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The war is mother of the wrongės allė;
It sleeth the priest in holy church at massė,
Forlyth the mayde, and doth her flour to fallé.
The war maketh the gretė citee lassė,
And doth the law his reulės overpassė.
There is nothing, whereof mischief may growė
Which is not causėd of the war, I trowė.
The war bringeth in povertė at his heelės,
Whereof the common people is sore grievėd; 65
The war hath set his cart on thilke wheelės
Where that fortúnė may not be believëd.
For when men wenė best to have achevėd,
Full oft it is all newė to beginnė;
The war hath nothing siker, though he winnė.
Therefore, my worthy prince, in Christės halvė, 5
As for a part whose faith thou hast to guide,
Lay to this oldė sore a newė salvė,
And do the war away, what-so betíde.
Purchase peace, and set it by thy syde,
And suffre not thy people be devoured;
So shall thy name ever after stand honoured!...
My worthy liegé lord, Henry by name,
Which Engélond hast to govérn and rightė,
Men oughten well thy pity to proclamė,
Which openly, in all the worldės sightė,
Is shewėd, with the help of God Almightė,
To yeve us peace, which long hath be debated,
Whereof thy prys shal never be abated.
My lord, in whom hath ever yet be foundė
Pity, withoutė spot of violence,
Keep thilkė peace alway, withinnė boundė,
Which God hath planted in thy consciencė.
So shall the cronique of thy paciencė
Among the saints be taken in-to memórie
To the loenge’ of perdurable glorie.
And to thine earthly prys, so as I can,
Which every man is holde to commendė,
I Gower, which am all thy liegė man,
This lettre unto thine excellence I sendė,
As I, which ever unto my lyvės endė
Will prayė for the stat of thy persone,
In worship of thy sceptre and of thy thronė.
Not only to my king of peace I writė,
But to these othré princes Christen alle,
That each of them his ownė heart enditė
And cease the war, or more mescheef fallé.
Set eek the rightful pope upon his stallė;
Keep charitė, and draw pitė to hondė,
Maintainė law; and so the peace shall stondė.



And on a May morning on Malvernė hillės,
A marvel amazed me, of magic methought.
I was weary, for-wandered, and went me to

restė Under a broad bank, by a burn-sidė; And as I lay and leanėd, and looked in the waters,

9 I slumbered in a sleeping, it sounded so merry. Then did I dream there a dream full of wonder; In the wilds I was wandering, wist I not wherė. As I looked to the Eastward a-loft to the sunnė, I saw set on a summit a seemly tower; A deep dale beneath and a dungeon thereinnė, With deep ditches and dark, and dreadful to sight.

16 A fair field full of folk found I there between

them, With all manner of men the mean and the riche, Working and wandering as the world asketh. Some put them to ploughing, playing full

seldom, In setting and sowing swinking' full hard, And winning what wasters with gluttony des

troy. And some put to pride, appareled them there

after, In fancies of fashion finely arrayėd. To prayers and to penance put themselves

many, All for love of our Lord living full strict, In the hope for to have heavenly blissė; As anchorets and hermits that hold in their

cellės, In the world never wishing to wander about, Or with bounteous abundance their bodies to

please. And some chose to chaffer, their chances to

better, For it seems to our sight that such men are

most thriving. And some to make merry, as minstrels are able, And get gold with their glees, guiltless I deem

them. But jesters and jugglers, Judas's children, 35 Found out false fantasies and feigned them

selves foolish, Yet have wit at their will, to work were they

willing. That Paul preacheth 2 of them prove now I dare

not; Qui loquitur turpiloquium is Lucifer's slave. There bidders and beggars right busily wandered,

40 Their bags and their bellies with bread fully

crammed; They feigned want of food, and fought o'er the

ale-cups, In gluttony, God wot, go they to beddė, And rise up with ribaldry, these Robert's men.3 So sleeping and sloth pursue them forever.

Pilgrims and palmers plighted them together 1 Toiling.






William Langland




In the season of summer, when soft was the

sunnė, I clad myself coarsely in a cloak as a shepherd; In habit as an hermit unholy of workės, Went I wide in this world wonders to hearė. 3 Less.

