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821 CHAUCER

COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS



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THE
COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS

OF
GEOFFREY CHAUCER



Ye knowe eek that in forme of speche is chaunge
Withinne a thousand yeer, and wordes tho

That hadden prys, now wonder nyce and straunge
Us thinketh hem ; and yet they spake hem so.



jftoDcm Eeafcerg Chaucer



THE COMPLETE

POETICAL WORKS OF

GEOFFREY CHAUCER

-/

NOW FIRST PUT INTO MODERN ENGLISH

c

BY

JOHN S. P. TATLOCK

AUTHOR OF " THE DEVELOPMENT AND CHRONOLOGY OF CHAUCER*S

WORKS," ETC.

AND

PERCY MACK.AYE

AUTHOR OF "THE CANTERBURY PILGRIMS," "JEANNE D*ARC," ETC

ILLUSTRATIONS BY WARWICK GOBLE



|5ork

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1940



COPYRIGHT, 1912,
Bv THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.



All rights reserved no part of this book may be
reproduced in any form without permission in writ-
ing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who
wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a
review written for inclusion in magazine or newspaper.



Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1912.
Reprinted October, 1938 ; November, 1940.



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



c






TO P. L. W



PREFACE

CHAUCER'S entire poetic works have never before been put into
modern English. Parts of them, especially of the Canterbury
Tales, have been retold in one place or another in both prose and
verse, some of the latter by pens so great as Wordsworth's,
Pope's, and Dryden's ; but hitherto a more nearly adequate idea
of a marvelously individual and many-sided poet could be
obtained only through his original text. That such is the best
way to obtain it the present editors would be the first to urge.
But most readers need not be told that it can be so acquired
only by dint of somewhat thorough study ; even more thorough
than the casual reader can realize, for yet more baffling than
frankly obsolete words are the countless words and idioms which
have subtly changed their meaning. And undoubtedly such
study at first may form a mist between the reader and a sym-
pathetic comprehension of the poet. The melody of his verse,
too, which the modernizer is so grieved to disturb, can be heard
only by the practised ear. It is believed, therefore, that the
present volume will be welcome to a good number of cultivated
people everywhere.

The editors have striven always to paraphrase as little and
to be as faithful to the original as they could ; certainly never
to misrepresent it. They have departed from it only to save
their version from one or another of four possible stumbling-
blocks : rhyme and excessive rhythm, obscurity, extreme ver-
bosity, and excessive coarseness. Their rare omission of words
or short passages for the last reason has not been indicated ; in
the still fewer cases where a whole episode is incurably gross or
voluptuous (yet Chaucer is never merely vicious), its omission
is shown by asterisks. Proper names are almost always given
in their true or their familiar modern form. A few short lyrics
which otherwise would have lost too much have been versified
in the original metrical form. The editors have tried to keep

vii



viii PREFACE

as much of Chaucer's raciness and archaic savor as is consistent
with the reader's ease ; it seemed best not to tease him with a
bookful of thou and tbee, -est and -eth. They have tried to let
him feel that he is reading Chaucer, and nothing else, so far as
Chaucer can ever be found in modern prose.

The volume is complete for his poetry. The only poems
in recent editions here omitted are one or two short ones which
there seems no reliable reason for ascribing to him, and the
translation of Le Roman de la Rose, in no sense an original poem,
and in part certainly, and elsewhere possibly, not by him at all.
The prose works wholly omitted are the translation of Boethius'
De Consolatione Philosophies and the Treatise on the Astrolabe
(also largely a translation) ; his other two prose works, the Tale
of Melibeus and the Parson's Tale (both largely or wholly un-
original and hardly appealing to modern tastes), being inherent
parts of the Canterbury Tales, are represented by specimens.
The text followed throughout (not without occasional reference
to the manuscripts) is Professor Skeat's, except for the Troilus
and Criseyde, in which Professor McCormick's (in the Globe
Chaucer) is followed.

The combined glossary and notes (alphabetically arranged by
obvious catch-words) contain only such explanations as seem
really essential, or are not easily accessible elsewhere, as in a
good English dictionary, a classical dictionary, or the like. For
fuller ones the reader must be referred to the commentary in
Skeat's Oxford Chaucer. Immediately before the glossary is
given a slight sketch of Chaucer's life, and also remarks as to the
source or circumstances which gave rise to a poem, when such
seemed necessary to the full appreciation of it.

The editors beg to acknowledge the frequent help they found
in the commentary and indices of the Rev. Professor Skeat's
great edition, in preparing both translation and notes. They
express their grateful thanks to Marjorie Fenton Tatlock for
her ever-obliging, painstaking, and tasteful work in collaborating.
They also thank Dr. George B. Dutton for his well-informed
and careful help.

