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◈ The Canterbury Tales ◈

◇ The Nun’s Priest’s Prologue, Tale and Epilogue ◇

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 1. The Nun’s Priest’s Prologue
 2. The Nun’s Priest’s Tale
 3. The Epilogue to the Nun’s Priest’s Tale

1. The Nun’s Priest’s Prologue

0 The Prologue of the Nun’s Priest’s Tale
1 Ho!’ quoth the Knight, ‘good sire, no more of this!
2 What you said is right enough, true it is
3 And more, since a little grief and sadness
4 Is due most folk, that’s right enough I guess.
5 As for myself, it’s great distress to me
6 When men have been in great wealth and ease,
7 To hear then of their sudden fall, alas!
8 And the contrary is joy and great solace,
9 When a man that has been of poor estate,
10 Climbs up above and proves so fortunate
11 That he abides there in prosperity.
12 Such a thing is cheerful, it seems to me,
13 And of such things it is good news to tell.’
14 Yea,’ quoth our Host, ‘by Saint Paul’s bell,
15 You speak the truth! This Monk, he cries aloud
16 Of how Dame Fortune covered with a cloud
17 I know not what, and speaks of tragedy
18 As you have heard; yet, faith, no remedy
19 Is it to bewail these things or complain
20 When they are done, and also it brings pain,
21 As you have said, to hear of heaviness.
22 Sir Monk, no more of it, may God you bless!
23 You tale annoys all this good company.
24 That sort of talk is scarcely worth a flea,
25 There’s no amusement in it, and no game.
26 Wherefore, Sir Monk, Sir Piers by your name,
27 I pray you heartily, tell of something else;
28 Were it not for the clinking of the bells,
29 That from your bridle hang on every side,
30 By Heaven’s King, that for us all died,
31 I should ere this have tumbled down in sleep,
32 Though the slough below were ever so deep.
33 Then would your tale have been told in vain!
34 For certainly, as the clerks make plain,
35 Whenever a man lacks an audience,
36 No use his uttering a single sentence.
37 And well I know, the capacity is in me,
38 As to whether anything well told shall be.
39 Sire, say something of hunting, I you pray.’
40 Nay,’ quoth the Monk, ‘I have no wish to play.
41 Now, let another speak, my tale is told.’
42 Then spoke our Host with rude speech and bold,
43 And said unto the Nun’s Priest anon:
44 Come near, good priest; come hither, now Sir John!
45 Tell us such things as make the heart glad.
46 Be blithe now, though you ride upon a nag!
47 What though your horse be miserable and lean?
48 If he will serve, why should you care a bean!
49 See that your heart is ever merry, though.’
50 Yea, sire,’ quoth he,’ yea, Host, and I will so,
51 Not to be merry now would bring me blame.’
52 And right anon now he took up the game.
53 And thus he spoke unto us everyone,
54 This sweet Priest, this goodly man, Sir John.

2. The Nun’s Priest’s Tale

