The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson

The Nun's Priest's Tale

A povre wydwe, somdeel stape in age
     2821
Was whilom dwellyng in a narwe cotage,
     2822
Biside a grove, stondynge in a dale.
     2823
This wydwe, of which I telle yow my tale,
     2824
Syn thilke day that she was last a wyf,
     2825
In pacience ladde a ful symple lyf,
     2826
For litel was hir catel and hir rente.
     2827
By housbondrie of swich as God hire sente
     2828
She foond hirself and eek hir doghtren two.
     2829
Thre large sowes hadde she, and namo,
     2830
Three keen, and eek a sheep that highte malle.
     2831
Ful sooty was hire bour and eek hir halle,
     2832
In which she eet ful many a sklendre meel.
     2833
Of poynaunt sauce hir neded never a deel.
     2834
No deyntee morsel passed thurgh hir throte;
     2835
Hir diete was accordant to hir cote.
     2836
Repleccioun ne made hire nevere sik;
     2837
Attempree diete was al hir phisik,
     2838
And exercise, and hertes suffisaunce.
     2839
The goute lette hire nothyng for to daunce,
     2840
N' apoplexie shente nat hir heed.
     2841
No wyn ne drank she, neither whit ne reed;
     2842
Hir bord was served moost with whit and blak, --
     2843
Milk and broun breed, in which she foond no lak,
     2844
Seynd bacoun, and somtyme an ey or tweye;
     2845
For she was, as it were, a maner deye.
     2846
A yeerd she hadde, enclosed al aboute
     2847
With stikkes, and a drye dych withoute,
     2848
In which she hadde a cok, hight chauntecleer.
     2849
In al the land, of crowyng nas his peer.
     2850
His voys was murier than the murie orgon
     2851
On messe-dayes that in the chirche gon.
     2852
Wel sikerer was his crowyng in his logge
     2853
Than is a clokke or an abbey orlogge.
     2854
By nature he knew ech ascencioun
     2855
Of the equynoxial in thilke toun;
     2856
For whan degrees fiftene weren ascended,
     2857
Thanne crew he, that it myghte nat been amended.
     2858
His coomb was redder than the fyn coral, Page  200
     2859
And batailled as it were a castel wal;
     2860
His byle was blak, and as the jeet it shoon;
     2861
Lyk asure were his legges and his toon;
     2862
His nayles whitter than the lylye flour,
     2863
And lyk the burned gold was his colour.
     2864
This gentil cok hadde in his governaunce
     2865
Sevene hennes for to doon al his plesaunce,
     2866
Whiche were his sustres and his paramours,
     2867
And wonder lyk to hym, as of colours;
     2868
Of whiche the faireste hewed on hir throte
     2869
Was cleped faire damoysele pertelote.
     2870
Curteys she was, discreet, and debonaire,
     2871
And compaignable, and bar hyrself so faire,
     2872
Syn thilke day that she was seven nyght oold,
     2873
That trewely she hath the herte in hoold
     2874
Of chauntecleer, loken in every lith;
     2875
He loved hire so that wel was hym therwith.
     2876
But swich a joye was it to here hem synge,
     2877
Whan that the brighte sonne gan to sprynge,
     2878
In sweete accord, my lief is faren in londe!
     2879
For thilke tyme, as I have understonde,
     2880
Beestes and briddes koude speke and synge.
     2881
And so bifel that in a dawenynge,
     2882
As chauntecleer among his wyves alle
     2883
Sat on his perche, that was in the halle,
     2884
And next hym sat this faire pertelote,
     2885
This chauntecleer gan gronen in his throte,
     2886
As man that in his dreem is drecched soore.
     2887
And whan that pertelote thus herde hym roore,
     2888
She was agast, and seyde, herte deere,
     2889
What eyleth yow, to grone in this manere?
     2890
Ye been a verray sleper; fy, for shame!
     2891
And he answerde, and seyde thus: madame,
     2892
I pray yow that ye take it nat agrief.
     2893
By god, me mette I was in swich meschief
     2894
Right now, that yet myn herte is soore afright.
     2895
Now god, quod he, my swevene recche aright,
     2896
And kepe my body out of foul prisoun!
