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So hote he loved, that by nightertale?
He slep no more than doth the nightingale.
Curteis he was, lowly, and servisable,
And carfo before his fader at the table.
A Yeman hadde he, and servantes no mo
At that time, for him lustes to ride so;
And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene.
A shefe of peacock arwes bright and kene
Under his belt he bare ful thriftily.
Well coude he dresse his takel4 yemanly:
His arwes 5 drouped not with fetheres low.
And in his hond he bare a mighty bowe.
A not-hed hadde he, with a broune visage.
Of wood-craft coude7 he wel alle the usage.
Upon his arme he bare a gaie bracèr 8,
And by his side a swerd and a bokeler,
And on that other side a gaie daggère,
Harneised wel, and sharpe as point of spere :
A Cristofre on his brest of silver shene.
An horne he bare, the baudrik was of grene,
A forster was he sothely as I gesse.
Ther was alsò a Nonne, a Prioresse,
That of hire smiling was full simple and coy;
Hire gretest othe n’as but by Seint Eloy;
And she was clepedo Madame Eglentine.
Ful wel she sange the service devine,
· Night-time. 2 Carved. 3 It pleased hiin. 4 Arrow. 5 Arrow. 6 A round-head. 7 Knew.
& Armour for the arm. 9 Called.
Entuned in hire nose ful swetely;
And Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisly',
After the scole of Stratford attè Bowe,
For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.
At metè was she wel ytaughte withalle;
She lette no morsel from her lippès fall,
Ne wette hire fingres in hire saucè depe.
Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe,
Thattè no drope ne fell upon hire brest.
In curtesie was sette ful moche hire lest.
Hire over lippè wiped she so clene,
That in hire cuppe was no ferthing senes
Of gresè, whan she dronken hadde hire draught.
Ful semèly after her mete she raught*.
And sikerly she was of grete disport,
And ful plesànt, and amiable of port,
And peined 5 hire to contrefeten chere
Of court, and ben estatelich of manère,
And to ben holden digne7 of reverence.
But for to speken of hire conscience,
She was so charitable and so pitous,
She woldè wepe-if that she saw a mous
Caughte in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde.
Of smalè houndès hadde she, that she fedde
With rosted flesh, and milk, and wastel brede.
But sore wept she if on of hem were dede,
Neatly. 2 Her pleasure.
3 Smallest spot. 5 Took pains.
Or if men smote it with a yerdè? smert,
And all was conscience and tendre herte.
Ful semely hire wimple ypinched was ;
Hire nose tretìss; hire eyen grey as glas;
Hire mouth ful smale, and therto soft and red;
But sikerly she hadde a fayre forehed.
It was almost a spannè brode I trowe;
For hardily she was not undergrowe.
Ful fetise 5 was hire cloke, as I was ware. Of smale corall aboute hire arm she bare A pair of bedès, gauded all with grene ; And theron heng a broche of gold ful shene, On whiche was first ywriten a crouned A, And after, Amor vincit omnia. Another Nonne also with hire hadde she, That was hire chapelleine, and Preestès thre.
A Monk ther was, a fayre for the maistrie, An outrider, that loved venerieR; A manly man, to ben an abbot able. Ful many a deintè hors hadde he in stable: And whan he rode, men might his bridel here Gingeling in a whistling wind as clere, And eke as loude, as doth the chapell belle, Ther as this lord was keeper of the celle.
He yave' not of the text a pulled hen,
That saith, that hunters ben not holy men;
Ne that a monk, whan he is rekkeles?,
Is like to a fish that is waterles ;
This is to say, a monk out of his cloistre.
This ilkè text held he not worth an oistre:
And I say his opinion was good.
What shulde he studie, and make himselven woods
Upon a book in cloistre alway to pore,
Or swinken 4 with his hondès, and laboure,
As Austin bit5? how shal the world be served ?
Let Austin have his swink to him reserved.
Therfore he was a prickasoure a right:
Greihoundes he hadde as swift as foul of flight:
Of pricking and of hunting for the harė
Was all his lust, for no cost wolde he spare.
I saw his slevés purfiled? at the hond
With gris 8, and that the finest of the lond.
And for to fasten his hood under his chinne,
He hadde of gold ywrought a curious pinne ;
A love-knotte in the greter end ther was.
His hed was balled, and shone as any glas,
And eke his face, as it hadde ben anoint.
He was a lord ful fat and in good point.
His eyen stepe', and rolling in his hed,
That stemed as a fornëis of led.
His botès souple, his hors in gret estat;
Now certainly he was a fayre preldt.
He was not pale as a forpined gost.
A fat swan loved he best of any rost.
His palfrey was as broune as is a bery.
A Frere ther was, a wanton and a mery,
A Limitour, a ful solempné man.
In all the ordres foure is none that can'
So muche of daliance and fayre langàge.
He hadde ymade ful many a mariage
Of yongè wimmen, at his owen cost.
Until his ordre he was a noble post.
Ful wel beloved, and familier was he
With frankeleins over all in his contrèe,
And eke with worthy wimmen of the toun:
For he had power of confession,
As saide himselfè, more than a curàt,
For of his ordre he was licenciat.
Ful swetely herde he confession,
And plesant was his absolution.
He was an esy man to give penànce,
Ther as he wiste to hana good pitànce:
For unto a poures ordre for to give
Is signè that a man is well yshrive *.
For if he gave, he dorstè 5 make avant,
He wistè that a man was repentant.
For many a man so hard is of his herte,
He may not wepe although him soré smerte.