P. M-K., J. S. P. T.,

CORNISH, NEW HAMPSHIRE. UNIVERSITY OK MICHIGAN.

OCTOBER, 1911.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

PACE

PREFACE . ......vn

THE CANTERBURY TALES

The Prologue .......... J

The Knight's Tale (V; 15

The Miller's Tale Q) 2

The Reeve's Tale 64

The Cook's Tale 7 2

The Man of Law' s Tale . 74

The Shipman's Tale ........ 94

The Prioress's Tale 101

The Tale of Sir Thopas 106

The Tale of Melibeus 109

The Monk's Tale 114

1 The Nun's Priest's Tale 129

I The Physician's Tale 1 4

t The Pardoner's Tale Q I4J

' The Wife of Bath's Tale 15?

The Friar's Tale 178

The Sumner's Tale . . . . . . . i_6

The Clerk's Tale 9 6

The Merchant's Tale (T) 2l8

The Squire's Tale . . . . . . . . .238

The Franklin's Tale 250

The Second Nun's Tale 267

The Canon's Yeoman's Tale . . . . . . -277

The Manciple's Tale 294

The Parson's Tale 300

TH*. MINOR POEMS

An A. B. C. 310

The Complaint unto Pity . . . . 3 1 4

The Book of the Duchess 316

The Complaint of Mars . . . . . . . 335

be



x TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE

The Parliament of Birds . . . . . . . .341

A Complaint to his Lady . . . . . . . 353

Anelida and Arcite . . . . . . . . 35

Chaucer's Words unto Adam . . . . . . .362

The Former Age ......... 362

Fortune ........... 363

Merciless Beauty . . . . . . . . -365

To Rosamond : A Ballade ....... 367

Truth ........... 367

Gentilesse .......... 368

Lack of Steadfastness . ......369

L' Envoy de Chaucer a Scogan . . . . . 37

L' Envoy de Chaucer a Buckton . . . . . . .371

The Complaint of Venus . . . . . . . .371

The Complaint of Chaucer to his Empty Purse . . . 373
Proverbs of Chaucer . . . . . . . . .374

Against Women Inconstant . . . . . . 375

An Amorous Complaint . . . . . . . 375

Womanly Nobility . . . . . . . . 377

TROILUS AND CRISEYDE ......... 378

THE HOUSE OF FAME . . . . . . .516

THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN ....... 546

CHAUCER'S LIFE AND WORKS ........ 594

GLOSSARY AND NOTES ....... 597



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

FACING PAGE

THESEUS RETURNING IN TRIUMPH 16

EMILY IN THE GARDEN ........ 18

THE MEETING IN THE WOOD 26

ALISON ............ 54

'IN THE NAME OF CHRIST,' CRIED THIS BLIND BRITON, ' GIVE

ME BACK MY SIGHT' ........ 84

CONSTANCE AND HER CHILD LEAVING NORTHUMBERLAND . . 88

'AN ELF QUEEN WILL I VERILY LOVE' IO8

ZENOBIA . . . . . . . . . . .122

VlRGINIUS AND VIRGINIA 144

THE THREE REVELLERS AND THE GOLD 154

THE KNIGHT AND THE OLD WOMAN 172

THE KNIGHT AND THE OLD WOMAN AT THE COURT . . .174

GRISELDA AND THE DUKE ........ 202

GRISELDA ROBED IN CLOTH OF GOLD ...... 204

JANUARY HELPING MAY INTO THE TREE 236

CANACEE AND THE FALCON ........ 246

DORIGEN PLEDGING AuRELIUS ....... 256

THE ANGEL PRESENTING THE CROWNS TO CECILY AND VALERIAN 272

'FLORA AND ZEPHYR HAD FIXED THEIR DWELLING THERE' . 322

'THE FAIREST COMPANY OF LADIES THAT EVER MAN HAD SEEN' 328

THE PARLIAMENT OF BIRDS 344

To MERCILESS BEAUTY 366

' Do AS YOU LIST, I WILL BE EVER KNOWN YOUR THRALL ' . 368

THE GREEK FLEET 378

THE FIRST MEETING 382

xi



rii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

FACING PAGE

CRISEYDE AND HER MAIDENS LISTENING TO A READING . . 398

CRISEYDE LEAVING TROY 486

'THERE I COULD SEE WINGED WONDERS FLY* .... 544

ALCESTE AND THE GOD OF LOVE 550

CLEOPATRA'S GALLEY AT THE BATTLE OF ACTIUM . . . 556

^ENEAS AND ACHATES MEETING VENUS 562

MEDEA 572



THE
COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS

OF
GEOFFREY CHAUCER



THE CANTERBURY TALES.