     2897
Me mette how that I romed up and doun
     2898
Withinne our yeerd, wheer as I saugh a beest
     2899
Was lyk an hound, and wolde han maad areest
     2900
Upon my body, and wolde han had me deed.
     2901
His colour was bitwixe yelow and reed,
     2902
And tipped was his tayl and bothe his eeris
     2903
With blak, unlyk the remenant of his heeris;
     2904
His snowte smal, with glowynge eyen tweye.
     2905
Yet of his look for feere almoost I deye;
     2906
This caused me my gronyng, doutelees.
     2907
Avoy! quod she, fy on yow, hertelees!
     2908
Allas! quod she, for, by that God above,
     2909
Now han ye lost myn herte and al my love.
     2910
I kan nat love a coward, by my feith!
     2911
For certes, what so any womman seith,
     2912
We alle desiren, if it myghte bee,
     2913
To han housbondes hardy, wise, and free,
     2914
And secree, and no nygard, ne no fool,
     2915
Ne hym that is agast of every tool,
     2916
Ne noon avauntour, by that God above!
     2917
How dorste ye seyn, for shame, unto youre love
     2918
That any thyng myghte make yow aferd?
     2919
Have ye no mannes herte, and han a berd?
     2920
Allas! and konne ye been agast of swevenys?
     2921
Nothyng, God woot, but vanitee in sweven is.
     2922
Swevenes engendren of replecciouns,
     2923
And ofte of fume and of complecciouns,
     2924
Whan humours been to habundant in a wight.
     2925
Certes this dreem, which ye han met to-nyght,
     2926
Cometh of the greete superfluytee
     2927
Of youre rede colera, pardee,
     2928
Which causeth folk to dreden in hir dremes
     2929
Of arwes, and of fyr with rede lemes,
     2930
Of rede beestes, that they wol hem byte,
     2931
Of contek, and of whelpes, grete and lyte;
     2932
Right as the humour of malencolie
     2933
Causeth ful many a man in sleep to crie
     2934
For feere of blake beres, or boles blake,
     2935
Or elles blake develes wole hem take.
     2936
Of othere humours koude I telle also
     2937
That werken many a man sleep ful wo;
     2938
But I wol passe as lightly as I kan.
     2939
Lo catoun, which that was so wys a man,
     2940
Seyde he nat thus, -- ne do no fors of dremes? --
     2941
Now sire, quod she, whan we flee for the bemes,
     2942
For goddes love, as taak som laxatyf.
     2943
Up peril of my soule and of my lyf,
     2944
I conseille yow the beste, I wol nat lye,
     2945
That bothe of colere and of malencolye
     2946
Ye purge yow; and for ye shal nat tarie,
     2947
Though in this toun is noon apothecarie,
     2948
I shal myself to gerbes techen yow
     2949
That shul been for youre hele and for youre prow;
     2950
And in oure yeerd tho herbes shal I fynde
     2951
The whiche han of hire propretee by kynde
     2952
To purge yow bynethe and eek above.
     2953
Foryet nat this, for goddes owene love!
     2954
Ye been ful coleryk of compleccioun;
     2955
Ware the sonne in his ascencioun
     2956
Ne fynde yow nat repleet of humours hoote.
     2957
And if it do, I dar wel leye a grote, Page  201
     2958
That ye shul have a fevere tercaine,
     2959
Of an agu, that may be youre bane.
     2960
A day or two ye shul have digestyves
     2961
Of wormes, er ye take youre laxatyves
     2962
Of lawriol, centaure, and fumetere,
     2963
Or elles of ellebor, that groweth there,
     2964
Of katapuce, or of gaitrys beryis,
     2965
Of herbe yve, growyng in oure yeerd, ther mery is;
     2966
Pekke hem up right as they growe and ete hem yn.
     2967
By myrie, housbonde, for youre fader kyn~
     2968
Dredeth no dreem, I kan sey yow namoore.
     2969
Madame, quod he, graunt mercy of youre loore.
