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From The Canterbury Tales:
Sir Thopas

Heere bigynneth Chaucers Tale of Thopas.

The First Fit

       Listeth, lordes, in good entent,
And I wol telle verrayment
       Of myrthe and of solas,
25Al of a knyght was fair and gent
In bataille and in tourneyment,
       His name was Sire Thopas.

       Yborn he was in fer contree,
In Flaundres, al biyonde the see,
30       At Poperyng in the place;
His fader was a man ful free,
And lord he was of that contree,
       As it was Goddes grace.

       Sir Thopas wax a doghty swayn,
35Whit was his face as payndemayn,
       Hise lippes rede as rose;
His rode is lyk scarlet in grayn,
And I yow telle, in good certayn,
       He hadde a semely nose.

40        His heer, his berd, was lyk saffroun,
That to his girdel raughte adoun;
       Hise shoon of Cordewane.
Of Brugges were his hosen broun,
His robe was of syklatoun
45       That coste many a jane.

       He koude hunte at wilde deer,
And ride an haukyng for river,
       With grey goshauk on honde,
Therto he was a good archeer,
50Of wrastlyng was ther noon his peer,
       Ther any ram shal stonde.

       Ful many a mayde, bright in bour,
They moorne for hym paramour,
       Whan hem were bet to slepe;
55But he was chaast and no lechour,
And sweete as is the brembul flour
       That bereth the rede hepe.

       And so bifel upon a day,
For sothe as I yow telle may,
60       Sir Thopas wolde out ride;
He worth upon his steede gray,
And in his hand a launcegay,
       A long swerd by his side.

       He priketh thurgh a fair forest,
65Therinne is many a wilde best,
       Ye, both bukke and hare,
And as he priketh north and est,
I telle it yow, hym hadde almest
       Bitidde a sory care.

70        Ther spryngen herbes, grete and smale,
The lycorys and cetewale,
       And many a clowe-gylofre,
And notemuge to putte in ale,
Wheither it be moyste or stale,
75       Or for to leye in cofre.

       The briddes synge, it is no nay,
The sparhauk and the papejay
       That joye it was to heere,
The thrustelcok made eek hir lay,
80The wodedowve upon a spray
       She sang ful loude and cleere.

       Sir Thopas fil in love-longynge,
Al whan he herde the thrustel synge,
       And pryked as he were wood;
85His faire steede in his prikynge
So swatte that men myghte him wrynge,
       His sydes were al blood.

       Sir Thopas eek so wery was
For prikyng on the softe gras,
90       So fiers was his corage,
That doun he leyde him in that plas
To make his steede som solas,
       And yaf hym good forage.

       "O seinte Marie, benedicite,
95What eyleth this love at me
       To bynde me so soore?
Me dremed al this nyght, pardee,
An elf-queene shal my lemman be,
       And slepe under my goore.

100        An elf-queene wol I love, ywis,
For in this world no womman is
       Worthy to be my make
                     In towne;
       Alle othere wommen I forsake,
105And to an elf-queene I me take
       By dale and eek by downe!"

       Into his sadel he clamb anon,
And priketh over stile and stoon
       An elf-queene for t'espye,
110Til he so longe hadde riden and goon
That he foond, in a pryve woon,
       The contree of Fairye
                     So wilde;
For in that contree was ther noon
115That to him dorste ryde or goon,
       Neither wyf ne childe,

       Til that ther cam a greet geaunt,
His name was Sir Olifaunt,
       A perilous man of dede;
120He seyde "Child, by Termagaunt,
But if thou prike out of myn haunt,
       Anon I sle thy steede
                     With mace.
       Heere is the queene of Fayerye,
125With harpe and pipe and symphonye,
       Dwellynge in this place."

       The child seyde, "Also moote I thee,
Tomorwe wol I meete with thee,
       Whan I have myn armoure.
130       And yet I hope, par ma fay,
That thou shalt with this launcegay
       Abyen it ful sowre.
                     Thy mawe
Shal I percen if I may
135Er it be fully pryme of day,
       For heere thow shalt be slawe."

       Sir Thopas drow abak ful faste,
This geant at hym stones caste
       Out of a fel staf-slynge;
140But faire escapeth child Thopas,
And al it was thurgh Goddes gras,
       And thurgh his fair berynge.

The Second Fit

       Yet listeth, lordes, to my tale,
Murier than the nightyngale,
145       For now I wol yow rowne
How Sir Thopas, with sydes smale,
Prikyng over hill and dale
       Is comen agayn to towne.

       His murie men comanded he
150To make hym bothe game and glee,
       For nedes moste he fighte
With a geaunt with hevedes three,
For paramour and jolitee
       Of oon that shoon ful brighte.

