Canterbury Tales (ed. Skeat)/Nuns Priest
The prologue of the Nonne Preestes Tale.
'Ho!' quod the knight, 'good sir, na-more of this,
That ye han seyd is right y-nough, y-wis,
And mochel more; for litel hevinesse
Is right y-nough to mochel folk, I gesse. 3960
I seye for me, it is a greet disese
Wher-as men han ben in greet welthe and ese,
To heren of hir sodeyn fal, allas!
And the contrarie is Ioie and greet solas,
As whan a man hath been in povre estaat, 3965
And clymbeth up, and wexeth fortunat, (10)
And ther abydeth in prosperitee,
Swich thing is gladsom, as it thinketh me,
And of swich thing were goodly for to telle.'
'Ye,' quod our hoste, 'by seint Poules belle, 3970
Ye seye right sooth; this monk, he clappeth loude,
He spak how "fortune covered with a cloude"
I noot never what, and als of a "Tragedie"
Right now ye herde, and parde! no remedie
It is for to biwaille, ne compleyne 3975
That that is doon, and als it is a peyne, (20)
As ye han seyd, to here of hevinesse.
Sir monk, na-more of this, so god yow blesse!
Your tale anoyeth al this companye;
Swich talking is nat worth a boterflye; 3980
For ther-in is ther no desport ne game.
Wherfor, sir Monk, or dan Piers by your name,
I preye yow hertely, telle us somwhat elles,
For sikerly, nere clinking of your belles,
That on your brydel hange on every syde, 3985
By heven king, that for us alle dyde, (30)
I sholde er this han fallen doun for slepe,
Although the slough had never been so depe;
Than had your tale al be told in vayn.
For certeinly, as that thise clerkes seyn, 3990
"Wher-as a man may have noon audience,
Noght helpeth it to tellen his sentence."
And wel I woot the substance is in me,
If any thing shal wel reported be.
Sir, sey somwhat of hunting, I yow preye.' 3995
'Nay,' quod this monk, 'I have no lust to pleye; (40)
Now let another telle, as I have told.'
Than spak our host, with rude speche and bold,
And seyde un-to the Nonnes Preest anon,
'Com neer, thou preest, com hider, thou sir Iohn, 4000
Tel us swich thing as may our hertes glade,
Be blythe, though thou ryde up-on a Iade.
What though thyn hors be bothe foule and lene,
If he wol serve thee, rekke nat a bene;
Look that thyn herte be mery evermo.' 4005
'Yis, sir,' quod he, 'yis, host, so mote I go, (50)
But I be mery, y-wis, I wol be blamed:'—
And right anon his tale he hath attamed,
And thus he seyde un-to us everichon,
This swete preest, this goodly man, sir Iohn. 4010
Here biginneth the Nonne Preestes Tale of the Cok and Hen, Chauntecleer and Pertelote.
A povre widwe, somdel stape in age,
Was whylom dwelling in a narwe cotage,
Bisyde a grove, stonding in a dale.
This widwe, of which I telle yow my tale,
Sin thilke day that she was last a wyf, 4015
In pacience ladde a ful simple lyf,
For litel was hir catel and hir rente;
By housbondrye, of such as God hir sente,
She fond hir-self, and eek hir doghtren two.
Three large sowes hadde she, and namo, 4020
Three kyn, and eek a sheep that highte Malle. (11)
Ful sooty was hir bour, and eek hir halle,
In which she eet ful many a sclendre meel.
Of poynaunt sauce hir neded never a deel.
No deyntee morsel passed thurgh hir throte; 4025
Hir dyete was accordant to hir cote.
Repleccioun ne made hir never syk;
Attempree dyete was al hir phisyk,
And exercyse, and hertes suffisaunce.
The goute lette hir no-thing for to daunce, 4030
Napoplexye shente nat hir heed; (21)
No wyn ne drank she, neither whyt ne reed;
Hir bord was served most with whyt and blak,
Milk and broun breed, in which she fond no lak,
Seynd bacoun, and somtyme an ey or tweye, 4035
For she was as it were a maner deye.
A yerd she hadde, enclosed al aboute
With stikkes, and a drye dich with-oute,
In which she hadde a cok, hight Chauntecleer,
In al the land of crowing nas his peer. 4040
His vois was merier than the mery orgon (31)
On messe-dayes that in the chirche gon;
Wel sikerer was his crowing in his logge,
Than is a clokke, or an abbey orlogge.
By nature knew he ech ascencioun 4045
Of equinoxial in thilke toun;
For whan degrees fiftene were ascended,
Thanne crew he, that it mighte nat ben amended.
His comb was redder than the fyn coral,
And batailed, as it were a castel-wal. 4050
His bile was blak, and as the Ieet it shoon; (41)
Lyk asur were his legges, and his toon;
His nayles whytter than the lilie flour,
And lyk the burned gold was his colour.
This gentil cok hadde in his governaunce 4055
Sevene hennes, for to doon al his plesaunce,
Whiche were his sustres and his paramours,
And wonder lyk to him, as of colours.
Of whiche the faireste hewed on hir throte
Was cleped faire damoysele Pertelote. 4060
Curteys she was, discreet, and debonaire, (51)
And compaignable, and bar hir-self so faire,
Sin thilke day that she was seven night old,
That trewely she hath the herte in hold
Of Chauntecleer loken in every lith; 4065
He loved hir so, that wel was him therwith.
But such a Ioye was it to here hem singe,
Whan that the brighte sonne gan to springe,
In swete accord, 'my lief is faren in londe.'
For thilke tyme, as I have understonde, 4070
Bestes and briddes coude speke and singe. (61)
And so bifel, that in a daweninge,
As Chauntecleer among his wyves alle
Sat on his perche, that was in the halle,
And next him sat this faire Pertelote, 4075
This Chauntecleer gan gronen in his throte,
As man that in his dreem is drecched sore.
