Verse > Geoffrey Chaucer > Complete Poetical Works
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Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1894.
 
The Canterbury Tales
Sir Thopas
 
Here biginneth Chaucers Tale of Thopas.

LISTETH, lordes, in good entent,
And I wol telle verrayment
  Of mirthe and of solas;
Al of a knyght was fair and gent
In bataille and in tourneyment,        5
  His name was sir Thopas.
 
Y-born he was in fer contree,
In Flaundres, al biyonde the see,
  At Popering, in the place;
His fader was a man ful free,        10
And lord he was of that contree,
  As it was goddes grace.
 
Sir Thopas wex a doghty swayn,
Whyt was his face as payndemayn,
  His lippes rede as rose;        15
His rode is lyk scarlet in grayn,
And I yow telle in good certayn,
  He hadde a semely nose.
 
His heer, his berd was lyk saffroun,
That to his girdel raughte adoun;        20
  His shoon of Cordewane.
Of Brugges were his hosen broun,
His robe was of ciclatoun,
  That coste many a Iane.
 
He coude hunte at wilde deer,        25
And ryde an hauking for riveer,
  With grey goshauk on honde;
Ther-to he was a good archeer,
Of wrastling was ther noon his peer,
  Ther any ram shal stonde.        30
 
Ful many a mayde, bright in bour,
They moorne for him, paramour,
  Whan hem were bet to slepe;
But he was chast and no lechour,
And sweet as is the bremble-flour        35
  That bereth the rede hepe.
 
And so bifel up-on a day,
For sothe, as I yow telle may,
  Sir Thopas wolde out ryde;
He worth upon his stede gray,        40
And in his honde a launcegay,
  A long swerd by his syde.
 
He priketh thurgh a fair forest,
Ther-inne is many a wilde best,
  Ye, bothe bukke and hare;        45
And, as he priketh north and est,
I telle it yow, him hadde almest
  Bitid a sory care.
 
Ther springen herbes grete and smale,
The lycorys and cetewale,        50
  And many a clowe-gilofre;
And notemuge to putte in ale,
Whether it be moyste or stale,
  Or for to leye in cofre.
 
The briddes singe, it is no nay,        55
The sparhauk and the papeiay,
  That Ioye it was to here;
The thrustelcok made eek his lay,
The wodedowve upon the spray
  She sang ful loude and clere.        60
 
Sir Thopas fil in love-longinge
Al whan he herde the thrustel singe,
  And priked as he were wood:
His faire stede in his prikinge
So swatte that men mighte him wringe,        65
  His sydes were al blood.
 
Sir Thopas eek so wery was
For prikinge on the softe gras,
  So fiers was his corage,
That doun he leyde him in that plas        70
To make his stede som solas,
  And yaf him good forage.
 
‘O seinte Marie, benedicite!
What eyleth this love at me
  To binde me so sore?        75
Me dremed al this night, pardee,
An elf-queen shal my lemman be,
  And slepe under my gore.
 
An elf-queen wol I love, y-wis,
For in this world no womman is        80
  Worthy to be my make
                  In toune;
Alle othere wommen I forsake,
And to an elf-queen I me take
  By dale and eek by doune!’        85
 
In-to his sadel he clamb anoon,
And priketh over style and stoon
  An elf-queen for tespye,
Til he so longe had riden and goon
That he fond, in a privce woon,        90
  The contree of Fairye
                  So wilde;
For in that contree was ther noon
That to him dorste ryde or goon,
  Neither wyf ne childe.        95
 
Til that ther cam a greet geaunt,
His name was sir Olifaunt,
  A perilous man of dede;
He seyde, ‘child, by Termagaunt,
But-if thou prike out of myn haunt,        100
  Anon I slee thy stede
                  With mace.
Heer is the queen of Fayërye,
With harpe and pype and simphonye
  Dwelling in this place.’        105
 
The child seyde, ‘al-so mote I thee,
Tomorwe wol I mete thee
  Whan I have myn armoure;
And yet I hope, par ma fay,
That thou shalt with this launcegay        110
  Abyen it ful soure;
                  Thy mawe
Shal I percen, if I may,
Er it be fully pryme of day,
  For heer thou shalt be slawe.’        115
 
Sir Thopas drow abak ful faste;
This geaunt at him stones caste
  Out of a fel staf-slinge;
But faire escapeth child Thopas,
And al it was thurgh goddes gras,        120
  And thurgh his fair beringe.
 
Yet listeth, lordes, to my tale
Merier than the nightingale,
  For now I wol yow roune
How sir Thopas with sydes smale,        125
Priking over hil and dale,
  Is come agayn to toune.
 
His merie men comanded he
To make him bothe game and glee,
  For nedes moste he fighte        130
With a geaunt with hevedes three,
For paramour and Iolitee
  Of oon that shoon ful brighte.
 
‘Do come,’ he seyde, ‘my minstrales,
And gestours, for to tellen tales        135
  Anon in myn arminge;
Of romances that been royales,
Of popes and of cardinales,
  And eek of love-lykinge.’
 
They fette him first the swete wyn,        140
And mede eek in a maselyn,
  And royal spicerye;
Of gingebreed that was ful fyn,
And lycorys, and eek comyn,
  With sugre that is so trye.        145
 
He dide next his whyte lere
Of clooth of lake fyn and clere
  A breech and eek a sherte;
And next his sherte an aketoun,
And over that an habergeoun        150
  For percinge of his herte;
 
And over that a fyn hauberk,
Was al y-wroght of Iewes werk,
  Ful strong it was of plate;
And over that his cote-armour        155
As whyt as is a lily-flour,
  In which he wol debate.
 
His sheeld was al of gold so reed,
And ther-in was a bores heed,
  A charbocle bisyde;        160
And there he swoor, on ale and breed,
How that ‘the geaunt shal be deed,
  Bityde what bityde!’
 
His Iambeux were of quirboilly,
His swerdes shethe of yvory,        165
  His helm of laton bright;
His sadel was of rewel-boon,
His brydel as the sonne shoon,
  Or as the mone light.
 
His spere was of fyn ciprees,        170
That bodeth werre, and no-thing pees,
  The heed ful sharpe y-grounde;
His stede was al dappel-gray,
It gooth an ambel in the way
  Ful softely and rounde        175
                  In londe.
Lo, lordes myne, heer is a fit!
If ye wol any more of it,
  To telle it wol I fonde.

[The Second Fit.]
 
Now hold your mouth, par charitee,        180
Bothe knight and lady free,
  And herkneth to my spelle;
Of bataille and of chivalry,
And of ladyes love-drury
  Anon I wol yow telle.        185
 
Men speke of romances of prys,
Of Horn child and of Ypotys,
  Of Bevis and sir Gy,
Of sir Libeux and Pleyn-damour;
But sir Thopas, he bereth the flour        190
  Of royal chivalry.
 
His gode stede al he bistrood,
And forth upon his wey he glood
  As sparkle out of the bronde;
Up-on his crest he bar a tour,        195
And ther-in stiked a lily-flour,
  God shilde his cors fro shonde!
 
And for he was a knight auntrous,
He nolde slepen in non hous,
  But liggen in his hode;        200
His brighte helm was his wonger,
And by him baiteth his dextrer
  Of herbes fyne and gode.
 
Him-self drank water of the wel,
As did the knight sir Percivel,        205
  So worthy under wede,
Til on a day——

Here the Host stinteth Chaucer of his Tale of Thopas.
 
 
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