0 Here begins the Nun’s Priest’s Tale of the cock and hen, Chanticleer and Pertelote
1 A poor widow, somewhat bent with age,
2 Lived, long ago, in a little cottage,
3 Beside a grove, standing in a dale.
4 The widow of whom I tell this tale,
5 Since the day when she was last a wife,
6 Led, patiently, a very simple life,
7 For little was her property or rent.
8 By husbandry, such as God her sent,
9 She kept herself, and two daughters poor.
10 Three large sows had she, of swine no more,
11 Three cows, and a sheep, as well, called Molly.
12 Full sooty was her bower, all melancholy,
13 In which she ate full many a scanty meal.
14 No pungent sauce was needed for her veal;
15 No dainty morsel ever passed her throat.
16 Her diet, her cottage struck a single note.
17 Repletion thus had never made her sick;
18 And a moderate diet was all her physic,
19 And exercise, and the heart’s abundance.
20 The gout no reason gave her not to dance,
21 No apoplexy smote her in the head.
22 No wine drank she, neither white nor red.
23 Her board was mostly of the white and black
24 Milk and brown bread, of which she had no lack,
25 Grilled bacon, and an egg or two, I say,
26 For she was, as it were, a dairy maid.
27 A yard she had, enclosed all about
28 With palings, and a dry ditch without,
29 In which there roamed a cock called Chanticleer.
30 In all the land, at crowing he’d no peer;
31 His voice was merrier than the merry organ
32 On Mass days in the chapel there, piping on.
33 Truer was his crowing in the lodge
34 Than is a clock or abbey horologe.
35 By nature he knew the right ascension
36 Of the celestial equator, I’ll mention:
37 For each fifteen degrees of its ascending,
38 He would crow, as needed no amending.
39 His comb redder than the finest coral,
40 Was crenellated like the castle wall.
41 His bill was black, and as the jet it shone;
42 Like azure were his legs and toes, as one;
43 His claws were whiter than the lily flower,
44 And like the burnished gold all his colour.
45 This noble cock had in his governance
46 Seven hens, his pleasure to advance,
47 Who were his sisters and his paramours,
48 And wonderfully like him, as to colours;
49 Of which the fairest, tinted round her throat,
50 Was called the lovely lady Pertelote.
51 Courteous she was, discreet and debonair,
52 Companionable, and bore herself so fair
53 From the day that she was seven nights old,
54 That truly the heart she held in her hold
55 Of Chanticleer, locked in her every limb.
56 He loved her so that all was well with him.
57 And such a joy was it to hear them sing
58 When that the bright sun began to spring,
59 In sweet accord, ‘My love’s in foreign land’.
60 For at that time, I’m given to understand,
61 Beasts and birds as well could speak and sing.
62 And it so befell, that in the early dawning,
63 As Chanticleer among his wives all
64 Sat on his perch, lodged within the hall,
65 And next to him sat the fair Pertelote,
66 Chanticleer began moaning in his throat,
67 Like a man who in a dream is troubled sore.
68 And when Pertelote thus heard him roar,
69 She was aghast, and said, ‘My heart, dear,
70 What ails you, to moan as you do here?
71 Fie, what a sleeper! What a noise, for shame!’
72 And he answered her, saying thus: ‘Dear dame,
73 I pray you not to take my noise amiss.
74 By God, I thought I was in such mischief
75 Just now, my heart is pounding yet with fright!
76 Now God’, quoth he, ‘read my dream aright,
77 And keep my body from foul prison now!
78 I dreamed that I wandered up and down
79 Within our yard, and saw a kind of beast
80 Shaped like a hound, that would have seized
81 My body, and I seemed as good as dead.
82 His colour was betwixt yellow and red,
83 And tipped was his tail, and both his ears,
84 With black, unlike the rest of all his hairs.
85 His snout was small, and he was fiery eyed.
86 Of his mere looks alone I almost died!
87 And this caused all my moaning, doubtless.’
88 For shame!’ quoth she, ‘fie on timorousness!
89 Alas!’ quoth she, ‘for, by the Lord above,
90 Now have you lost my heart and all my love!
91 I cannot love a coward, by my faith!
