Chaucer, Geoffrey, d. 1400. The Canterbury tales :
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The Pardoner's Tale

463: in flaundres whilom was a compaignye
464: Of yonge folk that haunteden folye,
465: As riot, hasard, stywes, and tavernes,
466: Where as with harpes, lutes, and gyternes,
467: They daunce and pleyen at dees bothe day and nyght,
468: And eten also and drynken over hir myght,
469: Thurgh which they doon the devel sacrifise
470: Withinne that develes temple, in cursed wise,
471: By superfluytee abhomynable.
472: Hir othes been so grete and so dampnable
473: That it is grisly for to heere hem swere.
474: Oure blissed lordes body they totere, --
475: Hem thoughte that jewes rente hym noght ynough;
476: And ech of hem at otheres synne lough.
477: And right anon thanne comen tombesteres
478: Fetys and smale, and yonge frutesteres,
479: Syngeres with harpes, baudes, wafereres,
480: Whiche been the verray develes officeres
481: To kyndle and blowe the fyr of lecherye,
482: That is annexed unto glotonye.
483: The hooly writ take I to my witnesse
484: That luxurie is in wyn and dronkenesse.
485: lo, how that dronken looth, unkyndely,
486: Lay by his doghtres two, unwityngly;
487: So dronke he was, he nyste what he wroughte.
488: herodes, whoso wel the stories soghte,
489: Whan he of wyn was repleet at his feeste,
490: Right at his owene table he yaf his heeste
491: To sleen the baptist john, ful giltelees.
492: senec seith a good word doutelees;
493: He seith he kan no difference fynde
494: Bitwix a man that is out of his mynde
495: And a man which that is dronkelewe,
496: But that woodnessse, yfallen in a shrewe,
497: Persevereth lenger than doth dronkenesse.
498: O glotonye, ful of cursednesse!
499: O cause first of oure confusioun!
500: O original of oure dampnacioun,
501: Til crist hadde boght us with his blood agayn!
502: Lo, how deere, shortly for to sayn,
503: Aboght was thilke cursed vileynye
504: Corrupt was al this world for glotonye.
505: adam oure fader, and his wyf also,
506: Fro paradys to labour and to wo
507: Were dryven for that vice, it is no drede.
508: For whil that adam fasted, as I rede,
509: He was in paradys; and whan that he
510: Eet of the fruyt deffended on the tree,
511: Anon he was out cast to wo and peyne.
512: O glotonye, on thee wel oghte us pleyne!
513: O, wiste a man how manye maladyes
514: Folwen of excesse and of glotonyes,
515: He wolde been the moore mesurable
516: Of his diete, sittynge at his table.
517: Allas! the shorte throte, the tendre mouth,
518: Maketh that est and west and north and south,
519: In erthe, in eir, in water, men to swynke
520: To gete a glotoun deyntee mete and drynke!
521: Of this matiere, o paul, wel kanstow trete --
522: Mete unto wombe, and wombe eek unto mete,
523: Shal God destroyen bothe, as paulus seith.
524: Allas! a foul thyng is it, by my feith,
525: To seye this word, and fouler is the dede,
526: Whan man so drynketh of the white and rede
527: That of his throte be maketh his pryvee,
528: Thurgh thilke cursed superfluitee.
529: the apostel wepyng seith ful pitously,
530: Ther walken manye of whiche yow toold have I --
531: I seye it now wepyng, with pitous voys --
532: That they been enemys of cristes croys,
533: Of whiche the ende is deeth, wombe is hir god!
534: O wombe! o bely! o stynkyng cod,
535: Fulfilled of dong and of corrupcioun!
536: At either ende of thee foul is the soun.
537: How greet labour and cost is thee to fynde!
538: Thise cookes, how they stampe, and streyne, and grynde,
539: And turnen substaunce into accident,
540: To fulfille al thy likerous talent!
541: Out of the harde bones knokke they
542: The mary, for they caste noght awey
543: That may go thurgh the golet softe and swoote.
544: Of spicerie of leef, and bark, and roote
545: Shal been his sauce ymaked by delit,
546: To make hym yet a newer appetit.