2 I might prove that St. Paul's words "if a man does not work neither shall he eat," apply to these children of Judas, but I dare not, because he who speaks evil (Qui tur piloquium loquiter) is Lucifer's servant.

3 Vagabonds.

Behalf. & Glory.

4 Sure.

7 Praise.







And the poor of the parish may have what is

left. Parsons and parish-priests plained to the

Bishop, As their parishes were poor since the pestilence

time, To have licence and leave at London to dwellé, And they sing thus for simony,-for silver is

sweet. Bishops and bachelors both masters and

doctors, That hold cures 10 under Christ and have crown

ing' in token And sign that they should their parishioners

shrivė, And preach and to pray for them, and the poor

feedė, Are living in London, in Lent-time and other. Some are serving the King, and his silver are

taking, In Exchequer and Chancery, claiming his

debtės Due from wards in the wardmote, 12 both waifs

and estrays, And some serve as servants the lords and the

ladies, And instead of stewards they sit and condemn. Their mass and their matins and most of the

hours Are done undevoutly; dread is at the last That Christ in His Council should curse very

many. There hovered an hundred in hoodės of silkė, Sergeants it seemed that served at the barré, Pleading for pennies and poundės the laws, 212 And naught for love of our Lord unloose their

lips onės. 13 Better measure the mist on Malverne's hillės, Than get a mum from these mouthès till money

be showed. Baron and burgesses and bond-men also, I saw there assembled, as ye shall hear after. Bakers and brewers, and butchers a-many, And weavers of woolens, and weavers of linen, Tailors and tanners, and toilers of earth. Masons and miners, and many a craft. Of all living labourers leaped, some of each

kind, As ditchers and delvers that do their deeds ill, And drag out the long day with “Dieu vous sauve, Dame,'

224 Cooks and their knavės cried “hotė pies, hotė! Good gris15 and geese,--go now to dine,-go!" And unto them Taverners toldė the same, “White wine of Oseye, 16 and red wine of Gas

coigne Of the Rhine and of Rochelle the roast to defy!And this I saw sleeping and seven times morė.


To seek for Saint James and the saintės at

Rome, Went forth in their way with many wise stories, And had leave for to lie, all their life after. I saw some that said they had sought out the

saintės; With tongues tempered to lie in each tale that

they toldė, More than to say sooth it seemed by their

speech. Hermits in an heap, with hooked stavės To Walsingham wended,—their wenches came

after. Great lubbers and lazy that loth were to

swinkė, Clothed them in copes to be counted as "breth

ren," In habit of hermit their ease for to have. I found there the friars of all the four

orders, They preached to the people to profit them

selves, Glossing the Gospel as was their good pleasure. For, coveting copes, they construed as they

would. For many of these masters may dress as it likes

them, For their money and merchandise marchen to

gether, For since Charity hath been chapman and chief

to shrive lordės, Many ferlies have fallen in a few yearės. If Holy Church and they hold not better to

gether, The most mischief on moldis mounting full

fast. There preachéd a Pardoner, a priest as he

werė, And brought forth a Bull with the Bishopės

sealės, And said that himself might assoilen8 them

alle Of falseness in fasting, and vows they had

broken. The unlettered believed him and liked well his

wordės, Coming up to him kneeling and kissing his

Bullés, Then he banged them with his brevet and

blearéd their eyen, Thus they give up their gold these gluttons to

help. Were the Bishop but blessed and worth both

his earės, He would send not his seal for deceiving the

people. But 'tis not at the Bishop that the boy

preaches, For Pardoner and priest part between them the.









silver, 4 The shrine of St. James the Great, at Santiago (i. e, St. James) de Compostella, a town in Spain, was sought for, by many pilgrims.

* A town in Northern Suffolk, a famous resort for pilgrims. Marvels.

8 Pardon. * Blinded their eyes, i. e. Cheated them.

10 Parishes.
11 Tonsured crowns.

1. Each ward of London had its ward-mote, or ward mecting of its citizens.

13 Oncc.

14 "God save you, lady," apparently the refrain of an old song 15 Pigs. 16 Alsace.

