Aureng-Zebe, Prologue

- 1631-1700
Our author, by experience, finds it true,
'Tis much more hard to please himself than you;
And out of no feign'd modesty, this day
Damns his laborious trifle of a play;
Not that it's worse than what before he writ,
But he has now another taste of wit;
And, to confess a truth, though out of time,
Grows weary of his long-loved mistress, Rhyme.
Passion's too fierce to be in fetters bound,
And nature flies him like enchanted ground:
What verse can do, he has perform'd in this,
Which he presumes the most correct of his;
But spite of all his pride, a secret shame
Invades his breast at Shakspeare's sacred name:
Awed when he hears his godlike Romans rage,
He, in a just despair, would quit the stage;
And to an age less polish'd, more unskill'd,
Does, with disdain, the foremost honours yield.
As with the greater dead he dares not strive,
He would not match his verse with those who live:
Let him retire, betwixt two ages cast,
The first of this, and hindmost of the last.
A losing gamester, let him sneak away;
He bears no ready money from the play.
The fate which governs poets, thought it fit
He should not raise his fortunes by his wit.
The clergy thrive, and the litigious bar;
Dull heroes fatten with the spoils of war:
All southern vices, Heaven be praised, are here;
But wit's a luxury you think too dear.
When you to cultivate the plant are loth,
'Tis a shrewd sign, 'twas never of your growth;
And wit in northern climates will not blow,
Except, like orange trees, 'tis housed with snow.
There needs no care to put a playhouse down,
'Tis the most desert place of all the town:
We, and our neighbours, to speak proudly, are,
Like monarchs, ruin'd with expensive war;
While, likewise English, unconcern'd you sit,
And see us play the tragedy of Wit.

More by John Dryden

Why should a foolish marriage vow

Why should a foolish marriage vow, 
  Which long ago was made,
Oblige us to each other now
  When passion is decay'd?
We loved, and we loved, as long as we could,
  Till our love was loved out in us both:
But our marriage is dead, when the pleasure is fled:
  'Twas pleasure first made it an oath.

If I have pleasures for a friend,
  And farther love in store,
What wrong has he whose joys did end,
  And who could give no more?
'Tis a madness that he should be jealous of me,
Or that I should bar him of another:
For all we can gain is to give our selves pain,
When neither can hinder the other.

Heroic Stanzas on the Death of Oliver Cromwell

Written after his funeral.

And now 'tis time; for their officious haste
Who would before have borne him to the sky,
Like eager Romans, ere all rites were past,
Did let too soon the sacred eagle fly,

Though our best notes are treason to his fame
Joined with the loud applause of public voice,
Since heaven, what praise we offer to his name,
Hath rendered too authentic by its choice:

Though in his praise no arts can liberal be,
Since they whose muses have the highest flown
Add not to his immortal memory,
But do an act of friendship to their own:

Yet 'tis our duty and our interest too
Such monuments as we can build to raise,
Lest all the world prevent what we should do
And claim a title in him by their praise.

How shall I then begin or where conclude
To draw a fame so truly circular?
For in a round what order can be showed,
Where all the parts so equal-perfect are?

His grandeur he derived from heaven alone,
For he was great, ere fortune made him so;
And wars, like mists that rise against the sun,
Made him but greater seem, not greater grow.

No borrowed bays his temples did adorn,
But to our crown he did fresh jewels bring;
Nor was his virtue poisoned, soon as born,
With the too early thoughts of being king.

Fortune, that easy mistress of the young,
But to her ancient servants coy and hard,
Him at that age her favourites ranked among
When she her best-loved Pompey did discard.

He, private, marked the fruits of others' sway
And set as sea-marks for himself to shun;
Not like rash monarchs, who their youth betray
By acts their age too late would wish undone.

And yet dominion was not his design;
We owe that blessing not to him but heaven,
Which to fair acts unsought rewards did join,
Rewards that less to him than us were given.

Our former chiefs, like sticklers of the war,
First sought to inflame the parties, then to poise.
The quarrel loved, but did the cause abhor,
And did not strike to hurt, but make a noise.

War, our consumption, was their gainful trade;
We inward bled, whilst they prolonged our pain:
He fought to end our fighting, and essayed
To stanch the blood by breathing of the vein.

Swift and resistless though the land he passed,
Like that bold Greek who did the East subdue,
And made to battles such heroic haste
As if on wings of victory he flew.

He fought, secure of fortune as of fame,
Till by new maps the island might be shown,
Of conquests, which he strewed where'er he came,
Thick as the galaxy with stars is sown.

His palms, though under weights they did not stand,
Still thrived; no winter could his laurels fade:
Heaven in his portrait showed a workman's hand
And drew it perfect, yet without a shade.

Peace was the prize of all his toils and care,
Which war had banished and did now restore:
Bologna's walls thus mounted in the air
To seat themselves more surely than before.

Her safety rescued Ireland to him owes;
And treacherous Scotland to no interest true,
Yet blessed that fate which did his arms dispose
Her land to civilize as to subdue.

Nor was he like those stars which only shine
When to pale mariners they storms portend;
He had his calmer influence, and his mien
Did love and majesty together blend.

'Tis true his countenance did imprint an awe
And naturally all souls to his did bow,
As wands of divination downward draw
And point to beds where sovereign gold doth grow.

When, past all offerings to Feretrain Jove,
He Mars deposed and arms to gowns made yield,
Successful counsels did him soon approve
As fit for close intrigues as open field.

To suppliant Holland he vouchsafed a peace,
Our once bold rival in the British main,
Now tamely glad her unjust claim to cease
And buy our friendship with her idol, gain.

Fame of the asserted sea, through Europe blown,
Made France and Spain ambitious of his love;
Each knew that side must conquer he would own
And for him fiercely as for empire strove.

No sooner was the Frenchman's cause embraced
Than the light Monsieur the grave Don outweighed:
His fortune turned the scale where it was cast,
Though Indian mines were in the other laid.

When absent, yet we conquered in his right:
For though some meaner artist's skill were shown
In mingling colours or in placing light,
Yet still the fair designment was his own.

For from all tempers he could service draw;
The worth of each with its alloy he knew;
And, as the confident of nature, saw
How she complexions did divide and brew:

Or he their single virtues did survey
By intuition in his own large breast,
Where all the rich ideas of them lay
That were the rule and measure to the rest.

When such heroic virtue heaven sets out,
The stars, like commons, sullenly obey,
Because it drains them, when it comes about,
And therefore is a tax they seldom pay.

From this high spring our foreign conquests flow
Which yet more glorious triumphs do portend,
Since their commencement to his arms they owe,
If springs as high as fountains may ascend.

He made us freemen of the continent
Whom nature did like captives treat before,
To nobler preys the English lion sent,
And taught him first in Belgian walks to roar.

That old unquestioned pirate of the land,
Proud Rome, with dread the fate of Dunkirk heardl,
And trembling wished behind more Alps to stand,
Although an Alexander were her guard.

By his command we boldly crossed the line,
And bravely fought where southern stars arise;
We traced the far-fetched gold unto the mine,
And that which bribed our fathers made our prize.

Such was our prince; yet owned a soul above
The highest acts it could produce to show;
Thus poor mechanic arts in public move,
Whilst the deep secrets beyond practice go.

