WHEN that Aprilis, with his showers swoot, *sweet
The drought of March hath pierced to the root,
And bathed every vein in such licour,
Of which virtue engender'd is the flower;
When Zephyrus eke with his swoote breath
Inspired hath in every holt and heath grove, forest
The tender croppes and the younge sun twigs, boughs
Hath in the Ram his halfe course y-run,
And smalle fowles make melody,
That sleepen all the night with open eye,
(So pricketh them nature in their corages); hearts, inclinations
Then longe folk to go on pilgrimages,
And palmers for to seeke strange strands,
To *ferne hallows couth in sundry lands; distant saints known
And specially, from every shire's end
Of Engleland, to Canterbury they wend,
The holy blissful Martyr for to seek,
That them hath holpen, when that they were sick. helped
Befell that, in that season on a day,
In Southwark at the Tabard as I lay,
Ready to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury with devout corage,
At night was come into that hostelry
Well nine and twenty in a company
Of sundry folk, by aventure y-fall who had by chance fallen
In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all, into company.
That toward Canterbury woulde ride.
The chamber, and the stables were wide,
And well we weren eased at the best. we were well provided
And shortly, when the sunne was to rest, with the best
So had I spoken with them every one,
That I was of their fellowship anon,
And made forword* early for to rise, promise
To take our way there as I you devise. describe, relate
But natheless, while I have time and space,
Ere that I farther in this tale pace,
Me thinketh it accordant to reason,
To tell you alle the condition
Of each of them, so as it seemed me,
And which they weren, and of what degree;
And eke in what array that they were in:
And at a Knight then will I first begin.
A KNIGHT there was, and that a worthy man,
That from the time that he first began
To riden out, he loved chivalry,
Truth and honour, freedom and courtesy.
Full worthy was he in his Lorde's war,
And thereto had he ridden, no man farre, farther
As well in Christendom as in Heatheness,
And ever honour'd for his worthiness
At Alisandre he was when it was won.
Full often time he had the board begun
Above alle nations in Prusse.
In Lettowe had he reysed, and in Russe, journeyed
No Christian man so oft of his degree.
In Grenade at the siege eke had he be
Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie.
At Leyes was he, and at Satalie,
When they were won; and in the Greate Sea
At many a noble army had he be.
At mortal battles had he been fifteen,
And foughten for our faith at Tramissene.
In listes thries, and aye slain his foe.
This ilke worthy knight had been also same
Some time with the lord of Palatie,
Against another heathen in Turkie:
And evermore *he had a sovereign price. He was held in very
And though that he was worthy he was wise, high esteem.
And of his port as meek as is a maid.
He never yet no villainy ne said
In all his life, unto no manner wight.
He was a very perfect gentle knight.
But for to telle you of his array,
His horse was good, but yet he was not gay.
Of fustian he weared a gipon, short doublet
Alle besmotter'd with his habergeon, soiled by his coat of mail.
For he was late y-come from his voyage,
And wente for to do his pilgrimage.
With him there was his son, a younge SQUIRE,
A lover, and a ***** bacheler,
With lockes crulle* as they were laid in press. curled
Of twenty year of age he was I guess.
Of his stature he was of even length,
And *wonderly deliver, and great of strength. wonderfully nimble
And he had been some time in chevachie, cavalry raids
In Flanders, in Artois, and Picardie,
And borne him well, as of so little space, in such a short time
In hope to standen in his lady's grace.
Embroider'd was he, as it were a mead
All full of freshe flowers, white and red.
Singing he was, or fluting all the day;
He was as fresh as is the month of May.
Short was his gown, with sleeves long and wide.
Well could he sit on horse, and faire ride.
He coulde songes make, and well indite,
Joust, and eke dance, and well pourtray and write.
So hot he loved, that by nightertale night-time
He slept no more than doth the nightingale.
Courteous he was, lowly, and serviceable,
And carv'd before his father at the table.
A YEOMAN had he, and servants no mo'
At that time, for him list ride so it pleased him so to ride
And he was clad in coat and hood of green.
A sheaf of peacock arrows bright and keen
Under his belt he bare full thriftily.
Well could he dress his tackle yeomanly:
His arrows drooped not with feathers low;
And in his hand he bare a mighty bow.
A nut-head had he, with a brown visiage:
Of wood-craft coud* he well all the usage: knew
Upon his arm he bare a gay bracer, small shield
And by his side a sword and a buckler,
And on that other side a gay daggere,
Harnessed well, and sharp as point of spear:
A Christopher on his breast of silver sheen.
