Geoffrey Chaucer

Here you will find the Long Poem Canterbury Tales, The of poet Geoffrey Chaucer

Canterbury Tales, The

 Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury.
 Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote,
 The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
 And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
 Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
 Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
 Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
 The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
 Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,
 And smale foweles maken melodye,
 That slepen al the nyght with open eye-
 So priketh hem Nature in hir corages-
 Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
 And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
 To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
 And specially, from every shires ende
 Of Engelond, to Caunturbury they wende,
 The hooly blisful martir for the seke
 That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.
 Bifil that in that seson, on a day,
 In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,
 Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage
 To Caunterbury, with ful devout corage,
 At nyght were come into that hostelrye
 Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye
 Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
 In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,
 That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde.
 The chambres and the stables weren wyde,
 And wel we weren esed atte beste;
 And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,
 So hadde I spoken with hem everychon
 That I was of hir felaweshipe anon,
 And made forward erly for to ryse
 To take our wey, ther as I yow devyse.
 But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space,
 Er that I ferther in this tale pace,
 Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun
 To telle yow al the condicioun
 Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,
 And whiche they weren, and of what degree,
 And eek in what array that they were inne;
 And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne.
 A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man,
 That fro the tyme that he first bigan
 To riden out, he loved chivalrie,
 Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie.
 Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,
 And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre,
 As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse,
 And evere honoured for his worthynesse.
 At Alisaundre he was, whan it was wonne;
 Ful ofte tyme he hadde the bord bigonne
 Aboven alle nacions in Pruce;
 In Lettow hadde he reysed, and in Ruce,
 No cristen man so ofte of his degree.
 In Gernade at the seege eek hadde he be
 Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye;
 At Lyeys was he, and at Satalye,
 Whan they were wonne; and in the Grete See
 At many a noble arive hadde he be.
 At mortal batailles hadde he been fiftene,
 And foughten for oure feith at Tramyssene
 In lystes thries, and ay slayn his foo.
 This ilke worthy knyght hadde been also
 Somtyme with the lord of Palatye
 Agayn another hethen in Turkye,
 And everemoore he hadde a sovereyn prys.
 And though that he were worthy, he was wys,
 And of his port as meeke as is a mayde;
 He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde
 In al his lyf unto no maner wight;
 He was a verray parfit gentil knyght.
 But for to tellen yow of his array,
 His hors weren goode, but he was nat gay.
 Of fustian he wered a gypoun,
 Al bismotered with his habergeoun;
 For he was late ycome from his viage,
 And wente for to doon his pilgrymage.
 With hym ther was his sone, a yong Squier,
 A lovyere and a lusty bacheler,
 With lokkes crulle, as they were leyd in presse.
 Of twenty yeer of age he was, I gesse.
 Of his stature he was of evene lengthe,
 And wonderly delyvere, and of greet strengthe.
 And he hadde been somtyme in chyvachie
 In Flaundres, in Artoys, and Pycardie,
 And born hym weel, as of so litel space,
 In hope to stonden in his lady grace.
 Embrouded was he, as it were a meede,
 Al ful of fresshe floures whyte and reede;
 Syngynge he was, or floytynge, al the day,
 He was as fressh as is the monthe of May.
 Short was his gowne, with sleves longe and wyde.
 Wel koude he sitte on hors, and faire ryde,
 He koude songes make, and wel endite,
 Juste, and eek daunce, and weel purtreye and write.
 So hoote he lovede, that by nyghtertale
 He slepte namoore than dooth a nyghtyngale.
 Curteis he was, lowely, and servysable,
 And carf biforn his fader at the table.
 A Yeman hadde he, and servantz namo
 At that tyme, for hym liste ride soo;
 And he was clad in cote and hood of grene,
 A sheef of pecok arwes bright and kene
 Under his belt he bar ful thriftily-
 Wel koude he dresse his takel yemanly,
 Hise arwes drouped noght with fetheres lowe-
 And in his hand he baar a myghty bowe.
 A not -heed hadde he, with a broun visage,
 Of woodecraft wel koude he al the usage.
 Upon his arm he baar a gay brace