smale,
3179: Of storial thyng that toucheth gentillesse,
3180: And eek moralitee and hoolynesse.
3181: Blameth nat me if that ye chese amys.
3182: The millere is a cherl, ye knowe wel this;
3183: So was the reve eek and othere mo,
3184: And harlotrie they tolden bothe two.
3185: Avyseth yow, and put me out of blame;
3186: And eek men shal nat maken ernest of game.


3187: Whilom ther was dwellynge at oxenford
3188: A riche gnof, that gestes heeld to bord,
3189: And of his craft he was a carpenter.
3190: With hym ther was dwellynge a poure scoler,
3191: Hadde lerned art, but al his fantasye
3192: Was turned for to lerne astrologye,
3193: And koude a certeyn of conclusiouns,
3194: To demen by interrogaciouns,
3195: If that men asked hym in certein houres
3196: Whan that men sholde have droghte or elles shoures,
3197: Or if men asked hym what sholde bifalle
3198: Of every thyng; I may nat rekene hem alle.
3199: This clerk was cleped hende nicholas.
3200: Of deerne love he koude and of solas;
3201: And therto he was sleigh and ful privee,
3202: And lyk a mayden meke for to see.
3203: A chambre hadde he in that hostelrye
3204: Allone, withouten any compaignye,
3205: Ful fetisly ydight with herbes swoote;
3206: And he hymself as sweete as is the roote
3207: Of lycorys, or any cetewale.
3208: His almageste, and bookes grete and smale,
3209: His astrelabie, longynge for his art,
3210: His augrym stones layen faire apart,
3211: On shelves couched at his beddes heed;
3212: His presse ycovered with a faldyng reed;
3213: And al above ther lay a gay sautrie,
3214: On which he made a-nyghtes melodie
3215: So swetely that all the chambre rong;
3216: And angelus ad virginem he song;
3217: And after that he song the kynges noote.
3218: Ful often blessed was his myrie throte.
3219: And thus this sweete clerk his tyme spente
3220: After his freendes fyndyng and his rente.
3221: This carpenter hadde wedded newe a wyf,
3222: Which that he lovede moore than his lyf;
3223: Of eighteteene yeer she was of age.
3224: Jalous he was, and heeld hire narwe in cage,
3225: For she was wylde and yong, and he was old,
3226: And demed hymself been lik a cokewold.
3227: He knew nat catoun, for his wit was rude,
3228: That bad man sholde wedde his simylitude.
3229: Men sholde wedden after hire estaat,
3230: For youthe and elde is often at debaat.
3231: But sith that he was fallen in the snare,
3232: He moste endure, as oother folk, his care.
3233: Fair was this yonge wyf, and therwithal
3234: As any wezele hir body gent and smal.
3235: A ceynt she werede, barred al of silk,
3236: A barmclooth eek as whit as morne milk
3237: Upon hir lendes, ful of many a goore.
3238: Whit was hir smok, and broyden al bifoore
3239: And eek bihynde, on hir coler aboute,
3240: Of col-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute.
3241: The tapes of hir white voluper
3242: Were of the same suyte of hir coler;
3243: Hir filet brood of silk, and set ful hye.
3244: And sikerly she hadde a likerous ye;
3245: Ful smale ypulled were hire browes two,
3246: And tho were bent and blake as any sloo.
3247: She was ful moore blisful on to see
3248: Than is the newe pere-jonette tree,
3249: And softer than the wolle is of a wether.
3250: And by hir girdel heeng a purs of lether,
3251: Tasseled with silk, and perled with latoun.
3252: In al this world, to seken up and doun,
3253: There nys no man so wys that koude thenche
3254: So gay a popelote or swich a wenche.
3255: Ful brighter was the shynyng of hir hewe
3256: Than in the tour the noble yforged newe.
3257: But of hir song, it was as loude and yerne
3258: As any swalwe sittynge on a berne.
3259: Therto she koude skippe and make game,
3260: As any kyde or calf folwynge his dame.
3261: Hir mouth was sweete as bragot or the meeth,
3262: Or hoord of apples leyd in hey or heeth.
3263: Wynsynge she was, as is a joly colt,
3264: Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.
3265: A brooch she baar upon hir lowe coler,
3266: As brood as is the boos of a bokeler.
