The Pardoneres Tale

Oure Oste gan to swere as he were wood;
“Harrow!” quoth he, “by nayles and by blood!
This was a cursed thef, a fals justice.
As shameful deth as herte can devise
So falle upon his body and his bones!
To the devil I deliver him at once!
Allas! too deere boughte she hir beautee.
Wherfore I say, that alle men maye see,
That giftes of fortúne or of natúre
Be cause of deth of many a créatúre.
Hir beautee was hir deth, I dar wel sayn
Allas! so piteously as she was slayn.
Bot here of wil I not procede nowe,
Men have of beautee grete harme I know.

“But trewely, myn owne maister deere,
This was a piteous tale for to heere;
But natheles, pas over, the mayde is ded.
I pray to God to save thi gentil hed,
And al thine urinales, and thi jordanes,
Thine Ypocras, and thine Galiounes,
And every box ful of thi medicine,
God blesse them and oure lady make thee win,
For I wil swere thou art a propre man,
And lik a prelat, by seint Runyan.
Sayde I not wel? can I not speke a thing?
But wel wot, thou dost myn herte to wring,
I have almost y-caught a cardiacle;
By corpus bones, but-yf I have treàcle,
Or else a draught of moyst and corny ale,
Or if I here not now a mery tale,
Myn hert is broste for pitee of that mayde.
Thou, pardoner, thou, belamy,” he sayde,
“Tel us a tale, for thou canst many oon.”

“It shal be doon,” quoth he, “and that anon
But first,” quoth he, “her at this ale-stake
I wil bothe drynke and byten on a cake.”
But right anon the gentils gan to crie,
“Nay, let him tellen us no ribaldrye.
Tel us som moral thing, that we may here.”
“Gladly,” quoth he, “I wil that ye requere.”
But in the cuppe wil I me bethinke
Upon some honest tale, whil that I drinke.”—
“Lordyngs,” quoth he, “in chirches whan I preche,
I peyne me to have a loude speche,
And ryng it out, as clere as doth a belle,
For I know al by rote which that I telle.
My theeme is alway oon, and ever was;
Radix malorum est cupiditas.

“First I pronounce whence that I come,
And thenne my bulles shewe I alle and some;
Oure liege lordes seal on my patént,
That shewe I first my body to warrant,
That no man be so hardy, prest ne clerk,
Me to desturbe in Cristes holy werk.
And after that than tel I forth my tales.
Bulles of popes, and of cardynales,
Of patriarkes, and of bisshops, I shewe,
And in Latyn I speke wordes fewe
To savore with my predicacioun,
And for to stir men to devocioun.
Thenne shewe I forth my longe crystal stones,
I-crammèd ful of cloutes and of boones,
Reliks thay be, as wene thei each one.
Than have I tipped with brass a shulder boon,
Which that was of an holy Jewes sheep.
‘Good men,’ say I, ‘tak of my wordes keep;
If that this boon be wasshed in eny welle,
If cow, or calf, or sheep, or oxe swelle,
That eny worm hath ete, or worm i-stonge,
Tak water of that welle, and wasch his tonge,
And it is hool anon. And forthermore
Of pokkes, and of scabbe, and every sore,
Shal every sheep be whole, that of this welle
Drynketh a draught. Tak heed eek what I telle;
If that the goode man, that the beest owneth,
Wil every day, ere that the cok him croweth,
Fastynge, drynke of this welle a deepe draught,
As thilke holy Jew oure eldres taught,
His beestes and his stoor shal multiplie.
And, sires, also it heleth jalousie.
For though a man be ful in jalous rage,
Let make with this water his potàge,
And never shal he more his wyf mystrust,
Though he the soth of hir defaulte wist;
Though hadde she take prestes tuo or thre.
Her is a mitten eek, that ye may see;
He that his honde put in this mitten,
He shal have multiplying of his grayn,
Whan he hath sowen, be it whete or otes,
If that ye offre pense or else grootes.
And, men and wommen, oon thing warne I you;
If eny wight be in this chirche now,
That hath doon synnes orrible, that he
Dar nought for shame of them y-schryven be;
Or ony womman, be she yong or old,
That hath y-made hir housbond cokewold,
Suche folk shal have no power and no grace
To offre to my relikes in this place.
And who so fint him out in suche blame,
Thay wil come up and offre in Goddes name,
And I assoile them by the auctoritee,
Which that by bulle was i-graunted me.’

“By this gaude have I wonnen every yeer
An hundred mark, synce I was pardoner.
I stonde lik a clerk in my pulpit,
And whan the foolish people is doun i-set,
I preche so as ye have herd before,
And telle them an hondred japes more.
Than peyne I me to strecche forth my necke,
And est and west upon the people I bekke,
As doth a pigeon, syttyng on a loft;
Myn hondes and my tonge move so oft,
That it is joye to see my busynesse.
Of avarice and of suche cursednesse
Is al my preching, for to make hem free
To give their pence, and namely unto me.
For myn entent is nought but for to wynne,
And no thing for correccioun of synne.
I rekke never at their burying,
Though that there soules go blakeberying.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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