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So priketh hem' nature in hir2 corages ;3
Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken strange strondes,
To serve halwes,+ couthes in sondry londes ;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Englelond, to Canterbury they wende,
The holy blisful martyr for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.
Befelle, that, in that seson on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury with devoute corage,
At night was come into that hostelrie
Wel nine and twenty in a compagnie
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
In felawship, and pilgrimes were they alle,
That toward Canterbury wolden ride.
The chambres and the stables weren wide,
And wel we weren esed' atte beste.
And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste. So hadde I spoken with hem everich on, That I was of hir felawship anon, And made forword ' erly for to rise, To take oure way ther as I you
devise. But natheles, while I have time and space, Or that I forther in this tale pace,
6 The sign of the inn.
Me thinketh it accordant to reson,
To tellen you alle the condition
Of eche of hem, so as it semed me,
And whiche they weren, and of what degre;
And eke in what araie that they were inne :
And at a knight than wol I firste beginne.
A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man, That fro the time that he firste began To riden out, he loved chevalrie, Trouthe and honour, fredom and curtesie. Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,' And therto hadde he ridden, no man ferre, As wel in Cristendom as in Hethenesse, And ever honoured for his worthinesse.
At Alisandre 3 he was whan it was wonne.
Ful often time he hadde the bord begonne +
Aboven alle nations in Pruce.S
In Lettowe hadde he reysed' and in Ruce,
No cristen man so ofte of his degre.
In Gernade' at the siege eke hadde he be
Of Algesir, and ridden in Belmarie.
At Leyes was he, and at Satalie,
Whan they were wonne ; and in the Grete see
At many a noble armee hadde he be.
At mortal batailles hadde he ben fiftene,
4 Had been placed at the head of the table.
6 Lithuania, 7 Journeycu. 8 Russia
And foughten for our faith at Tramissene
In listes thries, and ay slain his fo.
This ilke worthy knight hadde ben also
Somtime with the lord of Palatie,
Agen another hethen in Turkie :
And evermore he hadde a sovereine pris.
And though that he was worthy he was wise,
And of his port as meke as is a mayde.
He never yet no villanie ne sayde
In alle his lif, unto no manere wight."
He was a veray parfit gentil knight.
But for to tellen you of his araie,
His hors was good, but he ne was not gaie.
Of fustian he wered a gipon,
Alle besmotred with his habergeon,
For he was late ycome fro his viage,
And wente for to don his pilgrimage.
With him ther was his sone a yonge SQUIER,
A lover, and a lusty bacheler,
With lockes crull as they were laide in presse.
Of twenty yere of age he was I gesse.
Of his stature he was of even lengthe,
And wonderly deliver + and grete of strengthe.
And he hadde be somtime in chevachie,
In Flaundres, in Artois, and in Picardie,
2 Short coat.
5 Military expedition.
And borne him wel, as of so litel space,
In hope to stonden in his ladies grace.
Embrouded was he, as it were a mede
Alle ful of fresshe floures, white and rede.
Singing he was, or floyting alle the day,
He was as fresshe as is the moneth of May.
Short was his goune, with sleves long and wide.
Wel coude he sitte on hors, and fayre ride.
He coude songes make, and wel endite,
Juste and eke dance, and wel pourtraie and write.
So hote he loved, that by nightertale'
He slep no more than doth the nightingale.
Curteis he was, lowly, and servisable,
And carf before his fader at the table.
A YEMAN hadde he, and servantes no mo
At that time, for him luste to ride so;
And he was cladde in cote and hode of grene.
A shefe of peacock arwes bright and kene
Under his belt he bare ful thristily.
Wel coude he dresse his takel yemanly :
His arwes drouped not with fetheres lowe.
And in his hond he bare a mighty bowe.
A not-hed hadde he, with a broune visage.
Of wood-craft coude he wel alle the usage.
Upon his arme he bare a gaie bracer,
And by his side a swerd and a bokeler,
And on that other side a gaie daggere,
Harneised wel, and sharpe as point of spere :
A Cristofres on his brest of silver shene.
An horne he bare, the baudrik was of grene.
A forster + was he sothely as I gesse.
There was also a Nonne, a PRIORESSE,
That of hire smiling was sul simple and coy ;
Hire gretest othe n’as but by Seint Eloy;