Verse > Geoffrey Chaucer > Complete Poetical Works
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1894.
The Canterbury Tales
Prologue to Melibeus
‘NO more of this, for goddes dignitee,’
Quod oure hoste, ‘for thou makest me
So wery of thy verray lewednesse
That, also wisly god my soule blesse,
Myn eres aken of thy drasty speche;        5
Now swiche a rym the devel I biteche!
This may wel be rym dogerel,’ quod he.
  ‘Why so?’ quod I, ‘why wiltow lette me
More of my tale than another man,
Sin that it is the beste rym I can?’        10
  ‘By god,’ quod he, ‘for pleynly, at a word,
Thy drasty ryming is nat worth a tord;
Thou doost nought elles but despendest tyme,
Sir, at o word, thou shalt no lenger ryme.
Lat see wher thou canst tellen aught in geste,        15
Or telle in prose somwhat at the leste
In which ther be som mirthe or som doctryne.’
  ‘Gladly,’ quod I, ‘by goddes swete pyne,
I wol yow telle a litel thing in prose,
That oghte lyken yow, as I suppose,        20
Or elles, certes, ye been to daungerous.
It is a moral tale vertuous,
Al be it told som-tyme in sondry wyse
Of sondry folk, as I shal yow devyse.
As thus; ye woot that every evangelist,        25
That telleth us the peyne of Iesu Crist,
Ne saith nat al thing as his felaw dooth,
But natheles, hir sentence is al sooth,
And alle acorden as in hir sentence,
Al be ther in hir telling difference.        30
For somme of hem seyn more, and somme lesse,
Whan they his pitous passioun expresse;
I mene of Marke, Mathew, Luk and Iohn;
But doutelees hir sentence is al oon.
Therfor, lordinges alle, I yow biseche,        35
If that ye thinke I varie as in my speche,
As thus, thogh that I telle som-what more
Of proverbes, than ye han herd bifore,
Compréhended in this litel tretis here,
To enforce with the theffect of my matere,        40
And thogh I nat the same wordes seye
As ye han herd, yet to yow alle I preye,
Blameth me nat; for, as in my sentence,
Ye shul not fynden moche difference
Fro the sentence of this tretis lyte        45
After the which this mery tale I wryte.
And therfor herkneth what that I shal seye,
And lat me tellen al my tale, I preye.’


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