7 Earth.

Geoffrey Chaucer

c. 1340-1400







c. 1385

THE PROLOGUE A thousande tymės I have herd men telle, That there is joy in hevene, and peyne in helle, And I accordė wel that it is so; But, nathéles, yet wot I wel also, That ther is noon dwellying in this countree, 5 That eythir hath in hevene or in helle y-be, Ne may of hit noon other weyės witen, But as he hath herd seyde, or founde it writen; For by assay ther may no man it preve.

But God forbedė but men shuldė leve? Wel more thing than men han seen with eye! Men shal not wenen everything a lye But-if hymselfe it seeth, or ellės dooth; For, God wot, thing is never the lassé sooth, Thogh every wight ne may it not y-see. 15 Bernarde, the monke, ne saugh nat al, parde!

Than motė we to bokės that we fynde,Thurgh which that oldė thingės ben in mynde, And to the doctrine of these oldė wyse, Yevé credénce, in every skylful wise,

20 That tellen of these olde appreved stories, Of holynesse, of regnės, of victóries, Of love, of hate, of other sondry thynges Of whiche I may not maken rehersýnges. And if that oldė bokės were awey, Y-lornewere of remembraunce the key. Wel ought us, thanne, honouren and beleve These bokės, ther we han noon other preve.

And as for me, though that I konne but lyte, On bokės for to rede I me delyte, And to hem yive I feyth and ful credénce, And in myn herte have hem in reverence So hertėly, that ther is gamės noon That from my bokės maketh me to goon, But it be seldom on the holyday, Save, certeynly, whan that the month of May Is comen, and that I here the foulėsø synge, And that the flourės gynnen for to sprynge, Farewel my boke, and my devocion!

Now have I thanne suche a condicion, That of alle the flourės in the mede, Than love I most thise flourės white and rede, Suche as men callen daysyes in our toun. To hem have I so grete affeccioun, As I seyde erst, whan comen is the May, That in my bed ther daweth me no day, That I nam up and walkyng in the mede, To seen this floure agein the sonnė sprede,



Whan it uprysith erly by the morwe;
That blisful sightė softneth al my sorwe,
So glad am I, whan that I have presénce
Of it, to doon it allė reverence,
As she that is of allé flourės flour,
Fulfilled of al vertu and honour,
And evere ilikė? faire, and fresshe of hewe.
And I love it, and evere ylikė newe,
And ever shal, til that myn hertė dye;
Al swere I nat, of this I wol nat lye;
Ther loved no wight hotter in his lyve.
And whan that it is eve, I rennė blyve,

As sone as evere the sonnė gynneth weste,
To seen this flour, how it wol go to reste,
For fere of nyght, so hateth she derknesse!
Hir chere' is pleynly sprad in the brightnesse
Of the sonnė, for ther it wol unclose.
Allas, that I ne had Englyssh, ryme or prose
Súffisant this flour to preysc aright!
But helpeth ye that han konnyng!and myght,
Ye lovers, that kan makell of sentėment;
In this case oghtė ye be diligent
To forthren me somewhat in my labour,
Whethir ye ben with the Leef or with the Flour;
For wel I wot, that ye han her-bifornel2
Of makynge ropen, 13 and lad awey the corne;
And I come after, glenyng here and there,

75 And am ful glad if I may fynde an ere Of any goodly word that ye han left. And thogh it happen me rehercen eft14 That ye han in your fresshė songės sayede, Forbereth me, and beth not evele apayede, 15 Syn that ye see I do the honour Of love, and eke in service of the flour Whom that I serve as I have witte or myght. She is the clerenesse and the verray lyght, That in this derkė worlde me wynt 18 and ledyth, The herte in-with my sorwful brest yow

dredith, 17
And loveth so sore, that ye ben verrayly
The maistresse of my witte, and nothing I.
My worde, my werk, is knyt so in youre bond
That as an harpe obeith to the hond,
That maketh it soune after his fyngerynge,
Ryght so mowe ye oute of myn hertė bringe
Swich vois, ryght as yow lyst, to laughe or

Be ye my gide, and lady sovereyne.
As to my erthely god, to yowe I calle,
Bothe in this werke, and in my sorwės alle.

