The Sompnoures Tale
This Sompnour in his styrop up he stood,
Upon the Frere his herte was so wood,
That lyk an aspen leef
he quok for ire.
Lordyngs, quod he, but oon thing I desire;
I yow biseke, that of your curtesye,
han herd this false Frere lye,
As suffrith me I may my tale telle.
This Frere bosteth that he knowith helle,
God it wot, that is litil wonder,
Freres and feendes been but litel asonder.
For, pardy, ye han often tyme
How that a frere ravyscht was to helle
In spirit ones by a visioun,
And as an aungel lad him
up and doun,
To schewen him the peynes that ther were,
In al the place saugh he not a frere,
folk he saugh y-nowe in wo.
Unto this aungel spak this frere tho:
Now, sire, quod he, han freres such
That noon of hem schal comen in this place?
Yis, quod this aungil, many a mylioun.
Sathanas he lad him doun.
And now hath Sathanas, saith he, a tayl
Broder than of a carrik is the sayl.
up thy tayl, thou Sathanas, quod he,
Schew forth thyn ars, and let the frere se
Wher is the nest of freres
in this place.
And er than half a forlong way of space,
Right so as bees swarmen out of an hyve,
the develes ers thay gonne dryve,
Twenty thousand freres on a route,
And thorughout helle swarmed al
And comen ayeine, as fast as thay maye goon,
And in his ers thay crepen everichoon.
his tayle agayn, and lay ful stille.
This frere, whan he loked had his fille
Upon the torment of this sory
His spirit God restored of his grace
Unto his body agayn, and he awook;
But natheles for fere yit he
So was the develes ers yit in his mynde,
That is his heritage of verray kynde.
God save yow alle,
save this cursed Frere;
My proloug wol I ende in this manere.
Lordyngs, ther is in Engelond, I gesse,
A mersschly lond called Holdernesse,
In which ther went a lymytour
To preche, and eek to begge, it is no doubte.
And so bifel it on a day this frere
Hadde preched at
a chirch in his manere,
And specially aboven every thing
Excited he the poepul in his preching
and to yive for Goddis sake,
Wherwith men mighten holy houses make,
Ther as divine servys is honoured,
ther as it is wasted and devoured;
Neither it needeth not for to be yive,
As to possessioneres, that mow
Thanked be God, in wele and abundaunce.
Trentals, sayd he, delyvereth fro penaunce
soules, as wel eld as yonge,
Ye, whanne that thay hastily ben songe,
Nought for to hold a prest jolif and
He syngith not but oon masse in a day.
Delyverith out anon, quod he, the soules.
Ful hard it is, with
fleischhok or with oules
To ben y-clawed, or brend, or i-bake;
Now speed yow hastily for Cristes sake.
whan this frere hadde sayd al his entente,
With qui cum patre, forth his way he wente.
Whan folk in chirch
had yive him what hem leste,
He went his way, no lenger wold he reste,
With scrip and pyked staf, y-
In every hous he gan to pore and prye,
And beggyde mele or chese, or ellis corn.
had a staf typped with horn,
A payr of tablis al of yvory,
And a poyntel y-polischt fetisly,
And wroot the
names alway as he stood
Of alle folk that yaf him eny good,
Ascaunce that he wolde for hem preye.
us a busshel whet, or malt, or reye,
A Goddes kichil, or a trip of chese,
Or elles what yow list, we may
A Goddes halpeny, or a masse peny;
Or yif us of youre braune, if ye have eny,
A dagoun of
your blanket, leeve dame,
Oure suster deer,lo! her I write your name
Bacoun or beef, or such thing
as we fynde.
A stourdy harlot ay went hem byhynde,
That was her hostis man, and bar a sak,
men yaf hem, layd it on his bak.
And whan that he was out atte dore, anoon
He planed out the names
That he biforn hadde writen in his tablis;
He served hem with nyfles and with fablis.
Nay, ther thou lixt, thou Sompnour, sayde the Frere.
Pees, quod our host, for Cristes moder deere,
forth thy tale, and spare it not at al.
So thrive I, quod the Sompnour, so I schal!
So long he wente
hous by hous, til he
Cam til an hous, ther he was wont to be
Refresshid mor than in an hundrid placis.
lay the housbond man, whos that the place is,
Bedred upon a couche lowe he lay.
Deus hic, quod he,
O Thomas, frend, good day!
Sayde this frere al curteysly and softe.
O Thomas, God yeld it yow, ful
Have I upon this bench i-fare ful wel,
Her have I eten many a mery mel.
And fro the bench he drof
away the cat,
And layd adoun his potent and his hat,
And eek his scrip, and set him soft adoun;
was go walkid in the toun
Forth with his knave, into the ostelrye,
Wher as he schop him thilke night to lye.
O deere maister, quod the seeke man,
How have ye fare siththe March bygan?
I saygh yow nought this
fourtenight or more.
God wot, quod he, labord have I ful sore;
And specially for thy salvacioun
Have I sayd many a precious
And for myn other frendes, God hem blesse.
I have to day ben at your chiche at messe,
sayd a sermoun after my simple wit,
Nought al after the text of holy wryt.
For it is hard for yow, as I suppose,