Nor died he when his ebbing fame went less,
But when fresh laurels courted him to live;
He seemed but to prevent some new success,
As if above what triumphs earth could give.

His latest victories still thicket came,
As near the centre motion does increase;
Till he, pressed down by his own weighty name,
Did, like the vestal, under spoils decrease.

But first the ocean as a tribute sent
That giant-prince of all her watery herd;
And the isle, when her protecting genius went,
Upon his obsequies loud sighs conferred.

No civil broils have since his death arose,
But faction now by habit does obey;
And wars have that respect for his repose
As winds for halcyons when they breed at sea.

His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest;
His name a great example stands to show
How strangely high endeavours may be blessed
Where piety and valour jointly go.

Astraea Redux

A Poem on the Happy Restoration and Return of His Second Majesty Charles II., 1660.

Now with a general peace the world was blest,
While ours, a world divided from the rest,
A dreadful quiet felt, and worser far
Than arms, a sullen interval of war:
Thus when black clouds draw down the labouring skies,
Ere yet abroad the winged thunder flies,
An horrid stillness first invades the ear,
And in that silence we the tempest fear.
The ambitious Swede, like restless billows tost,
On this hand gaining what on that he lost,
Though in his life he blood and ruin breathed,
To his now guideless kingdom peace bequeath'd.
And Heaven, that seem'd regardless of our fate,
For France and Spain did miracles create;
Such mortal quarrels to compose in peace,
As nature bred, and interest did increase.
We sigh'd to hear the fair Iberian bride
Must grow a lily to the lily's side;
While our cross stars denied us Charles' bed,
Whom our first flames and virgin love did wed.
For his long absence Church and State did groan;
Madness the pulpit, faction seized the throne:
Experienced age in deep despair was lost,
To see the rebel thrive, the loyal cross'd:
Youth that with joys had unacquainted been,
Envied gray hairs that once good days had seen:
We thought our sires, not with their own content,
Had, ere we came to age, our portion spent.
Nor could our nobles hope their bold attempt
Who ruin'd crowns would coronets exempt:
For when by their designing leaders taught
To strike at power, which for themselves they sought,
The vulgar, gull'd into rebellion, arm'd;
Their blood to action by the prize was warm'd.
The sacred purple, then, and scarlet gown,
Like sanguine dye to elephants, was shown.
Thus when the bold Typhoeus scaled the sky,
And forced great Jove from his own Heaven to fly,
(What king, what crown from treason's reach is free,
If Jove and Heaven can violated be?)
The lesser gods, that shared his prosperous state,
All suffer'd in the exiled Thunderer's fate.
The rabble now such freedom did enjoy,
As winds at sea, that use it to destroy:
Blind as the Cyclop, and as wild as he,
They own'd a lawless, savage liberty;
Like that our painted ancestors so prized,
Ere empire's arts their breasts had civilized.
How great were then our Charles' woes, who thus
Was forced to suffer for himself and us!
He, tost by fate, and hurried up and down,
Heir to his father's sorrows, with his crown,
Could taste no sweets of youth's desired age,
But found his life too true a pilgrimage.
Unconquer'd yet in that forlorn estate,
His manly courage overcame his fate.
His wounds he took, like Romans, on his breast,
Which by his virtue were with laurels drest.
As souls reach Heaven while yet in bodies pent,
So did he live above his banishment.
That sun, which we beheld with cozen'd eyes
Within the water, moved along the skies.
How easy 'tis, when destiny proves kind,
With full-spread sails to run before the wind!
But those that 'gainst stiff gales laveering go,
Must be at once resolved and skilful too.
He would not, like soft Otho, hope prevent,
But stay'd, and suffer'd fortune to repent.
These virtues Galba in a stranger sought,
And Piso to adopted empire brought.
How shall I then my doubtful thoughts express,
That must his sufferings both regret and bless?
For when his early valour Heaven had cross'd;
And all at Worcester but the honour lost;
Forced into exile from his rightful throne,
He made all countries where he came his own;
And viewing monarchs' secret arts of sway,
A royal factor for his kingdoms lay.
Thus banish'd David spent abroad his time,
When to be God's anointed was his crime;
And when restored, made his proud neighbours rue
Those choice remarks he from his travels drew.
Nor is he only by afflictions shown
To conquer other realms, but rule his own:
Recovering hardly what he lost before,
His right endears it much; his purchase more.
Inured to suffer ere he came to reign,
No rash procedure will his actions stain:
To business, ripen'd by digestive thought,
His future rule is into method brought:
As they who first proportion understand,
With easy practice reach a master's hand.
Well might the ancient poets then confer
On Night the honour'd name of Counsellor,
Since, struck with rays of prosperous fortune blind,
We light alone in dark afflictions find.
In such adversities to sceptre train'd,
The name of Great his famous grandsire gain'd:
Who yet a king alone in name and right,
With hunger, cold, and angry Jove did fight;
Shock'd by a covenanting league's vast powers,
As holy and as catholic as ours:
Till fortune's fruitless spite had made it known,
Her blows, not shook, but riveted, his throne.