547: But, certes, he that haunteth swiche delices
548: Is deed, whil that he lyveth in tho vices.
549: a lecherous thyng is wyn, and dronkenesse
550: Is ful of stryvyng and of wrecchednesse.
551: O dronke man, disfigured is thy face,
552: Sour is thy breeth, foul artow to embrace,
553: And thurgh thy dronke nose semeth the soun
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554: As though thou seydest as sampsoun, sampsoun!
555: And yet, God woot, sampsoun drank nevere no wyn.
556: Thou fallest as it were a styked swyn;
557: Thy tonge is lost, and al thyn honeste cure;
558: For dronkenesse is verray sepulture
559: Of mannes wit and his discrecioun.
560: In whom that drynke hath dominacioun
561: He kan no conseil kepe, it is no drede.
562: Now kepe yow fro the white and fro the rede,
563: And namely fro the white wyn of lepe,
564: That is to selle in fysshstrete or in chepe.
565: This wyn of spaigne crepeth subtilly
566: In othere wynes, growynge faste by,
567: Of which ther ryseth swich fumositee
568: That whan a man hath dronken draughtes thre,
569: And weneth that he be at hoom in chepe,
570: He is in spaigne, right at the toune of lepe, --
571: Nat at the rochele, ne at burdeux toun;
572: And thanne wol he seye sampsoun, sampsoun!
573: but herkneth, lordynges, o word, I yow preye,
574: That alle the sovereyn actes,dar I seye,
575: Of victories in the olde testament,
576: Thurgh verray god, that is omnipotent,
577: Were doon in abstinence and in preyere.
578: Looketh the bible, and ther ye may it leere.
579: looke, attila, the grete conquerour,
580: Deyde in his sleep, with shame and dishonour,
581: Bledynge ay at his nose in dronkenesse.
582: A capitayn sholde lyve in sobrenesse.
583: And over al this, avyseth yow right wel
584: What was comaunded unto lamuel --
585: Nat samuel, but lamuel, seye I;
586: Redeth the bible, and fynde it expresly
587: Of wyn-yevyng to hem that han justise.
588: Namoore of this, for it may wel suffise.
589: and now that I have spoken of glotonye,
590: Now wol I yow deffenden hasardrye.
591: Hasard is verray mooder of lesynges,
592: And of deceite, and cursed forswerynges,
593: Blaspheme of crist, manslaughtre, and wast also
594: Of catel and of tyme; and forthermo,
595: It is repreeve and contrarie of honour
596: For to ben holde a commune hasardour.
597: And ever the hyer he is of estaat.
598: The moore is he yholden desolaat.
599: If that a prynce useth hasardrye.
600: In alle governaunce and policye
601: He is, as by commune opinioun,
602: Yholde the lasse in reputacioun.
603: stilboun, that was a wys embassadour,
604: Was sent to corynthe, in ful greet honour,
605: Fro lacidomye, to make hire alliaunce.
606: And whan he cam, hym happede, par chaunce,
607: That alle the gretteste that were of that lond,
608: Pleyynge atte hasard he hem fond.
609: For which, as soone as it myghte be,
610: He stal hym hoom agayn to his contree,
611: And seyde, ther wol I nat lese my name,
612: Ne I wol nat take on me so greet defame,
613: Yow for to allie unto none hasardours.
614: Sendeth othere wise embassadours;
615: For, by my trouthe, me were levere dye
616: That I yow sholde to hasardours allye.
617: For ye, that been so glorious in honours,
618: Shul nat allyen yow with hasadours
619: As by my wyl, ne as by my tretee.
620: This wise philosophre, thus seyde hee.
621: looke eek that to the kyng demetrius,
622: The kyng of parthes, as the book seith us,
623: Sente him a paire of dees of gold in scorn,
624: For he hadde used hasard ther-biforn;
625: For which he heeld his glorie or his renoun
626: At no value or reputacioun.
627: Lordes nay fynden oother maner pley
628: Honest ynough to dryve the day awey.
629: now wol I speke of othes false and grete
630: A word or two, as olde bookes trete.