And whan that Pertelote thus herde him rore,
She was agast, and seyde, 'O herte dere,
What eyleth yow, to grone in this manere? 4080
Ye been a verray sleper, fy for shame!' (71)
And he answerde and seyde thus, 'madame,
I pray yow, that ye take it nat a-grief:
By god, me mette I was in swich meschief
Right now, that yet myn herte is sore afright. 4085
Now god,' quod he, 'my swevene recche aright,
And keep my body out of foul prisoun!
Me mette, how that I romed up and doun
Withinne our yerde, wher-as I saugh a beste,
Was lyk an hound, and wolde han maad areste 4090
Upon my body, and wolde han had me deed. (81)
His colour was bitwixe yelwe and reed;
And tipped was his tail, and bothe his eres,
With blak, unlyk the remenant of his heres;
His snowte smal, with glowinge eyen tweye. 4095
Yet of his look for fere almost I deye;
This caused me my groning, doutelees.'
'Avoy!' quod she, 'fy on yow, hertelees!
Allas!' quod she, 'for, by that god above,
Now han ye lost myn herte and al my love; 4100
I can nat love a coward, by my feith. (91)
For certes, what so any womman seith,
We alle desyren, if it mighte be,
To han housbondes hardy, wyse, and free,
And secree, and no nigard, ne no fool, 4105
Ne him that is agast of every tool,
Ne noon avauntour, by that god above!
How dorste ye seyn for shame unto your love,
That any thing mighte make yow aferd?
Have ye no mannes herte, and han a berd? 4110
Allas! and conne ye been agast of swevenis? (101)
No-thing, god wot, but vanitee, in sweven is.
Swevenes engendren of replecciouns,
And ofte of fume, and of complecciouns,
Whan humours been to habundant in a wight. 4115
Certes this dreem, which ye han met to-night,
Cometh of the grete superfluitee
Of youre rede colera, pardee,
Which causeth folk to dreden in here dremes
Of arwes, and of fyr with rede lemes, 4120
Of grete bestes, that they wol hem byte, (111)
Of contek, and of whelpes grete and lyte;
Right as the humour of malencolye
Causeth ful many a man, in sleep, to crye,
For fere of blake beres, or boles blake, 4125
Or elles, blake develes wole hem take.
Of othere humours coude I telle also,
That werken many a man in sleep ful wo;
But I wol passe as lightly as I can.
Lo Catoun, which that was so wys a man, 4130
Seyde he nat thus, ne do no fors of dremes? (121)
Now, sire,' quod she, 'whan we flee fro the bemes,
For Goddes love, as tak som laxatyf;
Up peril of my soule, and of my lyf,
I counseille yow the beste, I wol nat lye, 4135
That bothe of colere and of malencolye
Ye purge yow; and for ye shul nat tarie,
Though in this toun is noon apotecarie,
I shal my-self to herbes techen yow,
That shul ben for your hele, and for your prow; 4140
And in our yerd tho herbes shal I finde, (131)
The whiche han of hir propretee, by kinde,
To purgen yow binethe, and eek above.
Forget not this, for goddes owene love!
Ye been ful colerik of compleccioun. 4145
Ware the sonne in his ascencioun
Ne fynde yow nat repleet of humours hote;
And if it do, I dar wel leye a grote,
That ye shul have a fevere terciane,
Or an agu, that may be youre bane. 4150
A day or two ye shul have digestyves (141)
Of wormes, er ye take your laxatyves,
Of lauriol, centaure, and fumetere,
Or elles of ellebor, that groweth there,
Of catapuce, or of gaytres beryis, 4155
Of erbe yve, growing in our yerd, that mery is;
Pekke hem up right as they growe, and ete hem in.
Be mery, housbond, for your fader kin!
Dredeth no dreem; I can say yow na-more.'
'Madame,' quod he, 'graunt mercy of your lore. 4160
But nathelees, as touching daun Catoun, (151)
That hath of wisdom such a greet renoun,
Though that he bad no dremes for to drede,
By god, men may in olde bokes rede
Of many a man, more of auctoritee 4165
Than ever Catoun was, so mote I thee,
Than al the revers seyn of his sentence,
And han wel founden by experience,
That dremes ben significaciouns,
As wel of Ioye as tribulaciouns 4170
That folk enduren in this lyf present. (161)
Ther nedeth make of this noon argument;
The verray preve sheweth it in dede.
Oon of the gretteste auctours that men rede
Seith thus, that whylom two felawes wente 4175
On pilgrimage, in a ful good entente;
And happed so, thay come into a toun,
Wher-as ther was swich congregacioun
Of peple, and eek so streit of herbergage,
That they ne founde as muche as o cotage, 4180
In which they bothe mighte y-logged be. (171)
Wherfor thay mosten, of necessitee,
As for that night, departen compaignye;
And ech of hem goth to his hostelrye,
And took his logging as it wolde falle. 4185
That oon of hem was logged in a stalle,
Fer in a yerd, with oxen of the plough;
That other man was logged wel y-nough,
As was his aventure, or his fortune,
That us governeth alle as in commune. 4190
And so bifel, that, longe er it were day, (181)
This man mette in his bed, ther-as he lay,
How that his felawe gan up-on him calle,
And seyde, 'allas! for in an oxes stalle
This night I shal be mordred ther I lye. 4195
Now help me, dere brother, er I dye;
In alle haste com to me,' he sayde.
This man out of his sleep for fere abrayde;
But whan that he was wakned of his sleep,
He turned him, and took of this no keep; 4200
Him thoughte his dreem nas but a vanitee. (191)
Thus twyës in his sleping dremed he.
