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The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
The canterbury tales
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The canterbury tales

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  • 1. THECANTERBURY TALES by GEOFFREY CHAUCER • The General Prologue and Sixteen Tales A READER-FRIENDLY EDITION Put into modern spelling by MICHAELMURPHY ii This edition of Geoffrey Chaucer’s CANTERBURYTALES is copyright. It may be freely downloaded for personalor pedagogical use, but theeditor would be obliged if users inform him. The editor will be grateful to have any errors, big or small, called to his attention. Other suggestions for improvement are also very welcome. Two similar editions of Troilus and Criseyde ( abbreviated and unabbreviated) are also available on this site. Separate print editions of some of the tales as edited here are available: 1. A Canterbury Quintet (ISBN 893385-02-7) containing theGeneral Prologue and the tales of theMiller, the Wife, the Pardoner, and the Nun’s Priest. 2. Canterbury Marriage Tales (ISBN 0-9679557-1-8) which has thetales of the Wife, the Clerk, the Merchant and the Franklin. These are available from LittleLeaf Press, PO Box 187, Milaca, MN 56353 littleleaf@maxminn.com http://www.maxminn.com/littleleaf The editor can be reached at thefollowing addresses: Sarsfield0@aol.com (zero after Sarsfield) or at 641 East 24 St, Brooklyn, New York 11210. The fuzziness of the letters on some screens will not affect the clarity of printouts. At least one edition of theTales in MiddleEnglish spelling is available on the Internet through Labyrinth. I am deeply indebted to Nick Irons, Manager of the Faculty Computer Lab, and to Suzy Samuel, his assistant, for theexpertise needed to put this edition on the Internet. iii This edition is designed to make thetext of a great medieval English classic more reader-friendly to students and general readers, especially to those who are not English majors and thosenot interested in becoming medievalists. It is NOT a translation. The words are Chaucer’s line for line. Only the spelling is modernized, as it is in Shakespeare texts. It is more faithful than a translation but is a lot less demanding than the standard Middle English text. It is better than a translation because it keeps the verse and in Chaucer’s own language, but in a friendlier form than theold-spelling version. With this text, readers have thelanguage that Chaucer wrote, but without the frustration of trying to master the vagaries of MiddleEnglish spelling. The change in spelling is meant to allow the reader to enjoy Chaucer not merely endure him. Even so, this edition is a good deal more conservative than Coleridge was prepared to accept : On Modernizing theText Let a few plain rules be given for sounding thefinal • of syllables and for expressing the termination of such words as oc•an, and natïon, etc, as disyllables -- or let thesyllables to be sounded in such cases be marked by a competent metrist. This simple expedient would, with a very few trifling exceptions where theerrors are inveterate, enable any reader to feel the perfect smoothness and harmony of Chaucer's verse. As to understanding his language, if you read twenty pages with a good glossary, you surely can find no further difficulty, even as it is; but I should have no objection to see this done: Strike out thosewords which are now obsolete, and I will venture to say that I will replace every one of them by words still in use out of Chaucer himself, or Gower his disciple. I don't want this myself: I rather like to see the significant terms which Chaucer unsuccessfully offered as candidates for admission into our language; but surely so very slight a change of the text may well be pardoned, even by black-letterati, for the purposeof restoring so great a poet to his ancient and most deserved popularity. Coleridge, Table Talk, March 15, 1834 1 A one-page version of this linguistic introduction can be found on p.xii below. For fuller development of the argument sketched here see my articles "On Not Reading Chaucer -- Aloud," Mediaevalia, 9 (1986 for 1983),
  • 2. 205-224, and "On Making an Edition of The Canterbury Tales in Modern Spelling," Chaucer Review 26 (1991), 48-64. iv The Language of this Edition1 Some Chaucerians, act as if the works of the poet should be carefully kept away from thegeneral reader and student, and reserved for thosefew who are willing to master the real difficulties of Middle English grammar and spelling, and thespeculative subtleties of MiddleEnglish pronunciation. Others may read him in translation if they wish ! The text of this edition in modern English spelling is intended to subvert that misguided notion. It is designed for thosereaders in school, university, living room or commuter train who would like to read or re-read Chaucer as readily as they can read or re-read other classics in English; readers who do not want thevagaries of archaic Middle English spelling, nor yet a flat translation. Very few scholars now read Shakespeare in the spelling of his day, but all readers of Chaucer are forced to read him in the spelling of his day, and this is a great obstacle for most people. This edition is meant to supply aversion of Chaucer that avoids both simple translation or scholarly archaism. This edition is not a translation. The grammar, the syntax, and the vocabulary of this modspell edition remain essentially unchanged from the language of the original. Everything is Chaucer’s except for the spelling. Hence it can also be used as an accompanying or preliminary text by thosewho wish to master Chaucer's dialect as it is displayed in scholarly editions. Here are some simple examples of changes from themanuscript forms. Thecitations are from Troilus and Criseyde and The Canterbury Tales. Categories overlap a little. Spelling and Inflections v Virtually all words are spelled in themodern way. A few examples from the early parts of T & C will illustrate: Fro wo to wele becomes From woe to weal; yeloveres is changed to you lovers. if any dropeof pytein yow be becomes if any drop of pity in you be Here be rhymes with adversity rather than with adversité. yehan wonne hymwith to gret an ese becomes you have won him with too great an ease. Notice that the vocabulary does not change, only thespelling. Even some archaic spellings are retained: For by that morter which that I see bren lamp / burn Know I full well that day is not far henne. hence (a) Since the modspell forms burn and hence would give no kind of rhyme, bren and henne, are retained and glossed. (b) Morefrequently the older form is kept for therhythmwhere the extra syllable is needed. The most frequent and most noticeable occurrences are for those words ending in -en: bathen, departen, wroughten. The words mean the same with or without the -(e)n. Similarly aboven, withouten. Many other words also have an -e- that we no longer use either in spelling or pronunciation. When it is necessary or helpful to keep such -e-’s they are marked with a dot: •. (See Rhythmbelow). The modern form of thethird person singular present tenseends in -s: he comes. This was a dialectal form for Chaucer who thought it funny. His standard form ended in -eth: he cometh. Shakespeare could use either form— comes or cometh, one syllable or two—to suit his metrical needs. I follow his example here, using our modern form wherever the meter allows, as in thethree occurrences in the first two stanzas of the Canticus Troili where I suspect that even with cometh (thespelling of the standard edition) the pronunciation was one syllable: If love be good, from whenc• comes my woe ? in place of: If love be good, from whennes cometh my woo ....every torment and adversity That comes of him may to me savory think in place of : ....every torment and adversite That cometh of hym may to me savory thinke vi From whenc• comes my wailing and my plaint? in place of: From whennes cometh my waillynge and my pleynte? By contrast the -eth is retained for the pentameter in the four rhyming words in T & C, I, 55: defendeth / offendeth, availeth / saileth, and in the plural imperative that means thesame with and
  • 3. without the-eth: Remembereth, Thinketh = Remember! Think! Past participles of verbs that begin with y- are sometimes retained for thesame reason. They also mean the same with or without the y-:y-born, y-wrought, y-beat for born, wrought, beaten. For both meaning and rhythm, a word like bisynesseis retained as busyness rather than as business Vocabulary As we have said, the vocabulary remains intact throughout. Theword thee is not changed to you, nor wood to mad when that is themeaning; durstemeans dared, clepe means call, I wot means I know and has the same number of syllables, but our word is not substituted for Chaucer's in any of these cases. In these and in many others like them where a word has become obsolete or has changed its meaning over thecenturies, Chaucer's word is kept and the meaning given in a gloss in themargin where it can be readily glanced at or ignored. For Chaucer's hem and hir(e) I use them and their which were dialect forms in his day but which became standard like the -s of sends. Middle English used his to mean both his and its. I have generally used its when that is the meaning. Chaucerian English often used there to mean where; I generally use where when there might be confusing for a modern reader. Pronunciation Whether read silently or aloud this text is designed to accommodate the reader's own modern English pronunciation, modified wherever that reader thinks necessary for rhymeor rhythm. Scholars expect old spelling versions to be read in a reconstructed Middle English dialect whose sounds are at least as difficult to master as the archaic spelling, but the phonetic accuracy of the reconstruction is quite dubious. A regular assignment in college classes is for the students to memorize the first eighteen lines of theGeneral Prologue of TheCanterbury Tales in this reconstructed dialect. Instructions on how to pronounce thedifferent vowels, consonants and diphthongs in this reconstructed dialect can be found in standard old-spelling editions. For those who are curious to know how medievalists think Chaucer's verse might have sounded, I append a very rough "phonetic" transcription of thosefirst eighteen lines of The General Prologue. Dotted -•'s are pronounced; so is the -l- in folk, half and palmers. Syllables marked with an acute accent are stressed. (See further the section below on Rhythmand Meter) :- vii Phonetic Version Whan that Avril with his shoorez sote-eh The druughth of March hath pers•d toe therote-eh, And baath•d every vein in switch licoor Of which vertúe engendr•d is theflure, Whan Zephirus ache with his swayt-eh braith, Inspeer•d hath in every holt and haith The tender croppez, and the yung-eh sun-eh Hath in theRam his hal-f coorse y-run-eh, And smaaleh foolez maaken melody-eh That slaipen al thenicked with awpen ee-eh So pricketh hem Nat-yóor in hir cooráhjez-- Than longen fol-k to gawn on pilgrimahjez And pal-mers for to saiken straunj-eh strondez To ferneh halwehs couth in sundry londez And spesyaly fromevery sheerez end-eh Of Engelond to Caunterbry they wend-eh The hawly blissful martyr for to saik-eh That hem hath holpen whan that they were saik-eh. Hengwrt Manuscript Whan that Auerylle with his shoures soote The droghte of March / hath perced to the roote And bathed euery veyne in swich lycour Of which vertu engendred is theflour Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth Inspired hath in euery holt and heeth The tendre croppes /and theyonge sonne Hath in theRam / his half cours yronne And smale foweles / maken melodye That slepen al the nyght with open Iye So priketh hem nature / in hir corages Thanne longen folk to goon on pilrymages And Palmeres for to seeken straunge strondes
  • 4. To fernè halwes / kouthein sondry londes And specially / from euery shyres ende Of Engelond / to Caunterbury they wende The holy blisful martir / for to seke That hem hath holpen whan at they weere seeke. This passage and others are reproduced in the International Phonetic Alphabet in Helge Kokeritz's pamphletA Guide To Chaucer's Pronunciation (Holt, Rinehart: N.Y. 1962). Even in Kokeritz, which is the standard version, theuncertainties of thephonetics are clear from thefact that Kokeritz gives fifteen alternative pronunciations in sixteen lines. Rhyme In any modspell version of a Chaucer poem it is clear that some rhymes do not work perfectly or at all, though they did in theoriginal MiddleEnglish. This is usually accounted for by thetheory that English sounds have changed in a fairly systematicway over the centuries, a change especially noticeable (to us anyway) between about 1400 (the year Chaucer died) and 1800. Thechange is called theGreat Vowel Shift. Roughly, this theory says that in Chaucer's day the long vowels were pronounced more or less as they still are in modern Romance Languages. For example, the i in mine was pronounced like the i in theword machine, a word that retains its French pronunciation. Hence, Chaucer's mine is pronounced mean, his name would rhymewith our calm, his root with our boat and so on. This would not concern us much if the Great Vowel Shift theory worked perfectly;thelong vowel sounds might have changed radically, but if thechange was consistent, the words that rhymed then would rhyme now. But theVowel Shift was not wholly consistent, and its inconsistency is probably most observable in theshift from o to u. For example, thetheory says that words like root and mood were pronounced with an o sound -- rote and mode, and they have moved to a u sound today. But for Chaucer the words hood, blood, would both have rhymed with mood and with each other ( hode, viii blode, mode); for us they are at best half rhymes or eyerhymes. Similarly deed and dread, mead and red, have and save, heart and convert rhymed for him as they no longer do perfectly for us. Another reason that all of Chaucer's rhymes are not perfect for us is that some of his French-derived words still had their French pronunciation or were still accented in a French way. This accounts for the problem with now-imperfect rhymes like wise / service. The words creature and nature were both accented on the last syllable and the first has three syllables, French fashion. Theseaccents have generally been marked in thetext. Sometimes, however, I have not marked the text as in the following: As to my doom in all of Troy city Was none so fair, for-passing every wight So angel like was her native beauty The original MEcite for city was probably pronounced French fashion with the accent on thesecond syllable. But thereader can make the decision how to pronounce city. The French-influenced Middle English spelling of natif beaute in the third line fairly clearly indicated stress on the second syllable in each word. In reading to oneself, one can either exaggerate a pronunciation in theFrench direction in order to make the rhymes work fully, or simply accept theimperfections as half rhymes or eye rhymes which are well established features of almost all rhymed verse in English. Most of the rhymes work very well, and a few half rhymes or eye rhymes simply add variety that should be acceptable to modern taste. (See also below thesection on Rhythmand Meter). We should also perhaps remember that many of therhymes of later poets present much thesame situation -- Shakespeare's sonnets or Venus and Adonis, Milton's rhymed poems, Donne's lyrics, and even Dryden's translations from Chaucer. Indeed the same final rhyming syllable that occurs in the description of the Squire in theGeneral Prologue: serviceable / table also occurs in Milton's Morning of Christ's Nativity in the closing lines: stable / serviceable. This causes little difficulty for modern readers of Milton and theother poets, and produces no comment among their modern critics. The final rhyme in Troilus and Criseyde: digne / benign also provides a small challenge. Since digne is obsolete we can, presumably, give it any suitable pronunciation, in this case probably something like dine. Rhythmand Meter This section is closely related to the sections on Spelling and Pronunciation above. Many Chaucerian plural and possessivenouns end in -es where our equivents end in -s, and many of his words of all sorts end in an -e where we no longer have it: ix Madáme Pertelote, my worldes blisse Herkneth thiseblisful briddes how they synge And se thefresshe floures how they sprynge.
  • 5. It seems that Chaucer would have pronounced all the occurrences of -es and some of thoseof -e in these lines; thereader's sense of rhythmand meter has to tell him which -e's, unless the "pronounced" -e's are dotted, as they are not dotted in the manuscripts or in scholarly editions. So therhythmof the original would be somewhat different from that of a radical modspell version (like my first edition of the Tales which dropped all the archaic -e's): Madam Pertelot, my world's bliss, Hearken theseblissful birds -- how they sing! And see the fresh flowers -- how they spring! The place of the syllabic -e's would have to be taken by apt pauses. That choice is still possibleeven after some of the -e's have been restored, as they are here to satisfy amore strictly iambic meter: Madam• Pertelot, my world•'s bliss, Hearken theseblissful bird•s -- how they sing! And see the fresh• flowers -- how they spring! Sometimes the -e is pronounced or not pronounced in the same word depending on its position in the line. For example in theold-spelling Troilus and Criseyde the word Troye/ Troie is almost invariably spelled with a final -e, which is pronounced or elided as the meter demands. In the modspell version the spelling reflects this: The folk of Troie hire observaunces olde (I, 160) becomes The folk of Troy their óbservances old (I, 16:6) but Knew wel that Troie sholde destroi•d be (I, 68) becomes Knew well that Troy• should destroy•d be (I, 6:5) There are many other occasions when themeter seems to require the pronunciation of a now silent or absent -e-. In such cases the • in this text generally has a superscript dot which the reader is free to ignore at will, thus: So that his soul her soul• follow might (II, 106.4) The question of pronounced -e- arises with particular frequency in the ending of verbs in the normal past tenseor past participleas in the line just quoted: Knew well that Troy• should destroy•d be. where it is clear that -ed has to be pronunced in either version. x Or take this couplet from the Canterbury Tales, for example: And set a supper at a certain price, And we will rul•d be at his device. The rhythmis improved if the -ed of ruled is pronounced as it almost certainly was in Chaucer's day and as -ed was often pronounced in poetry untilalmost modern times. In this text such -ed's are often marked where the editor feels that therhythmwould benefit, but I have not been relentless about it, and readers should use their own judgement about it. There is plenty of leeway for taste. A reader might easily decide for example, that the following line in thedescription of theleprous Summoner in the Canterbury Tales is best read as a series of strong monosyllables, and ignore the suggestion to pronounce the -e's of scalled, browes and piled: With scall•d brow•s black and pil•d beard Another illustration of a rhythmical question with a modspell version: Makeno comparison ... Oh lev• Pandare in conlusïon I will not be of thine opinïon The editorial accent mark on the i of conclusion and opinion suggests thepossibility of pronouncing each word as four syllables: con-clus-i-on, o-pin-i-on as they presumably were in the original, but again the reader is free to prefer the normal three-syllable pronunciation and to be satisfied with a nine-syllable line, of which the Chaucer manuscripts have many. One other thing to be kept in mind is that for Chaucer as for us there were unpronounced -e's and other unpronounced letters. In short, for him as for Shakespeare and for us, there was such a thing as elision, the droppingor blending of syllables, reducing the number that seem to be present on the page. Thus ever and evil may well have been pronounced e'er and ill where therhythmsuited as in the following: “Alas!” quod Absalom, “and Welaway! That tru• love was e’er so ill beset” (Orig: That true love was ever so evil beset) Remembereth you on pass•d heaviness That you have felt, and on the adversity Of other folk To get a pentameter Rememb'reth probably needs to be pronounced thus, eliding one of the e's, and
  • 6. the adversity needs to be said as th'adversity even if theseelisions are not so marked in the text. xi Our modern pronunciation of generally often has three rather than four syllables, and a three-syllable sovereignty fits well with this couplet either in its Middle English or modspell form: My lieg• lady, generally, quod he, Women desiren to have sovereignty Elision or slurring is particularly noticeable in a word like benedicitee, a common exclamation with Chaucer's characters in theTales. It was clearly pronounced with anything from two to five syllables to fit the rhythm: benstee, bensitee, bendisitee, ben-e-disitee. And a line like thefollowing is an impossible pentameter without some elision: And certes yet ne dide I yow nevere unright Look at the two different forms of the same verb in the following consecutive lines of MiddleEnglish: Thy gentillesse cometh fro God allone. Than comth oure verray gentillesse of grace The spelling comth, occurs in the second line in two MSS, suggesting a common pronunciation of the word, whatever way it was spelled, a pronunciation something like comes in both lines. Assuming thefollowing line to have ten syllables, thefirst word should come out as one syllable: Fareth every knight thus with his wife as ye? Here the pronunciation of Fareth may have verged on Fares, its modern form, which I have adopted. Analagously, we are so accustomed to pronouncing every as two syllables that we do not notice that it is written with three. The alert reader will see and adapt to other such occurrences in the course of reading this version. STRESS: In some lines an acute accent is inserted to suggest a probable emphasis different from our current stress patterns If this be wist, but e'er in thine absénce or And short and quick and full of high senténce and rhyming groups like thefollowing: sort / comfórt; dance / penánce; disáventure / creäture / measúre Reading a modspell edition of TheCanterbury Tales or of Troilus and Criseyde needs goodwill, xii some intelligence, humor, adaptability, and a little skill, qualities that most of us would readily confess to. A Short Noteon How the Text may be Read This is mostly a brief summary of what has been said at greater length above. Readers are invited to pronounce or not, as they see fit, all instances of dotted •, as in "Inspir•d", "eas•d", "young•", "sunn•". This superscript dot indicates a letter that was probably pronounced in Chaucer's medieval poetic dialect, possibly with a light schwa sound, a kind of brief "-eh". Hence, this modspell text has kept some medieval spellings that differ somewhat from ours: "sweet•" for "sweet", "half•" for "half", "could•" for "could", "lipp•s" for "lips", and so on. This preserves the extra syllable to indicate the more regular meter that many scholars insist was Chaucer's, and that many readers will prefer. The reader is the final judge. It is perfectly possibleto read "With locks curled as they were laid in press" rather than "With lock•s curled as they were laid in press." Some would prefer "She let no morsel from her lips fall" over "She let no morsel from her lipp•s fall". Similarly a sentence of strong monosyllables like "With scaled brows black and piled beard" should be at least as good as "With pil•d brow•s black and pil•d beard." As in theseexamples a stanzalike the following could get much of the effect of the pronounced -efrom a crisp pronunciation of final consonants or separation of words: young -- knights This Troilus as he was wont to guide accustomed to His young• knight•s, led them up and down In thilk• larg• temple on every side, In this Beholding ay the ladies of the town Now here, how there, for no devotïon Had he to none to reiven him his rest. deprive him of But gan to praise and lacken whom him lest. And blame (Troilus & Criseyde: I, 20) There is nothing to prevent any reader from ignoring the superscript -•- whenever you feel that is appropriate. Similarly you may wish (or not) to pronounce the ï of words like devotïon, to make three syllables for the word instead of two, etc. The text offers a choice. Blameth not me if that you choose amiss. The medieval endings of some words, especially verbs, in -n or -en have been retained for
  • 7. reasons of smoother rhythm: "lacken, sleepen, seeken, weren, woulden, liven, withouten." xiii Such words mean the same with or without the -n or -en. Also words beginning y- mean the same with or without the y- as in y-tied, y-taught. An acute accent indicates that a word was probably stressed in a different way from its modern counterpart:uságe, viságe, daggér, mannér, serviceáble to rhyme with table. End of Introduction 0 The Canterbury Tales by GEOFFREY CHAUCER A READER-FRIENDLY EDITION Put into modern spelling by MICHAELMURPHY GENERAL PROLOGUE 1 1 When Aprilwith its sweet showers has pierced thedrought of March to the root and bathed every rootlet in the liquid by which the flower is engendered; when thewest wind also, with its sweet breath, has brought forth young shoots in every grove and field; when theearly sun of spring has run half his course in the sign of Aries, and when small birds make melody, birds that sleep all night with eyes open, (as Nature inspires them to) --THEN peoplehave a strong desire to go on pilgrimages, and pilgrims long to go to foreign shores to distant shrines known in various countries. And especially they go from every county in England to seek out theshrine of theholy blessed martyr who has helped them when they were sick. 2 4: "By virtue (strength) of which the flower is engendered." 3 8: The early sun of Spring has moved part way through the sign of Aries (the Ram) in theZodiac. 4 13-14: "Pilgrims seek foreign shores (to go) to distant shrines known in different lands." Palmers: pilgrims, from the palm-leaves they got in Jerusalem. GENERAL PROLOGUE The opening is a long, elaborate sentence about the effects of Spring on thevegetable and animal world, and on people. The styleof therest of thePrologue and Tales is much simpler than this opening. A close paraphraseof the opening sentence is offered at the bottomof this page.1 When that Aprilwith his showers soote its showers sweet The drought of March hath pierc•d to the root And bath•d every vein in such liquor rootlet / liquid Of which virtúe engendered is the flower;2 5 When Zephyrus ekewith his sweet• breath West Wind also Inspir•d hath in every holt and heath grove & field The tender cropp•s, and the young• sun young shoots / Spring sun Hath in theRam his half• course y-run,3 in Aries / has run And small• fowl•s maken melody little birds 10 That sleepen all the night with open eye Who sleep (So pricketh them Natúre in their couráges), spurs /spirits Then longen folk to go on pilgrimáges, peoplelong And palmers for to seeken strang• strands pilgrims / shores To fern• hallows couth in sundry lands,4 distant shrines known 15 And specially from every shir•'s end county's Of Eng•land to Canterbury they wend go The holy blissful martyr for to seek, St. Thomas Becket That them hath holpen when that they were sick. Who has helped them 2 CANTERBURYTALES 1 45-6: "He loved everything that pertained to knighthood: truth (to one's word), honor, magnanimity At the Tabard Inn, just south of London, the poet-pilgrim falls in with a group of twenty nine other pilgrims who have met each other along the way. Befell that in that season on a day It happened 20 In Southwark at TheTabard as I lay inn name / lodged Ready to wenden on my pilgrimage to go To Canterbury with full devout couráge, spirit, heart At night was come into that hostelry inn Well nine and twenty in a company fully 29 25 Of sundry folk by áventure y-fall by chance fallen ... In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all ...Into company
  • 8. That toward Canterbury woulden ride. wished to The chambers and the stables weren wide were roomy And well we weren eas•d at thebest. entertained 30 And shortly, when the sunn• was to rest, sun had set So had I spoken with them every one That I was of their fellowship anon, And mad• forward early for to rise agreement To take our way there as I you devise. I shall tell you 35 But natheless, while I have time and space, nevertheless Ere that I further in this tal• pace, Before I go Methinketh it accordant to reason It seems to me To tell you all theconditïon circumstances Of each of them so as it seem•d me, to me 40 And which they weren, and of what degree And who / social rank And eke in what array that they were in; also / dress And at a knight then will I first begin. The Knight is the person of highest social standing on the pilgrimage though you would never know it from his modest manner or his clothes. He keeps his ferocity for crusaders' battlefields where he has distinguished himself over many years and over a wide geographical area. As the text says, he is not "gay", that is, he is not showily dressed, but is still wearing the military padded coat stained by the armor he has only recently taken off. A KNIGHT therewas and that a worthy man That from the tim• that he first began 45 To riden out, he lov•d chivalry, Truth and honóur, freedom and courtesy.1 CANTERBURYTALES 3 (freedom), courtesy." 1 52-3: He had often occupied theseat of honor at thetable of theTeutonic Knights in Prussia, where badges awarded to distinguished crusaders read "Honneur vainc tout:Honor conquers all." Though the campaigns listed below were real, and though it was perhaps just possiblefor one man to have been in them all, thelist is probably idealized. The exact geographical locations are of little interest today. This portrait is generally thought to show a man of unsullied ideals; Jones (see Bibliography) insists that the knight was a mere mercenary. 2 63: "In single combat (listes) three times, and always (ay) killed his opponent." 3 64-67: The knight had fought for one Saracen or pagan leader against another, a common, if dubious, practice. And ever more ... may mean he always kept the highest reputation or that he always came away with a splendid reward or booty (prize).. Full worthy was he in his lord•'s war, lorde's = king's or God's And thereto had he ridden--no man farre farther As well in Christendom as Heatheness heathendom 50 And ever honoured for his worthiness. His campaigns At Alexandria he was when it was won. captured Full often time he had the board begun table Aboven all• natïons in Prussia.1 In Lithow had he reis•d and in Russia Lithuania / fought 55 No Christian man so oft of his degree. rank In Gránad' at the siege eke had he be Granada / also Of Algesir and ridden in Belmarie. At Ley•s was he and at Satalie When they were won, and in the Great• Sea Mediterranean 60 At many a noble army had he be. At mortal battles had he been fifteen And foughten for our faith at Tramissene In list•s thric•, and ay slain his foe.2 combat 3 times & always This ilk• worthy knight had been also same 65 Sometim• with the lord of Palatie Against another heathen in Turkey, And ever more he had a sovereign prize,3 always His modest demeanor And though that he was worthy hewas wise, valiant / sensible And of his port as meek as is a maid. deportment 70 Ne never yet no villainy he said rudeness
  • 9. 4 CANTERBURYTALES 1 70-71: Notice quadruple negative: "ne, never, no ... no" used for emphasis, perhaps deliberately excessive emphasis. It is not bad grammar. The four negatives remain in Ellesmer's slightlly different version: "He never yet no villainy ne said ... unto no manner wight" 2 74: "He (the Knight) was not fashionably dressed." horse was: most MSS read hors weere(n) = "horses were." I have preferred the reading of MSLansdowne. 3 75-78: The poor stateof the knight's clothes is generally interpreted to indicate his pious anxiety to fulfill a religious duty even before he has had a chance to change his clothes. Jones thinks it simply confirms that the knight was a mercenary who had pawned his armor. voyage: MSS have viage. Blessed viage was the term often used for the holy war of the crusades. 479-80: A squire learned his futureduties as a knight by attending on one. Bachelor is another word meaning a young man in training to be a knight. 5 87: "And distinguished himself, considering the short time he had been at it." In all his life unto no manner wight.1 no kind of person He was a very perfect gentle knight. But for to tellen you of his array: His horse was good; but he was not gay.2 well dressed 75 Of fustian he wear•d a gipoun coarse cloth / tunic All besmotered with his habergeon, stained / mail For he was late y-come from his voyáge, just come / journey And went• for to do his pilgrimáge.3 The Knight's 20-year-old son is a striking contrast to his father. True, he has seen some military action, but it was to impress his lady not his Lord God. Unlike his parent, he is fashionably dressed. He is very much in love, he has cultivated all thesocial graces, and is also aware of his duty to serve as his father's squire With him there was his son, a young• SQUIRE, 80 A lover and a lusty bachelor 4 With locks curled as they were laid in press. as if in curlers Of twenty years hewas of age, I guess. Of his statúrehe was of even length, moderate height And wonderly deliver and of great strength, very athletic 85 And he had been sometime in chivachy on campaign In Flanders, in Artois and Picardy, And borne him well as in so little space5 conducted / time In hopeto standen in his lady's grace. good graces Embroidered was he as it were a mead meadow 90 All full of fresh• flowers white and red. CANTERBURYTALES 5 1 100: The table would be occupied at only one side, so when the Squire carved for his father, the Knight, he stood before him across the table. 2 101: A servant of middle rank. This one looks after his master's forest land. 3 104-114: Why a forester should be so heavily armed on a pilgrimage is not clear. Singing he was or fluting all the day. whistling? He was as fresh as is themonth of May. Short was his gown with sleev•s long and wide. Well could he sit on horse and fair• ride. ride well 95 He could• song•s make and well endite, writewords & music Joust and eke dance, and well portray and write. also / draw So hot he lov•d that by nightertale night(time) He slept no more than does a nightingale. Courteous he was, lowly and serviceable, 100 And carved before his father at the table.1 Knight and Squire are accompanied by their Yeoman. He is noticeably over-armed for a pilgrimage, which indicates probably suspicion of the big city by a man more at home in the forest. A YEOMAN he had and servants no more2 At that tim•, for him list• rid• so, it pleased him to And he was clad in coat and hood of green. A sheaf of peacock arrows bright and keen 105 Under his belt he bore full thriftily. neatly Well could he dress his tackle yeomanly— care for His arrows droop•d not with feathers low, And in his hand he bore a mighty bow.
  • 10. A not-head had he with a brown viságe. cropped head 110 Of woodcraft could he well all the uságe. knew all the skills Upon his arm he bore a gay bracér elaborate armguard And by his side a sword and a bucklér shield And on that other side a gay daggér fine, splendid Harnessed well and sharp as point of spear.3 Finely wrought 115 A Christopher on his breast of silver sheen. St C. medal / bright A horn he bore, the baldrick was of green. cord A forester was he soothly as I guess. truly The Prioress is the head of a fashionable convent. She is a charming lady, none the less charming for her slight worldliness: she has a romantic name, Eglantine, wild rose; she has delicate table 6 CANTERBURYTALES 1 120: The joke that presumably lurks in this line is not explained by the usual annotation that St. Eloy (or Loy or Eligius) was a patron saint of goldsmiths and of carters. 2 123: Another joke presumably, but again not adequately explained. 3 126: This is a snigger at the provincial quality of thelady's French, acquired in a London suburb, not in Paris. Everything about the prioress is meant to suggest affected elegance of a kind not especially appropriatein a nun: her facial features, her manners, her jewelry, her French, her clothes, her name. Eglantine = "wild rose" or "sweet briar." Madame = "my lady." 4 139-40: She took pains to imitate themanners of the (king's) court. manners and is exquisitely sensitive to animal rights; she speaks French -- after a fashion; she has a pretty faceand knows it; her nun's habit is elegantly tailored, and she displays discreetly a little tastefuljewelry: a gold brooch on her rosary embossed with thenicely ambiguous Latin motto: Amor Vincit Omnia, Love conquers all. There was also a nun, a PRIORESS, head of a convent That of her smiling was full simple and coy. modest 120 Her greatest oath was but by Saint Eloy,1 And she was clep•d Madame Eglantine. called Full well she sang the servic• divine Entun•d in her nose full seem•ly.2 And French she spokefull fair and fetisly nicely 125 After the school of Stratford at theBow, For French of Paris was to her unknow.3 At meat• well y-taught was she withall: meals / indeed She let no morsel from her lipp•s fall, Nor wet her fingers in her sauc• deep. 130 Well could she carry a morsel and well keep handle That no drop ne fell upon her breast. So that In courtesy was set full much her lest: v. much her interest Her over lipp• wip•d she so clean upper lip That in her cup there was no farthing seen small stain 135 Of greas•, when she drunk•n had her draught. Full seem•ly after her meat she raught, reached for her food And sikerly she was of great desport certainly / charm And full pleasánt and amiable of port, behavior And pain•d her to counterfeit• cheer imitate themanners 140 Of court,4 and be estately of mannér, And to be holden digne of reverence. thought worthy CANTERBURYTALES 7 1 161-2: The gold brooch on her rosary had a capital "A" with a crown above it, and a Latin motto meaning "Love conquers all," a phraseappropriateto both sacred and secular love. It occurs in a French poem that Chaucer knew well, TheRomance of theRose (21327-32), where Courteoisie quotes it from Virgil's Eclogue X, 69, to justify the plucking of theRose by the Lover, a decidedly secular, indeed sexual, act of "Amor". 2 164: The Prioress's traveling companion is called, confusingly, her chaplain. The priests are employees of the Prioress's well-to-do convent. Even in a market flooded with priests, bringing three along on thepilgrimage would be a display of celibate feminism and of conspicuous consumption as marked as thePrioress's jewelry and her choice of dog food. However, many scholars think that the words "and priests three" were inserted by a scribe. She is very sensitive But for to speaken of her conscïence: sensitivity She was so charitable and so pitóus moved to pity She would• weep if that she saw a mouse 145 Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bled.
