The Prologue

When that Aprille with his showres swoot
The drought of Marche hath percèd to the root,
And bathèd every veyn in suche licoúr,
From which vertu engendred is the flour;
When Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Enspirèd hath in every holte and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe course runne,
And smale fowles maken melodie,
That slepen al the night with open eye,
So pricketh them natúre in their coráges:—
Thenne longen folk to go on pilgrimàges,
And palmers for to seeken strange strandes,
To distant seintes, known in sondry landes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Canturbury they wende,
The holy blisful martir for to seeke,
That them hath holpen when that they were weeke.

Byfel that, in that seson on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabbard as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimáge
To Canturbury with ful devout coráge,
At night was come into that hostelrie
Wel nyne and twenty in a companye,
Of sondry folk, by áventúre i-falle
In felowshipe, and pilgryms were they alle,
That toward Canturbury wolden ryde.
The chambres and the stables weren wyde,
And wel we weren lodgèd at the beste.
And shortly, when the sonne was to reste,
So hadde I spoken with them everyone,
That I was of their felowshipe anon,
And made covenant erly to aryse,
To take oure weye where I shal you devyse.
But nonetheles, whiles I have tyme and space,
Or that I ferther in this tale pace,
Me thinketh it according to resoún,
To telle you alle the condicioún
Of eche of them, so as it semèd me,
And who they weren, and of what degree;
And eek in what array that they were inne:
And at a knight than wil I first bygynne.

A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
That from the tyme that he ferst bigan
To ryden out, he lovèd chyvalrye,
Trouth and honoúr, fredóm and curtesie.
Ful worthi was he in his Lordes warre,
And thereto had he riden, noman so farre,
As wel in Cristendom as hethenesse,
And ever honoured for his worthinesse.
At Alisandre he was when it was wonne,
Ful ofte tyme he hadde the feast begunne
Aboven alle the knights that were in Pruce.
In Lettowe had he ridden and in Ruce
No cristen man so ofte of his degree.
In Gernade at the siege eek had he be
Of Algesir, and riden in Belmarie.
At Lieys was he, and at Satalie,
When they were wonne; and in the Grete see
At many a noble landyng had he be.
At mortal batailles had he been fiftene,
And foughten for oure feith at Tramassene
In lystes thrice, and ever slayn his foe.
This same worthi knight had ben also
Somtyme with the lord of Palatye,
Ageynst another hethen in Turkye:
And evermore he hadde a sovereyn price.
And though that he was worthy he was wyse,
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet no vilonye had sayde
In al his lyf, unto no manner of wight.
He was a very perfit gentil knight.
But for to telle you of his array,
His hors was good, but yet he was not gay.
Of fustyan he ware a cotepleyn
Whereon his hauberk left ful many a stain.
For he was late come from his voyáge,
And wente for to do his pilgrimáge.

With him ther was his sone, a yong Squyer,
A lover, and a lusty bacheler,
With lokkes curled as if they lay in presse.
Of twenty yeer he was of age I gesse.
Of his statúre he was of even lengthe,
And wondrous quik he was, and gret of strengthe.
And he had been somtyme in chivalrye,
In Flaundres, in Artoys, and in Picardie,
And born him wel, though in so litel space,
In hope to standen in his ladies grace.
Embroidred was he, as it were a mead
Al ful of fresshe floures, white and red.
Syngynge he was, or flutynge, al the day;
He was as fressh as is the month of May.
Short was his goune, with sleeves long and wyde.
Wel coud he sitte on hors, and faire ryde.
He coude songes make and wel endite,
Joust and eek daunce, and wel purtray and write.
So much he lovèd, that by nightertale
He slept nomore than doth a nightyngale.
Curteous he was, lowly, and servisable,
And carved byfore his fader at the table.

A Yeoman had he, and servántes nomo
At that tyme, for him liste ryde so;
And he was clad in cote and hood of grene.
A shef of pecok arrows bright and kene
Under his belte he bare ful thriftily.
Wel coude he dresse his tackel yeomanly;
His arrows droopèd nought with fetheres low.
And in his hond he bare a mighty bowe.
A round-hed had he with a broun viságe.
Of woode-craft wel knew he al the uságe.
Upon his arme he bar a gay bracer,
And by his side a swerd and buckeler,
And on that other side a gay daggere,
Adornèd wel, and sharp as poynt of spere;
A buckle on his brest of silver shene.
An horn he bare, the girdle was of grene;
A forester was he soothly, as I gesse.

Ther was also a Nonne, a Prioresse,
That of her smylyng was ful symple and coy;
Her grettest oth was only—by seynt Loy;
And she was namèd madame Englentyne.
Ful wel she sang the servises divyne,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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