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THE PROLOGUE

TO THE

CANTERBURY TALES.

Whannè that April with his shourès sote :
The droughte of March hath perced to the rote?,
And bathed every veine in swiches licour,
Of whiche vertùe engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eke with his sotè brethe
Enspired hath in every holt and hethe
The tendre croppès, and the yongè sonne
Hath in the kam his halfè cours yronne“,
And smalè foulès maken melodie,
That slepen alle night with open eye,
So priketh hem nature in hir 6 corages?;
Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken strangè strondes,
To serve 8 halweys 9 couthe 10 in sondry londes ;

Sweet. Root. 7 Inclination.

3 Such. To keep.

4 Run. 5 Them. 6 Their.

9 Holidays. 10 Known.

And specially, from every shirès ende
Of Englelond, to Canterbury they wende',
The holy blisful martyr for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke

Befelle, that, in that seson on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury with devoute corage,
At night was come into that hostelrie
Wel nine and twenty in a compagnie
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalles
In felawship, and pilgrimes were they alle,
That toward Canterbury wolden* ride.
The chambres and the stables weren wide,
And wel we weren esed attè beste.

And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste,
So hadde I spoken with hem everich on",
That I was of hir felawship anon,
And made forword erly for to rise,
To take oure way ther as I you devise,

But náthelės, while I have time and space,
Or that I forther in this talè pace,
Me thinketh it accordant to resón,
To tellen you alle the condition
Of eche of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degre;
And eke in what araie that they were inne :
And at a knight than wol I firste beginne.

i Go.

Sick.

3 Fallen.

Would.

Every one.

A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the time that he firste began
To riden out, he loved Chevalrie,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie.
Ful worthy was he in his lordès werre',
And therto hadde he ridden, no man ferre?,
As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse,
And ever honoured for his worthinesse.

At Alisandre he was whan it was wonne. .
Ful often time he hadde the bords begonne+ ..
Aboven allè nations in Pruce.
In Lettowe hadde he reysed 5 and in Ruce,
No cristen man so ofte of his degre.
In Gernade at the siege eke hadde he be
Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie.
At Leyès was he, and at Satalie,
Whan they were wonne; and in the Gretè see
At many a noble armee hadde he be.
At mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene,
And foughten for our faith at Tramissène
In listès thries, and ay slain his fo.
This ilkè worthy knight hadde ben alsò
Sometime with the Lord of Palatie,
Agen another hethen in Turkie:
And evermore he hadde a sovereine pris 6.
And though that he was worthy he was wise,
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet no vilanie ne sayde
'War.

Farther. 34 Been placed at the head of the table. 5 Travelled. 6 Praise.

In alle his lif, unto no manere wight.
He was a veray parfit gentil knight.

But for to tellen you of his araie,
His hors was good, but he ne was not gaie.
Of fustian he wered a gipòn',
Alle besmotred' with his habergeon,
For he was late ycome fro his vidge,
And wentè for to don his pilgrimage.

With him ther was his sone a yongè Squier,
A lover and a lusty bacheler,
With lockès crull* as they were laide in presse.
Of twenty yere of age he was I gesse.
Of his statùre he was of even lengthe,
And wonderly delivers, and grete of strengthe.
And he hadde be somtime in chevachie,
In Flaundres, in Artois, and in Picardie,
And borne him wel, as of so litel space,
In hope to stonden in his ladies grace.

Embrouded? was he, as it were a mede
Alle ful of fresshè flourès, white and rede.
Singing he was, or floyting 8 alle the day,
He was as fresshe, as is the moneth of May.
Short was his goune, with slevès long and wide.
Well coude he sitte on hors, and fayrè ride.
He coudè songès make, and wel endite,
Juste and eke dance, and wel pourtraie and write..

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So hote he loved, that by nightertale?
He slep no more than doth the nightingale.

Curteis he was, lowly, and servisable,
And carf before his fader at the table.

A Yeman hadde he, and servantes no mo
At that time, for him luste 3 to ride so ;
And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene.
A shefe of peacock arwes bright and kene
Under his belt he bare ful thriftily.
Well coude he dresse his takel" yemanly:
His arwes 5 drouped not with fetheres low.
And in his hond he bare a mighty bowe.

A not-hed“ hadde he, with a broune visage.
Of wood-craft coude? he wel alle the usage.
Upon his arme he bare a gaie bracers,
And by his side a swerd and a bokeler,
And on that other side a gaie daggère,
Harneised wel, and sharpe as point of spere:
A Cristofre on his brest of silver shene.
An horne he bare, the baudrik was of grene,
A forster was he sothely as I gesse.

Ther was alsò a Nonne, a Prioresse,
That of hire smiling was full simple and coy;
Hire gretest othe n'as but by Seint Eloy ;
And she was clepedo Madame Eglentine.
Ful wel she sange the service devine,

· Night-time. Carved. It pleased him. “Arrow. • Arrow. A round-head. Knew.

• Armour for the arm. • Called.

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