  • 11. Of small• hound•s had she that she fed With roasted flesh or milk and wastel bread, fine bread But sore wept she if one of them were dead Or if men smoteit with a yard•, smart; a stick smartly 150 And all was conscïence and tender heart. Her personal appearance Full seem•ly her wimple pinch•d was, headdress pleated Her nose tretis, her eyen grey as glass, handsome / eyes Her mouth full small and thereto soft and red, and also But sikerly she had a fair forehead. certainly 155 It was almost a spann• broad, I trow, handsbreadth / I guess For hardily she was not undergrow. certainly / short?thin? Full fetis was her cloak as I was 'ware. elegant / aware Of small coral about her arm she bare bore, carried A pair of beads gauded all with green, A rosary decorated 160 And thereon hung a brooch of gold full sheen shining On which was written first a crown•d A And after: Amor Vincit Omnia.1 Love Conquers All Her traveling companions Another Nunn• with her hadd• she nun That was her chap•lain, and priest•s three.2 companion 8 CANTERBURYTALES Three priests would make the number of pilgrims 31 not 29, and only one is heard from again, in the Nun's Priests Tale. 1 166: venery: both "hunting" and thework of Venus, goddess of love. This description of the Monk is larded with sexual innuendo. 2 172: The lordly monk is in charge of an annex (cell) of themonastery. Another member of thechurch is the Monk who, like the Prioress, is supposed to stay in his monastery but who, like her, finds an excuse to get away from it, something he does a lot. He has long since lost any of themonastic ideals he may have set out with, and he now prefers travel, good clothes, good food, good hunting with well-equipped horses, in place of the poverty, study and manual labor prescribed by his monastic rule. He may not be a bad man, but he is not a good monk. 165 A MONK therewas, a fair for the mastery, a very fine fellow An outrider that lov•d venery.1 horseman / hunting A manly man to be an abbot able, Full many a dainty horse had he in stable, And when he rode, men might his bridle hear 170 Jingle in a whistling wind as clear And eke as loud as does thechapel bell And also There as this lord is keeper of thecell.2 Where / annex The rule of Saint Maur or of Saint Bennett [monastic] rule Because that it was old and somedeal strait somewhat strict 175 This ilk• monk let old• thing•s pass This same / go And held after the new• world the space. modern ways now He gave not of that text a pull•d hen plucked That says that hunters be not holy men Nor that a monk, when he is reckless, careless of rules 180 Is likened to a fish that's waterless, That is to say, a monk out of his cloister. monastery But thilk• text held he not worth an oyster. this saying he thought The poet pretends to agree with his lax views And I said his opinïon was good; I = narrator What! Should he study and make himselfen wood himself mad 185 Upon a book in cloister always to pore? Or swinken with his hand•s and labóur or work As Austin bids? How shall theworld be served? St Augustine CANTERBURYTALES 9 1 188: "Let Augustine keep his work." An unbecoming way for a monk to speak of the great saint whoserule, like that of St. Maurus and St. Benedict (Maur and Bennett, 173) prescribed study and physicallabor for monks. Let Austin have his swink to him reserved.1 His tastein sport and clothes Therefore he was a prickasour aright. hunter, for sure
  • 12. 190 Greyhounds he had as swift as fowl in flight. Of pricking and of hunting for the hare tracking Was all his lust, for no cost would he spare. his passion I saw his sleev•s purfled at the hand edged at thewrist With gris, and that the finest of theland, fur 195 And for to fasten his hood under his chin He had of gold y-wrought a full curious pin — very elaborate A love knot on thegreater end there was. His physicalappearance His head was bald, that shone as any glass And eke his face, as he had been anoint. also / as if oiled 200 He was a lord full fat and in good point, in good health His eyen steep and rolling in his head eyes prominent That steam•d as a furnace of a lead, lead furnace His boots supple, his horse in great estate. in great shape Now certainly he was a fair prelate. a fine cleric 205 He was not pale as is a forpined ghost. tortured A fat swan loved he best of any roast. His palfrey was as brown as any berry. horse The Friar, another cleric, is even less a man of God than theMonk. A member of a mendicant order of men who lived on what they could get by begging, he has become a professionalfundraiser, the best in his friary because of some special skills: personal charm, a good singing voice, an attractive little lisp, a talent for mending quarrels and having the right little gift for the ladies, and a forgiving way in theconfessional especially when he expects a generous donation. He can find good economic reasons to cultivate the company of the rich rather than the poor. A FRIAR there was, a wanton and a merry, lively 10 CANTERBURYTALES 1 208-9: A Friar (Fr. frère) was a member of one of four religious orders of men. Some were "mendicants," who depended on what they could get by begging. Our friar, a limiter, has a begging district within which he must stay. "Solempne" cannot mean solemn except as heavy irony. See l. 274 2 212-13: He had provided dowries for many young women, or he had performed the marriage ceremonies without a fee. 3 218-220: Sometimes thepopeor bishop would reserve to himself or to a special delegate (licenciate) the right to hear theconfessions of prominent public sinners, guilty of particularly heinous offences. This would have no relevance to the ordinary confession-goer, for whom the Friar had no more "power of confession" than the curate or parson. 4 227-8: "For if he (thepenitent) gave (an offering), he (the Friar) would dare to say that he knew the man was truly repentant." A limiter, a full solémpn• man.1 licensed beggar / v. impressive 210 In all the orders four is none that can knows So much of dalliance and fair language. smooth manners He had made full many a marrïage Of young• women at his own• cost.2 Unto his order he was a noble post. pillar 215 Full well beloved and familiar was he With franklins over all in his country, landowners And eke with worthy women of the town, And also For he had power of confessïon, As said himself, more than a curate, parish priest 220 For of his order he was licentiate.3 licensed His manner in the confessional Full sweet•ly heard he confessïon And pleasant was his absolutïon. He was an easy man to give penánce There as he wist to have a good pittánce, expected / offering 225 For unto a poor order for to give Is sign• that a man is well y-shrive, confessed For if he gave, he durst• make avaunt dared / boast He wist• that a man was répentaunt,4 knew For many a man so hard is of his heart, 230 He may not weep though that he sor• smart. it hurt him sharply Therefore, instead of weeping and [of] prayers
  • 13. Men may give silver to the poor• freres. friars CANTERBURYTALES 11 1 241-2: "Tapster, beggester": the "-ster" ending signified, strictly, a female. It survives (barely) in "spinster." 2 251: The meaning of virtuous ("obliging? effective"?) would seem to depend on whether one takes 251 with the preceding or the following line. 3 252a: He had paid a certain fee (farm') for the monopoly (grant) of begging in his district (`haunt'). The couplet 252 a-b occurs only in MSHengwrt of the Six Text. 4 256: His income from thebegging was much larger than his outlay for the monopoly. His largess, his talents, and thecompany he cultivated His tipet was ay fars•d full of knives hood was always packed And pinn•s for to given fair• wives. pretty 235 And certainly he had a merry note— Well could he sing and playen on a rote. stringed instrument Of yeddings he bore utterly theprize. ballad songs His neck was white as is thefleur de lys; lily Thereto he strong was as a champion. But also / fighter 240 He knew the taverns well in every town And every hosteler and tappester innkeeper & barmaid Bet than a lazar or a beggester,1 Better / leper or beggar For unto such a worthy man as he Accorded not as by his faculty Didn't suit his rank 245 To have with sick• lazars ácquaintance. lepers It is not honest, it may not advance proper / profit For to dealen with no such poraille, poor people But all with rich and sellers of vitaille. food And overall there as profit should arise, everywhere that 250 Courteous he was and lowly of service; humbly useful His begging manner was so smooth he could, if necessary, extract money from thepoorest There was no man nowhere so virtuous.2 He was thebest• beggar in his house 252a And gave a certain farm• for thegrant.3 252b None of his brethren came there in his haunt. district For though a widow hadde not a shoe, So pleasant was his "In Principio" his blessing 255 Yet he would have a farthing ere he went. 1/4 of a penny His purchasewas well better than his rent.4 12 CANTERBURYTALES 1 259: cloisterer: probably a "real" friar who stayed largely within his cloister, satisfied with poor clothes according to his vow of poverty. 2 261: master: possibly Master of Arts, arather more eminent degree than it is now, though hardly making its holder as exalted as the pope. 3 271: (dressed in) motley:probably not the loud mixed colors of thejester, but possibly tweed. 4 276-7: "He wished above all that the stretch of sea between Middleburgh (in Flanders) and Orwell (in England) were guarded (kept) against pirates." 5 278: He knew the intricacies of foreign exchange. Scholars have charged the Merchant with gold smuggling or even coin clipping; but although shields were units of money, they were neither gold nor coins. And he had other talents and attractions And rage he could as it were right a whelp. frolic like a puppy In lov•days there could he muchel help, mediation days For there he was not like a cloisterer 1 260 With a threadbare cope as is a poor• scholar, cloak But he was like a master or a pope.2 Of double worsted was his semi-cope, short cloak And rounded as a bell out of thepress. the mold Somewhat he lisp•d for his wantonness affectation 265 To make his English sweet upon his tongue, And in his harping when that he had sung, His eyen twinkled in his head aright eyes As do the starr•s in the frosty night. stars This worthy limiter was clept Huberd. was called The Merchant is apparently aprosperous exporter who likes to TALK of his prosperity;heis concerned about pirates and profits, skillful in managing exchange rates, but tightlipped about
  • 14. business details. 270 A MERCHANT was therewith a fork•d beard, In motley,3 and high on horse he sat, Upon his head a Flandrish beaver hat, from Flanders His boots clasp•d fair and fetisly. neatly His reasons he spokefull solémpn•ly, solemnly 275 Sounding always the increase of his winning. profits He would the sea were kept for anything he wished Betwixt Middleburgh and Or•well.4 Well could he in Exchang• shield•s sell.5 currency CANTERBURYTALES 13 1 285-6: He had long since set out to study logic, part of the trivium or lower section of theuniversity syllabus (the other two parts were rhetoric and grammar); hence his early college years had long since passed. y-go (gone) is the past participleof "go." 2 298: A joke. Although he was a student of philosophy, hehad not discovered the "philosopher's stone," which was supposed to turn base metals into gold. The two senses of "philosopher" played on here are: a) student of the work of Aristotleb) student of science ("natural philosophy"), ameaning which shaded off into "alchemist, magician." This worthy man full well his wit beset — used his brains 280 There wist• no wight that he was in debt, no person knew So stately was he of his governance management With his bargains and with his chevissance. money dealings Forsooth he was a worthy man withal, Truly / indeed But sooth to say, I n'ot how men him call. truth I don't know The Clerk is the first admirable church member we meet on thepilgrimage. "Clerk" meant a number of related things: a cleric, a student, a scholar. This clerk is all three, devoted to the love of learning and of God, thequintessential scholar, who would rather buy a book than a coat or a good meal, totally unworldly. 285 A CLERK there was of Oxenford also Oxford That unto logic hadd• long y-go.1 gone As lean• was his horse as is a rake, And he was not right fat, I undertake, he=theClerk But look•d hollow, and thereto soberly. gaunt & also 290 Full threadbare was his overest courtepy, outer cloak For he had gotten him yet no benefice parish Nor was so worldly for to have office, secular job For him was lever have at his bed's head For he would rather Twenty book•s clad in black or red bound 295 Of Aristotleand his philosophy Than rob•s rich or fiddle or gay psalt'ry. stringed instrument But albeit that he was a philosopher, although Yet hadd• he but little gold in coffer,2 chest But all that he might of his friend•s hent get 300 On book•s and on learning he it spent, And busily gan for the soul•s pray regulary prayed for Of them that gave him wherewith to scholay. study Of study took hemost care and most heed. Not one word spokehe mor• than was need, 14 CANTERBURYTALES 1 315: patent / plain commission: technical terms meaning by royalappointment. 2 326: "Nobody could fault any document he had drawn up" (endited). Clearly line 327 is a deliberate exaggeration. 305 And that was spokein form and reverence, And short and quick and full of high senténce. lofty thought Sounding in moral virtue was his speech, And gladly would he learn and gladly teach. The Sergeant of theLaw is a successful but unostentatious, high-ranking lawyer who sometimes functions as a judge. We are told with just a touch of irony, that he is, like many of thepilgrims, the very best at what he does, a busy man, but "yet he seem•d busier than he was." A SERGEANT of the law, waryand wise A ranking lawyer 310 That often hadd• been at theParvise lawyer's meeting place There was also, full rich of excellence.
  • 15. Discreet he was and of great reverence; He seem•d such, his word•s were so wise. Justice he was full often in assize judge / circuit court 315 By patent and by plain commissïon.1 For his sciénce and for his high renown knowledge Of fees and rob•s had he many a one. So great a purchaser was nowhere none; All was fee simple to him in effect. easy money (pun) 320 His purchasing• might not be infect. faulted Nowhere so busy a man as he there n'as, =ne was=was not And yet he seem•d busier than he was. In term•s had he case and doom•s all In books / judgements That from the time of King William were fall. W. the Conqueror / handed down 325 Thereto he could endite and make a thing; Also / draw up There could• no wight pinch at his writing.2 no person c. complain And every statutecould he plein by rote. knew completely by heart He rode but homely in a medley coat simply / tweed? Girt with a ceint of silk with barr•s small. bound w. a belt / stripes 330 Of his array tell I no longer tale. The Lawyer is accompanied by his friend, the Franklin, a prosperous country gentleman, prominent in his county. He is a generous extroverted man ("sanguine" thetext says) who likes good food and drink and sharing them with others, somewhat like St Julian, the patron saint of hospitality CANTERBURYTALES 15 1 333: Complexion ... sanguine probably means (1) he had a ruddy face and (2) he was of "sanguine humor" i.e. outgoing and optimisticbecause of thepredominance of blood in his system. See ENDPAPERS: Humor 2 336-8: Epicurus was supposed, rightly or wrongly, to have taught that utmost pleasure was thegreatest good (hence "epicure"). 3 340: St Julian was thepatron saint of hospitality 4 351-2: His cook would regret it if his sauce was not pungent and sharp .... 5 359-60: sherriff: "shire reeve," King's representativein a county. counter: overseer of taxes for the treasury. vavasour: wealthy gentleman, possibly also a family name. A FRANK.LIN was in his company. rich landowner White was his beard as is thedaisy. Of his complexïon he was sanguine.1 ruddy & cheerful Well loved he by the morrow a sop in wine. in the a.m. 335 To liv•n in delight was ever his wont, custom For he was Epicurus's own son That held opinïon that plain delight totalpleasure Was very felicity perfite.2 truly perfect happiness A householder and that a great was he; 340 Saint Julian he was in his country.3 His bread, his ale, was always after one. of one kind i.e. good A better envin•d man was never none. with better wine cellar Withouten bak•d meat was never his house meat = food Of fish and flesh, and that so plenteous 345 It snow•d in his house of meat and drink food Of all• dainties that men could bethink. After the sundry seasons of the year According to So chang•d he his meat and his supper. Full many a fat partridge had he in mew in a cage 350 And many a bream and many a luce in stew. fish in pond Woe was his cook but if his sauc• were Poignant and sharp, and ready all his gear.4 tangy His table dormant in his hall alway set / always Stood ready covered all thelong• day. 355 At sessïons there was he lord and sire. law sessions Full often time he was knight of the shire. member of Parliament An anlace and a gipser all of silk dagger & purse Hung at his girdle white as morning milk. A sherriff had he been, and a counter. tax overseer 360 Was nowhere such a worthy vavasoúr.5 gentleman 16 CANTERBURYTALES
  • 16. 1 361-64: Haberdasher: a dealer in items of clothing and notions; Webber: weaver; Dyer:a dyer of cloth; Tapiser:tapestry maker--all connected with the cloth business. Since the Carpenter is a member of their "fraternity," but not of their trade group, commentators say that theirs was not a trade guild but a parish guild, with its own livery or uniform. Perhaps "Carpeter" was meant, although all MSS of Six-Text read "Carpenter" and there is no entry for "Carpeter" in MED. Somewhat lower in the social scale is a bevy of Skilled Tradesmen most of them connected with the fabric trades and belonging to a guild, a "fraternity". Their prosperity shows in their clothes, and their accouterments and the fact that they have brought their own cook, perhaps to replace theskills of theambitious wives they have left at home. A HABERDASHER and a CARPENTER,1 A WEBBER, a DYER and a TAPISER And they were clothed all in one livery uniform Of a solemn and a great fraternity. guild 365 Full fresh and new their gear apik•d was: burnished Their kniv•s wer• chap•d not with brass finished But all with silver; wrought full clean and well made Their girdles and their pouches everydeal. belts / every bit Well seem•d each of them a fair burgess citizen 370 To sitten in a Guildhall on a dais. [in City Council] / platform Ever each for thewisdom that he can Every one / had Was shapely for to be an alderman, fit to be councilman For chattels hadd• they enough and rent, property /income And eke their wiv•s would it well assent also / agree 375 And els• certainly they were to blame: would be It is full fair to be y-cleped "Madame," called "My Lady" And go to vigils all before evening services And have a mantle royally y-bore. carried They have a great chef with a gorge-raising affliction A COOK they hadd• with them for the nones the occasion 380 To boil the chickens and the marrow bones And powder merchant tart, and galingale. [names of spices] Well could he know a draught of London ale. He could• roast and seeth and broil and fry simmer CANTERBURYTALES 17 1 384: Recipes for mortrews and chickens with marrow bones can be found in Pleyn Delit by C. Hieatt and S. Butler (Toronto, 1979), 9, 11, 83. 2 387: blancmanger : a dish of white food, such as chicken or fish, with other items of white food--rice, crushed almonds, almond "milk," etc. See Pleyn Delit, 58, 89. 3 390: "He rode upon a nag as best he knew how." 4 400: He made them walk theplank. 5 401-4: These lines deal with the mariner's skill as a navigator: he is the best from England to Spain. lodemenage= navigation, cf. lodestone, lodestar. harborow = position of the sun in the zodiac, or simply "harbors." Makemortrews and well bake a pie.1 thick soups 385 But great harm was it, as it thought• me, seemed to me That on his shin a mormal hadd• he, open sore For bláncmanger that made he with the best.2 The Shipman is a ship's captain, the most skilled from here to Spain, more at home on the deck of ship than on theback of a horse. He is not above a little larceny or piracy and in a sea fight he does not take prisoners. A SHIPMAN was there, woning far by west; living For aught I wot, he was of Dart•mouth. aught I know 390 He rode upon a rouncy as he couth,3 nag In a gown of falding to the knee. wool cloth A dagger hanging on a lace had he About his neck under his arm adown. The hot summer had made his hue all brown. his color 395 And certainly he was a good fellow. Full many a draught of wine had he y-draw drawn From Bordeaux-ward while that the chapman sleep. merchant slept Of nic• conscïence took he no keep: sensitive c. / care If that he fought and had the higher hand upper hand 400 By water he sent them home to every land.4
  • 17. But of his craft to reckon well his tides, for his skill His stream•s and his dangers him besides, currents His harborow, his moon, his lodemenage sun's position / navigation There was none such from Hull unto Cartháge.5 405 Hardy he was and wise to undertake. With many a tempest had his beard been shake. He knew all the havens as they were harbors 18 CANTERBURYTALES 1 414: Astronomy = astrology. Medieval medicine was less the practice of an applied science than of magic natural (white magic) including astrology. 2 415-18: These four lines are hard to render except by paraphrase:he treated his patient by "white magic" and he knew how to cast horoscopes and calculate astronomically the best hours to treat his patient. 3 423: "When the cause and root of his illness were diagnosed". 4 428: They were old colleagues. 5 429-434: This list of classical, Arabic and other medieval authorities on medicine functions somewhat like From Gothland to the Capeof Finisterre And every creek in Brittany and Spain. 410 His barge y-clep•d was the Maud•lain. ship was called The medical Doctor is also the best in his profession, and though his practice, typicalof the period, sounds to us more like astrology and magic than medicine, he makes a good living at it. With us there was a DOCTOR of PHYSIC. medicine In all this world ne was there none him like To speak of physicand of surgery, For he was grounded in astronomy:1 astrology 415 He kept his patïent a full great deal In hours, by his magic natural.2 Well could he fórtunen the áscendent Of his imáges for his patïent. He knew the cause of every malady 420 Were it of hot or cold or moist or dry And where engendered and of what humor. See Endpapers He was a very perfect practiser. The cause y-know, and of his harm the root,3 known / source Anon he gave thesick• man his boote. medicine, cure His connections with the druggists 425 Full ready had he his apothecaries druggists To send him drugs and his letuaries, medicines For each of them made other for to win; to profit Their friendship was not new• to begin.4 Well knew he theold Esculapius 430 And Dioscorides and eke Rusus,5 also CANTERBURYTALES 19 the list of the knight's battles, a deliberate exaggeration; here theresult is mildly comic, intentionally. 1 438: Physicians were sometimes thought to tend towards atheism. Perhaps the rhyme here was just very French. Or was meant to be comic; it could work in modern English if so regarded, with "digestible" pronounced exaggeratedly to rime fully with modern "Bible." 2 443-4: A pun. Gold was used in some medications (physic);but physicis also the practice of medicine at which much gold can be made, especially in time of plague (pestilence), and that is good for the heart (cordial). Old Hippocras, Hali and Galen Serapion, Rasis and Avicen, Averrois, Damascene and Constantine, Bernard and Gatesden and Gilbertine. His personalhabits; his appearance 435 Of his diet measurable was he moderate For it was of no superfluity excess But of great nourishing and digestible. His study was but little on theBible.1 In sanguine and in perse he clad was all In red & blue 440 Lin•d with taffeta and with sendall, silk And yet he was but easy of dispense. thrifty spender He kept• what he won in pestilence. during plague For gold in physicis a cordial, Because
  • 18. Therefore he lov•d gold in specïal.2 (Wife of Bath’s portrait begins on next page) 20 CANTERBURYTALES 1 448: Ypres, Ghent (Gaunt): Famous cloth-making towns across theEnglish Channel. 2 449-452: There was no woman in thewhole parish who dared to get ahead of her in the line to make their offering (in church). If anyonedid, she was so angry that she had no charity (or patience) left. 3 460: Weddings took place in the church porch, followed by Mass inside. In the Wife of Bath we have one of only three women on the pilgrimage. Unlike the other two she is not a nun, but a much-married woman, a widow yet again. Everything about her is large to the point of exaggeration: she has been married five times, has been to Jerusalem three times and her hat and hips are as large as her sexual appetiteand her love of talk. 445 A good WIFE was there of besid• Bath near But she was somedeal deaf, and that was scath. somewhat d. / a pity Of clothmaking she hadd• such a haunt skill She pass•d them of Ypres and of Gaunt.1 surpassed In all the parish, wife ne was there none 450 That to the offering before her should• gon.2 go And if there did, certain so wroth was she That she was out of all• charity. patience Her coverchiefs full fin• were of ground; finely woven I durst• swear they weigh•d•n ten pound I dare 455 That on a Sunday were upon her head. Her hos•n wer•n of fine scarlet red her stockings were Full straight y-tied, and shoes full moist and new. supple Bold was her face and fair and red of hue. color She was a worthy woman all her life. 460 Husbands at church• door she had had five,3 Without•n other company in youth, not counting But thereof needeth not to speak as nouth. now And thrice had she been at Jerusalem. 3 times She had pass•d many a strang• stream. many a foreign 465 At Rom• she had been and at Boulogne, In Galicia at St James and at Cologne. [famous shrines] (cont’d) CANTERBURYTALES 21 1 467: "She knew plenty about travelling". Chaucer does not explain, and the reader is probably not expected to ask, how the Wife managed to marry five husbands and be a renowned maker of cloth while taking in pilgrimage as a kind of third occupation. Going to Jerusalem from England three times was an extraordinary feat in the MiddleAges. This list is, like some of those already encountered, a deliberate exaggeration, as is everything else about the Wife. 2 470: A wimple was a woman's cloth headgear covering theears, theneck and the chin. 3 476: She was an old hand at this game. 4 486: "He was very reluctant to excommunicate a parishioner for not paying tithes," i.e. thetenth part of one's income due to the Church. She could• much of wandering by the way.1 knew much Gat-tooth•d was she, soothly for to say. Gap-toothed / truly Upon an ambler easily she sat slow horse 470 Y-wimpled well,2 and on her head a hat As broad as is a buckler or a targe, kinds of shield A foot mantle about her hippes large, outer skirt And on her feet a pair of spurs sharp. In fellowship well could she laugh and carp. joke 475 Of remedies of love she knew perchance by experience For she could of that art the old• dance.3 she knew The second good cleric we meet is more than good; he is near perfection. The priest of a small, obscure and poor parish in the country. He has not forgotten the lowly class from which he came. Unlike most of the other pilgrims, he is not physically described, perhaps because he is such an ideal figure. A good man was there of Religïon And was a poor• PARSON of a town, parish priest But rich he was of holy thought and work. 480 He was also a learn•d man, a clerk, a scholar
  • 19. That Christ•'s gospel truly would• preach. His parishens devoutly would he teach. parishioners Benign he was and wonder diligent wonderfully And in adversity full patïent, 485 And such he was y-prov•d often sithes. times Full loath was he to curs•n for his tithes 4 But rather would he giv•n out of doubt Unto his poor parishioners about Of his offering and eke of his substance. also / possessions 490 He could in little thing have suffisance. enough 22 CANTERBURYTALES 1 507-12: The "not" that goes with "set" also goes with "let" and "ran" (508-9). It was not uncommon for a priest in a parish in the country to rent the parish to a poorer priest, and take off to London to look for a better job, like saying mass every day for peoplewho had died leaving money in their wills for that purpose(chantries for souls), or doing the light spiritualwork for a brotherhood or fraternity of the kind to which the guildsmen belonged (see above 361-4). Our parson did not do this, but stayed in his parish and looked after his parishioners (sheep, fold) like a good shepherd. He ministers to his flock without any worldly ambition Wide was his parish and houses far asunder But he ne left• not, for rain nor thunder did not fail In sickness nor in mischief, to visit The furthest in his parish, much and little, rich and poor 495 Upon his feet, and in his hand a stave. stick This noble example unto his sheep he gave That first he wrought and afterwards he taught: practiced Out of the gospel he those word•s caught And this figúre he added eke thereto: saying 500 "That if gold rust•, what shall iron do?" For if a priest be foul (in whom we trust) No wonder is a lew•d man to rust layman And shame it is, if that a priest takekeep, thinks about it A shit•n shepherd and a clean• sheep. a dirty He sets a good example and practises what he preaches 505 Well ought a priest example for to give By his cleanness, how that his sheep should live. He settenot his benefice to hire his parish And let his sheep encumbred in themire left (not) And ran to London unto Saint• Paul's ran (not) 510 To seek•n him a chant•ry for souls Or with a brotherhood to be withhold,1 hired But dwelt at home, and kept• well his fold, So that thewolf ne made it not miscarry; He was a shepherd and not a mercenary. 515 And though he holy were and virtuous, He was to sinful men not despitous contemptuous Nor of his speech• daungerous nor digne, cold nor haughty But in his teaching díscreet and benign. To draw•n folk to heaven with fairness 520 By good example, this was his busïness. CANTERBURYTALES 23 1 527-8: "He taught Christ's doctrine and that of His twelve apostles, but first he practised it himself." 2 540: The phraseseems to mean "from the wages for his work (swink), and thevalue of his property (chattel)" or possibly that hepaid his tithes to the church partly in work, partly in kind. But it were any person obstinate, But if What so he were of high or low estate, Whether Him would he snibb•n sharply for the non•s. rebuke / occasion A better priest I trow there nowhere none is. I guess 525 He waited after no pomp and reverence did not expect Nor mak•d him a spic•d conscïence, oversubtle But Christ's lore, and his apostles' twelve teaching He taught, but first he followed it himself.1 His brother, the Plowman, probably the lowest in social rank on thepilgrimage is one of the
  • 20. highest in spirituality, theperfect lay Christian, thesecular counterpart of his cleric brother. With him there was a PLOUGHMANwas his brother who was 530 That had y-laid of dung full many a fodder. spread / a load A trueswinker and a good was he, worker Living in peace and perfect charity. God loved he best with all his whol• heart At all• tim•s, though him gamed or smart, pleased or hurt him 535 And then his neigh•bour right as himself. He would• thresh, and thereto dike and delve ditch & dig For Christ•'s sake, with every poor• wight person Without•n hire, if it lay in his might. Without pay His tith•s pay•d hefull fair and well 10% of income 540 Both of his proper swink and his chattel.2 In a tabard he rode upon a mare. smock We now come to a group of rogues and churls with whom the poet amusingly lumps himself. You may well ask what some of thesepeopleare doing on a pilgrimage. There was also a REEVE and a MILLÉR A SUMMONER and a PARDONER also, A MANCIPLEand myself, there were no more. The Miller is a miller of other people's grain, who does not always give honest weight. He is a big, brawny, crude man whoseidea of fun is smashing doors down with his head or telling vulgar stories. 24 CANTERBURYTALES 1 550: "There was no door that he could not heave off its hinges (harre)." 2 563: A phrasehard to explain. It is sometimes said to allude to a saying that an honest miller had a thumb of gold, i.e. there is no such thing as an honest miller. But the phrase"And yet" after theinformation that the miller is a thief, would seem to preclude that meaning, or another that has been suggested: his thumb, held on the weighing scale, produced gold. 3 567: A manciple was a buying agent for a college or, as here, for one of the Inns of Court, the Temple, an association of lawyers, once the home of theKnights Templar. Clearly the meaning of the word "gentle" here as with the Pardoner later, has nothing to do with good breeding or "gentle" birth. Presumably it does not mean "gentle" in our sense either. Its connotations are hard to be sure of. See "ENDPAPERS." 545 The MILLER was a stout carl for thenones. strong fellow Full big he was of brawn and eke of bones & also That prov•d well, for over all there he came wherever At wrestling he would have always the ram. prize He was short-shouldered, broad, a thick• knarre. rugged fellow 550 There was no door that he n'ould heave off harre1 Or break it at a running with his head. His beard as any sow or fox was red, And thereto broad as though it were a spade. And also Upon thecopright of his nose he had tip 555 A wart, and thereon stood a tuft of hairs Red as the bristles of a sow•'s ears. His nostrils black• were and wide. A sword and buckler bore he by his side. shield His mouth as great was as a great furnace. 560 He was a jangler and a goliardese talker & joker And that was most of sin and harlotries. dirty talk Well could he stealen corn and toll•n thrice, take tripletoll And yet he had a thumb of gold pardee.2 by God A whitecoat and a blue hood wear•d he. 565 A bagpipe well could he blow and sound And therewithal he brought us out of town. with that The Mancipleis in charge of buying provisions for a group of Lawyers in London, but is shrewder in his management than all of them put together. A gentle MANCIPLEwas there of a temple3 Of which achatours might• take example buyers For to be wise in buying of vitaille; victuals, food 570 For whether that he paid or took by taille by tally, on credit Algate he waited so in his achate Always / buying CANTERBURYTALES 25
  • 21. 1 576-583: He worked for more than thirty learned lawyers, at least a dozen of whom could manage the legal and financial affairs of any lord in England, and who could show him how to live up to his rank (in honor) within his income (debtless), unless he was mad; or how to live as frugally as he wished. 2 587: A reeve was a manager of a country estate. That he was aye before and in good state. always ahead Now is not that of God a full great grace That such a lew•d manne's wit shall pass uneducated / brains 575 The wisdom of a heap of learned men? Of masters had he more than thric• ten more than thirty That were of law expért and curious skilled Of which there were a dozen in that house Worthy to be steward•s of rent and land 580 Of any lord that is in Eng•land To make him liv• by his proper good on his own income In honor debtless, but if he were wood, unless he was mad Or live as scarcely as him list desire;1 frugally as he wished And able for to help•n all a shire capable / county 585 In any case that might• fall or hap. befall or happen And yet this manciple set their aller cap. fooled all of them The Reeve is theshrewd manager of a country estate. Old and suspicious, he is also a choleric man, that is he has a short temper that matches his skinny frame. The REEV. was a slender, choleric man.2 irritable His beard was shaved as nigh as ever he can. as close His hair was by his ears full round y-shorn, shorn, cut 590 His top was dock•d like a priest beforn. shaved / in front Full long• were his legg•s and full lean Y-like a staff; there was no calf y-seen. Well could he keep a garner and a bin; granary There was no auditor could on him win. fault him 595 Well wist he by thedrought and by the rain knew he The yielding of his seed and of his grain. His lord•'s sheep, his neat, his dairy, cattle His swine, his horse, his storeand his poultry "horse" is plur. Was wholly in this Reev•'s governing, 600 And by his covenant gave thereckoning contract / account Since that his lord was twenty years of age. There could no man bring him in árrearáge. find / in arrears There was no bailiff, herd nor other hine herdsman or worker 26 CANTERBURYTALES 1 610-11: It is not clear whether the Reeve sometimes lends money to his master from his (i.e. the Reeve's) resources or from his lord's own resources but giving the impression that the Reeve is the lender. 2 623: A Summoner was a man who delivered summonses for alleged public sinners to appear at the Archdeacon's ecclesiastical court when accused of public immorality. The job offered opportunities for serious abuse such as bribery, extortion, and especially blackmail of thosewho went with prostitutes, many of whomthe summoner used himself, and all of them in his pay. His disgusting physicalappearance is meant to suggest his wretched spiritualcondition. 3 624: Medieval artists painted thefaces of cherubs red. Thesummoner is of course less cherubic than satanic, his appearance being evidence of his vices. 4 626: Sparrows were Venus's birds, considered lecherous presumably because they were so many. That he ne knew his sleight and his covine. tricks & deceit 605 They were adread of him as of thedeath. the plague Though he has made sure that no one takes advantage of him, he seems to have taken advantage of his young lord. His woning was full fair upon a heath: His dwelling With green• trees y-shadowed was his place. He could• better than his lord purchase. Full rich he was astor•d privily. secretly 610 His lord well could he pleas•n subtly To give and lend him of his own• good,1 And have a thank and yet a coat and hood. And get thanks In youth he learn•d had a good mystér: trade He was a well good wright, a carpentér. very good craftsman
  • 22. 615 This Reev• sat upon a well good stot very good horse That was a pomely grey, and hight• Scot. dappled / called A long surcoat of perseupon he had overcoat of blue And by his side he bore a rusty blade. Of Norfolk was this Reeve of which I tell 620 Beside a town men clep•n Bald•swell. call Tuck•d he was, as is a friar, about, Rope-belted And ever he rode the hindrest of our rout. hindmost / group The unlovely Summoner, and his unsavory habits A SUMMONER was therewith us in that place 2 That had a fire-red cherubinn•'s face,3 cherub's 625 For sauc•fleme he was with eyen narrow. leprous / eyes And hot he was and lecherous as a sparrow.4 CANTERBURYTALES 27 1 646: "The question is: What is the law?" This is a lawyer's phrase which the Summoner heard regularly in the archdeacon's court. 2 652: "Secretly he would enjoy a girl himself" or "Hecould do a clever trick." 3 662: The writ of excommunication began with the word "Significavit." With scal•d brow•s black, and pil•d beard, scaly / scraggly Of his viság• children were afeared. There n'as quicksilver, litharge nor brimstone, was no 630 Boras, ceruse, nor oil of tartar none, [medications] Nor oint•ment that would• cleanse and bite That him might help•n of his whelk•s white, boils Nor of theknobb•s sitting on his cheeks. lumps Well loved he garlic, onion and eke leeks, & also 635 And for to drink•n strong wine red as blood; Then would he speak and cry as he were wood. mad And when that he well drunk•n had the wine, Then would he speak• no word but Latin. A few• term•s had he, two or three, knew 640 That he had learn•d out of some decree. No wonder is; he heard it all theday. And eke you know•n well how that a jay also / jaybird Can clep•n "Wat" as well as can the Pope. call out But whoso could in other things him grope, whoever / test 645 Then had he spent all his philosophy. learning Aye, "Questio quid juris" would he cry.1 "What is the law?" He was a gentle harlot, and a kind. rascal A better fellow should• men not find: He would• suffer for a quart of wine allow 650 A good fellow to have his concubine keep his mistress A twelvemonth, and excuse him at thefull. let him off Full privily a finch eke could he pull.2 secretly And if he found owhere a good fellow, anywhere He would• teach•n him to have no awe 655 In such a case, of the archdeacon's curse, But if a manne's soul were in his purse, Unless For in his pursehe should y-punished be. "Purse is thearchdeacon's hell," said he. But well I wot, he li•d right indeed. I know 660 Of cursing ought each guilty man to dread, For curse will slay right as assoiling saveth absolution And also 'ware him of "Significavit." 3 let him beware 28 CANTERBURYTALES 1 664: girls probably meant "prostitutes," as it stillcan. See "Friars Tale," 1355 ff for further information on the activities of summoners. 2 667: A tavern "sign" was a large wreath or broom on a pole. Acting thebuffoon, the Summoner has also turned a thin cake into a shield. 3 669: The Pardoner professes to give gullible peoplepardon for their sins in exchange for money, as well as a view of his pretended holy relics which will bring them blessings. He too is physically repellent. His high voice and beardlessness suggest that he is not a full man but something eunuch-like, again a metaphor for his sterile
  • 23. spiritualstate. His headquarters were at Rouncival near Charing Cross in London. See ENDPAPERS; and also for "gentle". 4 672: The Pardoner's relationship to the Summoner is not obvious but appears to be sexual in some way. The rhyme Rome / to me may have been forced or comic even in Chaucer's day;it is impossible or ludicrous today. 5 685: vernicle: a badge with an image of Christ's face as it was believed to have been imprinted on the veil of Veronica when she wiped His face on the way to Calvary. Such badges were frequently sold to pilgrims. In daunger had he, at his own• guise In his power / disposal The young• girl•s of the diocese 1 665 And knew their counsel and was all their redde. secrets / adviser A garland had he set upon his head As great as it were for an al•stake. tavern sign A buckler had he made him of a cake.2 shield With the disgusting Summoner is his friend, his singing partner and possibly his lover, the even more corrupt Pardoner With him there rode a gentle PARDONER 3 670 Of Rouncival, his friend and his compeer colleague That straight was com•n from thecourt of Rome. had come directly Full loud he sang "Come hither love to me." 4 This Summoner bore to him a stiff burdoun. bass melody Was never trump of half so great a sound. trumpet 675 This pardoner had hair as yellow as wax But smooth it hung as does a strikeof flax. hank By ounces hung his lock•s that he had, By strands And therewith he his shoulders overspread. But thin it lay, by colpons, one by one, clumps 680 But hood, for jollity, wear•d he none, For it was truss•d up in his wallet: bag Him thought he rode all of thenew• jet, fashion Dishevelled; save his cap he rode all bare. W. hair loose Such glaring eyen had he as a hare. eyes 685 A vernicle had he sewed upon his cap.5 CANTERBURYTALES 29 1 710: The offertory was that part of the Mass wherethe bread and wine were first offered by thepriest. It was also the point at which thepeoplemade their offerings to the parish priest, and to the Pardoner when he was there. The prospect of money put him in good voice. His wallet lay before him in his lap bag Bretfull of pardons, come from Rome all hot. crammed A voice he had as small as hath a goat. thin No beard had he nor never should he have; 690 As smooth it was as it were late y-shave. recently shaved I trow he were a gelding or a mare. guess His "relics" But of his craft, from Berwick unto Ware trade Ne was there such another pardoner, For in his mail he had a pillowber bag / pillowcase 695 Which that he said• was Our Lady's veil. O.L's = Virgin Mary's He said he had a gobbet of the sail piece That Saint• Peter had when that he went Upon thesea, till Jesus Christ him hent. pulled him out He had a cross of latten full of stones brass 700 And in a glass he hadd• pigg•s' bones. His skill in reading, preaching and extracting money from people But with these"relics" when that he [had] found A poor• parson dwelling upon land, in the country Upon one day he got him more money Than that theparson got in month•s tway;two 705 And thus, with feign•d flattery and japes tricks He made the parson and the peoplehis apes. fools, dupes But truly, to tell•n at the last, thefacts He was in church a noble ecclesiast. churchman Well could he read a lesson and a story. 710 But alderbest he sang an offertory 1 best of all