92 For certainly, whatever women say,
93 They all desire, if it might truly be,
94 A husband who is brave, and wise and free,
95 Discreet as well, no miser, and no fool,
96 Nor one aghast at every warlike tool,
97 Nor yet a boaster, by our Lord above!
98 How dare you say for shame, to your love,
99 That anything at all makes you a-feared?
100 Where is your man’s heart to match your beard?
101 Alas, and are you aghast at dreaming?
102 God knows, dreams are vanity or nothing.
103 Dreams are engendered by indigestion,
104 And bodily exhalations and their action,
105 And excessive humours dreams excite.
106 For sure, this dream that you met with tonight
107 Comes from the greater superfluity
108 Of your red choler, as it seems to me,
109 Which causes folks to be in dread, in dreams.
110 Of arrows, and the fire’s reddening gleams,
111 Of red beasts also, lest they seek to bite,
112 Of warfare, and whelps both fierce and slight
113 Just as the humour of melancholy
114 Causes full many a man to cry in sleep
115 For fear of black bears, or bulls black,
116 Or else black devils clinging to his back.
117 Of other humours I could tell also,
118 That work a man in sleep many a woe,
119 But I’ll pass on as lightly as I can.
120 Lo, Cato was ever so wise a man,
121 Did he not say: “Take no account of dreams”?
122 Now sire,’ quoth she, ‘when we flee our beam,
123 For God’s love, go take a laxative!
124 On peril of my soul, long days to live,
125 That’s the best counsel, and no deceit,
126 To purge both choler and melancholy;
127 And lest you find an excuse to tarry,
128 Because the town has no apothecary,
129 I myself the right herbs will show you
130 That bring both health to us and profit too.
131 And in our own yard these herbs I’ll find,
132 Which in their properties are of the kind
133 To purge below, and do the same above.
134 Don’t neglect them now, for God’s own love!
135 You are quite choleric in complexion;
136 Beware lest the sun in his ascension
137 Find you all replete with humours hot!
138 And if he does, I’ll bet a groat it’s not
139 Long before youve a fever, a tertian,
140 Or an ague that may prove your bane.
141 A day or two youll need digestives
142 Of worms, before you take your laxatives,
143 Of laurel, centaury, and fumitory,
144 Or else hellebore that grows so freely,
145 Of caper-spurge or the blackthorn berry,
146 Or plantain, growing in our yard, so merry.
147 Peck them as they grow, and take them in!
148 Be merry, husband, by your father’s kin!
149 Fear you no dreamWhat I can say more?’
150 Madamequoth he, ‘graunt merci for your lore!
151 But nonetheless, regarding Cato now,
152 Who for his wisdom won such great renown,
153 Though he bade us hold no dream in dread,
154 By God! Men have in old books often read
155 In many a text of more authority
156 Than ever Cato’s had, God prosper me,
157 The very reverse of all Cato’s sense
158 And have found in their experience
159 That dreams to us are significations
160 Both of the joys and the tribulations
161 That folk suffer in this life at present.
162 There is no need for any argument;
163 The proof itself is shown by the deed.
164 One of the greatest authors that men read,
165 Cicero, says thus: two friends once went
166 On pilgrimage, with serious intent;
167 And it so chanced, they came to a town
168 Where they such a congregation found
169 Of people, and so many folk in passage,
170 That there was not so much as a cottage
171 In which they might both lodge for a fee.
172 So that they had, out of necessity
173 For that one night, to part company;
174 And each of them went to a hostelry,
175 And found a lodging as it might befall,
176 So one of them was lodged in a stall,
177 Far off, in a yard, with oxen used to plough;
178 The other man was lodged well, I vow,
179 As chance favoured him, or else Fortune,
180 She that governs all of us in common.
181 And it befell that, long ere it was day,
182 The latter dreamed, in bed there as he lay,
183 That his friend began for him to call,
184 Crying: “Alas! Here in an ox’s stall,
185 This night, I shall be murdered where I lie!
186 Now help me, dearest brother, or I die!