And atte thridde tyme yet his felawe
Cam, as him thoughte, and seide, 'I am now slawe;
Bihold my blody woundes, depe and wyde! 4205
Arys up erly in the morwe-tyde,
And at the west gate of the toun,' quod he,
'A carte ful of donge ther shaltow see,
In which my body is hid ful prively;
Do thilke carte aresten boldely. 4210
My gold caused my mordre, sooth to sayn;' (201)
And tolde him every poynt how he was slayn,
With a ful pitous face, pale of hewe.
And truste wel, his dreem he fond ful trewe;
For on the morwe, as sone as it was day, 4215
To his felawes in he took the way;
And whan that he cam to this oxes stalle,
After his felawe he bigan to calle.
The hostiler answered him anon,
And seyde, 'sire, your felawe is agon, 4220
As sone as day he wente out of the toun.' (211)
This man gan fallen in suspecioun,
Remembring on his dremes that he mette,
And forth he goth, no lenger wolde he lette,
Unto the west gate of the toun, and fond 4225
A dong-carte, as it were to donge lond,
That was arrayed in the same wyse
As ye han herd the dede man devyse;
And with an hardy herte he gan to crye
Vengeaunce and Iustice of this felonye:— 4230
'My felawe mordred is this same night, (221)
And in this carte he lyth gapinge upright.
I crye out on the ministres,' quod he,
'That sholden kepe and reulen this citee;
Harrow! allas! her lyth my felawe slayn!' 4235
What sholde I more un-to this tale sayn?
The peple out-sterte, and caste the cart to grounde,
And in the middel of the dong they founde
The dede man, that mordred was al newe.
O blisful god, that art so Iust and trewe! 4240
Lo, how that thou biwreyest mordre alway! (231)
Mordre wol out, that see we day by day.
Mordre is so wlatsom and abhominable
To god, that is so Iust and resonable,
That he ne wol nat suffre it heled be; 4245
Though it abyde a yeer, or two, or three,
Mordre wol out, this my conclusioun.
And right anoon, ministres of that toun
Han hent the carter, and so sore him pyned,
And eek the hostiler so sore engyned, 4250
That thay biknewe hir wikkednesse anoon, (241)
And were an-hanged by the nekke-boon.
Here may men seen that dremes been to drede.
And certes, in the same book I rede,
Right in the nexte chapitre after this, 4255
(I gabbe nat, so have I Ioye or blis,)
Two men that wolde han passed over see,
For certeyn cause, in-to a fer contree,
If that the wind ne hadde been contrarie,
That made hem in a citee for to tarie, 4260
That stood ful mery upon an haven-syde. (251)
But on a day, agayn the even-tyde,
The wind gan chaunge, and blew right as hem leste.
Iolif and glad they wente un-to hir reste,
And casten hem ful erly for to saille; 4265
But to that oo man fil a greet mervaille.
That oon of hem, in sleping as he lay,
Him mette a wonder dreem, agayn the day;
Him thoughte a man stood by his beddes syde,
And him comaunded, that he sholde abyde, 4270
And seyde him thus, 'if thou to-morwe wende, (261)
Thou shalt be dreynt; my tale is at an ende.'
He wook, and tolde his felawe what he mette,
And preyde him his viage for to lette;
As for that day, he preyde him to abyde. 4275
His felawe, that lay by his beddes syde,
Gan for to laughe, and scorned him ful faste.
'No dreem,' quod he, 'may so myn herte agaste,
That I wol lette for to do my thinges.
I sette not a straw by thy dreminges, 4280
For swevenes been but vanitees and Iapes. (271)
Men dreme al-day of owles or of apes,
And eke of many a mase therwithal;
Men dreme of thing that nevere was ne shal.
But sith I see that thou wolt heer abyde, 4285
And thus for-sleuthen wilfully thy tyde,
God wot it reweth me; and have good day.'
And thus he took his leve, and wente his way.
But er that he hadde halfe his cours y-seyled,
Noot I nat why, ne what mischaunce it eyled, 4290
But casuelly the shippes botme rente, (281)
And ship and man under the water wente
In sighte of othere shippes it byside,
That with hem seyled at the same tyde.
And therfor, faire Pertelote so dere, 4295
By swiche ensamples olde maistow lere,
That no man sholde been to recchelees
Of dremes, for I sey thee, doutelees,
That many a dreem ful sore is for to drede.
Lo, in the lyf of seint Kenelm, I rede, 4300
That was Kenulphus sone, the noble king (291)
Of Mercenrike, how Kenelm mette a thing;
A lyte er he was mordred, on a day,
His mordre in his avisioun he say.
His norice him expouned every del 4305
His sweven, and bad him for to kepe him wel
For traisoun; but he nas but seven yeer old,
And therfore litel tale hath he told
Of any dreem, so holy was his herte.
By god, I hadde lever than my sherte 4310
That ye had rad his legende, as have I. (301)
Dame Pertelote, I sey yow trewely,
Macrobeus, that writ the avisioun
In Affrike of the worthy Cipioun,
Affermeth dremes, and seith that they been 4315
Warning of thinges that men after seen.
And forther-more, I pray yow loketh wel
In the olde testament, of Daniel,
If he held dremes any vanitee.
Reed eek of Ioseph, and ther shul ye see 4320
Wher dremes ben somtyme (I sey nat alle) (311)
Warning of thinges that shul after falle.
Loke of Egipt the king, daun Pharao,
His bakere and his boteler also,
Wher they ne felte noon effect in dremes. 4325
Who-so wol seken actes of sondry remes,
May rede of dremes many a wonder thing.
Lo Cresus, which that was of Lyde king,
Mette he nat that he sat upon a tree,
Which signified he sholde anhanged be? 4330
Lo heer Andromacha, Ectores wyf, (321)
That day that Ector sholde lese his lyf,
She dremed on the same night biforn,
How that the lyf of Ector sholde be lorn,
If thilke day he wente in-to bataille; 4335
She warned him, but it mighte nat availle;
He wente for to fighte nathelees,
But he was slayn anoon of Achilles.