     2970
But nathelees, as touchyng daun catoun,
     2971
That hath of wysdom swich a greet renoun,
     2972
Though that he bad no dremes for to drede,
     2973
By god, men may in olde bookes rede
     2974
Of many a man moore of auctorite
     2975
Than evere caton was, so moot I thee,
     2976
That al the revers seyn of this sentence,
     2977
And han wel founden by experience
     2978
That dremes been significaciouns
     2979
As wel of joye as of tribulaciouns
     2980
That folk enduren in this lif present.
     2981
Ther nedeth make of this noon argument;
     2982
The verray preeve sheweth it in dede.
     2983
Oon of the gretteste auctour that men rede
     2984
Seith thus: that whilom two felawes wente
     2985
On pilgrimage, in a ful good entente;
     2986
And happed so, yhey coomen in a toun
     2987
Wher as ther was swich congregacioun
     2988
Of peple, and eek so streit of herbergage,
     2989
That they ne founde as muche as cotage
     2990
In which they bothe myghte ylogged bee.
     2991
Wherfore they mosten of necessitee,
     2992
As for that nyght,departen compaignye;
     2993
And ech of hem gooth to his hostelrye,
     2994
And took his loggyng as it wolde falle.
     2995
That oon of hem was logged in a stalle,
     2996
Fer in a yeerd, with oxen of the plough;
     2997
That oother man was logged wel ynough,
     2998
As was his aventure or his fortune,
     2999
That us governeth alle as in commune.
     3000
And so bifel that, longe er it were day,
     3001
This man mette in his bed, ther as he lay
     3002
How that his felawe gan upon hym calle,
     3003
And seyde,, -- allas! for in an oxes stalle
     3004
This nyght I shal be mordred ther I lye.
     3005
Now help me,deere brother, or I dye.
     3006
In alle haste com to me! -- he sayde.
     3007
This man out of his sleep for feere abrayde;
     3008
But whan that he was wakened of this sleep,
     3009
He turned hym, and took of this no keep.
     3010
Hym thoughte his dreem nas but a vanitte.
     3011
Thus twies in his slepyng dremed hee;
     3012
And atte thridde tyme yet his felawe
     3013
Cam, as hym thoughte, and seide, -- I am now slawe.
     3014
Bihood my bloody woundes depe and wyde!
     3015
Arys up erly in the morwe tyde,
     3016
And at the west gate of the toun, -- quod he,
     3017
-- A carte ful of dong ther shaltow se,
     3018
In which my body is hid ful prively;
     3019
Do thilke carte arresten boldely.
     3020
My gold caused my mordre, sooth to sayn.,
     3021
And tolde hym every point how he was slayn,
     3022
With a ful pitous face, pale of hewe.
     3023
And truste wel, his dreem he foond ful trewe,
     3024
For on the morwe, as soone as it was day,
     3025
To his felawes in he took the way;
     3026
And whan that he cam to his oxes stalle,
     3027
After his felawe he bigan to calle.
     3028
The hostiler answerede hym anon,
     3029
And seyde,,sire, your felawe is agon.
     3030
As soone as day he wente out of the toun.,
     3031
This man gan fallen suspecioun,
     3032
Remembrynge on his dremes that he mette,
     3033
And forth he gooth no lenger wolde he lette
     3034
Unto the west gate of the toun, and fond
     3035
A dong carte, wente as it were to donge lond,
     3036
That was arrayed in that same wise
     3037
As ye han herd the dede man devyse.
     3038
And with an hardy herte he gan to crye
     3039
Vengeance and justice of this felonye.
     3040
My felawe mordred is this same nyght,
     3041
And in this carte he lith gapyng upright.
     3042
I crye out on the ministres, -- quod he,
     3043
-- That sholden kepe and reulen this citee.
     3044
Harrow! allas! heere lith my felawe slayn! --
     3045
What sholde I moore unto this tale sayn?
     3046
The peple out sterte and caste the cart to grounde,
     3047
And in the myddel of the dong they founde
     3048
The dede man, that mordred was al newe.
     3049
O blisful god, that art so just and trewe,
     3050
Lo, how that thou biwryest mordre alway!
     3051
Mordre wol out, that se we day by day.
     3052
Mordre is so wlatsom and abhomynable
     3053
To god, that is so just and resonable,
     3054
That he ne wol nat suffre it heled be,
     3055
Though it abyde a yeer, or two, or thre.