But wherfore that I spake to yive credénce
To oldė stories, and doon hem reverence,
And that men mosten morė thyng beleve
Then they may seen at eye or ellės preve,
That shal I seyn, whanne that I see my tyme
I may nat al attonės18 speke in ryme.
My besy!! gost, that thursteth alwey newe,
To seen this flour so yong, so fresshe of hewe,
Constreynėd me with so gledy 20 desire, 105
That in myn herte I feelė yet the fire,
That made me to ryse er it wer day,
And this was now the firstė morwe of May,
$ Quickly.








100 110

• Face. 11 Write or compose.

12 Before this. 13 Reaped poetry, i. e. cut the crop of poetry. 14 Again. 15 ill pleased. 16 Turns. 11 Reyeres.

20 Glowing

1 This poem (like its greater successor, The Canterbury Tales), consists of a number of separate stories, introduced by a Prologue. In the Legend, however, all the stories are of women who have been victims or martyrs to love. Chaucer apparently intended to tell the legends of nineteen good women, but the poem is unfinished.

2 Believe

: Bernard of Clairvaur (1091-1153). Even St. Bernard, holy and wise as he was, did not see everything. The passage is founded on a Latin proverb " Bernardus monachus non videt omnia. Lost. 5 Amusement.

6 Birds.

7 Alike. 10 Skill.

18 At once.

19 Anxious.










With dredful21 hert, and glad devocion
For to ben at the resurreccion
Of this flour, whan that it shulde unclose
Agayne the sonne, that roos as rede as rose,
That in the brest was of the beste, 22 that day,
That Agenorės doghtre23 ladde away.
And doun on knes anon-ryght I me sette,
And as I koude, this fresshė flour I grette,
Knelyng alwey, til it unclosed was,
Upon the smalė, softė, swotė24 gras,
That was with flourės swote enbrouded25 al, 119
Of swich swetnesse, and swich odour over-al,
That for to speke of gomme,20 or herbe, or tree,
Comparisoun may noon y-makėd be;
For it surmounteth pleynly alle odoures,
And of riché beautė alle floures.
Forgeten had the erthe his pore estate
Of wyntir, that him naked made and mate, 27
And with his swerd of colde so sorė greved;
Now hath the atemprésonne2 al that releved
That naked was, and clad it new agayne.
The smalė foulės, of the sesoun fayne 29
That of the panter30 and the nette ben scaped,
Upon the foweler, that hem made a-whapeds!
In wynter, and distroyėd hadde hire broode,
In his dispite hem thoghte it did hem goode
To synge of hym, and in hir songe dispise 135
The foulė cherle, that, for his coveytise,
Had hem betrayed with his sophistrye.

This was hir songe, "The foweler we deffye,
And al his crafte,” And sommė songen clere
Layės of love, that joye it was to here,
In worshipynge and in preysing of hir make;32
And, for the newė blisful somers sake,
Upon the braunchės ful of blosmės softe,
In hire delyt, they turned hem ful ofte,
And songen, "Blessed be Seynt Valentyne! 145
For on his day I chees you to be myne,
Withouten répentyng myne hertė swete!”
And therewithal hire bekės gonnen meete.

And tho33 that hadde don unkyndėnesse, – As doth the tydis,34 for newfangelnesse, Besoghtė mercy of hir trespassynge, And humblėly songen hir répentynge, And sworen on the blosmės to be trewe, So that hire makės wolde upon hem rewe, And at the lastė maden hir acorde. Al founde they Daunger36 for a tyme a lord, 160 Yet Pitee, thurgh his strongè gentil myght, Foryaf, and madė Mercy passen Ryght, Thurgh Innocence, and ruled Curtėsye. But I ne clepe it innocence folye, Ne fals pitee, for vertue is the mene;37 As Ethike seith, in swich maner I mene. And thus thise sowelės, voide of al malice, Acordėden to love, and laften vice Of hate, and songen alle of oon acorde, *Welcome, Somer, oure governour and'lorde.'

And Zepherus and Flora gentilly Yaf to the flourės, softe and tenderly. 21 Reverent.