Some lazy ages, lost in sleep and ease,
No action leave to busy chronicles:
Such, whose supine felicity but makes
In story chasms, in epoch's mistakes;
O'er whom Time gently shakes his wings of down,
Till, with his silent sickle, they are mown.
Such is not Charles' too, too active age,
Which, govern'd by the wild distemper'd rage
Of some black star infecting all the skies,
Made him at his own cost, like Adam, wise.
Tremble, ye nations, which, secure before,
Laugh'd at those arms that 'gainst ourselves we bore;
Roused by the lash of his own stubborn tail,
Our lion now will foreign foes assail.
With alga who the sacred altar strews?
To all the sea-gods Charles an offering owes:
A bull to thee, Portumnus, shall be slain,
A lamb to you, ye Tempests of the main:
For those loud storms that did against him roar,
Have cast his shipwreck'd vessel on the shore.
Yet as wise artists mix their colours so,
That by degrees they from each other go;
Black steals unheeded from the neighbouring white,
Without offending the well-cozen'd sight:
So on us stole our blessed change; while we
The effect did feel, but scarce the manner see.
Frosts that constrain the ground, and birth deny
To flowers that in its womb expecting lie,
Do seldom their usurping power withdraw,
But raging floods pursue their hasty thaw.
Our thaw was mild, the cold not chased away,
But lost in kindly heat of lengthen'd day.
Heaven would no bargain for its blessings drive,
But what we could not pay for, freely give.
The Prince of peace would like himself confer
A gift unhoped, without the price of war:
Yet, as he knew his blessing's worth, took care,
That we should know it by repeated prayer;
Which storm'd the skies, and ravish'd Charles from thence,
As heaven itself is took by violence.
Booth's forward valour only served to show
He durst that duty pay we all did owe.
The attempt was fair; but Heaven's prefixed hour
Not come: so like the watchful traveller,
That by the moon's mistaken light did rise,
Lay down again, and closed his weary eyes.
'Twas Monk whom Providence design'd to loose
Those real bonds false freedom did impose.
The blessed saints that watch'd this turning scene,
Did from their stars with joyful wonder lean,
To see small clues draw vastest weights along,
Not in their bulk, but in their order, strong.
Thus pencils can by one slight touch restore
Smiles to that changed face that wept before.
With ease such fond chimeras we pursue,
As fancy frames for fancy to subdue:
But when ourselves to action we betake,
It shuns the mint like gold that chemists make.
How hard was then his task! at once to be,
What in the body natural we see!
Man's Architect distinctly did ordain
The charge of muscles, nerves, and of the brain,
Through viewless conduits spirits to dispense;
The springs of motion from the seat of sense.
'Twas not the hasty product of a day,
But the well-ripen'd fruit of wise delay.
He, like a patient angler, ere he strook,
Would let him play a while upon the hook.
Our healthful food the stomach labours thus,
At first embracing what it straight doth crush.
Wise leeches will not vain receipts obtrude,
While growing pains pronounce the humours crude:
Deaf to complaints, they wait upon the ill,
Till some safe crisis authorise their skill.
Nor could his acts too close a vizard wear,
To 'scape their eyes whom guilt had taught to fear,
And guard with caution that polluted nest,
Whence Legion twice before was dispossess'd:
Once sacred house; which, when they enter'd in,
They thought the place could sanctify a sin;
Like those that vainly hoped kind Heaven would wink,
While to excess on martyrs' tombs they drink.
And as devouter Turks first warn their souls
To part, before they taste forbidden bowls:
So these, when their black crimes they went about,
First timely charm'd their useless conscience out.
Religion's name against itself was made;
The shadow served the substance to invade:
Like zealous missions, they did care pretend
Of souls in show, but made the gold their end.
The incensed powers beheld with scorn from high
An heaven so far distant from the sky,
Which durst, with horses' hoofs that beat the ground,
And martial brass, belie the thunder's sound.
'Twas hence at length just vengeance thought it fit
To speed their ruin by their impious wit.
Thus Sforza, cursed with a too fertile brain,
Lost by his wiles the power his wit did gain.
Henceforth their fougue must spend at lesser rate,
Than in its flames to wrap a nation's fate.
Suffer'd to live, they are like helots set,
A virtuous shame within us to beget.
For by example most we sinn'd before,
And glass-like clearness mix'd with frailty bore.
But, since reform'd by what we did amiss,
We by our sufferings learn to prize our bliss:
Like early lovers, whose unpractised hearts
Were long the May-game of malicious arts,
When once they find their jealousies were vain,
With double heat renew their fires again.
'Twas this produced the joy that hurried o'er
Such swarms of English to the neighbouring shore,
To fetch that prize, by which Batavia made
So rich amends for our impoverish'd trade.
Oh! had you seen from Schevelin's barren shore,
(Crowded with troops, and barren now no more,)
Afflicted Holland to his farewell bring
True sorrow, Holland to regret a king!
While waiting him his royal fleet did ride,
And willing winds to their lower'd sails denied.
The wavering streamers, flags, and standard out,
The merry seamen's rude but cheerful shout:
And last the cannon's voice, that shook the skies,
And as it fares in sudden ecstasies,
At once bereft us both of ears and eyes.
The Naseby, now no longer England's shame,
But better to be lost in Charles' name,
(Like some unequal bride in nobler sheets)
Receives her lord: the joyful London meets
The princely York, himself alone a freight;
The Swiftsure groans beneath great Gloster's weight:
Secure as when the halcyon breeds, with these,
He that was born to drown might cross the seas.
Heaven could not own a Providence, and take
The wealth three nations ventured at a stake.
The same indulgence Charles' voyage bless'd,
Which in his right had miracles confess'd.
The winds that never moderation knew,
Afraid to blow too much, too faintly blew;
Or, out of breath with joy, could not enlarge
Their straighten'd lungs, or conscious of their charge.
The British Amphitrite, smooth and clear,
In richer azure never did appear;
Proud her returning prince to entertain
With the submitted fasces of the main.
And welcome now, great monarch, to your own!
Behold the approaching cliffs of Albion:
It is no longer motion cheats your view,
As you meet it, the land approacheth you.
The land returns, and, in the white it wears,
The marks of penitence and sorrow bears.
But you, whose goodness your descent doth show,
Your heavenly parentage and earthly too;
By that same mildness, which your father's crown
Before did ravish, shall secure your own.
Not tied to rules of policy, you find
Revenge less sweet than a forgiving mind.
Thus, when the Almighty would to Moses give
A sight of all he could behold and live;
A voice before his entry did proclaim
Long-suffering, goodness, mercy, in his name.
Your power to justice doth submit your cause,
Your goodness only is above the laws;
Whose rigid letter, while pronounced by you,
Is softer made. So winds that tempests brew,
When through Arabian groves they take their flight,
Made wanton with rich odours, lose their spite.
And as those lees, that trouble it, refine
The agitated soul of generous wine;
So tears of joy, for your returning spilt,
Work out, and expiate our former guilt.
Methinks I see those crowds on Dover's strand,
Who, in their haste to welcome you to land,
Choked up the beach with their still growing store,
And made a wilder torrent on the shore:
While, spurr'd with eager thoughts of past delight,
Those, who had seen you, court a second sight;
Preventing still your steps, and making haste
To meet you often wheresoe'er you past.
How shall I speak of that triumphant day,
When you renew'd the expiring pomp of May!
(A month that owns an interest in your name:
You and the flowers are its peculiar claim.)
That star that at your birth shone out so bright,
It stain'd the duller sun's meridian light,
Did once again its potent fires renew,
Guiding our eyes to find and worship you.

And now Time's whiter series is begun,
Which in soft centuries shall smoothly run:
Those clouds, that overcast your morn, shall fly,
Dispell'd to farthest corners of the sky.
Our nation with united interest blest,
Not now content to poise, shall sway the rest.
Abroad your empire shall no limits know,
But, like the sea, in boundless circles flow.
Your much-loved fleet shall, with a wide command,
Besiege the petty monarchs of the land:
And as old Time his offspring swallow'd down,
Our ocean in its depths all seas shall drown.
Their wealthy trade from pirates' rapine free,
Our merchants shall no more adventurers be:
Nor in the farthest East those dangers fear,
Which humble Holland must dissemble here.
Spain to your gift alone her Indies owes;
For what the powerful takes not, he bestows:
And France, that did an exile's presence fear,
May justly apprehend you still too near.

At home the hateful names of parties cease,
And factious souls are wearied into peace.
The discontented now are only they
Whose crimes before did your just cause betray:
Of those, your edicts some reclaim from sin,
But most your life and blest example win.
Oh, happy prince! whom Heaven hath taught the way,
By paying vows to have more vows to pay!
Oh, happy age! oh times like those alone,
By fate reserved for great Augustus' throne!
When the joint growth of arms and arts foreshow
The world a monarch, and that monarch you.

Related Poems

Canterbury Tales, General Prologue

Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote, 
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, 
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur 
Of which vertú engendred is the flour; 
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth 
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth 
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne 
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne, 
And smale foweles maken melodye, 
That slepen al the nyght with open ye, 
So priketh hem Natúre in hir corages, 
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, 
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes, 
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; 
And specially, from every shires ende 
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende, 
The hooly blisful martir for to seke, 
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke. 


