Beginning of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, c.1450-1460

Prologue

Ere begynneth the book of tales of Canterburye compiled by Geffraie Chaucer of Brytayne chef poete

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,

And bathed every veyne in swich licour

Of which vertu engendred is the flour,

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,

That slepen al the nyght with open ye

(so priketh hem Nature in hir corages),

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,

To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;

And specially from every shires ende

Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,

The hooly blisful martir for to seke,

That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

 

Bifil that in that seson on a day,

In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay

Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage

To Caunterbury with ful devout corage,

At nyght was come into that hostelrye

Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye,

Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle

In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,

That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde.

The chambres and the stables weren wyde,

And wel we weren esed atte beste.

And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,

So hadde I spoken with hem everichon

That I was of hir felaweshipe anon,

And made forward erly for to ryse,

To take oure wey ther as I yow devyse.

 

But nathelees, whil I have tyme and space,

Er that I ferther in this tale pace,

Me thynketh it acordaunt to resoun

To telle yow al the condicioun

Of ech of hem, so as it semed me,

And whiche they weren, and of what degree,

And eek in what array that they were inne;

And at a knyght than wol I first bigynne.

 

A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man,

That fro the tyme that he first bigan

To riden out, he loved chivalrie,

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