187 Come to me, and in all haste,” he cried.
188 The man from his sleep in fear did rise;
189 But once he’d woken, and banished sleep,
190 He took a turn, and thought the thing would keep,
191 And that his dream was merely fantasy.
192 So twice in his sleep thus dreamed he,
193 And yet a third time came his friend again
194 As he thought, and said, “Now I am slain.
195 Behold my blood-stained wounds deep and wide!
196 Rise early and in the morning-tide
197 At the west gate of the town”, quoth he,
198 “A cart full of dung there you shall see,
199 In which my corpse was hidden secretly.
200 Have the carter then arrested boldly.
201 My gold caused my murder: truth I say.”
202 And every detail of his death he gave,
203 With a full piteous face, pale of hue.
204 And trust me, next day the dream proved true;
205 For on the morrow, soon as it was day,
206 The man to his friend’s inn made his way.
207 And when he came to the ox’s stall,
208 For his friend he began to call.
209 The innkeeper answered him anon,
210 Saying: “Sire, your friend is long gone.
211 As soon as daylight came, he went from town.”
212 This the man’s suspicion did arouse,
213 Remembering the dreams he encountered;
214 And forth he wenthe would wait no longer
215 To the west gate of the town, where he found
216 A dung cart, off to fertilise the ground,
217 That was in all particulars that arise
218 The same he heard the murdered man advise.
219 And he began to cry, courageously,
220 On vengeance, justice for the felony:
221 My friend indeed was murdered this same night,
222 And in this cart he lies gaping upright!
223 I call upon the officers”, quoth he,
224 Charged to protect and keep this city!
225 Murder! Alas, here lies my friend, I’ll state!”
226 What more of this tale should I relate?
227 Folk ran to tip the load out on the ground,
228 And in the middle of the dung they found
229 The dead man, his murder shown anew.
230 O blissful God, who are so just and true,
231 Lo, how always murder you betray!
232 Murder will out, we say day after day.
233 Murder is so foul and abominable
234 To God, who is so just and reasonable,
235 That he will not allow it long concealed,
236 Though hidden for a year, or two, or three.
237 Murder will out: that is my conclusion.
238 And right anon, the officers of that town
239 Seized the carter, and they racked him so,
240 And then the innkeeper they racked also,
241 That they confessed their wickedness anon,
242 And were hanged high by the neck bone.
243 Thus dreams may prove serious indeed.
244 And certainly in the same book I read,
245 Right in the next chapter after this
246 – I tell no lie, and so may I find bliss
247 Of two men who wished to pass the sea,
248 For certain reasons, into a far country,
249 If the wind had not proved contrary,
250 And made them tarry there in the city,
251 That stood full merry on the haven side.
252 But at last, towards the evening-tide,
253 The wind began to blow from the west.
254 Jolly and glad they went to their rest,
255 And vowed that in the dawn they’d set sail.
256 But hearken to my marvellous tale.
257 One of them, as deep in sleep he lay,
258 Had a wondrous dream, towards day
259 He thought a man stood by his bed-side,
260 And commanded that he should abide,
261 Saying; “If you should sail, as you intend,
262 You will be drowned; my tale is at an end.”
263 He woke, and told his friend straight away,
264 And begged him the voyage to delay;
265 And for that day, he begged him to abide.
266 His friend, indeed, who lay by his bed-side,
267 Began to laugh, and jeer at him full fast.
268 No dream,” quoth he, “may make my heart aghast.
269 I’ll not delay my plans for anything!
270 I give never a straw for all your dreaming,
271 For dreams are but vain things, and mere japes.
272 Men dream every day of owls or apes
273 And of many a fantasy withal.
274 Men dream of things that never are at all.
275 But since I see youre settled to abide,
276 And thus wilfully forsake the tide,
277 God knows, I’m sorry; yet, enjoy your day!”
278 And thus he took his leave, and went his way.
279 But ere that he had half the voyage sailed,