But thilke tale is al to long to telle,
And eek it is ny day, I may nat dwelle. 4340
Shortly I seye, as for conclusioun, (331)
That I shal han of this avisioun
Adversitee; and I seye forther-more,
That I ne telle of laxatyves no store,
For they ben venimous, I woot it wel; 4345
I hem defye, I love hem never a del.
Now let us speke of mirthe, and stinte al this;
Madame Pertelote, so have I blis,
Of o thing god hath sent me large grace;
For whan I see the beautee of your face, 4350
Ye ben so scarlet-reed about your yën, (341)
It maketh al my drede for to dyen;
For, also siker as In principio,
Mulier est hominis confusio;
Madame, the sentence of this Latin is— 4355
Womman is mannes Ioye and al his blis.
For whan I fele a-night your softe syde,
Al-be-it that I may nat on you ryde,
For that our perche is maad so narwe, alas!
I am so ful of Ioye and of solas 4360
That I defye bothe sweven and dreem.' (351)
And with that word he fley doun fro the beem,
For it was day, and eek his hennes alle;
And with a chuk he gan hem for to calle,
For he had founde a corn, lay in the yerd. 4365
Royal he was, he was namore aferd;
He fethered Pertelote twenty tyme,
And trad as ofte, er that it was pryme.
He loketh as it were a grim leoun;
And on his toos he rometh up and doun, 4370
Him deyned not to sette his foot to grounde. (361)
He chukketh, whan he hath a corn y-founde,
And to him rennen thanne his wyves alle.
Thus royal, as a prince is in his halle,
Leve I this Chauntecleer in his pasture; 4375
And after wol I telle his aventure.
Whan that the month in which the world bigan,
That highte March, whan god first maked man,
Was complet, and [y]-passed were also,
Sin March bigan, thritty dayes and two, 4380
Bifel that Chauntecleer, in al his pryde, (371)
His seven wyves walking by his syde,
Caste up his eyen to the brighte sonne,
That in the signe of Taurus hadde y-ronne
Twenty degrees and oon, and somwhat more; 4385
And knew by kynde, and by noon other lore,
That it was pryme, and crew with blisful stevene.
'The sonne,' he sayde, 'is clomben up on hevene
Fourty degrees and oon, and more, y-wis.
Madame Pertelote, my worldes blis, 4390
Herkneth thise blisful briddes how they singe, (381)
And see the fresshe floures how they springe;
Ful is myn herte of revel and solas.'
But sodeinly him fil a sorweful cas;
For ever the latter ende of Ioye is wo. 4395
God woot that worldly Ioye is sone ago;
And if a rethor coude faire endyte,
He in a cronique saufly mighte it wryte,
As for a sovereyn notabilitee.
Now every wys man, lat him herkne me; 4400
This storie is al-so trewe, I undertake, (391)
As is the book of Launcelot de Lake,
That wommen holde in ful gret reverence.
Now wol I torne agayn to my sentence.
A col-fox, ful of sly iniquitee, 4405
That in the grove hadde woned yeres three,
By heigh imaginacioun forn-cast,
The same night thurgh-out the hegges brast
Into the yerd, ther Chauntecleer the faire
Was wont, and eek his wyves, to repaire; 4410
And in a bed of wortes stille he lay, (401)
Til it was passed undern of the day,
Wayting his tyme on Chauntecleer to falle,
As gladly doon thise homicydes alle,
That in awayt liggen to mordre men. 4415
O false mordrer, lurking in thy den!
O newe Scariot, newe Genilon!
False dissimilour, O Greek Sinon,
That broghtest Troye al outrely to sorwe!
O Chauntecleer, acursed be that morwe, 4420
That thou into that yerd flough fro the bemes! (411)
Thou were ful wel y-warned by thy dremes,
That thilke day was perilous to thee.
But what that god forwoot mot nedes be,
After the opinioun of certeyn clerkis. 4425
Witnesse on him, that any perfit clerk is,
That in scole is gret altercacioun
In this matere, and greet disputisoun,
And hath ben of an hundred thousand men.
But I ne can not bulte it to the bren, 4430
As can the holy doctour Augustyn, (421)
Or Boece, or the bishop Bradwardyn,
Whether that goddes worthy forwiting
Streyneth me nedely for to doon a thing,
(Nedely clepe I simple necessitee); 4435
Or elles, if free choys be graunted me
To do that same thing, or do it noght,
Though god forwoot it, er that it was wroght;
Or if his witing streyneth nevere a del
But by necessitee condicionel. 4440
I wol not han to do of swich matere; (431)
My tale is of a cok, as ye may here,
That took his counseil of his wyf, with sorwe,
To walken in the yerd upon that morwe
That he had met the dreem, that I yow tolde. 4445
Wommennes counseils been ful ofte colde;
Wommannes counseil broghte us first to wo,
And made Adam fro paradys to go,
Ther-as he was ful mery, and wel at ese.
But for I noot, to whom it mighte displese, 4450
If I counseil of wommen wolde blame, (441)
Passe over, for I seyde it in my game.
Rede auctours, wher they trete of swich matere,
And what thay seyn of wommen ye may here.
Thise been the cokkes wordes, and nat myne; 4455
I can noon harm of no womman divyne.
Faire in the sond, to bathe hir merily,
Lyth Pertelote, and alle hir sustres by,
Agayn the sonne; and Chauntecleer so free
Song merier than the mermayde in the see; 4460
For Phisiologus seith sikerly, (451)
How that they singen wel and merily.
And so bifel that, as he caste his yë,
Among the wortes, on a boterflye,
He was war of this fox that lay ful lowe. 4465
No-thing ne liste him thanne for to crowe,
But cryde anon, 'cok, cok,' and up he sterte,
As man that was affrayed in his herte.
For naturelly a beest desyreth flee
Fro his contrarie, if he may it see, 4470
Though he never erst had seyn it with his yë. (461)
This Chauntecleer, whan he gan him espye,
He wolde han fled, but that the fox anon
Seyde, 'Gentil sire, allas! wher wol ye gon?
