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- The Canterbury Tales - 7/183 -


Lincoln, was declared by Richard III heir-apparent to the throne, in case the Prince of Wales should die without issue; but the death of Lincoln himself, at the battle of Stoke in 1487, destroyed all prospect that the poet's descendants might succeed to the crown of England; and his family is now believed to be extinct.

13. "Geoffrey Chaucer, bard, and famous mother of poetry, is buried in this sacred ground."

14. Railings.

15 Translation of the epitaph: This tomb was built for Geoffrey Chaucer, who in his time was the greatest poet of the English. If you ask the year of his death, behold the words beneath, which tell you all. Death gave him rest from his toil, 25th of October 1400. N Brigham bore the cost of these words in the name of the Muses. 1556.

16. See the Prologue to Chaucer's Tale of Sir Thopas.

17. See the "Goodly Ballad of Chaucer," seventh stanza.

18. See the opening of the Prologue to "The Legend of Good Women," and the poet's account of his habits in "The House of Fame".

THE CANTERBURY TALES.

THE PROLOGUE.

WHEN that Aprilis, with his showers swoot*, *sweet The drought of March hath pierced to the root, And bathed every vein in such licour, Of which virtue engender'd is the flower; When Zephyrus eke with his swoote breath Inspired hath in every holt* and heath *grove, forest The tender croppes* and the younge sun *twigs, boughs Hath in the Ram <1> his halfe course y-run, And smalle fowles make melody, That sleepen all the night with open eye, (So pricketh them nature in their corages*); *hearts, inclinations Then longe folk to go on pilgrimages, And palmers <2> for to seeke strange strands, To *ferne hallows couth* in sundry lands; *distant saints known*<3> And specially, from every shire's end Of Engleland, to Canterbury they wend, The holy blissful Martyr for to seek, That them hath holpen*, when that they were sick. *helped

Befell that, in that season on a day, In Southwark at the Tabard <4> as I lay, Ready to wenden on my pilgrimage To Canterbury with devout corage, At night was come into that hostelry Well nine and twenty in a company Of sundry folk, *by aventure y-fall *who had by chance fallen In fellowship*, and pilgrims were they all, into company.* <5> That toward Canterbury woulde ride. The chamber, and the stables were wide, And *well we weren eased at the best.* *we were well provided And shortly, when the sunne was to rest, with the best* So had I spoken with them every one, That I was of their fellowship anon, And made forword* early for to rise, *promise To take our way there as I you devise*. *describe, relate

But natheless, while I have time and space, Ere that I farther in this tale pace, Me thinketh it accordant to reason, To tell you alle the condition Of each of them, so as it seemed me, And which they weren, and of what degree; And eke in what array that they were in: And at a Knight then will I first begin.

A KNIGHT there was, and that a worthy man, That from the time that he first began To riden out, he loved chivalry, Truth and honour, freedom and courtesy. Full worthy was he in his Lorde's war, And thereto had he ridden, no man farre*, *farther As well in Christendom as in Heatheness, And ever honour'd for his worthiness At Alisandre <6> he was when it was won. Full often time he had the board begun Above alle nations in Prusse.<7> In Lettowe had he reysed,* and in Russe, *journeyed No Christian man so oft of his degree. In Grenade at the siege eke had he be Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie. <8> At Leyes was he, and at Satalie, When they were won; and in the Greate Sea At many a noble army had he be. At mortal battles had he been fifteen, And foughten for our faith at Tramissene. In listes thries, and aye slain his foe. This ilke* worthy knight had been also *same <9> Some time with the lord of Palatie, Against another heathen in Turkie: And evermore *he had a sovereign price*. *He was held in very And though that he was worthy he was wise, high esteem.* And of his port as meek as is a maid. He never yet no villainy ne said In all his life, unto no manner wight. He was a very perfect gentle knight. But for to telle you of his array, His horse was good, but yet he was not gay. Of fustian he weared a gipon*, *short doublet Alle *besmotter'd with his habergeon,* *soiled by his coat of mail.* For he was late y-come from his voyage, And wente for to do his pilgrimage.

With him there was his son, a younge SQUIRE, A lover, and a lusty bacheler, With lockes crulle* as they were laid in press. *curled Of twenty year of age he was I guess. Of his stature he was of even length, And *wonderly deliver*, and great of strength. *wonderfully nimble* And he had been some time in chevachie*, *cavalry raids In Flanders, in Artois, and Picardie, And borne him well, *as of so little space*, *in such a short time* In hope to standen in his lady's grace. Embroider'd was he, as it were a mead All full of freshe flowers, white and red. Singing he was, or fluting all the day; He was as fresh as is the month of May. Short was his gown, with sleeves long and wide. Well could he sit on horse, and faire ride. He coulde songes make, and well indite, Joust, and eke dance, and well pourtray and write. So hot he loved, that by nightertale* *night-time He slept no more than doth the nightingale. Courteous he was, lowly, and serviceable, And carv'd before his father at the table.<10>

A YEOMAN had he, and servants no mo' At that time, for *him list ride so* *it pleased him so to ride* And he was clad in coat and hood of green. A sheaf of peacock arrows<11> bright and keen Under his belt he bare full thriftily. Well could he dress his tackle yeomanly: His arrows drooped not with feathers low; And in his hand he bare a mighty bow. A nut-head <12> had he, with a brown visiage: Of wood-craft coud* he well all the usage: *knew Upon his arm he bare a gay bracer*, *small shield And by his side a sword and a buckler, And on that other side a gay daggere, Harnessed well, and sharp as point of spear: A Christopher on his breast of silver sheen. An horn he bare, the baldric was of green: A forester was he soothly* as I guess. *certainly

There was also a Nun, a PRIORESS, That of her smiling was full simple and coy; Her greatest oathe was but by Saint Loy; And she was cleped* Madame Eglentine. *called Full well she sang the service divine, Entuned in her nose full seemly; And French she spake full fair and fetisly* *properly After the school of Stratford atte Bow, For French of Paris was to her unknow. At meate was she well y-taught withal; She let no morsel from her lippes fall, Nor wet her fingers in her sauce deep. Well could she carry a morsel, and well keep, That no droppe ne fell upon her breast. In courtesy was set full much her lest*. *pleasure Her over-lippe wiped she so clean, That in her cup there was no farthing* seen *speck Of grease, when she drunken had her draught; Full seemely after her meat she raught*: *reached out her hand And *sickerly she was of great disport*, *surely she was of a lively And full pleasant, and amiable of port, disposition* And *pained her to counterfeite cheer *took pains to assume Of court,* and be estately of mannere, a courtly disposition* And to be holden digne* of reverence. *worthy But for to speaken of her conscience, She was so charitable and so pitous,* *full of pity She woulde weep if that she saw a mouse Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bled. Of smalle houndes had she, that she fed With roasted flesh, and milk, and *wastel bread.* *finest white bread* But sore she wept if one of them were dead, Or if men smote it with a yarde* smart: *staff And all was conscience and tender heart. Full seemly her wimple y-pinched was; Her nose tretis;* her eyen gray as glass;<13> *well-formed Her mouth full small, and thereto soft and red; But sickerly she had a fair forehead. It was almost a spanne broad I trow; For *hardily she was not undergrow*. *certainly she was not small* Full fetis* was her cloak, as I was ware. *neat Of small coral about her arm she bare A pair of beades, gauded all with green;


The Canterbury Tales - 7/183

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