  • 24. For well he wist• when that song was sung knew He must• preach and well afile his tongue sharpen To winne silver as he full well could. knew how Therefore he sang themerrierly and loud. This is the end of the portraits of the pilgrims. 30 CANTERBURYTALES 1 726: "That you do not blame it on my bad manners." Villainy means conduct associated with villeins, the lowest social class. This apologia by Chaucer (725-742) is both comic and serious: comic because it apologizes for the way fictional characters behave as if they were real peopleand not Chaucer's creations; serious in that it shows Chaucer sensitive to the possibility that part of his audience might take offence at some of his characters, their words and tales, especially perhaps theparts highly critical of Church and churchmen, as well as thetales of sexual misbehavior. Even thepoet Dryden (in the Restoration!) and some twentieth-century critics have thought the apology was needed. 715 Now have I told you soothly in a clause truly / briefly Th'estate, th'array, the number, and eke the cause rank / condition Why that assembled was this company In Southwark at this gentle hostelry inn That hight TheTabard, fast• by The Bell. was called / close 720 But now is tim• to you for to tell How that we bor•n us that ilk• night conducted ourselves / same When we were in that hostelry alight; dismounted And after will I tell of our viage journey And all theremnant of our pilgrimage. The poet offers a comic apologia for the matter and language of some of thepilgrims. 725 But first I pray you of your courtesy That you n'arrette it not my villainy 1 blame / bad manners Though that I plainly speak in this matter To tell• you their word•s and their cheer, behavior Not though I speak their word•s properly, exactly 730 For this you knowen all as well as I: as well Whoso shall tell a tale after a man He must rehearse as nigh as ever he can repeat as nearly Ever each a word, if it be in his charge, Every / if he is able All speak he ne'er so rud•ly and large, Even if / coarsely & freely 735 Or els• must he tell his tale untrue Or feign• things or find•n word•s new. invent things He may not spare, although he were his brother. hold back He may as well say one word as another. Christ spokehimself full broad in Holy Writ very bluntly / Scripture 740 And well you wot no villainy is it. you know Eke Plato sayeth, whoso can him read: Also / whoever "The word•s must be cousin to the deed." Also I pray you to forgive it me All have I not set folk in their degree Although / social ranks 745 Here in this tale as that they should• stand. My wit is short, you may well understand. My intelligence CANTERBURYTALES 31 1 747: "The Host had a warm welcome for every one of us." TheHost is the innkeeper of The Tabard, Harry Bailly. After serving dinner, Harry Bailly, thefictional Host or owner of the Tabard Inn originates the idea for theTales: Great cheer• made our HOST us every one,1 welcome / for us And to the supper set heus anon. quickly He serv•d us with victuals at the best. the best food 750 Strong was thewine and well to drink us lest. it pleased us A seemly man our Host• was withall fit For to be a marshall in a hall. master of ceremonies A larg• man he was with eyen steep prominent eyes A fairer burgess was there none in Cheap. citizen / Cheapside 755 Bold of his speech and wise and well y-taught And of manhood him lack•d• right naught. Eke thereto he was right a merry man, And besides
  • 25. And after supper play•n hebegan joking And spokeof mirth• amongst other things, 760 (When that we had made our reckonings), paid our bills And said• thus: "Now, lordings, truly ladies and g'men You be to me right welcome heartily, For by my truth, if that I shall not lie, I saw not this year so merry a company 765 At onc• in this harbor as is now. this inn Fain would I do you mirth•, wist I how, Gladly / if I knew And of a mirth I am right now bethought amusement To do you ease, and it shall cost• naught. You go to Canterbury, God you speed. 770 The blissful martyr 'quit• you your meed. give you reward And well I wot, as you go by the way, I know / along theroad You shap•n you to tal•n and to play;intend to tell tales & jokes For truly, comfort nor mirth is none To rid•n by theway dumb as a stone; 775 And therefore would I mak•n you desport amusement for you As I said erst, and do you some comfort. before And if you liketh all by one assent if you please For to standen at my judg•ment abide by And for to work•n as I shall you say, 780 Tomorrow when you rid•n by theway, 32 CANTERBURYTALES 1 781: "Now, by thesoul of my dead father ..." 2 The host will be theMaster of Ceremonies and judge. Anyonewho revolts against the Host's rulings will have to pay what theothers spend along the way. Now by my father's soul• that is dead,1 But you be merry, I'll give you my head. If you'renot Hold up your hands without•n mor• speech." Our counsel was not long• for to seek. Our decision The pilgrims agree to hear his idea 785 Us thought it was not worth to make it wise, not worthwhile / difficult And granted him without•n more advice, discussion And bade him say his verdict as him lest. as pleased him To pass the time pleasantly, every one will tell a couple of tales on the way out and a couple on theway back. "Lordings," quod he, "now heark•n for thebest, Ladies & g'men But take it not, I pray you, in disdain. 790 This is the point -- to speak•n short and plain: That each of you to shorten with our way In this viage, shall tell•n tal•s tway journey / two To Canterbury-ward, I mean it so, on theway to C. And homeward he shall tell•n other two 795 Of áventures that whilom have befall. events / in past The teller of the best tale will get a dinner paid for by all theothers at Harry's inn, TheTabard, on the way back from Canterbury. He offers to go with them as a guide And which of you that bears him best of all, That is to say, that telleth in this case Tal•s of best senténce and most soláce, instruction / amusement Shall have a supper at our aller cost at expense of all of us 800 Here in this place, sitting by this post When that we come again from Canterbury. And for to mak•n you themor• merry I will myself•n goodly with you ride gladly Right at mine own• cost, and be your guide. 805 And whoso will my judg•ment withsay whoever / contradict Shall pay all that we spend•n by the way, 2 on thetrip CANTERBURYTALES 33 1 823: "He was the cock (rooster) for all of us." That is, he got us all up at cockcrow. 2 825-30: They set out at a gentle pace, and at the first watering place for the horses, (thewatering of St. Thomas) theHost says:"Ladies and gentlemen, listen please. You know (wot) your agreement (forward), and I
  • 26. remind (record) you of it, if evening hymn and morning hymn agree," i.e. if what you said last night still holds this morning. And if you vouchesafe that it be so, agree Tell me anon withouten word•s mo' now / more And I will early shap•n me therefore." prepare They all accept, agreeing that theHost be MC, and then they go to bed. 810 This thing was granted and our oath•s swore With full glad heart, and pray•d him also That he would vouch•safe for to do so agree And that he would• be our governor And of our tal•s judge and reporter, 815 And set a supper at a certain price, And we will rul•d be at his device direction In high and low; and thus by one assent We been accorded to his judg•ment. agreed And thereupon thewine was fetched anon. 820 We dranken, and to rest• went each one Without•n any longer tarrying. The next morning they set out and draw lots to see who shall tell the first tale. A-morrow, when theday began to spring Up rose our Host, and was our aller cock,1 And gathered us together in a flock, 825 And forth we rode a little more than pace no great speed Unto the watering of St Thomas. And there our Host began his horse arrest, halt And said•: "Lordings, heark•n if you lest. if you please You wot your forward (and I it you record) promise / remind 830 If evensong and morrowsong accord.2 Let see now who shall tell thefirst• tale. As ever may I drink•n wine or ale, Whoso be rebel to my judg•ment Whoever is Shall pay for all that by the way is spent. 835 Now draw•th cut, ere that we further twinn; draw lots before we go 34 CANTERBURYTALES He which that has the shortest shall begin. Sir Knight," quod he, "my master and my lord, said he Now draw•th cut, for that is mine accord. draw lots / wish Come near," quod he, "my lady Prioress. 840 And you, Sir Clerk, let be your shamefastness, shyness Nor study not. Lay hand to, every man." They all draw lots. It falls to the Knight to tell the first tale Anon to draw•n every wight began person And shortly for to tell•n as it was, Were it by áventure or sort or cas, Whether by fate, luck or fortune 845 The sooth is this, the cut fell to theknight, The truth / thelot Of which full blithe and glad was every wight. very happy /person And tell he must his tale as was reason By forward and by compositïon By promise& contract As you have heard. What needeth word•s mo'? more 850 And when this good man saw that it was so, As he that wise was and obedient To keep his forward by his free assent, his agreement He said•: "Since I shall begin thegame, What! welcome be thecut, in God's name. 855 Now let us ride, and heark•n what I say." And with that word we rid•n forth our way And he began with right a merry cheer with great good humor His tale anon, and said as you may hear. at once CANTERBURYTALES 35 ENDPAPERS / SPECIAL GLOSSARY AUTHORITY, Auctoritee, Authors:The literate in the MiddleAges were remarkably bookish in spiteof or because of thescarcity of books. They had a great, perhaps inordinate, regard for
  • 27. "authority," that is, established "authors":philosophers of the ancient world, classical poets, the Bible, the Church Fathers, historians, theologians, etc. Citing an "authority" was then, as now, often a substitutefor producing a good argument, and then, as now, always useful to bolster an argument. The opening line of the Wife of Bath's Prologue uses "authority" to mean something like "theory"--what you find in books-- as opposed to "experience"--what you find in life. CLERK: Strictly speaking a member of the clergy, either a priest or in thepreliminary stages leading up to the priesthood, called "minor orders." Learning and even literacy were largely confined to such people, but anyone who who could read and write as well as someone who was genuinely learned could be called a clerk. A student, something in between, was also a clerk. The Wife of Bath marries for her fifth husband, a man who had been a clerk at Oxford, a student who had perhaps had ideas at one time of becoming a cleric. "CHURL, churlish": At theoppositeend of the social scale and the scale of manners from "gentil" (See below). A "churl" (OE "ceorl") was a common man of low rank. Hence the manners to be expected from a person of such "low birth" were equally low and vulgar, "churlish." "Villain" and "villainy" are rough equivalents also used by Chaucer. COMPLEXION:See Humor below COURTESY, Courteous, Courtoisie, etc.: Courtesy was literally conduct appropriateto thecourt of the king or other worthy. This, no doubt, included our sense of "courtesy" but was wider in its application, referring to themanners of all well bred people. The Prioress's concern to "counterfeit cheer of court" presumably involves imitating all themannerisms thought appropriateto courtiers. Sometimes it is used to mean something like right, i.e. moral, conduct. DAUN, Don: Sir. A term of respect for nobles or for clerics like the monk. The Wife of Bath refers to thewise "king Daun Solomon," a place where it would be wise to leave theword untranslated. But Chaucer uses it also of Gervase, the blacksmith in the"Miller's Tale." And Spenser used it of Chaucer himself. DAUNGER, Daungerous: These do not mean modern "danger" and "dangerous." "Daunger" (from OF "daungier") meant power. The Summoner is said to have the prostitutes in his "daunger". In romantic tales it is the power that a woman had over a man who was sexually attracted by her. She 36 CANTERBURYTALES was his "Mistress" in thesense that she had power over him, often to refuse him theleast sexual favor. Hence "daungerous" was a word often used of a woman who was "hard-to-get" or over-demanding or disdainful, haughty, aloof. "GENTLE, Gentil, Gentilesse, Gentleness: "Gentilesse" (Gentleness) is the quality of being "gentil" or "gentle" i.e. born into the upper class, and having "noble" qualities that were supposed to go with noble birth. It survives in the word "gentleman" especially in a phraselike "an officer & a gentleman" since officers traditionally were members of the ruling class. Chaucer seems to have had a healthy sceptical bourgeois view of thenotion that "gentilesse" went always with "gentle" birth. See the lecture on thesubject given by the "hag" in the Wife of Bath's Tale (1109-1176). But since "gentle" is used also to describe theTabard Inn and thetwo greatest scoundrels on the pilgrimage, the Summoner and the Pardoner, one must supposethat it had a wide range of meanings, some of them perhaps ironic. HUMOR ( Lat. humor--fluid, moisture)./ COMPLEXION:Classical, medieval and Renaissance physiologists saw the human body as composed of four fluids or humors: yellow bile, black bile, blood and phlegm. Perfect physicalhealth and intellectual excellence were seen as resulting from the presence of thesefour humors in proper balance and combination. Medieval philosophers and physiologists, seeing man as a microcosm, corresponded each bodily humor to one of the four elements--fire, water , earth, air. As Antony says of Brutus in Julius Caesar His life was gentle, and the elements So mixed in him that Naturemight stand up And say to all the world "This was a man" (V,v,73-75). Pain or illness was attributed to an imbalance in these bodily fluids, and an overabundance of any single humor was thought to give a person a particular personality referred to as "humor" or "complexion." The correspondences went something like this: Fire--Yellow or Red Bile (Choler)--Choleric, i.e. proneto anger Earth-- Black Bile-- melancholic i.e. prone to sadness Water-- Blood-- sanguine--inclined to cheerfulness, optimism Air -- Phlegm -- phlegmatic--prone to apathy, slow CANTERBURYTALES 37 Too much red bile or choler could make you have nightmares in which red things figured; with too much black bile you would dream about black monsters. (See Nun's Priest's Tale, ll. 4120-26). "Of his complexion he was sanguine" is said of theFranklin in the General Prologue. Similarly,
  • 28. "The Reeve was a slender choleric man" (G.P. 589). The Franklin's "complexion" (i.e. humor) makes him cheerful, and the Reeve's makes him cranky. A person's temperament was often visible in his face, hence our modern usage of "complexion." Even when the physiological theory of humors had long been abandoned, the word "humor" retained the meaning of "mood" or "personality." And we still speak of being in a good or bad humor. LORDINGS: Something like "Ladies and Gentlemen." The first citation in OED contrasts "lordings" with "underlings." "Lordings" is used by both theHost and the Pardoner to address the rest of the pilgrims, not one of whom is a lord, though theHost also calls them "lords." NONES: For the Nones; For the Nonce: literally "for the once," "for the occasion" , but this meaning often does not fit thecontext in Chaucer, where the expression is frequently untranslateable, and is used simply as a largely meaningless tag, sometimes just for the sake of the rime. PARDONER:The Church taught that one could get forgiveness for one's sins by confessing them to a priest, expressing genuine regret and a firm intention to mend one's ways. In God's name the priest granted absolution, and imposed some kind of penance for thesin. Instead of a physical penance like fasting, one might obtain an "indulgence" by, say, going on pilgrimage, or giving money to the poor or to another good cause like the building of a church. There were legitimate Church pardoners licenced to collect moneys of this kind and to assure the peoplein the name of the Church that their almsgiving entitled them to an "indulgence." Even with the best of intentions, this practice was liable to abuse. For "where there is money there is muck," and illegitimate pardoners abounded in spiteof regular Church prohibitions. They were sometimes, presumably, helped by gullible or corrupt clerics for a fee or a share of the takings. Our Pardoner tells ignorant peoplethat if they give money to a good cause--which he somehow represents-- they will be doing penance for their sins and can even omit the painful business of confession; that, in fact, he can absolve them from their sins for money. This was, of course, against all Church law and teaching. SHREW: "Shrew, shrewed, beshrew" occur constantly in the Tales and are particularly difficult to gloss. Thereader is best off providing his own equivalent in phrases like "old dotard shrew' (291) or "I beshrew thy face." SILLY, Sely: Originally in Old English "saelig" = "blessed." By MEit still sometimes seems to retain some of this sense. It also means something like "simple" , including perhaps "simpleminded" as in 38 CANTERBURYTALES the case of the Carpenter John in the "Millers Tale." The Host's reference to the "silly maid" after the Physician's Tale means something like "poor girl." and the "sely widow" of "Nuns Priests Tale" is a "poor widow" in the same sense. TheWife of Bath refers to thegenital organ of the male as "his silly instrument." SUMMONER:A man who delivered summonses for accused peopleto appear before an ecclesiastical court for infringements of morals or of ecclesiastical laws. He operated in a society where sin and crime were not as sharply differentiated as they are in our society. This inevitably led to abuse. Our summoner abuses his position by committing the very sins he is supposed to be chastising. The Friars Tale, about a summoner, gives more details of the abuses: using information from prostitutes to blackmail clients; extracting money from others on the pretencethat he had a summons when he had none, etc. SOLACE: Comfort, pleasure, often of a quite physical, indeed sexual, nature, though not exclusively so. WIT: Rarely if ever means a clever verbal and intellectual sally, as with us. It comes from the OE verb "witan," to know, and hence as a noun it means "knowledge" or "wisdom" "understanding" "comprehension," "mind," "intelligence" etc. The Knight: his Portrait and his Tale 1 1 45-6: "He loved everything that pertained to knighthood: truth (to one's word), honor, magnanimity (freedom), courtesy." 2 52-3: He had often occupied theseat of honor at thetable of theTeutonic Knights in Prussia, where badges awarded to distinguished crusaders read "Honneur vainc tout:Honor conquers all." Though the campaigns listed below were real, and though it was perhaps just possiblefor one man to have been in them all, the list is probably idealized. The exact geographical locations are of little interest today. This portrait is generally thought to show a man of unsullied ideals; Terry Jones insists that theknight was a mere mercenary. 3 63: "In single combat (listes) three times, and always (ay) killed his opponent." Here is the portrait of the Knight from theGeneral Prologue The Knight is the person of highest social standing on the pilgrimage though you would never know it from his modest manner or his clothes. He keeps his ferocity for crusaders' battlefields where he has distinguished himself over many years and over a wide geographical area. As the
  • 29. text says, he is not "gay", that is, he is not showily dressed, but is still wearing the military padded coat stained by thearmor he has only recently taken off. A KNIGHT therewas and that a worthy man That from the tim• that he first began 45 To riden out, he lov•d chivalry, Truth and honóur, freedom and courtesy.1 Full worthy was he in his lord•'s war, lorde's = king's or God's And thereto had he ridden--no man farre farther As well in Christendom as Heatheness heathendom 50 And ever honoured for his worthiness. His campaigns At Alexandria he was when it was won. captured Full often times he had theboard begun table Aboven all• natïons in Prussia.2 In Lithow had he reis•d and in Russia Lithuania / fought 55 No Christian man so oft of his degree. rank In Gránad' at the siege eke had he be Granada / also Of Algesir and ridden in Belmarie. At Ley•s was he and at Satalie When they were won, and in the Great• Sea Mediterranean 60 At many a noble army had he be. At mortal battles had he been fifteen And foughten for our faith at Tramissene In list•s thric•, and ay slain his foe.3 combat 3 times & always This ilk• worthy knight had been also same 2 1 64-67: The knight had fought for one Saracen or pagan leader against another, a common, if dubious, practice. And ever more ... may mean he always kept the highest reputation or that he always came away with a splendid reward or booty (prize).. 2 70-71: Notice quadruple negative: "ne, never, no ... no" used for emphasis, perhaps deliberately excessive emphasis. It is not bad grammar. The four negatives remain in Ellesmer's slightly different version: "He never yet no villainy ne said ... unto no manner wight" 3 74: "He (the Knight) was not fashionably dressed." horse was: most MSS read hors weere(n) = "horses were." I have preferred the reading of MSLansdowne. 4 75-78: The poor stateof the knight's clothes is generally interpreted to indicate his pious anxiety to fulfill a religious duty even before he has had a chance to change his clothes. Jones thinks it simply confirms that the knight was a mercenary who had pawned his armor. voyage: MSS have viage. Blessed viage was the term often used for the holy war of the crusades. 65 Sometim• with the lord of Palatie Against another heathen in Turkey, And ever more he had a sovereign prize,1 always His modest demeanor And though that he was worthy hewas wise, valiant / sensible And of his port as meek as is a maid. deportment 70 Ne never yet no villainy he said rudeness In all his life unto no manner wight.2 no kind of person He was a very perfect gentle knight. But for to tellen you of his array: His horse was good; but he was not gay.3 well dressed 75 Of fustian he wear•d a gipoun coarse cloth / tunic All besmotered with his habergeon, stained / mail For he was late y-come from his voyáge, just come / journey And went• for to do his pilgrimáge.4 _____________________________________ To recapitulate what was said at the end of the General Prologue: After serving dinner, Harry Bailly, thefictional Host, owner of the Tabard Inn, originates the idea for the Tales: to pass the time pleasantly, every one will tell a couple of tales on the way out and a couple on the way back. The teller of thebest tale will get a dinner paid for by all the others at Harry's inn, The Tabard, on the way back from Canterbury. He offers to go with them as a guide. They all accept, agreeing that theHost be MC. The next morning they set out and draw lots to see who shall tell thefirst tale. 3
  • 30. The Host: ?Let see now who shall tell the first• tale. As ever may I drink•n wine or ale, Whoso be rebel to my judg•ment Whoever is Shall pay for all that by the way is spent. 835 Now draw•th cut, ere that we further twinn; draw lots before we go He which that has the shortest shall begin. Sir Knight," quod he, "my master and my lord, said he Now draw•th cut, for that is mine accord. draw lots / wish Come near," quod he, "my lady Prioress. 840 And you, Sir Clerk, let be your shamefastness, shyness Nor study not. Lay hand to, every man." They all draw lots. Anon to draw•n every wight began person And shortly for to tell•n as it was, Were it by áventure or sort or cas, Whether by fate, luck or fortune 845 The sooth is this, the cut fell to theknight, The truth / thelot Of which full blithe and glad was every wight. very happy /person And tell he must his tale as was reason By forward and by compositïon By agreement & contract As you have heard. What needeth word•s mo' ? more 850 And when this good man saw that it was so, As he that wise was and obedient To keep his forward by his free assent, his agreement He said•: "Since I shall begin thegame, What! welcome be thecut, in God's name. 855 Now let us ride, and heark•n what I say." and listen And with that word we rid•n forth our way And he began with right a merry cheer with great good humor His tale anon, and said as you may hear. at once 1 THEKNIGHT'STALE Introduction Having drawn the lot to decide who is going to tell the first tale on the road to Canterbury, the Knight proceeds to tell thelongest of all the tales in verse. It is, at least on the surface, a Romance; that is, in medieval terms, a tale of love and war, or as we might put it, sex and violence. But the sex here is a matter of convention rather than act, and in no way erotic or earthy as it is in other tales. Theviolence that we see is ordered and ritualistic, conducted according to rule; the violence that we do not see but hear about, is perhaps less ordered and rule-bound. There is not much "romance" in any modern sense of theword, and the tale appeals to something other than to thesofter emotions. At the beginning we see quite clearly theconnected topics of sex and force: Theseus has won himself a bride by violence, and without a trace of erotic passion--just awar prize, as far as we can see. He has conquered the Amazons, a race of single women warriors, and has taken their leader as his wife; the violence is passed over as a sort of given, and we begin with the "lived happily ever after" part;which is the wrong way to begin a romance, and one good reason for wanting to label the tale in some other way. This may seem overstated, because it is hard to detect any overt note of questioning within the text itself. At first perhaps thecritical question only lurks at the back of themind, but the accumulation of therest of thetale brings it to theforefront: Is this tale really a romance designed to entertain by celebrating love and valor? Or is it something more? To begin at thebeginning: on theway home from his victorious war against the Amazons, to live happily ever after, Theseus, Duke of Athens, is shocked to hear of another conqueror's behavior: the widows from another war (presumably there were no widows of Theseus's war) complain piteously that Creon of Thebes will not allow them to bury their dead men, a nasty habit of Creon's. So the conquering hero turns around, starts and finishes another widow-making war, so CANTERBURYTALES 2 that even more widows can now live happily ever after, manless like Amazons. Theact is at once his homecoming gift to his bride, the manned and tamed Amazon, Hippolyta, who proceeds obediently and placidly to Athens;and at the same time his sacrifice to the minotaur, War. For inside that much-admired construction, The Knight's Tale, lurks a Minotaur, not Picasso's version—lustful and savage but vital; this one is legal but lethal. It demands human sacrifice, a
  • 31. fearful and equivocal attraction to men who make offerings by war and related cruelties. Theseus feasts the monster once more, "sparing" only thelives of two young wifeless nobles whom he throws into prison for life. Where, unlikely enough, "romance" begins, in spiteof stone walls and iron bars which do not a prison make in that they do not subdue in theyoung knights thesame drives that impel Theseus: lust and war. Or perhaps more accurately theLust for War, since the sexual lust in the tale is largely conventional. This is no tale of Lancelot or Tristan who consummate their love as frequently as adverse circumstance permits. The two young prisoners fall for Emily at the same time, quite literally love at first sight, and promptly fallto battling over who shall possess this female that one of them thinks is a goddess. And the tale has shown that a virgin or a goddess is as good an excuse for a fight as a widow. Emily is not there to make love to, but to make war over. When they both get free, they know only one way to settle their dilemma: a bloody fight. And when Theseus finds them fighting illegally in his territory, he knows one way to deal with the problem: a sentence of death. But under pressurefrom the women, who think that being fought over is touching, he decrees a LEGAL fight, a tournament, even more violent and bloody than the one he has just stopped. Thefirst move of this great expositor of TheFirst Mover is always violent. There is a lot of Fortitudo (physicalCourage) but little Sapientia (Wisdom) in this ruler who is taken as theideal by so many critics. Surely we are to take ironically theconcession to Sapientia, his "moderation" at the opening of the tournament (1679-1706), when he forbids pole-axe and shortsword, and allows only longsword and mace! And (real restraint) only one ride with a sharp-ground spear, which, however, thefighter may continue to use if he is unhorsed. No wonder the peoplecry out: God save such a lord that is so good KNIGHT'STALE 3 He willeth no destruction of blood. (1705-06) Indeed! One critic interprets rather differently: "Acknowledging with true wisdom thelimitations of human control, Theseus eschews making the choice himself, [of Emily's husband]; not denying or combatting the role of chance, he merely provides a civilized context within which it can operate." [Jill Mann, "Chance and Destiny" in Cambridge Chaucer Companion, (Cambridge: C.U.P., 1986), p. 88]. He is hardly a wise ruler who cannot even choose a husband for his ward, unlike any Squire Paston;instead he leaves it to the "chance" outcome of a bloody tournament, which is his very deliberate choice; this arrangement can hardly be called without irony a "civilized context." It makes "civilization" consist in ordered violence which everyone can watch on the holiday declared for the occasion. Is not part of Chaucer's comment on this "civilization" the use of alliteration to describe the battle, a stylisticdevice he elsewhere dismisses as uncivilized "rum, ram, ruf," fit only for describing a barnyard row or a murderous melee? Professor J.A. Burrow makes the same curious claim about civilized conduct in thesame book (p. 121-2): "the tournament, theobsequies for Arcite, theparliament . . . represent man's attempts to accommodate and civilize theanarchic and inescapable facts of aggression, death and love, as social life requires." If there is, as Burrow claims, a political dimension to this "romance," conducting a war to seize a bride or to avenge a small group of widows for a sin that must have struck a 14th-century English audience as venial—this sort of behavior hardly "manifests a concern for matters of foreign relations" in any sense that most of us would accept, or which, perhaps, one 14th-century soldier-poet-diplomat could accept. Were the wars in which Geoffrey Chaucer himself had taken part--or his Knight narrator--any better motivated than thoseof Theseus? Is this poem partly Chaucer's thoughtful responseto organized royal violence in his medieval world, particularly the wars of his own ruler, Edward III? If so, it might account in part for why he, a master of characterization, makes so little attempt in this tale to make the characters anything other than representative. They do not, for example, CANTERBURYTALES 4 have conversations; they make speeches, generally quite lengthy. The closest the young knights get to normal conversation is when they quarrel over Emily: they hurl abuse, accusations and challenges at each other, not so much a conversation as a flyting, theverbal equivalent of the single combat or tournament. For Palamon and Arcite are semi-allegorical rather than realistic characters. They are two Young Men smitten with Love for a Young Woman, as Young Men should be in Romances. Although they are natural cousins and Sworn Brothers in a warrior class, they quarrel over who shall have the Young Woman, and come to blows over the matter. An attempt to arbitratethe disputein a Trial by Combat is arranged by an Older and Wiser Knight, Theseus. Arcite prays to his patron Mars to grant him Victory in thefight; Palamon prays to
  • 32. Venus to win the Young Woman, and theYoung Woman prays to be left alone. Theprayers are ritualistic and studied, the product or container of ideas rather than thepassionatepleas of fully realized characters. The incompatibility of their prayers inevitably raises thequestion for Christian readers about the outcome of competing requests by peoplewho ask God for opposingthings. Presumably even God cannot grant every petition. And does He want to?Does He care? Does a just and wise God rule this world at all? What is mankind• more unto you hold Than is thesheep that rowketh in the fold (huddles) For slain is man right as another beast . . . What governance is in this prescience That guilt•less tormenteth innocence? (1307-14) The plot is mildly absurd, a fact that occurs even to one of thecharacters for a moment; he sees that he and his opponent arefighting like dogs over a bone which neither can win. And Theseus has a moment of mockery of two men fighting over a woman who knows no more about their disputethan "does a cuckoo or a hare." But for themost part this realization does not interfere with the mechanical progress of the narrative. This is not lack of ingenuity on thepart of a poet who is capable of devilishly ingenious plots. Here the plot seems to function mostly to carry something else — ideas or questions about Destiny, Fortune, free will, war, prayer, the existence of God, thepower of lust, thefrailty of vows, and so on. KNIGHT'STALE 5 At one point Arcite glimpses something for a moment when he gets his desire to be let out of prison and then laments it: We knowen not what that we prayen here. This realization does not dissuade him later from praying for Victory the night before the tournament, although his previous wish has been granted without divine intervention, and he was unhappy with it anyway. Earlier Palamon also had knelt to Venus and prayed in vain for release from prison (1103 ff). Now, some years later, he too has escaped without any supernatural help, but once more he prays to thesame Venus to win thelady. And they all pray in temples whose paintings show the influence of thegods to be almost universally malevolent. So, it would appear that prayer is at best pointless, at worst harmful. The gods Mars and Venus quarrel over what is to be the result of theseprayers, and the case is determined by an Older Wiser God, Saturn, who assures everybody that all will get what they have asked for. The mirroring of thehuman situation in the"divine" is evident and not reassuring. The gods seem to be nothing more than reflections of the minds of the humans involved—made in the human image in fact, bickering and quarreling, and eventually solving the dilemma not with Godlike wisdom but by a rather shabby trick or "an elegant sophism" depending on your point of view. Some readers take comfort from the speeches near the end of the tale by Theseus and his father about thegeneral benevolence of TheFirst Mover, who sees to it that everything works out for the best, even though we do not always see it. Others consider the speeches to be of the post-prandialvariety, full of sound and platitude, signifying nothing: "Every living thing must die," and "Makevirtue of necessity." This is not deep philosophy. But it allows the tale to end, however shakily, as all romances should end — with themarriage of the knight and his princess, who live happily ever after. CANTERBURYTALES 6 Some notes on versification of this first tale (and others) Some lines simply will not read smoothy in either modspell or old spelling, some only if the modspell is so modified as to be grotesque: puttingstress on the second syllable of lookíng or upwárd, for example, as in line 2679 (see below). In some cases one cannot be sure how the rhythmwas meant to go, and so I have left words unmarked; readers will have to exercise to their own judgement. In some place I have taken a chance and marked syllables even if the stress seems a little awkward. Rigid consistency has not seemed appropriate. And thereader is the final judge. Stress & Pronunciation of Proper and common nouns: Clearly the names of theprotagonists could be spelled, stressed and pronounced in different ways depending on metrical and other needs: Arcite: 2 syllables in 1145 & 1032 (rhymes with quite) ; 3 syllables: Arcíta 1013,1112; 1152 Árcité. 2256 & 2258 have Arcita in MSS. The first has stress on syllable #1 Árcita; the second on syllable #2 Arcíta. Emily (1068), Emelia (1078) Palamon 1031, Palamoun 1070 both reflecting the MSS
  • 33. Sáturnus (2443); Satúrn 2450, and 2453 rhyming with to turn Fortúne(915), Fórtune (925 1977: trees possibly has two syllables but I have not marked the word because that seems a trifle grotesque; however, I have marked stubb•s in the next line for two syllables because that seems more acceptable. KNIGHT'STALE 7 1235-6: aventúre / dure; 1239-40: absénce / presénce 1241-2: able / changeable. Clearly the last syllable of changeable is stressed but I have not marked it. In 2239 I marked thesecond syllable of victóry but did not do so six lines later when víctory is equally possible in reading. 1609: I keep battail for rhyme with fail 1787-8: With some trepidation I have marked obstácles / mirácles to show how thestress should go rather than as a guide for correct pronunciation. 1975 should have forést to have at least a half-rhyme with beast, but I have not marked it. 2039/40: old / would do not rhyme; in Shakespeare's Venus & Adonis should rhymes with cool'd 2321 & 2333-6: theword Queint recurs meaning both quenched and quaint (strange)2333. I have kept queint / quaint at 2333-4, partly for the rhyme, and partly because of clear word play. Even in mid line queint rather than quenched is kept because of the possiblility of further wordplay causes me to keep. 2259: I have prayer rhyming with dear; theaccent should come on the second syllable of prayer, French fashion, as one might naturally do with theoriginal spelling preyere. But I have not marked it. Similarly with 2267. But in 2332 I have marked it. 2290: The necessary change from coroune to crown leaves an irremediable gap of one syllable. 2487/8: service/ rise I have made no attempt to mark the second syllable of service which needs to be stressed. Similarly 2685 has unmarked request where themeter demands a stress on the first syllable 2679: Lokynge upward upon this Emelye might be scanned rigidly with stresses on -ynge and CANTERBURYTALES 8 -ward in strict iambic meter, and indeed if one does not do so, the line limps a bit. But who would dare to do so even with MiddleEnglish spelling and pronunciation? Most will take the limp or pronounce upon as 'pon or on (as I have done) , rather than stress two succeeding words in a way that does such violence to our ideas of word stress. lookíng and upwárd are quite impossible, in modern dress at any rate. obstácles / mirácles, above, are not much better. 2811-12: the MEdivinistre / registre was probably pronounced French fashion with thestress -ístre 2789-90: knighthood / kindred do not rhyme. There is no reasonable way to change this. KNIGHT'STALE 9 THEKNIGHT'STALE Part One Theseus, duke of Athens, returns victorious from a war against theAmazons, with one of them as his wife Whilom, as old• stories tellen us, W = Once upon a time 860 There was a duke that hight• Theseus: was called Of Athens he was lord and governor, And in his tim• such a conqueror That greater was there none under thesun. Full many a rich• country had he won: 865 What with his wisdom and his chivalry, He conquered all the reign of feminy, realm of Amazons That whilom was y-clep•d Scythia, once was called And wedded the queen Hyppolita, And brought her home with him in his country, 870 With much• glory and great solemnity, And eke her young• sister Emily. also And thus with victory and melody Let I this noble duke to Athens ride, And all his host in arm•s him beside. 875 And cert•s, if it n'ere too long to hear, certainly / weren't I would have told you fully the mannér How wonnen was the reign of feminy conquered / realm By Theseus and by his chivalry,
  • 34. And of thegreat• battle, for the nones, on the occasion 880 Betwixen Athens and the Amazons, And how besieg•d was Hippolyta, The fair•, hardy Queen of Scythia, And of thefeast that was at their wedding, And of thetempest at their home-coming. 885 But all that thing I must as now forbear. I have, God wot, a larg• field to ere, God knows / to plough And weak• be theoxen in my plough; CANTERBURYTALES 10 The remnant of the tale is long enough. I will not letten eke none of this rout; delay / this group 890 Let every fellow tell his tale about, And let's see now who shall the supper win, And where I left I will again begin. The weeping widows of Thebes ask his intervention against Creon This duke of whom I mak• mentïon, When he was comen almost to the town 895 In all his weal and in his most• pride, success / great pride He was 'ware as he cast his eye aside looked aside Where that there kneel•d in the high way A company of ladies, tway and tway, two by two Each after other, clad in cloth•s black. 900 But such a cry and such a woe they make That in this world n'is creature living = ne is = is not That heard• such another waymenting; lamenting And of this cry they would not ever stent stop Till they the rein•s of his bridle hent. caught 905 "What folk be yethat at mine home-coming Perturben so my feast• with crying?" disturb Quod Theseus. "Have you so great envy Of mine honoúr, that thus complain and cry? Or who has you misboden or offended? threatened 910 And telleth me if it may be amended And why that you be cloth•d thus in black." The eldest lady of them all• spake, When she had swoon•d with a deadly cheer, deathly look That it was ruth• for to see and hear. pitiful 915 She said•: "Lord to whom Fortúne has given Victory, and as a conqueror to liven, Nought grieveth us your glory and your honour, But we beseechen mercy and succour. help Have mercy on our woe and our distress! 920 Some drop of pity, through thy gentleness, Upon us wretched women let thou fall! For cert•s, lord, there is none of us all certainly That she n'ath been a duchess or a queen. hasn't been KNIGHT'STALE 11 1 926: Fortune was often portrayed as spinning a wheel on which peopleclung, some on the way up, some on the way down, some totally "downcast," but only onr at the top, however briefly. The wheel spins at Fortune's whim, so no one is assured of continual success. 2 933: "To starve" meant to die, not necessarily of hunger. Now be we caitives, as it is well seen, outcasts 925 Thank•d be Fortuneand her fals• wheel, That no estateassureth to be well.1 Now cert•s, lord, to abiden your presénce, await Here in this temple of thegoddess Cleménce Mercy We have been waiting all this fort•night. 2 weeks 930 Now help us, lord, since it is in thy might. I, wretch•, which that weep and wail• thus, Was whilom wife to King Cappaneus was once That starved at Theb•s--curs•d be that day!2 Who died at
  • 35. And all• we that be in this array condition 935 And maken all this lamentatïon, We losten all our husbands at that town, While that the sieg• thereabout• lay. And yet now old• Creon, welaway! alas! That lord is now of Theb•s the city, 940 Fulfilled of ire and of iniquity-- of anger & evil He, for despiteand for his tyranny, spite To do the dead• bodies villainy dishonor Of all our lord•s which that been y-slaw, husbands / slain Has all thebodies on a heap y-draw, 945 And will not suffer them by no assent not allow Neither to be y-buried nor y-brent, nor burned But maketh hound•s eat them in despite!" in spite And with that word, withouten more respite, delay They fellen gruf and cri•d piteously:prostrate 950 "Have on us wretched women some mercy, And let our sorrow sink into thy heart!" This gentle duke down from his courser start his horse / jumped With heart• piteous when he heard them speak. Him thought• that his heart would all to-break break apart Theseus complies with their wish CANTERBURYTALES 12 955 When he saw them so piteous and so mate, defeated (as in chess) That whilom weren of so great estate. once were And in his arm•s he them all up hent, lifted up And them comfórteth in full good intent, And sworehis oath, as he was tru• knight, 960 He would• do so ferforthly his might do his best Upon thetyrant Creon them to wreak, avenge That all the peopleof Greec• should• speak How Creon was of Theseus y-served by Theseus treated As he that had his death full well deserved. 965 And right anon withouten more abode right away / delay His banner he displayeth and forth rode To Theb•s-ward, and all his host beside. his army No nearer Athens would he go nor ride walk nor ride Nor take his eas• fully half a day, 970 But onward on his way that night he lay, camped And sent anon Hippolytathequeen, And Emily her young• sister sheen, shining, lovely Unto the town of Athens there to dwell, And forth he rides. There is no more to tell. 975 The red statueof Mars with spear and targe shield So shineth in his whit• banner large That all the field•s glittered up and down. And by his banner borne is his penoun standard Of gold full rich, in which there was y-beat hammered 980 The Minotaur, which that he won in Crete. he overcame Thus rides this duke, thus rides this conqueror, And in his host of chivalry the flower, Till that he came to Theb•s and alight dismounted Fair in a field there as he thought to fight. intended to After his victory over Creon, Theseus imprisons two wounded young Theban nobles 985 But shortly for to speaken of this thing, With Creon which that was of Theb•s king who was He fought, and slew him manly as a knight In plain bataille, and put thefolk to flight. open battle And by assault he won the city after, KNIGHT'STALE 13 1 1005-08: "Ransacking the heap of dead bodies, strippingthemof their armor and clothes, the pillagers were busy after the battleand defeat."