280 I know not why, or what mischance assailed,
281 By some chance the ship’s planks were rent,
282 And ship and man beneath the water went,
283 In sight of other ships close alongside,
284 That had sailed with them on that same tide.
285 And therefore, fair Pertelote, my dear,
286 From these old examples, it does appear
287 That no man should show himself careless
288 Regarding dreams, for I say, doubtless,
289 Many a dream proves serious indeed.
290 Lo, in the life of Saint Kenelm I read,
291 Son of Kenulphus, once the noble king
292 Of Mercia, how Kenelm dreamed a thing,
293 Shortly ere he was murdered, on a day,
294 His murder in a vision saw, I say.
295 His nurse, she expounded, so they tell,
296 His dream, and bade him guard him well
297 From treason; yet he, but seven years old,
298 Took little notice of the dream he told,
299 So innocent and holy was his heart.
300 By God, I’d give my shirt, for a start,
301 If you’d read of his legend, like to me!
302 Dame Pertelote, I tell you truly,
303 Macrobius, who writes of a vision
304 Of Scipio’s in Africa, his opinion,
305 As he affirms, is that dreams may be
306 Warnings of things that later men may see.
307 And furthermore, I pray you, look you well
308 In the Old Testament, at Daniel,
309 And whether he thought dreams mere fantasy.
310 Read of Joseph too, and there you shall see
311 That dreams are sometimesthough not all
312 Warnings of things that later do befall.
313 Look, too, at Egypt’s King, at Pharaoh,
314 At his baker and his butler also,
315 As to the consequences of their dreams!
316 Whoever meditates on ancient themes
317 May find of dreams many a wondrous thing.
318 Lo, Croesus, who was of Lydia king,
319 Did he not dream he sat upon a tree,
320 Which signified that hanged he should be?
321 Lo, there is Andromache, Hector’s wife,
322 The day that Hector would lose his life,
323 She dreamed the very same night before
324 How Hector should die and be no more
325 If he went that day into the battle.
326 She warned him, but it was of no avail;
327 He went off to fight nevertheless,
328 And was slain by Achilles, no less.
329 But the tale is all too long to tell,
330 And now it is nigh day; I may not dwell
331 On all of this, so say in conclusion,
332 That I shall have from this prevision
333 Adversity; and I say furthermore
334 By your laxatives I set no store,
335 For they are poison, I know full well.
336 I defy them; I love not their spell!
337 Now let us speak of mirth, forget all this.
338 Madame Pertelote, thus have I bliss,
339 In one thing God has sent me large grace,
340 For when I see the beauty of your face,
341 You are so scarlet-red about your eye,
342 It quenches my fears and makes them die.
343 For certain it is: In principio,
344 Mulier est hominis confusio.
345 Madame, the meaning of the Latin is:
346 Woman is man’s joy and all his bliss.” –
347 For when I feel a-nights your soft side,
348 Even though I may not take a ride,
349 Because our perch so narrow is, alas! –
350 I am so full of joy and of solace,
351 That I defy both vision now and dream.’
352 And with that word, he flew down from the beam,
353 Since it was day, and also his hens all,
354 And with a ‘chuckbegan his hens to call,
355 For he had found seed lying in the yard.
356 Regal he was, no longer filled with dread;
357 He covered Pertelote some twenty times,
358 Trod her as often, ere that it was prime.
359 Like a grim lion he gazes all around,
360 And on his toes he saunters up and down;
361 He deigns not to set foot upon the ground.
362 Hechucksagain each time a seed is found,
363 And to him then run his dear wives all.
364 Thus regal, as a prince is in his hall,
365 I’ll leave this Chanticleer in his pasture,
366 And next will I tell of his adventure.
367 When the month with which the world began,
368 Namely March, in which God first made man,
369 Was complete, and past again also
370 When March was done, thirty days and two,
371 Befell it, Chanticleer in all his pride,
372 His seven wives walking by his side,
373 Cast up his eyes towards the bright sun,
374 That into the sign of Taurus now had run
