When that the Knight had thus his tale told
In all the rout was neither young nor old,
That he not said it was a noble story,
And worthy to be drawen to memory; recorded
And namely the gentles every one. especially the gentlefolk
Our Host then laugh'd and swore, "So may I gon, prosper
This goes aright; unbuckled is the mail; the budget is opened
Let see now who shall tell another tale:
For truely this game is well begun.
Now telleth ye, Sir Monk, if that ye conne, *know
Somewhat, to quiten with the Knighte's tale." match
The Miller that fordrunken was all pale,
So that unnethes upon his horse he sat, with difficulty
He would avalen neither hood nor hat, uncover
Nor abide no man for his courtesy, give way to
But in Pilate's voice he gan to cry,
And swore by armes, and by blood, and bones,
"I can a noble tale for the nones occasion,
With which I will now quite the Knighte's tale." match
Our Host saw well how drunk he was of ale,
And said; "Robin, abide, my leve brother, dear
Some better man shall tell us first another:
Abide, and let us worke thriftily."
By Godde's soul," quoth he, "that will not I,
For I will speak, or elles go my way!"
Our Host answer'd; "Tell on a devil way; *devil take you!
Thou art a fool; thy wit is overcome."
"Now hearken," quoth the Miller, "all and some:
But first I make a protestatioun.
That I am drunk, I know it by my soun':
And therefore if that I misspeak or say,
Wite it the ale of Southwark, I you pray: blame it on
For I will tell a legend and a life
Both of a carpenter and of his wife,
How that a clerk hath set the wrighte's cap." fooled the carpenter
The Reeve answer'd and saide, "Stint thy clap, hold your tongue
Let be thy lewed drunken harlotry.
It is a sin, and eke a great folly
To apeiren* any man, or him defame, injure
And eke to bringe wives in evil name.
Thou may'st enough of other thinges sayn."
This drunken Miller spake full soon again,
And saide, "Leve brother Osewold,
Who hath no wife, he is no cuckold.
But I say not therefore that thou art one;
There be full goode wives many one.
Why art thou angry with my tale now?
I have a wife, pardie, as well as thou,
Yet *n'old I, for the oxen in my plough, I would not
Taken upon me more than enough,
To deemen* of myself that I am one; judge
I will believe well that I am none.
An husband should not be inquisitive
Of Godde's privity, nor of his wife.
So he may finde Godde's foison there, treasure
Of the remnant needeth not to enquere."
What should I more say, but that this Millere
He would his wordes for no man forbear,
But told his churlish tale in his mannere; boorish, rude
Me thinketh, that I shall rehearse it here.
And therefore every gentle wight I pray,
For Godde's love to deem not that I say
Of evil intent, but that I must rehearse
Their tales all, be they better or worse,
Or elles falsen some of my mattere. falsify
And therefore whoso list it not to hear,
Turn o'er the leaf, and choose another tale;
For he shall find enough, both great and smale,
Of storial thing that toucheth gentiless, historical, true
And eke morality and holiness.
Blame not me, if that ye choose amiss.
The Miller is a churl, ye know well this,
So was the Reeve, with many other mo',
And harlotry they tolde bothe two. ribald tales
Avise you* now, and put me out of blame; be warned
And eke men should not make earnest of game. *jest, fun
Notes to the Prologue to the Miller's Tale
1. Pilate, an unpopular personage in the mystery-plays of the
middle ages, was probably represented as having a gruff, harsh
2. Wite: blame; in Scotland, "to bear the wyte," is to bear the
Whilom there was dwelling in Oxenford
A riche gnof, that guestes held to board, miser *took in boarders
And of his craft he was a carpenter.
With him there was dwelling a poor scholer,
Had learned art, but all his fantasy
Was turned for to learn astrology.
He coude* a certain of conclusions knew
To deeme by interrogations, determine
If that men asked him in certain hours,
When that men should have drought or elles show'rs:
Or if men asked him what shoulde fall
Of everything, I may not reckon all.
This clerk was called Hendy Nicholas; gentle, handsome
Of derne love he knew and of solace; secret, earnest
And therewith he was sly and full privy,
And like a maiden meek for to see.
A chamber had he in that hostelry
Alone, withouten any company,
Full *fetisly y-dight with herbes swoot, neatly decorated
And he himself was sweet as is the root *sweet
Of liquorice, or any setewall. valerian
His Almagest, and bookes great and small,
His astrolabe, belonging to his art,
His augrim stones, layed fair apart
On shelves couched at his bedde's head, laid, set
His press y-cover'd with a falding red. coarse cloth
And all above there lay a gay psalt'ry
On which he made at nightes melody,
So sweetely, that all the chamber rang:
And Angelus ad virginem he sang.
And after that he sung the kinge's note;
Full often blessed was his merry throat.
And thus this sweete clerk his time spent
After *his friendes finding and his rent. Attending to his friends,
and providing for the
cost of his lodging
This carpenter had wedded new a wife,
Which that he loved more than his life:
Of eighteen year, I guess, she was of age.
Jealous he was, and held her narr'w in cage,
For she was wild and young, and he was old,
And deemed himself belike* a cuckold. perhaps
He knew not Cato, for his wit was rude,
That bade a man wed his similitude.
Men shoulde wedden after their estate,
For youth and eld are often at debate. age
But since that he was fallen in the snare,
He must endure (as other folk) his care.
Fair was this younge wife, and therewithal
As any weasel her body gent and small. slim, neat
A seint she weared, barred all of silk, girdle
A barm-cloth eke as white as morning milk apron
Upon her lendes, full of many a gore. ***** *plait
White was her smock, and broider'd all before, robe or gown
And eke behind, on her collar about
Of coal-black silk, within and eke without.
The tapes of her white volupere head-kerchief
Were of the same suit of her collere;
Her fillet broad of silk, and set full high:
And sickerly* she had a likerous eye. certainly *lascivious
Full small y-pulled were her browes two,
And they were bent, and black as any sloe. arched
She was well more blissful on to see pleasant to look upon
Than is the newe perjenete* tree; young pear-tree
And softer than the wool is of a wether.
And by her girdle hung a purse of leather,
Tassel'd with silk, and *pearled with latoun. set with brass pearls
In all this world to seeken up and down
There is no man so wise, that coude thenche fancy, think of
So gay a popelot, or such a *****. puppet
Full brighter was the shining of her hue,
Than in the Tower the noble* forged new. a gold coin
But of her song, it was as loud and yern, lively
As any swallow chittering on a bern. barn
Thereto she coulde skip, and make a game also *romp
As any kid or calf following his dame.
Her mouth was sweet as braket, or as methe mead
Or hoard of apples, laid in hay or heath.
Wincing* she was as is a jolly colt, skittish
Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.
A brooch she bare upon her low collere,
As broad as is the boss of a bucklere.
Her shoon were laced on her legges high;
She was a primerole, a piggesnie , primrose
For any lord t' have ligging in his bed, lying
Or yet for any good yeoman to wed.
Now, sir, and eft sir, so befell the case, again
That on a day this Hendy Nicholas
Fell with this younge wife to rage and play, toy, play the rogue
While that her husband was at Oseney,
As clerkes be full subtle and full quaint.
And privily he caught her by the queint, ****
And said; "Y-wis, but if I have my will, assuredly
For *derne love of thee, leman, I spill." for earnest love of thee
And helde her fast by the haunche bones, my mistress, I perish
And saide "Leman, love me well at once,
Or I will dien, all so God me save."
And she sprang as a colt doth in the trave:
And with her head she writhed fast away,
And said; "I will not kiss thee, by my fay. faith
Why let be," quoth she,