  • 36. 2 1013: Arcita: Thenames of some of the characters occur in more than one form, generally to accommodate rime or rhythm:Arcite / Arcita, Emily / Emelia, Palamon / Palamoun 990 And rent adown both wall and spar and rafter, beam And to the ladies he restored again The bon•s of their husbands that were slain, To do obséquies as was then the guise, the custom But it were all too long for to devise describe 995 The great• clamour and thewaymenting lamentation That the ladies made at the burning Of thebodies, and the great honour That Theseus, the noble conqueror, Doth to the ladies when they from him went. 1000 But shortly for to tell is my intent. When that this worthy duke, this Theseus, Has Creon slain and wonn• Theb•s thus, Still in that field he took all night his rest, And did with all the country as him lest. as he pleased 1005 To ransack in the tass of bodies dead, heap Them for to strip of harness and of weed, armor & clothes The pillers diden busïness and cure pillagers After the battle and discomfiture. 1 defeat And so befell that in the tass they found, in theheap 1010 Through-girt with many a grievous bloody wound, shot through Two young• knight•s, lying by and by, side by side Both in one arm•s wrought full rich•ly; same coat of arms Of which• two, Arcíta hight that one, 2 one was called And that other knight hight Palamon. 1015 Not fully quick nor fully dead they were; fully alive But by their coat-armoúr and by their gear The heralds knew them best in specïal noticed specially As they that weren of the blood royál Of Theb•s, and of sisters two y-born. 1020 Out of the tass thepillers have them torn heap / pillagers And have them carried soft unto the tent Of Theseus, and he full soon them sent CANTERBURYTALES 14 To Athen•s to dwellen in prison Perpetually--themwould he not ransom. 1025 And when this worthy dukehas thus y-done, He took his host and home he rides anon, army / promptly With laurel crown•d as a conqueror. And there he lives in joy and in honoúr Term of his life. What needeth word•s more? Emily, Hippolyta's sister, walks in the spring garden 1030 And in a tower, in anguish and in woe, Dwellen this Palamon and eke Arcite also For evermore; there may no gold them quite. ransom This passeth year by year and day by day, Till it fell once in a morrow of May morning 1035 That Emily, that fairer was to seen Than is thelily upon its stalk• green, And fresher than theMay with flowers new (For with the ros• colour strove her hue; I n'ot which was thefairer of them two) I don't know 1040 Ere it were day, as was her wont to do, her custom She was arisen and already dight, dressed For May willhave no sluggardy a-night. lie-abeds The season pricketh every gentle heart, And maketh it out of its sleep to start, 1045 And saith, "Arise and do thine observánce." This maketh Emily have rémembránce To do honoúr to May and for to rise.
  • 37. Y-clothed was she fresh for to devise: to perfection Her yellow hair was braided in a tress 1050 Behind her back a yard• long, I guess, And in the garden at the sun uprist sunrise She walketh up and down, and as her list as she pleased She gathers flowers parti-whiteand red half and half To make a subtlegarland for her head, 1055 And as an angel heavenishly she sung. Palamon falls in love with Emily on seeing her from his prison KNIGHT'STALE 15 The great• tower that was so thick and strong Which of the castle was thechief dungeon, There as the knight•s weren in prison (Of which I told• you and tellen shall) 1060 Was even joinant to thegarden wall adjoining There as this Emily had her playing. diversion Bright was the sun and clear in that morning, And Palamon, this woeful prisoner, As was his wont by leave of his jailor, 1065 Was risen and roam•d in a chamber on high, In which he all thenoble city saw, And eke the garden full of branches green, also There as the fresh• Emily the sheen the bright Was in her walk and roam•d up and down. 1070 This sorrowful prisoner, this Palamoun, Goes in the chamber roaming to and fro, And to himself complaining of his woe. That he was born, full oft he said: "Alas!" And so befell, by áventure or cas, chance or destiny 1075 That through a window thick of many a bar Of iron great and square as any spar, He cast his eyeupon Emelia And therewithal he blanched and cri•d "Ah!" As though he stungen were unto the heart. 1080 And with that cry Arcite anon up start immediately And said•: "Cousin mine, what aileth thee That art so pale and deadly on to see? Why criedst thou? Who has thee done offence? For God•'s love, take all in patïence 1085 Our prison, for it may none other be. imprisonment Fortunehas given us this adversity. Some wicked aspect or disposition Of Saturn, by some constellation, Has given us this, although we had it sworn. like it or not 1090 So stood theheavens when that we were born. CANTERBURYTALES 16 1 1086-91: "The conjunction of planets and stars at our birth, particularly themalignant influence of Saturn, has destined our misfortune, whether we like it or not. So we must put up with it." 2 1094: "You have a totally wrong idea about this." 3 1097: A common metaphor for love at first sight was the image of the god of Love shooting the lover through the eyewith his arrow. We must endure it; this is the short and plain." 1 This Palamon answered and said again: "Cousin, forsooth, of this opinïon Thou hast a vain imaginatïon.2 wrong idea 1095 This prison caus•d me not for to cry, But I was hurt right now throughout mine eye through Into mine heart,3 that will my ban• be. my death The fairness of that lady that I see Yond in the garden roaming to and fro 1100 Is cause of all my crying and my woe.
  • 38. I n'ot whether she be woman or goddess, I don't know But Venus is it soothly, as I guess." And therewithal down on his knees he fell And said•: "Venus, if it be thy will 1105 You in this garden thus to transfigúre t. (yourself) Before me, sorrowful, wretched crëatúre, Out of this prison help that we may 'scape And if so be my destiny be shape By étern word to dien in prison, 1110 Of our lineage have some compassïon, That is so low y-brought by tyranny." His kinsman Arcite is also stricken by sight of Emily And with that word Arcit• gan espy Whereas this lady roam•d to and fro, And with that sight her beauty hurt him so 1115 That if that Palamon was wounded sore, Arcite is hurt as much as he or more. And with a sigh he said• piteously: "The fresh• beauty slays me suddenly KNIGHT'STALE 17 1 1125-7: "Are you saying this seriously or in jest?" "Seriously, I assure you, " said A. " I am in no mood for joking." Of her that roameth in theyonder place, 1120 And but I have her mercy and her grace, unless / favor That I may see her at the least• way, I n'am but dead: there is no more to say." as good as dead They quarrel This Palamon, when he thoseword•s heard, Despitously helook•d and answered: angrily 1125 "Whether sayst thou this in earnest or in play?" or in jest "Nay," quod Arcite, "in earnest, by my fay. on my word God help me so, me list full evil play." 1 This Palamon gan knit his brow•s tway:two "It were to thee," quod he, "no great honour 1130 For to be false, nor for to be traitor To me, that am thy cousin and thy brother Y-sworn full deep, and each of us to other, That never, for to dien in the pain, in torture Till that the death departen shall us twain, part us two 1135 Neither of us in love to hinder other, Nor in no other case, my lev• brother, my dear But that thou should•st truly further me In every case, as I shall further thee. This was thine oath, and mine also, certáin. 1140 I wot right well thou darest it not withsayn. I know / deny Thus art thou of my counsel out of doubt, you know my secret And now thou wouldest falsely be about To love my lady whom I love and serve, And ever shall till that mine heart• starve. die 1145 Now cert•s, false Arcite, thou shalt not so. certainly I loved her first, and told to thee my woe As to my counsel and my brother sworn my confidant To further me, as I have told beforn. For which thou art y-bounden as a knight 1150 To help• me, if it lie in thy might, CANTERBURYTALES 18 1 1155-59: Arcite is making a "theological" distinction: he says that he fell in love with a woman; Palamon, however, did not know just now whether Emily was a woman or goddess, so his is a kind of divine love! 2 1169: "A man has to love whether he wants to or not", literally "A man must love in spite of his head." Or els• thou art false, I dare well sayn."
  • 39. This Árcit• full proudly spokeagain: "Thou shalt," quod he, "be rather false than I; And thou art false, I tell thee, utterly. 1155 For par amour I loved her first ere thou. For, as a lover What wilt thou say?Thou wistest not yet now just now didn't know Whether she be a woman or goddess: Thine is affectïon of holiness, And mine is love as to creätúre, 1 1160 For which I told to thee mine áventúre, As to my cousin and my brother sworn. I pos• that thou lovedest her beforn: Let's suppose Wost thou not well theold• clerk•'s saw, scholar's saying That `Who shall give a lover any law?' Boeth. III, m 12 1165 Love is a greater law•, by my pan, my head Than may be give to any earthly man; And therefore positivelaw and such decree man-made laws Is broke alday for love in each degree. every day / all levels A man must need•s love, maugre his head:2 1170 He may not flee it though he should be dead, Al be she maiden, widow, or else wife. Whether she is One of them sees the absurdity of their quarrel And eke it is not likely all thy life To standen in her grace. No more shall I, her favor For well thou wost thyselfen, verily you know well 1175 That thou and I be damn•d to prison condemned Perpetually;us gaineth no ransom. we won't get We striveas did thehound•s for the bone; They fought all day, and yet their part was none; There came a kite, while that they were so wroth bird of prey / angry KNIGHT'STALE 19 1 1201: Is the speaker here the Knight or Chaucer? 1180 That bore away thebone bitwixt them both. And therefore, at theking•'s court, my brother, Each man for himself. There is no other. Love if thee list, for I love and ayeshall. if you like / always And soothly, lev• brother, this is all. truly, dear brother 1185 Here in this prison must• we endure And ever each of us take his áventúre." chance One of them is released Great was the strife and long bitwixt them tway, two If that I hadd• leisure for to say; But to th'effect. It happened on a day, To get on w. story 1190 To tell it you as shortly as I may, A worthy dukethat hight Perotheus, who was called That fellow was unto duke Theseus friend Since thilk• day that they were children lit, that d. / little Was come to Athens his fellow to visit, 1195 And for to play, as he was wont to do; amuse himself For in this world he lov•d no man so, And he loved him as tenderly again. So well they loved, as old• book•s sayn, That when that one was dead, soothly to tell, truth to tell 1200 His fellow went and sought him down in hell. But of that story list me not to write.1 I don't want to Duke Perotheus lov•d well Arcite, And had him known at Theb•s year by year And finally at request and prayer 1205 Of Perotheus, withouten any ransom Duke Theseus him let out of prison Freely to go where that him list overall, anywhere he liked In such a guise as I you tellen shall. w. such condition This was the forward, plainly for t'endite agreement / write
  • 40. 1210 Bitwixen Theseus and him Arcite: That if so were that Arcite were y-found Ever in his life, by day or night, one stound, for one hour CANTERBURYTALES 20 In any country of this Theseus, And he were caught, it was accorded thus: agreed 1215 That with a sword he should• lose his head. There was no other remedy nor redd, help But took his leave, and homeward he him sped. Let him beware; his neck lieth to wed. at risk Arcite laments his release How great a sorrow suffers now Arcite! 1220 The death he feeleth through his heart• smite. He weepeth, waileth, crieth piteously; To slay himself he waiteth privily. He said, "Alas, the day that I was born! Now is my prison wors• than beforn; 1225 Now is me shapeeternally to dwell I am fated Not in purgatóry, but in hell! Alas, that ever I knew Perotheus, For els• had I dwelled with Theseus, Y-fettered in his prison evermo'. 1230 Then had I been in bliss and not in woe. Only the sight of her whom that I serve, Though that I never her grac• may deserve, Would have suffic•d right enough for me. O dear• cousin Palamon," quod he, 1235 "Thine is the victory of this áventúre: Full blissfully in prison may'st thou dure. continue In prison?Cert•s, nay, but Paradise! Well has Fortúne y-turn•d theethe dice, That hast the sight of her, and I th'absénce. 1240 For possibleis, since thou hast her presénce, It's possible And art a knight, a worthy and an able, That by some case, since Fortuneis changeable, Thou mayst to thy desire some time attain. But I that am exil•d, and barrén 1245 Of all• grace, and in so great despair all favor That there n'is earth, nor water, fire, nor air, Nor creäture that of them mak•d is, KNIGHT'STALE 21 1 1246: All material things were thought to be made up of the four elements: fire, water, earth, and air. That may me help or do comfórt in this. 1 Well ought I starvein wanhopeand distress. die in despair 1250 Farewell my life, my lust and my gladness! my desire Alas, why 'plainen folk so in commúne complain / often On purveyanceof God, or of Fortúne, providence That giveth them full oft in many a guise many forms Well better than they can themselves devise? much better 1255 Some man desireth for to have riches, That cause is of his murder or great sickness; And some man would out of his prison fain, gladly That in his house is of his meinee slain. by his servants Infinite harm•s be in this mattér. 1260 We witen not what thing we prayen here. We know not We fare as he that drunk is as a mouse. A drunken man wot well he has a house, knows well But he n'ot which theright• way is thither, doesn't know And to a drunken man the way is slither. slippery 1265 And cert•s in this world so faren we. We seeken fast after felicity,
  • 41. But we go wrong full often, truly. Thus may we sayen all, and namely I, especially I That wend and had a great opinion thought & felt sure 1270 That if I might escapen from prison, Then had I been in joy and perfect heal, happiness Where now I am exíled from my weal. my good Since that I may not see you, Emily, I n'am but dead! There is no remedy!" I'm as good as dead Palamon laments his imprisonment 1275 Upon that other sid• Palamon, When that he wist Arcit• was a-gone, realized Such sorrow maketh he that the great tower Resoundeth of his yowling and [his] clamor. CANTERBURYTALES 22 1 1279: "Even the great fetters on his shins." This rendering presumes that great goes with fetters. It is also possiblethat the reference is to swollen shins. 2 1301-2: "He looked (as pale as) boxwood or cold ashes." 3 1308: "Does mankind mean anything more to you than sheep huddling in the fold?" The pur• fetters of his shins great 1 even the fetters 1280 Were of his bitter salt• tear•s wet "Alas!" quod he, "Arcita, cousin mine, Of all our strife, God wot, the fruit is thine! God knows Thou walkest now in Theb•s at thy large, freely And of my woe thou givest little charge. care 1285 Thou mayst, since thou hast wisdom and manhood, Assemble all the folk of our kindred, And make a war so sharp on this city That by some áventure or some treaty chance or agreement Thou mayst have her to lady and to wife 1290 For whom that I must need•s lose my life. For as by way of possibility, Since thou art at thy large, of prison free, from prison And art a lord, great is thine ádvantáge, Morethan is mine, that starvehere in a cage. die 1295 For I must weep and wail while that I live With all the woe that prison may me give, And eke with pain that love me gives also That doubles all my torment and my woe!" Therewith the fire of jealousy up start 1300 Within his breast, and hent him by theheart seized So woodly that he like was to behold fiercely The boxtree or theashes dead and cold.2 boxwood Then said he: "O cruel god•s that govern This world with binding of your word etern, 1305 And writen in thetable of adamant hard rock Your parliament and your eternal grant, decision / decree What is mankind• more unto your hold important Than is thesheep that rowketh in the fold?3 huddles For slain is man right as another beast, just like 1310 And dwelleth eke in prison and arrest KNIGHT'STALE 23 1 1314: "What kind of governing is this which knows even before they are created (prescience) that innocent peopleare going to be tormented?" 2 1323-4: Who is speaking: Palamon, theKnight, or Chaucer? 3 1331: The goddess Juno was hostile to Thebes because her husband, Jupiter, had affairs with women of Thebes. And has sickness and great adversity, And often times guiltlessly, pardee. by God What governance is in this prescience That guilt•less tormenteth innocence? 1 1315 And yet increaseth this all my penánce, my pain That man is bounden to his óbservánce,
  • 42. For God•'s sake to letten of his will, control Whereas a beast may all his lust fulfill, his desires And when a beast is dead he has no pain, 1320 But man after his death must weep and 'plain, complain Though in this world he hav• care and woe. Withouten doubt•, it may standen so. The answer of this let I to divin•s, 2 I leave to clerics But well I wot that in this world great pineis. I know / suffering 1325 Alas, I see a serpent or a thief That many a tru• man has done mischíef, Go at his large and where him list may turn. free & go where he likes But I must be in prison through Saturn, And eke through Juno, jealous and eke wood, angry 1330 That has destroy•d well nigh all the blood Of Thebes, with its wastewall•s wide! 3 And Venus slays me on that other side V = goddess of love For jealousy and fear of him—Arcite!" Now will I stint of Palamon a lite, stop / a while 1335 And let him in his prison still• dwell, And of Arcit• forth I will you tell. The summer passeth, and the night•s long Increasen double wise thepain•s strong Both of the lover and the prisoner. CANTERBURYTALES 24 1 1347-53: The question is a "demande d'amour," a puzzling query about love, and a favorite medieval game. Supposedly conducted in a sort of ladies' lawcourt by Marie, Countess of Champagne and others, it certainly became a literary game. Boccaccio's Filocolo has many. See also in Chaucer The Franklin's Tale, 1621-22, and The Wife of Bath's Tale, 904-905. 1340 I n'ot which has the woefuller mistér: know not / situation For shortly for to say, this Palamon Perpetually is damn•d to prison, In chains and in fetters to be dead, And Arcite is exíled upon his head on pain of death 1345 For evermore as out of that country, Nor nevermore he shall his lady see. Demande d'amour You lovers ask I now this questïon:1 Who has the worse, Arcite or Palamon? That one may seen his lady day by day, 1350 But in [a] prison must he dwell alway; That other where him list may ride or go, he pleases / walk But see his lady shall he nevermo'. Now deemeth as you list•, you that can, judge as you wish For I will tell• forth as I began. End of Part One Part Two Arcite's love pains 1355 Whan that Arcite to Theb•s comen was, Full oft a day he swelt and said: "Alas!" was overcome For see his lady shall he nevermo'. And shortly to concluden all his woe, So muchel sorrow had never creätúre KNIGHT'STALE 25 1 1376: "Hereos": a conflation and confusion between "eros," love and "heros," a hero, hence the kind of extravagant lover's passion suffered by heroes in medieval romances. Its symptoms include those just given above. (See also Damian in The Merchant's Tale, and Aurelius in The Franklin's Tale). If it became bad enough, as with really big heroes like Tristan and Lancelot, it could turn into a "manie," a madness which afflicted the "cell" of fantasy, i.e. the foremost of the three divisions of the brain. 1360 That is or shall while that the world may dure. last His sleep, his meat, his drink is him bereft, food / deprived of That lean he waxed and dry as is a shaft. (So) that / stick
  • 43. His eyen hollow and grisly to behold, grim His hue fallow, and pale as ashes cold. color pallid 1365 And solitary he was and ever alone, And wailing all thenight, making his moan. And if he heard• song or instrument, Then would he weep, he might• not be stent. stopped So feeble were his spirits and so low, also 1370 And chang•d so that no man could• know His speech• nor his voice, though men it heard. And in his gear for all theworld he fared his behavior Not only like the lover's malady Of Hereos, but rather like manie, mania 1375 Engendred of humor meláncholic Before, in his own cell• fántastic.1 And shortly, turn•d was all up-so-down Both habit and eke disposicïon also Of him, this woeful lover Daun Arcite. Lord A. Inspired by a vision, Arcite goes to Athens in disguise 1380 What should I all day of his woe endite? continually / tell When he endur•d had a year or two This cruel torment and this pain and woe At Theb•s in his country, as I said, Upon a night in sleep as he him laid, 1385 Him thought how that thewing•d god Mercury Before him stood, and bade him to be merry. His sleepy yard in hand he bore upright. sleep-inducing wand A hat he wore upon his hair•s bright. CANTERBURYTALES 26 1 1394: "However much it hurts me." 2 1398: "I do not care if I die in her presence." starve = die Array•d was this god, as he took keep, as he noted 1390 As he was when that Argus took his sleep, overcome by sleep And said him thus:"To Athens shalt thou wend. go There is thee shapen of thy woe an end." destined And with that word Arcit• woke and start. "Now truly, how sor• that me smart," 1 however it may hurt 1395 Quod he, "to Athens right now will I fare. Nor for thedread of death shall I not spare hold back To see my lady that I love and serve. In her presénce I reck• not to starve."2 I don't care if And with that word he caught a great mirróur, 1400 And saw that chang•d was all his coloúr, And saw his visage all in another kind. And right anon it ran him in his mind That since his fac• was so disfigúr•d Of malady the which he had endur•d, From illness 1405 He might• well, if that he bore him low, kept low profile Live in Athens evermore unknow, unrecognized And see his lady well nigh day by day. And right anon he chang•d his array, clothes And clad him as a poor• laborer, 1410 And all alon•, save only a squire That knew his privity and all his case, secret Which was disguis•d poorly as he was, Who was To Athens is he gone the next• way. direct route He takes a job And to the court he went upon a day, 1415 And at the gate he proffered his servíce, To drudge and draw what so men will devise. order And shortly of this matter for to sayn, He fell in office with a chamberlain got a job The which that dwelling was with Emily. Who
  • 44. 1420 For he was wise, and could• soon espy KNIGHT'STALE 27 Of every servant which that serveth her. Well could he hewen wood and water bear, For he was young and mighty for the nones, to be sure And thereto he was strong and big of bones, 1425 To do what any wight can him devise. anybody wants A year or two he was in this service, Page of the chamber of Emily thebright, And "Philostrat•" said he that he hight. said his name was But half so well-beloved a man as he 1430 Ne was there never in court of his degree. his rank He was so gentle of conditïon That throughout all thecourt was his renown. They saiden that it were a charity it would be right That Theseus would enhancen his degree, promotehim 1435 And putten himin worshipfulservice, dignified There as he might his virtue exercise. abilities A promotion And thus within a while his name is sprung, Both of his deed•s and his good• tongue, good reputation That Theseus has taken him so near, 1440 That of his chamber he made him a squire, And gave him gold to maintain his degree. his rank And eke men brought him out of his country, From year to year, full privily his rent, secretly But honestly and slyly he it spent 1445 That no man wondered how that he it had. And three years in this wise his life he led, And bore him so in peace and eke in war, There was no man that Theseus hath more dear And in this bliss• let I now Arcite, 1450 And speak I will of Palamon a lite. a little In darkness and horrible and strong prison This seven year has sitten Palamon, CANTERBURYTALES 28 Forpin•d, what for woe and for distress. tormented Who feeleth double sore and heaviness 1455 But Palamon? that love distraineth so pains That wood out of his wit he goes for woe. mad And eke thereto he is a prisoner Perpetually, not only for a year. Who could• rime in English properly 1460 His martyrdom?Forsooth, it am not I. Therefore I pass as lightly as I may. An escape It fell that in theseventh year, of May The third• night, (as old• book•s sayn That all this story tellen mor• plain)-- 1465 Were it by áventure or destiny, by chance or As when a thing is shapen it shall be, is fated That soon after themidnight, Palamon, By helping of a friend, broke his prison, with help of And flees the city fast as he may go, 1470 For he had given his jailer drink• so Of a claret, made of a certain wine With nárcotics and opiumof Thebes fine, That all that night, though that men would him shake, The jailer slept;he might• not awake. 1475 And thus he flees as fast as ever he may. The night was short and fast• by the day, near dawn That need•s cost he most himselfen hide. of necessity
  • 45. And to a grove fast• there beside With dreadful foot then stalketh Palamon. full of dread 1480 For shortly, this was his opinïon, That in that grove he would him hide all day, And in the night then would he take his way To Theb•s-ward, his friend•s for to pray On Theseus to help him to warrey. make war 1485 And shortly, either he would lose his life Or winnen Emily unto his wife. This is th'effect and his intent• plain. KNIGHT'STALE 29 Arcite goes to the woods to celebrate May and sing a love lament Now will I turn• to Arcite again, That little wist how nigh that was his care, knew / near / troubles 1490 Till that Fortúne had brought him in the snare. The busy lark, messenger of day, Salueth in her song the morrow grey, Greets And fiery Phoebus riseth up so bright sun (god) That all the orient laugheth of the light, 1495 And with his stream•s drieth in the greves branches The silver dropp•s hanging on theleaves. And Arcita, that in the court royál With Theseus is squire principal, Is risen and looketh on the merry day; 1500 And for to do his observánce to May, Remembering on the point of his desire, He on a courser startling as the fire horse lively as Is riden into the field•s him to play, amuse himself Out of the court were it a mile or tway. about a mile or two 1505 And to the grove of which that I you told By áventure his way he gan to hold to make his way To maken him a garland of the greves branches Were it of woodbine or of hawthorn leaves; And loud he sang against the sunn• sheen: bright sun 1510 "May, with all thy flowers and thy green, Welcome be thou, fair• fresh• May, In hopethat I some green• getten may." Palamon, the escapee, is hiding in that wood And from his courser with a lusty heart his horse Into the grove full hastily he start, 1515 And in a path he roameth up and down Thereas by áventure this Palamoun by chance Was in a bush, that no man might him see, For sore afear•d of his death was he. No thing ne knew he that it was Arcite. CANTERBURYTALES 30 1 "God knows he would not have believed it", literally: "he would have believed it very little." 2 1523-4: "A man should always be ready, for it happens every day that peoplemeet unexpectedly." 3 1534-5: Friday is Venus's day (Lat. veneris dies; Ital. venerdi), and its weather apparently was reputed to be especially unreliable. 1520 God wot he would have trow•d it full lite.1 believed / little But sooth is said, gone sithen many years, truth / many years ago That "field hath eyen and thewood hath ears." It is full fair a man to beat him even, For alday meeten men at unset steven.2 1525 Full little wot Arcite of his fellow little knows That was so nigh to hearken all his saw, near / hear his words For in the bush he sitteth now full still. When that Arcite had roam•d all his fill, And sungen all theroundel lustily, round song 1530 Into a study hefell suddenly,
  • 46. As do these lovers in their quaint• gears, odd ways Now in thecrop, now down in the briars, top Now up, now down, as bucket in a well. Right as theFriday, soothly for to tell, 1535 Now it shineth, now it raineth fast,3 Right so can gery Venus overcast changeable The heart•s of her folk right as her day Is gereful; right so changeth she array. her state Seld is the Friday all the week y-like. seldom 1540 When that Arcite had sung, he gan to sigh, And set him down withouten any more: more ado "Alas," quod he, "that day that I was bore. born How long•, Juno, through thy cruelty Wilt thou warreyen Theb•s thecity? make war on 1545 Alas, y-brought is to confusïon The blood royál of Cadme and Amphion- Of Cadmus, which that was the first• man That Theb•s built or first thetown began, founded And of thecity first was crown•d king. 1550 Of his lineage am I and his offspring, KNIGHT'STALE 31 1 1566: "My death was arranged before my (first?) shirt." Thecomparison seems inept. 2 1569-71: "I would not care a straw about all my other troubles if only I could do anything to please you." By very line, as of the stock royál. And now I am so caitiff and so thrall, captive/ enslaved That he that is my mortal enemy, I serve him as his squire poorly. 1555 And yet does Juno me well mor• shame, still more For I dare not beknow mine own• name, use But there as I was wont to hight Arcite, was called Now hight I Philostrate, not worth a mite. I am called Alas, thou fell• Mars! Alas, Juno! cruel 1560 Thus has your ire our lineage all fordo, your anger / ruined Save only me and wretched Palamon That Theseus martyreth in prison. And over all this, to slay me utterly, Love has his fiery dart so burningly 1565 Y-stick•d through my tru• careful heart, full of care That shapen was my death erst than my shirt.1 You slay me with your eyen, Emily. You be the caus• wherefore that I die. Of all theremnant of mine other care 1570 Ne set I not themontance of a tare, amount of a weed So that I could do ought to your pleasánce." 2 if I could And with that word he fell down in a trance A long• time. And after he up start. Palamon has heard everything. Another quarrel. This Palamon, that thought that through his heart 1575 He felt a cold sword suddenly glide, For ire he quoke. No longer would he bide. shook with anger And when that he had heard Arcita's tale, As he were wood, with face dead and pale, mad He start him up out of thebushes thick 1580 And said: "Arcit•, fals• traitor wick, wicked Now art thou hent, that lov'st my lady so, caught CANTERBURYTALES 32 1 1609: "Art willing to fight a battleto vindicate your right to her." For whom that I have all this pain and woe, And art my blood, and to my counsel sworn, As I full oft have told thee herebeforn, 1585 And hast bejap•d here duke Theseus, fooled
  • 47. And falsely chang•d hast thy nam• thus. I will be dead or els• thou shalt die. Thou shalt not love my lady Emily, But I will love her only and no mo'; more, i.e. no one else 1590 For I am Palamon, thy mortal foe, And though that I no weapon have in this place, But out of prison am astart by grace, I dread• not that either thou shalt die, doubt not Or thou ne shalt not loven Emily. 1595 Choose which thou wilt, or thou shalt not astart." escape This Arcit• with full despitous heart, furious When he him knew and had his tal• heard, As fierce as lion pull•d out his sword, And said• thus: "By God that sits above, 1600 N'ere it that thou art sick and wood for love, Were it not / mad And eke that thou no weapon hast in this place, And also Thou shouldest never out of this grov• pace, walk That thou ne shouldest dien of my hand. but die by For I defy the surety and the bond 1605 Which that thou sayst that I have made to thee. What, very fool, think well that love is free, And I will love her, maugre all thy might. despite They agree to a duel But for as much as thou art a worthy knight, And wilnest to darrein her by battail,1 to fight 1610 Have here my truth, tomorrow I will not fail, Withouten witting of any other wight, knowledge / person That here I will be founden as a knight, And bringen harness right enough for thee, armor And choose the best, and leave theworst to me. KNIGHT'STALE 33 1 1623-27: "O Cupid, [god of love], totally without love! O ruler [regne] who will tolerate no partner. True is thesaying that neither lover nor lord will share willingly [his thanks], as Arcite and Palamon certainly find out." 1615 And meat and drink• this night will I bring food Enough for thee, and clothes for thy bedding. And if so be that thou my lady win And slay me in this wood where I am in, Thou mayst well have thy lady as for me." far as I'm concerned 1620 This Palamon answered: "I grant it thee." And thus they be departed till amorrow, When each of them had laid his faith to borrow. pledged his word O Cupid, out of all charity! O regne, that would no fellow have with thee! ruler / partner 1625 Full sooth is said that lov• nor lordship Will not, his thank•s, have no fellowship; willingly Well finden that Arcite and Palamon.1 Arcite is riden anon unto the town, immediately And on themorrow ere it were day•'s light, 1630 Full privily two harness has he dight, secured Both suffisant and meet• to darreine adequate to conduct The battlein thefield bitwixt them twain; two And on his horse, alone as he was born, He carrieth all this harness him beforn; 1635 And in the grove at time and place y-set This Arcite and this Palamon be met. To changen gan thecolor in their face, Right as thehunter's in the regne of Thrace, realm, kingdom That standeth at thegapp• with a spear, 1640 When hunted is the lion or thebear, And heareth him come rushing in the greves, bushes And breaketh both the boughs and the leaves,
  • 48. And thinks:"Here comes my mortal enemy. Withouten fail he must be dead or I, 1645 For either I must slay him at the gap, Or he must slay me if that me mishap." I'm unfortunate So far•d they in changing of their hue color CANTERBURYTALES 34 1 1637 and 1647-8: Theseappear to mean that each knew theother to be a bear or lion in strength and so each pales, like the hunter awaiting the onrush. 2 1663 ff: "Destiny, God's deputy, that carries out everywhere God's Providence, is so strong that even if the whole world is determined against it, things will sometimes happen in one day that will not occur again within a thousand years." As far as ever each other of them knew. 1 There was no "Good day" nor no saluing, greeting 1650 But straight, withouten word or rehearsing, Ever each of them helped to arm theother, As friendly as he were his own• brother. And after that with sharp• spear•s strong They foinen each at other wonder long. thrust / v. long 1655 Thou mightest ween• that this Palamon think In his fighting were a wood lion, angry And as a cruel tiger was Arcite. As wild• boar•s gonnen they to smite, began That frothen white as foam, for ire wood. mad with anger 1660 Up to the ankle fought they in their blood. And in this wise I let them fighting dwell, And forth I will of Theseus you tell. Fate intervenes in the form of Theseus who comes upon them while hunting The destiny, minister general, That executeth in the world overall Who carries out 1665 The purveyancethat God has seen beforn,2 The Providence So strong it is that, though theworld had sworn The contrary of a thing by yeaor nay, Yet sometimes it shall fallen on a day That falls not eft within a thousand year. not again 1670 For certainly, our appetit•s here, passions Be it of war, or peace, or hate, or love, All is this rul•d by the sight above. This mean I now by mighty Theseus, That for to hunten is so desirous, 1675 And namely at thegreat• hart in May, especially / deer KNIGHT'STALE 35 That in his bed there dawneth him no day That he n'is clad and ready for to ride With hunt and horn and hound•s him beside; For in his hunting has he such delight 1680 That it is all his joy and appetite desire To be himself thegreat• hart•'s bane; killer For after Mars he serveth now Diane. (goddess of hunting) Clear was theday, as I have told ere this, And Theseus, with all• joy and bliss, 1685 With his Hippolytathefair• queen, And Emelía clothed all in green, On hunting be they ridden royally, And to the grove that stood full fast• by, In which there was a hart, as men him told, 1690 Duke Theseus the straight• way has hold, And to this land he rideth him full right, clearing For thither was thehart wont have his flight, accustomed And over a brook, and so forth on his way. This Duke will have a course at him or tway, 1695 With hound•s such as that him list command. he chose And when this Duke was come unto the land,
  • 49. Under the sun he looketh, and anon He was 'ware of Arcite and Palamon, That foughten breme as it were bull•s two. fiercely 1700 The bright• sword•s wenten to and fro So hideously that with theleast• stroke It seem•d as it would• fell an oak. But what they wer•, nothing he ne wot. But who / he knew This Duke his courser with the spurr•s smote, horse 1705 And at a start he was bitwixt them two, suddenly And pull•d out a sword, and cried: "Whoa! No more, on pain of losing of your head. By mighty Mars, he shall anon be dead That smiteth any strokethat I may see. 1710 But telleth me what mister men you be, kind of That be so hardy for to fighten here, bold Withouten judge or other officer, As it were in a list•s royally?" tournament arena CANTERBURYTALES 36 1 1721: For saint• charity, literally "for holy charity (or love)." The exclamation is presumably an anachronism in the mouth of a pagan. But neither is it very Christian or chivalrous, since his betrayalof his kinsman and fellow knight is about as vindictive as it well could be. Palamon reveals their identities This Palamon answéred hastily 1715 And said•: "Sir, what needeth word•s mo'? We have the death deserv•d both• two. Two woeful wretches be we, two caitives, captives That be encumbered of our own• lives; of = by And as thou art a rightful lord and judge, 1720 Ne give us neither mercy nor refuge; But slay me first, for saint• charity,1 But slay my fellow eke as well as me; also Or slay him first, for though thou know'st it lite, little do you know it This is thy mortal foe, this is Arcite, 1725 That from thy land is banished on his head, on pain of death For which he has deserv•d to be dead; For this is he that came unto thy gate, And said• that he hight• Philostrate. was named Thus has he japed thee full many a year, tricked 1730 And thou hast maked him thy chief squire; And this is he that loveth Emily. For since the day is come that I shall die, I mak• plainly my confessïon That I am thilk• woeful Palamon, I'm the same 1735 That has thy prison broken wickedly. I am thy mortalfoe, and it am I That loveth so hot Emily the bright, so hotly That I will dien present in her sight. Wherefore I ask• death and my juwise. sentence 1740 But slay my fellow in the sam• wise, For both have we deserv•d to be slain." The Duke instantly sentences them, but the ladies intervene This worthy Dukeanswered anon again KNIGHT'STALE 37 1 1761: "The heart of the truly noble (gentle) is easily moved to generosity (pity)." A famous and favorite phraseof Chaucer's, used also in MerT 4, 1986; SquireT, V, 479; Leg. of Good Women, Prol F, 503; Man Of Law's T. II, 660. For "gentle" see ENDPAPERS. And said: "This is a short conclusïon. Your own• mouth by your confessïon 1745 Hath damn•d you, and I will it record; condemned It needeth not to pine you with the cord. torturewith rope You shall be dead, by mighty Mars the red."