3267: Hir shoes were laced on hir legges hye.
3268: She was a prymerole, a piggesnye,
3269: For any lord to leggen in his bedde,
3270: Or yet for any good yeman to wedde.
3271: Now, sire, and eft, sire, so bifel the cas,
3272: That on a day this hende nicholas
3273: Fil with this yonge wyf to rage and pleye,
3274: Whil that hir housbonde was at oseneye,
3275: As clerkes ben ful subtile and ful queynte;
3276: And prively he caughte hire by the queynte,
3277: And seyde, ywis, but if ich have my wille,
3278: For deerne love of thee, lemman, I spille.
3279: And heeld hire harde by the haunchebones,
3280: And seyde, lemman, love me al atones,
3281: Or I wol dyen, also God me save!
3282: And she sproong as a colt dooth in the trave,
3283: And with hir heed she wryed faste awey,
3284: And seyde, I wol nat kisse thee, by my fey!
3285: Why, lat be, quod she, lat be, nicholas,
3286: Or I wol crie -- out, harrow -- and -- allas! --
3287: Do wey youre handes, for youre curteisye!
3288: This nicholas gan mercy for to crye,
3289: And spak so faire, and profred him so faste,
3290: That she hir love hym graunted atte laste,
3291: And swoor hir ooth, by seint thomas of kent,
3292: That she wol been at his comandement,
3293: Whan that she may hir leyser wel espie.
3294: Myn housbonde is so ful of jalousie
3295: That but ye wayte wel and been privee,
3296: I woot right wel I nam but deed, quod she.
3297: Ye moste been ful deerne, as in this cas.
3298: Nay, therof care thee noght, quod nicholas.
3299: A clerk hadde litherly biset his whyle,
3300: But if he koude a carpenter bigyle.
3301: And thus they been accorded and ysworn
3302: To wayte a tyme, as I have told biforn.
3303: Whan nicholas had doon thus everideel,
3304: And thakked hire aboute the lendes weel,
3305: He kiste hire sweete and taketh his sawtrie,
3306: And pleyeth faste, and maketh melodie.
3307: Thanne fil it thus, that to the paryssh chirche,
3308: Cristes owene werkes for to wirche,
3309: This goode wyf went on an haliday.
3310: Hir forheed shoon as bright as any day,
3311: So was it wasshen whan she leet hir werk.
3312: Now was ther of that chirche a parissh clerk,
3313: The which that was ycleped absolon.
3314: Crul was his heer, and as the gold it shoon,
3315: And strouted as a fanne large and brode;
3316: Ful streight and evene lay his joly shode.
3317: His rode was reed, his eyen greye as goos.
3318: With poules wyndow corven on his shoos,
3319: In hoses rede he wente fetisly.
3320: Yclad he was ful smal and proprely
3321: Al in a kirtel of a lyght waget;
3322: Ful faire and thikke been the poyntes set.
3323: And therupon he hadde a gay surplys
3324: As whit as is the blosme upon the rys.
3325: A myrie child he was, so God me save.
3326: Wel koude he laten blood and clippe and shave,
3327: And maken a chartre of lond or acquitaunce.
3328: In twenty manere koude he trippe and daunce
3329: After the scole of oxenforde tho,
3330: And with his legges casten to and fro,
3331: And pleyen songes on a smal rubible;
3332: Therto he song som tyme a loud quynyble;
3333: And as wel koude he pleye on a giterne.
3334: In al the toun nas brewhous ne taverne
3335: That he ne visited with his solas,
3336: Ther any gaylard tappestere was.
3337: But sooth to seyn, he was somdeel squaymous
3338: Of fartyng, and of speche daungerous.
3339: This absolon, that jolif was and gay,
3340: Gooth with a sencer on the haliday,
3341: Sensynge the wyves of the parisshe faste;
3342: And many a lovely look on hem he caste,
3343: And namely on this carpenteris wyf.
3344: To looke on hire hym thoughte a myrie lyf,
3345: She was so propre and sweete and likerous.
3346: I dar wel seyn, if she hadde been a mous,
3347: And he a cat, he wolde hire hente anon.
3348: This parissh clerk, this joly absolon,
3349: Hath in his herte swich a love-longynge
3350: That of no wyf took he noon offrynge;
3351: For curteisie, he seyde, he wolde noon.