     3056
Mordre wol out, this my conclusioun. Page  202
     3057
And right anon, ministres of that toun
     3058
Han hent the carter and so soore hym pyned,
     3059
And eek the hostiler so soore engyned,
     3060
That they biknewe hire wikkednesse anon,
     3061
And were anhanged by the nekke bon.
     3062
Heere may men seen that dremes been to drede.
     3063
And certes in the same book I rede,
     3064
Right in the nexte chapitre after this
     3065
I gabbe nat, so have I joye or blis
     3066
Two men that wolde han passed over see,
     3067
For certeyn cause, into a fer contree,
     3068
If that the wynd ne hadde been contrarie,
     3069
That made hem in a citee for to tarie
     3070
That stood ful myrie upon an haven-syde;
     3071
But on a day, agayn the even-tyde,
     3072
The wynd gan chaunge, and blew right as hem leste.
     3073
Jolif and glad they wente unto hir reste,
     3074
And casten hem ful erly for to saille.
     3075
But to that o man fil a greet mervaille:
     3076
That oon of hem,in slepyng as he lay,
     3077
Hym mette a wonder dreem agayn the day.
     3078
Hym thoughte a man stood by his beddes syde,
     3079
And hym comanded that he sholde abyde,
     3080
And seyde hym thus: -- if thou tomorwe wende,
     3081
Thow shalt be dreynt; my tale is at an ende.
     3082
He wook, and tolde his felawe what he mette,
     3083
And preyde hym his viage for to lette;
     3084
As for that day, he preyde hym to byde.
     3085
His felawe, that lay by his beddes syde,
     3086
Gan for to laughe, and scorned him ful faste.
     3087
-- no dreem, -- quod he, -- may so myn herte agaste
     3088
That I wol lette for to do my thynges.
     3089
I sette nat a straw by thy dremynges,
     3090
For swevenes been but vantees and japes.
     3091
Men dreme alday of owles and of apes,
     3092
And eek of many a maze therwithal;
     3093
Men dreme of thyng that nevere was ne shal.
     3094
But sith I see that thou wolt heere abyde,
     3095
And thus forslewthen wilfully thy tyde,
     3096
God woot, it reweth me; and have good day! --
     3097
And thus he took his leve, and wente his way.
     3098
But er that he hadde half his cours yseyled,
     3099
Noot I nat why, ne what myschaunce it eyled,
     3100
But casuelly the shippes botme rente,
     3101
And ship and man under the water wente
     3102
In sighte of othere shippes it bisyde,
     3103
That with hem seyled at the same tyde.
     3104
And therfore, faire pertelote so deere,
     3105
By swiche ensamples olde maistow leere
     3106
That no man sholde been to recchelees
     3107
Of dremes; for I seye thee, doutelees,
     3108
That many a dreem ful soore is for to drede.
     3109
Lo, in the lyf of seint kenelm I rede,
     3110
That was kenulphus sone, the noble kyng
     3111
Of mercenrike, how kenelm mette a thyng.
     3112
A lite er he was mordred, on a day,
     3113
His mordre in his avysioun he say.
     3114
His norice hym expowned every deel
     3115
His sweven, and bad hym for to kepe hym weel
     3116
For traisoun; but he nas but seven yeer oold,
     3117
And therfore lite tale hath he toold
     3118
Of any dreem, so hooly was his herte.
     3119
By god! I hadde levere than my sherte
     3120
That ye hadde rad his legende, as have I.
     3121
Dame pertelote, I sey yow trewely,
     3122
Macrobeus, that writ the avisioun
     3123
In affrike of the worthy cipioun,
     3124
Affermeth dremes, and seith that they been
     3125
Warnynge of thynges that men after seen.
     3126
And forthermoore, I pray yow, looketh wel
     3127
In the olde testament, of daniel,
     3128
If he heeld dremes any vanitee.
     3129
Reed eek of joseph, and ther shul ye see
     3130
Wher dremes be somtyme -- I sey nat alle --
     3131
Warnynge of thynges that shul after falle.
     3132
Looke of egipte the kyng, daun pharao,
     3133
His bakere and his butiller also,
     3134
Wher they ne felte noon effect in dremes.
