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Of holy chirche, God amende it sone.
Sire, quod the lord, ye wot what is to don: Distempre you not, ye ben my confessour. Ye ben the salt of the erthe, and the savour; For Goddes love your patience now hold; Telle me your grefe. And he anon him told As ye han herd before, ye wot wel what.
The lady of the hous ay stille sat, Til she had herde what the Frere said.
Ey, goddes moder, quod she, blisful maid,
Is ther ought elles? tell me faithfully.
Madame, quod he, how thinketh you therby?
How that me thinketh ? quod she; soGod me spede,
I say, a cherle hath don a cherles dede.
What shuld I say? God let him never the;
His sike hed is ful of vanitee;
I hold him in a maner frenesie.
Madame, quod he, by God I shal not lie,
But I in other wise may ben awreke,
I shal diffame him over all, ther I speke;
This false blasphemour, that charged me
To parten that wol not departed be,
To every man ylike, with meschance.
The lord sat stille, as he were in a trance,
And in his herte he rolled up and doun,
How had this cherl imaginatioun
To shewen swiche a probleme to the frere.
Never erst or now ne herd I swiche matere;
I trow the Devil put it in his mind.
In all Arsmetrike shal ther no man find
Beforn this day of swiche a question.
Who shulde make a demonstration,
That every man shuld han ylike his part
As of a soun or savour of a fart?
O nice proude cherl, I shrewe his face.
Lo, sires, quod the lord, with harde grace, Who ever herd of swiche a thing or now? To every man ylike? tell me how. It is an impossible, it may not be. Ey, nice cherl, God let him never the. The rombling of a fart, and every soun, N'is but of aire reverberatioun, And ever it wasteth lite and lite away; Ther n'is no man can demen, by my fay, If that it were departed equally. What? lo my cherl, lo yet how shrewedly Unto my confessour to-day he spake; I hold him certain a demoniake. Now ete your mete, and let the cherl go play, Let him go honge himself a devil way.
Now stood the lordes squier atte bord,
That carf his mete, and herde word by word
Of all this thing, of which I have you sayd.
My lord, quod he, be ye not evil apaid,
I coude telle for a goune-cloth
To you, sire frere, so that ye be not wroth,
How that this fart shuld even ydeled be
Amonge your covent, if it liked thee.
Tell, quod the lord, and thou shalt have anon A goune-cloth, by God and by seint John.
My lord, quod he, whan that the weder is faire, Withouten winde, or pertourbing of aire, Let bring a cart-whele here into this hall, But loke that it have his spokes all; Twelf spokes hath a cart-whele communly; And bring me than twelf freres, wete ye why? For threttene is a covent as I gesse: Your confessour here for his worthinesse
Shal parfourme up the noumbre of his covent.
Than shull they knele adoun by on assent,
And to every spokes end in this manere
Ful sadly lay his nose shal a frere;
Your noble confessour, ther God him save,
Shal hold his nose upright under the nave.
Than shal this cherl, with bely stiff and tought
As any tabour, hider ben ybrought;
And set him on the whele right of this cart
Upon the nave, and make him let a fart,
seen, up peril of my lif,
By veray preef that is demonstratif,
That equally the soun of it wol wende,
And eke the stinke, unto the spokes ende,
Save that this worthy man, your confessour,
(Because he is a man of gret honour)
Shal han the firste fruit, as reson is.
The noble usage of freres yet it is,
The worthy men of hem shul first be served.
And certainly he hath it wel deserved;
He hath to-day taught us so mochel good,
With preching in the pulpit ther he stood,
That I may vouchesauf, I say for me,
He hadde the firste smel of fartes three,
And so wold all bis brethren hardely,
He bereth him so faire and holyly.
The lord, the lady, and eche man, save the frere,
Sayden, that Jankin spake in this matere
As wel as Euclide, or elles Ptholomee.
Touching the cherl, they sayden, subtiltee
And highe wit made him speken as he spake;
He n'is no fool, ne no demoniake.
And Jankin hath ywonne a newe goune;
My tale is don, we ben almost at toune.
THE CLERKES PROLOGUE. SIRE Clerk of Oxenforde, our hoste said, Ye ride as stille and coy, as doth a maid, Were newe spoused, sitting at the bord: This day ne herd I of your tonge a word. I trow ye studie abouten som sophime: But Salomon saith, that every thing hath time. For Goddes sake as beth of better chere, It is no time for to studien here. Tell us som mery tale by your fay; For what man that is entred in a play, He nedes most unto the play assent. But precheth not, as freres don in Lent, To make us for our olde sinnes wepe, Ne that thy tale make us not to slepe.
Tell us som mery thing of aventures,
Your termes, your coloures, and your figures,
Kepe hem in store, til so be ye endite
Hie stile, as whan that men to kinges write.
Speketh so plain at this time, I you pray,
That we may understonden what ye say.
This worthy Clerk benignely answerde;
Hoste, quod he, I am under your yerde,
Ye have of us as now the governance,
And therfore wolde I do you obeysance,
As fer as reson asketh hardely:
I wol you tell a tale, which that I
Lerned at Padowe of a worthy clerk,
As preved by his wordes and his werk.
He is now ded, and nailed in his cheste,
I pray to God so yeve his soule reste.
Fraunceis Petrark, the laureat poete,
Highte this clerk, whos rethorike swete
Enlumined all Itaille of poetrie,
As Lynyan did of philosophie,
Or law, or other art particulere:
But deth, that wol not suffre us dwellen here,
But as it were a twinkling of an eye,
Hem both hath slaine, and alle we shul dye.
But forth to tellen of this worthy man,
That taughte me this tale, as I began,
that first he with hie stile enditeth
(Or he the body of his tale writeth)
A proheme, in the which descriveth he
Piemont, and of Saluces the contree,
And speketh of Apennin the hilles hie,
That ben the boundes of west Lumbardie:
And of mount Vesulus in special,
Wher as the Poo out of a welle smal
Taketh his firste springing and his sours,
That estward ay encreseth in his cours
To Emelie ward, to Ferare, and Venise,
The which a longe thing were to devise.
And trewely, as to my jugement,
Me thinketh it a thing impertinent,
Save that he wol conveyen his matere:
But this is the tale which that ye mow here.
THE CLERKES TALE. THER is right at the West side of Itaille Doun at the rote of Vesulus the cold, A lusty plain, habundant of vitaille, Ther many a toun and tour thou maist behold,