3352: The moone, whan it was nyght, ful brighte shoon,
3353: And absolon his gyterne hath ytake,
3354: For paramours he thoghte for to wake.
3355: And forth he gooth, jolif and amorous,
3356: Til he cam to the carpenteres hous
3357: A litel after cokkes hadde ycrowe,
3358: And dressed hym up by a shot-wyndowe
3359: That was upon the carpenteris wal.
3360: He syngeth in his voys gentil and smal,
3361: Now, deere lady, if thy wille be,
3362: I praye yow that ye wole rewe on me,
3363: Ful wel acordaunt to his gyternynge.
3364: This carpenter awook, and herde him synge,
3365: And spak unto his wyf, and seyde anon,
3366: What! alison! herestow nat absolon,
3367: That chaunteth thus under oure boures wal?
3368: And she answerde hir housbonde therwithal,
3369: Yis, God woot, john, I heere it every deel.
3370: This passeth forth; what wol ye bet than weel?
3371: Fro day to day this joly absolon
3372: So woweth hire that hym is wo bigon.
3373: He waketh al the nyght and al the day;
3374: He kembeth his lokkes brode, and made hym gay;
3375: He woweth hire by meenes and brocage,
3376: And swoor he wolde been hir owene page;
3377: He syngeth, brokkynge as a nyghtyngale;
3378: He sente hire pyment, meeth, and spiced ale,
3379: And wafres, pipyng hoot out of the gleede;
3380: And, for she was of town, he profred meede.
3381: For som folk wol ben wonnen for richesse,
3382: And somme for strokes, and somme for gentillesse.
3383: Somtyme, to shewe his lightnesse and maistrye,
3384: He pleyeth herodes upon a scaffold hye.
3385: But what availleth hym as in this cas?
3386: She loveth so this hende nicholas
3387: That absolon may blowe the bukkes horn;
3388: He ne hadde for his labour but a scorn.
3389: And thus she maketh absolon hire ape,
3390: And al his ernest turneth til a jape.
3391: Ful sooth is this proverbe, it is no lye,
3392: Men seyn right thus, alwey the nye slye
3393: Maketh the ferre leeve to be looth.
3394: For though that absolon be wood or wrooth,
3395: By cause that he fer was from hire sight,
3396: This nye nicholas stood in his light.
3397: Now ber thee wel, thou hende nicholas,
3398: For absolon may waille and synge allas.
3399: And so bifel it on a saterday,
3400: This carpenter was goon til osenay;
3401: And hende nicholas and alisoun
3402: Acorded been to this conclusioun,
3403: That nicholas shal shapen hym a wyle
3404: This sely jalous housbonde to bigyle;
3405: And if so be the game wente aright,
3406: She sholde slepen in his arm al nyght,
3407: For this was his desir and hire also.
3408: And right anon, withouten wordes mo,
3409: This nicholas no lenger wolde tarie,
3410: But dooth ful softe unto his chambre carie
3411: Bothe mete and drynke for a day or tweye,
3412: And to hire housbonde bad hire for to seye,
3413: If that he axed after nicholas,
3414: She sholde seye she nyste where he was,
3415: Of al that day she saugh hym nat with ye;
3416: She trowed that he was in maladye,
3417: For for no cry hir mayde koude hym calle,
3418: He nolde answere for thyng that myghte falle.
3419: This passeth forth al thilke saterday,
3420: That nicholas stille in his chambre lay,
3421: And eet and sleep, or dide what hym leste,
3422: Til sonday, that the sonne gooth to reste.
3423: This sely carpenter hath greet merveyle
3424: Of nicholas, or what thyng myghte hym eyle,
3425: And seyde, I am adrad, by seint thomas,
3426: It stondeth nat aright with nicholas.
3427: God shilde that he deyde sodeynly!
3428: This world is now ful tikel, sikerly.
3429: I saugh to-day a cors yborn to chirche
3430: That now, on monday last, I saugh hym wirche.
3431: Go up, quod he unto his knave anoon,
3432: Clepe at his dore, or knokke with a stoon.
3433: Looke how it is, and tel me boldely.
3434: This knave gooth hym up ful sturdily,
3435: And at the chambre dore whil that he stood,
3436: He cride and knokked as that he were wood,
3437: What! how! what do ye, maister nicholay?
