The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson

Fitt I

Listeth, lordes, in good entent,
     712
And I wol telle verrayment
     713
Of myrthe and of solas;
     714
Al of a knyght was fair and gent
     715
In bataille and in tourneyment,
     716
His name was sire thopas.
     717
Yborn he was in fer contree,
     718
In flaundres, al biyonde the see,
     719
At poperyng, in the place.
     720
His fader was a man ful free,
     721
And lord he was of that contree,
     722
As it was goddes grace.
     723
Sire thopas wax a doghty swayn;
     724
Whit was his face as payndemayn,
     725
His lippes rede as rose;
     726
His rode is lyk scarlet in grayn,
     727
And I yow telle in good certayn,
     728
He hadde a semely nose.
     729
His heer, his berd was lyk saffroun,
     730
That to his girdel raughte adoun;
     731
His shoon of cordewane.
     732
Of brugges were his hosen broun,
     733
His robe was of syklatoun,
     734
That coste many a jane.
     735
He koude hunte at wilde deer,
     736
And ride an haukyng for river
     737
With grey goshauk on honde;
     738
Therto he was a good archeer;
     739
Of wrastlyng was ther noon his peer,
     740
Ther any ram shal stonde. Page  165
     741
Ful many a mayde, bright in bour,
     742
They moorne for hym paramour,
     743
Whan hem were bet to slepe;
     744
But he was chaast and no lechour,
     745
And sweete as is the brembul flour
     746
That bereth the rede hepe.
     747
And so bifel upon a day,
     748
For sothe, as I yow telle may,
     749
Sire thopas wolde out ride.
     750
He worth upon his steede gray,
     751
And in his hand a launcegay,
     752
A long swerd by his side.
     753
He priketh thurgh a fair forest,
     754
Therinne is many a wilde best,
     755
Ye, bothe bukke and hare;
     756
And as he priketh north and est,
     757
I telle it yow, hym hadde almest
     758
Bitid a sory care.
     759
Ther spryngen herbes grete and smale,
     760
The lycorys and the cetewale,
     761
And many a clowe-gylofre;
     762
And notemuge to putte in ale,
     763
Wheither it be moyste or stale,
     764
Or for to leye in cofre.
     765
The briddes synge, it is no nay,
     766
The sparhauk and the papejay,
     767
That joye it was to heere;
     768
The thrustelock made eek his lay,
     769
The wodedowve upon the spray
     770
She sang ful loude and cleere.
     771
Sire thopas fil in love-longynge,
     772
Al whan he herde the thrustel synge,
     773
And pryked as he were wood.
     774
His faire steede in his prikynge
     775
So swatte that men myghte him wrynge;
     776
His sydes were al blood.
     777
Sire thopas eek so wery was
     778
For prikyng on the softe gras,
     779
So fiers was his corage,
     780
That doun he leyde him in that plas
     781
To make his steede som solas,
     782
And yaf hym good forage.
     783
O seinte marie, benedicite!
     784
What eyleth this love at me
     785
To bynde me so soore?
     786
Me dremed al this nyght, pardee,
     787
An elf-queene shal my lemman be
     788
And slepe under my goore.
     789
An elf-queene wol I love, ywis,
     790
For in this world no womman is
     791
Worthy to be my make
     792
In towne;
     793
Alle othere wommen I forsake,
     794
And to an elf-queene I me take
     795
By dale and eek by downe!
     796
Into his sadel he clamb anon,
     797
And priketh over stile and stoon
     798
An elf-queene for t' espye,
     799
Til he so longe hath riden and goon
     800
That he foond, in a pryve woon,
     801
The contree of fairye
     802
So wilde;
     803
For in that contree was ther noon
     804
That to him durste ride or goon,
     805
Neither wyf ne childe;
     806
Til that ther cam a greet geaunt,
     807
His name was sire olifaunt,
     808
A perilus man of dede.
     809
He seyde, child, by termagaunt!
     810
But if thou prike out of myn haunt,
     811
Anon I sle thy steede
     812
With mace.
     813
Heere is the queene of fayerye,
     814
With harpe and pipe and symphonye,
     815
Dwellynge in this place.
     816
The child seyde, also moote I thee,
     817
Tomorwe wol I meete with thee,
     818
Whan I have myn armoure;
     819
And yet I hope, par ma fay,
     820
That thou shalt with this launcegay
     821
Abyen it ful sowre.
     822
Thy mawe
     823
Shal I percen, if I may,
     824
Er it be fully pryme of day,
     825
For heere thow shalt be slawe.
     826
Sire thopas drow abak ful faste;
     827
This geant at hym stones caste
     828
Out of a fel staf-slynge.
     829
But faire escapeth child thopas,
     830
And al it was thurgh goddes gras,
     831
And thurgh his fair berynge.
     832
Yet listeth, lordes, to my tale
     833
Murier than the nightyngale,
     834
For now I wol yow rowne
     835
How sir thopas, with sydes smale,
     836
Prikyng over hill and dale,
     837
Is comen agayn to towne. Page  166
     838
His myrie men comanded he
     839
To make hym bothe game and glee,
     840
For nedes moste he fighte
     841
With a geaunt with hevedes three,
     842
For paramour and jolitee
     843
Of oon that shoon ful brighte.
     844
Do come, he seyde, my mynstrale,
     845
And geestours for to tellen tales,
     846
Anon in myn armynge,
     847
Of romances that been roiales,
     848
Of popes and of cardinales,
     849
And eek of love-likynge.
     850
They fette hym first the sweet wyn,
     851
And mede eek in a mazelyn,
     852
And roial spicerye
     853
Of gyngebreed that was ful fyn,
     854
And lycorys, and eek comyn,
     855
With sugre that is trye.
     856
He dide next his white leere,
     857
Of cloth of lake fyn and cleere,
     858
A breech and eek a sherte;
     859
And next his sherte an aketoun,
     860
And over that an haubergeoun
     861
For percynge of his herte;
     862
And over that a fyn hawberk,
     863
Was al ywroght of jewes werk,
     864
Ful strong it was of plate;
     865
And over that his cote-armour
     866
As whit as is a lilye flour,
     867
In which he wol debate.
     868
His sheeld was al of gold so reed,
     869
And therinne was a bores heed,
     870
A charbocle bisyde;
     871
And there he swoor on ale and breed
     872
How that the geaunt shal be deed,
     873
Bityde what bityde!
     874
His jambeux were of quyrboilly,
     875
His swerdes shethe of ivory,
     876
His helm of latoun bright;
     877
His sadel was of rewel boon,
     878
His brydel as the sonne shoon,
     879
Or as the moone light.
     880
His spere was of fyn ciprees,
     881
That bodeth werre, and nothyng pees,
     882
The heed ful sharpe ygrounde;
     883
His steede was al dappull gray,
     884
It gooth an ambil in the way
     885
Ful softely and rounde
     886
In londe.
     887
Loo, lordes myne, heere is a fit!
     888
If ye wol any moore of it,
     889
To telle it wol I fonde.
     890