Verse > Geoffrey Chaucer > Complete Poetical Works
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1894.
The Canterbury Tales
The Prologue of the Nonne Preestes Tale
‘HO!’ quod the knight, ‘good sir, na-more of this,
That ye han seyd is right y-nough, y-wis,
And mochel more; for litel hevinesse
Is right y-nough to mochel folk, I gesse.
I seye for me, it is a greet disese        5
Wher-as men han ben in greet welthe and ese,
To heren of hir sodeyn fal, allas!
And the contrarie is Ioie and greet solas,
As whan a man hath been in povre estaat,
And clymbeth up, and wexeth fortunat,        10
And ther abydeth in prosperitee,
Swich thing is gladsom, as it thinketh me,
And of swich thing were goodly for to telle.’
‘Ye,’ quod our hoste, ‘by seint Poules belle,
Ye seye right sooth; this monk, he clappeth loude,        15
He spak how “fortune covered with a cloude”
I noot never what, and als of a “Tragedie”
Right now ye herde, and parde! no remedie
It is for to biwaille, ne compleyne
That that is doon, and als it is a peyne,        20
As ye han seyd, to here of hevinesse.
Sir monk, na-more of this, so god yow blesse!
Your tale anoyeth al this companye;
Swich talking is nat worth a boterflye;
For ther-in is ther no desport ne game.        25
Wherfor, sir Monk, or dan Piers by your name,
I preye yow hertely, telle us somwhat elles,
For sikerly, nere clinking of your belles,
That on your brydel hange on every syde,
By heven king, that for us alle dyde,        30
I sholde er this han fallen doun for slepe,
Although the slough had never been so depe;
Than had your tale al be told in vayn.
For certeinly, as that thise clerkes seyn,
“Wher-as a man may have noon audience,        35
Noght helpeth it to tellen his sentence.”
And wel I woot the substance is in me,
If any thing shal wel reported be.
Sir, sey somwhat of hunting, I yow preye.’
‘Nay,’ quod this monk, ‘I have no lust to pleye;        40
Now let another telle, as I have told.’
Than spak our host, with rude speche and bold,
And seyde un-to the Nonnes Preest anon,
‘Com neer, thou preest, com hider, thou sir Iohn,
Tel us swich thing as may our hertes glade,        45
Be blythe, though thou ryde up-on a Iade.
What though thyn hors be bothe foule and lene,
If he wol serve thee, rekke nat a bene;
Look that thyn herte be mery evermo.’
‘Yis, sir,’ quod he, ‘yis, host, so mote I go,        50
But I be mery, y-wis, I wol be blamed:’—
And right anon his tale he hath attamed,
And thus he seyde un-to us everichon,
This swete preest, this goodly man, sir Iohn.


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