     3135
Whoso wol seken actes of sondry remes
     3136
May rede of dremes many a wonder thyng.
     3137
Lo cresus, which that was of lyde kyng,
     3138
Mette he nat that he sat upon a tree,
     3139
Which signified he sholde anhanged bee?
     3140
Lo heere andromacha, ectores wyf,
     3141
That day that ector sholde lese his lyf,
     3142
She dremed on the same nyght biforn
     3143
How that the lyf of ector sholde be lorn,
     3144
If thilke day he wente into bataille.
     3145
She warned hym, but it myghte nat availle;
     3146
He wente for to fighte natheles,
     3147
But he was slayn anon of achilles.
     3148
But thilke tale is al to longe to telle,
     3149
And eek it is ny day, I may nat dwelle.
     3150
Shortly I seye, as for conclusioun,
     3151
That I shal han of this avisioun
     3152
Adversitee; and I seye forthermoor,
     3153
That I ne telle of laxatyves no stoor,
     3154
For they been venymous, I woot it weel;
     3155
I hem diffye, I love hem never a deel!
     3156
Now let us speke of myrthe, and stynte al this.
     3157
Madame pertelote, so have I blis,
     3158
Of o thyng God hath sent me large grace; Page  203
     3159
For whan I se the beautee of youre face,
     3160
Ye been so scarlet reed aboute youre yen,
     3161
It maketh al my drede for to dyen;
     3162
For al so siker as in principio,
     3163
Mulier est hominis confusio, --
     3164
Madame, the sentence of this latyn is,
     3165
-- womman is mannes joye and al his blis. --
     3166
For whan I feele a-nyght your softe syde,
     3167
Al be it that I may nat on yow ryde,
     3168
For that oure perche is maad so narwe, allas!
     3169
I am so ful of joye and of solas,
     3170
That I diffye bothe sweven and dreem.
     3171
And with that word he fley doun fro the beem,
     3172
For it was day, and eke his hennes alle,
     3173
And with a chuk he gan hem for to calle,
     3174
For he hadde founde a corn, lay in the yerd.
     3175
Real he was, he was namoore aferd.
     3176
He fethered pertelote twenty tyme,
     3177
And trad hire eke as ofte, er it was pryme.
     3178
He looketh as it were a grym leoun,
     3179
And on his toos he rometh up and doun;
     3180
Hym deigned nat to sette his foot to grounde.
     3181
He chukketh whan he hath a corn yfounde,
     3182
And to hym rennen thanne his wyves alle.
     3183
Thus roial, as a prince is in his halle,
     3184
Leve I this chauntecleer in his pasture,
     3185
And after wol I telle his aventure.
     3186
Whan that the month in which the world bigan,
     3187
That highte march, whan God first maked man,
     3188
Was compleet, and passed were also,
     3189
Syn march bigan, thritty dayes and two,
     3190
Bifel that chauntecleer in al his pryde,
     3191
His sevene wyves walkynge by his syde,
     3192
Caste up his eyen to the brighte sonne,
     3193
That in the signe of taurus hadde yronne
     3194
Twenty degrees and oon, and somwhat moore,
     3195
And knew by kynde, and by noon oother loore,
     3196
That it was pryme, and crew with blisful stevene.
     3197
The sonne, he seyde, is clomben up on-evene
     3198
Fourty degrees and oon, and moore ywis.
     3199
Madame pertelote, my worldes blis,
     3200
Herkneth thise blisful briddes how they synge,
     3201
And se the fresshe floures how they sprynge;
     3202
Ful is myn herte of revel and solas!
     3203
But sodeynly hym fil a sorweful cas,
     3204
For evere the latter ende of joye is wo.
     3205
God woot that worldly joye is soone ago;
     3206
And if a rethor koude faire endite,
     3207
He in a cronycle saufly myghte it write
     3208
As for a sovereyn notabilitee.
     3209
Now every wys man, lat him herkne me;
     3210
This storie is also trewe, I undertake,
     3211
As is the book of launcelot de lake,
     3212
That wommen holde in ful greet reverence.
     3213
Now wol I torne agayn to my sentence.