Here beginneth the Book of the Tales of Canterbury.

THE PROLOGUE.

WHEN the sweet showers of April have pierced to the root
the dryness of March, and bathed every vein in moisture whose
quickening brings forth the flowers ; when Zephyr also with his
sweet breath has quickened the tender new shoots in holt and
moor, and the young sun has run his half-course in the Ram,
and little birds make melody and sleep all night with eyes open,
so nature pricks them in their hearts : then folk long to go on
pilgrimage to renowned shrines in sundry distant lands, and
palmers to seek strange shores. And especially from every
shire's end in England they go their way to Canterbury, to
seek the holy blessed martyr who helped them when they were
sick.

On a day in that season, as I was biding at the Tabard Inn
at Southwark, about to make my pilgrimage with devout heart
to Canterbury, it befell that there came at night to that hostelry
a company of full nine-and-twenty sundry folk, who by chance
had fallen into fellowship. All were pilgrims, riding to Canter-
bury. The chambers and the stables were wide, and we were
right well lodged. But in brief, when the sun had gone to rest,
I had spoken with every one of them and was soon of their
company, and agreed to rise early to take our way whither 1
have told you. Nevertheless, whilst I have time and space,
before this tale goes farther, I think it is reason to tel! you all
the quality of each of them, as they appeared to me, what sort
of folk they were, of what station and how they were accoutred.
With a knight I will begin.

There was a Knight and that a worthy, who, from the time
when he first rode abroad, loved knighthood, faithfulness and



2 THE CANTERBURY TALES

honor, liberality and courtesy. He was full valiant in his lord's
war and had campaigned, no man farther, both in Christendom
and in heathen lands, ever honored for his worth. He was at
Alexandria when it was won ; many a time in Prussia he had
headed the board, before all the foreign knights ; he had
fought in Lithuania and in Russia, no Christian man of his de-
gree oftener; he had been in Granada at the siege of Algeciras
and in Belmaria ; he was at Lyeys and in Attalia when they were
won, and had landed with many a noble army in the Levant.
He had been in fifteen mortal battles, and had thrice fought for
our faith in the lists at Tremessen and ever slain his foe ; he had
been also, long before, with the lord of Palathia against another
heathen host in Turkey; and ever he had exceeding renown.
And though he was valorous he was prudent, and as meek as a
maid of his bearing. In all his life he never yet spoke discour-
tesy to any living creature, but was truly a perfect gentle knight.
To tell you of his equipment, his horses were good but he was
not gaily clad. He wore a jerkin of fustian all begrimed by his
coat of mail, for he had just returned from his travels and went
to do his pilgrimage.

His son was with him, a young Squire, a lover and a lusty
young soldier. His locks were curled as if laid in a press. He
may have been twenty years of age, middling in height, wondrous
nimble and great of strength. He had been, upon a time, in a
campaign in Flanders, Artois, and Picardy, and had borne him
well, in so little time, in hope to stand in his lady's grace. His
clothes were embroidered, red and white, as it were a meadow
full of fresh flowers. All the day long he was singing or playing
upon the flute; he was as fresh as the month of May. His
coat was short, with long, wide sleeves. Well could he sit a
horse and ride, make songs, joust and dance, draw and write.
He loved so ardently that at night-time he slept no more than a
nightingale. He was courteous, modest and helpful, and carved
before his father at table.

They had a Yeoman with them; on that journey they would
have none other servants. He was clad in coat and hood of
green, and in his hand bore a mighty bow and under his belt a neat
sheaf of arrows, bright and sharp, with peacock feathers. He
knew how to handle his gear like a good yeoman ; his arrows



THE PROLOGUE 3

flew not aslant with feathers trailing. His head was cropped
and his visage brown. He understood well all the practice of
wood-craft. He wore a gay arm-guard of leather and at one
side a sword and buckler; at the other a fine dagger, well accou-
tred and as sharp as a spear-point ; on his breast a St. Christopher
in bright silver, and over his shoulder a horn on a green baldric.
He was a woodman indeed, I trow.

