« PreviousContinue »
FROM THE PROLOGUE TO THE CANTERBURY TALBA
Befeile, that in that season on a day,
Ready to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury, with devout courage,
At night was come into that hostelrie
Weli nine and twenty in a companie
Of sundry folk, by aventure yfalle
In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all
That toward Canterbury wolden ride.
The chambers and the stables weren wide,
And well we weren eased at best.
And shortly, when the sun was gone to rest
So had I spoken with them every one,
That I was of their fellowship anoni,
And made agreement early for to rise,
To take our way there as I you advise',
But natheless, while I have the time and space Before I further in the tale do pass, It seemeth me accordant unto reason, To tell unto you all the condition Of each of them, so as it seemed me, And who they weren, and of what degree; And eke in what array they all were in, And at a Knight then will I first begin.
A Knight there was, and that a worthy ma
To riden out, he loved chivalrie,
Truthe and honour, freedom and courtesie,
Full worthy was he in his lord's war,
And thereto had he ridden, near and farre,
As well in Christendom as in Heatheness,
And ever honoured for his worthiness.
At Alisandr' he was when it was won,
Full oftentime he had the field outdone
In Lettone had he travelled, and in Russe
With many a noble army had he been. - Of mortal battles had he seen fifteen,
And evermore he had a sovereign praise,
And though that he was worthy he was wise,
And of his port as meek as is a maid,
In all his life, unto no man or wight,
He was a very perfect noble Knight.
But for to tellen you of his array,
His horse was good, but yet he was not gay,
Of fustian he weared a gipon,
All besmutted with his habergeon,
For he was lately come from his voyage,
And wenten for to do his pilgrimage.
With him there was his son, a fresh young SQUIRE
A lover and a lusty bachelor,
With locks curled as they were laid in press ;
Of twenty years of age he was I guess.
Of his stature he was of equal length,
And wonderf’ly agile, and great of strength;
And he had something seen of chivalrie,
In Flanders, in Artois, and Picardie,
And borne him well, as of so little space,
In hope to standen in his ladies grace.
Embroidered was he, as it were a meade
All full of fresh flowers, white and red,
Singing he was, or fluting all the day,
Short was his gown, with sleeves full long and wide
Well could he sit on horse, and fairly ride.
He could songs make, and well endite,
Juste, and eke dance, and well pourtray and write.
Courteous he was, lowly and serviceable,
And carved for his father at the table.
A YEOMAN had he, and servants no mo
At that time, for him pleased to ride so;
And he was clad in coat and hood of green,
A sheafe of peacock arrows bright and keen
Under his belt he bare full thristily;
Well could he dress his tackel yeomanly.
His arrows drooped not with feathers low
And in his hand he bare a mighty bow.
A round head had he, with a brown visage;
Of wood craft knew he well all the usage;
Upon his arm he bare a gay bracer,
And by his side a sword and buckler,
And on that other side a gay dagger,
Harnessed well, and sharp as point of spear;
A cristofre on his breast of silver shene;
An horn he bare, the baudrick was of green.
A forester was he soothly I guess.
There also was a Nun, a Prioress, That in her smiling was full simple and.coy ; ller greatest oath was but by Saint Eloy ; And she was cleped Madame Eglantine. Full well she sang the service divine, Entuned in her nose full sweetly ; And French she spake full faire and fetisly, After the school of Stratford at Bow, For French of Paris was to her unknowe. At mert was she well ytaught withall ; She let no morsel from her lips fall, Nor wet her fingers in her sauce deep; Well could she carry a morsel, and well keep That no drop neer fell upon her breast. In courtesie was set full much her lest.
And certainly she was of great disport,
And full pleasant, and amiable of port,