Page images
PDF
EPUB

His boots souple, his horse in great estate,
Now certainly he was a fair prelate,
He was not pale as a tormented ghost;
A fat swan loved he best of any roast:
His palfrey was as brown as is a berry.

A good man there was of religion, That was a poor PARSONE of a town; But rich he was in holy thought and work, He was also a learned man, a clerk, That Christ's gospel truely would preach. His parishens devoutly would he teach, Benigne he was, and wondrous diligent, And in adversity full patient : And such he was yproved often times ; Full loth were he to cursen for his tithes, But rather would he given, out-of doubt, Unto his poor parishioners about, Of his offering, and eke of his substance; He could in little thing have suffisance. Wide was his parish, and houses far asunder, But he nor felt nor thought of rain or thunder, In sickness and in mischief to visit The farthest in his parish, much and oft, Upon his feet, and in his hand a staff. This noble ensample to his sheep he gave, That first he wrought, and afterward he taught, Out of the gospel he the words caught, And this figure he added yet thereto, That if gold rust, what should iron do ? And if a priest be foul, on whom we trust, No wonder if a common man do rust;

Well ought a priest ensample for to give, By his cleanness, how his sheep should live.

He set not his benefice to hire, Or left his sheep bewildered in the mire, And ran unto London, unto Saint Paul's, To seeken him a chanterie for souls, Or with a brotherhood to be withold: But dwelt at home, and kept well his fold, So that the wolf ne made it not miscarry. He was a shepherd and no mercenarie, And though he holy were, and virtuous, He was to sinful men not dispiteous, Nor of his speech dangerous nor high, But in his teaching discrete and benigne. To draw his folk to heaven, with fairness, By good ensample, was his business : But if were any person obstinate, Whether he were of high, or low estate, Him would he reprove sharply for the nones, A better priest I trow that nowhere is. He waited after neither pomp ne reverence, Nor maked him no spiced conscience, But Christ's lore and his Apostles twelve He taught, but first he followed it himselve.

:

DESCRIPTION OF THE KINGS OF THRACE AND INDIA,

There mightst thou see, coming with Palamon,
The great Lycurgus, sovrein king of Thrace :
Black was his beard, and manly was his face;
The restless glancing of his eyen bright,
Shone with a glowing and a fearful light,
And like a griffon looked he about.

*

His limbs were great, his sinews hard and strong,
His shoulders broad, his arms were round and long ;
And, as the manner was in his countree,
Full high upon a car of gold stood he,
Drawen by four bulls of milk-white hue.
And, in the place of any coat of mail,
He had a bear's skin, black as is a coal.
His hair was long, and braided down his back,
As any raven's feather shining black.
A coronet of gold, of greatest weight,
Upon his head sat, full of jewels bright,
Of rubies fine, and sparkling diamonds.
About his car there wenten snow-white hounds,
Twenty and more, as great as any steer,
To hunten at the lion or the deer;
And followed him, with muzzle fast ybound.

With Arcite came Emetrius, king of Inde,
Upon a bay steed, trapped o'er with steel,
Covered with cloth of gold, embroidered well,
Riding like the dreadful war god, Mars.
His coat armour was of a cloth of Tarse,

Covered with pearls, white, round, and great ;
His saddle was of pure gold, newly beat;
A mantle upon his shoulders hanging,
Studded with rubies, like red fire sparkling ;
His crisp hair into ringlets ran,
Yellow, and bright, and shining as the sun;
His nose was high, his eyen bright and keen,
His lippes round, his colour was sanguine,
And as a lion he his looks did fling ;
His voice was like a trumpet thundering;
Upon his head he wore of laurel green
A garland, fresh and beauteous to be seen;
And on his hand he bare, for his delight,
An eagle tame, as any lily white;
About him ran and played their wilful game
Full many a lion and a leopard tame.

« PreviousContinue »