Bifil that in that seson on a day, 
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay, 
Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage 
To Caunterbury with ful devout corage, 
At nyght were come into that hostelrye 
Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye 
Of sondry folk, by áventure y-falle 
In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle, 
That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde. 
The chambres and the stables weren wyde, 
And wel we weren esed atte beste. 
And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste, 
So hadde I spoken with hem everychon, 
That I was of hir felaweshipe anon, 
And made forward erly for to ryse, 
To take oure wey, ther as I yow devyse. 


But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space, 
Er that I ferther in this tale pace, 
Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun 
To telle yow al the condicioun 
Of ech of hem, so as it semed me, 
And whiche they weren and of what degree, 
And eek in what array that they were inne; 
And at a Knyght than wol I first bigynne. 


A Knyght ther was, and that a worthy man, 
That fro the tyme that he first bigan 
To riden out, he loved chivalrie, 
Trouthe and honóur, fredom and curteisie. 
Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre, 
And thereto hadde he riden, no man ferre, 
As wel in cristendom as in hethenesse, 
And evere honóured for his worthynesse. 
At Alisaundre he was whan it was wonne; 
Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bigonne 
Aboven alle nacions in Pruce. 
In Lettow hadde he reysed and in Ruce,— 
No cristen man so ofte of his degree. 
In Gernade at the seege eek hadde he be 
Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye. 
At Lyeys was he, and at Satalye, 
Whan they were wonne; and in the Grete See 
At many a noble armee hadde he be. 


At mortal batailles hadde he been fiftene, 
And foughten for oure feith at Tramyssene 
In lyste thries, and ay slayn his foo. 
This ilke worthy knyght hadde been also 
Somtyme with the lord of Palatye 
Agayn another hethen in Turkye; 
And evermoore he hadde a sovereyn prys. 
And though that he were worthy, he was wys, 
And of his port as meeke as is a mayde. 
He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde, 
In al his lyf, unto no maner wight. 
He was a verray, parfit, gentil knyght. 


But for to tellen yow of his array, 
His hors weren goode, but he was nat gay; 
Of fustian he wered a gypon 
Al bismótered with his habergeon; 
For he was late y-come from his viage, 
And wente for to doon his pilgrymage. 


With hym ther was his sone, a yong Squiér, 
A lovyere and a lusty bacheler, 
With lokkes crulle as they were leyd in presse. 
Of twenty yeer of age he was, I gesse. 
Of his statúre he was of evene lengthe, 
And wonderly delyvere and of greet strengthe. 
And he hadde been somtyme in chyvachie 
In Flaundres, in Artoys, and Pycardie, 
And born hym weel, as of so litel space, 
In hope to stonden in his lady grace. 
Embrouded was he, as it were a meede 
Al ful of fresshe floures whyte and reede. 
Syngynge he was, or floytynge, al the day; 
He was as fressh as is the month of May. 
Short was his gowne, with sleves longe and wyde; 
Wel koude he sitte on hors and faire ryde; 
He koude songes make and wel endite, 
Juste and eek daunce, and weel purtreye and write. 
So hoote he lovede that by nyghtertale 
He sleep namoore than dooth a nyghtyngale. 
Curteis he was, lowely and servysáble, 
And carf biforn his fader at the table. 


A Yeman hadde he and servántz namo 
At that tyme, for hym liste ride soo; 
And he was clad in cote and hood of grene. 
A sheef of pecock arwes bright and kene, 
Under his belt he bar ful thriftily— 
Wel koude he dresse his takel yemanly; 
His arwes drouped noght with fetheres lowe— 
And in his hand he baar a myghty bowe. 
A not-heed hadde he, with a broun viságe. 
Of woodecraft wel koude he al the uságe. 
Upon his arm he baar a gay bracér, 
And by his syde a swerd and a bokeler, 
And on that oother syde a gay daggere, 
Harneised wel and sharp as point of spere; 
A Cristophere on his brest of silver sheene. 
An horn he bar, the bawdryk was of grene. 
A forster was he, soothly as I gesse. 


Ther was also a Nonne, a Prioresse, 
That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy; 
Hire gretteste ooth was but by seinte Loy, 
And she was cleped madame Eglentyne. 
Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne, 
Entuned in hir nose ful semely; 
And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly, 
After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe, 
For Frenssh of Parys was to hire unknowe. 
At mete wel y-taught was she with-alle: 
She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle, 
Ne wette hir fyngres in hir sauce depe. 
Wel koude she carie a morsel and wel kepe 
Thát no drope ne fille upon hire brist; 
In curteisie was set ful muchel hir list. 
Hire over-lippe wyped she so clene 
That in hir coppe ther was no ferthyng sene 
Of grece, whan she dronken hadde hir draughte. 
Ful semely after hir mete she raughte. 
And sikerly she was of greet desport, 
And ful plesáunt and amyable of port, 
And peyned hire to countrefete cheere 
Of court, and been estatlich of manere, 
And to ben holden digne of reverence. 
But for to speken of hire conscience, 
She was so charitable and so pitous 
She wolde wepe if that she saugh a mous 
Kaught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde. 
Of smale houndes hadde she, that she fedde 
With rosted flessh, or milk and wastel breed; 
But soore wepte she if oon of hem were deed, 
Or if men smoot it with a yerde smerte; 
And al was conscience and tendre herte. 


Ful semyly hir wympul pynched was; 
Hire nose tretys, her eyen greye as glas, 
Hir mouth ful smal and ther-to softe and reed; 
But sikerly she hadde a fair forheed; 
It was almoost a spanne brood, I trowe; 
For, hardily, she was nat undergrowe. 
Ful fetys was hir cloke, as I was war; 
Of smal coral aboute hire arm she bar 
A peire of bedes, gauded al with grene, 
And ther-on heng a brooch of gold ful sheene, 
On which ther was first write a crowned A, 
And after, Amor vincit omnia. 


Another Nonne with hire hadde she, 
That was hire chapeleyne, and Preestes thre. 


A Monk ther was, a fair for the maistrie, 
An outridere, that lovede venerie; 
A manly man, to been an abbot able. 
Ful many a deyntee hors hadde he in stable; 
And whan he rood, men myghte his brydel heere 
Gýnglen in a whistlynge wynd als cleere, 
And eek as loude, as dooth the chapel belle, 
Ther as this lord was kepere of the celle. 
The reule of seint Maure or of seint Beneit, 
By-cause that it was old and som-del streit,— 
This ilke Monk leet olde thynges pace, 
And heeld after the newe world the space. 
He yaf nat of that text a pulled hen 
That seith that hunters ben nat hooly men, 
Ne that a monk, whan he is recchelees, 
Is likned til a fissh that is waterlees,— 
This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloystre. 
But thilke text heeld he nat worth an oystre; 
And I seyde his opinioun was good. 
What sholde he studie and make hymselven wood, 
Upon a book in cloystre alwey to poure, 
Or swynken with his handes and labóure, 
As Austyn bit? How shal the world be served? 
Lat Austyn have his swynk to him reserved. 
Therfore he was a prikasour aright: 
Grehoundes he hadde, as swift as fowel in flight; 
Of prikyng and of huntyng for the hare 
Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare. 
I seigh his sleves y-púrfiled at the hond 
With grys, and that the fyneste of a lond; 
And for to festne his hood under his chyn 
He hadde of gold y-wroght a curious pyn; 
A love-knotte in the gretter ende ther was. 
His heed was balled, that shoon as any glas, 
And eek his face, as he hadde been enoynt. 
He was a lord ful fat and in good poynt; 
His eyen stepe, and rollynge in his heed, 
That stemed as a forneys of a leed; 
His bootes souple, his hors in greet estaat. 
Now certeinly he was a fair prelaat. 
He was nat pale, as a forpyned goost: 
A fat swan loved he best of any roost. 
His palfrey was as broun as is a berye. 