631: Gret sweryng is a thyng abhominable,
632: And fals sweryng is yet moore reprevable.
633: The heighe God forbad sweryng at al,
634: Witnesse on mathew; but in special
635: Of sweryng seith the hooly jeremye,
636: Thou shalt swere sooth thyne othes, and nat lye,
637: And swere in doom, and eek in rightwisnesse;
638: But ydel sweryng is a cursednesse.
639: Bihoold and se that in the firste table
640: Of heighe goddes heestes honurable,
641: Hou that the seconde heeste of hym is this --
642: Take nat my name in ydel or amys.
643: Lo, rather be forbedeth swich sweryng
644: Than homycide or many a cursed thyng;
645: I seye that, as by ordre, thus it stondeth;
646: This knoweth, that his heestes understondeth,
647: How that the seconde heeste of God is that.
648: And forther over, I wol thee telle al plat,
649: That vengeance shal nat parten from his hous
650: That of his othes is to outrageous.
651: By goddes precious herte, and by his nayles,
652: And by the blood of crist that is in hayles,
653: Sevene is my chaunce, and thyn is cynk and treye!
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654: By goddes armes, if thou falsly pleye,
655: This daggere shal thurghout thyn herte go! --
656: This fruyt cometh of the bicched bones two,
657: Forsweryng, ire, falsnesse, homycide.
658: Now, for the love of crist, that for us dyde,
659: Lete youre othes, bothe grete and smale.
660: But, sires, now wol I telle forth my tale.
661: thise riotoures thre of which I telle,
662: Longe erst er prime rong of any belle,
663: Were set hem in a taverne for to drynke,
664: And as they sat, they herde a belle clynke
665: Biforn a cors, was caried to his grave.
666: That oon of hem gan callen to his knave --
667: Go bet, quod he, and axe redily
668: What cors is this that passeth heer forby;
669: And looke that thou reporte his name weel.
670: sire, quod this boy, it nedeth never-a-deel;
671: It was me toold er ye cam heer two houres.
672: He was, pardee, an old felawe of youres;
673: And sodeynly he was yslayn to-nyght,
674: Fordronke, as he sat on his bench upright.
675: Ther can a privee theef men clepeth deeth,
676: That in this contree al the peple sleth,
677: And with his spere he smoot his herte atwo,
678: And wente his wey withouten wordes mo.
679: He hath a thousand slayn this pestilence.
680: And, maister, er ye come in his presence.
681: Me thynketh that it were necessarie
682: For to be war of swich an adversarie.
683: Beth redy for to meete hym everemoore;
684: Thus taughte me my dame; I sey namoore.
685: By seinte marie! seyde this taverner,
686: The child seith sooth, for he hath slayn this yeer,
687: Henne over a mile, withinne a greet village,
688: Bothe man and womman, child, and hyne, and page;
689: I trowe his habitacioun be there.
690: To been avysed greet wysdom it were,
691: Er that he dide a man a dishonour.
692: ye, goddes armes! quod this riotour,
693: Is it swich peril with hym for to meete?
694: I shal hym seke by wey and eek by strete,
695: I make avow to goddes digne bones!
696: Herkneth, felawes, we thre been al ones;
697: Lat ech of us holde up his hand til oother,
698: And ech of us bicomen otheres brother.
699: And we wol sleen this false traytour deeth.
700: He shal be slayn, he that so manye sleeth,
701: By goddes dignitee, er it be nyght!
702: togidres han thise thre hir trouthes plight
703: To lyve and dyen ech of hem for oother,
704: As though he were his owene ybore brother.
705: And up they stirte, al dronken in this rage,
706: And forth they goon towardes that village
707: Of which the taverner hadde spoke biforn.
708: And many a grisly ooth thanne han they sworn,
709: And cristes blessed body al torente --
710: Deeth shal be deed, if that they may hym hente!
711: whan they han goon nat fully half a mile,
712: Right as they wolde han troden over a stile,
713: An oold man and a povre with hem mette.
714: This olde man ful mekely hem grette,
715: And seyde thus, now, lordes, God yow see!