  • 50. The queen anon for very womanhood Gan for to weep, and so did Emily, 1750 And all theladies in thecompany. Great pity was it, as it thought them all, That ever such a chanc• should befall; For gentlemen they were of great estate, high rank And nothing but for love was this debate; 1755 And saw their bloody wound•s wide and sore, And all• cri•d, both• less and more, "Have mercy, lord upon us women all." And on their bar• knees adown they fall, And would have kissed his feet there as he stood; 1760 Till at the last aslak•d was his mood, For pity runneth soon in gentle heart,1 And though he first for ir• quoke and start, shook w. anger He has considered shortly, in a clause, briefly The trepass of them both, and eke the cause; offence / also 1765 And although that his ire their guilt accused, Yet in his reason he them both excused, As thus: He thought• well that every man Will help himself in love if that he can, And eke deliver himself out of prison. 1770 And eke his heart• had compassion Of women, for they wepten ever in one. in unison And in his gentle heart he thought anon, And soft unto himself he said•: "Fie Upon a lord that will have no mercy 1775 But be a lion both in word and deed To them that be in repentánce and dread, CANTERBURYTALES 38 1 1796: maugre ...: "In spiteof both their eyes", i.e. in spiteof common sense. 2 1799: This line seems to mean: "There is no fool like a lover fool." As well as to a proud despitous man That will maintain• what he first began. persist in That lord has little of discretïon 1780 That in such case can no divisïon, knows no difference But weigheth pride and humbless after one." humility as the same And shortly, when his ire is thus agone, his anger He gan to looken up with eyen light, And spokethesesam• word•s all on height: aloud 1785 "The God of Love, ah, benedicitee. How mighty and how great a lord is he. Against his might there gaineth no obstácles. He may be cleped a god for his mirácles, called For he can maken at his own• guise his own whim 1790 Of every heart as that him list devise. as he chooses Lo, here this Arcite and this Palamon, That quitly weren out of my prison, had escaped And might have lived in Theb•s royally, And wit I am their mortal enemy, (they) know 1795 And that their death lies in my might also, And yet has Love, maugre their eyen two,1 despite Brought them hither both• for to die. Now looketh, is not that a high folly? Who may be a fool, but if he love?2 1800 Behold, for God's sake that sits above, See how they bleed! Be they not well arrayed? Don't they / look good? Thus has their lord, the God of Love, y-paid Their wages and their fees for their service. And yet they weenen for to be full wise they think 1805 That serven Love, for aught that may befall. anything But this is yet thebest• game of all,
  • 51. That she for whom they have this jollity fun (ironic) Can them therefore as much• thank as me. for that She wot no more of all this hott• fare, knows / fiery business KNIGHT'STALE 39 1810 By God, than wot a cuckoo or a hare. But all must be assay•d, hot and cold. A man must be a fool, or young or old. either...or I wot it by myself full yoreagone, long ago For in my time a servant was I one, a lover 1815 And therefore, since I know of lov•'s pain, And wot how sore it can a man distrain, know / distress As he that has been caught oft in his lass, snare I you forgive all wholly this trespáss, At réquest of the queen that kneeleth here, 1820 And eke of Emily my sister dear, And you shall both anon unto me swear That never more you shall my country dere, harm Nor mak• war upon me, night nor day, But be my friend•s in all that you may. 1825 I you forgive this trespass everydeal." And they him swore his asking fair and well, And him of lordship and of mercy prayed. Theseus orders a tournament to decide who shall have Emily And he them granted grace, and thus he said: "To speak of royallineage and richessse, riches 1830 Though that she were a queen or a princess, Each of you both is worthy, doubt•less, To wedden when time is. But, natheless-- I speak as for my sister Emily For whom you have this strifeand jealousy-- 1835 You wot yourself she may not wedden two You know At onc•, though you fighten evermore. even if you That one of you, al be him loath or lief, like it or not He must go pipen in an ivy leef. whistle in the wind This is to say, she may not now have both, 1840 Al be you never so jealous nor so wroth. Even if / angry And forthy I you put in this degree, therefore / position That each of you shall have his destiny As him is shape, and hearken in what wise; decreed for him Lo, here your end of that I shall devise: part / announce CANTERBURYTALES 40 1 1853: "Completely armed and ready for the lists," i.e. for the place where the tournament would take place. 21863-66: "And as sure as I hopefor God's mercy, I will be a fair and just judge. I will make no other arrangement with you (than this):one of you has to be killed or captured." 1845 My willis this, for plat conclusïon, plain Withouten any replicatïon; contradiction If that you liketh, take if for thebest: That each of you shall go where that him lest, he pleases Freely, withouten ransom or danger, 1850 And this day fifty week•s, far or near, Ever each of you shall bring a hundred knights Arm•d for list•s up at all• rights,1 for tournament All ready to darrein her by battail. claim by fight And this behote I you withouten fail, promise 1855 Upon my truth and as I am a knight, That whether of you both• that has might, whichever This is to say, that whether he or thou May with his hundred as I spokeof now Slay his contráry, or out of list•s drive, 1860 Then shall I giv• Emilia to wive To whom that Fortune gives so fair a grace.
  • 52. The list•s shall I maken in this place, And God so wisly on my soul• rue, surely have mercy As I shall even judg• be and true. just judge 1865 You shall no other end• with me maken,2 That one of you ne shall be dead or taken. And if you thinketh this is well y-said, Say your avis, and holdeth you apaid. agreement / satisfied This is your end and your conclusïon." 1870 Who looketh lightly now but Palamon? Who springeth up for joy• but Arcite? Who could• tell or who could it endite The joy• that is maked in theplace, When Theseus has done so fair a grace? 1875 But down on knee went every manner wight, And thanken him with all their heart and might, And nam•ly theThebans often sithe. oftentimes KNIGHT'STALE 41 And thus with good hope and with heart• blithe happy They take their leave and homeward gan they ride 1880 To Theb•s, with its old• wall•s wide. End of Part II Part Three The new stadium for thetournament I trow men would• deem it negligence I suspect /think If I forget to tellen thedispence expenditure Of Theseus, that goes so busily To maken up the list•s royally, 1885 That such a noble theatre as it was I dare well sayen in this world there n'as. was not The circúït a mil• was about, Wall•d of stone and ditch•d all without. outside Round was theshape in manner of compass, 1890 Full of degrees, the height of sixty pas, steps /paces That when a man was set on one degree level He letted not his fellow for to see. hindered not from Eastward there stood a gate of marble white, Westward right such another in th'opposite; 1895 And shortly to conclud•, such a place In short Was none in earth as in so little space. For in the land there was no crafty man craftsman That geometry or ars-metric can, knew g. or arithmetic Nor portrayer, nor carver of imáges, 1900 That Theseus ne gave him meat and wages, The theatrefor to maken and devise. And for to do his rite and sacrifice, He eastward has, upon thegate above, CANTERBURYTALES 42 1 1905: He had an altar and a chapel built In worship of Venus, goddess of love, 1905 Done make an altar and an oratory.1 And on thegat• westward, in memóry above the gate Of Mars, he mak•d has right such another, That cost• larg•ly of gold a fother. a pile And northward in a turret on thewall, 1910 Of alabaster white and red coral, An oratory rich• for to see, In worship of Diane of chastity, (goddess) of c. Hath Theseus do wrought in noble wise. caused to be made But yet had I forgotten to devise describe 1915 The noble carving and theportraitures, The shape, the countenance, and the figúres, That weren in theseoratories three. chapels
  • 53. The templeof Venus First, in the temple of Venus mayst thou see, Wrought on thewall, full piteous to behold, 1920 The broken sleep•s and thesigh•s cold, The sacred tear•s and the waymenting, lamentation The fiery strok•s of the desiring That Lov•'s servants in this life endure, The oath•s that their covenants assure, 1925 Pleasance and Hope, Desire, Foolhardiness, Beauty and Youth, Bawdery, Richesse, gaiety, wealth Charms and Force, Leasings, Flattery, Magic / lies Dispense, Business, and Jealousy, money That wore of yellow gold•s a garland, marigolds 1930 And a cuckoo sitting on her hand; Feast•s, instrument•s, carols, dances, songs Lust and array, and all thecircumstances adornment Of love, which that I reckoned and reckon shall, By order weren painted on the wall, 1935 And more than I can make of mentïon. For soothly all the Mount of Citheron, KNIGHT'STALE 43 1 1940 ff: All theinstances cited in the following lines are meant to exemplify the claim that nothing can compete with the power of Love. Idleness was theporter of the love garden in The Romance of the Rose, a poem that Chaucer knew and probably translated. Echo died of unrequited love for Narcissus. Solomon, famed for wisdom, was nevertheless, led into idolatry through his lust for women; Hercules the strong was poisoned by a shirt sent to him by his jealous wife. Medea , beautiful and good at "sleight," tricked her family for her lover Jason who afterwards abandoned her; Circe enchanted the followers of Odysseus;"hardy" Turnus fought Aeneas for Lavinia. Croesus was certainly rich and proud, but his love follies are not recorded. Where Venus has her principal dwelling, Was show•d on thewall in portraying, With all the garden and thelustiness. 1940 Not was forgotten theporter Idleness, 1 Nor Narcissus the fair of yoreagon of long ago Nor yet thefolly of king Salomon, Nor yet thegreat• strength of Hercules, Th'enchantments of Medeaand Circes, Circe 1945 Nor of Turnus with the hardy fierce couráge, The rich• Croesus, caitiff in serváge. captive in slavery Thus may you see that wisdom nor richesse, wealth Beauty nor sleight•, strength•, hardiness, nor cleverness Ne may with Venus hold• champarty, partnership 1950 For as her list, theworld then may she gie. as she wishes / rule Lo, all these folk so caught were in her lass snare Till they for woe full often said "Alas!" Sufficeth here examples one or two, [of the paintings] Although I could• reckon a thousand more. And though 1955 The statueof Venus, glorious for to see, Was naked, floating in thelarg• sea, And from the navel down all covered was With wav•s green and bright as any glass. A citole in her right hand hadd• she, harp 1960 And on her head, full seemly for to see, A rose garland, fresh and well smelling, Above her head her dov•s flickering. fluttering Before her stood her sonn•, Cupido. Upon his shoulders wing•s had he two, 1965 And blind he was, as it is often seen; A bow he bore, and arrows bright and keen. CANTERBURYTALES 44 The templeof Mars Why should I not as well eke tell you all also
  • 54. The portraiturethat was upon the wall Within the temple of mighty Mars thered? [God of War] 1970 All painted was the wall in length and breadth Like to the estres of the grisly place interior That hight thegreat• templeof Mars in Thrace, was called In thilk• cold• frosty regïon In that There as Mars has his sovereign mansïon. chief shrine 1975 First on the wall was painted a forest, In which there dwelleth neither man nor beast, With knotty, knarry, barren trees old, rough Of stubb•s sharp and hideous to behold, In which there ran a rumble in a swough, sound / wind 1980 As though a stormshould bursten every bough. And downward on a hill under a bent grassy slope There stood the templeof Mars armipotent, mighty in arms Wrought all of burn•d steel, of which th'entry burnished Was long and strait and ghastly for to see, narrow 1985 And thereout came a rage and such a veze blast That it made all the gat• for to rese. shake The northern light in at the door•s shone, For window on the wall ne was there none Through which men mighten any light discern. 1990 The door was all of adamant etern, hard rock Y-clench•d overthwart and endalong length and breadth With iron tough; and for to make it strong Every pillar the templeto sustain Was tonne-great, of iron bright and sheen. barrel-thick / shining 1995 There saw I first the dark imagining plotting Of Felony, and all the compassing, accomplishment The cruel Ire, red as any gleed, Anger / hot coal The pick-purse, and eke the pal• Dread, The smiler with the knife under thecloak, 2000 The shippen burning with theblack• smoke, barn The treason of the murdering in the bed, The open War with wound•s all be-bled, bleeding KNIGHT'STALE 45 1 2017: Literally hoppesters arefemale dancers. "Dancing ships" or "ship's dancers" does not make much sense here. The phraseis probably a result of Chaucer's mistranslation of an Italian phrasethat meant "ships of war." Contest with bloody knife and sharp menáce. All full of chirking was that sorry place. noises 2005 The slayer of himself yet saw I there; His heart•'s blood has bathed all his hair; The nail y-driven in theshode at night, into the head The cold• Death with mouth gaping upright. on his back Amiddest of thetemple sat Mischance, In the midst / Disaster 2010 With discomfórt and sorry countenance. Yet saw I Woodness, laughing in his rage; Madness Arm•d Complaint, Outhees, and fierce Outrage; outcries at crime The carrion in the bush with throat y-carve, corpse/ cut A thousand slain and not of qualm y-starve, killed by plague 2015 The tyrant with theprey by force y-reft, seized The town destroy•d--therewas nothing left. Yet saw I burnt the shipp•s hoppesteres,1 ships of war The hunter strangled with thewild• bears, by the The sow freten the child right in thecradle, mauling 2020 The cook y-scalded for all his long• ladle. Nought was forgotten by theinfortúne of Marte: bad influence of Mars The carter overridden with his cart; Under the wheel full low he lay adown. There were also of Mars's divisïon followers 2025 The barber and thebutcher, and thesmith
  • 55. That forges sharp• sword•s on his stith. anvil And all above depainted in a tower Saw I Conquest, sitting in great honoúr, With the sharp• sword over his head 2030 Hanging by a subtletwin•'s thread. slender Depainted was the slaughter of Julius, Caesar Of great Nero, and of Antonius. Mark Antony Al be that thilk• time they were unborn, Although at that Yet was their death depainted therebeforn, 2035 By menacing of Mars, right by figúre. prefiguring So was it show•d in that portraiture, CANTERBURYTALES 46 1 2051-55: Diana (Roman name for Greek goddess Artemis) has a number of different (and conflicting) attributes all portrayed in this picture. She is thevirgin huntress and goddess of chastity, but also as Lucina, she is goddess of childbirth. As Luna she is goddess of the moon but as Hecate or Prosperine (Persephone) she is a goddess of the underworld ruled by Pluto. 2 2062-64: Daphne (here called Dane) was transformed into a laurel tree by her father to (continued...) As is depainted in the stars above Who shall be slain, or els• dead for love. Sufficeth one example in stories old; 2040 I may not reckon them all•, though I would. The statueof Mars upon a cart• stood chariot Arm•d, and look•d grim as he were wood. angry And over his head there shinen two figúres Of starr•s that be clep•d in scriptúres called in books 2045 That one Puella, that other Rubeus. divination figures This god of arm•s was array•d thus: A wolf there stood before him at his feet, With eyen red, and of a man he eat. ate With subtle pencil painted was this story 2050 In rédouting of Mars and of his glory. reverence The templeof Diana Now to thetemple of Diane thechaste goddess of chastity As shortly as I can I will me haste, To tell• you all the descriptïon. Depainted be thewall•s up and down 2055 Of hunting and of shamefast chastity.1 of modest There saw I how woeful Calistopee, Callisto When that Diane agriev•d was with her, Was turn•d from a woman to a bear, And after was she made the Lod•-Star. polestar 2060 Thus was it painted, I can say you no farre. tell you no farther Her son is eke a star, as men may see. [Boötes] is also There saw I Dane y-turn•d to a tree. Daphne (I mean• not thegoddess• Diane, But Penneus' daughter which that hight• Dane.2 who was called KNIGHT'STALE 47 (...continued) escape the embraces of the god Apollo who was pursuing her. 1 2065-8: Actaeon was a hunter who looked at Diana while she was bathing in a pooland was punished by her for this "crime" by being turned into a deer (hart), which was torn apart by his own hounds. 2 2074: "Which I do not want to recall now." 2065 There saw I Actaeon a hart y-mak•d, turned into a deer For vengeance that he saw Diane all naked: I saw how that his hound•s have him caught And freten him, for that they knew him not.1 torn to pieces Yet painted was little further more 2070 How Atalanta hunted thewild boar, And Meleager, and many another more, For which Diana wrought him care and woe. caused him
  • 56. There saw I many another wonder story, The which me list not draw into memóry.2 2075 This goddess on a hart full high• sat, deer With small• hound•s all about her feet, And underneath her feet she had a moon; Waxing it was, and should• wan• soon. Growing / fade In gaudy green her statuecloth•d was, yellowish green(?) 2080 With bow in hand and arrows in a case; Her eyen cast• she full low adown Where Pluto has his dark• regïon. underworld A woman trávailing was her beforn, in labor But for her child so long• was unborn, But because 2085 Full piteously Lucina gan she call, [L = goddess of childbirth] And said•: "Help, for thou mayst best of all." Well could he paint• lifelike that it wrought; With many a florin he the hu•s bought. gold coin / colors Now be theselists made, and Theseus, 2090 That all his great cost• array•d thus The temples and the theatre everydeal, When it was done him lik•d wonder well. it pleased him But stint I will of Theseus a lite, stop /a little And speak of Palamon and of Arcite. CANTERBURYTALES 48 1 2100 ff: "Many believed that since theCreation there had never been in theworld so select a group of knights in the annals of chivalry." 2 2107 "And who would gladly have a surpassing name" (for chivalry). his thankes or their thankes = gladly, with thanks. 3 (continued...) The combatants arrive 2095 The day approacheth of their réturning, That ever each should a hundred knight•s bring The battleto darrein, as I you told. fight And to Athens, their covenant for to hold, agreement Has ever each of them brought a hundred knights, 2100 Well arm•d for the war at all• rights; in every way And sikerly there trow•d many a man certainly / believed That never sithen that the world began, since As for to speak of knighthood of their hand, As far as God has mak•d sea and land, 2105 N'as of so few so noble a company.1 For every wight that lov•d chilvalry, every person And would, his thank•s, have a passant name,2 Has pray•d that hemight be of that game, sport And well was him that thereto chosen was. pleased was he 2110 For if there fell tomorrow such a case, You knowen well that every lusty knight That loveth paramours and has his might, women Were it in Engeland or els•where, They would, their thank•s, wilnen to be there. w. gladly be there 2115 To fighten for a lady, ben'citee, bless us It were a lusty sight• for to see. Palamon with his 100 And right so far•d they with Palamon. With him there wenten knight•s many a one Some will be armed in a habergeon, 3 One / chainmail KNIGHT'STALE 49 3(...continued) 2119 ff: "Some" retains its old meaning of "one," "a certain one." Theswitch from past tenseto what looks like future is odd, but has no significance; the"future" should be read as past. Presumably "will be armed" has thesense of "wishes (or chooses) to be armed," which still needs to be read as a past tense:"One was armed in ..."
  • 57. 1 2125: "There is no new fashion (in arms) that has not been old." Since Chaucer has put his characters in what seems to be medieval armor, perhaps this sentence is saying that he is aware of the anachronism, as in 2033 above. 2 2134: "With bushy hairs in his prominent eyebrows." 3 2140: coat-armour: a garment worn over armor (harness), and embroidered with a coat-of-arms." 2120 And in a breastplateand a light gipon; padded tunic And some will have a pair of plat•s large Another And some will have a Prussian shield or targe; light shield Some will be arm•d on his legg•s well, And have an ax, and some a mace of steel- 2125 There is no new• guise that it n'as old.1 fashion Arm•d were they as I have you told, Ever each after his opinïon. to his own taste There mayst thou see coming with Palamon Lygurge himself, the great• king of Thrace. 2130 Black was his beard and manly was his face. The circles of his eyen in his head, his eyeballs They glowed betwixen yellow and red, And like a griffon look•d he about, [part lion, part eagle] With kempe hair•s on his brow•s stout.2 2135 His limbs great, his brawn•s hard and strong, muscles His shoulders broad, his arm•s round and long, And as theguis• was in his country, fashion Full high upon a char of gold stood he, chariot With four• whit• bull•s in thetraces. 2140 Instead of coat-armoúr over his harness,3 armor With nail•s yellow and bright as any gold, studs He had a bear's skin, coal-black for old. bearskin / with age His long• hair was combed behind his back; As any raven's feather it shone for-black. deep black 2145 A wreath of gold, arm-great, of hug• weight, thick as an arm CANTERBURYTALES 50 Upon his head, set full of ston•s bright, gemstones Of fin• rubies and of diamonds. About his char there went• white alaunts, chariot / wolfhounds Twenty and more, as great as any steer, 2150 To hunten at thelion or the deer, And followed him with muzzle fast y-bound, Collared of gold, and tourettes fil•d round. rings A hundred lord•s had he in his rout, group Armed full well, with heart•s stern and stout. Arcite's troop led by Emetrius 2155 With Árcita, in stories as men find, The great Emetrius, the king of Ind, Upon a steed• bay trapp•d in steel, armed in Covered in cloth of gold diapered well, elaborately patterned Came riding like thegod of arm•s, Mars. 2160 His coat-armour was of cloth of Tars, purplecolored silk Couched with pearl•s whiteand round and great; Set w. His saddle was of burned gold new y-beat. burnished A mantlet upon his shoulder hanging, cape Bretful of rubies red as fire sparkling; covered with 2165 His crisp• hair like ring•s was y-run, curly / falling And that was yellow and glittered as the sun; His nose was high, his eyen bright citron, lemon-colored His lips round, his colour was sanguine ruddy A few• frakens in his face y-sprend, freckles / sprinkled 2170 Betwixen yellow and somdeal black y-mend; mingled And as a lion he his looking cast. he glared Of five and twenty year his age I cast. calculate His beard was well begunn• for to spring. to grow
  • 58. His voice was as a trumpet thundering. 2175 Upon his head he weared of laurel green A garland fresh and lusty for to seen. Upon his hand he bore for his delight An eagle tame, as any lily white. A hundred lord•s had he with him there, 2180 All arm•d, save their heads, in all their gear, Full richly in all• manner things; KNIGHT'STALE 51 1 2195-6: "Men are still of the opinion that no one's intelligence, of whatever rank, could improve upon it." Occupatio is the figure of speech used in the following lines, in which the author says he will not tell about what he then proceeds to tell about. For trusteth wellthat duk•s, earl•s, kings, Were gathered in this noble company For love and for increase of chivalry. 2185 About this king there ran on every part side Full many a tam• lion and leopard. Theseus throws a feast for the occasion And in this wise these lord•s all and some one and all Be on the Sunday to the city come About• prime, and in the town alight. 9 am; dismounted 2190 This Theseus, this Duke, this worthy knight, When he had brought them into his city, And inned them, ever each at his degree, lodged / rank He feasteth them and does so great laboúr To easen them and do them all honoúr, 2195 That yet men weenen that no mann•'s wit men judge / wisdom Of no estatene could amenden it.1 any rank / improve The minstrelcy, the service at thefeast, music The great• gift•s to themost and least, The rich array of Theseus' paláce, 2200 Nor who sat first or last upon thedais, What ladies fairest be and best dancing, Or which of them can dancen best and sing, Nor who most feelingly speaks of love, What hawk•s sitten on theperch above, 2205 What hound•s lien on thefloor adown-- Of all this make I now no mentïon. But all th'effect; that thinketh me thebest. outcome Now comes the point, and hearken if you lest. listen if y please Palamon goes to the temple of Venus The Sunday night, ere day began to spring, CANTERBURYTALES 52 2210 When Palamon thelark• heard• sing, Although it n'ere not day by hour•s two was not Yet sang the lark; and Palamon right tho, then With holy heart and with a high couráge, great devotion He rose to wenden on his pilgrimáge 2215 Unto the blissful Cythereabenign, I mean• Venus honorable and digne, revered And in her hour he walketh forth a pace [just before dawn] Unto the list•s where her templewas, And down he kneeleth, and with humble cheer manner 2220 And heart• sore, he said as you shall hear: "Fairest of fair, O lady mine Venus, Daughter of Jove and spouseto Vulcanus, Thou gladder of the Mount of Citheron, joy For thilk• love thou haddest to Adon, that love / Adonis 2225 Have pity of my bitter tear•s smart, painful And take mine humble prayer at thine heart. Alas! I ne have no language to tell Th'effect nor thetorments of my hell.
  • 59. My heart• may my harm•s not bewray. show 2230 I am so cónfused that I cannot say But "Mercy!" lady bright, that knowest well My thoughts, and seest what harm•s that I feel. Consider all this, and rue upon my sore, have pity As wisly as I shall for evermore As surely 2235 Emforth my might, thy tru• servant be, As much as I can And holden war always with chastity. That make I mine avow, so you me help. I keep• nought of arm•s for to yelp, don't care to boast Nor I ask not tomorrow to have victóry, 2240 Nor renown in this cas•, nor vain• glory Of prizeof arm•s blow•n up and down, fame in arms trumpeted But I would have fully possessïon Of Emily, and die in thy service. Find thou the manner how and in what wise. 2245 I reck• not but it may better be I care not To have victory of them, or they of me, So that I have my lady in mine arms. Provided KNIGHT'STALE 53 1 2271: "unequal": Darkness and daylight were divided into twelve parts each. 1/12th of the hours of darkness would be unequal to 1/12 of thehours of daylight except around the solstice. This is a difficult line to scan metrically even with MEspelling. For though so be that Mars is god of arms, Your virtue is so great in heaven above Your power 2250 That, if you list, I shall well have my love. if you wish Thy templewill I worship evermo', And on thine altar, where I ride or go, wherever I r. or walk I will do sacrifice and fires beet. kindle And if you will not so, my lady sweet, 2255 Then pray I thee tomorrow with a spear That Árcita me through the heart• bere; thrust Then reck I not, when I have lost my life, Though that Arcíta win her to his wife. This is th'effect and end of my prayer: 2260 Give me my love, thou blissful lady dear." When th'orison was done of Palamon, the prayer His sacrifice he did, and that anon, promptly Full piteously, with all• circumstánces, piously / rites Al' tell I not as now his observánces. Although 2265 But at the last the statueof Venus shook, And made a sign• whereby that he took That his prayer accepted was that day; For though the sign• show•d a delay, Yet wist he well that granted was his boon, knew he / prayer 2270 And with glad heart he went him home full soon. Emily prays in thetemple of Diana The third hour unequal that Palamon1 Began to Venus' temple for to gon, to go Up rose thesun, and up rose Emily, And to the templeof Diane gan she hie. hasten 2275 Her maidens that she thither with her led Full readily with them the fire they had, Th'incense, thecloth•s, and the remnant all all the rest That to the sacrific• longen shall, belongs to CANTERBURYTALES 54 1 2284-88: The meaning of this passage is obscure. Perhaps the narrator is saying that he will not be like Actaeon (2303 below) watching a girl take her bath? What a man should be free to do is not clear. The horn•s full of mead, as was theguise. custom 2280 There lack•d naught to do her sacrifice. Smoking the temple, full of cloth•s fair, Incensing / hangings This Emily with heart• debonair devout
  • 60. Her body washed with water of a well. (But how she did her rite I dare not tell, 2285 But it be any thing in general, Except in general? And yet it were a game to hearen all. would be pleasant To him that meaneth well it were no charge; problem But it is good a man be at his large).1 to be free Her bright• hair was combed untress•d all; 2290 A coroun of a green• oak cerial crown of evergreen oak Upon her head was set, full fair and meet. proper Two fir•s on the altar gan she beet, kindle And did her thing•s as men may behold rites / read In Stace of Thebes and other book•s old. "Thebaid" by Statius. 2295 When kindled was the fire, with piteous cheer pious(?) manner Unto Diane she spokeas you may hear: "O chast• goddess of the wood•s green, To whom both heaven and earth and sea is seen; visible Queen of the regne of Pluto, dark and low, realm (of underworld) 2300 Goddess of maidens, that mine heart hast know Full many a year, and wost what I desire, knowest As keep me from thy vengeance and thine ire That Actaeon abought• cruelly. paid dearly for Chaste goddess•, well wost thou that I you know that 2305 Desire to be a maiden all my life, Nor never will I be nor love nor wife. lover I am, thou wost, yet of thy company A maid, and love hunting and venery, the chase And for to walken in the wood•s wild, 2310 And not to be a wife and be with child. Not will I know• company of man. I don't wish Now help me, lady, since you may and can, KNIGHT'STALE 55 1 2313: She asks help from Diana who is also known as Luna, the moon goddess; as Hecate, goddess of theunderworld; and as Lucina, goddess of childbirth. See above 2051, note. For thosethree form•s that thou hast in thee.1 And Palamon, that has such love to me, 2315 And eke Arcite, that loveth me so sore, And also This grace I pray• thee withouten more, and no more As send• love and peace bitwixt them two, And from me turn away their heart•s so That all their hott• love and their desire, 2320 And all their busy torment and their fire Be queint or turn•d in another place. quenched And if so be thou wilt not do me grace, Or if my destiny be shapen so That I shall need•s have one of them two, must have 2325 As send me him that most desireth me. Behold, goddess of clean• chastity, The bitter tears that on my cheek•s fall. Since thou art maid and keeper of us all, My maidenhood thou keep and well conserve. 2330 And while I live, a maid I will thee serve." The fir•s burn upon thealtar clear, While Emily was thus in her prayér, But suddenly she saw a sight• quaint, strange For right anon one of the fires queint, quenched 2335 And quicked again, and after that anon And lit up The other fire was queint and all agone, And as it queint it made a whistling, As do these wett• brands in their burning, wet branches And at the brand•s' end out ran anon 2340 As it were bloody dropp•s many aone. For which so sore aghast was Emily
  • 61. That she was well nigh mad, and gan to cry, For she ne wist• what it signified; But only for thefear thus has she cried, 2345 And wept that it was pity for to hear. (in a way) that And therewithal Diana gan appear, With bow in hand, right as an hunteress, CANTERBURYTALES 56 And said•: "Daughter, stint thy heaviness. cease thy grief Among the godd•s high it is affirmed, 2350 And by eternal word written and confirmed, Thou shalt be wedded unto one of tho those That have for thee so much• care and woe, But unto which of them I may not tell. Farewell, for I ne may no longer dwell. 2355 The fires which that on mine altar burn Shall thee declaren ere that thou go hence tell you before Thine áventure of love as in this case." destiny And with that word thearrows in the case Of thegoddess• clatter fast and ring, 2360 And forth she went, and made a vanishing. For which this Emily aston•d was, astonished And said•: "What amounteth this, alas? I put me in thy protectïon, Diana, and in thy dispositïon." 2365 And home she goes anon thenext• way. shortest way This is th'effect, there is no more to say. the outcome Arcite prays in the temple of Mars The next• hour of Mars following this, Arcite unto the temple walk•d is Of fierc• Mars, to do his sacrifice, 2370 With all the rit•s of his pagan wise. fashion With piteous heart and high devotïon, pious Right thus to Mars he said his orison: prayer "O strong• god, that in the regnes cold realms Of Thrace honoúred art and lord y-hold, regarded as 2375 And hast in every regne and every land Of arm•s all the bridle in thine hand, the control And them fortúnest as thee list devise: reward / as you like Accept of me my piteous sacrifice. pious If so be that my youth• may deserve, 2380 And that my might be worthy for to serve Thy godhead, that I may be one of thine, Then pray I thee to rue upon my pine, take pity /misery KNIGHT'STALE 57 1 2398: "And I know well that before she will show me any favor ..." The Chaucer Glossary implies tht theform hoterather than Heete was used in Skeat. I could use it and float for the preceding line. 2 "I will always work very hard to please you and (be) strong in your service" For thilk• pain and thilk• hott• fire that same In which thou whilom burnedst for desire once 2385 When that thou usedest the beauty Of fair•, young•, fresh• Venus free, And haddest her in arm•s at thy will, Although thee once upon a time misfell, were unfortunate When Vulcanus had caught thee in his lass, trap 2390 And found thee lying by his wife, alas. For thilk• sorrow that was in thine heart, Have ruth as well upon my pain•s smart. pity /sharp I am young and uncunning, as thou wost, inexperienced / know And as I trow, with love offended most I think / afflicted 2395 That ever was any liv• creätúre. For she that does me all this woe endure causes me to
  • 62. Ne recketh never whether I sink or fleet; float And well I wot ere she me mercy heet,1 favor show I must with strength• win her in the place, in thelists 2400 And well I wot withouten help and grace I know Of thee ne may my strength• not avail. Then help me, lord, tomorrow in my bataille, For thilk• fire that whilom burn•d thee, For the same / once As well as thilk• fire now burneth me, 2405 And do that I tomorrow have victóry. grant that Minebe thetravail, and thine be theglory. work Thy sovereign temple will I most honoúr Of any place, and always most laboúr In thy pleasánce and in thy craft•s strong.2 To please you 2410 And in thy templeI will my banner hang, And all thearm•s of my company, And evermore until that day I die Eternal fire I will before thee find. provide And eke to this avow I will me bind: also / vow 2415 My beard, my hair, that hangeth long adown, CANTERBURYTALES 58 That never yet ne felt offensïon Of razor nor of shears, I will thee give; And be thy tru• servant while I live. Now lord, have ruth upon my sorrows sore. pity 2420 Give me the victory. I ask no more." The prayer stint of Árcita the strong. stopped The ring•s on thetemple door that hung And eke the doors clatter•d full fast, Of which Arcíta somewhat him aghast. was afraid 2425 The fires burned upon the altar bright That it gan all the templefor to light. so that A sweet• smell anon theground up gave And Árcita anon his hand up have, lifted up And more incénse into the fire he cast, 2430 With other rit•s more, and at thelast The statueof Mars began his hauberk ring, to rattle its armor And with that sound he heard a murmuring, Full low and dim, that said• thus:"Victóry!" For which he gave to Mars honoúr and glory. 2435 And thus with joy and hop• well to fare Arcite anon unto his inn is fare, lodging has gone As fain as fowl is of the bright• sun. glad as bird An argument among thegods And right anon such strife there is begun For thilk• granting, in the heaven above Because of that 2440 Betwixt• Venus, the goddéss of love, And Mars, thestern• god armipotent, powerfulin arms That Jupiter was busy it to stent, stop Till that the pal• Sáturnus the cold, That knew so many of adventures old, events 2445 Found in his old experience an art trick That he full soon has pleas•d every part. (So) that / party As sooth is said, eld has great advantáge; truth / old age In eld is both• wisdom and uságe; experience Men may theold outrun but not outred. outwit 2450 Saturn anon, to stinten strife and dread, to stop KNIGHT'STALE 59 Albeit that it is against his kind, Although / his nature Of all this strife he can remedy find. Saturn settles the argument "My dear• daughter Venus," quod Satúrn, granddaughter "My cours•, that has so wid• for to turn, orbit
  • 63. 2455 Has mor• power than wot any man. than knows Mineis the drenching in the sea so wan; drowning / pale Mineis the prison in the dark• cote; cell Mineis the strangling and hanging by the throat, The murmur and thechurl•s' rébelling, peasants' 2460 The groining and theprivy empoisoning. grumbling / secret I do vengeánce and plain correctïon open While I dwell in the sign of the lion. sign of Leo Mineis the ruin of the high• halls, The falling of the towers and of the walls 2465 Upon theminer or the carpenter. I slew• Sampson, shaking thepillar; And min• be the maladi•s cold, The dark• treasons, and the cast•s old. plots My looking is the father of pestilence. My glance 2470 Now weep no more, I shall do diligence take pains That Palamon, that is thine own• knight, Shall have his lady as thou hast him hight. promised Though Mars shall help his knight, yet natheless, Betwixt• you there must be some time peace, 2475 Al be you not of one complexïon, temperament That causeth alday such divisïon. every day I am thine ai•l, ready at thy will. grandfather Weep now no more; I will thy lust fulfill." your wish Now will I stinten of the gods above, stop (talking) about 2480 Of Mars and Venus, the goddéss of love, And tell• you as plainly as I can The great effect for which that I began. result, ending End of Part III CANTERBURYTALES 60 Part Four Preparations for the tournament Great was the feast in Athen•s that day, And eke the lusty season of that May also 2485 Madeevery wight to be in such pleasánce person That all that Monday jousten they and dance, And spenden it in Venus' high service. But by the caus• that they should• rise Because Early for to see thegreat• fight, 2490 Unto their rest• wenten they at night. And on themorrow when the day gan spring, Of horse and harness noise and clattering There was in hostelri•s all about; And to the palace rode there many a rout group 2495 Of lord•s upon steed•s and palfreys. war horses / riding horses There mayst thou see devising of harness, preparing So uncouth and so rich, and wrought so well so unusual Of goldsmithry, of broiding, and of steel, embroidery The shield•s bright•, testers, and trappúres, head armor / trappings 2500 Gold-hewn helms, hauberks, coat-armoúrs, gold-worked / mail coats Lords in par•ments on their coursers, robes / horses Knight•s of retinue and eke squires also Nailing the spears and helmets buckling; Gigging of shield•s, with lainers lacing: strapping/ lanyards 2505 There as need was they wer• no thing idle. The foamy steed•s on thegolden bridle Gnawing; and fast the armourers also With file and hammer, pricking to and fro; spurring Yeomen on foot and commons many a one Servants 2510 With short• staves, thick as they may gon; Pip•s, trumpets, nakers, clarions, drums / bugles That in the battle blowen bloody sounds;
