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How that a man shall come unto this stone,
I rede as for the beste, let it gone.
For whoso maketh God his adversary,
As for to work anything in contrary,
Unto his will, cert's never shall he thrive,
Though that he multiply term of all his live.
And there a point, for ended is my tale.
God send every true man boot of his bale !
THE NUNNE PRIEST'S TALE.
A POORE widow, somedeal stopel in age,
Was whilom dwelling in a poor cottage,
Beside a grové standing in a dale.
This widow of whicla I telle you my tale,
Sin' thilkè day that she was last a wife,
In patience ledde a full simple life,
For little was her cattle and her rent ;
For husbandry2 of such as God her sent,
She fond herself, and eke her daughters two.
Three largè sowes had she, and no mo,
Three kine, and eke a sheep that hightè Mall.
Full sooty was her bower, and eke her hall,
In which she eat full many a sclender meal.
Of poinant sauce her needed never a deal:
None dainteth morsel passed thorough her throat ;
Her diet was accordant to her coat.
Repletion ne made her never sick:
Attempre diet was all her physic,
And exercise, and hearte's suffisance.
The goute let her nothing for to dance,
Ne poplexie shentè not her heed.
No wine ne drank she, nother white ne reed:
Her board was served most with white and black,
Milk and brown bread, in which she fond no lack,
Saynd3 bacon, and sometime an ey or twey;
For she was, as it were, a manner deye.4
A yard she had, enclosed all about
With stickes, and a drye ditch without,
In which she had a cock hight Chanticleer :
In all the lond, of crowing was none his peer.
His voice was merrier than the merry orgòn
On masse-days that in the churche gone :
Well sickerer was his crowing in his lodge
Than is a clock or an abbey-orologe.
By nature knew he each ascension 1 Stepped, advanced.
Of equinoxial in thilkè town;
For whan degrees fifteene were ascended
Than crewe he, it might not ben amended.
His comb was redder than the fine coral,
And battled as it were a castle-wall.
His bill was black, and like the jeet it shone;
Like azure were his legges and his toen;
His nailes whiter than the lily-flour;
And like the burnished gold was his colour.
This gentil cock had in his governance
Seven hennes, for to do all his pleasaunce,
Which were his susters and his paramours,
And wonder like to him as of colours;
Of which the fairest-hued on her throat
Was clepèd fair damysel Pertilote.
Curteis she was, discreet, and debonnaire,
And companable, and bare herself full fair,
Sin' thilke day that she was seven night old, -
That she hath truely the heart in hold
Of Chanticleer locken in every lith : 1
He loved her so that well him was therewith.
But such a joy was it to hear him sing,
Whan that the brighte sunne gan to spring,
In sweet accord, “My lief is faren on lond.”
Fro thilkè time, as I have understond,
Beastes and briddès coulde speake and sing.
And so befell that in a dawening,
As Chanticleer among his wives all
Sat on his perche that was in his hall,
And next him sat this faire Pertilote,
This Chanticleer gan groanen in his throat,
As man that in his dream is drecchèd sore.
And, whan that Pertilote thus heard him roar,
She was aghast, and saide: “Hearte dear,
What aileth you to groan in this mannerę?
Ye ben a very sleeper! Fie for shame !"
And he answered and saide thus : “Madame,
ye take it nought agrief :
By God, me meit? I was in such mischief
Right now that yit mine heart is sore afright.
Now God," quod he, “my sweven3 rede aright,
And keep my body out of foul prisoun !
Me mett how that I roamed up and doun
Within our yard, whereas I saw a beast
Was like an hound, and would have made arrest
Upon my body, and would have had me deed.
His colour was betwix yellow and reed;
% I dreamed.
And tipped was his tail and both his ears
With black, unlike the remnant of his heres.
His snout was small, with glowing eyen twey,
Yet of his look for fear almost I dey:
This caused me my groaning doubteless."
"Away!" quod she, "fie on you, hearteless !
Alas!" quod she, "for by that God above
Now have ye lost my heart and all my love!
I can nought love a coward, by my faith!
For certes, whatso any woman saith,
We all desiren, if it mighte bę,
To have husbondès hardy, rich, and free,
And secrè, and no niggard ne no fool,
Ne him that is aghast of every tool,
Ne none avaunter,' by that God above !
How durst ye say, for shame, unto your love,
That anything might make you afeard?
Have ye no manne's heart, and han a beard?
Alas! and can ye been aghast of swevenès?
Nought, God wot, but vanity in sweven is.
Swevens engendred ben of repleccions,
And often of fume and of complexions,
Whan humours ben too abundant in a wight.