There was also a nun, a Prioress, full quiet and simple in
her smiling ; her greatest oath was but by Saint Loy. She was
named Madame Eglantine. Well she sang divine service, in-
toned full seemly in her nose, and spoke French elegantly, after
the manner of Stratford-le-Bow, for Parisian French she knew
naught of. She had been well taught the art of eating, and let no
morsel fall from her lips, and wet but her finger-tips in the sauce.
She knew how to lift and how to hold a bit so that not a drop fell
upon her breast. Her pleasure was all in courtesy. She wiped
her upper lip so well that no film of grease was to be seen in her
cup after she had drunk ; and very dainty she was in reaching
for her food. In truth she was full diverting, pleasant and ami-
able of bearing. She took pains to imitate court manners, to be
stately in her demeanor and to be held worthy of reverence.
But to tell you of her character, she was so charitable and so
tender-hearted she would weep if she saw a mouse caught in a
trap if it were dead or bleeding. She had certain small dogs,
which she fed upon roasted meat or milk and finest wheaten
bread. She would weep sore if one of them died or was struck
at sharply with a stick. She was all warm feeling and tender
heart. Her wimple was plaited neatly. Her nose was slender,
her eyes gray as glass, her mouth small and soft and red withal.
Certainly she had a fine forehead, almost a span high, - verily she
was not undersized. Her cloak was neatly made,* I was ware.
About her arm was a coral rosary, the larger beads of green,
upon which hung a brooch of shining gold; on it was engraved
first an A with a crown, and after that Amor vincit omnia.

Another Nun, her chaplain, was with her, and three Priests.

There was a Monk, exceeding fine and imposing, a great
rider about the country-side and a lover of hunting, a manly
man withal, fit to be an abbot. He had many a blooded horse
in his stable, and when he rode, men could hear his bridle jingling



4 THE CANTERBURY TALES

in a whistling wind as clear and loud as the chapel-bell where
this lord was prior. Because the rule of St. Maur or of St.
Bennet was old and something austere, this same monk let such
old things pass and followed the ways of the newer world. He
gave not a plucked hen for the text that hunters are not holy,
or that a careless monk (that is to say, one out of his clois-
ter) is like a fish out of water ; for that text he would not give
a herring. And I said his opinion was right ; why should he
study and lose his wits ever poring over a book in the cloister, or
toil with his hands and labor as St. Austin bids ? How shall the
world be served ? Let St. Austin have his work to himself.
Therefore he rode hard, followed greyhounds as swift as birds
on the wing. All his pleasure was in riding and hunting the
hare, and he spared no cost thereon. I saw his sleeves edged at
the wrist with fine dark fur, the finest in the country, and to
fasten his hood under his chin he had a fine-wrought brooch of
gold ; in the larger end was a love-knot. His bald head shone
like glass ; so did his face, as if it had been anointed. He was
a sleek, fat lord. His bright eyes rolled in his head, glowing
like the fire under a cauldron. His boots were of rich soft
leather, his horse in fine fettle. Now certainly he was a fair
prelate. He was not pale, like a wasted ghost; best of any
viand he loved a fat roasted swan. His palfrey was as brown
as a berry.

There was a begging Friar, wanton and jolly, a very self-
important fellow. In all the four orders is not one so skilled in
gay and flattering talk. He had, at his own expense, married
off many a young woman; he was a noble pillar of his order!
He was well beloved and familiar amongst franklins everywhere in
his country-side, and eke with worthy town women, for he had,
as he said himself, more virtue as c> - fessor than a parson, for he
held a papal license. Full sweetl he heard confession, and his
absolution was pleasant ; he was an easy man to give penance,
when he looked to have a good dinner. Gifts to a poor order
are a sign that a man has been well shriven, he maintained ; if a
man gave, he knew he was contrife. For many a man is so stern
of heart that he cannot weep though he suffer sore ; therefore,
instead of weeping and praying, men may give silver to the poor
friars. His tippet was stuffed full of knives and pins as presents



THE PROLOGUE 5

to comely women. And certainly he had a pleasant voice in
singing, and well could play the fiddle ; in singing ballads he
bore off the prize. His neck was as white as the flower-de-
luce, and he was as strong as a champion. He knew all the
town taverns, and every inn-keeper and bar-maid, better than
the lepers and beggar-women. For it accorded not with a
man of his importance to have acquaintance with sick lepers ;
it was not seemly, it profited not, to deal with any such poor
trash, but all with rich folk and sellers of victual. But every-
where that advantage might follow he was courteous, lowly and
serviceable. Nowhere was any so capable; he was the best
beggar in his convent, and gave a certain yearly payment that
none of his brethren might trespass on his routes. Though a
widow might not have an old shoe to give, so pleasant was his
" In principio," he would have his farthing ere he went. He
gained more from his begging than from his property, I trow !
He would romp about like a puppy-dog. In love-days he was
right efficacious, for he was not like a cloister-monk or a poor
scholar with a threadbare cope, but like a Master of Arts or a
cardinal. His half-cope was of double worsted and came from
the clothes-press rounding out like a bell. He pleased his whim
by lisping a little, to make his English sound sweet upon his
tongue, and in his harping and singing his eyes twinkled in his
head as the stars on a frosty night. This worthy friar was
named Hubert.