  • 64. The palace full of peopleup and down, Here three, there ten, holding their questïon, arguing 2515 Divining of theseTheban knight•s two. speculating about KNIGHT'STALE 61 Some said• thus, some said it shall be so; Some held with him with the black• beard, Some with thebald, some with thethickly-haired; Some said he look•d grim, and he would fight: "he"= this / that one 2520 "He has a sparth of twenty pound of weight." "battleaxe Thus was thehall• full of divining conjectures Long after that the sun began to spring. Theseus announces the rules The great• Theseus, that of his sleep awak•d With minstrelsy and nois• that was mak•d, 2525 Held yet the chambers of his palace rich, Still stayed in Till that the Theban knight•s, both alike Honoúred, were into the palace fet. fetched Duke Theseus is at a window set, Arrayed right as he were a god in throne; 2530 The peoplepresseth thitherward full soon, Him for to see and do high reverence, And eke to hearken his hest and his senténce. order & judgement A herald on a scaffold made a "Ho!" Till all the noise of peoplewas y-do. ceased 2535 And when he saw thepeopleof noise all still, Thus show•d he themighty duk•'s will: "The lord has of his high discretïon Considered that it were destructïon To gentle blood to fighten in theguise themanner 2540 Of mortal battle now in this emprise; enterprise Wherefore, to shapen that they shall not die, ensure He will his first• purposemodify: No man, therefóre, on pain of loss of life, No manner shot, nor pole-ax, nor short knife missile 2545 Into the list•s send or thither bring, Nor short-sword for to stoke with point biting, to stab No man ne draw nor bear it by his side. Nor no man shall unto his fellow ride But one course with a sharp y-grounden spear. 2550 Foin, if him list, on foot, himself to were. Thrust if he likes / defend CANTERBURYTALES 62 1 At the edge of the lists, the tournament place, stakes have been set up to serve as a kind of sideline; any warrior captured and forced to the sideline is out of the fight. And he that is at mischief shall be take, overcome / captured And not slain, but be brought unto the stake surrender post That shall ordain•d be on either side;1 set up But thither he shall by force, and there abide. 2555 And if so fall• the chieftain be take befall / leader On either side, or els• slay his make, opponent No longer shall the tourneying• last. God speed• you: go forth and lay on fast. With long sword and with maces fight your fill. 2560 Go now your way. This is thelord•'s will." The voice of peopletouched theheaven, So loud• cri•d they with merry steven: voice "God sav• such a lord that is so good; He willeth no destructïon of blood." 2565 Up go thetrumpets and themelody, And to the lists rideth the company, By ordinance, throughout the city large, In order / through Hang•d with cloth of gold and not with serge. Full like a lord this noble Duke gan ride,
  • 65. 2570 These two Thebans upon either side, And after rode the Queen and Emily, And after that another company Of one and other after their degree. by rank And thus they passen throughout the city, pass through 2575 And to the list•s cam• they betime, in good time It was not of the day yet fully prime. All spectators taketheir places and thetournament begins mid-morning When set was Theseus full rich and high, Hippolytathequeen and Emily, And other ladies in degrees about, ranks 2580 Unto the seats presseth all the rout, the crowd And westward through the gat•s under Mart Mars Arcite and eke the hundred of his part, party KNIGHT'STALE 63 With banner red is entered right anon. And in that self• moment Palamon same 2585 Is under Venus eastward in theplace, With banner whiteand hardy cheer and face. brave In all the world, to seeken up and down, So even without variatïon evenly matched There n'er• such• compani•s tway;weren't two such 2590 For there was none so wis• that could say That any had of other advantáge Of worthiness nor of estatenor age, Of bravery or rank So even were they chosen for to guess; And in two ring•s fair• they them dress. they get ready 2595 When that their nam•s read were every one, That in their number guil• was there none, (So)that / cheating Then were the gates shut and cried was loud: "Do now your devoir, young• knight•s proud." duty The heralds left their pricking up and down. spurring 2600 Now ringen trumpets loud and clarion. bugle There is no more to say, but east and west In go the spears full sadly in the rest, tightly In goes the sharp• spur into the side, There see men who can joust and who can ride. 2605 There shiveren shaft•s upon shield•s thick, spear shafts split He feeleth through the heart•-spoon theprick. He = One / breast bone Up springen spear•s twenty foot on height, Out go the sword•s as thesilver bright, The helmets they to-hewen and to-shred, "to" is intensive 2610 Out burst the blood with stern• stream•s red, gushing With mighty maces the bones they to-burst; He through the thickest of the throng gan thrust. "He" = one There stumble steed•s strong and down goes all. He rolleth under foot as does a ball, "He" = another 2615 He foineth on his feet with his truncheon, thrusts / shaft And he him hurtleth with his horse adown, He through the body is hurt and sithen take, & then captured Maugre his head, and brought unto the stake, Against his will As forward was; right there he must abide. agreement was 2620 Another led is on that other side. CANTERBURYTALES 64 And some time does them Theseus to rest, makes them Them to refresh and drinken if them lest. if they wish Full oft a-day have thes• Thebans two Together met and wrought his fellow woe. caused 2625 Unhors•d has each other of them tway. two There was no tiger in Vale of Galgophay, When that her whelp is stole when it is lite, little
  • 66. So cruel in the hunt as is Arcite, For jealous heart, upon this Palamon. 2630 Ne in Belmary there n'is so fell lion, fierce That hunted is or for his hunger wood, mad with hunger Ne of his prey desireth so the blood, As Palamon to slay his foe Arcite. The jealous strok•s on their helmets bite, angry blows 2635 Out runneth blood on both their sid•s red. Palamon is captured Some time an end there is of every deed, For ere the sun unto the rest• went, before sunset The strong• king Emetrius gan hent seized This Palamon as he fought with Arcite, 2640 And made his sword deep in his flesh to bite, And by theforce of twenty is he take, Unyolden, and y-drawen to the stake. Unyielding And in the rescue of this Palamon, The strong• king Lygurge is born adown, 2645 And King Emetrius, for all his strength, Is borne out of his saddle a sword•'s length, So hit him Palamon ere he were take. But all for naught: he brought was to the stake. His hardy heart• might him help• naught; 2650 He must abid• when that he was caught, By force and eke by compositïon. and as agreed Who sorroweth now but woeful Palamon, That must no mor• go again to fight? Theseus announces the victor; Venus sulks; Saturn strikes KNIGHT'STALE 65 And when that Theseus hadd• seen this sight, 2655 Unto the folk that foughten thus each one He cri•d, "Whoa! No more, for it is done. I will be tru• judge and not party. partial Arcite of Theb•s shall have Emily, That by his fortune has her fair y-won." fairly 2660 Anon there is a noise of peoplebegun For joy of this, so loud and high withall, It seem•d that the list•s should• fall. What can now fair• Venus do above? What says she now? What does this queen of love, 2665 But weepeth so for wanting of her will, not getting her way Till that her tear•s in thelist•s fell. She said: "I am asham•d, doubt•less." Saturnus said: "Daughter, hold thy peace. Mars has his will, his knight has all his boon. prayer 2670 And, by my head, thou shalt be eas•d soon." The trumpers with theloud• minstrelcy, trumpeters /music The heralds that full loud• yell and cry, Be in their weal for joy of daun Arcite. Are glad But hearken me, and stinteth noise a lite a little 2675 Which a miracle there befell anon! What a / shortly This fierce Arcite has off his helm y-done, had doffed And on a courser for to show his face, war-horse He pricketh endalong the larg• place, rides along / arena Looking upward on this Emily, 2680 And she again him cast a friendly eye. towards him For women, as to speaken in commune, generally They follow all the favour of Fortúne, And she was all his cheer as in his heart. joy Out of the ground a Fury infernal start, shot 2685 From Pluto sent at request of Satúrn, For which his horse for fear• 'gan to turn
  • 67. And leap aside, and foundered as he leaped. stumbled And ere that Árcit• may taken keep, before / act He pight him on the pommel of his head, pitched / crown 2690 That in the place he lay as he were dead, (So) that CANTERBURYTALES 66 1 2691: "His breast torn open by the bow at the front of the saddle" which he has somehow struck in his fall. 2 2703: "Although this accident had occurred" His breast to-bursten with his saddle-bow.1 As black he lay as any coal or crow, So was the blood y-runnen in his face. Anon he was y-borneout of the place, 2695 With heart• sore to Theseus' palace. Then was he carven out of his harness, cut / armor And in a bed y-brought full fair and blive, quickly For he was yet in memory and alive, still conscious And always crying after Emily. Activities after thetournament 2700 Duke Theseus with all his company Is comen home to Athens his city With all• bliss and great solemnity. Albeit that this áventure was fall,2 Although / accident He would• not discomforten them all. upset everyone 2705 Men said eke that Arcíte shall not die: moreover "He shall be heal•d of his malady." And of another thing they were as fain: glad That of them all• was there none y-slain, Al were they sore y-hurt, and namely one, Although / especially 2710 That with a spear was thirl•d his breast bone. pierced To other wound•s and to broken arms Some hadd• salv•s and some hadd• charms; ointments / spells Fermacies of herb•s and eke save Concoctions / sage They drank, for they would their limb•s have. wante to keep 2715 For which this noble Duke, as he well can, Comfórteth and honoúreth every man, And mad• revel all thelong• night Unto the strang• lord•s, as was right. foreign lords Ne there was holden no discomfiting, disgrace 2720 But as a joust or as a tourneying, For soothly therewas no discomfiture, disgrace KNIGHT'STALE 67 1 2749-51: "thilke virtue": that power, ability ; in medieval medicine the "animal" power was in the brain, the"natural" power in theliver. In this case theappropriate"virtue" was unable to overcome the infection. For falling n'is not but an áventure, only accidental Nor to be led by force unto the stake, Unyolden, and with twenty knights y-take, Unsurrendering 2725 One persón alone, withouten mo' unaided And harried forth by arm•, foot, and toe And eke his steed• driven forth with staves, With footmen, both• yeomen and eke knaves-- It n'as aretted him no villainy; held no disgrace 2730 There may no man clepen it cowardy. call it cowardice For which anon Duke Theseus let cry-- caused to be announced To stinten all• rancour and envy-- stop The gree as well of one side as of other, reward And either side alike as other's brother, 2735 And gave them gift•s after their degree, according to rank And fully held a feast• day•s three, And cónvey•d the king•s worthily accompanied Out of his town a journey larg•ly. a full day's ride And home went every man the right• way,
  • 68. 2740 There was no more but "Farewell, have good day." Of this battle I will no more endite, But speak of Palamon and of Arcite. Arcite's injury does not heal Swelleth the breast of Árcite, and thesore Encreaseth at his heart• more and more; 2745 The clothered blood, for any leech•craft, despitedoctoring Corrupteth, and is in his bouk y-left, body That neither vein-blood nor ventusing, blood letting / cupping Nor drink of herb•s may be his helping. The virtue expulsíve or animal immune system 2750 From thilk• virtue clep•d natural Ne may thevenom voiden nor expell;1 poison overcome The pip•s of his lungs began to swell, CANTERBURYTALES 68 1 2775: wife: In Boccaccio's "Teseida," Chaucer's source for this tale, Arcite and Emily marry after his victory. And every lacert in his breast adown muscle Is shent with venom and corruptïon. destroyed 2755 Him gaineth neither, for to get his life, It helps not Vomit upward, nor downward laxative. All is to-bursten thilk• region; that part of body Nature has now no dominatïon; no control And certainly, where Nature will not work, 2760 Farewell, physic, go bear the man to church. This all and sum: that Árcita must die, In short For which he sendeth after Emily, sends for And Palamon that was his cousin dear. His last will and testament Then said he thus, as you shall after hear: 2765 "Not may thewoeful spirit in mine heart Declare a point of all my sorrows smart Tell even a bit To you, my lady, that I lov• most; But I bequeath theservice of my ghost spirit To you aboven every creätúre 2770 Since that my lif• may no longer dure. last Alas the woe! Alas thepain•s strong That I for you have suffered, and so long! Alas the death! Alas, mine Emily! Alas, departing of our company! parting 2775 Alas, mine heart's queen! Alas, my wife!1 Mineheart•'s lady, ender of my life. What is this world? What asketh man to have? Now with his love, now in his cold• grave Alone, withouten any company. 2780 Farewell, my sweet• foe, mine Emily, And soft• take me in your arm•s tway, two arms For love of God, and hearken what I say: I have here with my cousin Palamon Had strife and rancour many a day agone KNIGHT'STALE 69 1 2813-14: "And I don't want to give theopinions of thosewho write about the afterworld" seems to be the general meaning. 2785 For love of you, and for my jealousy. And Jupiter so wise my soul• gie guide To speaken of a servant properly alover With all• circumstances truly, That is to sayen, truth, honoúr, knighthood, 2790 Wisdom, humbless, estate, and high kindred, rank Freedom, and all that 'longeth to that art, generosity / belongs So Jupiter have of my soul• part, As in this world right now ne know I none
  • 69. So worthy to beloved as Palamon, 2795 That serveth you and will do all his life. And if that ever you shall be a wife, Forget not Palamon, thegentle man." And with that word his speech to faile gan; For from his feet up to his breast was come 2800 The cold of death that had him overcome. And yet moreover, for in his arm•s two The vital strength is lost and all ago; Only the intellect withouten more, That dwell•d in his heart• sick and sore, 2805 Gan failen when the heart• felt• death. Dusk•d his eyen two and fail•d breath, But on his lady yet he cast his eye. His last• word was: "Mercy, Emily." His spirit changed house and went• there 2810 As I came never, I can not tellen where; As I was never there Therefore I stint, I am no divinister: I stop / no theologian Of soul•s find I not in this register, this source? Ne me ne list thilke opinions to tell I don't wish Of them, though that they writen where they dwell.1 2815 Arcite is cold, there Mars his soul gie. guide The mourning for Arcite. The funeral Now will I speaken forth of Emily. CANTERBURYTALES 70 1 2835-6: It is difficult to decide what to make of thesentiment expressed in thesetwo lines which seem singularly unapt at this point. Shright Emily and howleth Palamon, Shrieked And Theseus his sister took anon sister -in-law Swooning, and bore her from the corpseaway. 2820 What helpeth it to tarry forth the day take all day To tellen how she wept both eve and morrow? For in such cases women have such sorrow, When that their husbands be from them a-go, gone That for the mor• part they sorrow so, 2825 Or els• fall in such a malady, That at thelast• certainly they die. Infinite be thesorrows and thetears Of old• folk and folk of tender years In all the town for death of this Theban; 2830 For him there weepeth both• child and man. So great• weeping was there none, certáin, When Hector was y-brought all fresh y-slain To Troy. Alas, thepity that was there, Cratching of cheek•s, rending eke of hair: Scratching / also 2835 "Why wouldest thou be dead," these women cry, "And haddest gold enough and Emily?" 1 No man might• gladden Theseus Saving his old• father Egeus, That knew this world•'s transmutatïon, 2840 As he had seen it change both up and down, Joy after woe, and woe after gladness; And show•d them example and likeness: "Right as there di•d never man," quod he, "That he ne lived in earth in some degree, 2845 Right so there liv•d never man," he said, "In all this world that some time he ne died. This world n'is but a thoroughfare full of woe, And we be pilgrims passing to and fro. Death is an end of every worldy sore." 2850 And overall this yet said he muchel more To this effect, full wisely to exhort
  • 70. KNIGHT'STALE 71 The peoplethat they should them recomfort. take comfort Duke Theseus with all his busy cure care Casteth now wher• that the sepultúre Considers / burial 2855 Of good Arcite may best y-mak•d be, And eke most honourable in his degree. And at the last he took conclusïon made decision That there as first Arcite and Palamon there where Hadd• for love the battlethem between, 2860 That in the self• grov•, sweet and green, self same There as he had his amorous desires, His cómplaint, and for love his hott• fires, song of lament He would• make a fire in which the office rites Funeral he might• all accomplish, "funeral" is an adj. 2865 And let anon command to hack and hew promptly gave The oak•s old, and lay them in a row, In colpons well array•d for to burn. portions His officers with swift• feet they run And ride anon at his command•ment, 2870 And after this Theseus has y-sent After a bier, and it all overspread Sent for With cloth of gold, the richest that he had, And of thesam• suit he clad Arcite, material Upon his hand•s two his glov•s white, 2875 Eke on his head a crown of laurel green, And in his hand a sword full bright and keen. He laid him, bare the visage, on thebier. face uncovered Therewith he wept that pity was to hear, And for thepeopleshould• see him all, so that all the people 2880 When it was day he brought him to the hall That roareth of the crying and thesound. echoes with Then came this woeful Theban Palamon, With fluttery beard and ruggy ashy hairs, scraggly / rough In cloth•s black, y-dropp•d allwith tears, 2885 And passing other of weeping, Emily, surpassing The ruefullest of all the company. saddest In as much as theservic• should be The mor• noble and rich in his degree, acc. to his rank Duke Theseus let forth three steed•s bring CANTERBURYTALES 72 1 2919: Here begins what has been called thelongest sentence in Chaucer's poetry and perhaps thelongest occupatio in English, a rhetorical feature as dear to Chaucer and to the Middle Ages generally as the catalogue which it is also. Occupatio is the pretence that the author does not have thetime, spaceor talent to describe what he then sets out to describe. The catalogue is self explaining, if not self justifying to modern taste. 2890 That trapp•d werein steel all glittering, And covered with the arms of Daun Arcite. Sir A. Upon thesesteeds that weren great and white, There satten folk of which one bore his shield; There sat Another his spear up in his hand•s held; 2895 The third• bore with him his bow Turkish. Of burned gold was the case and eke th' harness, burnished / armor And ridden forth a pace with sorrowful cheer Toward the grove, as you shall after hear. The noblest of the Greek•s that there were 2900 Upon their shoulders carri•d thebier, With slack• pace, and eyen red and wet, slow march Throughout thecity by the master street, main street That spread was all with black. And wonder high Right of thesam• is the street y-wry. covered 2905 Upon theright hand went old Egeus, And on that other side Duke Theseus,
  • 71. With vessels in their hands of gold full fine, refined All full of honey, milk, and blood, and wine. Eke Palamon with full great company And 2910 And after that came woeful Emily, With fire in hand, as was that time the guise fashion To do the office of funeral service. High labour and full great apparreling Was at the service and the fire-making, 2915 That with his green• top theheaven raught, its / reached And twenty fathomof breadth the arm•s straught, stretched This is to say, theboughs were so broad. Of straw first there was laid many a load.1 But how the fire was mak•d upon height, 2920 Nor eke the nam•s how the trees hight-- were called As oak, fir, birch, asp, alder, holm, poplar, Willow, elm, plane, ash, box, chestain, lind, laurer, KNIGHT'STALE 73 Maple, thorn, beech, hazel, yew, whippletree-- How they were felled shall not be told for me, by me 2925 Nor how the godd•s runnen up and down, [g. of the woods] Disherited of their habitatïon In which they won•den in rest and peace: used to live Nymphs, fauns, and hamadryad•s; wood deities Nor how the beast•s and thebird•s all 2930 Fledden for fear• when thewood was fall; felled Nor how the ground aghast was of the light That was not wont to see thesunn• bright; accustomed Nor how the fire was couch•d first with stree laid w. straw And then with dry stick•s cloven a-three, cut in three 2935 And then with green• wood and spicery, aromatic wood And then with cloth of gold and with perry, jewelry And garlands hanging full of many a flower, The myrrh, th'incense with all so great savoúr, Nor how Arcit• lay among all this, 2940 Nor what richness about the body is, Nor how that Emily, as was the guise, custom Put in the fire of funeral service, Nor how she swoon•d when men made the fire, Nor what she spoke, nor what was her desire, 2945 Nor what jewels men in thefir• cast When that thefire was great and burn•d fast, Nor how some cast their shield and some their spear, And of thevest•ments which that ther• were, And cupp•s fullof milk and wine and blood 2950 Into the fire that burnt as it were wood; mad Nor how the Greek•s with a hug• rout crowd Thric• riden all the fire about, Upon theleft hand, with a loud shouting, And thric• with their spear•s clattering, 2955 And thric• how theladies gan to cry, And how that led was homeward Emily; Nor how Arcite is burnt to ashes cold; Nor how that lich•-wak• was y-hold wake for dead All thilk• night; nor how the Greek•s play that night 2960 The wak•-plays;ne keep I nought to say funeral games CANTERBURYTALES 74 1 2962: "Nor who came off best, with least difficulty" (?) Who wrestleth best naked with oil anoint, Nor who that bore him best in no disjoint.1 I will not tellen all how that they gon go Hom• to Athens when theplay is done, 2965 But shortly to the point then will I wend,
  • 72. And maken of my long• tale an end. Theseus sends for Palamon and Emily By process and by length of certain years, course of time All stinted is the mourning and the tears ceased Of Greek•s by one general assent. 2970 Then seem•d me there was a parliament I gather At Athens, upon a certain point and case; Among the which• points y-spoken was To have with certain countries álliance, And have fully of Thebans obeïsance; submission 2975 For which noble Theseus anon Let senden after gentle Palamon, Had P. sent for Unwist of him what was the cause and why. Without telling But in his black• cloth•s sorrowfully He came at his command•ment in hie. in haste 2980 Then sent• Theseus for Emily. When they were set, and hushed was all the place, And Theseus abiden has a space a while Ere any word came from his wis• breast, Before His eyen set he there as was his lest, where he wished 2985 And with a sad viságe he sigh•d still, And after that right thus he said his will: His speech about Destiny "The First• Mover of the cause above, When he first made the fair• Chain of Love, Great was th'effect, and high was his intent; result 2990 Well wist he why and what thereof he meant. knew he KNIGHT'STALE 75 1 3005-16: Every part is part of a whole, and is therefore imperfect. Only theperfect, i.e. God, is whole and eternal. Nature itself derives directly from God, but each part of it is less perfect because further removed from the great One. Everything imperfect is destined to die. But, though each individual is perishable, the species itself has some kind of eternity. For with that fair• Chain of Love he bound The fire, the air, thewater, and the land In certain bound•s that they may not flee. That sam• Prince and that Mover," quod he, 2995 "Hath 'stablished in this wretched world adown below Certain day•s and duratïon To all that is engendred in this place, Over the which• day they may not pace, Past which All may they yet thoseday•s well abridge, Although / shorten 3000 There needeth no authority to allege, cite authorities For it is prov•d by experience, But that me list declaren my senténce. I wish / opinion Then may men by this order well discern That thilk• Mover stable is and etern. 3005 Then may men know•, but it be a fool, except for That every part deriveth from its whole, For Naturehas not taken its beginning Of no part´y or cantle of a thing, part or bit But of a thing that perfect is and stable, 3010 Descending so till it be córrumpable. corruptible And therefore for his wis• purveyanceprovidence He has so well beset his ordinance so ordered things That species of thing•s and progressïons Shall enduren by successïons, 3015 And not etern, withouten any lie. This mayst thou understand and see at eye.1 Lo, the oak that has so long a nourishing From tim• that it first beginneth spring, And has so long a life, as you may see, 3020 Yet at the last• wasted is the tree.
  • 73. Consider eke how that thehard• stone Under our foot on which we ride and gon, and walk Yet wasteth it as it lies by the way; wears away CANTERBURYTALES 76 1 3027-3030: The passage states the obvious: that every man and woman must die, young or old, king or servant. The awkward syntaxis about as follows: "man and woman ... needs ...be dead" ; must be repeats needs be, and he refers back to man and woman. The broad• river some time waxeth dry; becomes 3025 The great• town•s see we wane and wend; fade and disappear Then may you see that all this thing has end. Of man and woman see we well also That needs, in one of thes• term•s two, periods This is to say, in youth or else in age, 3030 He must be dead, the king as shall a page:1 He = everyone Some in his bed, some in thedeep• sea, One ... another Some in thelarg• field, as you may see. open field There helpeth naught, all goes that ilk• way. the same way Then may I say that all this thing must die. Destiny is the will of Jove 3035 What maketh this but Jupiter theking, Who causes this? That is the Prince and cause of all• thing, Converting all unto his proper well its own source? From which it is deriv•d, sooth to tell! And here-against no creätúre alive against this 3040 Of no degree, availeth for to strive. any rank Then is it wisdom, as it thinketh me, it seems to me To maken virtue of necessity, And take it well that we may not eschew, what we can't avoid And nam•ly what to us all is due. 3045 And whoso groucheth aught, he does folly, whoever complains And rebel is to Him that all may gie. directs everything And certainly a man has most honoúr To dien in his excellence and flower, When he is siker of his good• name. sure 3050 Then has he done his friend nor him no shame; And gladder ought his friend be of his death When with honoúr up yielded is his breath, Than when his name appall•d is for age, dimmed For all forgotten is his vassalage. service KNIGHT'STALE 77 3055 Then is it best, as for a worthy fame, To dien when that he is best of name. at height of h. fame He reminds them that Arcite died at the height of his fame The contrary of all this is wilfulness. Why grouchen we, why have we heaviness, complain That good Arcite, of chivalry the flower, 3060 Departed is with duity and honour homage Out of this foul• prison of this life? Why grouchen here his cousin and his wife Of his welfare that loveth them so well? Can he them thank? Nay, God wot, never a deal 3065 That both his soul and eke himself offend. who offend both ... And yet they may their lust•s not amend. their feelings What may I conclude of this long serie, argument But after woe I rede us to be merry, I advise And thanken Jupiter of all his grace; 3070 And, er• we departen from this place, I red• that we make of sorrows two suggest One perfect joy•, lasting evermo'. And look now where most sorrow is herein, There I will first amenden and begin.
  • 74. Theseus wishes Palamon and Emily to marry 3075 "Sister," quod he, "this is my full assent, With all th'advice here of my parliament: That gentle Palamon, your own• knight, That serveth you with will and heart and might, And ever has done since you first him knew, 3080 That you shall of your grace upon him rue take pity And taken him for husband and for lord. Lene me your hand, for this is our accord: Give Let see now of your womanly pity. He is a king•'s brother's son, pardee, by God 3085 And though he were a poor• bachelor, knight Since he has serv•d you so many year And had for you so great adversity, CANTERBURYTALES 78 1 3089: "Mercy is preferable to insisting on one's rights." Theimplication is that, by rights, she should be married to a man of higher rank than Palamon. It must• be considered, 'lieveth me believe me For gentle mercy aught to passen right.1 3090 Than said he thus to Palalmon the knight: "I trow there needeth little sermoning I imagine / urging To mak• you assent unto this thing. Come near and take your lady by the hand." They marry and live happily ever after Bitwixen them was made anon the bond 3095 That hight• matrimony or marrïage, That is called By all the council and the baronage. And thus with all• bliss and melody Hath Palamon y-wedded Emily. And God, that all this wid• world has wrought, made 3100 Send him his love that has it dear abought; "him" = everyone For now is Palamon in all• weal, happiness Living in bliss, in riches, and in heal, health And Emily him loves so tenderly, And he her serveth also gentilly, 3105 That never was there no word them between Of jealousy or any other teen. vexation Thus endeth Palamon and Emily, And God save all this fair• company. Amen The Miller's Portrait The Miller’s Prologue THEMILLER’S TALE MILLER'S TALE1 1 550: "There was no door that he could not heave off its hinges." 2 563: A phrasehard to explain. It is sometimes said to allude to a saying that an honest miller had a thumb of gold, i.e. there is no such thing as an honest miller. But the phrase"And yet" after theinformation that the miller is a thief, would seem to preclude that meaning, or another that has been suggested: his thumb, held on the weighing scale, produced gold. The Portrait of thepilgrim Miller from the General Prologue The MILLER was a stout carl for thenones. strong fellow Full big he was of brawn and eke of bones and also That prov•d well, for over all there he came for, wherever At wrestling he would have always the ram. prize He was short-shouldered, broad, a thick• knarre. rugged fellow 550 There was no door that he n'ould heave off harre 1 couldn't heave / thehinge Or break it at a running with his head. His beard as any sow or fox was red, And thereto broad as though it were a spade. And also Upon thecopright of his nose he had tip 555 A wart, and thereon stood a tuft of hairs
  • 75. Red as the bristles of a sow•'s ears. His nos•thirl•s black• were and wide. nostrils A sword and buckler bore he by his side. shield His mouth as great was as a great furnace. 560 He was a jangler and a goliardese loud talker & joker And that was most of sin and harlotries. & dirty talk Well could he stealen corn and toll•n thrice, take tripletoll And yet he had a thumb of gold pardee.2 by God A whitecoat and a blue hood wear•d he. 565 A bagpipe well could he blow and sound And therewithal he brought us out of town. And with that CANTERBURYTALES 2 1 3118: "Telleth" (plural) is the politeform of theimperative singular here. It means "tell." 2 3124: In medieval mystery or miracle plays thebiblical characters of Pontius Pilate and of Herod were always represented as ranting loudly. Though all such plays that survive come from after Chaucer's time, the tradition seems to have been already established. PROLOGUEto the MILLER'S TALE The Host is delighted with the success of his tale-telling suggestion: everyone agrees that theKnight’s tale was a good one. When that theknight had thus his tale y-told, 3110 In all the company ne was there young nor old there was nobody That he ne said it was a noble story that didn't say And worthy for to drawen to memory, keep in memory And namely the gentles every one. especially thegentry Our Host• laughed and swore: "So may I gone! On my word! 3115 This goes aright. Unbuckled is the mail. bag Let's see now who shall tell another tale, For truly thegame is well begun. Now telleth you, sir Monk, if that you can,1 Somewhat to quit• with the Knight•'s tale." something to match 3120 The Miller that fordrunken was all pale very drunk So that unnethe upon his horse he sat. scarcely He n'ould avalen neither hood nor hat wouldn't take off N'abiden no man for his courtesy, Nor wait politely But in Pilat•'s voice he gan to cry 2 a bullying voice 3125 And sworeby arm•s, and by blood and bones: "I can a noble tal• for the nones I know / occasion With which I will now quit the Knight•'s tale." requite, match Our Host• saw that he was drunk of ale And said: "Abid•, Robin, lev• brother, Wait / dear 3130 Some better man shall tell us first another. Abide, and let us worken thriftily." "By God•'s soul," quod he, "that will not I, For I will speak, or els• go my way." Our Host answered: "Tell on, a devil way. devil take you MILLER'S TALE3 1 The Reeve is angry because, as a onetime carpenter, he feels thetale is going to be directed at him. He is probably right, and gets his revenge when his turn comes, by telling a tale where a miller is thebutt of the joke. 3135 Thou art a fool; thy wit is overcome." "Now hearkeneth," quod theMiller, "all and some. listen / everyone But first I make a protestatïon That I am drunk; I know it by my sound And therefore, if that I misspeak or say, 3140 Wit it theale of Southwark, I you pray Blame For I will tell a legend and a life Both of a carpenter and of his wife, How that a clerk hath set thewright•'s cap. fooled the worker The Reeve, who has been a carpenter in his youth, suspects that this taleis going to be directed at him The Reeve answered and said•: "Stint thy clap. Stop your chatter 3145 Let be thy lew•d, drunken harlotry. 1
  • 76. It is a sin and eke a great folly and also T'apeiren any man or him defame To slander And eke to bringen wiv•s in such fame. (bad) reputation Thou may'st enough of other thing•s sayn." 3150 This drunken Miller spokefull soon again And said•: "Lev• brother Os•wald, Dear Who has no wife, he is no cuckold, betrayed husband But I say not therefore that thou art one. There be full good• wiv•s — many a one, 3155 And ever a thousand good against one bad. That know'st thou well thyself but if thou mad. unless thou art mad Why art thou angry with my tal• now? I have a wife, pardee, as well as thou, by God Yet, n'ould I for the oxen in my plough I would not 3160 Take upon me mor• than enough As deemen of myself that I were one. think / "one"= cuckold I will believ• well that I am none. A husband shall not be inquisitive CANTERBURYTALES 4 1 3162-6: A husband should not enquire about his wife's secrets or God's. Provided his wife gives him all the sexual satisfaction he wants (God's foison, i.e. God's plenty), heshould not enquire into what else she may be doing. 2 3186: "Besides, you should not take seriously (make earnest) what was intended as a joke (game)." Of God•'s privity, nor of his wife. secrets, privacy 3165 So he may find• God•'s foison there, Provided / G's plenty Of theremnant needeth not enquire." 1 What should I mor• say, but this Millér He n'ould his word•s for no man forbear wouldn't restrain But told his churl•'s tale. In his mannér, vulgar 3170 Methinketh that I shall rehearse it here. I think I'll retell Once again the poet makes a mock apoplogy for the tale he is going to tell: he has to tell thestory as he has heard it from this rather vulgar fellow, a churl. Thosewho do not like bawdy tales are given fair warning. And therefore, every gentle wight I pray well bred person Deem not, for God•'s lov•, that I say Judge not Of evil intent, but for I must rehearse because I must retell Their tal•s all, be they better or worse, 3175 Or els• falsen some of my mattér. falsify And, therefore, whoso list it not to hear whoever wishes Turn over theleaf and choose another tale, For he shall find enough, great and small, Of storial thing that toucheth gentleness of narratives / nobility 3180 And eke morality and holiness. also Blameth not me if that you choose amiss. "Blameth"= Blame The Miller is a churl; you know well this. low born man So was the Reev• eke and others mo' also / more And harlotry they tolden both• two. ribald tales 3185 Aviseth you and put me out of blame. Take care And eke men shall not make earnest of game.2 seriousness of a joke MILLER'S TALE5 The Miller’s Tale Introduction The Miller's Tale is one of the great short stories in theEnglish language and one of the earliest. It is a fabliau, that is, a short merry tale, generally about peoplein absurd and amusing circumstances, often naughty sexual predicaments. The stories frequently involve a betrayed husband (the cuckold), his unfaithful wife, and a cleric who is the wife's lover. Such tales were very popular in France (hence the French term fabliau, pl. fabliaux). The Miller calls his story a"legend and a life / Both of a carpenter and of his wife" (3141-2). Legend and life both normally imply pious narratives, as in TheGolden Legend, a famous collection of lives of thesaints. TheMiller's story is not going
