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,
Syn ye han herd this false Frere lye,
As suffrith me I may my tale telle.
This Frere bosteth that he knowith helle,
And, God it wot, that is litil wonder,
Freres and feendes been but litel asonder.
For, pardy, ye han often tyme herd telle,
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,
Of other folk he saugh y-nowe in wo.
Unto this aungel spak this frere tho:
‘Now, sire,’ quod he, ‘han freres such a grace,
That noon of hem schal comen in this place?’
‘Yis,’ quod this aungil, “many a mylioun.’
And unto Sathanas he lad him doun.
‘And now hath Sathanas,’ saith he, ‘a tayl
Broder than of a carrik is the sayl.’
‘Hold 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,
Out of the develes ers thay gonne dryve,
Twenty thousand freres on a route,
And thorughout helle swarmed al aboute,
And comen ayeine, as fast as thay maye goon,
And in his ers thay crepen everichoon.
He clappid his tayle agayn, and lay ful stille.
This frere, whan he loked had his fille
Upon the torment of this sory place,
His spirit God restored of his grace
Unto his body agayn, and he awook;
But natheles for fere yit he quook,
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 aboute
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
To trentals, and to yive for Goddis sake,
Wherwith men mighten holy houses make,
Ther as divine servys is honoured,
Nought ther as it is wasted and devoured;
Neither it needeth not for to be yive,
As to possessioneres, that mow lyve,
Thanked be God, in wele and abundaunce.
“Trentals,” sayd he, “delyvereth fro penaunce
Her frendes soules, as wel eld as yonge,
Ye, whanne that thay hastily ben songe,
Nought for to hold a prest jolif and gay,
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.”
And 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- touked hye;
In every hous he gan to pore and prye,
And beggyde mele or chese, or ellis corn.
His felaw 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.
“Yif us a busshel whet, or malt, or reye,
A Goddes kichil, or a trip of chese,
Or elles what yow list, we may not chese;
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,
And what men yaf hem, layd it on his bak.
And whan that he was out atte dore, anoon
He planed out the names everychoon,
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,
Tel 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.
Syk 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 ofte
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;
His felaw 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 orisoun,
And for myn other frendes, God hem blesse.
I have to day ben at your chiche at messe,
And sayd a sermoun after my simple wit,
Nought al after the text of holy wryt.
For it is hard for yow, as I suppose,

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.