There was a Merchant with a forked beard, in parti-colored
garb. High he sat upon his horse, a Flanders beaver-hat on
his head, and boots fastened neatly with rich clasps. He uttered
his opinions pompously, ever tending to the increase of his own
profit ; at any cost he would the sea were safeguarded betwixt
Middleburg and Orwell. In selling crown-pieces he knew how
to profit by the exchange. This worthy man employed his wit
full cunningly ; no wight knew that he was in debt, so stately
he was of demeanor in bargaining and borrowing. He was a
worthy man withal, but, to say the truth, I know not his name.

There was also an Oxford Clerk who had long gone to lec-
tures on logic. His horse was as lean as a rake, and he was not
right fat, I trow, but looked hollow-cheeked, and grave likewise.
His little outer cloak was threadbare, for he had no worldly



6 THE CANTERBURY TALES

craft to beg office, and as yet had got him no benefice. He
would rather have had at his bed's head twenty volumes of Aris-
totle and his philosophy, bound in red or black, than rich robes
or a fiddle or gay psaltery. Albeit he was a philosopher, he had
but little gold in his money-box ! But all that he could get from
his friends he spent on books and learning, and would pray dili-
gently for the souls of them that gave him wherewith to stay at
the schools. Of study he took most heed and care. Not a
word spoke he more than was needful, and that little was formal
and modest, in utterance short and quick, and full of high matter.
All that he said tended toward moral virtue. Above all things
he loved to learn and to teach.

There was also a Sergeant of the Law, an excellent man,
wary and wise, a frequenter of the porch of Paul's Church. He
was discreet and of great distinction ; or seemed such, his words
were so sage. He had been judge at assizes, by patent and full
commission ; with his learning and great repute he had earned
many a fee and robe. Such a man as he for acquiring goods
there never was ; aught that he desired could be shown to be
held in fee-simple, and none could find a flaw in his deeds.
Nowhere was there so busy a man, and yet he seemed busier
than he was. He knew in precise terms every case and judg-
ment since King William the Conqueror, and every statute
fully, word for word, and none could chide at his writing. He
rode in homely style in a coat of mixed stuff" and a girdle of silk
with small cross-bars. Of his appearance I will not make a
longer story.

A Franklin was travelling with him, bearded white as a daisy,
ruddy of face and sanguine of temper. Well he loved a sop in
wine of a morning. He was ever wont to live in pleasure, for
he was a very son of Epicurus, who held the opinion that perfect
felicity stands in pleasure alone. He ever kept open house, as
a very St. Julian in his own country-side. His bread and his
wine were ever alike of the best; never were a man's wine-vaults
better stored. His house was never without a huge pasty offish
or flesh-meat ; in his house it snowed meat and drink, and every
dainty that a man could dream of. According to the season of
the year he varied his meats and his suppers. Many a fat
partridge was in his mew and many a bream and pike in his fish-



THE PROLOGUE 7

pond. Woe to his cook unless his sauces were pungent and
sharp, and his gear ever in order ! All the long day stood a
great table in his hall ready laid. When the justices met at
sessions, there he lorded it full grandly, and many a time he sat
as knight of the shire in parliament. A dagger hung at his
girdle, and a pouch of taffeta, white as morning's milk. He had
been sheriff and auditor; nowhere was so worthy a vassal.

A Haberdasher, a Carpenter, a Weaver, a Dyer and an Up-
holsterer were with us eke, all in the same livery of a great and
splendid guild. All fresh and new was their gear. Their
knives were not tipped with brass but all with fine-wrought
silver, like their girdles and their pouches. Each of them seemed
a fair burgess to sit in a guildhall on a dais. Each for his dis-
cretion was fit to be alderman of his guild, and had goods and
income sufficient therefor. Their wives would have consented,
I trow ! And else were they to blame ; it is a full fair thing to
be called madame, and to walk ahead of other folks to vigils, and
to have a mantle carried royally before them.

They had a Cook with them for that journey, to boil chickens
with the marrow-bones and tart powder-merchant and cyperus-
root. Well he knew a draught of London ale! He could roast
and fry and broil and stew, make dainty pottage and bake pies
well. It was a great pity, methought, that he had a great sore
on his shin, for he made capon-in-cream with the best of them.

There was a Shipman, from far in the West ; for aught I
know, he was from Dartmouth. He rode a nag, as well as he
knew how, in a gown of frieze to the knee. He had a dagger



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