375 Twenty degrees and one, and somewhat more,
376 And knew by nature, and no other lore,
377 That it was prime, and crowed with blissful voice.
378 The sun,’ he said, ‘is climbed in heavenly course,
379 Forty degrees and one, and more, it is.
380 Madame Pertelote, my world’s bliss,
381 Hearken, these blissful brides, how they sing,
382 And see the fresh flowers how they spring!
383 Full is my heart with revel and with solace!’
384 But suddenly he fell in sorrowful case;
385 For ever the latter end of joy is woe.
386 God knows that worldly joy is swift to go;
387 And any rhetorician who fair can write
388 He in a chronicle can safely that indite,
389 As a sovereign thing to note, indeed.
390 Now ever wise man, let him list to me;
391 This story is as true, I’ll undertake,
392 As the book of Launcelot of the Lake,
393 That women hold in such great reverence.
394 Now will I turn again to my utterance.
395 A black-tipped fox of sly iniquity,
396 Who in the grove had lived years three,
397 With premeditated scheming, at a stroke,
398 That same night through hedge and fences broke,
399 Into the yard, where Chanticleer the fair
400 Was wont and his wives too, to repair;
401 And in a bed of green-stuff still he lay
402 Till it was near the middle of the day,
403 Waiting the time for Chanticleer to fall,
404 As are wont to do these homicides all
405 That lie in wait to slay innocent men.
406 O false murderer, lurking in your den!
407 O new Escariot, new Ganelon!
408 False dissimulator, O Greek Sinon,
409 Who brought Troy all utterly to sorrow!
410 O Chanticleer, accursed be the morrow
411 When you flew to the yard from the beam!
412 You were warned indeed by your dream
413 That this day would be perilous to thee.
414 But what God foreknows must surely be,
415 In the opinion of certain clerics.
416 Ask witness of one who a true cleric is,
417 That in the schools has been great altercation
418 About this matter, and great disputation,
419 Wrought by a hundred thousand, every man.
420 But I cannot sift the flour from the bran,
421 As can the holy doctor Saint Augustine,
422 Boethius, or Bishop Bradwardine,
423 As to whether God’s noble foreknowing
424 Means that I must then do a certain thing
425 Bymust’ I denote simple necessity
426 Or whether free choice may be granted me
427 To do that same thing, or to do it not,
428 Though God foreknew it ere that I was wrought,
429 Or if his knowing constrains me not at all,
430 Except by necessity conditional.
431 Well, I’ll have naught to do with the matter;
432 My tale’s of a cockerel, as you may hear,
433 Who took his wife’s counsel, but in sorrow,
434 To walk in the yard upon the morrow
435 After he’d had the dream of which I told.
436 Woman’s counsel oft leaves us dead and cold;
437 Woman’s counsel brought us first to woe,
438 And made Adam out of Paradise to go,
439 Where he had been merry and full of ease.
440 But as I know not whom it might displease
441 If I the counsel of women dare to blame,
442 Let us pass on, I speak as if in game.
443 Read the authors, treating of such matter,
444 And of women you may hear their chatter.
445 These are the cockerel’s words and not mine;
446 I wish no harm to any woman divine.
447 Fair in the dust, to bathe her doth lie,
448 Pertelote, with all her sisters by,
449 Out in the sun, and Chanticleer so free
450 Sings merrier than a mermaid in the sea
451 (For Physiologus says for a certainty
452 That they sing right well and merrily).
453 And it so befell, that as he cast his eye,
454 Among the green-stuff, at a butterfly,
455 He suddenly saw the fox lying low,
456 No longer had a reason then to crow,
457 But he cried anon, ‘Cock, cock!’ and up did start,
458 As a man does who is a-feared at heart;
459 For by nature a beast desires to flee
460 From its enemy, if one it chance to see,
461 Though it has never seen such with its eye.
462 Now Chanticleer, when he chanced to spy
463 The fox, he would have fled, but fox anon
464 Said: ‘Noble sir, alas, will you be gone?
465 Are you afraid of me who am your friend?
466 Now, surely, I’d be worse than any fiend
467 If I should do you harm or villainy!