3438: How may ye slepen al the longe day?
3439: But al for noght, he herde nat a word.
3440: An hole he foond, ful lowe upon a bord,
3441: Ther as the cat was wont in for to crepe,
3442: And at that hole he looked in ful depe,
3443: And at the laste he hadde of hym a sight.
3444: This nicholas sat evere capyng upright,
3445: As he had kiked on the newe moone.
3446: Adoun he gooth, and tolde his maister soone
3447: In what array he saugh this ilke man.
3448: This carpenter to blessen hym bigan,
3449: And seyde, help us, seinte frydeswyde!
3450: A man woot litel what hym shal bityde.
3451: This man is falle, with his astromye,
3452: In some woodnesse or in som agonye.
3453: I thoghte ay wel how that it sholde be!
3454: Men sholde nat knowe of goddes pryvetee.
3455: Ye, blessed be alwey a lewed man
3456: That noght but oonly his bileve kan!
3457: So ferde another clerk with astromye;
3458: He walked in the feeldes, for to prye
3459: Upon the sterres, what ther sholde bifalle,
3460: Til he was in a marle-pit yfalle;
3461: He saugh nat that. But yet, by seint thomas,
3462: Me reweth soore of hende nicholas.
3463: He shal be rated of his studiyng,
3464: If that I may, by jhesus, hevene kyng!
3465: Get me a staf, that I may underspore,
3466: Whil that thou, robyn, hevest up the dore.
3467: He shal out of his studiyng, as I gesse --
3468: And to the chambre dore he gan hym dresse.
3469: His knave was a strong carl for the nones,
3470: And by the haspe he haaf it of atones;
3471: Into the floor the dore fil anon.
3472: This nicholas sat ay as stille as stoon,
3473: And evere caped upward into the eir.
3474: This carpenter wende he were in despeir,
3475: And hente hym by the sholdres myghtily,
3476: And shook hym harde, and cride spitously,
3477: What! nicholay! what, how! what, looke adoun!
3478: Awak, and thenk on cristes passioun!
3479: I crouche thee from elves and fro wightes.
3480: Therwith the nyght-spel seyde he anon-rightes
3481: On foure halves of the hous aboute,
3482: And on the thresshfold of the dore withoute:
3483: Jhesu crist and seinte benedight,
3484: Blesse this hous from every wikked wight,
3485: For nyghtes verye, the white pater-noster!
3486: Where wentestow, seinte petres soster?
3487: And atte laste this hende nicholas
3488: Gan for to sik soore, and seyde, allas!
3489: Shal al the world be lost aftsoones now?
3490: This carpenter answerde, what seystow?
3491: What! thynk on god, as we doon, men that swynke.
3492: This nicholas answerde, fecche me drynke,
3493: And after wol I speke in pryvetee
3494: Of certeyn thyng that toucheth me and thee.
3495: I wol telle it noon oother man, certeyn.
3496: This carpenter goth doun, and comth ageyn,
3497: And broghte of myghty ale a large quart;
3498: And whan that ech of hem had dronke his part,
3499: This nicholas his dore faste shette,
3500: And doun the carpenter by hym he sette.
3501: He seyde john, myn hooste, lief and deere,
3502: Thou shalt upon thy trouthe swere me heere
3503: That to no wight thou shalt this conseil wreye;
3504: For it is cristes conseil that I seye,
3505: And if thou telle it man, thou art forlore;
3506: For this vengeaunce thou shalt han therfore,
3507: That if thou wreye me, thou shalt be wood.
3508: Nay, crist forbede it, for his hooly blood!
3509: Quod tho this sely man, I nam no labbe;
3510: Ne, though I seye, I nam nat lief to gabbe.
3511: Sey what thou wolt, I shal it nevere telle
3512: To child ne wyf, by hym that harwed helle!
3513: Now john, quod nicholas, I wol nat lye;
3514: I have yfounde in myn astrologye,
3515: As I have looked in the moone bright,
3516: That now a monday next, at quarter nyght,
3517: Shal falle a reyn, and that so wilde and wood,
3518: That half so greet was nevere noes flood.
3519: This world, he seyde, in lasse than an hour
3520: Shal al be dreynt, so hidous is the shour.
