Verse > Geoffrey Chaucer > Complete Poetical Works
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Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400).  The Complete Poetical Works.  1894.
 
The Canterbury Tales
The Miller’s Prologue
 
Here folwen the wordes bitwene the Host and the Millere.

WHAN that the Knight had thus his tale y-told,
In al the route nas ther yong ne old
That he ne seyde it was a noble storie,
And worthy for to drawen to memorie;
And namely the gentils everichoon.        5
Our Hoste lough and swoor, ‘so moot I goon,
This gooth aright; unbokeled is the male;
Lat see now who shal telle another tale:
For trewely, the game is wel bigonne.
Now telleth ye, sir Monk, if that ye conne,        10
Sumwhat, to quyte with the Knightes tale.’
The Miller, that for-dronken was al pale,
So that unnethe up-on his hors he sat,
He nolde avalen neither hood ne hat,
Ne abyde no man for his curteisye,        15
But in Pilates vois he gan to crye,
And swoor by armes and by blood and bones,
‘I can a noble tale for the nones,
With which I wol now quyte the Knightes tale.’
  Our Hoste saugh that he was dronke of ale,        20
And seyde: ‘abyd, Robin, my leve brother,
Som bettre man shal telle us first another:
Abyd, and lat us werken thriftily.’
  ‘By goddes soul,’ quod he, ‘that wol nat I;
For I wol speke, or elles go my wey.’        25
Our Hoste answerde: ‘tel on, a devel wey!
Thou art a fool, thy wit is overcome.’
  ‘Now herkneth,’ quod the Miller, ‘alle and some!
But first I make a protestacioun
That I am dronke, I knowe it by my soun;        30
And therfore, if that I misspeke or seye,
Wyte it the ale of Southwerk, I yow preye;
For I wol telle a legende and a lyf
Bothe of a Carpenter, and of his wyf,
How that a clerk hath set the wrightes cappe.’        35
  The Reve answerde and seyde, ‘stint thy clappe,
Lat be thy lewed dronken harlotrye.
It is a sinne and eek a greet folye
To apeiren any man, or him diffame,
And eek to bringen wyves in swich fame.        40
Thou mayst y-nogh of othere thinges seyn.’
  This dronken Miller spak ful sone ageyn,
And seyde, ‘leve brother Osewold,
Who hath no wyf, he is no cokewold.
But I sey nat therfore that thou art oon;        45
Ther been ful gode wyves many oon,
And ever a thousand gode ayeyns oon badde,
That knowestow wel thy-self, but-if thou madde.
Why artow angry with my tale now?
I have a wyf, pardee, as well as thou,        50
Yet nolde I, for the oxen in my plogh,
Taken up-on me more than y-nogh,
As demen of my-self that I were oon;
I wol beleve wel that I am noon.
An housbond shal nat been inquisitif        55
Of goddes privetee, nor of his wyf.
So he may finde goddes foyson there,
Of the remenant nedeth nat enquere.’
  What sholde I more seyn, but this Millere
He nolde his wordes for no man forbere,        60
But tolde his cherles tale in his manere;
Me thinketh that I shal reherce it here.
And ther-fore every gentil wight I preye,
For goddes love, demeth nat that I seye
Of evel entente, but that I moot reherce        65
Hir tales alle, be they bettre or werse,
Or elles falsen som of my matere.
And therfore, who-so list it nat y-here,
Turne over the leef, and chese another tale;
For he shal finde y-nowe, grete and smale,        70
Of storial thing that toucheth gentillesse,
And eek moralitee and holinesse;
Blameth nat me if that ye chese amis.
The Miller is a cherl, ye knowe wel this;
So was the Reve, and othere many mo,        75
And harlotrye they tolden bothe two.
Avyseth yow and putte me out of blame;
And eek men shal nat make ernest of game.

Here endeth the prologe.
 
 
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