His swootė3 breth, and made hem for to sprede,
As god and goddesse of the floury mede.
In whiche me thoght I myghtė, day by day,
Dwellen alwey, the joly month of May,
Withouten slepe, withouten mete or drynke.
Adoun ful softėly I gan to synke,
And lenynge on myn elbowe and my syde,
The longė day, I shoop' me for to abide,
For nothing ellis, and I shal nat lye,
But for to loke upon the dayésie,
That men by resoun wel it callė may
The dayėsie, or elles the je of day,
The empèrice, and floure of floures alle.
I pray to God that fairė mote she falle, 40
And alle that loven flourės, for hire sake!
But, nathėles, ne wene nat that I makel
In preysing of the Flour agayn the Leef,
No more than of the corne agayn the sheef;
For as to me nys lever noon, ne lother,
I nam witholden yit with never nother.
Ne I not“? who serveth Leef, ne who the Flour.
Wel browken 43 they hir service or labour!
For this thing is al of another tonne, 44
Of oldė storye, er swiche thinge was begonne.
Whan that the sonne out of the southe gan

weste, And that this flour gan close, and goon to reste, For derknesse of the nyght, the which she

Home to myn house full swiftly I me spedde
To goon to reste, and erly for to ryse,
To seen this flour to-sprede, as I devyse.
And in a litel herber45 that I have,
That benched was on turvės fressh y-grave,
I bad men sholdė me my couché make;
For deyntee 48 of the newė someres sake,
I had hem strawen flourés on my bed.

Whan I was leyde, and hadde myn eyen hed, 47
I fel on slepe, in-with an houre or two.
Me mette 18 how I lay in the medewė tho,
To seen this flour that I love so and drede; 49
And from a-fer come walkyng in the mede
The god of Love, and in his hand a quene,
And she was clad in real50 habite grene;
A fret51 of gold she haddė next her heer.
And upon that a whitė crowne she beer,
With flouroung52 smale, and I shal nat lye,
For al the worlde ryght as a dayesye
Y-córouned is with whitė levės lyte,
So were the flourouns of hire córoune white;
For of 053 perlė, fyne, orientál,
Hire whitė córoune was i-maked al,
For which the white coroune above the grene
Máde hire lyke a daysie for to sene,
Considered eke hir fret of golde above.

Y-clothed was this mighty god of Love In silke enbrouded, ful of grene greves, In-with a fret of redė rosé leves, The fresshest syn the worlde was first bygonne.












22 Beast i. e. Taurus. 23 Europa. 45 Embroidered.

27 Weak. 28 Mild temperature. 31 Frightened. 14 Titmouse.

35 Take pity on them. 36 Love's dominion. 87 Average.

24 Sweet. 26 Gum. 29 Glad. 32 Mate.

38 Sweet.

39 Planned. 40 Good may befall. 41 Make poetry:

42 Ne wot, not know. 43 May they enjoy.

44 Cask. 46 Arbor, or resting place, a plot covered with grass or herbage. 46 For the sake of enjoying.

47 Hidden. 48 Dreamt. 49 Revere. 50 Royal. 51 Ornament. 52 Small flowers.

53 One.

54 Groves.

30 Spare.
33 Those.












His giltė here was corowned with a sonne Of which vertú engendred is the flour;
In stede of golde, for hevynesse and wyghte; Whan Zephirus' eek with his sweté breeth
Therwith me thoght his face shon so brighte Inspired hath in every holta and heeth
That wel unnethėg55 myght I him beholde; The tendrė croppėss and the yongė sonne
And in his hande me thoght I saugh him holde Hath in the Ramo his halfė cours y-ronne,
Two firy dartės as the gledės56 rede,

And smalė fowelės maken melodye,
And aungelyke his wyngės saugh I sprede. That slepen al the nyght with open eye
And, al be that men seyn that blynd is he, (So priketh hem Natúre in hir coráges,)?
Algate57 me thoghtė that he myghtė se; Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
For sternély on me he gan byholde,

And palmeres for to seken straungė strondes, So that his loking doth myn hertė colde. To ferné halwės, kowthe in sondry londes; And by the hande he helde this noble quene, And specially, from every shirės ende Crowned with white, and clothed al in grene, Of Engėlond,'to Caunterbury they wende, So womanly, so bénigne, and so meke,

The hooly blissfulto martir for to seke,
That in this world, thogh that men woldė seke, That hem hath holpen whan that they were
Hálf hire beutė shulde men nat fynde

seeke. 11
In creature that formed is by Kynde. 58
And therfore may I seyn, as thynketh me, Bifil that in that seson on a day,
This song in preysyng of this lady fre.

