The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson

The Pardoner's Prologue

lordynges, quod he, in chirches whan I preche,
     329
I peyne me to han an hauteyn speche,
     330
And rynge it out as round as gooth a belle,
     331
For I kan al by rote that I telle.
     332
My theme is alwey oon, and evere was --
     333
Radix malorum est cupiditas.
     334
first I pronounce wheenes that I come,
     335
And thanne my bulles shewe I, alle and some.
     336
Oure lige lordes seel on my patente,
     337
That shewe I first, my body to warente,
     338
That no man be so boold, ne preest ne clerk,
     339
Me to destourbe of cristes hooly werk.
     340
And after that thanne telle I forth my tales;
     341
Bulles of popes and of cardynales,
     342
Of patriarkes and bishopes I shewe
     343
And in latyn I speke a wordes fewe,
     344
To saffron with my predicacioun,
     345
And for to stire hem to devocioun.
     346
Thanne shewe I forth my longe cristal stones,
     347
Ycrammed ful of cloutes and of bones, --
     348
Relikes been they, as wenen they echoon.
     349
Thanne have I in latoun a sholder-boon
     350
Which that was of an hooly jewes sheep.
     351
Goode men, I seye, taak of my wordes keep;
     352
If that this boon be wasshe in any welle,
     353
If cow, or calf, or sheep, or oxe swelle
     354
That any worm hath ete, or worm ystonge,
     355
Taak water of that welle and wassh his tonge,
     356
And it is hool anon; and forthermoore, Page  149
     357
Of pokkes and of scabbe, and every soore
     358
Shal every sheep be hool that of this welle
     359
Drynketh a draughte. Taak kep eek what I telle --
     360
If that the good-man that the beestes oweth
     361
Wol every wyke, er that the cok hym croweth,
     362
Fastynge, drynken of this welle a draughte,
     363
As thilke hooly jew oure eldres taughte,
     364
His beestes and his stoor shal multiplie.
     365
and, sires, also it heeleth jalousie;
     366
For though a man be falle in jalous rage,
     367
Lat maken with this water his potage,
     368
And nevere shal he moore his wyf mystriste,
     369
Though he the soothe of hir defaute wiste,
     370
Al had she taken prestes two or thre.
     371
heere is a miteyn eek, that ye may se.
     372
He that his hand wol putte in this mitayn,
     373
He shal have multipliyng of his grayn,
     374
Whan he hath sowen, be it whete or otes,
     375
So that he offre pens, or elles grotes.
     376
goode men and wommen, o thyng warne I yow --
     377
If any wight be in this chirche now
     378
That hath doon synne horrible, that he
     379
Dar nat, for shame, of it yshryven be,
     380
Or any womman, be she yong or old,
     381
That hath ymaad hir housbonde cokewold,
     382
Swich folk shal have no power ne no grace
     383
To offren to my relikes in this place.
     384
And whoso fyndeth hym out of swich blame,
     385
He wol come up and offre in goddes name,
     386
And I assoille him by the auctoritee
     387
Which that by bulle ygraunted was to me.
     388
by this gaude have I wonne, yeer by yeer,
     389
An hundred mark sith I was pardoner.
     390
I stonde lyk a clerk in my pulpet,
     391
And whan the lewed peple is doun yset,
     392
I preche so as ye han herd bifoore,
     393
And telle an hundred false japes moore.
     394
Thanne peyne I me to strecche forth the nekke,
     395
And est and west upon the peple I bekke,
     396
As dooth a dowve sittynge on a berne.
     397
Myne handes and my tonge goon so yerne
     398
That it is joye to se my bisynesse.
     399
Of avarice and of swich cursednesse
     400
Is al my prechyng, for to make hem free
     401
To yeven hir pens, and namely unto me.
     402
For myn entente is nat but for to wynne,
     403
And nothyng for correccioun of synne.
     404
I rekke nevere, whan that they been beryed,
     405
Though that hir soules goon a-blakeberyed!
     406
For certes, many a predicacioun
     407
Comth ofte tyme of yvel entencioun;
     408
Som for plesance of folk and flaterye,
     409
To been avaunced by ypocrisye,
     410
And som for veyne glorie, and som for hate.
     411
For whan I dar noon oother weyes debate,
     412
Thanne wol I stynge hym with my tonge smerte
     413
In prechyng, so that he shal nat asterte
     414
To been defamed falsly, if that he
     415
Hath trespased to my bretheren or to me.
     416
For though I telle noght his propre name,
     417
Men shal wel knowe that it is the same,
     418
By signes, and by othere circumstances.
     419
Thus quyte I folk that doon us displesances;
     420
Thus spitte I out my venym under hewe
     421
Of hoolynesse, to semen hooly and trewe.
     422
but shortly myn entente I wol devyse --
     423
I preche of no thyng but for coveityse.
     424
Therfore my theme is yet, and evere was,
     425
Radix malorum est cupiditas.
     426
Thus kan I preche agayn that same vice
     427
Which that I use, and that is avarice.
     428
But though myself be gilty in that synne,
     429
Yet kan I maken oother folk to twynne
     430
From avarice, and soore to repente.
     431
But that is nat my principal entente;
     432
I preche nothyng but for coveitise.
     433
Of this mateere it oghte ynogh suffise.
     434
thanne telle I hem ensamples many oon
     435
Of olde stories longe tyme agoon.
     436
For lewed peple loven tales olde;
     437
Swiche thynges kan they wel reporte and holde.
     438
What, trowe ye, that whiles I may preche,
     439
And wynne gold and silver for I teche,
     440
That I wol lyve in poverte wilfully?
     441
Nay, nay, I thoghte it nevere, trewwly!
     442
For I wol preche and begge in sondry landes;
     443
I wol nat do no labour with myne handes,
     444
Ne make baskettes, and lyve therby,
     445
By cause I wol nat beggen ydelly.
     446
I wol noon of the apostles countrefete;
     447
I wol have moneie, wolle, chese, and whete,
     448
Al were it yeven of the povereste page,
     449
Or of the povereste wydwe in a village,
     450
Al sholde hir children sterve for famyne.
     451
Nay, I wol drynke licour of the vyne,
     452
And have a joly wenche in every toun.
     453
But herkneth, lordynges, in conclusioun --
     454
Youre likyng is that I shal telle a tale.
     455
Now have I dronke a draughte of corny ale,
     456
By god, I hope I shal yow telle a thyng
     457
That shal be reson been at youre likyng.
     458
For though myself be a ful vicious man,
     459
A moral tale yet I yow telle kan,
     460
Which I am wont to preche for to wynne.
     461
Now hoold youre pees! my tale I wol bigynne.
     462