  • 77. to be a pious tale about the most famous carpenter in Christian history, Joseph, or his even more famous wife, Mary themother of Christ. So there is a touch of blasphemy about theMiller's phrase, especially as themention of thetriangle of man, wife and clerk indicates that the story is going to be a fabliau. None of the pilgims is bothered by this except theReeve, who had been a carpenter in his youth, according to the General Prologue. His remonstrations seems to be personally rather than theologically motivated. If you have read many French tales in a collection like that by R. Hellman and R. O'Gorman, Fabliaux (N.Y., 1965), you will concede that Chaucer has raised this kind of yarn-telling to an art that most of the French stories do not attain or even aspire to. In most simple fabliaux names rarely matter, and the the plot always goes thus:"There was this man who lived with his wife in a town, and there was this priest . . ." Characters are indistinguishable from each other shortly after you have read a few fabliaux. By contrast the characters in TheMiller's Tale—Absalom, Alison, John and Nicholas—are very memorable, and the plot is deliciously intricate and drawn out to an absurd and unnecessary complexity which is part of thejoke. Even after many readings the end still manages to surprise. Theseand other characters who figure in Chaucer's elaborate plots have local habitations; they have names (often CANTERBURYTALES 6 pretty distinctive names like Damian or Absalom); they have personalities, and sometimes talk in quite distinctive ways, like the students with northern accents in The Reeve's Tale. There is no regional accent here, but Absalom's language when he is wooing Alison (3698-3707) is a quaint mixture of theexotically Biblical, which goes with his name, and the quaintly countrified, which goes with his home. He mixes scraps of the biblical Song of Songs with mundane details of life in a small town. Alison's responsereverses the expected sexual roles; where he is dainty, she is blunt, not so much daungerous as dangerous, even threatening to throw stones. The Miller's Tale is the second of The Canterbury Tales coming immediately after The Knight's Tale which it seems to parody, and before The Reeve's Tale which it provokes. This kind of interaction between tales and tellers is one of the distinguishing characteristics of Chaucer's collection that has often been commented on. At the opening of The Canterbury Tales the Knight draws the lot to tell thefirst tale, a medieval romance which, like many others, tells of love and war. Set in a distant time and place, his story involves two aristocratic young warriors in pursuit of the same rather reluctant lady over whom they argue and fight with all the elaborate motions of medieval courtly love and chivalry. One of them dies in the fight, and the other gets therather passive maiden as his prize. The Miller's Tale, which immediately follows, is also about two young fellows who are rivals for one girl. But there is no exotic locale here and no aristocratic milieu. Instead we have a small English university town, where students lodge in the houses of townspeople. Thegirl in question is no reluctant damsel, but the young, pretty and discontented wife of an old carpenter in whose house Nicholas the student (or "clerk") lodges. There is plenty of competition here too, but the love talking is more country than courtly;the only battle is an uproarious exchange of hot air and hot plowshare, and the principal cheeks kissed are not on the face. Chaucer deliberately makes this wonderfully farcical tale follow immediately upon the Knight's long, elegant story of aristocratic battle and romance, which he has just shown he can writeso well, even if he writes it aslant. He is, perhaps, implying slyly that thetitled people, theexotic locale, and thechivalric jousting of the The Knight's Tale are really about much the same thing as the more homely antics of MILLER'S TALE7 the boyos and housewives of Oxford. The deliberate juxtaposition of the tales is suggestive, but the reader must decide. In a much-used translation of the Canterbury Tales from theearly years of this century, by Tatlock and Mackaye, The Miller's Tale is censored so heavily that the reader is hard put to it to tell what is going on. Customat that time and for long afterward did not permit the bawdiness of thetale to be accepted "frankly," as we would now put it. This squeamishness was not peculiar to the late Victorian sensibility, however. Chaucer himself realized that some peopleof his own day
  • 78. (like some in ours) might well take exception to the "frank" treatment of adulterous sex. So, just before thetale proper begins, he does warn any readers of delicate sensibility who do not wish to hear ribald tales, and invites them to "turn over the leaf and choose another tale" of a different kind, for he does have some pious and moral stories. Along with the warning to thereader comes a kind of apologetic excuse: Chaucer pretends that he was a real pilgrim on that memorable journey to Canterbury, and that he is now simply and faithfully reproducing a tale told by another real pilgrim, a miller by trade. Such fellows are often coarse, naturally, but Chaucer cannot help that, he says. If he is to do his job properly, hemust reproduce the tale exactly, complete with accounts of naughty acts and churlish words. Of course, nobody has given Chaucer any such job. There is no real miller; he is totally Chaucer's creation—words, warts and all. Drunken medieval millers did not speak in polished couplets, and a medieval reeve who brought up therear of a mounted procession of thirty peoplecould not indulge in verbal sparring with someone who headed up that same procession. We are clearly dealing with fiction in spiteof Chaucer's jocose attempt to excuse himself for telling entertaining indecorous tales. Another excuse and warning: it is only a joke, he says;one "should not make earnest of game," a warning often neglected by solemn critics. Some Linguistic Notes Spelling: Sometimes the same word occurs with and without pronounced - • : CANTERBURYTALES 8 tubbes at line3626, but tubs at 3627; legges 3330; deare spouse 3610 but hoste lief and dear 3501; carpenter occurs often, but its possessiveconsistently has and -e- at the end: carpenter•'s; goode 3154 & good 3155; sweet 3206; sweete 3219; young 3225, younge 3233. Y-: y-told, has y-take, y-covered, y-clad. Thewords mean thesame with or without they- -en: withouten, I will not tellen; I shall saven. Again, the words mean the same with or without the - (e)n. Rhymes: sail, counsel; Nicholas, rhymes with alas, was, solace, case; likerous / mouse. wood, blood, flood 3507-8, 3518 (See also Stress below) Stress: Mostly míller, but millér (3167); certáin to rhyme with sayn and again(3495) but cértain 3 times MILLER'S TALE9 1 3191-2: He had studied the Seven Liberal Arts:Grammar, Rhetoric, and Logic (the Trivium); theQuadrivium covered Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, Astrology. Then, as now, there was little money in most of these; then, as now, the most profitable was probably astrology, which then included genuine astronomy. 2 3199: M.E. hende (which I have rendered "handy") meant a variety of things, all relevant to Nicholas: close at hand; pleasant; goodlooking; clever; and, as we shall see, handy, i.e. good with his hands. 3 3200: "He knew about secret (derne) love and (sexual) pleasure (solace)". THEMILLER'S TALE Whilom there was dwelling at Oxenford Once upon a time A rich• gnof that guest•s held to board fellow who kept lodgers And of his craft he was a carpenter. And by trade 3190 With him there was dwelling a poor scholar Had learn•d art, but all his fantasy all his attention Was turn•d for to learn astrology;1 And could a certain of conclusïons knew some To deemen by interrogatïons judge by observation 3195 If that men ask•d him in certain hours When that men should have drought or els• showers, Or if men ask•d him what shall befall. Of everything, I may not reckon them all. A pen portrait of Handy Nicholas, the lodger This clerk was clep•d Handy Nicholas.2 was called
  • 79. 3200 Of dern• love he could and of solace 3 And thereto he was sly and full privy And also / secretive And like a maiden meek• for to see. A chamber had he in that hostelry Alone, withouten any company, 3205 Full fetisly y-dight with herb•s soot nicely strewn / sweet And he himself as sweet as is the root Of liquorice or any set•wale. (a spice) His Almagest and book•s great and small, His astrology text His astrolab• longing for his art, belonging to CANTERBURYTALES 10 1 3208-10: The Almagest was a standard text in astrology; an astrolabe was an instrument for calculating theposition of heavenly bodies, an early sextant. Augrim (algorithm) stones were counters for use in mathematical calculations. 2 3216-7: "Angelus ad Virginem," theAngel to the Virgin (Mary), areligious song about the Annunciation. "King's note" (3217) has not been satisfactorily explained. 3 3220: Supported by his friends and with his own earnings (from astrology?). 4 3226: "And he thought it likely he would become a cuckold (i.e. a betrayed husband)." 5 3227: Cato was thename given to the author of a Latin book commonly used in medieval schools, which contained wise sayings like: People should marry partners of similar rank and age. 3210 His augrim ston•s lying fair apart 1 algorithm stones On shelv•s couch•d at his bedd•'s head, placed His press y-covered with a falding red cupboard / red cloth And all above there lay a gay sautry fine guitar On which he made a-night•s melody at night 3215 So sweet•ly that all the chamber rang And "Angelus ad Virginem" he sang.2 And after that he sang the king•'s note. Full often bless•d was his merry throat. And thus this sweet• clerk his tim• spent 3220 After his friend•s' finding and his rent.3 This carpenter had wedded new a wife Which that he lov•d mor• than his life. Of 18 years she was of age. Jealous he was and held her narrow in cage, cooped up 3225 For she was wild and young and he was old And deemed himself be like a cuck•wold.4 He knew not Cato, for his wit was rude,5 uneducated That bade a man should wed his similitude. one like himself Men should• wedden after their estate, according to status 3230 For youth and eld is often at debate, age / at odds But since that he was fallen in thesnare, He must endure, as other folk, his care. A pen portrait of Alison, the attractive young wife of the old carpenter . MILLER'S TALE11 Fair was this young• wife, and therewithal Pretty /& also As any weasel her body gent and small. slim 3235 A ceint she wear•d, barr•d all of silk belt / striped A barmcloth eke as white as morning milk apron Upon her lend•s, full of many a gore. hips / pleat White was her smock and broiden all before embroidered And eke behind and on her collar about And also 3240 Of coal black silk within and eke without. The tap•s of her whit• voluper cap Were of the sam• suit of her collar; same kind Her fillet broad of silk and set full high. headband And sikerly she had a likerous eye. seductive 3245 Full small y-pull•d were her brow•s two well plucked And thosewere bent and black as any sloe arched / berry She was full mor• blissful on to see
  • 80. Than is thenew• pear-jennetting tree, early-ripening pear And softer than thewool is of a wether. sheep 3250 And by her girdle hung a purseof leather her belt Tasselled with silk and pearl•d with lattoun. beaded with brass In all this world to seeken up and down There is no man so wis• that could thench imagine So gay a popelot or such a wench. So pretty adoll / girl 3255 Full brighter was the shining of her hue complexion Than in the Tower the noble forg•d new. in theMint thecoin But of her song, it was as loud and yern eager As any swallow sitting on a barn. Thereto she could• skip and make a game Also / & play 3260 As any kid or calf following his dame. his mother Her mouth was sweet as bragot or the meeth (sweet drinks) Or hoard of apples laid in hay or heath. or heather Wincing she was as is a jolly colt, Lively Long as a mast and upright as a bolt. 3265 A brooch she bore upon her lower collar As broad as is theboss of a buckeler. knob of a shield Her shoes were lac•d on her legg•s high. She was a primerole, a piggy's-eye (names of flowers) For any lord to layen in his bed CANTERBURYTALES 12 1 3278: "I will die (I spill) of suppressed (derne) desire for you, sweetheart (lemman)." 2 3281: "I will die, I declare to God." 3 3295-6: "Unless you are patient and discreet (privy), I know (I wot) well that I am as good as dead." 3270 Or yet for any good yeoman to wed. Handy Nick’s very direct approach to Alison . Now sir, and eft sir, so befell the case and again That on a day this Handy Nicholas Fell with this young• wife to rage and play Began ... to flirt While that her husband was at Os•nay, 3275 As clerk•s be full subtle and full quaint; v. clever & ingenious And privily he caught her by the quaint crotch And said: "Y-wis, but if I have my will, Certainly, unless For dern• love of thee, lemman, I spill."1 secret / darling And held her hard• by the haunch• bones 3280 And said•: "Lemman, love me all at once sweetheart Or I will die, all so God me save." 2 And she sprang as a colt does in the trave in the shafts And with her head she wri•d fast away twisted And said: "I will not kiss thee, by my fay. faith 3285 Why, let be," quod she, "let be, Nicholas Or I will cry out `Harrow!' and `Alas!' (Cries of alarm) Do way your hand•s, for your courtesy." for your c. = please! This Nicholas gan mercy for to cry forgiveness And spokeso fair, and proffered him so fast, pressed her 3290 That she her love him granted at the last. And sworeher oath by Saint Thomas of Kent That she would be at his command•ment When that she may her leisure well espy. see a good chance "My husband is so full of jealousy 3295 That but you wait• well and be privy, That unless / & be discreet I wot right well I n'am but dead," quod she.3 "You must• be full derne as in this case." v. secretive "Nay, thereof care thee not," quod Nicholas. MILLER'S TALE13 1 3299-3300: "A student would have used his time badly if he could not fool a carpenter." 2 3312-13: This clerk -- thetown dandy, surgeon barber and lay lawyer -- is not a student nor a priest but a lay assistant to the pastor of the parish. Absalom or Absolon was an unusual name
  • 81. for an Englishman in the 14th century. The biblical Absalom was a byword for male, somewhat effeminate beauty, especially of his hair: "In all Israel there was none so much praised as Absalom for his beauty. And when he polled his head ... he weighed the hair at two hundred shekels." (II Sam. 14:25-6). 3 3317: "He had a pink complexion and goose-grey eyes." Goose-grey or glass-grey eyes were generally reserved for heroines of romances. 4 A design cut into the shoe leather which resembled the windows of St Paul's cathedral, the height of fashion, presumably. "A clerk had litherly beset his while 3300 But if he could a carpenter beguile." 1 And thus they be accorded and y-sworeagreed & sworn To wait a time, as I have said before. When Nicholas had done thus every deal And thwack•d her upon thelend•s well, patted her bottom 3305 He kissed her sweet and taketh his sautry guitar And playeth fast and maketh melody. Enter another admirer, the foppish parish assistant, Absalomor Absalon Then fell it thus, that to theparish church Of Christ•'s own• work•s for to work This good wife went upon a holy day. 3310 Her forehead shone as bright as any day, So was it wash•d when she let her work. left Now was there of that church a parish clerk The which that was y-clep•d Absalon.2 who was called A pen portrait of Absalom, a man of many talents Curled was his hair, and as the gold it shone, 3315 And strouted as a fan, large and broad. spread Full straight and even lay his jolly shode. his neat hair parting His rode was red, his eyen grey as goose.3 complexion / eyes With Paul•'s windows carven on his shoes.4 St. Paul's CANTERBURYTALES 14 1 3341: It was the custom at one or more points in the service for theclerk or altarboy to turn to the congregation swinging theincense (censing) several times in their direction as a gesture of respect and blessing. In hosen red he went full fetisly. red stockings / stylishly 3320 Y-clad he was full small and properly neatly All in a kirtle of a light waget. tunic of light blue Full fair and thick• be the point•s set. laces And thereupon he had a gay surplice church vestment As white as is the blossom upon therise. bough 3325 A merry child he was, so God me save. lad / I declare Well could he letten blood, and clip and shave, draw blood & cut hair And make a charter of land or aquittance. or quitclaim In twenty manner could he skip and dance 20 varieties After the school of Oxenford• tho In Oxford stylethere 3330 And with his legg•s casten to and fro kick And playen songs upon a small ribible. fiddle Thereto he sang sometimes a loud quinible Also / treble And as well could he play on a gitern. guitar In all the town n'as brewhouse nor tavern there wasn't 3335 That he ne visited with his solace entertainment Where any gaillard tapster was. pretty barmaid But sooth to say, he was somedeal squeamish Of farting, and of speech• daungerous. fastidious Absalom notices Alison in church This Absalom that jolly was and gay & well dressed 3340 Goes with a censer on the holy day incense burner Censing the wiv•s of theparish fast,1 And many a lovely look on them he cast And namely on this carpenter•'s wife. especially To look on her him thought a merry life. seemed to him 3345 She was so proper and sweet and likerous, pretty /seductive
  • 82. I dare well say, if she had been a mouse And he a cat, he would her hent anon. seize her at once This parish clerk, this jolly Absalon, MILLER'S TALE15 1 3354: Either "For love's sake he intended to stay awake" or "For lovers he intended to serenade." 2 3358: "Took up his position near a shuttered window." 3 3361: Addressing a carpenter's wife as "lady" was far more flattering in the14th century than it would be now. 4 3370: "This went on. What can I say?" Hath in his heart• such a love longing 3350 That of no wife ne took he no offering. For courtesy, he said, he would• none. would (take) Absalom serenades Alison The moon when it was night, full bright• shone And Absalom his gitern has y-takeguitar For paramours he thought• for to wake;1 3355 And forth he goes, jolly and amorous, Till he came to the carpenter•'s house A little after thecock•s had y-crow, had crowed And dressed him up by a shot window 2 That was upon thecarpenter•'s wall. 3360 He singeth in his voice gentle and small: "Now, dear• lady, if thy will• be,3 I pray you that you will rue on me," have pity Full well accordant to his giterning. w. guitar accompaniment This carpenter awoke and heard him sing 3365 And spokeunto his wife and said anon: "What, Alison, hear'st thou not Absalon That chanteth thus under our bower's wall?" bedroom “Yes, God wot, John. I hear it every deal.” Absalom courts her by every means he can 3370 This passeth forth. What will you bet than well? 4 From day to day this jolly Absalon So wooeth her that he is woe-begone. CANTERBURYTALES 16 1 3384: Absalom seems rather miscast as Herod in a mystery play. Herod, like Pilate, is always portrayed as a tyrant in such plays, and he rants, roars and threatens. His voice is never "gentle and small." Hence Hamlet's later complaint about ham actors who "out-herod Herod." See 3124 above. 2 3392-3: "The sly one who is nearby (nigh•) causes the more distant beloved (thefarr• lev•) to become unloved." i.e. Absence makes the heart grow farther. He waketh all thenight and all the day, He stays awake He combed his lock•s broad and made him gay. & dressed up 3375 He wooeth her by means and by brocage by proxies & agents And sworehe would• be her own• page. servant boy He singeth, brocking as a nightingale. trilling He sent her piment, mead and spic•d ale flavored wine And wafers pipinghot out of the gleed out of the fire 3380 And for she was of town, he proffered meed; And because / money For some folk will be wonn• for richesse won by riches And some for strokes, and some for gentleness. by beating Sometimes to show his lightness and mastery agility & skill He playeth Herod•s upon a scaffold high.1 stage Absalom’s wooing is in vain: she loves Handy Nick 3385 But what availeth him as in this case? So loveth she this Handy Nicholas That Absalom may blow the buck•'s horn. whistle in wind He ne had for his labor but a scorn. had not And thus she maketh Absalom her ape 3390 And all his earnest turneth to a jape. joke Full sooth is this provérb, it is no lie, v. true
  • 83. Men say right thus:"Always thenigh• sly near sly one Maketh thefarr• leev• to be loth." 2 farther beloved / hated For though that Absalom be wood or wroth, mad or angry 3395 Because that he was farr• from her sight farther This nigh• Nicholas stood in his light. closer N. Now bear thee well, thou Handy Nicholas, be happy For Absalom may wail and sing "Alas!" Nicholas concocts an elaborate plan so that he can make love to Alison MILLER'S TALE17 And so befell it on a Saturday 3400 This carpenter was gone to Os•nay And Handy Nicholas and Alison Accorded been to this conclusïon: Have agreed That Nicholas shall shapen them a wile devise a trick This silly jealous husband to beguile, to deceive 3405 And if so be this gam• went aright, She should• sleepen in his arms all night, For this was her desire and his also. And right anon withouten word•s mo' more This Nicholas no longer would he tarry 3410 But doth full soft unto his chamber carry Both meat and drink• for a day or tway, Both food & / two And to her husband bade her for to say If that he ask•d after Nicholas, She should• say she n'ist• where he was; did not know 3415 Of all that day she saw him not with eye. She trow•d that he was in malady, She guessed / sick For, for no cry her maiden could him call. maid He n'ould answer, for nothing that might fall. would not / happen This passeth forth all thilk• Saturday all that 3420 That Nicholas still in his chamber lay And ate and slept or did• what him lest did w. pleased him Till Sunday that the sunn• goes to rest. sun The carpenter, worried about Nick’s absence, sends a servant up to enquire This silly carpenter has great marvel Of Nicholas or what thing might him ail, 3425 And said: "I am adread, by St. Thomás, It standeth not aright with Nicholas. God shield• that he died suddenly. God forbid This world is now full tickle sikerly. unsure certainly I saw today a corps• borne to church 3430 That now on Monday last I saw him work." “Go up," quod he unto his knave anon. servant lad, then CANTERBURYTALES 18 1 3455-6: "Blessed is theilliterate man who knows (can) nothing but his belief [in God]." "Clepe at his door, or knock• with a stone. Call Look how it is and tell me bold•ly." This knav• goes him up full sturdily. 3435 And at the chamber door while that he stood, He cried and knock•d as that he were wood: mad "What! How? What do you, Master Nicholay? How may you sleepen all the long• day?" But all for nought; he heard• not a word. 3440 A hole he found full low upon a board he = boy There as the cat was wont in for to creep, was accustomed And at that hole he look•d in full deep And at the last he had of him a sight. This Nicholas sat ever gaping upright 3445 As he had kik•d on the new• moon. gaped Adown he goes and told his master soon In what array he saw this ilk• man. condition / this same The carpenter shakes his head at theexcessive curiosity of intellectuals.
  • 84. He is glad that he is just a simple working man This carpenter to blessen him began bless himself And said: "Help us, St. Frid•swide. (an Oxford saint) 3450 A man wot little what shall him betide. knows / happen This man is fall, with his astronomy, In some woodness or in some agony. madness / fit I thought ayewell how that it should• be. I always knew Men should not know of God•'s privity. secrets 3455 Yea, bless•d be always a lew•d man an illiterate man That nought but only his belief• can. 1 So fared another clerk with astromy. astronomy He walk•d in thefield•s for to pry Upon thestars, what there should befall— 3460 Till he was in a marl•pit y-fall. claypit He saw not that. But yet, by St. Thomás, Mereweth sore of Handy Nicholas. It grieves me MILLER'S TALE19 1 3474: The carpenter's fine theological judgement diagnoses thesymptoms as thoseof someone who has succumbed to one of the two sins against the virtue of Hope, namely Despair. He is wrong; Nicholas's defect is the other sin against Hope--Presumption. 2 3479-80: "`I make the sign of the cross [to protect] you fromelves and [evil] creatures.' Then he said the night prayer at once." 3 3483-6: The third and fourth lines of this "prayer" are pious gobbledygook of the carpenter's creation, a version of some prayer he has heard or rather misheard. Pater Noster is Latin for Our Father, theLord’s Prayer, but white P.N. is obscure, as is verie. Soster for the more usual suster may be an attempt at dialect usage. He shall be rated of his studying, rebuked If that I may, by Jesus, heaven's king. With Robin’s help he breaks down the door to Nick’s room 3465 Get me a staff, that I may underspore, lever up Whilst that thou, Robin, heavest up thedoor. He shall out of his studying, as I guess." And to the chamber door he gan him dress. he applied himself His knav• was a strong carl for the nonce strong fellow indeed 3470 And by thehasp he heaved it up at once. On to the floor the door• fell anon. This Nicholas sat aye as still as stone stayed sitting And ever gap•d up into the air. This carpenter wend he were in despair 1 thought he was 3475 And hent him by the shoulder mightily seized And shook him hard and cri•d spitously:vehemently "What Nicholay! What how! What! Look adown. Awake and think on Christ•'s passïon. I crouch• thee from elv•s and from wights." I bless / (evil) creatures 3480 Therewith the night-spell said he anonrights 2 On four• halv•s of the house about sides And on thethreshold of the door without. "Jesus Christ, and Saint• Benedict Bless this house from every wicked wight, 3485 For thenight's verie, the whit• Pater Noster. Where wentest thou, Saint• Peter's soster?" 3 sister CANTERBURYTALES 20 1 3512: A favorite medieval legend told how Christ, in the interval between His death on the cross and His resurrection, went to Hell (or Limbo) to rescue from Satan's power the Old Testament heroes and heroines from Adam and Eve onwards. This was theHarrowing of Hell. Nicholas finally pretends to come to, and promises to tell thecarpenter a secret in strictest confidence And at the last, this Handy Nicholas Gan for to sigh• sore and said: "Alas! Shall all theworld be lost eftsoon•s now?" right now 3490 This carpenter answered: "What sayest thou? What, think on God, as we do, men that swink." work
  • 85. This Nicholas answered: "Fetch me drink. And after will I speak in privity privacy Of certain things that toucheth me and thee. concern me 3495 I will tell it to no other man, certáin." This carpenter goes down and comes again And brought of mighty ale a larg• quart And when that each of them had drunk his part This Nicholas his door• fast• shut 3500 And down the carpenter by him he sat And said•: "John, my host• lief and dear, lief = beloved Thou shalt upon thy truth swear to me here That to no wight thou shall this counsel wray, no person / divulge For it is Christ•'s counsel that I say, 3505 And if thou tell it man, thou art forlore, man=anyone / lost For this vengeanc• shalt thou have therefore That if thou wray• me, thou shalt be wood." betray me / go mad "Nay, Christ forbid it for his holy blood," Quod then this silly man. "I am no labb. blabber 3510 And though I say, I am not lief to gab. not fond of gabbing Say what thou wilt. I shall it never tell To child nor wife, by Him that harrowed Hell." 1 i.e. by Christ There is going to be a new Deluge like the biblical one, but Nicholas can save only the carpenter and his wife -- IF John does as he is told MILLER'S TALE21 1 3527: "If you will follow advice and counsel." 2 3538 ff: A favorite character in medieval miracle plays was "Mrs Noah" who stubbornly "Now, John," quod Nicholas, "I will not lie. I have found in my astrology 3515 As I have look•d on the moon• bright That now on Monday next, at quarter night about 9 p.m. Shall fall a rain, and that so wild and wood furious That half so great was never Noah's flood. This world," he said, "in less• than an hour 3520 Shall all be drenched, so hideous is the shower. drowned Thus shall mankind• drench and lose their life." This carpenter answered: "Alas, my wife! And shall she drench? Alas, my Alison!" For sorrow of this he fell almost adown 3525 And said: "Is there no remedy in this case?" "Why, yes, 'fore God," quod Handy Nicholas, before God "If thou wilt worken after lore and redde.1 by advice & counsel Thou mayst not worken after thine own head. For thus says Solomon that was full true: 3530 `Work all by counsel and thou shalt not rue.' by advice / regret And if thou worken wilt by good counsel, I undertake, withouten mast or sail, Yet shall I saven her and thee and me. Hast thou not heard how sav•d was Noë Noah 3535 When that Our Lord had warn•d him before That all the world with water should be lore?" lost "Yes," quod this carpenter, "full yoreago." long ago Nicholas gives John instructions on how to preparefor theFlood "Hast thou not heard," quod Nicholas, "also The sorrow of Noah with his fellowship and his family 3540 Ere that he might• get his wife to ship? Before he could Him had lever, I dare well undertake, He'd rather / I bet At thilk• time, than all his wethers black, At that time / sheep That she had had a ship herself alone.2 to herself CANTERBURYTALES 22 refuses to leave her cronies and her bottle of wine to go aboard the ark. She has to be dragged to the ark, and she boxes Noah's ears for his pains. She is the quintessential shrew. Hence the idea that Noah would have given all his prizesheep if she could have had a ship to herself.
  • 86. And therefore, wost thou what is best to done? know you?/ to do 3545 This asketh haste, and of a hasty thing Men may not preach or maken tarrying. or delay Anon, go get us fast into this inn Quickly / house A kneading trough or else a kimelin tub For each of us; but look that they be large 3550 In which we mayen swim as in a barge. And have therein victuals sufficient food enough But for a day. Fie on the remnant! Never mind the rest! The water shall aslake and go away slacken off About• prime upon the next• day. About 9 a.m. 3555 But Robin may not wit of this, thy knave, not know / servant Nor eke thy maiden Gill I may not save. Ask• not why, for though thou ask• me I will not tellen God•'s privity. secrets Sufficeth thee, but if thy witt•s mad, unless you're mad 3560 To have as great a grace as Noah had. Thy wife shall I well saven, out of doubt. Go now thy way, and speed thee hereabout. busy yourself But when thou hast for her and thee and me Y-gotten us these kneading tubbes three, tubs 3565 Then shalt thou hang them in the roof full high, That no man of our purveyanceespy. preparations And when thou thus hast done as I have said And hast our victuals fair in them y-laid our supplies And eke an axe to smite thecord a-two, And also / cut in two 3570 When that thewater comes, that we may go And break a hole on high upon thegable Unto the garden-ward, over thestable That we may freely passen forth our way When that thegreat• shower is gone away —- 3575 Then shalt thou swim as merry, I undertake, As does the whit• duck after her drake. Then will I clepe: "How, Alison! How, John! I will call MILLER'S TALE23 Be merry, for the flood will pass anon." soon And thou wilt say:"Hail, Master Nicholay. 3580 Good morrow. I see thee well, for it is day." And then shall we be lord•s all our life Of all theworld, as Noah and his wife. Further instructions on how to behave on the night of theFlood But of one thing I warn• thee full right: Be well advis•d on that ilk• night that same 3585 That we be entered into shipp•'s board That none of us ne speak• not a word Nor clepe nor cry, but be in his prayer call out For it is God•'s own• hest• dear. solemn order Thy wife and thou must hang• far a-twin asunder 3590 For that betwixt• you shall be no sin, No more in looking than there shall in deed. This ordinance is said. Go, God thee speed. This order is given Tomorrow at night, when men be all asleep, Into our kneading tubb•s will we creep 3595 And sitten there, abiding God•'s grace. awaiting Go now thy way, I have no longer space To make of this no longer sermoning. Men say thus:`Send the wise and say nothing.' Thou art so wise, it needeth thee not teach. 3600 Go, save our lives, and that I thee beseech." John tells theplans to his wife (who already knows). He installs thebig tubs on the house roof, and supplies themwith food and drink This silly carpenter goes forth his way.
  • 87. Full oft he said: "Alas!" and "Welaway!" (cries of dismay) And to his wife he told his privity And she was 'ware and knew it bet than he aware / better 3605 What all this quaint• cast was for to say. elaborate plot But natheless, she fared as she would die, she acted And said "Alas! Go forth thy way anon. CANTERBURYTALES 24 1 3637: A "furlong way" is the time it takes to walk a furlong (1/8 of a mile)--about 2 or 3 minutes. Help us to 'scape, or we be dead each one. I am thy tru•, very, wedded wife. thy loyal, faithful 3610 Go, dear• spouse, and help to save our life." Lo, which a great thing is affectïon. See what / feeling Men may die of imaginatïon, So deep• may impressïon be take. be made This silly carpenter beginneth quake. shake 3615 Him thinketh verily that he may see Noah's flood come wallowing as the sea To drenchen Alison, his honey dear. To drown He weepeth, waileth, maketh sorry cheer. He sigheth, with full many a sorry swough. sigh 3620 He goes and getteth him a kneading trough, And after that a tub and kimelin, vat And privily he sent them to his inn secretly / house And hung them in the roof in privity. in secrecy His own• hand, he mad• ladders three (With) his own 3625 To climben by the rung•s and thestalks rungs & uprights Unto the tubb•s hanging in thebalks, rafters And them he victualled, both• trough and tub, he supplied With bread and cheese and good ale in a jub jug Sufficing right enough as for a day. 3630 But ere that he had made all this array, before / ready He sent his knave and eke his wench also servant boy & girl Upon his need to London for to go. On his business On thefateful night all three get into their separatetubs, and say their prayers And on theMonday, when it drew to night, He shut his door withouten candle light, 3635 And dress•d all• thing as it should be. prepared everything And shortly up they clomben all• three. climbed They sitten still•, well a furlong way.1 few minutes "Now, Pater Noster, clum," said Nicholay. Our Father, MILLER'S TALE25 1 3638-9: "Pater Noster":the first words of theLatin version of the Lord's Prayer:Our Father. The "Clum" is meaningless, possibly acorrupt version of the end of "in saecula saeculorum," a common ending for prayers. Thus thewhole prayer is ignorantly (and irreverently) reduced to beginning and ending formulas. And "Clum," quod John, and "Clum," said Alison.1 3640 This carpenter said his devotion And still he sits and biddeth his prayer offers Awaiting on therain if he it hear. The dead• sleep, for weary busy-ness, Fell on this carpenter, right (as I guess) 3645 About• curfew time or little more. About nightfall For travailing of his ghost he groaneth sore In agony of spirit And eft he routeth, for his head mislay. also he snored This is the moment that Nicholas and Alison have been waiting and planning for Down off the ladder stalketh Nicholay slips And Alison full soft adown she sped. 3650 Withouten word•s more, they go to bed There as the carpenter is wont to lie. is accustomed There was therevel and themelody. And thus lie Alison and Nicholas
  • 88. In busyness of mirth and of soláce enjoyment 3655 Till that the bell of laud•s gan to ring bell for morning service And friars in the chancel gan to sing. in thechurch Absalom, thinking that the carpenter is absent, comes serenading again This parish clerk, this amorous Absalon, That is for love always so woe-begone, Upon theMonday was at Oseney 3660 With company, him to disport and play, And ask•d upon case a cloisterer by chance a monk Full privily after John the carpenter, V. quietly about And he drew him apart out of the church. And said: "I n'ot; I saw him here not work I don't know 3665 Since Saturday; I trow that he be went I guess he's gone CANTERBURYTALES 26 1 3689: "Dresses himself to the nines in all his finery." For timber, there our abbot has him sent. For he is wont for timber for to go And dwellen at the grange a day or two; at outlying farm Or els• he is at his house certáin. 3670 Where that he be I cannot soothly sayn." This Absalom full jolly was and light And thought•: "Now is time to wake all night, For sikerly I saw him not stirring certainly About his door, since day began to spring. 3675 So may I thrive, I shall at cock•'s crow On my word! Full privily knocken at his window That stands full low upon his bower's wall. bedroom wall To Alison now will I tellen all My lovelonging, for yet I shall not miss 3680 That at theleast• way I shall her kiss. Some manner comfort shall I have parfay. in faith My mouth has itch•d all this long• day. That is a sign of kissing at the least. All night me metteeke I was at a feast. I dreamed also 3685 Therefore I will go sleep an hour or tway, two And all thenight then will I wake and play." & have fun When that thefirst• cock has crowed anon Up rist this jolly lover, Absalon riseth And him arrayeth gay at point devise.1 3690 But first he cheweth grain and liquorice cardamom To smellen sweet. Ere he had combed his hair, Under his tongue a tru•love he bare, spice he put For thereby wend he to be gracious. hoped to be attractive He roameth to thecarpenter•'s house 3695 And he stands still under the shot window. shuttered Unto his breast it rought, it was so low, reached And soft he cougheth with a semi-sound. gentle sound "What do you, honeycomb, sweet Alison? MILLER'S TALE27 1 3713: "The devil take you twenty times" 2 3715: The line might be read: "That tru• love was e'er so ill beset." My fair• bird, my sweet• cinnamon. Awaketh, lemman mine, and speak to me. Well little thinketh you upon my woe That for your love I sweat• where I go. No wonder is though that I swelt and sweat. I mourn as does the lamb after the teat. 3705 Ywis, lemman, I have such love longing Indeed, dear That like a turtle trueis my mourning. turtle-dove I may not eat no mor• than a maid." Alison’s ungracious verbal response "Go from the window, Jack• Fool," she said.
  • 89. "As help me God, it will not be `Compame'. `Come kiss me'(?) 3710 I love another (or else I were to blame) Well bet than thee, by Jesus, Absalon. better Go forth thy way, or I will cast a stone, And let me sleep, a twenty devil way." 1 "Alas!" quod Absalom, "and Welaway! 3715 That tru• love was e'er so evil beset. 2 so badly treated Then, kiss me, since that it may be no bet, better For Jesus' love, and for the love of me." "Wilt thou then go thy way therewith?" quod she. "Yea, cert•s, lemman," quod this Absalon. certainly, darling 3720 "Then make thee ready," quod she. "I come anon." Her even more ungracious practical joke And unto Nicholas she said• still: quietly "Now hush, and thou shalt laughen all thy fill." This Absalom down set him on his knees And said: "I am a lord at all degrees. in every way 3725 For after this I hopethere cometh more. CANTERBURYTALES 28 1 3726: "Darling, [grant me] your favor, and sweet bird, [grant me] your mercy." A line parodying thelove language of romances. 2 3753: "Alas, that I did not duck aside" (?) Lemman, thy grace and, sweet• bird, thine ore"1 The window she undoes, and that in haste. "Have done," quod she. "Come off and speed thee fast, Lest that our neigh•bour•s thee espy." 3730 This Absalom gan wipehis mouth full dry. Dark was thenight as pitch or as the coal And at the window out she put her hole. And Absalom, him fell nor bet nor worse, befell / better But with his mouth he kissed her naked arse 3735 Full savorly, ere he was 'ware of this. aware Aback he starts, and thought it was amiss, For well he wist a woman has no beard. well he knew He felt a thing all rough and long y-haired And said•: "Fie! Alas! What have I do?" 3740 "Tee hee," quod she, and clapt the window to. And Absalom goes forth a sorry pace. with sad step "A beard! a beard!" quod Handy Nicholas. "beard" also=joke "By God's corpus, this goes fair and well." By God's body! Absalom plots revenge for his humiliation This silly Absalom heard every deal 3745 And on his lip he gan for anger bite And to himself he said "I shall thee 'quite." repay you Who rubbeth now? Who frotteth now his lips scrapes With dust, with sand, with straw, with cloth, with chips But Absalom that says full oft: "Alas! 3750 My soulbetake I unto Satanas, I'll be damned But me were lever than all this town," quod he, I had rather Of this despitea-wreaken for to be. avenged for this shame "Alas!" quod he "Alas! I n'ad y-blent." 2 His hot• love is cold and all y-quenched. hot 3755 For from that time that he had kissed her arse MILLER'S TALE29 1 3756: "Curse": Theintended word may be "cress," a weed. 2 3774: "He had more wool or flax on his distaff." A distaff was a stick, traditionally used by women, to make thread from raw wool or flax. Thephrase appears to mean either "He had other things on his mind" or "He had other work to do." 3 3779-80: "Certainly, [even] if it were gold or an uncounted (untold) number of coins (nobles) in a bag (poke) ..." Of paramours he sett• not a curse,1 lovers For he was heal•d of his malady.