A Frere ther was, a wantowne and a merye, 
A lymytour, a ful solémpne man. 
In alle the ordres foure is noon that kan 
So muchel of daliaunce and fair langage. 
He hadde maad ful many a mariage 
Of yonge wommen at his owene cost. 
Unto his ordre he was a noble post. 
Ful wel biloved and famulier was he 
With frankeleyns over al in his contree, 
And eek with worthy wommen of the toun; 
For he hadde power of confessioun, 
As seyde hym-self, moore than a curát, 
For of his ordre he was licenciat. 
Ful swetely herde he confessioun, 
And plesaunt was his absolucioun. 
He was an esy man to yeve penaunce 
There as he wiste to have a good pitaunce; 
For unto a povre ordre for to yive 
Is signe that a man is wel y-shryve; 
For, if he yaf, he dorste make avaunt 
He wiste that a man was répentaunt; 
For many a man so hard is of his herte 
He may nat wepe al-thogh hym soore smerte. 
Therfore in stede of wepynge and preyéres 
Men moote yeve silver to the povre freres. 
His typet was ay farsed full of knyves 
And pynnes, for to yeven faire wyves. 
And certeinly he hadde a murye note: 
Wel koude he synge and pleyen on a rote; 
Of yeddynges he baar outrely the pris. 
His nekke whit was as the flour-de-lys; 
Ther-to he strong was as a champioun. 
He knew the tavernes wel in every toun, 
And everich hostiler and tappestere 
Bet than a lazar or a beggestere; 
For unto swich a worthy man as he 
Acorded nat, as by his facultee, 
To have with sike lazars aqueyntaunce; 
It is nat honest, it may nat avaunce 
Fór to deelen with no swich poraille, 
But al with riche and selleres of vitaille. 
And over-al, ther as profit sholde arise, 
Curteis he was and lowely of servyse. 
Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous. 
He was the beste beggere in his hous; 
[And yaf a certeyn ferme for the graunt, 
Noon of his brethren cam ther in his haunt;] 
For thogh a wydwe hadde noght a sho, 
So plesaunt was his In principio, 
Yet wolde he have a ferthyng er he wente: 
His purchas was wel bettre than his rente. 
And rage he koude, as it were right a whelpe. 
In love-dayes ther koude he muchel helpe, 
For there he was nat lyk a cloysterer 
With a thredbare cope, as is a povre scolér, 
But he was lyk a maister, or a pope; 
Of double worstede was his semycope, 
That rounded as a belle, out of the presse. 
Somwhat he lipsed for his wantownesse, 
To make his Englissh sweete upon his tonge; 
And in his harpyng, whan that he hadde songe, 
His eyen twynkled in his heed aryght 
As doon the sterres in the frosty nyght. 
This worthy lymytour was cleped Hubérd. 


A Marchant was ther with a forked berd, 
In motteleye, and hye on horse he sat; 
Upon his heed a Flaundryssh bevere hat; 
His bootes clasped faire and fetisly. 
His resons he spak ful solémpnely, 
Sownynge alway thencrees of his wynnyng. 
He wolde the see were kept for any thing 
Bitwixe Middelburgh and Orewelle. 
Wel koude he in eschaunge sheeldes selle. 
This worthy man ful wel his wit bisette; 
Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette, 
So estatly was he of his gouvernaunce, 
With his bargaynes and with his chevyssaunce. 
For sothe he was a worthy man with-alle, 
But, sooth to seyn, I noot how men hym calle. 


A Clerk ther was of Oxenford also, 
That unto logyk hadde longe y-go. 
As leene was his hors as is a rake, 
And he nas nat right fat, I undertake, 
But looked holwe, and ther-to sobrely. 
Ful thredbare was his overeste courtepy; 
For he hadde geten hym yet no benefice, 
Ne was so worldly for to have office; 
For hym was lévere háve at his beddes heed 
Twénty bookes, clad in blak or reed, 
Of Aristotle and his philosophie, 
Than robes riche, or fíthele, or gay sautrie. 
But al be that he was a philosophre, 
Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre; 
But al that he myghte of his freendes hente 
On bookes and on lernynge he it spente, 
And bisily gan for the soules preye 
Of hem that yaf hym wher-with to scoleye. 
Of studie took he moost cure and moost heede. 
Noght o word spak he moore than was neede; 
And that was seyd in forme and reverence, 
And short and quyk and ful of hy senténce. 
Sownynge in moral vertu was his speche; 
And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche. 


A Sergeant of the Lawe, war and wys, 
That often hadde been at the Parvys, 
Ther was also, ful riche of excellence. 
Discreet he was, and of greet reverence— 
He semed swich, his wordes weren so wise. 
Justice he was ful often in assise, 
By patente, and by pleyn commissioun. 
For his science and for his heigh renoun, 
Of fees and robes hadde he many oon. 
So greet a purchasour was nowher noon: 
Al was fee symple to hym in effect; 
His purchasyng myghte nat been infect. 
Nowher so bisy a man as he ther nas, 
And yet he semed bisier than he was. 
In termes hadde he caas and doomes alle 
That from the tyme of kyng William were falle. 
Ther-to he koude endite and make a thyng, 
Ther koude no wight pynche at his writyng; 
And every statut koude he pleyn by rote. 
He rood but hoomly in a medlee cote, 
Girt with a ceint of silk, with barres smale; 
Of his array telle I no lenger tale. 


A Frankeleyn was in his compaignye. 
Whit was his berd as is the dayesye; 
Of his complexioun he was sangwyn. 
Wel loved he by the morwe a sop in wyn; 
To lyven in delit was evere his wone, 
For he was Epicurus owene sone, 
That heeld opinioun that pleyn delit 
Was verraily felicitee parfit. 
An housholdere, and that a greet, was he; 
Seint Julian he was in his contree. 
His breed, his ale, was alweys after oon; 
A bettre envyned man was nowher noon. 
Withoute bake mete was nevere his hous, 
Of fissh and flessh, and that so plentevous, 
It snewed in his hous of mete and drynke, 
Of alle deyntees that men koude thynke, 
After the sondry sesons of the yeer; 
So chaunged he his mete and his soper. 
Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in muwe, 
And many a breem and many a luce in stuwe. 
Wo was his cook but if his sauce were 
Poynaunt and sharp, and redy al his geere. 
His table dormant in his halle alway 
Stood redy covered al the longe day. 
At sessiouns ther was he lord and sire; 
Ful ofte tyme he was knyght of the shire. 
An anlaas, and a gipser al of silk, 
Heeng at his girdel, whit as morne milk. 
A shirreve hadde he been, and a countour; 
Was nowher such a worthy vavasour. 


