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Wyd was his parische, and houses fer asоnder,
But he ne lafte' not for reyne ne thonder,
In siknesse nor in meschief? to visite
The ferreste in his parissche, moche and lite, 3
Uppon his feet, and in his hond a staf.
This noble ensample to his scheep he gaf,
That first he wroughte, and afterward he taught.
Out of the gospel he tho wordës caughte,
And this figure he addede eek therto
That if gold rustë, what schal yren doo?
Wel oughte a prest ensample for to give
By bis clennesse how that his scheep schulde lyve.
He settë not his benefice to hyre,
And leet4 his scheep encombred in the myre,
And ran to Londone, unto seynte Poules,
To seeken him a chaunteries for soules,
Or with a bretherhede to ben withholde ;6
But dwelte at hoom, and kepte wel his folde,
So that the wolf ne made it not myscarye;
He was a schepherde and no mercenarie.
And though he holy were and vertuous,
He was to sinful man nought despitous,?
Ne of bis speche daungerous ne digne,8
But in his teching discret and benigne.
To drawe folk to heven by fairnesse,
By good ensample, this was his busynesse:
But it were eny persone obstinat,
What so he were, of high or lowe estat,
Him wolde he snybbelo scharply for the nonës. 11
A bettre preest I trowe ther nowher non is.
He waytede after no pompe and reverence
Ne makede him a spiced 12 conscience,
But Cristes lore13 and his apostles twelve
He taughte, but first he folwede it himselve.
1 Ceased. 2 Misfortune. 3 Great and small. 4 Let, left. 5 An endowment for the payment of a priest to sing mass. 6 Supported. 7 Merciless. 8 Not affable, disdainful. 9 If there were. 10 Reprove. 11 Nonce. 12 Scrupulous.
From the Nonne Prestës! Tale.
A pourë wydow somdel stope’ in age
Was whilom dwellyng in a narwe cotage
Bisyde a grově, stondyng in a dale.
This wydwe of which I telle yow my tale
Synë thilkės day that sche was last a wif
In pacience ladde a ful symple lyf,
For litel was hire catel 4 and hire rente.5
By housbondrye of such as God hire sente,
Sche fond? hireself and eek hire doughtren tuo.8
Thre large sowës hadde sche and no mo,
Thre kyn and eek a scheep thet hightë. Malle.
Ful sooty was hire bourlo and eek hire halle,
In which she eet ful many a sclender meel.
Of poynaunt11 sawce hire needede never a deel. 12
No deynté morsel passede thurgh hire throte;
Hire dyete was accordant to hire cote.13
Repleccioun ne made hire nevere sik;
Attemprä14 dyete was al hire phisik
And exercise and hertes suffisaunce. 15
The goute lette16 hire nothing for to daunce.
Hire bord 17 was served most with whit and blak,
Milk and broun bred, in which sche fond no lak.
A yerd 18 sche hadde, enclosed al aboute
With stikkes and a drye dich withoute,
In which she hadde a cok, highte Chauntecleer;
In al the lond, of crowyng nas19 his peer.
His vois was merier than the merye orgon20
On masse dayės that in the chirche goon. 21
Wel sikerer22 was his crowyng in his logge
Than is a clok or an abbay orlogge. 23
By nature knew he ech ascencioun
Of equinoxial 24 in thilkë toun;
For whan degrees fyftenë were ascended,
Thanne crew25 he that it mighte not ben amended.
1 Nun's Priest. ? Somewhat advanced. 3 Since that.
5 Income. 4 Wealth. 10 Inner room.
11 Pun6 Economy. ? Supported. Two daughters. Was called. gent. 12 Never a whit. 13 Cottage. 14 Spare. 15 Contented mind. 16 Gout hindered. 17 Table. 18 Yard. 19 Was not. 20 Organ or organs. 21 Go, sounds or sound. 22 Much surer.
His comb was redder than the fyn coral,
And bataylld as it were a castel wal.
His bile’ was blak, and as the geet 3 it schon;
Like asure4 were his legges and his ton;5
His naylës whitter than the lilýe flour,
And lik the burnischt gold was his colour.