     3214
A col-fox, ful of sly iniquitee,
     3215
That in th grove hadde woned yeres three,
     3216
By heigh ymaginacioun forncast,
     3217
The same nyght thurghout the hegges brast
     3218
Into the yerd ther chauntecleer the faire
     3219
Was wont, and eek his wyves, to repaire;
     3220
And in a bed of wortes stille he lay,
     3221
Til it was passed undren of the day,
     3222
Waitynge his tyme on chauntecleer to falle,
     3223
As gladly doon thise homycides alle
     3224
That in await liggen to mordre men.
     3225
O false mordrour, lurkynge in thy den!
     3226
O newe scariot, newe genylon,
     3227
False dissymulour, o greek synon,
     3228
That broghtest troye al outrely to sorwe!
     3229
O chauntecleer, acursed be that morwe
     3230
That thou into that yerd flaugh fro the bemes!
     3231
Thou were ful wel ywarned by thy dremes
     3232
That thilke day was perilous to thee;
     3233
But what that God forwoot moot nedes bee,
     3234
After the opinioun of certein clerkis.
     3235
Witnesse on hym that any parfit clerk is,
     3236
That in scole is greet altercacioun
     3237
In this mateere, and greet disputisoun,
     3238
And hath been of an hundred thousand men.
     3239
But I ne kan nat bulte it to the bren
     3240
As kan the hooly doctour augustyn,
     3241
Or boece, or the bisshop bradwardyn,
     3242
Wheither that goddes worthy forwityng
     3243
Streyneth me nedely for to doon a thyng, --
     3244
Nedely clepe I symple necessitee;
     3245
Or elles, if free choys be graunted me
     3246
To do that same thyng, or do it noght,
     3247
Though God forwoot it er that was wroght;
     3248
Or if his wityng streyneth never a deel
     3249
But by necessitee condicioneel.
     3250
I wol nat han to do of swich mateere;
     3251
My tale is of a cok, as ye may heere,
     3252
That tok his conseil of his wyf, with sorwe,
     3253
To walken in the yerd upon that morwe
     3254
That he hadde met that dreem that I yow tolde.
     3255
Wommennes conseils been ful ofte colde;
     3256
Wommannes conseil broghte us first to wo,
     3257
And made adam fro paradys to go,
     3258
Ther as he was ful myrie and wel at ese.
     3259
But for I noot to whom it myght displese, Page  204
     3260
If I conseil of wommen wolde blame,
     3261
Passe over, for I seyde it in my game.
     3262
Rede auctours, where they trete of swich mateere,
     3263
And what they seyn of wommen ye may heere.
     3264
Thise been the cokkes wordes, and nat myne;
     3265
I kan noon harm of no womman divyne.
     3266
Faire in the soond, to bathe hire myrily,
     3267
Lith pertelote, and alle hire sustres by,
     3268
Agayn the sonne, and chauntecleer so free
     3269
Soong murier than the mermayde in the see;
     3270
For phisiologus seith sikerly
     3271
How that they syngen wel and myrily.
     3272
And so bifel that, as he caste his ye
     3273
Among the wortes on a boterflye,
     3274
He was war of this fox, that lay ful lowe.
     3275
Nothyng ne liste hym thanne for to crowe,
     3276
But cride anon, cok! cok! and up he sterte
     3277
As man that was affrayed in his herte.
     3278
For natureelly a beest desireth flee
     3279
Fro his contrarie, if he may it see,
     3280
Though he never erst hadde seyn it with his ye.
     3281
This chauntecleer, whan he gan hym espye,
     3282
He wolde han fled, but that the fox anon
     3283
Seyde, gentil sire, allas! wher wol ye gon?
     3284
Be ye affrayed of me that am youre freend?
     3285
Now, certes, I were worse than a feend,
     3286
If I to yow wolde harm or vileynye!
     3287
I am nat come youre conseil for t' espye,
     3288
But trewely, the cause of my comynge
     3289
Was oonly for to herkne how that ye synge.
     3290
For trewely, ye have as myrie a stevene
     3291
As any aungel hath that is in hevene.
     3292
Therwith ye han in musyk moore feelynge
     3293
Than hadde boece, or any that kan synge.