An Haberdasshere, and a Carpenter, 
A Webbe, a Dyere, and a Tapycer,— 
And they were clothed alle in o lyveree 
Of a solémpne and a greet fraternitee. 
Ful fressh and newe hir geere apiked was; 
Hir knyves were chaped noght with bras, 
But al with silver; wroght ful clene and weel 
Hire girdles and hir pouches everydeel. 
Wel semed ech of hem a fair burgeys 
To sitten in a yeldehalle, on a deys. 
Éverich, for the wisdom that he kan, 
Was shaply for to been an alderman; 
For catel hadde they ynogh and rente, 
And eek hir wyves wolde it wel assente, 
And elles certeyn were they to blame. 
It is ful fair to been y-cleped Madame, 
And goon to vigilies al bifore, 
And have a mantel roialliche y-bore. 


A Cook they hadde with hem for the nones, 
To boille the chiknes with the marybones, 
And poudre-marchant tart, and galyngale. 
Wel koude he knowe a draughte of Londoun ale. 
He koude rooste, and sethe, and broille, and frye, 
Máken mortreux, and wel bake a pye. 
But greet harm was it, as it thoughte me, 
That on his shyne a mormal hadde he; 
For blankmanger, that made he with the beste. 


A Shipman was ther, wonynge fer by weste; 
For aught I woot he was of Dertemouthe. 
He rood upon a rouncy, as he kouthe, 
In a gowne of faldyng to the knee. 
A daggere hangynge on a laas hadde he 
Aboute his nekke, under his arm adoun. 
The hoote somer hadde maad his hewe al broun; 
And certeinly he was a good felawe. 
Ful many a draughte of wyn hadde he y-drawe 
Fro Burdeux-ward, whil that the chapman sleep. 
Of nyce conscience took he no keep. 
If that he faught and hadde the hyer hond, 
By water he sente hem hoom to every lond. 
But of his craft to rekene wel his tydes, 
His stremes, and his daungers hym bisides, 
His herberwe and his moone, his lode-menage, 
Ther nas noon swich from Hulle to Cartage. 
Hardy he was and wys to undertake; 
With many a tempest hadde his berd been shake. 
He knew alle the havenes, as they were, 
From Gootlond to the Cape of Fynystere, 
And every cryke in Britaigne and in Spayne. 
His barge y-cleped was the Maudelayne. 


With us ther was a Doctour of Phisik; 
In all this world ne was ther noon hym lik, 
To speke of phisik and of surgerye; 
For he was grounded in astronomye. 
He kepte his pacient a ful greet deel 
In houres, by his magyk natureel. 
Wel koude he fortunen the ascendent 
Of his ymáges for his pacient. 
He knew the cause of everich maladye, 
Were it of hoot, or cold, or moyste, or drye, 
And where they engendred and of what humour. 
He was a verray, parfit praktisour; 
The cause y-knowe, and of his harm the roote, 
Anon he yaf the sike man his boote. 
Ful redy hadde he his apothecaries 
To sende him drogges and his letuaries; 
For ech of hem made oother for to wynne, 
Hir frendshipe nas nat newe to bigynne. 
Wel knew he the olde Esculapius, 
And De{"y}scorides, and eek Rufus, 
Old Ypocras, Haly, and Galyen, 
Serapion, Razis, and Avycen, 
Averrois, Damascien, and Constantyn, 
Bernard, and Gatesden, and Gilbertyn. 
Of his diete mesurable was he, 
For it was of no superfluitee, 
But of greet norissyng and digestíble. 
His studie was but litel on the Bible. 
In sangwyn and in pers he clad was al, 
Lyned with taffata and with sendal. 
And yet he was but esy of dispence; 
He kepte that he wan in pestilence. 
For gold in phisik is a cordial; 
Therfore he lovede gold in special. 


A Good Wif was ther of biside Bathe, 
But she was som-del deef, and that was scathe. 
Of clooth-makyng she hadde swich an haunt 
She passed hem of Ypres and of Gaunt. 
In al the parisshe wif ne was ther noon 
That to the offrynge bifore hire sholde goon; 
And if ther dide, certeyn so wrooth was she 
That she was out of alle charitee. 
Hir coverchiefs ful fyne weren of ground; 
I dorste swere they weyeden ten pound 
That on a Sonday weren upon hir heed. 
Hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed, 
Ful streite y-teyd, and shoes ful moyste and newe. 
Boold was hir face, and fair, and reed of hewe. 
She was a worthy womman al hir lyve; 
Housbondes at chirche dore she hadde fyve, 
Withouten oother compaignye in youthe; 
But ther-of nedeth nat to speke as nowthe. 
And thries hadde she been at Jérusalem; 
She hadde passed many a straunge strem; 
At Rome she hadde been, and at Boloigne, 
In Galice at Seint Jame, and at Coloigne. 
She koude muchel of wandrynge by the weye. 
Gat-tothed was she, soothly for to seye. 
Upon an amblere esily she sat, 
Y-wympled wel, and on hir heed an hat 
As brood as is a bokeler or a targe; 
A foot-mantel aboute hir hipes large, 
And on hire feet a paire of spores sharpe. 
In felaweshipe wel koude she laughe and carpe; 
Of remedies of love she knew per chauncé, 
For she koude of that art the olde daunce. 


A good man was ther of religioun, 
And was a povre Person of a Toun; 
But riche he was of hooly thoght and werk. 
He was also a lerned man, a clerk, 
That Cristes Gospel trewely wolde preche; 
His parisshens devoutly wolde he teche. 
Benygne he was, and wonder diligent, 
And in adversitee ful pacient; 
And swich he was y-preved ofte sithes. 
Ful looth were hym to cursen for his tithes, 
But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute, 
Unto his povre parisshens aboute, 
Of his offrýng and eek of his substaunce; 
He koude in litel thyng have suffisaunce. 
Wyd was his parisshe, and houses fer asonder, 
But he ne lafte nat, for reyn ne thonder, 
In siknesse nor in meschief to visíte 
The ferreste in his parisshe, muche and lite, 
Upon his feet, and in his hand a staf. 
This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf, 
That first he wroghte and afterward he taughte. 
Out of the gospel he tho wordes caughte; 
And this figure he added eek therto, 
That if gold ruste, what shal iren doo? 
For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste, 
No wonder is a lewed man to ruste; 
And shame it is, if a prest take keep, 
A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep. 
Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive 
By his clennesse how that his sheep sholde lyve. 
He sette nat his benefice to hyre 
And leet his sheep encombred in the myre, 
And ran to Londoun, unto Seinte Poules, 
To seken hym a chaunterie for soules, 
Or with a bretherhed to been withholde; 
But dwelte at hoom and kepte wel his folde, 
So that the wolf ne made it nat myscarie; 
He was a shepherde, and noght a mercenarie. 
And though he hooly were and vertuous, 
He was to synful man nat despitous, 
Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne, 
But in his techyng díscreet and benygne. 
To drawen folk to hevene by fairnesse, 
By good ensample, this was his bisynesse. 
But it were any persone obstinat, 
What so he were, of heigh or lough estat, 
Hym wolde he snybben sharply for the nonys. 
A bettre preest I trowe that nowher noon ys. 
He waited after no pompe and reverence, 
Ne maked him a spiced conscience; 
But Cristes loore and his apostles twelve 
He taughte, but first he folwed it hymselve. 