An horn he bare, the baldric was of green:
A forester was he soothly as I guess. certainly
There was also a Nun, a PRIORESS,
That of her smiling was full simple and coy;
Her greatest oathe was but by Saint Loy;
And she was cleped Madame Eglentine. called
Full well she sang the service divine,
Entuned in her nose full seemly;
And French she spake full fair and fetisly properly
After the school of Stratford atte Bow,
For French of Paris was to her unknow.
At meate was she well y-taught withal;
She let no morsel from her lippes fall,
Nor wet her fingers in her sauce deep.
Well could she carry a morsel, and well keep,
That no droppe ne fell upon her breast.
In courtesy was set full much her lest. pleasure
Her over-lippe wiped she so clean,
That in her cup there was no farthing seen speck
Of grease, when she drunken had her draught;
Full seemely after her meat she raught: reached out her hand
And *sickerly she was of great disport, surely she was of a lively
And full pleasant, and amiable of port, disposition
And pained her to counterfeite cheer took pains to assume
Of court,* and be estately of mannere, a courtly disposition
And to be holden digne of reverence. worthy
But for to speaken of her conscience,
She was so charitable and so pitous, full of pity
She woulde weep if that she saw a mouse
Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bled.
Of smalle houndes had she, that she fed
With roasted flesh, and milk, and *wastel bread. finest white bread
But sore she wept if one of them were dead,
Or if men smote it with a yarde* smart: staff
And all was conscience and tender heart.
Full seemly her wimple y-pinched was;
Her nose tretis; her eyen gray as glass; well-formed
Her mouth full small, and thereto soft and red;
But sickerly she had a fair forehead.
It was almost a spanne broad I trow;
For *hardily she was not undergrow. certainly she was not small
Full fetis* was her cloak, as I was ware. neat
Of small coral about her arm she bare
A pair of beades, gauded all with green;
And thereon hung a brooch of gold full sheen,
On which was first y-written a crown'd A,
And after, *Amor vincit omnia. love conquers all
Another Nun also with her had she,
[That was her chapelleine, and PRIESTES three.]
A MONK there was, a fair for the mast'ry, above all others
An out-rider, that loved venery; *hunting
A manly man, to be an abbot able.
Full many a dainty horse had he in stable:
And when he rode, men might his bridle hear
Jingeling in a whistling wind as clear,
And eke as loud, as doth the chapel bell,
There as this lord was keeper of the cell.
The rule of Saint Maur and of Saint Benet,
Because that it was old and somedeal strait
This ilke monk let olde thinges pace, same
And held after the newe world the trace.
He *gave not of the text a pulled hen, he cared nothing
That saith, that hunters be not holy men: for the text
Ne that a monk, when he is cloisterless;
Is like to a fish that is waterless;
This is to say, a monk out of his cloister.
This ilke text held he not worth an oyster;
And I say his opinion was good.
Why should he study, and make himselfe wood *mad
Upon a book in cloister always pore,
Or swinken with his handes, and labour, toil
As Austin bid? how shall the world be served?
Let Austin have his swink to him reserved.
Therefore he was a prickasour aright: hard rider
Greyhounds he had as swift as fowl of flight;
Of pricking and of hunting for the hare riding
Was all his lust, for no cost would he spare. pleasure
I saw his sleeves *purfil'd at the hand *worked at the end with a
With gris, and that the finest of the land. fur called "gris"
And for to fasten his hood under his chin,
He had of gold y-wrought a curious pin;
A love-knot in the greater end there was.
His head was bald, and shone as any glass,
And eke his face, as it had been anoint;
He was a lord full fat and in good point;
His eyen steep, and rolling in his head, deep-set
That steamed as a furnace of a lead.
His bootes supple, his horse in great estate,
Now certainly he was a fair prelate;
He was not pale as a forpined ghost; wasted
A fat swan lov'd he best of any roast.
His palfrey was as brown as is a berry.
A FRIAR there was, a wanton and a merry,
A limitour , a full solemne man.
In all the orders four is none that can knows
So much of dalliance and fair language.
He had y-made full many a marriage
Of younge women, at his owen cost.
Unto his order he was a noble post;
Full well belov'd, and familiar was he
With franklins *over all in his country, everywhere
And eke with worthy women of the town:
For he had power of confession,
As said himselfe, more than a curate,
For of his order he was licentiate.
Full sweetely heard he confession,
And pleasant was his absolution.
He was an easy man to give penance,
There as he wist to have a good pittance: *where he know