468 I have not come to steal your privacy;
469 But truly, the reason for my coming
470 Is only to hear how well you sing.
471 For truly, you have as merry a voice,
472 As the angels who in Heaven do rejoice.
473 And then you have in music more feeling
474 Than Boethius, or any who can sing.
475 My lord your fatherGod his soul now bless! –
476 And also your mother, of her great kindness,
477 Once visited my house, to my great ease.
478 And you sir, certainly, I seek to please.
479 For if men speak of singing, I must say
480 As own the use of my two eyes I may
481 Save for you, I never heard man sing
482 As your father did of a sweet morning.
483 Sure it was heart-felt, everything he sang!
484 And to be sure his voice full loudly rang,
485 He would take great pains that both his eyes
486 Were tight shut, so louder were his cries,
487 While standing on tiptoes therewithal,
488 And stretching out his neck long and small;
489 And also he was of such discretion
490 That there was no one in any region
491 Who in song or wisdom might him surpass.
492 I have read, in Burnellus the Ass,
493 Among its verses, how there was a cock,
494 Who, when a priest’s son gave him a knock
495 On his leg when young, served him amiss,
496 And made him lose his sovereign benefice.
497 But certainly, there’s no comparison
498 Between the wisdom and discretion
499 Of your good father, and such subtlety!
500 Now sing on, sire, for holy charity;
501 Let’s hear: can you your father emulate?’
502 Then Chanticleer his wings began to beat,
503 As one who could not foul treason see,
504 He was ravished so by such flattery.
505 Alas, you lords, many a false flatterer
506 Lives at your court, and many a cozener,
507 Who pleases you better, by my faith,
508 Than he who truthfulness does display!
509 Read Ecclesiastes on flattery;
510 Beware, you lords, of all their treachery.
511 Chanticleer stood up high on his toes,
512 Stretched out his neck, and kept his eyes closed,
513 And began to crow out loud for nones.
514 Sir Russell the fox started up at once,
515 And by the throat seized Chanticleer,
516 And on his back toward the wood, I fear,
517 Carried him off, and nobody pursued.
518 O Destiny that may not be eschewed!
519 Alas, that Chanticleer flew from the beam!
520 Alas, that his wife ignored his dream!
521 And on a Friday fell all this mischance.
522 O Venus, sweet goddess of love’s chance,
523 Since it was your servant, Chanticleer,
524 And in your service he spent his life dear,
525 More for delight than race to multiply,
526 Why suffer him on your own day to die?
527 O Geoffrey of Vinsauf, my master sovereign,
528 Who, when your great King Richard was slain
529 By a bolt, lamented his death so sore,
530 Why have I not your wisdom and your lore,
531 To chide the day, a Friday, as did you?
532 For he was slain upon a Friday too.
533 Then my lament I would show you plain,
534 For Chanticleer’s fear, and for his pain.
535 For sure, such cries and such lamentation
536 Were never made by ladies when Ilium
537 Was won, and Pyrrhus with his drawn sword,
538 Having grasped King Priam by the beard,
539 Slew him, as Virgil’s Aeneid tells us,
540 As all those hens made in the close
541 When of Chanticleer they caught sight.
542 But above all Dame Pertelote outright
543 Cried louder than did Hasdrubal’s wife,
544 When her dear husband lost his life,
545 And the Romans set fire to Carthage;
546 She was so filled with torment and rage
547 That willingly into the flames she leapt,
548 Steadfast of heart, her tryst with death she kept.
549 O woeful hens, you cried as loudly
550 As, when Nero set fire to the city
551 Of Rome, cried all the senator’s wives,
552 Because their husbands had lost their lives;
553 In their innocence Nero had them slain.
554 Now will I turn to my tale again.
555 The poor widow, her daughters also,
556 Heard the hens cry and all their woe,
557 And out of the house they ran anon,
558 And saw the fox towards the grove had gone,
559 And on his back carried the cock away,
560 And shouted out: ‘Thief!’ andWell-away!
561 It is the fox!’ – And after him they ran,