With hym ther was a Plowman, was his brother, 
That hadde y-lad of dong ful many a fother; 
A trewe swynkere and a good was he, 
Lyvynge in pees and parfit charitee. 
God loved he best, with al his hoole herte, 
At alle tymes, thogh him gamed or smerte. 
And thanne his neighebor right as hymselve. 
He wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delve, 
For Cristes sake, for every povre wight, 
Withouten hire, if it lay in his myght. 
His tithes payede he ful faire and wel, 
Bothe of his propre swynk and his catel. 
In a tabard he rood upon a mere. 


Ther was also a Reve and a Millere, 
A Somnour and a Pardoner also, 
A Maunciple, and myself,—ther were namo. 


The Millere was a stout carl for the nones; 
Ful byg he was of brawn and eek of bones. 
That proved wel, for over-al, ther he cam, 
At wrastlynge he wolde have alwey the ram. 
He was short-sholdred, brood, a thikke knarre; 
Ther nas no dore that he nolde heve of harre, 
Or breke it at a rennyng with his heed. 
His berd as any sowe or fox was reed, 
And therto brood, as though it were a spade. 
Upon the cop right of his nose he hade 
A werte, and thereon stood a toft of herys, 
Reed as the brustles of a sowes erys; 
His nosethirles blake were and wyde. 
A swerd and a bokeler bar he by his syde. 
His mouth as greet was as a greet forneys; 
He was a janglere and a goliardeys, 
And that was moost of synne and harlotries. 
Wel koude he stelen corn and tollen thries; 
And yet he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee. 
A whit cote and a blew hood wered he. 
A baggepipe wel koude he blowe and sowne, 
And therwithal he broghte us out of towne. 


A gentil Maunciple was ther of a temple, 
Of which achátours myghte take exemple 
For to be wise in byynge of vitaille; 
For, wheither that he payde or took by taille, 
Algate he wayted so in his achaat 
That he was ay biforn and in good staat. 
Now is nat that of God a ful fair grace, 
That swich a lewed mannes wit shal pace 
The wisdom of an heep of lerned men? 
Of maistres hadde he mo than thries ten, 
That weren of lawe expert and curious, 
Of whiche ther weren a duszeyne in that hous 
Worthy to been stywardes of rente and lond 
Of any lord that is in Engelond, 
To maken hym lyve by his propre good, 
In honour dettelees, but if he were wood, 
Or lyve as scarsly as hym list desire; 
And able for to helpen al a shire 
In any caas that myghte falle or happe; 
And yet this Manciple sette hir aller cappe 


The Reve was a sclendre colerik man. 
His berd was shave as ny as ever he kan; 
His heer was by his erys round y-shorn; 
His top was dokked lyk a preest biforn. 
Ful longe were his legges and ful lene, 
Y-lyk a staf, ther was no calf y-sene. 
Wel koude he kepe a gerner and a bynne; 
Ther was noon auditour koude on him wynne. 
Wel wiste he, by the droghte and by the reyn, 
The yeldynge of his seed and of his greyn. 
His lordes sheep, his neet, his dayerye, 
His swyn, his hors, his stoor, and his pultrye, 
Was hoolly in this reves governyng; 
And by his covenant yaf the rekenyng 
Syn that his lord was twenty yeer of age; 
There koude no man brynge hym in arrerage. 
There nas baillif, ne hierde, nor oother hyne, 
That he ne knew his sleighte and his covyne; 
They were adrad of hym as of the deeth. 
His wonyng was ful fair upon an heeth; 
With grene trees shadwed was his place. 
He koude bettre than his lord purchace; 
Ful riche he was a-stored pryvely. 
His lord wel koude he plesen subtilly, 
To yeve and lene hym of his owene good, 
And have a thank, and yet a cote and hood. 
In youthe he hadde lerned a good myster; 
He was a wel good wrighte, a carpenter. 
This Reve sat upon a ful good stot, 
That was al pomely grey, and highte Scot. 
A long surcote of pers upon he hade, 
And by his syde he baar a rusty blade. 
Of Northfolk was this Reve of which I telle, 
Biside a toun men clepen Baldeswelle. 
Tukked he was as is a frere, aboute. 
And evere he rood the hyndreste of oure route. 


A Somonour was ther with us in that place, 
That hadde a fyr-reed cherubynnes face, 
For sawcefleem he was, with eyen narwe. 
As hoot he was and lecherous as a sparwe, 
With scaled browes blake and piled berd,— 
Of his visage children were aferd. 
Ther nas quyk-silver, lytarge, ne brymstoon, 
Boras, ceruce, ne oille of tartre noon, 
Ne oynement that wolde clense and byte, 
That hym myghte helpen of his whelkes white, 
Nor of the knobbes sittynge on his chekes. 
Wel loved he garleek, oynons, and eek lekes, 
And for to drynken strong wyn, reed as blood. 
Thanne wolde he speke, and crie as he were wood. 
And whan that he wel dronken hadde the wyn, 
Than wolde he speke no word but Latyn. 
A fewe termes hadde he, two or thre, 
That he had lerned out of som decree,— 
No wonder is, he herde it al the day; 
And eek ye knowen wel how that a jay 
Kan clepen "Watte" as wel as kan the pope. 
But whoso koude in oother thyng hym grope, 
Thanne hadde he spent al his philosophie; 
Ay "Questio quid juris" wolde he crie. 
He was a gentil harlot and a kynde; 
A bettre felawe sholde men noght fynde. 
He wolde suffre for a quart of wyn 
A good felawe to have his concubyn 
A twelf month, and excuse hym atte fulle; 
And prively a fynch eek koude he pulle. 
And if he foond owher a good felawe, 
He wolde techen him to have noon awe, 
In swich caas, of the erchedekenes curs, 
But if a mannes soule were in his purs; 
For in his purs he sholde y-punysshed be: 
"Purs is the erchedekenes helle," seyde he. 
But wel I woot he lyed right in dede. 
Of cursyng oghte ech gilty man him drede, 
For curs wol slee, right as assoillyng savith; 
And also war him of a Significavit. 
In daunger hadde he at his owene gise 
The yonge girles of the diocise, 
And knew hir conseil, and was al hir reed. 
A gerland hadde he set upon his heed, 
As greet as it were for an ale-stake; 
A bokeleer hadde he maad him of a cake. 


With hym ther rood a gentil Pardoner 
Of Rouncivale, his freend and his compeer, 
That streight was comen fro the court of Rome. 
Ful loude he soong, "Com hider, love, to me!" 
This Somonour bar to hym a stif burdoun; 
Was nevere trompe of half so greet a soun. 
This Pardoner hadde heer as yelow as wex, 
But smothe it heeng as dooth a strike of flex; 
By ounces henge his lokkes that he hadde, 
And therwith he his shuldres overspradde. 
But thynne it lay, by colpons, oon and oon; 
But hood, for jolitee, wered he noon, 
For it was trussed up in his walét. 
Hym thoughte he rood al of the newe jet; 
Dischevelee, save his cappe, he rood al bare. 
Swiche glarynge eyen hadde he as an hare. 
A vernycle hadde he sowed upon his cappe. 
His walet lay biforn hym in his lappe, 
Bret-ful of pardoun, comen from Rome al hoot. 
A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot. 
No berd hadde he, ne nevere sholde have, 
As smothe it was as it were late y-shave; 
I trowe he were a geldyng or a mare. 
But of his craft, fro Berwyk into Ware, 
Ne was ther swich another pardoner; 
For in his male he hadde a pilwe-beer, 
Which that, he seyde, was Oure Lady veyl; 
He seyde he hadde a gobet of the seyl 
That Seinte Peter hadde, whan that he wente 
Upon the see, til Jesu Crist hym hente. 
He hadde a croys of latoun, ful of stones, 
And in a glas he hadde pigges bones. 
But with thise relikes, whan that he fond 
A povre person dwellynge upon lond, 
Upon a day he gat hym moore moneye 
Than that the person gat in monthes tweye; 
And thus with feyned flaterye and japes 
He made the person and the peple his apes. 
But trewely to tellen atte laste, 
He was in chirche a noble ecclesiaste; 
Wel koude he rede a lessoun or a storie, 
But alderbest he song an offertorie; 
For wel he wiste, whan that song was songe, 
He moste preche, and wel affile his tonge 
To wynne silver, as he ful wel koude; 
Therefore he song the murierly and loude. 