155        "Do come,: he seyde, "my mynstrales,
And geestours, for to tellen tales
       Anon in myn armynge;
Of romances that been roiales,
Of Popes and of Cardinales,
160       And eek of love-likynge."

       They fette hym first the sweete wyn,
And mede eek in a mazelyn,
       And roial spicerye,
And gyngebreed that was ful fyn,
165And lycorys, and eek comyn,
       With sugre that is so trye.

       He dide next his white leere
Of clooth of lake, fyn and cleere,
       A breech, and eek a sherte,
170And next his sherte an aketoun,
And over that an haubergeoun,
       For percynge of his herte.

       And over that a fyn hawberk,
Was al ywroght of Jewes werk,
175       Ful strong it was of plate.
And over that his cote-armour
As whit as is a lilye flour,
       In which he wol debate.

       His sheeld was al of gold so reed,
180And therinne was a bores heed,
       A charbocle bisyde;
And there he swoor on ale and breed,
How that "the geaunt shal be deed
       Bityde what bityde!"

185        Hise jambeux were of quyrboilly,
His swerdes shethe of yvory,
       His helm of laton bright,
His sadel was of rewel-boon,
His brydel as the sonne shoon,
190       Or as the moone light.

       His spere it was of fyn ciprees,
That bodeth werre, and no thyng pees,
       The heed ful sharpe ygrounde;
His steede was al dappull-gray,
195It gooth an ambil in the way
       Ful softely and rounde
                     In londe.
       Loo, lordes myne, heere is a fit;
If ye wol any moore of it,
200       To telle it wol I fonde.

The Third Fit

       Now holde youre mouth, par charitee,
Bothe knyght and lady free,
       And herkneth to my spelle;
Of batailles and of chivalry
205And of ladyes love-drury
       Anon I wol yow telle.

       Men speken of romances of prys,
Of Horn child, and of Ypotys,
       Of Beves and Sir Gy,
210Of Sir Lybeux and Pleyndamour, -
But Sir Thopas, he bereth the flour
       Of roial chivalry.

       His goode steede al he bistrood,
And forth upon his wey he glood
215       As sparcle out of the bronde.
Upon his creest he bar a tour,
And therinne stiked a lilie-flour;
       God shilde his cors fro shonde!

       And for he was a knyght auntrous,
220He nolde slepen in noon hous,
       But liggen in his hoode.
His brighte helm was his wonger,
And by hym baiteth his dextrer
       Of herbes fyne and goode.

225        Hym-self drank water of the well,
As dide the knyght sir Percyvell
       So worly under wede,
Til on a day ----

Heere the Hoost stynteth Chaucer of his Tale of Thopas.

       "Namoore of this, for Goddes dignitee,"
230Quod oure Hooste, "for thou makest me
So wery of thy verray lewednesse,
That also wisly God my soule blesse,
Min eres aken of thy drasty speche.
Now swich a rym the devel I biteche!
235This may wel be rym dogerel," quod he.
       "Why so?" quod I, "why wiltow lette me
Moore of my tale than another man
Syn that it is the beste tale I kan?"
       "By God," quod he, "for pleynly at a word
240Thy drasty rymyng is nat worth a toord,
Thou doost noght elles but despendest tyme.
Sir, at o word thou shalt no lenger ryme.
Lat se wher thou kanst tellen aught in geeste,
Or telle in prose somwhat, at the leeste,
245In which ther be som murthe or som doctryne."
       "Gladly," quod I, "by Goddes sweete pyne,
I wol yow telle a litel thyng in prose,
That oghte liken yow as I suppose,
Or elles, certes, ye been to daungerous.
250It is a moral tale vertuous,
Al be it take somtyme in sondry wyse
Of sondry folk as I shal yow devyse.
       As thus: ye woot that every Evaungelist
That telleth us the peyne of Jhesu Crist
255Ne seith nat alle thyng as his felawe dooth,
But, nathelees, hir sentence is al sooth,
And alle acorden as in hir sentence,
Al be her in hir tellyng difference.
For somme of hem seyn moore, and somme seyn lesse,
260Whan they his pitous passioun expresse -
I meene of Marke, Mathew, Luc, and John -
But doutelees hir sentence is al oon,
Therfore, lordynges alle, I yow biseche
If that yow thynke I varie as in my speche,
265As thus, though that I telle somwhat moore
Of proverbes, than ye han herd bifoore,
Comprehended in this litel tretys heere,
To enforce with th'effect of my mateere,
And though I nat the same wordes seye
270As ye han herd, yet to yow alle I preye,
Blameth me nat; for, as in my sentence
Shul ye nat fynden moche difference
Fro the sentence of this tretys lyte
After the which this murye tale I write.
275And therfore herkneth what that I shal seye,
And lat me tellen al my tale, I preye."


The Tale of Melibee, §§ 1-26

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