PROLOGUE TO THE SHIPMANNES TALE
Here endith the man of lawe his tale. And next folwith
the Shipman his prolog.
Oure Ost upon his stiropes stood anoon,
And seide, 'Good men, herkeneth everychoon;
This was a thrifty tale for the nonys.
Sir parisshe preste,' quod he, 'for Godis bonys,
Telle us a tale, as was thi forward yore;
I se wel, that ye lernede men in lore
Can meche good, bi Godis dignite.'
The parson him answerde, 'Benedicite,
What eyleth the man so synfully to swere?'
Oure Ost answerde, 'O Jankyn, be ye there?
I smelle a Lollere in the wynde,' quod he,
'Howe, goodmen,' quod oure Hoste, 'herkeneth me,
Abyde for Godis digne passioun,
For we shul han a predicacioun,
This Lollere here wol prechen us somwhat.'
'Nay, bi Godis soule, that shal he nat,'
Seyde the Shipman, 'here shal he not preche,
He shal no gospel glosen here, ne teche.
We leven alle in the grete God,' quod he,
'He wolde sowen som difficulte
Or sprengen cokkel in oure clene corn.
And therfore, Ost, I warne the biforn,
My joly body shal a tale telle
And I shal clynkyn yow so mery a belle
That I shal wakyn al this companye;
But it shal not ben of Philosophie,
Ne phislyas, ne termes queynte of lawe;
Ther nis but litil Latyn in my mawe.'
Here endith the Shipman his prolog. And next folwyng
he bigynneth his tale.
(Daun John, a monk of Paris, beguiles the wife of a
merchant of St. Denis by money borrowed from her husband.
She saves herself, on the point of discovery, by a ready
Bihoold the murie wordes of the Hoost to the Shipman
and to the lady Prioresse.
'Wel seyd, by corpus dominus,' quod our Hoost,
'Now longe moote thou saille by the cost,
Sir gentil maister, gentil maryneer.
God yeve this monk a thousand last quade yeer!
A ha! felawes, beth ware of swich a jape.
The monk putte in the mannes hood an ape,
And in his wyves eek, by Seint Austyn;
Draweth no monkes moore unto your in.
But now passe over, and lat us seke aboute
Who shal now telle first of al this route
Another tale?' and with that word he sayde,
As curteisly as it had ben a mayde,
'My lady Prioresse, by youre leve,
So that I wiste I sholde yow nat greve,
I wolde demen that ye tellen sholde
A tale next, if so were that ye wolde.
Now wol ye vouchesauf, my lady deere?'
'Gladly,' quod she, and seyde as ye shal heere.