Chaucer, Geoffrey, d. 1400. The Canterbury tales :
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The Clerk's Prologue

1: Sire clerk of oxenford, oure hooste sayde,
2: Ye ryde as coy and stille as dooth a mayde
3: Were newe spoused, sittynge at the bord;
4: This day ne herde I of youre tonge a word.
5: I trowe ye studie aboute som sophyme;
6: But salomon seith -- every thyng hath tyme. --
7: For goddes sake, as beth of bettre cheere!
8: It is no tyme for to studien heere.
9: Telle us som myrie tale, by youre fey!
10: For what man that is entred in a pley,
11: He nedes moot unto the pley assente.
12: But precheth nat, as freres doon in lente,
13: To make us for oure olde synnes wepe,
14: Ne that thy tale make us nat to slepe.
15: Telle us som murie thyng of aventures.
16: Youre termes, youre colours, and youre figures,
17: Keepe hem in stoor til so be that ye endite
18: Heigh style, as whan that men to kynges write.
19: Speketh so pleyn at this tyme, we yow preye,
20: That we may understonde what ye seye.
21: This worthy clerk benignely answerde:
22: Hooste, quod he, I am under youre yerde;
23: Ye han of us as now the governance,
24: And therfore wol I do yow obeisance,
25: As fer as resoun axeth, hardily.
26: I wol yow telle a tale which that I
27: Lerned at padowe of a worthy clerk,
28: As preved by his wordes and his werk.
29: He is now deed and nayled in his cheste,
30: I prey to God so yeve his soule reste!
31: Fraunceys petrak, the lauriat poete,
32: Highte this clerk, whos rethorike sweete
33: Enlumyned al ytaille of poetrie,
34: As lynyan dide of philosophie,
35: Or lawe, or oother art particuler;
36: But deeth, that wol nat suffre us dwellen heer,
37: But as it were a twynklyng of an ye,
38: Hem bothe hath slayn, and alle shul we dye.
39: But forth to tellen of this worthy man
40: That taughte me this tale, as I bigan,
41: I seye that first with heigh stile he enditeth,
42: Er he the body of his tale writeth,
43: A prohemye, in the which discryveth he
44: Pemond, and of saluces the contree,
45: And speketh of apennyn, the hilles hye,
46: That been the boundes of west lumbardye,
47: And of mount vesulus in special,
48: Where as the poo out of a welle smal
49: Taketh his firste spryngyng and his sours,
50: That estward ay encresseth in his cours
51: To emele-ward, to ferrare, and venyse;
52: The which a long thyng were to devyse.
53: And trewely, as to my juggement,
54: Me thynketh it a thyng impertinent,
55: Save that he wole conveyen his mateere;
56: But this his tale, which that ye may heere.