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From General Prologue, lines 447-478:
The Parson
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From The Canterbury Tales:
General Prologue
lines 479-530: The Parson


       A good man was ther of religioun,
480And was a povre PERSOUN OF A TOUN,
But riche he was of hooly thoght and werk.
He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
His parisshens devoutly wolde he teche.
485Benynge he was, and wonder diligent,
And in adversitee ful pacient,
And swich he was ypreved ofte sithes.
Ful looth were hym to cursen for his tithes,
But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute,
490Unto his povre parisshens aboute
Of his offryng and eek of his substaunce.
He koude in litel thyng have suffisaunce.
Wyd was his parisshe, and houses fer asonder,
But he ne lefte nat, for reyn ne thonder,
495In siknesse nor in meschief to visite
The ferreste in his parisshe, muche and lite,
Upon his feet, and in his hand a staf.
This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf,
That first he wroghte, and afterward he taughte.
500Out of the gosple he tho wordes caughte,
And this figure he added eek therto,
That if gold ruste, what shal iren do?
For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
No wonder is a lewed man to ruste;
505And shame it is, if a prest take keep,
A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep.
Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive,
By his clennesse, how that his sheep sholde lyve.
He sette nat his benefice to hyre
510And leet his sheep encombred in the myre
And ran to Londoun unto Seinte Poules
To seken hym a chaunterie for soules,
Or with a bretherhed to been witholde;
But dwelt at hoom, and kepte wel his folde,
515So that the wolf ne made it nat myscarie;
He was a shepherde and noght a mercenarie.
And though he hooly were and vertuous,
He was to synful men nat despitous,
Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne,
520But in his techyng discreet and benygne;
To drawen folk to hevene by fairnesse,
By good ensample, this was his bisynesse.
But it were any persone obstinat,
What so he were, of heigh or lough estat,
525Hym wolde he snybben sharply for the nonys.
A bettre preest I trowe, that nowher noon ys.
He waited after no pompe and reverence,
Ne maked him a spiced conscience,
But Cristes loore, and Hise apostles twelve
530He taughte, but first he folwed it hymselve.
       A good man was there of religion,
480He was a poor COUNTRY PARSON,
But rich he was in holy thought and work.
He was a learned man also, a clerk,
Who Christ's own gospel truly sought to preach;
Devoutly his parishioners would he teach.
485Gracious he was and wondrously diligent,
Patient in adversity and well content,
Many times thus proven had he
He excommunicated not to force a fee,
But rather would he give, there is no doubt,
490Unto his poor parishioners about,
Some of his income, even of his property.
He could in little find sufficiency.
Wide was his parish, houses far asunder,
But never did he fail, for rain or thunder,
495In sickness, or in sin, or any state,
To visit the farthest, regardless their financial state,
Going by foot, and in his hand, a stave.
This fine example to his flock he gave,
That first he wrought and afterwards he taught;
500Out of the gospel then that text he caught,
And this metaphor he added thereunto -
That, if gold would rust, what shall iron do?
For if the priest be foul, in whom we trust,
No wonder that a layman thinks of lust?
505And shame it is, if priest take thought for keep,
A shitty shepherd, looking after clean sheep.
A trully good example a priest should give,
Is his own chastity, how his flock should live.
He never let his benefice for hire,
510And leave his sheep encumbered in the mire,
And ran to London, up to old Saint Paul's
To get himself a chantry there for souls,
Nor in some fraternity did he withhold;
But dwelt at home and kept so well the fold
515That never wolf could make his plans miscarry;
He was a shepherd and not mercenary.
And holy though he was, and virtuous,
To sinners he was not impiteous,
Nor haughty in his speech, nor too divine,
520But in all teaching courteous and benign.
To lead folk into Heaven by means of gentleness
By good example was his business.
But if some sinful one proved obstinate,
Whoever, of high or low financial state,
525He put to sharp rebuke, to say the least.
I think there never was a better priest.
He had no thirst for pomp or ceremony,
Nor spiced his conscience and morality,
But Christ's own law, and His apostles' twelve
530He taught, but first he followed it himselve.




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From General Prologue, lines 531-543:
The Plowman
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