Certes this dream which ye hap mett to-night
Cometh of the greate superfluity
Of youre reedè cholera, pardie,
Which causeth folk to dreamen in here dreams
Of arwęs, and of fire with reedè beams,
Of reedè beastes that they will him bite,
Of contek, 2 and of whelpes greet and lite :3
Right as the humour of malencoly
Causeth in sleep full many a man to cry,
For fear of beares or of bulles blak
Or elles blakė devils wol hem take.
Of other humours couth I tell also
That worken many a man in sleep full woe:
But I wol pass as lightly as I can.
Lo! Catoun, which that was so wise a man,
Said he not thus 'Ne do no force of dreams'-?
Now, sir,” quod she, “whan we flee fro these beams,
For Goddes love as take some laxatif.
Up peril of my soul and of my life,
I counsel you the best, I wol not lie,
That both of choler and of malencoly
Ye purgè you; and for ye shul nought tarry,
Though in this town is none apotecary,
I shall myself two herbes teachen yow
And in our yard tho herbes shall I find,
The which han of here property, by kind,
To purgen you beneath and eke above.
Forget not this, for Goddes owne love!
Ye ben full choleric of complexion :
Ware the sun, in his ascension,
Ne find you not replete in humours hot:
And if it do, I dare well lay a groat
shul have a fever tertian,
Or an agùe that may be youre bane.
A day or two ye shul have digestives
Of wormes, or ye take your laxatives
Of lauriol, century, and fumitere,
Or else of elderberry that groweth there,
Of catapus, or of gaytre berries,
Of erb ivy that groweth in our yard, that merry is :
Pick hem up right as they grow, and eat hem in.
Be merry, husband, for your fader kin:
Dreadeth none dreames. I can say no more.”
“Madam," quod he, “graunt-mercy of your lore.
But natheless, as touching Daun Catoun,
That hath of wisdom such a great renoun,
Though that he bad no dreames for to drede,
By God! men may in olde bookes read
Of many a man, more of auctority
Than ever Catoun was so mot I the3_
That all the reverse sayn of his sentence;
And han well founden by experience
That dreames ben significations
As well of joy as of tribulations
That folk enduren in this life present.
There needeth make of this none argument :
The very prevé showeth it in deed.
One of the grettest auctors that men read 4
Saith thus : That whilom tway felawès went
On pilgrimage in a full good intent;
And happed so they came unto a toun
Whereas there was such congregation
Of people, and eke so strait of herbergage,
That they fond nought as much as one cottage
In which that they might both ylodged be.
Wherefore they musten of necessity,
As for that night, depart here compaigny:
And each of hem goth to his hostelry,
And took his lodging as it woulde fall.
That one of hem was lodged in a stall,
Fer in a yard, with oxen of the plough:
That other man was lodged well enow,
I A species of spurge. 2 Dogwood. 3 Thrive. 4 Cicero 5 Lodging.
As was his adventure or his fortune
That us govèrneth alle in comune.
And so befell that, long ere it were day,
This one mett in his bed, thereas he lay,
How that his felaw gan upon him call,
And said: “Alas ! for in an oxè-stall
This night I shall be murd'red there I lie.
Now help me, deare brother, or I die!
In alle hastè come to me !' he said.
This man out of his sleep for fear abrayd :
But, whan that he was waked out of his sleep,
He turned him, and took of this no keep:
Him thought his dream nas but a vanity.
Thus twiès in his sleepe dreamed he.
And at the thriddè time yet his felaw
Com, as him thought, and said : 'I am now slaw:
Behold my bloody woundes, deep and wide.
Arise up early in the morwe-tide;
And at the west gate of the toun,' quod he,
"A cart of dunge there shalt thou see,
In which my body is hid privily.
Do thilkè cart arresten boldely.
My gold causèd my m’ırdre, sooth to sayn:'-
And told him every point how he was slain,
With a full pitous, face, pale of hue.
And truste well, his dream he fond full true :-
For on the morwè, as soon as it was day,
To his felawè's inn he took the way;
And, whan that he came to this oxè-stall,
After his felaw he began to call.
The hosteller answered him anon,
And saide: 'Sir, your felaw is agone:
Als soon as day, he went out of the toun.'
This man gan fall in a suspeccion,
Remembering on his dreames that he mett :
And forth he goth, no longer would he let,
Unto the west gate of the toun, and fond
A dung-cart went, as it were to dung lond,'
That was arrayed in the same wise
As ye han heard the deedè man devise.
And with an hardy heart he gan to cry
Vengeance and justice of this felony.
My felaw murd'red is this same night,
And in this carte he lith here upright.
I cry out on the minsters,' quod he,
'That shoulde keep and rule this citie!
Haro! alas! here lith my felaw slain !'-
What should I more unto this talè sayn ?