The Nonne Prestes Tale
Ho, sir! quoth then the Knight, no more of this;
That ye have said is right ynough I wis,
mor; for litel hevynesse
Is right i-nough for moste folk, I gesse.
I say for me, it is a great disease,
men have ben in grete welthe and ease,
To heren of their sudden fal, allas!
And the contraire is joye and
As whan a man hath ben in pore estate,
And clymbith up, and wexeth fortunate,
And ther abydeth
Such thing is gladsom, as it thinkith me,
And of such thing were goodly for to telle.
quoth our Host, by seinte Paules belle,
Ye say right soth; this monk hath clappid lowde;
How fortune was
y-covered with a clowde,
I know not what, and also of tragedie
Right now ye herd; pardy! no remedye
is for to bywayle or to compleyne
That which is doon; and also it is a peyne,
As ye have said, to here of
Sir monk, no more of this, so God you blesse;
Your tale anoyeth al this companie;
is nought worth a boterflye,
For therinne is there no disport ne game.
Wherfor, sir monk, dan Pieres by
I pray yow hertly, tel us somewhat else;
For but for al the gingling of the bells
That on your
bridil hong on every syde,
By hevens king, that for us alle dyde,
I shold ere this have fallen doun for sleep,
the slough had never ben so deep;
Than had your longe tale been told in vayn.
For certeynly, as these
Wher as a man may have no audience,
Nought helpith it to tellen his sentence.
And wel I
know the substance is in me,
If eny thing shal wel reported be.
Sir, say somwhat of huntyng, I yow pray.
quoth the Monk, I have no lust to play;
Now let another telle, as I have told.
Then spak our Ost with rude speche and bold,
And said unto the nonnes priest anon,
Com near, thou
priest, come near, thou sir Johan,
Tel us such things as may our hertes glade;
Be blithe, although thou
ryde upon a jade.
What though thin hors be bothe foul and lene?
If he wil serve thee reck thee not a
Look that thin hert be mery evermo.
Yis, sir, yis, Hoste, quoth he, so may I go,
But I be mery,
count it me a sin.
And right anon he did his tale beginne;
And thus he sayd unto us every one,
priest, this goodly man sir John.
A pore wydow, somwhat stooped in age,
Was whilom duellyng in a narrow cotáge,
Bisyde a grove, stondyng
in a dale.
This wydowe, of which I telle yow my tale,
Syn that same day that she was last a wif,
ladde a ful symple lyf.
For litel was hir catel and hir rent;
By housbondry of such as God hir sent,
hirself, and eek hir doughtres tuo.
Thre large sowes had she, and no mo,
Thre kyne, and eek a sheep
tha highte Malle.
Ful sooty was hir bour, and eek hir halle,
In which she eet ful many a slender bit.
poynaunt sauce hir needid never a whit.
No deynte morsel passid thrugh hir throte;
Hir dyet was according
to hir cote.
Repletion had made hir never sik;
Ful modest diet was al hir phisik,
And exercise, and labour
The goute stayed hir not in hir daunsyng,
The apoplexie shooke not hir heed;
No wyne drank
she, neither whit ne reed;
Hir bord was servyd most with whit and blak,
Milk and broun bred, in which she
fond no lak,
Rost bacoun, and som tyme an egg or two;
And on her poore ferme she livèd so.
A yerd she
had, enclosèd al aboute
With stikkes, and a drye ditch withoute,
In which she had a cok, hight Chaunteclere,
al the lond of crowyng was none his peere.
His vois was merier than the mery orgon,
On masse dayes
that in the chirche drone;
Wel surer was his crowyng in his cell,
Than is a clok, or yet an abbay bell,
nature knew he ech ascension
Of all the houres that struck in thilke toun;
For when degrees fyftene were
Thanne crew he wel, it might not be amendid.
His comb was redder than the fyn coral,
as it were a castel wal.
His bill was blak, and lyke jet it shon;
Lik azure were his legges, and his tone;
nayles whitter than the lily flour,
And lik the burnisht gold was his coloúr.
This gentil cok had in his governaunce
hennes, for to do al his plesaúnce,
Which were his sustres and his paramoures,
And wonder lik to him, in
Of whiche the fairest coloured on hir throte,
Was clepèd fayre damysel Pertilote.
was, discret, and debonaire,
And king in thoughte, and bar hirself ful faire,
Since the day that she was
seven night old,
That she hath trewely the hert in hold
Of Chaunteclere lockèd in every limb;
He loved hir
so, that wel it was with him.
But such a joye was it to here him synge,
Whan that the brighte sonne gan
In swete accord, my love is gone and fledde.
For at that tyme, as I have ever redde,
and briddes coude speke and synge.
And so byfel, that in a bright morning,
As Chaunteclere among his
Sat on his perche, that was in the halle,
And next him sat this faire Pertelote,
gan gronen in his throte,
As man that in his dreem is trobled sore.
And whan that Pertelot thus herd him
She was agast, and sayde, herte deere,
What aileth you to grone in this manére?
Ye be a verray
sleper, fy for shame!
And he answerd and sayde thus, Madame,
I pray you, that ye take it nought in
By God, me thought I was in such meschief
Right now, that yet myn hert is sore afright.
quoth he, my dreaming rede aright,
And keep my body out of foul prisoún
Me thought, how that I romèd up