     3294
My lord youre fader -- God his soule blesse! --
     3295
And eek youre mooder, of hire gentillesse,
     3296
Han in myn hous ybeen to my greet ese;
     3297
And certes, sire, ful fayn wolde I yow plese.
     3298
But, for men speke of syngyng, I wol seye, --
     3299
So moote I brouke wel myne eyen tweye, --
     3300
Save yow, I herde nevere man so synge
     3301
As dide youre fader in the morwenynge.
     3302
Certes, it was of herte, al that he song.
     3303
And for to make his voys the moore strong,
     3304
He wolde so peyne hym that with bothe his yen
     3305
He moste wynke, so loude he wolde cryen,
     3306
And stonden on his tiptoon therwithal,
     3307
And strecche forth his nekke long and smal.
     3308
And eek he was of swich descrecioun
     3309
That ther nas no man in no regioun
     3310
That hym in song or wisedom myghte passe.
     3311
I have wel rad in -- daun burnel the asse --,
     3312
Among his vers, how that ther was a cok,
     3313
For that a preestes sone yaf hym a knok
     3314
Upon his leg whil he was yong and nyce,
     3315
He made hym for to lese his benefice.
     3316
But certeyn, ther nys no comparisoun
     3317
Bitwixe the wisedom and discrecioun
     3318
Of youre fader and of his subtiltee.
     3319
Now syngeth, sire, for seinte charitee;
     3320
Lat se, konne ye youre fader countrefete?
     3321
This chauntecleer his wynges gan to bete,
     3322
As man that koude his traysoun nat espie,
     3323
So was he ravysshed with his flaterie.
     3324
Allas! ye lordes, many a fals flatour
     3325
Is in youre courtes, and many a losengeour,
     3326
That plesen yow wel moore, by my feith,
     3327
Than he that soothfastnesse unto yow seith.
     3328
Redeth ecclesiaste of flaterye;
     3329
Beth war, ye lordes, of hir trecherye.
     3330
This chauntecleer stoond hye upon his toos,
     3331
Strecchynge his nekke, and heeld his eyen cloos,
     3332
And gan to crowe loude for the nones.
     3333
And daun russell the fox stirte up atones,
     3334
And by the gargat hente chauntecleer,
     3335
And on his bak toward the wode hym beer,
     3336
For yet ne was ther no man that hym sewed.
     3337
O destinee, that mayst nat been eschewed!
     3338
Allas, that chauntecleer fleigh fro the bemes!
     3339
Allas, his wyf ne roghte nat of dremes!
     3340
And on a friday fil al this meschaunce.
     3341
o venus, that art goddesse of plesaumce,
     3342
Syn that thy servant was this chauntecleer,
     3343
And in thy servyce dide al his poweer,
     3344
Moore for delit than world to multiplye,
     3345
Why woldestow suffre hym on thy day to dye?
     3346
O gaufred, deere maister soverayn,
     3347
That whan thy worthy kyng richard was slayn
     3348
With shot, compleynedest his deeth so soore,
     3349
Why ne hadde I now thy sentence and thy loore,
     3350
The friday for to chide, as diden ye?
     3351
For on a friday, soothly, slayn was he.
     3352
Thanne wolde I shewe yow how that I koude pleyne
     3353
For chauntecleres drede and for his peyne.
     3354
Certes, swich cry ne lamentacion,
     3355
Was nevere of ladyes maad whan ylion
     3356
Was wonne, and pirrus with his streite swerd,
     3357
Whan he hadde hent kyng priam by the berd,
     3358
And slayn hym, as seith us eneydos,
     3359
As maden alle the hennes in the clos,
     3360
Whan they had seyn of chauntecleer the sighte. Page  205
     3361
But sovereynly dame pertelote shrighte
     3362
Ful louder than dide hasdrubales wyf,
     3363
Whan that hir housbonde hadde lost his lyf,
     3364
And that the romayns hadde brend cartage.
     3365
She was so ful of torment and of rage
     3366
That wilfully into the fyr she sterte,
     3367
And brende hirselven with a stedefast herte.