In Southwerk at the Tabardı? as I lay,

20 Hyde Absalon, thy giltė tresses clere;

Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage Ester, ley thou thy mekenesse al adoun; 250 To Caunterbury with ful devout corage, 18 Hyde, Jonathas, al thy frendly manére;

At nyght were come into that hostelrye Penalopee, and Marcia Catoun,

Wel nyne-and-twenty in a compaignye, Make of youre wifhode no comparysoun; Of sondry folk, by áventurelt y-falle Hyde ye youre beautės, Ysoude and Eleyne; In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle, My lady comith, that al this may disteyne. 69 That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde.

The chambres and the stables weren wyde, Thy fairė body lat it nat appere,

And wel we weren esed 15 attė beste. Lavyne; and thou Lucresse of Romé toun

And shortly, whan the sonnė was to reste, And Polixene, that boghten love so dere,

So hadde I spoken with hem everychon, And Cloepatre, with all thy passyoun,

That I was of hir felaweshipe anon, Hyde ye your trouthe of love, and your renoun,

And made forward 16 erly for to ryse, And thou, Tesbė, that hast of love suche peyne;

To take oure wey, ther as I yow devyse. My lady comith, that al this may disteyne.

But nathéless, whil I have tyme and space, Hero, Dido, Laudómia, alle yfere, 60

Er that I ferther in this talė pacė, And Phillis, hangying for thy Demophon, Me thynketh it accordaunt to resóun And Canacė, espied by thy cherė,

To tellė yow al the condicioun Y siphilie, betraysed with Jason,

Of cch of hem, so as it semèd me, Maketh of your trouthė neythir boost ne soun, And whiche they weren, and of what degree, Nor Ypermystre, or Adriane, ye tweyne; And eek in what array that they were inne; My lady cometh, that al thys may dysteyne. And at a Knyght than wol I first begynne. 42 This balade may ful wel y-songen be, 270

A KNYGHT ther was and that a worthy man, As I have seyde erst, by my lady free;

That fro the tymė that he first bigan For certeynly al thise mowe nat suffice

To riden out, he lovėd chivalrie,

45 To apperen wyth my lady in no wyse.

Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie. For as the sonnė wole the fire disteyne, So passeth al my lady sovereyne,

Ful worthy was he in his lordės werre,

And thereto hadde he riden, no man ferre, That is so good, so faire, so debonayre,

As wel in cristendom as in hethėnesse, I prey to God that ever falle hire faire.

And ever honoured for his worthynesse. For nadde6l comfort ben of hire presence,

At Alisaundre17 he was whan it was wonne; I hadde ben dede, withouten any defence,

Ful oftė tyme he hadde the bord bigonne18 For drede of Lovės wordės, and his chere, 280

Aboven alle nacions in Pruce. 19 As, when tyme is, herafter ye shal here.

3 The west wind, noted for its mild and life-giving

influence. Cf. Eng. Zephyr. THE CANTERBURY TALES

5 Sprouts.

6 Aries, the first of the signs of the zodiac. The young (Begun 1386-1387)

sun (i. e. the sun just beginning its annual course), passed through the Ram from March 12th to April 11th. Hence:

during April, half the sun's course was "in the Ram." THE PROLOGUE

To say that this half course was completed, is equivalent

to saying that the time was after April 11th. Whan that Apríllé with hise shourės sootel

7 Hearts.
8 Distant Saints.

• Known. The droghte of March hath percéd to the roote, 10 Thomas à Becket.

11 Sick. And bathed every veyne in swich licour?





4 Wood.

1: A famous Inn in Southwark, across the Thames from

London. 65 Scarcely. 1.6 Gleeds, brands.

14 By chance. 15 Entertained. 69 Nature 69 Stain, dim. 60 Together.

16 Agreement.

17 Alexandria in Egypt. 61 i. e. had no.

17. e. "he had been placed at the head of the dais, or 1 Sweet.

2 Moisture.
table (bord) of state."

10 Prussia.

67 All the same.

13 Heart.

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