3521: Thus shal mankynde drenche, and lese hir lyf.
3522: This carpenter answerde, allas, my wyf!
3523: And shal she drenche? allas, myn alisoun!
3524: For sorwe of this he fil almoost adoun,
3525: And seyde, is ther no remedie in this cas?
3526: Why, yis, for gode, quod hende nicholas,
3527: If thou wolt werken after loore and reed.
3528: Thou mayst nat werken after thyn owene heed;
3529: For thus seith salomon, that was ful trewe,
3530: Werk al by conseil, and thou shalt nat rewe. --
3531: And if thou werken wolt by good conseil,
3532: I undertake, withouten mast and seyl,
3533: Yet shal I saven hire and thee and me.
3534: Hastow nat herd hou saved was noe,
3535: Whan that oure lord hadde warned hym biforn
3536: That al the world with water sholde be lorn?
3537: Yis, quod this carpenter, ful yoore ago.
3538: Hastou nat herd, quod nicholas, also
3539: The sorwe of noe with his felaweshipe,
3540: Er that he myghte gete his wyf to shipe?
3541: Hym hadde be levere, I dar wel undertake
3542: At thilke tyme, than alle his wetheres blake
3543: That she hadde had a ship hirself allone.
3544: And therfore, woostou what is best to doone?
3545: This asketh haste, and of an hastif thyng
3546: Men may nat preche or maken tariyng.
3547: Anon go gete us faste into this in
3548: A knedyng trogh, or ellis a kymelyn,
3549: For ech of us, but looke that they be large,
3550: In which we mowe swymme as in a barge,
3551: And han therinne vitaille suffisant
3552: But for a day, -- fy on the remenant!
3553: The water shal aslake and goon away
3554: Aboute pryme upon the nexte day.
3555: But robyn may nat wite of this, thy knave,
3556: Ne eek thy mayde gille I may nat save;
3557: Axe nat why, for though thou aske me,
3558: I wol nat tellen goddes pryvetee.
3559: Suffiseth thee, but if thy wittes madde,
3560: To han as greet a grace as noe hadde.
3561: Thy wyf shal I wel saven, out of doute.
3562: Go now thy wey, and speed thee heer-aboute.
3563: But whan thou hast, for hire and thee and me,
3564: Ygeten us thise knedyng tubbes thre,
3565: Thanne shaltow hange hem in the roof ful hye,
3566: That no man of oure purveiaunce spye.
3567: And whan thou thus hast doon, as I have seyd,
3568: And hast oure vitaille faire in hem yleyd,
3569: And eek an ax, to smyte the corde atwo,
3570: Whan that the water comth, that we may go,
3571: And breke an hole an heigh, upon the gable,
3572: Unto the gardyn-ward, over the stable,
3573: That we may frely passen forth oure way,
3574: Whan that the grete shour is goon away,
3575: Thanne shaltou swymme as myrie, I undertake,
3576: As dooth the white doke after hire drake.
3577: Thanne wol I clepe, -- how, alison! how, john!
3578: Be myrie, for the flood wol passe anon. --
3579: And thou wolt seyn, -- hayl, maister nicholay!
3580: Good morwe, I se thee wel, for it is day. --
3581: And thanne shul we be lordes al oure lyf
3582: Of al the world, as noe and his wyf.
3583: But of o thyng I warne thee ful right:
3584: Be wel avysed on that ilke nyght
3585: That we ben entred into shippes bord,
3586: That noon of us ne speke nat a word,
3587: Ne clepe, ne crie, but be in his preyere;
3588: For it is goddes owene heeste deere.
3589: Thy wyf and thou moote hange fer atwynne;
3590: For that bitwixe yow shal be no synne,
3591: Namoore in lookyng than ther shal in deede,
3592: This ordinance is seyd. Go, God thee speede!
3593: Tomorwe at nyght, whan men ben alle aslepe,
3594: Into oure knedyng-tubbes wol we crepe,
3595: And sitten there, abidyng goddes grace.
3596: Go now thy wey, I have no lenger space
3597: To make of this no lenger sermonyng.
3598: Men seyn thus, -- sende the wise, and sey no thyng: --
3599: Thou art so wys, it needeth thee nat teche.
3600: Go, save oure lyf, and that I the biseche.
3601: This sely carpenter goth forth his wey.