Be ye affrayed of me that am your freend? 4475
Now certes, I were worse than a feend,
If I to yow wolde harm or vileinye.
I am nat come your counseil for tespye;
But trewely, the cause of my cominge
Was only for to herkne how that ye singe. 4480
For trewely ye have as mery a stevene (471)
As eny aungel hath, that is in hevene;
Therwith ye han in musik more felinge
Than hadde Boece, or any that can singe.
My lord your fader (god his soule blesse!) 4485
And eek your moder, of hir gentilesse,
Han in myn hous y-been, to my gret ese;
And certes, sire, ful fayn wolde I yow plese.
But for men speke of singing, I wol saye,
So mote I brouke wel myn eyen tweye, 4490
Save yow, I herde never man so singe, (48l)
As dide your fader in the morweninge;
Certes, it was of herte, al that he song.
And for to make his voys the more strong,
He wolde so peyne him, that with bothe his yën 4495
He moste winke, so loude he wolde cryen,
And stonden on his tiptoon ther-with-al,
And strecche forth his nekke long and smal.
And eek he was of swich discrecioun,
That ther nas no man in no regioun 4500
That him in song or wisdom mighte passe. (491)
I have wel rad in daun Burnel the Asse,
Among his vers, how that ther was a cok,
For that a preestes sone yaf him a knok
Upon his leg, whyl he was yong and nyce, 4505
He made him for to lese his benefyce.
But certeyn, ther nis no comparisoun
Bitwix the wisdom and discrecioun
Of youre fader, and of his subtiltee.
Now singeth, sire, for seinte Charitee, 4510
Let see, conne ye your fader countrefete?' (501)
This Chauntecleer his winges gan to bete,
As man that coude his tresoun nat espye,
So was he ravisshed with his flaterye.
Allas! ye lordes, many a fals flatour 4515
Is in your courtes, and many a losengeour,
That plesen yow wel more, by my feith,
Than he that soothfastnesse unto yow seith.
Redeth Ecclesiaste of flaterye;
Beth war, ye lordes, of hir trecherye. 4520
This Chauntecleer stood hye up-on his toos, (511)
Strecching his nekke, and heeld his eyen cloos,
And gan to crowe loude for the nones;
And daun Russel the fox sterte up at ones,
And by the gargat hente Chauntecleer, 4525
And on his bak toward the wode him beer,
For yet ne was ther no man that him sewed.
O destinee, that mayst nat been eschewed!
Allas, that Chauntecleer fleigh fro the bemes!
Allas, his wyf ne roghte nat of dremes! 4530
And on a Friday fil al this meschaunce. (521)
O Venus, that art goddesse of plesaunce,
Sin that thy servant was this Chauntecleer,
And in thy service dide al his poweer,
More for delyt, than world to multiplye, 4535
Why woldestow suffre him on thy day to dye?
O Gaufred, dere mayster soverayn,
That, whan thy worthy king Richard was slayn
With shot, compleynedest his deth so sore,
Why ne hadde I now thy sentence and thy lore, 4540
The Friday for to chyde, as diden ye? (531)
(For on a Friday soothly slayn was he.)
Than wolde I shewe yow how that I coude pleyne
For Chauntecleres drede, and for his peyne.
Certes, swich cry ne lamentacioun 4545
Was never of ladies maad, whan Ilioun
Was wonne, and Pirrus with his streite swerd,
Whan he hadde hent king Priam by the berd,
And slayn him (as saith us Eneydos),
As maden alle the hennes in the clos, 4550
Whan they had seyn of Chauntecleer the sighte. (541)
But sovereynly dame Pertelote shrighte,
Ful louder than dide Hasdrubales wyf,
Whan that hir housbond hadde lost his lyf,
And that the Romayns hadde brend Cartage; 4555
She was so ful of torment and of rage,
That wilfully into the fyr she sterte,
And brende hir-selven with a stedfast herte.
O woful hennes, right so cryden ye,
As, whan that Nero brende the citee 4560
Of Rome, cryden senatoures wyves, (551)
For that hir housbondes losten alle hir lyves;
Withouten gilt this Nero hath hem slayn.
Now wol I torne to my tale agayn:—
This sely widwe, and eek hir doghtres two, 4565
Herden thise hennes crye and maken wo,
And out at dores sterten they anoon,
And syen the fox toward the grove goon,
And bar upon his bak the cok away;
And cryden, 'Out! harrow! and weylaway! 4570
Ha, ha, the fox!' and after him they ran, (561)
And eek with staves many another man;
Ran Colle our dogge, and Talbot, and Gerland,
And Malkin, with a distaf in hir hand;
Ran cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges 4575
So were they fered for berking of the dogges
And shouting of the men and wimmen eke,
They ronne so, hem thoughte hir herte breke.
They yelleden as feendes doon in helle;
The dokes cryden as men wolde hem quelle; 4580
The gees for fere flowen over the trees; (571)
Out of the hyve cam the swarm of bees;
So hidous was the noyse, a! benedicite!
Certes, he Iakke Straw, and his meynee,
Ne made never shoutes half so shrille, 4585
Whan that they wolden any Fleming kille,
As thilke day was maad upon the fox.
Of bras thay broghten bemes, and of box,
Of horn, of boon, in whiche they blewe and pouped,
And therwithal thay shryked and they houped; 4590
It semed as that heven sholde falle. (581)
Now, gode men, I pray yow herkneth alle!
Lo, how fortune turneth sodeinly
The hope and pryde eek of hir enemy!
This cok, that lay upon the foxes bak, 4595
In al his drede, un-to the fox he spak,
And seyde, 'sire, if that I were as ye,
Yet sholde I seyn (as wis god helpe me),
Turneth agayn, ye proude cherles alle!