716: the proudeste of thise riotoures three
717: Answerde agayn, what, carl, with sory grace!
718: Why artow al forwrapped save thy face?
719: Why lyvestow so longe in so greet age?
720: this olde man gan looke in his visage,
721: And seyde thus -- for I ne kan nat fynde
722: A man, though that I walked into ynde,
723: Neither in citee ne in no village,
724: That wolde chaunge his youthe for myn age;
725: And therfore moot I han myn age stille,
726: As longe tyme as it is goddes wille.
727: Ne deeth, allas! ne wol nat han my lyf
728: Thus walke I, lyk a restelees kaitif,
729: And on the ground, which is my moodres gate,
730: I knokke with my staf, bothe erly and late,
731: And seye leeve mooder, leet me in!
732: Lo how I vanysshe, flessh, and blood, and skyn!
733: Allas! whan shul my bones been at reste?
734: Mooder, with yow wolde I chaunge my cheste
735: That in my chambre longe tyme hath be,
736: Ye, for an heyre clowt to wrappe in me!
737: But yet to me she wol nat do that grace,
738: For which ful pale and welked is my face.
739: but, sires, to yow it is no curteisye
740: To speken to an old man vileynye,
741: But he trespasse in word, or elles in dede.
742: In hooly writ ye may yourself wel rede --
743: Agayns an oold man, hoor upon his heed,
744: Ye sholde arise; wherfore I yeve yow reed,
745: Ne dooth unto an oold man noon harm now,
746: Namoore than that ye wolde men did to yow
747: In age, if that ye so longe abyde.
748: And God be with yow, where ye go or ryde!
749: I moot go thider as I have to go.
750: nay, olde cherl, by god, thou shalt not so,
751: Seyde this oother hasardour anon;
752: Thou partest nat so lightly, by seint john!
753: Thou spak right now of thilke traytour deeth,
754: That in this contree alle oure freendes sleeth.
755: Have heer my trouthe, as thou art his espye,
756: Telle where he is, or thou shalt it abye,
757: By god, and by the hooly sacrement!
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758: For soothly thou art oon of his assent
759: To sleen us yonge folk, thou false theef!
760: now, sires, quod he, if that yow be so leef
761: To fynde deeth, turne up this croked wey,
762: For in that grove I lafte hym, by my fey,
763: Under a tree, and there he wole abyde;
764: Noght for youre boost he wole him no thyng hyde.
765: Se ye that ook? right there ye shal hym fynde.
766: God save yow, that boghte agayn mankynde,
767: And yow amende! thus seyde this olde man;
768: And everich of thise riotoures ran
769: Til he cam to that tree, and ther they founde
770: Of floryns fyne of gold ycoyned rounde
771: Wel ny an eighte busshels, as hem thoughte.
772: No lenger thanne after deeth they soughte,
773: But ech of hem so glad was of that sighte,
774: For that the floryns been so faire and brighte,
775: That doun they sette hem by this precious hoord.
776: The worste of hem, he spak the firste word.
777: bretheren, quod he, taak kep what that I seye;
778: My wit is greet, though that I bourde and pleye.
779: This tresor hath fortune unto us yiven,
780: In myrthe and joliftee oure lyf to lyven,
781: And lightly as it comth, so wol we spende.
782: Ey! goddes precious dignitee! who wende
783: To-day that we sholde han so fair a grace?
784: But myghte this gold be caried fro this place
785: Hoom to myn hous, or elles unto youres --
786: For wel ye woot that al this gold is oures --
787: Thanne were we in heigh felicitee.
788: But trewely, by daye it may nat bee.
789: Men wolde seyn that we were theves stronge,
790: And for oure owene tresor doon us honge.
791: This tresor moste ycaried be by nyghte
792: As wisely and as slyly as it myghte.
793: Wherfore I rede that cut among us alle
794: Be drawe, and lat se wher the cut wol falle;
795: And he that hath the cut with herte blithe
796: Shal renne to the toun, and that ful swithe,
797: And brynge us breed and wyn ful prively.
798: And two of us shul kepen subtilly
799: This tresor wel; and if he wol nat tarie,
800: Whan it is nyght, we wol this tresor carie,
801: By oon assent, where as us thynketh best.