  • 90. Full often paramours he gan defy denounce And wept as does a child that is y-beat. beaten 3760 A soft• pace he went over the street Quietly he went Unto a smith men clepen Daun Gervase call That in his forge smith•d plough harness. He sharpens share and coulter busily. (plough parts) This Absalom knocks all easily 3765 And said: "Undo, Gervase, and that anon." open up "What? Who art thou?" "It am I, Absalon." "What, Absalon! What, Christ•'s sweet• tree! cross Why ris• you so rathe. Hey, ben'citee! so early / bless you! What aileth you?Some gay girl, God it wot, pretty girl 3770 Has brought you thus upon the viritot. on the prowl(?) By Saint Neót, you wot well what I mean." you know This Absalom ne raught• not a bean did not care Of all his play. No word again he gave. jesting He hadd• mor• tow on his distaff 2 3775 Than Gervase knew, and said•: "Friend so dear, That hot• coulter in the chimney here hot plough part As lend it me. I have therewith to do. need of it And I will bring it thee again full soon. Gervas• answered: "Cert•s, were it gold Certainly 3780 Or in a pok• nobles all untold,3 bag coins uncounted Thou shouldst it have, as I am tru• smith. Eh! Christ•'s foe! What will you do therewith?" What the devil will ... "Thereof," quod Absalom, "be as be may. I shall well tell it thee another day." 3785 And caught thecoulter by thecold• steel. cold handle CANTERBURYTALES 30 Full soft out at the door he 'gan to steal And went unto the carpenter•'s wall. Absalom’s revenge He cougheth first and knocketh therewithall also Upon thewindow, right as he did ere. before 3790 This Alison answered: "Who is there That knocketh so? I warrant it a thief." I'm sure it is "Why, nay," quod he, "God wot, my sweet• lief. God knows / love I am thine Absalom, my darling. Of gold," quod he, "I have thee brought a ring. 3795 My mother gave it me, so God me save. Full fine it is, and thereto well y-grave. engraved This will I given thee, if thou me kiss." This Nicholas was risen for to piss And thought he would amenden all the jape. improve thejoke 3800 He should kiss his arse ere that he 'scape. He = Absalom And up thewindow did he hastily And out his arse he putteth privily Over the buttock, to the haunch• bone. And therewith spokethis clerk, this Absalon: 3805 "Speak, sweet heart. I wot not where thou art." I know not This Nicholas anon let fly a fart As great as it had been a thunder dint clap That with that stroke he was almost y-blint. blinded But he was ready with his iron hot 3810 And Nicholas amid the arse he smote. he struck Off goes theskin a hand•breadth about. The hot coulter burn•d so his tout backside That for the smart he ween•d for to die. from pain he expected As he were wood, for woe he 'gan to cry As if mad 3815 "Help! Water! Water! Help! for God's heart." The carpenter re-enters the story with a crash This carpenter out of his slumber start
  • 91. MILLER'S TALE31 1 3821-3: "He found....floor": there was nothing between him and the ground below. 2 3830: A difficult line meaning, perhaps, "Hehad to take the responsibility for his injury (or misfortune)" or "He had to take the blame." 3 3834-6: "He was so afraid of Noah's flood in his mind that in his foolishness he had bought ...." And heard one cry "Water!" as he were wood. mad And thought "Alas! Now cometh Noah's flood." He set him up withouten word•s mo’ more 3820 And with his ax he smotethe cord a-two cut And down goes all—he found neither to sell Nor bread nor ale, till he came to thecell bottom Upon thefloor,1 and there aswoon he lay. Alison and Nicholas lie their way out of the predicament Up starts her Alison, and Nicholay, 3825 And cri•d "Out!" and "Harrow!" in the street. (Cries of alarm) The neigh•bour•s, both• small and great In runnen for to gauren on this man to gape That aswoon lay, both• pale and wan. For with the fall he bursten had his arm, 3830 But stand he must unto his own• harm,2 For when he spoke, he was anon bore down talked down With Handy Nicholas and Alison. "With" = "By" They tolden every man that he was wood; mad He was aghast• so of Noah's flood 3835 Through fantasy, that of his vanity He had y-bought him kneading tubb•s three 3 And had them hang•d in theroof above And that he pray•d themfor God•'s love To sitten in theroof "par compagnie." for company 3840 The folk gan laughen at his fantasy. Into the roof they kiken and they gape stare And turn•d all his harm into a jape joke For whatso that this carpenter answered CANTERBURYTALES 32 1 3847: Presumably a reference to the "town" versus "gown" loyalties in university towns. Nicholas, a "clerk," is a member of the "gown," John the carpenter a member of the "town." It was for naught. No man his reason heard. 3845 With oath•s great he was so sworn adown That he was holden wood in all thetown. held to be mad For every clerk anon right held with other.1 They said: "The man was wood, my lev• brother." mad, my dear b. And every wight gan laughen at this strife. person The “moral” of the story 3850 Thus swiv•d was the carpenter•'s wife laid For all his keeping and his jealousy. And Absalom has kissed her nether eye lower And Nicholas is scalded in thetout. on the bottom This tale is done, and God save all the rout. this group 1 The Portrait, Prologue and Tale of theReeve 2 THEREEVE'S TALE Introduction The Reeve's story is, as he himself says, a retaliatory responseto thetale of theMiller. Suspicious mind that he is, he always brings up therear of the procession of pilgrims so that he can see all the others. Not surprisingly, he suspects that theMiller's tale, in which an old carpenter has been made to look foolish, is directed against himself. He is probably right; for although he is not an old carpenter, he is old and has been a carpenter in his earlier years. The Reeve's bawdy tale follows his sermonizing responseto TheMiller's Tale. The substance of that sermon is in part that old men who are past doing naughty deeds have an ineradicable
  • 92. urge to tell naughty tales. And they have other vices: boastfulness, lying, anger, greed. These are also the vices of the miller and his wife in thetale he is about to tell, a naughty fabliau like the pilgrim Miller's, and told with some of thesame "churl's terms," that is, coarse words. The Reeve's tale tells of two young Cambridge students with marked provincial accents who set out to see that the arrogant and dishonest miller who grinds the college wheat does not cheat them. They plan to watch everything he does, but he quietly lets their horse loose, and while they chase it, he and his wife steal part of their flour. Because thestudents do not catch the horse until near dark, they have to ask the miller for lodging for the night. He agrees (for a fee), and celebrates his victory by getting tipsy. In thecourse of the night the sleepless students get their revenge on the miller by entertaining his wife and daughter in bed. Critics have busied themselves in finding differences between thesefirst two tales, mostly to the greater or lesser derogation of theReeve's. Some even profess to find theReeve's yarn "darker," "more corrosive," "destructive," making too much earnest of game again, as is the wont of scholars who fail to notice that in the sexual couplings or "swivings" of thetale a good time seems to be had by all. Charges of rape move the story out of the region of bedroom farce where it belongs and into that of realistic crime where it does not. Themain victim is theburly miller, whose only physical"punishment" is to miss thefun, and get a bloody nose and a lump on his thick head. The carpenter in The Miller's Tale falls two floors and breaks his arm. If one wants to be "realistic" about which tale is "darker" or "more destructive," one might ask a carpenter how he would ply his trade with a broken arm. But one should not get too realistic. "How many children had Malin McMiller?" is not an appropriatequestion to ask of a fabliau. All thepilgrims, Chaucer tells us, laughed at the pilgrim Miller's yarn. At theend of theReeve's tale, we are told, theCook cannot contain his THEREEVE'S TALE 3 glee, and we assume that theCook's hearer-response represents that of most of the pilgrims as it does ours, except themost delicately sensitive. I have said that the Miller's story seems to be a parody of the tale of the Knight which precedes it. There is no question that in its turn, it provokes the responseof theReeve, which in turn induces the unfinished tale of the Cook. In this, the first four-tale Fragment of the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer makes a very successful effort to relate each tale after thefirst to what has gone before it, something he does again more than once in thelater tales. And very satisfying this narrative architecture can be. The tales of theMiller and theReeve illustrate what wonderful variations can be wrought on essentially thesame material by a crafty artist. In each case a jealous husband is cuckolded by students ("clerks") whom he has let into his house, and he gets physically hurt as well. Both husbands are jealous, but John thecarpenter's jealousy is simply stated as theinevitable feeling of a "senex amans," a silly old man who has married a much younger woman. By contrast, the possessiveness of Simon the Miller, which is dwelt on at humorous length, threatens not thehappiness of his wife, but the life and limb of would-be flirters, as he struts before his "lady" on Sundays with an armory of swords and knives to protect her "honor" and his. She is proudly thepossession of the proud miller, unlike Alison, theunwilling captiveof an old carpenter. The miller's pride is comic, of course, especially for what it consists in — the wife's "noble" lineage: she is the bastard daughter of the local priest! And parents and grandparent have no end of ambition for their (grand)daughter whose agricultural charms are painted in a few swift strokes;she is "beef to the heels," as James Joycewould put it, but she has nice hair! There is small-time, small-town snobbery in 14th-century Trumpington as later in turn-of-the-century Dublin: always tuppence-halfpenny looking down on tuppence. But Chaucer makes it a source of outright humor rather than pity, pathos or scalding satire. The miller and his clerk-begotten wife think themselves and their child so much superior to their neighbors that they have plans to marry the girl into the aristocracy, as is appropriatefor a daughter of Holy Church and theexalted House of Simkin! In some ways the student-clerks would be considered their social superiors (the priest who fathered the miller's wife is superior because he is a clerk), but the miller and his wife think themselves superior in some ways to these clerks who are from an obscure town in the north of England and who betray their origins in a provincial rusticaccent and usage—features of speech which Chaucer takes pains to depict as he does nowhere else in the Tales. (The details of the students' dialect speech will be pointed out in theglosses to the text). 4 CANTERBURYTALES These unsophisticated clerks may have heard lectures on philosophy or law, but Simon and his wife have studied Applied Economics: How to Take Friends and Fleece the People; How to Divert the Attention of the Client; How to Conceal the Skim off the Top;How to make
  • 93. the Client pay for his Fleecing, etc. But they were absent for thelecture on Keeping Sober until the Deal is Complete. Hence thefailure to realize that if you get drunk on a combination of ale and victory over thebook-learned, you will have no control of the two-legged stallions who will behave like the four-legged stallion which you released earlier to run after the mares in the fen. (It is not accidental that thestallion is an old symbol of unbridled lust). How ironically true thewife's words to the students at that point will prove to be later: She said "Alas! Your horse goes to the fen With wild• mares as fast as he may go. Unthank [bad luck] come on his hand that bound him so And he that better should have knit therein. Indeed. And if either of these lusty youngmales knows how to composea rusticaubade (a poemof farewell after a night of love) it will not matter that it is spoken in the accents of Northumbria not of Provence. The grateful female will respond by helping to recoup material losses. One of the clerks does know how, and so they both return to Cambridge qualified to give lectures on "Using your knowledge of literary conventions to best therustic aristocracy for fun and profit." Their knowledge of natural philosophy does not allow them to take up theMiller's taunting challenge to expand the sizeof the bedroom in order to avoid proximity with the Miller's more privateand prized possessions, his wife and daughter; but when that very proximity expands their erotic imaginings, the knowledge of the philosophy of law comes in useful; it provides for Alan a legal theory to justify his urge for sexual relief. No matter if it is a real legal maxim or just a maxim for themoment; it is convincing, if you want to be convinced: For, John, there is a law• that says thus: That if a man in one point be aggrieved, That in another he shall be relieve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . And since I shall have no amend•ment Against my loss, I will have eas•ment. THEREEVE'S TALE 5 1 A reeve was a manager of a country estate. The delicious melding of the legal and sexual meanings of "relieved" and "easement" is like the coupling of Alan and Malin, and shows the value of a university education when one needs a law to justify one's lust. A nice goliardic joke. The Miller's humiliation at theend is directly related to his absurd pride set out at such length at thebeginning, and his reaction is correspondingly grotesque when he finds out what Alan and his daughter have been doing all night: he lets out a howl of rage that his daughter, this highly-descended girl, has been swived by an uplandish clerk with an uncouth accent and no brains; now she is spoiled goods. His delusion of marrying her into "blood of ancestry" is shattered. Her ancestral blood is that of her grandmother who has bequeathed to her only a weakness for sweet-talking clerks with a lot of brass. Here is the portrait of the Reeve from the General Prologue The REEV. was a slender, choleric man.1 irritable His beard was shaved as nigh as ever he can. as close His hair was by his ears full round y-shorn, shorn, cut 590 His top was dock•d like a priest beforn. shaved ... in front Full long• were his legg•s and full lean Y-like a staff; there was no calf y-seen. Well could he keep a garner and a bin; granary There was no auditor could on him win. fault him 595 Well wist he by thedrought and by the rain knew The yielding of his seed and of his grain. His lord•'s sheep, his neat, his dairy, cattle His swine, his horse, his storeand his poultry "horse" is plur Was wholly in this Reev•'s governing, 600 And by his covenant gave thereckoning contract / account Since that his lord was twenty years of age. There could no man bring him in árrearáge. find him in arrears There was no bailiff, herd nor other hine herdsman / worker That he ne knew his sleight and his covine. tricks & deceit 605 They were adread of him as of thedeath. the plague
  • 94. 6 CANTERBURYTALES 1 "He had hoarded a lot secretly." 2 It is not clear whether theReeve sometimes lends money to his master from his (i.e. the Reeve's) resources or from his lord's own resources but giving the impression that the Reeve is the lender. 3 His woning was full fair upon a heath: His dwelling With green• trees y-shadowed was his place. He could• better than his lord purchase. Full rich he was astor•d privily. 1 secretly 610 His lord well could he pleas•n subtly To give and lend him of his own• good,2 And have a thank and yet a coat and hood. get thanks In youth he learn•d had a good mystér: trade He was a well good wright, a carpentér. very good craftsman 615 This Reev• sat upon a well good stot very good horse That was a pomely grey, and hight• Scot. dappled / & called A long surcoat of perseupon he had overcoat of blue And by his side he bore a rusty blade. Of Norfolk was this Reeve of which I tell 620 Beside a town men clep•n Bald•swell. call Tuck•d he was, as is a friar, about, Rope-belted And ever he rode the hindrest of our rout. hindmost / group The Reeve is theonly one with a grumpy responseto the Miller's Tale 3855 When folk had laugh•d at this nic• case Of Absalom and handy Nicholas, Divers• folk divers•ly they said, Different But for the most• part they laughed and played, joked Nor at this tale I saw no man him grieve 3860 But it were only Os•wald the Reeve; Except for Because he was of carpenter•'s craft, trade A little ire is in his heart y-left. anger He gan to grouch, and blam•d it a lite. a little "So theek," quod he, "full well could I thee quite3 REEVE'S PROLOGUE7 So theek ... forage: "I declare that I could easily get even with you, and wipea miller's eye if I chose to tell a coarse tale (ribaldry), but I am old, and because of my age I don't care to (me list not) jest; greengrass time is over, and all that is left is dying hay (forage)." 3865 With blearing of a proud miller's eye blinding If that me list to speak of ribaldry; If I chose / vulgarity But I am old. Melist not play for age. I don't wish He bemoans thephysicaland moral frailties of old age Grass time is done; my fodder is now foráge. This whit• top writeth my old years. 3870 My heart is also mowl•d as my hairs is as withered But if I fare as doth an open erse, Unless / medlar That ilk• fruit is ever the longer theworse Till it be rotten in mullock or in stree. in compost or straw We old• men, I dread, so far• we— 3875 Till we be rotten can we not be ripe. We hop always while that theworld will pipe, play a tune For in our will there sticketh ever a nail To have a hoar head and a green• tail whit hair As hath a leek. For though our might be gone our virility 3880 Our will desireth folly ever in one; always For when we may not do, then will we speak. Yet in our ashes old is fire y-reak. raked Four gleed•s have we that I shall devise: hot coals Avaunting, anger, lying, covetise; Boasting / greed 3885 These four• sparkles 'longen unto Eld. sparks / old age Our old• limbs may well be unwield, unwieldy But Will ne shall not fail•—that is sooth. Desire / truth And yet I have always a colt•'s tooth youthfultaste
  • 95. As many a year as it is pass•d hence 3890 Since that my tap of life began to run; For sikerly when I was born, anon For, certainly Death drew thetap of Life and let it go And ever since has so thetap y-run Till that almost all empty is the tun. barrel 3895 The stream of life now droppeth on the chimb, rim The silly tongu• may well ring and chime Of wretchedness that pass•d is full yore. long ago With old• folk, save dotage is no more." senility 8 CANTERBURYTALES The Host's annoyed responseto the Reeve's moralizing When that our Host had heard this sermoning, 3900 He gan to speak as lordly as a king. He said•: "What amounteth all this wit? What! Shall we speak all day of Holy Writ! Scripture The devil made a Reev• for to preach, Or of a souter, a shipman or a leech! shoemaker / doctor 3905 Say forth thy tale, and tarry not the time. Lo Deptford, and it is halfway prime. nearly 9 a.m. Lo Green•wich, where many a shrew is in. rogue It were all time thy tal• to begin." In responseto the Miller's tale the Reeve will tell a tale about a miller "Now sir•s," quod this Os•wald the Reeve, 3910 "I pray you all• that you not you grieve Though I answér and somedeal set his hove, repay him For lawful is with forc• force off-shove. This drunken Miller hath y-told us here How that beguil•d was a carpenter, 3915 Peráventure in scorn for I am one. Perhaps But by your leave, I shall him quit anon. repay Right in his churl•'s term•s will I speak. coarse language I pray to God his neck• may to-break. He can well in my ey• see a stalk, 3920 But in his own he cannot see a balk. beam THEREEVE'S TALE Portrait of a miller: a proud, well-armed thief At Trumpington, not far from Cant•bridge, Cambridge There goes a brook, and over that a bridge, Upon thewhich• brook there stands a mill And this is very sooth that I you tell. truth 3925 A miller was there dwelling many a day. As any peacock he was proud and gay; gaudy Pipen he could, and fish, and nett•s beat, Play bagpipes And turn• cups and well wrestle and shoot. And drink (?) REEVE'S TALE9 1 "He swore that nobody would lay a hand on him without payingfor it promptly." 2 His name ...: "He was called Proud Simkin" (a form of Simon). Both forms of the name are used the tale. 3 With her ...: He gave as her dowry a lot of money so that Simkin would marry her (an illegitimate). 4 For Simkin ...: "He wanted no woman as a wife who was not well brought up (y-nourished) and virgin (a maid)--to accord with his social standing as a freeman." And by his belt he bore a long panade, dagger 3930 And of a sword full trenchant was the blade; v. sharp A jolly popper borehe in his pouch; short dagger There was no man for peril durst him touch. dared A Sheffield thwitelbore he in his hose. knife Round was his face, and camus was his nose; snub 3935 As piled as an ap• was his skull. As hairless He was a market-beater at the full. a bully indeed There durst no wight• hand upon him lay nobody dared
  • 96. That he ne sworehe should anon abey.1 A thief he was forsooth of corn and meal, indeed 3940 And that a sly, and usant for to steal. and accustomed His name was hoten Deinous Simkin.2 was called His wife, equally proud A wife he had, y-comen of noble kin: The parson of thetown her father was! parish priest With her he gave full many a pan of brass,3 3945 For that Simkin should in his blood ally; She was y-fostered in a nunnery, reared / convent For Simkin would• no wife, as he said, wanted But she were well y-nourished and a maid, Unless / well-bred To saven his estateof yeomanry.4 3950 And she was proud and pert as is a pie. magpie A full fair sight was it upon them two: (to look) upon On holy days before her would he go With his tippet wound about his head, hood tip And she came after in a gite of red, a gown 3955 And Simkin hadd• hosen of the same. stockings 10 CANTERBURYTALES 1 There durst ...: "Nobody dared call her anything but `My lady,'" adesignation generally reserved for women well above her social rank. 2 Algate: "At least they would like their wives to think so." 3 for she was ... bisemare: These lines seem to mean: "For one who was somewhat soiled (she was a bastard) she was inordinately proud and full of scorn and haughtiness. She thought that a lady should hold herself exclusive." 4 And strange...: "He made theconditions for marrying her very demanding." In the following lines the sarcasm of theauthor is evident at the absurd ambitions of the priest for the granddaughter that he should not have had, and his willingness to misappropriatechurch funds for her. There durst no wight• clepen her but "dame." 1 Was none so hardy that went• by the way so bold That with her durst• rage or onc• play dared flirt / joke But if he would be slain of Simkin, Unless he wanted 3960 With panade, or with knife, or bod•kin; dagger / blade For jealous folk been perilous evermo' dangerous (Algate they would their wiv•s wenden so).2 At least / think And eke, for she was somedeal smoterlich, also / soiled She was as digne as water in a ditch, as proud 3965 And full of hoker and of bis•mare.3 Her thought• that "a lady" should her spare, be exclusive(?) What for her kindred, and her nortelry manners That she had learn•d in thenunnery. Their daughter A daughter hadd• they bitwixt them two 3970 Of twenty years, withouten any more, Saving a child that was of half year age: In cradle it lay and was a proper page. fine boy This wench• thick and well y-growen was, well developed With camus nose, and eyen grey as glass, snub nose 3975 With buttocks broad, and breast•s round and high, But right fair was her hair, I will not lie. The parson of thetown, for she was fair, because / pretty In purposewas to maken her his heir Intended Both of his chattel and his messuage, goods / property 3980 And strange he made it of her marrïage.4 His purposewas for to bestow her high REEVE'S TALE11 1 "For which reason the head of thecollege complained and made a fuss." Into some worthy blood of ancestry, For Holy Church's goods must be despended spent On Holy Church's blood that is descended; 3985 Therefore he would his holy blood honoúr,
  • 97. Though that he Holy Church• should devour. The miller grinds corn for a Cambridge college Great soken has this miller out of doubt Total monopoly With wheat and malt of all the land about; And nam•ly there was a great college, 3990 Men clepe the Soler Hall of Cantebridge. There was their wheat and eke their malt y-ground. And on a day it happened in a stound, suddenly Sick lay the manciple in a malady; steward Men wenden wisly that he should• die, thought for sure 3995 For which this miller stole both meal and corn A hundred tim•s more than beforn, For therebefore he stolebut courteously, But now he was a thief outrageously. For which the warden chid and mad• fare, 1 4000 But thereof set themiller not a tare; not a straw He crack•d boast, and sworeit was not so. made boasts Two students think they are a match for the cheating miller Then were there young• poor• scholars two That dwelten in the hall of which I say. Testivethey were and lusty for to play, Headstrong / eager 4005 And only for their mirth and revelry to amuse themselves Upon thewarden busily they cry college head To give them leav• but a little stound little time To go to mill and see their corn y-ground, And hardily they durst• lay their neck surely / dared bet 4010 The miller should not steal them half a peck a measure Of corn by sleight•, nor by force them rieve; trickery / rob And at the last thewarden gave them leave. John hight that one, and Alan hight that other; one was called J. 12 CANTERBURYTALES 1 4023 ff: The speech of theNorth-of-England students is thefirst attempt in English to represent dialect. In the marginal glosses that follow, the words that come after the equals sign are southern English equivalents of the dialect forms in the text. Curiously, some of thedialect forms have become the standard: "has, fares, falls," etc. 2: "The teeth (wanges) in his head ache so constantly." Of one town were they born that hight• Strother, same town / called 4015 Far in the north I can not tell• where. This Alan maketh ready all his gear, And on a horse the sack he casts anon; Forth goes Alan the clerk and also John, With good sword and with buckler by his side. shield 4020 John knew theway; he needed• no guide; And at the mill the sack adown he layeth. Their Northern accents and their naive plan Alan spokefirst: "All hail, Simon, in faith. How fares thy fair• daughter and thy wife?"1 fares = fareth "Alan, welcome!" quod Simkin, "by my life! 4025 And John also! How now, what do you here?" "By God," quod John, "Simon, need has na peer: no equal Him boes serve himself that has na swain, boes = behoves / servant Or else he is a fool, as clerk•s sayn. Our manciple, I hopehe will be dead, steward 4030 Swa work•s aye thewanges in his head.2 And therefore is I come, and eke Alain, = am I / & also To grind our corn and carry it hame again. = home I pray you, speed us hethen that you may." = hence "It shall be done," quod Simkin, "by my fay. faith 4035 What will you do while that it is in hand?" "By God, right by the hopper will I stand," Quod John, "and see how thecorn gaas in. = goth (goes) Yet saw I never, by my father kin, How that the hopper wagg•s til and fra." = waggeth to & fro
  • 98. 4040 Alan answered, "John, and wilt thou swa? = so Then will I be beneath•, by my crown, my head And see how that themeal• fall•s down = falleth Into the trough; that sall be my desport. = shall For John, in faith, I may be of your sort: 4045 I is as ill a miller as are ye." = I am as bad REEVE'S TALE13 1 As whilom ...: "As themare said to the wolf once (whilom)." The hungry wolf, saying he wanted to buy the mare's foal, was told that the price was written on its back leg. Trying to read it he was kicked hard, and the mare made the remark cited. The miller outwits thestudents with a trick This miller smil•d of their nicety, simplicity And thought, "All this is done but for a wile. ruse They ween• that no man may them beguile they think / fool But by my thrift, yet shall I blear their eye, skill / blind 4050 For all thesleight in their philosophy. cleverness The mor• quaint• crek•s that they make, clever ruses The mor• will I steal• when I take. Instead of flour yet will I give them bran. The greatest clerks been not thewisest men, 4055 As whilom to the wolf thus spokethe mare.1 As once Of all their art• count I not a tare." their cleverness Out at thedoor he goes full privily, secretly When that he saw his tim• soft•ly. quietly He looketh up and down till he hath found 4060 The clerk•s' horse there as it stood y-bound tied Behind themill, under a leaf•sel, leafy shade And to the horse he goes him fair and well. He strippeth off thebridle right anon, And when thehorse was loose, he 'ginneth gone started to go 4065 Toward the fen where wild• mar•s run, marsh And forth with "Weehee," through thick and thin. The miller goes again; no word he said, goes (back) But does his note and with theclerks he played, job / joked Till that their corn was fair and well y-ground. well & truly The students spend hours tryingto catch their horse 4070 And when themeal is sack•d and y-bound, This John goes out and finds his horse away, And gan to cry "Harrow!" and "Welaway! (cries of dismay) Our horse is lost! Alan, for God•'s banes, = bones Step on thy feet! Come off, man, all atanes! = at once 4075 Alas, our warden has his palfrey lorn!" has lost h. horse This Alan all forgot both meal and corn; 14 CANTERBURYTALES 1 "I am as fast, God knows (wat) as a roe [deer]." All was out of his mind his husbandry. vigilance "What, whilk way is he gaan?" he gan to cry. = which way / gone The wife came leaping inward with a run; 4080 She said, "Alas, your horse goes to thefen With wild• mares, as fast as he may go. Unthank come on his hand that bound him so, Bad luck And he that better should have knit therein!" "Alas," quod John, "Alan, for Christ•'s pain, 4085 Lay down thy sword, and I will mine alswa. = also I is full wight, God wat, as is a raa.1 = fast as a deer By God•'s heart, he sal not scapeus bathe. = shall / both Why n'ad thou put thecapil in the lathe? = horse in barn Ill hail, by God, Alan, thou is a fonn." = Bad luck / fool 4090 These silly clerk•s have full fast y-run Toward the fen, both Alan and eke John; The miller uses their absence fruitfully also
  • 99. And when themiller saw that they were gone, He half a bushel of their flour hath take And bade his wife go knead it in a cake. 4095 He said: "I trow theclerk•s were afeard. I guess / suspicious Yet can a miller make a clerk•'s beard outwit a clerk For all his art. Yea, let them go their way. his learning Lo, where he goes! Yea, let the children play. They get him not so lightly, by my crown." head 4100 These silly clerk•s runnen up and down With "Keep! Keep! Stand! Stand! Jossa! Warderer! Here! Behind! Ga whistle thou, and I sall keep him here." = Go / shall But shortly, till that it was very night, They could• not, though they did all their might, 4105 Their capil catch, he ran always so fast, = horse Till in a ditch they caught him at the last. The outwitted students haveto stay thenight Weary and wet as beast is in therain, REEVE'S TALE15 Comes silly John, and with him comes Alain. "Alas," quod John, "theday that I was born! 4110 Now are we driven til hething and til scorn = to contempt Our corn is stolen; men will us fool•s call, Both the warden and our fellows all, And nam•ly themiller. Welaway!" especially / Alas Thus 'plaineth John as he goes by the way complains 4115 Toward the mill, and Bayard in his hand. B: horse's name The miller sitting by the fire he found, For it was night, and further might they not; not (go) But for the love of God they him besought Of harbour and of ease, as for their penny. lodging / payment 4120 The miller said again: "If there be any, Such as it is, yet shall you have your part. My houseis strait, but you have learn•d art, small / liberal arts You can by argument•s make a place A mil• broad of twenty feet of space! out of 4125 Let's see now if this plac• may suffice, Or make it room with speech, as is your guise." roomy / custom "Now Simon," said this John, "by Saint Cuthbert, Ay is thou merry, and that is fair answéred. You're always joking I have heard say men sal taa of twa things, = take 1 of 2 4130 Swilk as he finds, or taa swilk as he brings; = Such as / take such But specially I pray thee, host• dear, Get us some meat and drink and make us cheer, welcome And we will payen truly at the full. With empty hand men may na hawk•s tulle. = lure no hawks 4135 Lo, here our silver, ready for to spend." Supper and bed This miller into town his daughter sends to village For ale and bread, and roasted them a goose, And bound their horse; it should no more go loose. And in his own• chamber them made a bed 4140 With sheet•s and with chalons fair y-spread blankets Not from his own• bed ten foot or twelve. His daughter had a bed all by herself Right in the sam• chamber by and by. side by side It might• be no bet, and cause why? better 4145 There was no roomier harbour in the place. lodging 16 CANTERBURYTALES 1 Heardest ....: "Did you ever before hear such a song? Listen, what a compline (they are singing) among them all." Compline is the last part of the Divine Office for the day, sung in monastic houses just before retiring to bed. The general tenor of the readings is to urge Christians to be sober and vigilant, "to have compunction in your beds" (Ps. 4); and the prayers are for chaste thoughts!
  • 100. 2 Wha hearkened ...: "Who ever heard such an amazing thing"? They suppen and they speak them to solace, & t. chat pleasantly And drinken ever strong ale at thebest. About• midnight wenten they to rest. Well has this miller varnish•d his head; slang:drunk deep 4150 Full pale he was fordrunken, and not red. quite drunk He yexeth and he speaketh through the nose belches As he were on the quakk or on the pose. hoarse or had a cold To bed he goes, and with him goes his wife. As any jay she light was and jolife, bird / jolly 4155 So was her jolly whistlewell y-wet. The cradle at her bedd•'s feet is set To rocken, and to give the child to suck. And when that drunken all was in the crock, all that was To bedd• went the daughter right anon. 4160 To bedd• goes Alain and also John. There was no more; them needed• no dwale. sleeping draught This miller hath so wisly bibb•d ale drunk so much That as a horse he snorteth in his sleep; Nor of his tail behind he took no keep. no heed 4165 His wife him bore a burden, a full strong. kept harmony Men might her routing hearen a furlong. snoring / 1/8 mile The wench• routeth eke, par company. in counterpoint Alan plans to get some satisfaction Alan the clerk, that heard this melody, He pok•d John and said•: "Sleepest thou? 4170 Heardest thou ever slik a sang ere now? = such a song Lo, swilk a compline is ymel them all. 1 such a A wild• fire upon their bodies fall! Wha hearkened ever swilk a ferly thing? 2 = Who / amazing Yea, they sal have the flower of ill ending! come to bad end 4175 This lang• night there tid•s me na rest. = no rest for me But yet, na force, all sal be for thebest; = no matter / shall REEVE'S TALE17 1 Unhardy ...: "Gutless is luckless ..." i.e. fortunefavors the brave. For John," said he, "as ever mote I thrive, so help me! If that I may, yon wench• will I swive. that girl / tumble Some easement has law y-shapen us; provided for us 4180 For John, there is a law• that says thus: That if a man in one point be aggrieved, That in another he sal be relieved. = shall Our corn is stolen soothly, 'tis na nay, truly / no denying And we have had an ill fitt today, bad time 4185 And since I sal have naan amend•ment = shall have no Against my loss, I will have eas•ment. relief By God•'s soul, it sal naan other be." = shall no This John answéred, "Alan, avis• thee! be careful The miller is a perilous man," he said, 4190 "And if that he out of his sleep abraid, wakes He might• do us both a villainy." injury Alan answéred, "I count him not a fly," And up he rist, and by thewench he crept. rose This wench• lay upright and fast• slept, on her back 4195 Till he so nigh was ere she might espy so near That it had been too lat• for to cry; And shortly for to say, they were at one. Now play, Alain, for I will speak of John. John decides to follow Alan's example. This John lies still a furlong way or two, a few minutes 4200 And to himself he maketh ruth and woe. complaint & lament "Alas," quod he, "this is a wicked jape. joke Now may I say that I is but an ape. I am
  • 101. Yet has my fellow somewhat for his harm: He has the miller's daughter in his arm. 4205 He auntered him, and has his need•s sped, ventured / satisfied And I lie as a draf-sack in my bed. bran sack And when this jape is told another day, I sal be held a daff, a cokenay. nitwit, a coward I will arise and aunter it, by my faith! risk it 4210 Unhardy is unsely, thus men saith." 1 unlucky And up he rose, and soft•ly he went 18 CANTERBURYTALES 1 and gan: gan here is probably just a past tensemarker like "did", rather than a short form of "began." 2 Eh, ...: "Bless me! Then I would have made a mistake!" 3 The "third cock" probably refers to the third crowing of the rooster around daybreak. 4 whereso ...: "Wherever I walk or ride (i.e. wherever I go) I am forever your devoted clerk, as sure as I hope for heaven." Alan's farewell (in dialect) and Malin's responseare parodies of the aube, aubade, or tagelied, the genre poemof the dawn parting of aristocratic lovers. But the aristocrat would not refer to his lady as wight, and neither one would ever use lemman, a very plebeian word for "lover." Also the aube rarely dealt with the details of Unto the cradle, and in his hand it hent, took And bore it soft unto his bedd•'s feet. Soon after this the wife her routing leet, stopped snoring 4215 And gan awake, and went her out to piss, woke up And came again, and gan her cradle miss,1 missed h. cradle And grop•d here and there, but she found none. "Alas," quod she, "I had almost misgone; gone astray I had almost gone to the clerk•'s bed. 4220 Eh! bencitee, then had I foul y-sped!" 2 And forth she goes till she the cradle found. She gropeth always further with her hand, And found thebed, and thought• nought but good, Becaus• that the cradle by it stood; 4225 And n'ist• where she was, for it was dark, didn't know But fair and well she crept into theclerk, And lies full still, and would have caught asleep. Within a while this John the clerk up leaps After a while And on this good• wife he lays on sore. vigorously 4230 So merry a fitt ne had she not full yore: time / in a long while He pricketh hard and deep as he were mad. This jolly life have these two clerk•s led Till that the third• cock began to sing. 3 A dawn parting duet by Alan and Malyn Alan waxed weary in the daw•ning, grew weary 4235 For he had swonken all the long• night, labored And said•: "Farewell, Malin, sweet• wight. creature The day is come, I may no longer bide. But evermore, whereso I go or ride, walk or ride I is thyn own• clerk, swa have I seel." 4 REEVE'S TALE19 recovering stolen property. 4240 "Now, dear• lemman," quod she, "go, farewell. dear lover But ere thou go, one thing I will thee tell: When that thou wendest homeward by the mill, as you go home Right at the entry of thedoor behind Thou shalt a cake of half a bushel find, 4245 That was y-mak•d of thine own• meal, Which that I helped my sir• for to steal. my father And, good• lemman, God thee save and keep." And with that word almost she 'gan to weep. Alan returns to his own bed -- he thinks Alan up rist and thought, "Ere that it daw[n], rose up 4250 I will go creep in by my fellow." And found thecradle with his hand anon. "By God," thought he, "all wrong I have misgone.
  • 102. Minehead is toty of my swink tonight, dizzy frommy work That maketh me that I go not aright. 4255 I wot well by thecradle I have misgo; know / lost my way Here lies the miller and his wife also." And forth he goes (a twenty devilway!) damn it! Unto the bed there as the miller lay. He weened have creepen by his fellow John, He thought 4260 And by themiller in he crept anon, And caught him by the neck and soft he spake. He said: "Thou John, thou swin•'s-head, awake, For Christ•'s soul, and hear a noble game: For by that lord that call•d is Saint Jame, 4265 As I have thric• in this short• night three times Swiv•d themiller's daughter bolt upright, laid / on her back While thou hast as a coward been aghast." scared "Yea, fals• harlot," quod themiller, "hast? wretch / have you? Ah, fals• traitor, fals• clerk," quod he, 4270 "Thou shalt be dead, by God•'s dignity. Who durst• be so bold to disparáge dares / dishonor My daughter, that is come of such lineáge?" noble line A melee follows his mistake 20 CANTERBURYTALES 1 "And he (Alan) in turn seized (hent) Simkin fiercely." 2 The wife thinks she is being assailed by at least one incubus, a wicked spirit (fiend) that supposedly came upon women at night and impregnated them. Hence her prayer to the cross to repel this devil. Her use of the compline prayer: In manus tuas: Into thy hands, O Lord ..., is definitely too late. And by thethroat•-bowl[?] he caught Alain, And he hent him despitously again,1 he = Alan 4275 And on thenose he smotehim with his fist. Down ran thebloody stream upon his breast. And on thefloor, with nose and mouth to-broke, They wallow as do two pigg•s in a poke, And up they go and down again anon, 4280 Till that the miller spurn•d at a stone, tripped on And down he fell backward upon his wife That wist• nothing of this nic• strife, knew / violent For she was fall asleep a little wight shortly before With John theclerk that wak•d had all night. 4285 And with the fall out of her sleep she braid. woke "Help, holy cross of Brom•holm!" she said. "In manus tuas, Lord, to thee I call! Into thy hands Awake, Simon, the fiend is on me fall! the devil My heart is broken. Help! I n'am but dead! as good as dead 4290 There lies one on my womb and on my head! 2 Help, Simkin, for the fals• clerk•s fight!" This John starts up as fast as ever he might, And graspeth by the wall•s to and fro To find a staff; and she starts up also, 4295 And knew theestres bet than did this John, corners better The wife joins the fight with unfortunateresults And by thewall a staff she found anon, And saw a little shimmering of a light, For at a hole in shone themoon• bright And by that light she saw them both• two, 4300 But sikerly she n'ist• who was who, didn't know But as she saw a white thing in her eye, And when she gan this whit• thing espy, She weened theclerk had weared a voluper, thought / nightcap And with the staff she drew ay near and near, nearer & nearer REEVE'S TALE 21 1 Him that ...: "He who does evil should not expect good; a deceiver shall be deceived himself." 2 This miller ...: This miller got theworst of his own "argument" about lodging. This is probably a reference
  • 103. back to the miller's would-be clever responseto the clerks' request for lodging: My houseis small, but you are book-learned, and so you can turn a small spaceinto a large one by philosophicalreasoning. 4305 And weened have hit this Alan at the full intended to hit But smote the miller on the pil•d skull bare skull That down he goes and cried: "Harrow! I die!" Help! These clerk•s beat him well and let him lie, And greythen them, and took their horse anon, got ready 4310 And eke their meal, and on their way they go[n], And also And at the mill• yet they took their cake, Of half a bushel flour full well y-bake. Summary and "moral" Thus is this proud• miller well y-beat, And has y-lost thegrinding of the wheat, 4315 And paid for the supper everydeal every bit Of Alan and of John that beat him well; His wife is swiv•d and his daughter als. laid / also Lo, such it is a miller to be false! So much for And therefore this provérb is said full sooth: truly 4320 Him thar not ween• well that evil doth;1 A guiler shall himself beguil•d be. And God, that sitteth high in majesty, Save all this compani•, great and small. Thus have I quit the Miller in my tale. repaid The Cook's Response 4325 The Cook of London, while theReev• spake For joy he thought he clawed him on the back. "Ha! Ha!" quod he, "for Christ•'s passïon, This miller had a sharp conclusïon Upon his argument of herbergage.2 lodging 4330 Well said Solomon in his language: Ne bring not every man into thy house, For harbouring by night is perilous. 22 CANTERBURYTALES 1 If ever ...: "Ever since I was christened Hodge of Ware." Hodge or Hogg seems to be a diminutive of Roger. 2 Sooth play, quad play ...: "A truejest is no jest" meaning "A joke that is really a home truth is not very funny" or "If you can tell a joke with an edge to it, so can I." Why theproverb is attributed to a Fleming is not clear. Well ought a man avis•d for to be careful Whom that he brought into his privity. privacy 4335 I pray to God, so give me sorrow and care, If ever since I hight• Hodge of Ware,1 was named Heard I a miller better set a-work. He had a jape of malice in the dark. jest But God forbidd• that we stint• here stop 4340 And therefore if you vouch•safe to hear if you care to A tale of me that am a poor• man, I will you tell, as well as ever I can A little jape that 'fell in our city." joke / befell The Host cheerfully insults the Cook Our Host answered and said "I grant it thee. 4345 Now tell on, Roger. Look that it be good, For many a pasty hast thou letten blood drained? And many a Jack of Dover hast thou sold pie(Dover = do over) That has been twic• hot and twic• cold. reheated Of many a pilgrim hast thou Christ•'s curse, 4350 For of thy parsley farethey yet theworse That they have eaten with thy stubblegoose, For in thy shop is many a fly• loose. Now tell on gentle Roger, by thy name, But yet I pray theebe not wrath for game. angry at a joke 4355 A man may say full sooth in game and play." truth The Cook responds with thepromise of a tale about an innkeeper
  • 104. "Thou sayst full sooth," quod Roger, "by my fay, faith But `Sooth play, quad play,' as the Fleming sayth. 2 And therefore, Harry Bailly, by thy faith, Be thou not wroth ere we departen here Don't be angry 4360 Though that my tale be of a hosteler. innkeeper But natheless I will not tell it yet, COOK'S PROLOGUE23 But ere we part, y-wis, thou shalt be quit." indeed And therewithal he laughed and mad• cheer And said his tale as you shall after hear. The Cook starts his tale of Perkin Reveller, an apprenticemore fond of dancing, dicing and general revelry than of trade. The tale has all the appearance of yet another fabliau, but it stops after about sixty lines and Chaucer apparently never finished it. As the marginal note in the Hengwrt MSput it:"Of this Cook's tale maked Chaucer no more."

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