A verray pestilence up-on yow falle! 4600
Now am I come un-to this wodes syde, (591)
Maugree your heed, the cok shal heer abyde;
I wol him ete in feith, and that anon.'—
The fox answerde, 'in feith, it shal be don,'—
And as he spak that word, al sodeinly 4605
This cok brak from his mouth deliverly,
And heighe up-on a tree he fleigh anon.
And whan the fox saugh that he was y-gon,
'Allas!' quod he, 'O Chauntecleer, allas!
I have to yow,' quod he, 'y-doon trespas, 4610
In-as-muche as I maked yow aferd, (601)
Whan I yow hente, and broghte out of the yerd;
But, sire, I dide it in no wikke entente;
Com doun, and I shal telle yow what I mente.
I shal seye sooth to yow, god help me so.' 4615
'Nay than,' quod he, 'I shrewe us bothe two,
And first I shrewe my-self, bothe blood and bones,
If thou bigyle me ofter than ones.
Thou shalt na-more, thurgh thy flaterye,
Do me to singe and winke with myn yë. 4620
For he that winketh, whan he sholde see, (611)
Al wilfully, god lat him never thee!'
'Nay,' quod the fox, 'but god yeve him meschaunce,
That is so undiscreet of governaunce,
That Iangleth whan he sholde holde his pees.' 4625
Lo, swich it is for to be recchelees,
And necligent, and truste on flaterye.
But ye that holden this tale a folye,
As of a fox, or of a cok and hen,
Taketh the moralitee, good men. 4630
For seint Paul seith, that al that writen is, (621)
To our doctryne it is y-write, y-wis.
Taketh the fruyt, and lat the chaf be stille.
Now, gode god, if that it be thy wille,
As seith my lord, so make us alle good men; 4635
And bringe us to his heighe blisse. Amen.
Here is ended the Nonne Preestes Tale.
'Sir Nonnes Preest,' our hoste seyde anoon,
'Y-blessed be thy breche, and every stoon!
This was a mery tale of Chauntecleer.
But, by my trouthe, if thou were seculer, 4640
Thou woldest been a trede-foul a-right.
For, if thou have corage as thou hast might,
Thee were nede of hennes, as I wene,
Ya, mo than seven tymes seventene.
See, whiche braunes hath this gentil Preest, 4645
So greet a nekke, and swich a large breest! (10)
He loketh as a sperhauk with his yën;
Him nedeth nat his colour for to dyen
With brasil, ne with greyn of Portingale.
Now sire, faire falle yow for youre tale!' 4650
And after that he, with ful mery chere,
Seide to another, as ye shullen here.
Variae Lectiones, etc.
Heading. From E.; Hn. Here bigynneth The Prologe of the Monkes tale.—E. murye.—3082. the] E. Hn. that.—3085. E. Hn. omit For.—3094. Pt. hoom; Hl. hom; Cp. Ln. home; E. Hn. omit.—3099. E. Hn. euere that I.—3110. E. Cp. Ln. hire nat; Hn. Cm. Pt. Hl. nat hire.—3114. E. Hn. myrie.—3119, 20. E. daun.—3129. E. Hn. Pt. Ln. cloistrer.—3138. E. Hn. ful many.—3147, 8. E. om. these lines; from Hn.; Hn. Cm. sklendre; Cp. Pt. sclendre (sclendere).—3151. E. paiementz.—3152. E. Hn. lussheburgh; Cp. lussheburghes; Hl. lusscheburghes.—3160. E. omits yow.—3163. Cp. Pt. Ln. for to; rest omit for.—3168. E. communely; Cm. comounly; Hn. Hl. comunly.—Heading. From E. (E. Heere).—3188. E. Pt. of; rest by.—3191. E. though; Hn. thogh.—3197. Cm. Hl. Damassene; E. Hn. Damyssene.—3206. Hl. Cp. thangel; Hn. Pt. Ln. the aungel; E. Cm. angel.—3235. E. anon; rest ynogh, ynough, ynouhe, &c.—3245. E. Hn. ciser (for sicer); Hl. siser; Cm. Pt. Ln. sythir; Cp. cyder.—3257. E. Hl. heres; rest heer, here.—3258. E. Hn. this craft; rest his craft.—3261. E. were; rest was; see l. 3328.—3271. E. Cm. a; rest hire, here.—3274. E. the; rest two.—3294. E. flessh.—3296. E. Cm. hornes two; rest two hornes.—3308. E. stide; pileer.—3310, 2. E. fressh.—3316. E. flessh.—3336. Hl. vnnethes.—3351. E. The; rest To.—E. Hn. Cm. he bothe; rest omit he.—3352. E. Hn. Cm. omit he.—3365. Wexe is the right reading, whence Cm. wexsyn, and Hl. Cp. were (for wexe); E. Hn. wax; Pt. Ln. was (for wax).—3377. E. he was; rest was he.—3384. I supply tho.—For vessels, see 3391, 3416, 3418.—3400. Hn. lente; rest sente (but see l. 3403).—3422. E. Hn. Cp. Hl. truste; Pt. trest; Ln. trust; Cm. trust to.—See B. 4214.—3425. E. om. yeven.—3435. E. as I; the rest omit as.