3602: Ful ofte he seide allas and weylawey,
3603: And to his wyf he tolde his pryvetee,
3604: And she was war, and knew it bet than he,
3605: What al this queynte cast was for to seye.
3606: But nathelees she ferde as she wolde deye,
3607: And seyde, allas! go forth thy wey anon,
3608: Help us to scape, or we been dede echon!
3609: I am thy trewe, verray wedded wyf;
3610: Go, deere spouse, and help to save oure lyf.
3611: Lo, which a greet thyng is affeccioun!
3612: Men may dyen of ymaginacioun,
3613: So depe may impressioun be take.
3614: This sely carpenter bigynneth quake;
3615: Hym thynketh verraily that he may see
3616: Noees flood come walwynge as the see
3617: To drenchen alisoun, his hony deere.
3618: He wepeth, weyleth, maketh sory cheere;
3619: He siketh with ful many a sory swogh;
3620: He gooth and geteth hym a knedyng trogh,
3621: And after that a tubbe and a kymelyn,
3622: And pryvely he sente hem to his in,
3623: And heng hem in the roof in pryvetee.
3624: His owene hand he made laddres thre,
3625: To clymben by the ronges and the stalkes
3626: Unto the tubbes hangynge in the balkes,
3627: And hem vitailled, bothe trogh and tubbe,
3628: With breed and chese, and good ale in a jubbe,
3629: Suffisynge right ynogh as for a day.
3630: But er that he hadde maad al this array,
3631: He sente his knave, and eek his wenche also,
3632: Upon his nede to london for to go.
3633: And on the monday, whan it drow to nyght,
3634: He shette his dore withoute candel-lyght,
3635: And dressed alle thyng as it sholde be.
3636: And shortly, up they clomben alle thre;
3637: They seten stille wel a furlong way.
3638: Now, pater-noster, clom! seyde nicholay,
3639: And clom, quod john, and clom, seyde alisoun.
3640: This carpenter seyde his devocioun,
3641: And stille he sit, and biddeth his preyere,
3642: Awaitynge on the reyn, if he it heere.
3643: The dede sleep, for wery bisynesse,
3644: Fil on this carpenter right, as I gesse,
3645: Aboute corfew-tyme, or litel moore;
3646: For travaille of his goost he groneth soore,
3647: And eft he routeth, for his heed myslay.
3648: Doun of the laddre stalketh nicholay,
3649: And alisoun ful softe adoun she spedde;
3650: Withouten wordes mo they goon to bedde,
3651: Ther as the carpenter is wont to lye.
3652: Ther was the revel and the melodye;
3653: And thus lith alison and nicholas,
3654: In bisynesse of myrthe and of solas,
3655: Til that the belle of laudes gan to rynge,
3656: And freres in the chaunsel gonne synge.
3657: This parissh clerk, this amorous absolon,
3658: That is for love alwey so wo bigon,
3659: Upon the monday was at oseneye
3660: With compaignye, hym to disporte and pleye,
3661: And axed upon cas a cloisterer
3662: Ful prively after john the carpenter;
3663: And he drough hym apart out of the chirche,
3664: And seyde, I noot, I saugh hym heere nat wirche
3665: Syn saterday; I trowe that he be went
3666: For tymber, ther oure abbot hath hym sent;
3667: For he is wont for tymber for to go,
3668: And dwellen at the grange a day or two;
3669: Or elles he is at his hous, certeyn.
3670: Where that he be, I kan nat soothly seyn.
3671: This absolon ful joly was and light,
3672: And thoghte, now is tyme to wake al nyght;
3673: For sikirly I saugh hym nat stirynge
3674: Aboute his dore, syn day bigan to sprynge.
3675: So moot I thryve, I shal, at cokkes crowe,
3676: Ful pryvely knokken at his wyndowe
3677: That stant ful lowe upon his boures wal.
3678: To alison now wol I tellen al
3679: My love-longynge, for yet I shal nat mysse
3680: That at the leeste wey I shal hire kisse.
3681: Som maner confort shal I have, parfay.
3682: My mouth hath icched al this longe day;
3683: That is a signe of kissyng atte leeste.
3684: Al nyght me mette eek I was at a feeste.
3685: Therfore I wol go slepe an houre or tweye,
3686: And al the nyght thanne wol I wake and pleye.
