Geoffrey Chaucer

Here you will find the Long Poem The Canterbury Tales; THE CHANOUNS YEMANNES TALE of poet Geoffrey Chaucer


Part 28


The prologe of the Chanouns yemannes tale.

Whan ended was the lyf of seinte Cecile,
Er we hadde riden fully fyve mile,
At Boghtoun under Blee us gan atake
A man, that clothed was in clothes blake,
And undernethe he wered a whyt surplys.

His hakeney, which that was al pomely grys,
So swatte, that it wonder was to see,
It wemed as he had priked miles thre.
The hors eek that his yeman rood upon
So swatte, that unnethe myghte it gon.

Aboute the peytrel stood the foom ful hye,
He was of fome al flekked as a pye.
A male tweyfoold upon his croper lay,
It semed that he caried lite array.
Al light for somer rood this worthy man,

And in myn herte wondren I bigan
What that he was, til that I understood
How that his cloke was sowed to his hood;
For which, whan I hadde longe avysed me,
I demed hym som Chanoun for to be.

His hat heeng at his bak doun by a laas,
For he hadde riden moore than trot or paas;
He hadde ay priked lik as he were wood.
A clote-leef he hadde under his hood
For swoot, and for to kepe his heed from heete.

But it was joye for to seen hym swete!
His forheed dropped as a stillatorie
Were ful of plantayne and of paritorie.
And whan that he was come, he gan to crye,
'God save,' quod he, 'this joly compaignye!

Faste have I priked,' quod he, 'for youre sake,
By cause that I wolde yow atake,
To riden in this myrie compaignye.'
His Yeman eek was ful of curteisye,
And seyde, 'Sires, now in the morwe tyde

Out of youre hostelrie I saugh yow ryde,
And warned heer my lord and my soverayn
Which that to ryden with yow is ful fayn
For his desport; he loveth daliaunce.'
'Freend, for thy warnyng God yeve thee good chaunce,'

Thanne seyde oure Hoost, 'for certein, it wolde seme
Thy lord were wys, and so I may wel deme.
He is ful jocunde also, dar I leye.
Can he oght telle a myrie tale or tweye
With which he glade may this compaignye?'

'Who, sire, my lord? ye, ye, with-outen lye!
He kan of murthe and eek of jolitee
Nat but ynough, also, sire, trusteth me.
And ye hym knewen as wel as do I,
Ye wolde wondre how wel and craftily

He koude werke, and that in sondry wise.
He hath take on hym many a greet emprise,
Which were ful hard for any that is heere
To brynge aboute, but they of hym it leere.
As hoomly as he rit amonges yow,

If ye hym knewe, it wolde be for youre prow,
Ye wolde nat forgoon his aqueyntaunce
For muchel good, I dar leye in balaunce
Al that I have in my possessioun.
He is a man of heigh discrecioun,

I warne yow wel, he is a passyng man.'
'Wel,' quod oure Hoost, 'I pray thee, tel em than,
Is he a clerk, or noon? telle what he is?'
'Nay, he is gretter than a clerk, ywis,'
Seyde this Yeman, 'and in wordes fewe,

Hoost, of his craft somwhat I wol yow shewe.
I seye my lord kan swich subtilitee-
But al his craft ye may nat wite for me,
And somwhat helpe I yet to his wirkyng-
That al this ground on which we been rydyng

Til that we come to Caunterbury toun,
He koude al clene turne it up so doun
And pave ti al of silver and of gold.'
And whan this Yeman hadde this tale ytold
Unto oure Hoost, he seyde, 'Benedicitee,

This thyng is wonder merveillous to me,
Syn that thy lord is of so heigh prudence,
By cause of which men sholde hym reverence,
That of his worship rekketh he so lite.
His overslope nys nat worth a myte

As in effect to hym, so moot I go.
It is al baudy and to-tore also,
Why is thy lord so sluttissh, I the preye,
And is of power bettre clooth to beye,
If that his dede accorde with thy speche?

Telle me that, and that I thee biseche.'
'Why,' quod this Yeman, 'wherto axe ye me?
God help me so, for he shal nevere thee!
But I wol nat avowe that I seye,
And therfore keepe it secree, I yow preye;

He is to wys, in feith, as I bileeve!
That that is overdoon, it wol nat preeve
Aright; as clerkes seyn, it is a vice.
Wherfore in that I holde hym lewed and nyce;
For whan a man hath over-greet a wit,

Ful oft hym happeth to mysusen it.
So dooth my lord, and that me greveth soore.
God it amende, I kan sey yow namoore.'
'Therof no fors, good Yeman,' quod oure Hoost,
'Syn of the konnyng of thy lord thow woost,

Telle how he dooth, I pray thee hertely,
Syn that he is so crafty and so sly.
Wher dwelle ye, if it to telle be?'
'In the suburbes of a toun,' quod he,
'Lurkynge in hernes and in lanes blynde,

Where as thise robbours and thise theves by kynde
Holden hir pryvee fereful residence,
As they that dar nat shewen hir presence.
So faren we if I shal seye the sothe.'
'Now,' quod oure Hoost, 'yit lat me talke to the,

Why artow so discoloured of thy face?'