The Canones Yeomans Tale
When ended was the lif of seynt Cecile,
Ere we had fully riden fyve myle,
At Boughtoun under Blee us
A man, that clothèd was in clothes blake,
And under that he ware a white array,
that was a dapple grey,
So swet, that it was wonder for to see,
It semèd he hadde prickèd myles three.
hors eek that his Yeoman rode upon,
So swet, that scarcely further might he gon.
Aboute the brestplate
stood the fome ful hye,
He was with fome as flekkèd as a pye.
A bagge twofold on his crupper lay,
that he caried litel array,
Al light for summer rode this worthy man.
And in myn herte to wonder I bigan
that he was, til that I understood,
How that his cloke was sowed unto his hood;
For which when long I had
I demèd him som canoun for to be.
His hat heng at his back doun by a lace,
For he hadde riden
more than trot or pace,
He had i-prickèd like as he were wood.
A docke-leef he had under his hood
sweat, and for to kepe his hed from hete.
But it was joye for to see him swete;
His forhed droppèd as a
Were ful of plantayn and of peritorie.
And when that he was com, he gan to crie,
quoth he, this joly companye!
Fast have I prickèd, quoth he, for your sake
Bycause that I wolde you overtake,
ryden in this mery companye.
His Yeoman eek was ful of curtesye,
And seide, Sirs, now in the morning tyde
Out of your ostelry I saw
And warnèd heer my lord and my soverayn,
Which that to ryden with you is ful fayn,
For his disport; he
Frend, God be thankèd for thine ácqueyntánce,
Oure Host answerde, for certes it wolde
Thy lord were wys, and so I may wel deme;
He is ful jocund also dare I leye;
Can he not telle a
mery tale or tweye,
With which he may delite this companye?
Who, sir? my lord? Yea, yea, withoute lye,
He can of merthe and eek of jolitee
Ynough for al; also, sir,
If ye him knewe that as wel as I,
Ye wolde wonder how wel and thriftily
He coude werke, and
that in sondry wise.
He hath taken on him many an enterprise,
Which were ful hard for al this companye
bringe aboute, but only by studie.
Though homely as he rides amonges you,
If ye him knew, ye wold be
Ye never wolde for-go his ácqueyntaúnce
For moche good, I dare lay in balaunce
Al that I have in
He is a man of high discression,
I warne you wel, he is a lerned man.
Wel, quoth our Ost, I pray thee, tel then,
Is he a clerk, or no? tel what he is.
Nay, he is gretter than
a clerk I wis,
Sayde the Yeoman, and in wordes fewe,
Ost, of his craft somwhat I wil you shewe.
my lord can such a subtiltee,
(But al his craft ye may nought wit of me,
And somwhat helpe I yet to his
That al this ground on which we be ridynge
Til that we come to Caunterbury toun,
He coude al
clene turnen up so doun,
And pave it al of silver and of gold.
And whan this Yeoman hadde thus i-told
Unto oure Ost, he seyde, Bencite!
This thing is wonder merveylous
Syn that this lord is of so high prudénce,
Bycause of which men shuld him reverence,
That of his
worship recketh he so light
His over cote it is not worth a myte
For suche a man; that ye may see and
It is al filthy and to-tore also.
Why is thy lord so slottish, I thee preye,
And yet hath power better clothes
If that his might accorde with thy speche?
Telle me that, and that I thee biseche.
Why? quoth this Yeoman, wherto axe ye me?
God help me so, for he shal never thee,
(But I wol nought
avowe what I say,
And therfor kep it secret I you pray)
He is too wys in faith, as to my thought.
is over-don, it wil be naught,
As clerkes say, too much is naught at al;
Wherfore in that a fool I may him
For when a man hath over-greet a wit,
Ful ofte him happeth to mysusen it;
So doth my lord, and that
me greveth sore.
God it amende, I can say now nomore.
Care not for that, good Yeoman, quoth oure
Since of the cunnyng of thy lord thou knowest,
Tel how he doth, I pray thee hertily,
Since that he is
so crafty and so sly.
Where dwellen ye, if ye may tellen me?
In the suburbes of a toun, quoth he,
in secrets and in lanes blynde,
Wher as the robbours and the theves by kynde
Holden their privy fearful
As men that dare not shewen their presénce;
So faren we, if I shal say the sothe.
oure Ost, yet let me talke to thee;
Why art thou so discoloured on thy face?
Peter! quoth he, God
yield me of his grace,
I am so uséd in the fyr to blowe,
That it hath chaungéd al my colour I trowe;
I am not
wont in no miroúr to prie,
But labour sore, and lerne to multiplie.
We blonder ever, and gaze into the fyr,
for al that we faile of oure desire,
For ever we lacken oure conclusioún.
To moche folk we bring but illusioún,
borrow gold, be it a pound or tuo,
Or ten or twelve, or many sommes mo,
And make them thinken at the
That of a single pound we can make tweye.
Yet is it fals; and ay we have good hope
It for to