But he that nought hath, ne coveiteth to have,
Is riche, although ye hold him but a knave.
Veray poverte is sinne proprely.

Juvenal saith of poverte merily:
The poure man whan he goth by the way,
Beforn the theves he may sing and play.
Poverte is hateful good; and, as I gesse,
A ful gret bringer out of besinesse;
A gret amender eke of sapience
To him, that taketh it in patience.
Poverte is this, although it seme elenge,
Possession that no wight wol challenge.
Poverte ful often, whan a man is low,
Maketh his God and eke himself to know:
Poverte a spectakel is, as thinketh me,
Thurgh which he


frendes see. And therfore, sire, sin that I you not greve, Of my poverte no more me repreve.

Now, sire, of elde, that ye repreven me:
And certes, sire, though non auctoritee
Were in no book, ye gentiles of honour
Sain, that men shuld an olde wight honour,
And clepe him fader, for your gentillesse;
And auctours shal I finden, as I gesse.

Now ther ye sain that I am foule and old,
Than drede ye not to ben a cokewold.
For filthe, and elde also, so mote I the,
Ben grete wardeins upon chastitee.
But natheles, sin I know your delit,
I shal fulfill your worldly appetit.

Chese now (quod she) on of thise thinges twey,
To han me foule and old til that I dey,
And be to you a trewe humble wif,
And never you displese in all my lif:



Or elles wol

han me yonge

and faire,
And take your aventure of the repaire,
That shal be to your hous because of me,
Or in som other place it may

wel be? Now chese yourselven whether that you

liketh. This knight aviseth him, and sore siketh, But at the last he said in this manere;

My lady and my love, and wif so dere, I put me in your


governance, Cheseth yourself which may be most plesance And most honour to you and me also, I do no force the whether of the two: For as you liketh, it sufficeth me.

Thay have I got the maisterie, quod she, Sin I may chese and governe as me lest. Ye certes, wit, quod he, 1 hold it best.

Kisse me, quod she, we be no lenger wrothe, For by my trouth I wol be to you bothe, This is to sayn, ye bothe faire and good. I pray

to God that I mote sterven wood, But I to you be al so good and trewe, As ever was wif, sin that the world was newe; And but I be to-morwe as faire to seen, As any lady, emperice, or quene, That is betwix the Est and eke the West, Doth with my lif and deth right as you

lest. Cast


the curtein, loke how that it is.
And whan the knight saw veraily all this,
That she so faire was, and so yonge therto,
For joye he hent hire in his armes two:
His herte bathed in a bath of blisse,
A thousand time a-row he gan hire kisse:
And she obeyed him in every thing,
That mighte don him plesance or liking.


And thus they live unto hir lives ende
In parfit joye, and Jesu Crist us sende
Husbondes meke and yonge, and fresh a-bed,

to overlive hem that we wed.
And eke I pray Jesus to short hir lives,
That wol not be governed by hir wives.
And old and angry nigards of dispence,
God send hem sone a veray pestilence.

THE FRERES PROLOGUE. This worthy limitour, this noble Frere, He made alway a maner louring chere Upon the Sompnour, but for honestee No vilains word as yet to him spake he: But at the last he said unto the wif; Dame, (quod he) God yeve you right good lif, Ye have here touched, all so mote I the, In scole matere a ful gret difficultee. Ye han said mochel thing right wel, I say: But, dame, here as we riden by the way, Us nedeth not to speken but of game, And let auctoritees in Goddes name To preching, and to scole eke of clergie.

But if it like unto this compagnie, I wol you of a Sompnour tell a game; Parde ye may wel knowen by the name, That of a Sompnour may no good be said; I pray that non of you be evil apaid; A Sompnour is a renner up and doun With mandements for fornicatioun, And is ybete at every tounes ende. shende

Tho spake our hoste; A, sire, ye shuld ben

And curteis, as a man of your estat,
In compagnie we wiln have no debat:
Telleth your tale, and let the Sompnour be.
Nay, quod the Sompnour, let him say by me
What so him list; whan it cometh to my lot,
By God I shal bim quiten every grot.
I shal him tellen which a gret honour
It is to be a flatering limitour,
And eke of many another maner crime,
Which nedeth not rehersen at this time,
And his office I shal him tell ywis.
Our hoste answered; pees, no more of this.
And afterward he said unto the Frere,
Tell forth your tale, min owen maister dere.

THE FRERES TALE. Whilom ther was dwelling in my contree An archedeken, a mạn of high degree, That boldely did execution In punishing of fornication, Of witchecraft, and eke of bauderie, Of defamation, and avouterie, Of chirche-reves, and of testaments, Of contracts, and of lack of sacraments, Of usure, and of simonie also; But certes lechours did he gretest wo; They shulden singen, if that they were hent; And smale titheres weren foule yshent, If any persone wold upon hem plaine, Ther might astert hem no pecunial peine. For smale tithes, and smale offering, He made the peple pitously to sing;

For er the bishop hent hem with his crook
They weren in the archedekens book;
Than had he thurgh his jurisdiction
Power to don on hem correction.

He had a Sompnour redy to his hond,
A slier boy was non in Englelond;
For subtilly he had his espiaille,
That taught him wel wher it might ought availle.
He coude spare of lechours on or two,
To techen him to foure and twenty mo.
For though this Sompnour wood be as an hare,
To tell his harlotrie I wol not spare,
For we ben out of hir correction,
They han of us no jurisdiction,
Ne never shul have, terme of all hir lives.

Peter, so ben the women of the stives, Quod this Sompnour, yput out of our cure.

Pees, with mischance and with misaventure, Our hoste said, and let him tell his tale. Now telleth forth, and let the Sompnour gale, Ne spareth not, min owen maister dere.

This false theef, this Sompnour, quod the frere, Had alway baudes redy to his hond, As any hauke to lure in Englelond, That told him all the secree that they knewe, For hir acquaintance was not come of newe; They weren his approvers prively. He tooke himself a gret profit therby: His maister knew not alway what he wan. Withouten mandement, a lewed man He coude sompne, up peine of Cristes curse, And they were inly glad to fille his purse, And maken him gret festes at the nale. And right as Judas hadde purses smale

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