802: That oon of hem the cut broghte in his fest,
803: And bad hem drawe, and looke where it wol falle;
804: And if fil on the yongeste of hem alle,
805: And forth toward the toun he wente anon.
806: And also soone as that he was gon,
807: That oon of hem spak thus unto that oother --
808: Thou knowest wel tho art my sworen brother;
809: Thy profit wol I telle thee anon.
810: Thou woost wel that oure felawe is agon.
811: And heere is gold, and that ful greet plentee,
812: That shal departed been among us thre.
813: But nathelees, if I kan shape it so
814: That it departed were among us two,
815: Hadde I nat doon a freendes torn to thee?
816: that oother answerde, I noot hou that may be.
817: He woot wel that the gold is with us tweye;
818: What shal we doon? what shal we to hym seye?
819: shal it be conseil? seyde the firste shrewe,
820: And I shal tellen in a wordes fewe
821: What we shal doon, and brynge it wel aboute.
822: I graunte, quod that oother, out of doute,
823: That, by my trouthe, I wol thee nat biwreye.
824: now, quod the firste, thou woost wel we be tweye;
825: And two of us shul strenger be than oon.
826: Looke whan that he is set, that right anoon
827: Arys as though thou woldest with hym pleye,
828: And I shal ryve hym thurgh the sydes tweye
829: Whil that thou strogelest with hym as in game,
830: And with thy daggere looke thou do the same;
831: And thanne shal al this gold departed be,
832: My deere freend, bitwixen me and thee.
833: Thanne may we bothe oure lustes all fulfille,
834: And pleye at dees right at oure owene wille.
835: And thus acorded been thise shrewes tweye
836: To sleen the thridde, as ye han herd me seye.
837: this yongeste, which that wente to the toun,
838: Ful ofte in herte he rolleth up and doun
839: The beautee of thise floryns newe and brighte.
840: O lord! quod he, if so were that I myghte
841: Have al this tresor to myself allone,
842: Ther is no man that lyveth under the trone
843: Of God that sholde lyve so murye as i!
844: And atte laste the feend, oure enemy,
845: Putte in his thought that he sholde poysen beye,
846: With which he myghte sleen his felawes tweye;
847: For-why the feend foond hym in swich lyvynge
848: That he hadde leve him to sorwe brynge.
849: For this was outrely his fulle entente,
850: To sleen hem bothe, and nevere to repente.
851: And forth he gooth, no lenger wolde he tarie,
852: Into the toun, unto a pothecarie,
853: And preyde hym that he hym wolde selle
854: Som poyson, that he myghte his rattes quelle;
855: And eek ther was a polcat in his hawe,
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856: That, as he seyde, his capouns hadde yslawe,
857: And fayn he wolde wreke hym, if he myghte,
858: On vermyn that destroyed hym by nyghte.
859: the pothecarie answerde, and thou shalt have
860: A thyng that, also God my soule save,
861: In al this world ther is no creature,
862: That eten or dronken hath of this confiture
863: Noght but the montance of a corn of whete,
864: That he ne shal his lif anon forlete;
865: Ye, sterve he shal, and that in lasse while
866: Than thou wolt goon a paas nat but a mile,
867: This poysoun is so strong and violent.
868: this cursed man hath in his hond yhent
869: This poysoun in a box, and sith he ran
870: Into the nexte strete unto a man,
871: And borwed of hym large botelles thre;
872: And in the two his poyson poured he;
873: The thridde he kepte clene for his drynke.
874: For al the nyght he shoop hym for to swynke
875: In cariynge of the gold out of that place.
876: And whan this riotour, with sory grace,
877: Hadde filled with wyn his grete botels thre,
878: To his felawes agayn repaireth he.
879: what nedeth it to sermone of it moore?
880: For right as they hadde cast his deeth bifoore,
881: Right so they han hym slayn, and that anon.
882: And whan that this was doon, thus spak that oon --
883: Now lat us sitte and drynke, and make us merie,
884: And afterward we wol his body berie.
