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(And now hath Sathanas, saith he, a tayl
Broder than of a carrike is the sayl)
Hold up thy tayl, thou Sathanas, quod he,
Shew forth thin ers, and let the Frere see
Wher is the nest of Freres in this place.
And er than half a furlong way of
Right so as bees out swarmen of an hive,
Out of the devils ers ther gonnen drive
A twenty thousand Freres on a route.
And thurghout hell they swarmed al aboute,
And com agen, as fast as they may gon,
And in his ers they crepen everich on:
He clapt his tayl agen, and lay ful still.
This Frere, whan he loked had his fill
Upon the turments of this sory place,
His spirit God restored of his grace
Into his body agen, and he awoke;
But natheles for fere yet he quoke,
So was the devils ers ay in his mind,
That is his beritage of veray kind.
God save you alle, save this cursed frere;
My prologue wol I end in this manere.
THE SOMPNOURES TALE.
LORDINGS, ther is in Yorkshire, as I
A mersh contree ycalled Holdernesse,
In which ther went a limitour aboute
To preche, and eke to beg, it is no doute.
And so befell that on a day this frere
Had preched at a chirche in his manere,
And specially aboven every thing
Excited be the peple in his preching
To trentals, and to yeve for Goddes sake,
Wherwith men mighten holy houses make,
Ther as divine service is honoured,
Not ther as it is wasted and devoured,
Ne ther it nedeth not for to be yeven,
As to possessioners, that mowen leven
(Thanked be God) in wele and abundance.
Trentals, sayd he, deliveren fro penance
Hir frendes soules, as wel olde as yonge,
Ye, whan that they ben hastily ysonge,
Not for to hold a preest jolif and gay,
He singeth not but o masse on a day.
Delivereth out (quod he) anon the soules.
Ful hard it is, with fleshhook or with oules
To ben yclawed, or to bren or bake:
Now spede you hastily for Cristes sake.
And whan this frere had said all his entent,
With qui cum patre forth his way he went.
Whan folk in chirche had yeve him what hem lest,
He went his way, no lenger wold he rest,
With scrippe and tipped staf, ytucked hie:
In every hous he gan to pore and prie,
And begged mele and chese, or elles corn.
His felaw had a staf tipped with horn,
A pair of tables all of ivory,
And a pointel ypolished fetisly,
And wrote alway the names, as he stood,
Of alle folk that
Askaunce that he wolde for hem preye.
Yeve us a bushel whete, or malt, or reye,
A Goddes kichel, or a trippe of chese,
Or elles what you list, we may not chese;
A Goddes halfpeny, or a masse peny;
Or yeve us of your braun, if ye have any,
A dagon of your blanket, leve dame,
Our suster dere, (lo here I write your name)
Bacon or beef, or swiche thing as ye find.
A sturdy harlot went hem ay behind,
That was hir hostes man, and bare a sakke,
And what men yave hem, laid it on his bakke.
And whan that he was out at dore, anon
He planed away the names everich on,
That he before had written in his tables:
He served hem with nifles and with fables.
Nay, ther thou liest, thou Sompnour, quod the
frere. Pees, quod our hoste, for Cristes moder dere, Tell forth thy tale, and spare it not at all.
So thrive I, quod this Sompnour, so I shall.
So long he went fro hous to hous, til he
Came to an hous, ther he was wont to be
Refreshed more than in a hundred places.
Sike lay the husbond man, whos that the place is,
Bedred upon a couche low he lay:
Deus hic, quod he, O Thomas frend, good day,
Sayde this frere all curtisly and soft.
Thomas, quod he, God yelde it you, ful oft
Have I upon this benche faren ful wele,
Here have I eten many a mery
And fro the benche he drove away the cat,
And laied adoun his potent and his hat,
And eke his scrip, and set himself adoun:
His felaw was ywalked into toun
Forth with his knave, into that hostelrie,
Wher as he shope him thilke night to lie.
O dere maister, quod this sike man,
faren sin that March began? I saw you not this fourtene night and more.
God wot, quod he, laboured haveI ful sore,
And specially for thy salvation
Have I sayd many a precious orison,
And for our other frendes, God hem blesse.
I have this day ben at your chirche at messe,
And said a sermon to my simple wit,
Not all after the text of holy writ,
For it is hard to you, as
And therefore wol I teche you ay the glose.
Glosing is a ful glorious thing certain,
For letter sleth, so as we clerkes sain.
Ther have I taught hem to be charitable,
And spend hir good ther it is resonable.
And ther I saw our dame, a, wher is she?
Yonder I trow that in the yard she be,
Sayde this man, and she wol come anon.
Ey maister, welcome be ye by Seint John, Sayde this wif, how fare ye hertily?
This frere ariseth up ful curtisly, And hire embraceth in his armes narwe, And kisseth hire swete, and chirketh as a sparwe With his lippes: dame, quod he, right wel, As he that is your servant every del. Thanked be God, that you yaf soule and lif, Yet saw I not this day so faire a wif In all the chirche, God so save me.
Ye, God amende defautes, sire, quod she, Algates welcome be ye, by my fay.
Grand mercy, dame, that have I found alway.
But of your grete goodnesse, by your leve,
that ye not you greve,
I wol with Thomas speke a litel throw :
Thise curates ben so negligent and slow
To gropen tendrely a conscience.
In shrift, in preching is my diligence
And study, in Peters wordes and in Poules,
I walke and fisshe Cristen mennes soules,
To yeld our Lord Jesu his
To sprede his word is sette all min entent.
Now by your faith, o dere sire, quod she,
Chideth him wel for Seinte Charitee.
He is ay angry as is a pissemire,
Though that he have all that he can desire,
Though I him wrie a-night, and make him warm,
And over him lay my leg and eke min arm,
He groneth as our bore, lith in our stie:
Other disport of him right non have I,
may not plese him in no maner cas.
O Thomas, jeo vous die, Thomas, Thomas,
This maketh the fend, this muste ben amended.
Ire is a thing that high God hath defended,
And therof wol I speke a word or two.
Now, maister, quod the wif, er that I go,
What wol ye dine? I wol go
Now, dame, quod he, jeo vous die sanz doute,
Have I nat of a capon but the liver,
And of your white bred nat but a shiver,
And after that a rosted pigges hed,
(But I ne wolde for me no beest were ded)
Than had I with you homly suffisance.
I am a man of litel sustenance.
My spirit hath his fostring in the Bible.
My body is ay so redy and so penible
To waken, that my stomak is destroied.
I pray you, dame, that ye be nought annoied,
Though I so frendly you my conseil shewe;
By God I n'old have told it but a fewe.
Now, sire, quod she, but o word er I go.
My child is ded within thise wekes two,