Now have I toold you shortly, in a clause, 
Thestaat, tharray, the nombre, and eek the cause 
Why that assembled was this compaignye 
In Southwerk, at this gentil hostelrye 
That highte the Tabard, faste by the Belle. 
But now is tyme to yow for to telle 
How that we baren us that ilke nyght, 
Whan we were in that hostelrie alyght; 
And after wol I telle of our viage 
And al the remenaunt of oure pilgrimage. 


But first, I pray yow, of youre curteisye, 
That ye narette it nat my vileynye, 
Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere, 
To telle yow hir wordes and hir cheere, 
Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely. 
For this ye knowen al-so wel as I, 
Whoso shal telle a tale after a man, 
He moot reherce, as ny as evere he kan, 
Everich a word, if it be in his charge, 
Al speke he never so rudeliche and large; 
Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe, 
Or feyne thyng, or fynde wordes newe. 
He may nat spare, althogh he were his brother; 
He moot as wel seye o word as another. 
Crist spak hymself ful brode in hooly writ, 
And wel ye woot no vileynye is it. 
Eek Plato seith, whoso kan hym rede, 
"The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede." 


Also I prey yow to foryeve it me, 
Al have I nat set folk in hir degree 
Heere in this tale, as that they sholde stonde; 
My wit is short, ye may wel understonde. 


Greet chiere made oure Hoost us everichon, 
And to the soper sette he us anon, 
And served us with vitaille at the beste: 
Strong was the wyn and wel to drynke us leste. 


A semely man Oure Hooste was with-alle 
For to been a marchal in an halle. 
A large man he was with eyen stepe, 
A fairer burgeys was ther noon in Chepe; 
Boold of his speche, and wys, and well y-taught, 
And of manhod hym lakkede right naught. 
Eek thereto he was right a myrie man, 
And after soper pleyen he bigan, 
And spak of myrthe amonges othere thynges, 
Whan that we hadde maad our rekenynges; 
And seyde thus: "Now, lordynges, trewely, 
Ye been to me right welcome, hertely; 
For by my trouthe, if that I shal nat lye, 
I saugh nat this yeer so myrie a compaignye 
At ones in this herberwe as is now. 
Fayn wolde I doon yow myrthe, wiste I how; 
And of a myrthe I am right now bythoght, 
To doon yow ese, and it shal coste noght. 


"Ye goon to Canterbury—God yow speede, 
The blisful martir quite yow youre meede! 
And wel I woot, as ye goon by the weye, 
Ye shapen yow to talen and to pleye; 
For trewely confort ne myrthe is noon 
To ride by the weye doumb as a stoon; 
And therfore wol I maken yow disport, 
As I seyde erst, and doon yow som confort. 
And if you liketh alle, by oon assent, 
For to stonden at my juggement, 
And for to werken as I shal yow seye, 
To-morwe, whan ye riden by the weye, 
Now, by my fader soule, that is deed, 
But ye be myrie, I wol yeve yow myn heed! 
Hoold up youre hond, withouten moore speche." 


Oure conseil was nat longe for to seche; 
Us thoughte it was noght worth to make it wys, 
And graunted hym withouten moore avys, 
And bad him seye his verdit, as hym leste. 


"Lordynges," quod he, "now herkneth for the beste; 
But taak it nought, I prey yow, in desdeyn; 
This is the poynt, to speken short and pleyn, 
That ech of yow, to shorte with oure weye 
In this viage, shal telle tales tweye, 
To Caunterbury-ward, I mene it so, 
And homward he shal tellen othere two, 
Of aventúres that whilom han bifalle. 
And which of yow that bereth hym beste of alle, 
That is to seyn, that telleth in this caas 
Tales of best sentence and moost solaas, 
Shal have a soper at oure aller cost, 
Heere in this place, sittynge by this post, 
Whan that we come agayn fro Caunterbury. 
And, for to make yow the moore mury, 
I wol myselven gladly with yow ryde, 
Right at myn owene cost, and be youre gyde; 
And whoso wole my juggement withseye 
Shal paye al that we spenden by the weye. 
And if ye vouche-sauf that it be so, 
Tel me anon, withouten wordes mo, 
And I wol erly shape me therfore." 


This thyng was graunted, and oure othes swore 
With ful glad herte, and preyden hym also 
That he wolde vouche-sauf for to do so, 
And that he wolde been oure governour, 
And of our tales juge and réportour, 
And sette a soper at a certeyn pris; 
And we wol reuled been at his devys 
In heigh and lough; and thus, by oon assent, 
We been acorded to his juggement. 
And therupon the wyn was fet anon; 
We dronken, and to reste wente echon, 
Withouten any lenger taryynge. 


Amorwe, whan that day gan for to sprynge, 
Up roos oure Hoost and was oure aller cok, 
And gadrede us togidre alle in a flok; 
And forth we riden, a litel moore than paas, 
Unto the wateryng of Seint Thomas; 
And there oure Hoost bigan his hors areste, 
And seyde, "Lordynges, herkneth, if yow leste: 
Ye woot youre foreward and I it yow recorde. 
If even-song and morwe-song accorde, 
Lat se now who shal telle the firste tale. 
As ever mote I drynke wyn or ale, 
Whoso be rebel to my juggement 
Shal paye for all that by the wey is spent. 
Now draweth cut, er that we ferrer twynne; 
He which that hath the shorteste shal bigynne. 
Sire Knyght," quod he, "my mayster and my lord 
Now draweth cut, for that is myn accord. 
Cometh neer," quod he, "my lady Prioresse. 
And ye, sire Clerk, lat be your shamefastnesse, 
Ne studieth noght. Ley hond to, every man." 


Anon to drawen every wight bigan, 
And, shortly for to tellen as it was, 
Were it by áventúre, or sort, or cas, 
The sothe is this, the cut fil to the Knyght, 
Of which ful blithe and glad was every wyght; 
And telle he moste his tale, as was resoun, 
By foreward and by composicioun, 
As ye han herd; what nedeth wordes mo? 
And whan this goode man saugh that it was so, 
As he that wys was and obedient 
To kepe his foreward by his free assent, 
He seyde, "Syn I shal bigynne the game, 
What, welcome be the cut, a Goddes name! 
Now lat us ryde, and herkneth what I seye." 
And with that word we ryden forth oure weye; 
And he bigan with right a myrie cheere 
His tale anon, and seyde in this manére.