562 And with staves many another man.
563 Ran Coll our dog, and Talbot and Gerland,
564 And Malkin with a distaff in her hand;
565 Ran cow and calf, and the very hogs,
566 Frightened by the barking of the dogs,
567 And the shouting of men and women, worst,
568 They ran so I thought their hearts would burst.
569 They yelled as the fiends do down in Hell;
570 The ducks quacked as though death loomed as well;
571 The geese for fear flew high above the trees;
572 Out of the hive came a swarm of bees.
573 So hideous was the noiseah, benedictitee! –
574 I’m sure Jack Straw and all his company
575 Never uttered shouts one half so shrill,
576 When they wished the Flemings all to kill,
577 As this day rose up behind the fox.
578 Trumpets of brass they brought, flutes of box,
579 Of horn, of bone, to blow out loud and hoot,
580 And therewithal they shrieked and whooped;
581 It seemed as if the heavens themselves would fall!
582 Now, good men, I pray you, hearken all:
583 Lo, how Fortune alters suddenly
584 The hope and pride of their enemy!
585 The cock that lay upon the fox’s back,
586 Despite his fear, spoke to the fox: ‘Alack,
587 Sire, if I were you, as it seems to me,
588 I’d turn my head, and shout, God help me,
589 Turn back again, you proud peasants all!
590 And a foul pestilence upon you fall!
591 Now I have reached the woodland-side,
592 Despite your chase, the cock shall here abide.
593 I’ll eat him, by my faith, and that anon!”’
594 The fox said, ‘By my faith, it shall be done!’
595 And as he spoke the words, all suddenly,
596 The cock broke from his mouth full swiftly,
597 And high into a tree he flew anon.
598 And when the fox saw that the cock was gone,
599 Alas!’ quoth he, ‘O Chanticleer, alas!
600 I have done you,’ quoth he, ‘a foul trespass,
601 Inasmuch as I rendered you a-feared,
602 When I seized you and then brought you here.
603 But sire, I did it with no harsh intent;
604 Come down, and I’ll explain what I meant.
605 God help me, I’ll tell you all the truth!’
606 Nay, thenquoth he, ‘and curses on us two!
607 And first I’ll curse myself, both blood and bones,
608 If you deceive me oftener than once!
609 You shall no more, with your foul flattery,
610 Make me sing, close my eyes so foolishly;
611 For he that shuts his eyes when he should see,
612 Willingly, let him not thrive, for me!’
613 Nay,’ quoth the fox, ‘may God give him mischance
614 Who is so careless of his governance,
615 And chatters when he should hold his peace!’
616 Lo, such it is to be reckless indeed,
617 And negligent, and trust in flattery!
618 But you that think this tale but a folly,
619 And all about a fox, and cock, and hen,
620 Take note of the moral, my good men.
621 For Saint Paul says all that written is,
622 For our understanding’s written, as is this,
623 Take the grain, and leave the chaff there still.
624 Now, gracious God, if it should be thy will
625 (As said my Lord), so make us all good men,
626 And bring us to the heights of bliss! Amen.
627 Here is ended the Nun’s Priest’s Tale

3. The Epilogue to the Nun’s Priest’s Tale

0 Sir Nun’s Priest,’ our Host said right anon,
1 Blessed be your breeches, and each stone!
2 That was a merry tale of Chanticleer.
3 But, by my troth, if you were a secular,
4 You would have been a treader of fowl alright;
5 For if you have spirit, as you have might,
6 Hens would be needed, is what I mean,
7 Yea, more than seven times seventeen!
8 See, what shoulders he has this gentle priest,
9 A solid neck and chest has there, at least!
10 He gazes like a sparrow hawk from those eyes;
11 For his complexion too he needs no dyes
12 Of Brazil-wood, or scarlet from Portugal.
13 Now sire, blessings on you for your tale!’
14 And after that, he, with full merry cheer,
15 Turned to another of us, as youll hear.
16 (Translator’s Note: The epilogue may be by Chaucer, or a later scribe, and appears to have been reworked for the Monk’s Prologue)
【 】The Nun’s Priest’s Prologue, Tale and Epilogue
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◈ The Canterbury Tales ◈

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페이지 최종 수정일: 2004년 1월 1일