This gentil cok hadde in his governaunce
Sevene hennës for to don al his pleasaunce,
Whiche were his sustres and his paramoures,
And wonder? like to him as of coloures,
Of whiche the faireste hewed 8 on hire throte
Was cleped o fayre damoysele Pertelote.
Curteys10 sche was, discret, and debonaire, 11
And compainable, 12 and bar hire self ful faire
Syn thilke day that sche was seven night old
That trewely sche hath the herte in hold
Of Chauntecleer loken in every lith;13
He lovede hire so that wel him was therwith.
But such a joye was it to here hem synge,
Whan that the brightë sonne gan to springe
In swete accord, “my lief is faren on londe."14
For thilkë tyme, as I have understonde,
Bestès and briddes cowde speke and synge.
And so byfel that in a dawenynge, As Chauntecleer among his wyvės alle Sat on his perche, that was in the halle, And next him sat this faire Pertelote, This Chauntecleer gan gronen in his throte As man that in his dreem is dreeched 15 And whan that Pertelote thus herde him rore, Sche was agast, 16 and sayde, “O hertë deere, What eyleth17 you to grone in this manere? Ye ben a verray sleper, fy, for schame!" And he answerde and sayde thus, “Madame, I praye you that ye take it nought agrief. Me mettel8 how that I romede up and doun
Withinne oure yerde, wher as? I saugh a beest,
Was lik an hound, and wolde han maad areest?
Upon my body and wolde han had me deed.
His colour was bitwixë yelwe and reed;
And tipped was his tail and bothe his eeres
With blak, unlik the remenaunt of his heres;
His snowtë smal, with glowyng eyen tweye.3
Yet of his look for feere almost I deye;
This causede me my gronyng douteles.”
Avoy!" quod 4 sche, “ fy on yow herteles!
Allas!" quod sche, “for, by that God above,
Now han ye lost myn herte and al my love;
I can nought love a coward, by my feith.
For, certes, what so eny womman seith,
We alle desiren, if it mightë be,
To han housbondës hardy, wise, and fre,
And secré, 6 and no nygard, ne no fool,
Ne him that is agast of every tool,?
Ne noon avauntour,8 by that God above.
How dorste ye sayn for schame unto youre love
That any thing mighte make yow aferd ?
Han ye no mannës herte, and han a berd?”
Whan that the moneth in which the world bigan
That highteo March, whan God first made man,
Was complet, and y-passed were also,
Syn March bygan, thritty dayės and tuo,
Byfel that Chauntecleer in al his pride,
His seven wyvěs walkyng him by syde,
Caste up his eyghen to the brightë sonne
That in the signe of Taurus hadde i-ronne
Twenty degrees and oon, and somewhat more;
He knew by kynde, 10 and by noon other lore,
That it was prime, 11 and crew with blisful stevene."
“ The sonne,” he sayde, “is clomben up on hevene
Fourty degrees and oon, and more i-wis. 13
Madamë Pertelote, my worldës blis,
Herkneth these blisful briddes how they synge,
And seth the fressche flourës how they springe; 1 Where. 2 Attack.
This Chauntecleer, whan he gan him espye, He wolde han fled, but that the fox anon Saide, Gentil sire, allas! wher wol ye goon? Be ye affrayd of me that am youre freend? Now, certes, I were worse than a feend, If I to yow wolde10 harm or vileynye. I am nought come youre counsail for tespye. But trewely the cause of my comynge Was oonly for to herkne how that ye singe. My lord, youre fader, (God his soule blesse) And eek youre moder of hire gentilesse Han in myn hous i-been to my gret ese; And, certes, sire, ful fayn wolde I yow plese. But for men speke of syngyng, I woi saye, So mot I broukoll wel myn eyen twaye, Save you, I herde nevere man so synge As dede youre fader in the morwenynge. Certes it was of herte al that he song. And for to make his vois the morë strong, He wolde so peyne himla that with bothe his eyen He moste wynke, so lowde he wolde crien,