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That streyt was comen from the court of Rome.
Ful lowde he sang, ‘Com hider, love, to me.’
This sompnour bar to him a stif burdoun,
Was nevere trompe of half so gret a soun,
This pardoner haddé heer as yelwe as wer,
But smothe it heng, as doth a strike of flex;
By unces hynge his lokkés that he hadde,
And therwith he his schuldres overspradde.
Ful thinne it lay, by culpons on and oon,
But hood, for jolitee, ne werede he noon,
For it was trusséd up in his walet.
Him thoughte he rood al of the newé get,
Dischevele, sauf his cappe, he rood al bare.
Suche glaryng eyghen hadde he as an hare.
A vernicle hadde he sowed upon his cappe.
His walet lay by form him in his lappe,
Bret-ful of pardoun come from Rome al
A voys he hadde as smal as eny goot.
No berd hadde he, ne nevere scholdé have,
As smothe it was as it were late i-schave ;
But of his craft, fro Berwyk into Ware,
Ne was ther such another pardoner.
For in his male he hadde a pilwebeer,
Which that, he seidé, was oure lady veyl:
He seide, he hadde a gobet of the seyl
That Seynt Peter hadde, whan that he wente
Uppon the see, til Jhesu Crist him hente.
He hadde a croys of latoun ful of stones,
And in a glas he haddé piggés bones.
But with thise reliques, whan that he fond
A pouré persoun dwellyng uppon lond,
Upon a day he gat him more moneye
Than that the persoun gat in monthés tweye.
And thus with feynéd flaterie and japes,
He made the persoun and the people his apes.
But trewély to tellen atté laste,
He was in churche a noble ecclesiaste.
Wel cowde he rede a lessoun or a storye,
But altherbest he sang an offertorie;
For wel he wysté, whan that song was songe,
He mosté preche, and wel affyle his tonge,
To wynné silver, as he right wel cowde;
Therefore he sang ful meriely and lowde.
Now have I told you schortly in a clause
Thestat, tharray, the nombre, and eek the
Why that assembled was this compainye
In Southwerk at this gentil hostelrie,
That highte the Tabard, fasté by the Belle.
But now is tymé to yow for to telle
How that we bare us in that ilke night,
Whan we were in that hostelrie alight.
And after wol I telle of oure viage,
And al the remenaunt of oure pilgrimage.
But first I pray you of your curteisie,
That ye ne rette it nat my vileinyé,
Though that I pleynly speke in this matére,
To tellé you here wordés and here cheere;
Ne though I speke here wordés proprely.
For this ye knowen also wel as I,
Whoso Schal telle a tale after a man,
He moot reherce, as neigh as evere he can,
Everych a word, if it be in his charge,
Al Speke he nevere so rudélyche and large;
Or ellés he moot telle his tale untrewe,
Or feyné thing, or fyndé wordés newe.
He may not spare, although he were his brother;
He moot as wel seyn oo word as another.
Crist spak himself ful broode in holy writ,
And wel ye woote no vileinye is it.
Eek Plato seith, whoso that can him rede,
The wordés mote be cosyn to the dede.
Also I praye you to foryeve it me,
Al have I nat set folk in here degre
Here in this tale, as that theischuldé stonde ;
My wit is schort, ye may wel understonde.
Greet cheeré made oure host us everichon,
And to the souper sette he us anon;
And servede us with vitaille atté beste.
Strong was the wyn, and wel to drynke us
A semely man oure hoost he was withalle
For to han been a marschal in an halle;
A largé man he was with eyghen stepe,
A fairer burgeys was ther noon in Chepe:
Bold of his speche, and wys and wel i-taught,
And of manhede him lakkedé right naught.
Eek therto he was right a mery man,
And after soper playen he bygan,
And spak of myrthe amongés othre thinges,
Whan that we haddé maad our rekenynges:
And saydé thus: “Lo, lordynges, trewély
Ye ben to me right welcome hertély:
For by my trouthe, if that I schall not lye,
I saugh nought this yeer so mery a companye
At Oonés in this herbergh as is now.
Fayn wolde I don yow mirthe, wisté I how.
And of a mirthe I am right now bythought,
To doon you eese, and it Schal costénought.
Ye goon to Caunterbury; God you speede,
The blisful martir quyté you youre meede
And wel I woot, as ye gon by the weye,
Ye Schapen yow to talen and to pleye;
For trewély confört ne mirthe is noon
To rydé by the weye domb as a stoon;
And therfore wol I maken you disport,
As I Seyde erst, and don you som confört.
And if yow liketh alle by oon assent
Now for to standen at my juggément;
And for to werken as Ischal you seye,
To morwe, whan ye riden by the weye,
Now by my fader soulé that is deed,
But ye be merye, Smyteth of myn heed,
Hold up youre hond withouté moré speche.'
Oure counseil was not longé for to seche;
Us thoughte it nas nat worth to make it wys,
And grauntede him withouté more avys,
And bad him seie his verdite, as him leste.
‘Lordynges, quoth he, “now herkneth for the
But taketh it not, I praye you, in desdeyn;
This is the poynt, to speken schort and pleyn,
That ech of yow to schorté with youre weie,
In this viage, schal tellé tales tweye,
To Caunterburi-ward, I mene it so,
And hom-ward he schal tellen othere tuo,
Of aventures that whilom han bifalle.
And which of yow that bereth him best of
That is to Seyn, that telleth in this caas
Talés of best sentënce and most solas,
Schal han a soper at oure alther cost
Here in this place sittynge by this post,