3687: Whan that the firste cok hath crowe, anon
3688: Up rist this joly lovere absolon
3689: And hym arraieth gay, at poynt-devys.
3690: But first he cheweth greyn and lycorys,
3691: To smellen sweete, er he hadde kembd his heer.
3692: Under his tonge a trewe-love he beer,
3693: For therby wende he to ben gracious.
3694: He rometh to the carpenteres hous,
3695: And stille he stant under the shot-wyndowe --
3696: Unto his brest it raughte, it was so lowe --
3697: And softe he cougheth with a semy soun --
3698: What do ye, hony-comb, sweete alisoun,
3699: My faire bryd, my sweete cynamome?
3700: Awaketh, lemman myn, and speketh to me!
3701: Wel litel thynken ye upon my wo,
3702: That for youre love I swete ther I go.
3703: No wonder is thogh that I swelte and swete;
3704: I moorne as dooth a lamb after the tete.
3705: Ywis, lemman, I have swich love-longynge,
3706: That lik a turtel trewe is my moornynge.
3707: I may nat ete na moore than a mayde.
3708: go fro the wyndow, jakke fool, she sayde;
3709: As help me god, it wol nat be 'com pa me.'
3710: I love another -- and elles I were to blame --
3711: Wel bet than thee, by jhesu, absolon.
3712: Go forth thy wey, or I wol caste a ston,
3713: And lat me slepe, a twenty devel wey!
3714: allas, quod absolon, and weylawey,
3715: That trewe love was evere so yvel biset!
3716: Thanne kysse me, syn it may be no bet,
3717: For jhesus love, and for the love of me.
3718: Wiltow thanne go thy wey therwith? quod she.
3719: Ye, certes, lemman, quod this absolon.
3720: Thanne make thee redy, quod she, I come anon.
3721: And unto nicholas she seyde stille,
3722: Now hust, and thou shalt laughen al thy fille.
3723: This absolon doun sette hym on his knees
3724: And seyde, I am a lord at alle degrees;
3725: For after this I hope ther cometh moore.
3726: Lemman, thy grace, and sweete bryd, thyn oore!
3727: The wyndow she undoth, and that in haste.
3728: Have do, quod she, com of, and speed the faste,
3729: Lest that oure neighebores thee espie.
3730: This absolon gan wype his mouth ful drie.
3731: Derk was the nyght as pich, or as the cole,
3732: And at the wyndow out she putte hir hole,
3733: And absolon, hym fil no bet ne wers,
3734: But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers
3735: Ful savourly, er he were war of this.
3736: Abak he stirte, and thoughte it was amys,
3737: For wel he wiste a womman hath no berd.
3738: He felte a thyng al rough and long yherd,
3739: And seyde, fy! allas! what have I do?
3740: Tehee! quod she, and clapte the wyndow to,
3741: And absolon gooth forth a sory pas.
3742: A berd! a berd! quod hende nicholas,
3743: By goddes corpus, this goth faire and weel.
3744: This sely absolon herde every deel,
3745: And on his lippe he gan for anger byte,
3746: And to hymself he seyde, I shal thee quyte.
3747: Who rubbeth now, who froteth now his lippes
3748: With dust, with sond, with straw, with clooth, with chippes,
3749: But absolon, that seith ful ofte, allas!
3750: My soule bitake I unto sathanas,
3751: But me were levere than al this toun, quod he,
3752: Of this despit awroken for to be.
3753: Allas, quod he, allas, I ne hadde ybleynt!
3754: His hoote love was coold and al yqueynt;
3755: For fro that tyme that he hadde kist hir ers,
3756: Of paramours he sette nat a kers;
3757: For he was heeled of his maladie.
3758: Ful ofte paramours he gan deffie,
3759: And weep as dooth a child that is ybete.
3760: A softe paas he wente over the strete
3761: Until a smyth men cleped daun gerveys,
3762: That in his forge smythed plough harneys;
3763: He sharpeth shaar and kultour bisily.
3764: This absolon knokketh al esily,
3766: What, who artow? it am I, absalon.
3765: And seyde, undo, gerveys, and that anon.
3767: What, absolon! for cristes sweete tree,
3768: Why rise ye so rathe? ey, benedicitee!