885: And with that word it happed hym, par cas,
886: To take the botel ther the poyson was,
887: And drank, and yaf his felawe drynke also,
888: For which anon they storven bothe two.
889: but certes, I suppose that avycen
890: Wroot nevere in no canon, ne in no fen,
891: Mo wonder signes of empoisonyng
892: Than hadde thise wrecches two, er hir endyng.
893: Thus ended been thise homycides two,
894: And eek the false empoysonere also.
895: o cursed synne of alle cursednesse!
896: O traytours homycide, o wikkednesse!
897: O gloronye, luxurie, and hasardrye!
898: Thou blasphemour of crist with vileynye
899: And othes grete, of usage and of pride!
900: Allas! mankynde, how may it bitide
901: That to thy creatour, which that the wroghte,
902: And with his precious herte-blood thee boghte,
903: Thou art so fals and so unkynde, allas?
904: now goode men, God foryeve yow youre trespas,
905: And ware yow fro the synne of avarice!
906: Myn hooly pardoun may yow alle warice,
907: So that ye offre nobles or sterlynges,
908: Or elles silver broches, spoones, rynges.
909: Boweth youre heed under this hooly bulle!
910: Cometh up, ye wyves, offreth of youre wolle!
911: Youre names I entre heer in my rolle anon;
912: Into the blisse of hevene shul ye gon.
913: I yow assoile, by myn heigh power,
914: Yow that wol offre, as clene and eek as cleer
915: As ye were born. -- and lo, sires, thus I preche.
916: And jhesu crist, that is oure soules leche,
917: So graunte yow his pardoun to receyve,
918: For that is best; I wol yow nat deceyve.
919: but, sires, o word forgat I in my tale --
920: I have relikes and pardoun in my male,
921: As faire as any man in engelond.
922: Whiche were me yeven by the popes hond.
923: If any of yow wole, of devocion,
924: Offren, and han myn absolucion,
925: Com forth anon, and kneleth heere adoun,
926: And mekely receyveth my pardoun;
927: Or elles taketh pardoun as ye wende,
928: Al newe and fressh at every miles ende,
929: So that ye offren, alwey newe and newe,
930: Nobles or pens, whiche that be goode and trewe.
931: It is an honour to everich that is heer
932: That ye mowe have a suffisant pardoneer
933: T'assoile yow, in contree as ye ryde,
934: For aventures whiche that may bityde.
935: Paraventure ther may fallen oon or two
936: Doun of his hors, and breke his nekke atwo.
937: Looke which a seuretee is it to yow alle
938: That I am in youre felaweshipe yfalle,
939: That may assoille yow, bothe moore and lasse,
940: Whan that the soule shal fro the body passe.
941: I rede that oure hoost heere shal bigynne,
942: For he is moost envoluped in synne.
943: Com forth, sire hoost, and offre first anon,
944: And thou shalt kisse the relikes everychon,
945: Ye, for a grote! unbokele anon thy purs.
946: nay, nay! quod he, thanne have I cristes curs!
947: Lat be, quod he, it shal nat be, so theech!
948: Thou woldest make me kisse thyn olde breech,
949: And swere it were a relyk of a seint,
950: Though it were with thy fundement depeint!
951: But, by the croys which that seint eleyne fond,
952: I wolde I hadde thy coillons in myn hond
953: In stide of relikes or os seintuarie.
954: Lat kutte hem of, I wol thee helpe hem carie;
955: They shul be shryned in an hogges toord!
956: this pardoner answerde nat a word;
957: So wrooth he was, no word ne wolde he seye.
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958: now, quod oure hoost, I wol no lenger pleye
959: With thee, ne with noon oother angry man.
960: But right anon the worthy knyght bigan,
961: Whan that he saugh that al the peple lough,
962: Namoore of this, for it is right ynough!
963: Sire pardoner, be glad and myrie of cheere;
964: And ye, sire hoost, that been to me so deere,
965: I prey yow that ye kisse the pardoner.
966: And pardoner, I prey thee, drawe thee neer,
967: And, as we diden, lat us laughe and pleye.
968: Anon they kiste, and ryden forth hir weye.
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