—3437. So E. Hn. Cm.; and Cp. has the heading—De Cenobia Palymerie regina.—3441. Cp. Pt. Ln. Hl. ne in; E. nor in; Hn. ne; Cm. nor; (ne in = n'in).—3455. E. Hn. Cm. the; rest a. E. bussh.—3462. E. Hn. Cm. Onedake; Cp. Ln. Hl. Odenake; Pt. Odonak.—3468. E. oother lief.—3481. E. Hn. Cm. Onedake; rest Odenake.—3485. E. om. this.—E. Hn. Cm. Onedake; rest Odenake.—3492. E. though; Hn. thogh.—E. wolde; rest sholde (schulde).—3501. E. proces; rest storie.—3508. Hl. Odenakes; rest Onedakes, Odenake.—3511. E. omits that.—3512. Cp. Pt. Ln. Hl. had; which E. Hn. Cm. omit.—3517. So Cp. Pt. Ln. Hl.; E. Hn. Cm. Onedake.—3518. E. honde; Pt. honde; Ln. hande; rest hond.—3523. MSS. made; read maden?—3530. Cp. feeld; Hl. feld; Ln. felde; Pt. feelde; E. Hn. Cm. feeldes.—3553. MSS. Biforn, Bifore (Hl. Bifore this).—3555. E. omits as.—3560. E. shoures.—3562. Hl. wyntermyte.—3564. Hn. Cm. Ln. cost; Pt. coste; E. Cp. costes; Hl. self.—3570. E. Hn. Cm. bitraysed.—3577. E. Hn. Cm. took ay; rest ay took.—3597. E. Pyze; Hn. Pize; Cp. Pyse; Pt. Ln. Hl. Pise.—3599. E. Hn. Cm. Pize; Cp. Pyse; Pt. Ln. Hl. Pise.—3606. E. Hn. Pize; Cm. Pyze; Cp. Pyse; Pt. Ln. Hl. Pise.—3611. E. Pt. omit wel.—3616. E. Hn. spak right; Cp. Hl. saugh it; Pt. seegh it; Ln. sawe it.—3622. E. Hn. repeat fader.—3628. Ln. Hl. saue; Cp. Pt. sauf; E. Hn. but.—3632. E. Hl. dyde; Hn. Cp. deyde; see l. 3644.—3640. E. flessh.—3641. E. flessh.—E. Hn. omit vs after yaf.—3646. See note to l. 3597.—3653. E. Hn. Cm. omit as.—3654. E. in helle; rest full lowe.—3657. E. Hn. Cm. North (but read South); Cp. Pt. Ln. Hl omit!—3673, 6. E. mooder.—3682. E. noon oother.—3694. Cm. Bycause that.—3695. Hn. Cm. ay; rest omit.—[3699. Misnumbered 520 in the Aldine Edition; but corrected further on.]—3703. E. (only) omits a.—3707. E. any oother.—3711. E. Hn. was; the rest were.—3723. E. Hn. wrongly repeat l. 3731 here.—3733. E. Hn. foond.—3734. E. Hn. Cm. omit ful.—3751. E. Hn. Cm. Hl. omit he.—3753. E. Hn. Cm. adoured; Cp. Pt. Ln. Hl. honoured.—3754. E. Hn. dorste; rest dar.—3777. Cm. flodys; rest floodes.—3778. E. Hn. moost.—3784. E. greithen; Hn. greithe; Cm. ordeyne.—E. Hn. chaar; Cm. char.—3797, 9. E. hoost, boost.—3801. E. lemes; Hn. Cp. Hl. lymes; Cm. lymys; Ln. limes.—3807. E. om. so; E. horriblely.—3809. E. Hn. Cm. so; Pt. Hl. that; Cp. Ln. so that.—3810. E. Hn. for; rest the.—3827. beste] Hl. bost.—3830. E. Hn. Bitwixen.—3832. E. Hn. Cm. omit was.—3834. E. man: rest thing.—3837. Cm. preys; E. Hn. pris: Cp. Pt. Ln. Hl. pite.—3843. Hl. omits.—3851. E. Hn. Cm. aas; Cp. Pt. Hl. an aas; Ln. an as.—3852. E. Hn. Cm. omit yit; Hl. has right.—3861. E. Cp. Pt. Ln. omit greet.—3862. E. Hn. Cm. Hl. humble bed; Pt. Cp. Ln. humblehede.—3870. MSS. Pompeus, Pompius.—[3881. Misnumbered 700 in the Aldine edition.]—3887. So in the MSS.; observe hath in l. 3889.—3904. Cm. castyth; rest caste, cast.—3906. Cm. on deyinge; Pt. on dyinge; Ln. in deynge; E. Hn. of dyyng.—3910. Hl. Valirien; rest Valerius; ed. 1561, Valerie.—3911. The MSS. have word (for ord); see the note.—3913. E. sitthe; Hl. siththen; Hn. Cm. siththe a.—3936. Cm. Pt. Ln. wex; rest wax.—3944. E. bemes; rest stremes.—3947. Pt. Ln. Hl. she; rest omit.—3951. Cm. Tragedy is; so Cp. Pt.; Ln. Tregedrye in; E. Hn. Tragedies; Hl. Tegredis(!).—3953. Cm. Hl. for; rest omit.—[3956. Reckoned as 775 in the Aldine edition; but really 776.]—After l. 3956, E. Hn. Cm. have ll. 3565-3652.—Colophon. From E. Hn. Here is ended the Monkes tale.—3982. Pt. or; Hn. o; rest omit.—4002. though] Hl. al-though.—4004. Pt. Hl. rek.—4005. E. Hn. murie; rest mery.—4006. Cp. Ln. Yis, ost, quod he, so mote I ryde or go.—4011. E. Hn. stape; Ln. stoupe; rest stope.—4013. E. grene.—4021. E. keen; Hn. Hl. Cp. kyn.—4031. E. Hn. Napoplexie; rest Ne poplexie.—4039. E. Hn. heet; Cp. that highte; rest that hight.—4041. E. Hn. Cm. murier.—E. Cm. murie.—4045. Hl. knew he; E. Pt. he crew; rest he knew.—4046. E. Ln. ins. the after Of.—4051. Hl. geet; Pt. Ln. gete.—4054. Hl. Cp. Pt. Ln. burnischt.—4062. Hl. ful (for so).—4068. E. Cm. Ln. bigan.—4072. a] E. Pt. the.—4079. E. o; rest om.