3769: What eyleth yow? som gay gerl, God it woot,
3770: Hath broght yow thus upon the viritoot.
3771: By seinte note, ye woot wel what I mene.
3772: This absolon ne roghte nat a bene
3773: Of al his pley; no word agayn he yaf;
3774: He hadde moore tow on his distaf
3775: Than gerveys knew, and seyde, freend so deere,
3776: That hoote kultour in the chymenee heere,
3777: As lene it me, I have therwith to doone,
3778: And I wol brynge it thee agayn ful soone.
3779: Gerveys answerde, certes, were it gold,
3780: Or in a poke nobles alle untold,
3781: Thou sholdest have, as I am trewe smyth.
3782: Ey, cristes foo! what wol ye do therwith?
3783: Therof, quod absolon, be as be may.
3784: I shal wel telle it thee to-morwe day --
3785: And caughte the kultour by the colde stele.
3786: Ful softe out at the dore he gan to stele,
3787: And wente unto the carpenteris wal.
3788: He cogheth first, and knokketh therwithal
3789: Upon the wyndowe, right as he dide er.
3790: This alison answerde, who is ther
3791: That knokketh so? I warante it a theef.
3792: Why, nay, quod he, God woot, my sweete leef,
3793: I am thyn absolon, my deerelyng.
3794: Of gold, quod he, I have thee broght a ryng.
3795: My mooder yaf it me, so God me save;
3796: Ful fyn it is, and therto wel ygrave.
3797: This wol I yeve thee, if thou me kisse.
3798: This nicholas was risen for to pisse,
3799: And thoughte he wolde amenden al the jape;
3800: He sholde kisse his ers er that he scape.
3801: And up the wyndowe dide he hastily,
3802: And out his ers he putteth pryvely
3803: Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon;
3804: And therwith spak this clerk, this absolon,
3805: Spek, sweete bryd, I noot nat where thou art.
3806: This nicholas anon leet fle a fart,
3807: As greet as it had been a thonder-dent,
3808: That with the strook he was almoost yblent;
3809: And he was redy with his iren hoot,
3810: And nicholas amydde the ers he smoot.
3811: Of gooth the skyn an hande-brede aboute,
3812: The hoote kultour brende so his toute,
3813: And for the smert he wende for to dye.
3814: As he were wood, for wo he gan to crye,
3815: Help! water! water! water! help, for goddes herte!
3816: This carpenter out of his slomber sterte,
3817: And herde oon crien water as he were wood,
3818: And thoughte, allas, now comth nowelis flood!
3819: He sit hym up withouten wordes mo,
3820: And with his ax he smoot the corde atwo,
3821: And doun gooth al; he foond neither to selle,
3822: Ne breed ne ale, til he cam to the celle
3823: Upon the floor, and ther aswowne he lay.
3824: Up stirte hire alison and nicholay,
3825: And criden out and harrow in the strete.
3826: The neighebores, bothe smale and grete,
3827: In ronnen for to gauren on this man,
3828: That yet aswowne lay, bothe pale and wan,
3829: For with the fal he brosten hadde his arm.
3830: But stonde he moste unto his owene harm;
3831: For whan he spak, he was anon bore doun
3832: With hende nicholas and alisoun.
3833: They tolden every man that he was wood,
3834: He was agast so of nowelis flood
3835: Thurgh fantasie, that of his vanytee
3836: He hadde yboght hym knedyng tubbes thre,
3837: And hadde hem hanged in the roof above;
3838: And that he preyed hem, for goddes love,
3839: To sitten in the roof, par compaignye.
3840: The folk gan laughen at his fantasye;
3841: Into the roof they kiken and they cape,
3842: And turned al his harm unto a jape.
3843: For what so that this carpenter answerde,
3844: It was for noght, no man his reson herde.
3845: With othes grete he was so sworn adoun
3846: That he was holde wood in al the toun;
3847: For every clerk anonright heeld with oother.
3848: They seyde, the man is wood, my leeve brother;
3849: And every wight gan laughen at this stryf.
3850: Thus swyved was this carpenteris wyf,
3851: For al his kepyng and his jalousye;
3852: And absolon hath kist hir nether ye;
3853: And nicholas is scalded in the towte.
3854: This tale is doon, and God save al the rowte!

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The Canterbury Tales


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