     3368
O woful hennes, right so criden ye,
     3369
As, whan that nero brende the citee
     3370
Of rome, cryden senatoures wyves
     3371
For that hir husbondes losten alle hir lyves, --
     3372
Withouten gilt this nero hath hem slayn.
     3373
Now wole I turne to my tale agayn.
     3374
This sely wydwe and eek hir doghtres two
     3375
Herden thise hennes crie and maken wo,
     3376
And out at dores stirten they anon,
     3377
And syen the fox toward the grove gon,
     3378
And bar upon his bak the cok away,
     3379
And cryden, out! harrow! and weylaway!
     3380
Ha! ha! the fox! and after hym they ran,
     3381
And eek with staves many another man,
     3382
Ran colle oure dogge, and talbot and gerland,
     3383
And malkyn, with a dystaf in hir hand;
     3384
Ran cow and calf, and eek the verray hogges,
     3385
So fered for the berkyng of the dogges
     3386
And shoutyng of the men and wommen eeke,
     3387
They ronne so hem thoughte hir herte breeke.
     3388
They yolleden as feendes doon in helle;
     3389
The dokes cryden as men wolde hem quelle;
     3390
The gees for feere flowen over the trees;
     3391
Out of the hyve cam the swarm of bees.
     3392
So hydous was the noyse, a, benedicitee!
     3393
Certes, he jakke straw and his meynee
     3394
Ne made nevere shoutes half so shrille
     3395
Whan that they wolden any flemyng kille,
     3396
As thilke day was maad upon the fox.
     3397
Of bras they broghten bemes, and of box,
     3398
Of horn, of boon, in whiche they blewe and powped,
     3399
And therwithal they skriked and they howped.
     3400
It semed as that hevene sholde falle.
     3401
Now, goode man, I prey yow herkenth alle:
     3402
Lo, how fortune turneth sodeynly
     3403
The hope and pryde eek of hir enemy!
     3404
This cok, that lay upon the foxes bak,
     3405
In al his drede unto the fox he spak,
     3406
And seyde, sire, if that I were as ye,
     3407
Yet sholde I seyn, as wys God helpe me,
     3408
Turneth agayn, ye proude cherles alle!
     3409
A verray pestilence upon yow falle!
     3410
Now am I come unto the wodes syde;
     3411
Maugree youre heed, the cok shal heere abyde.
     3412
I wol hym ete, in feith, and that anon!
     3413
The fox answerde, in feith, it shal be don.
     3414
And as he spak that word, al sodeynly
     3415
This cok brak from his mouth delyverly,
     3416
And heighe upon a tree he fleigh anon.
     3417
And whan the fox saugh that the cok was gon,
     3418
Allas! quod he, o chauntecleer, allas!
     3419
I have to yow, quod he, ydoon trespas,
     3420
In as muche as I maked yow aferd
     3421
Whan I yow hente and broghte out of the yerd.
     3422
But, sire, I dide it in no wikke entente.
     3423
Com doun, and I shal telle yow what I mente;
     3424
I shal seye sooth to yow, God help me so!
     3425
Nay thanne, quod he, I shrewe us bothe two.
     3426
And first I shrewe myself, bothe blood and bones,
     3427
If thou bigyle me ofter than ones.
     3428
Thou shalt namoore, thurgh thy flaterye,
     3429
Do me to synge and wynke with myn ye;
     3430
For he that wynketh, whan he sholde see,
     3431
Al wilfully, God lat him nevere thee!
     3432
Nay, quod the fox, but God yeve hym meschaunce,
     3433
That is so undiscreet of governaunce
     3434
That jangleth whan he sholde holde his pees.
     3435
Lo, swich it is for to be recchelees
     3436
And necligent, and truste on flaterye.
     3437
But ye that holden this tale a folye,
     3438
As of a fox, or of a cok and hen,
     3439
Taketh the moralite, goode men.
     3440
For seint paul seith that al that writen is,
     3441
To oure doctrine it is ywrite, ywis;
     3442
Taketh the fruyt, and lat the chaf be stille.
     3443
Now, goode god, if that it be thy wille,
     3444
As seith my lord, so make us alle goode men,
     3445
And brynge us to his heighe blisse! amen.
     3446