—4084. mette] E. thoughte.—4086. E. Hn. recche; Cm. reche; rest rede, reed.—4091. E. Hn. Cm. om. wolde.—4117. E. om. the, and has greet.—4119. E. Hn. Cm. dreden; rest dremen; see 4159.—4121. E. grete; rest rede.—4125. So E. Hn. Cm.; Cp. of beres and of boles; Ln. Pt. of beres and boles; Hl. of beres or of boles.—4132. E. ye; rest we.—4136, 7. Hl. om.—4155. Cp. Ln. gaytres; E. gaitrys; Hn. gaytrys; Hl. gaytre; Cm. gattris; Pt. gatys.—4156. Ln. that; Hn. they; rest ther.—4166. Hn. Cm. Cp. mote; E. moot.—4167. his] E. Pt. this.—4170. E. Cm. Cp. Ln. Hl. ins. of after as.—4174. Cm. autourys; Hl. auctorite; rest auctour (sic).—4177. E. Hn. coomen in; Cm. comyn in.—4181. E. logged.—4194. Hl. Cp. Ln. oxe.—4196. er] Ln. ar; E. Hn. Hl. or.—4200. E. it; rest this.—4210. E. arresten.—4217. Hl. Cp. Ln. oxe.—4219. Cp. Hl. answered; E. Hn. answerde.—4222. Hl. ins. a after in; Cp. Pt. Ln. ins. gret (grete).—4226. Hn. Cm. Hl. wente as it were; Cp. Pt. Ln. as he wente.—4232. E. Hn. Cm. ins. heere after carte.—4247. E. Hn. Cm. this (this is being pronounced this); rest this is.—4248. Hl. ins. the after anoon.—4256. Cp. Ln. and (for or).—4266. All ins. herkneth (herken) after But.—4274. E. Hn. Hl. om. for; cf. l. 4265.—4275. E. Hn. byde.—4282. E. Hn. or; rest and.—4283. Hl. eke; rest om.—4293. it] Cp. Pt. him; Ln. hem; Hl. ther.—4296. E. ins. yet after olde.—4309. E. is; rest was.—4313. Cm. thauysioun.—4319. E. Hn. Cp. heeld.—4324. Cm. Ln. boteler: Pt. botelere; E. Hn. butiller.—4331. E. Cp. Pt. Ln. Adromacha.—4338. Hn. And (for But).—4345. Hn. Cm. venymes.—it] Cp. Pt. Ln. right.—4346. E. Cp. diffye.—4361. E. Cp. diffye.—4362. Hn. Cm. fley; E. fly; Hl. Cp. fleigh.—4365. E. Hn. Cm. hadde.—4366. Cm. Ln. Royal; rest Real; but see l. 4374.—4367. He] E. And.—4368. Hl. that; rest om.—Cp. Pt. Ln. were.—Hl. er that it was prime.—4370. Hl. toon.—4371. Cm. deynyth.—4374. his] E. Cm. an.—4379. All passed.—4380. Hl. tway monthes and dayes tuo.—4386. And] Cp. Pt. Ln. He.—4398. Hl. Cp. cronique; rest cronicle.—4404. torne] E. come.—4412. E. Hn. Pt. vndren.—4421. E. Hn. flaugh; Cm. flaw; Cp. fleyȝe; Hl. flough.—4433. E. Wheither.—4434. E. nedefully to doon.—4442. may] Hl. Cp. Pt. schal (schuln).—4445. yow] E. of.—4448. E. out of (for fro).—4452. seyde] E. seye.—4460. E murier.—4462. E. myrily.—4482. E. om. hath.—4484. Hl. Pt. had.—4489. E. ins. yow after wol.—4491. E. herde I; yet (for so).—4508. E. Cm. Cp. Bitwixe.—4524. E. Hn. Cm. stirte.—4525. E. Hn. gargat; Cm. Hl. garget; Ln. gorge.—4531. E. Hn. Cm. fil; rest fel.—4552. E. sodeynly (for sovereynly).—4554. Hn. Cm. y-lost.—4564. E. Now turne I wole.—4567. E. Hn. Cm. stirten.—4570. Pt. They.—4575. E. Hl. om. eek.—4576. Hl. were they; rest om.—4579. E. yolleden.—4585. E. Ln. shille.—4590. E. Hn. skriked.—4594. E. om. eek.—4598. E. wolde (for sholde).—4601. E. the (for this).—4608. Hl. i-goon; rest gon, goon.—4612. E. Hn. into this (for out of the).—4613. E. of (for in).—4618. E. Hn. Hl. ins. any before ofter.—4630. Pt. good; rest goode.—4635. Hl. Pt. Ln. good; rest goode.—Colophon. Cp. Nonne; E. Hn. Nonnes. Hl. Here endeth the tale of Chaunteclere and pertelote. These genuine lines only occur in Dd., in MS. Reg. 17 D. xv, and in MS. Addit. 5140 (B. M.). The text is founded on Dd.—4637. Dd. oure hoost.—4639. Dd. murie; Reg. Add. mery.—4641. Dd. ben.—Dd. tredfoul; Reg. Add. trede foule.—4645. Dd. which; Reg. whiche; Add. suche.—4646. Dd. gret.—4647. Dd. sperhauke; eyen.—4648. Dd. dyghen; Reg. Add. dyen.—4650-2. I suspect these three lines to be spurious.—4650. Reg. youre mery tale.—4652. to] all un-to.—another] Add. the Nonne.
Note. Three varieties of a Doctour's Prologue are given, respectively, by Tyrwhitt, Wright, and Morris; but are all spurious. Perhaps the best is the very short one in Tyrwhitt, as follows:—
'Ye, let that passen,' quod our Hoste, 'as now.
Sire Doctour of Phisyk, I preye yow,
Telle us a tale of som honest matere.'
'It shal be doon, if that ye wol it here,'
Seyde this Doctour, and his tale bigan anon.
'Now, good men,' quod he, 'herkneth everichon.'