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The Cook's Prologue and Tale

An Interlinear Translation

The Middle English text is from Larry D. Benson., Gen. ed., The Riverside Chaucer,
Houghton-Miflin Company; used with permission of the publisher.

 

(How to use the interlinear translations.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

The Cook's Prologue

 

The Prologe of the Cokes Tale

 

4325        The Cook of Londoun, whil the Reve spak,
                    The Cook of London, while the Reeve spoke,
4326        For joye him thoughte he clawed him on the bak.
                    Was so happy he thought the Reeve scratched him on the back.
4327        "Ha! ha!" quod he, "For Cristes passion,
                    "Ha! ha!" said he, "For Christ's passion,
4328        This millere hadde a sharp conclusion
                    This miller had a sharp conclusion
4329        Upon his argument of herbergage!
                    To his logical argument about lodging!
4330        Wel seyde Salomon in his langage,
                    Well said Salomon in his language,
4331        `Ne bryng nat every man into thyn hous,'
                    `Do not bring every man into thy house,'
4332        For herberwynge by nyghte is perilous.
                    For providing lodging by night is perilous.
4333        Wel oghte a man avysed for to be
                    Well ought a man to take heed
4334        Whom that he broghte into his pryvetee.
                    Whom he brings into his private home.
4335        I pray to God, so yeve me sorwe and care
                    I pray to God, give me sorrow and care
4336        If evere, sitthe I highte Hogge of Ware,
                    If ever, since I was called Roger of Ware,
4337        Herde I a millere bettre yset a-werk.
                    I heard a miller better set to work (tricked).
4338        He hadde a jape of malice in the derk.
                    He had a malicious trick played on him in the dark.
4339        But God forbede that we stynte heere;
                    But God forbid that we stop here;
4340        And therfore, if ye vouche-sauf to heere
                    And therefore, if you agree to hear
4341        A tale of me, that am a povre man,
                    A tale by me, who am a poor man,
4342        I wol yow telle, as wel as evere I kan,
                    I will tell you, as well as ever I can,
4343        A litel jape that fil in oure citee."
                    A little amusing affair that happened in our city."
4344        Oure Hoost answerde and seide, "I graunte it thee.
                    Our Host answered and said, "I grant it to thee.
4345        Now telle on, Roger; looke that it be good,
                    Now tell on, Roger; look that it be good,
4346        For many a pastee hastow laten blood,
                    For of many a pastry hast thou drawn out the gravy,
4347        And many a Jakke of Dovere hastow soold
                    And many a Jack of Dover (a kind of pie) hast thou sold
4348        That hath been twies hoot and twies coold.
                    That has been twice hot and twice cold.
4349        Of many a pilgrym hastow Cristes curs,
                    Of many a pilgrim hast thou Christ's curse,
4350        For of thy percely yet they fare the wors,
                    For of thy parsley yet they fare the worse,
4351        That they han eten with thy stubbel goos,
                    Which they have eaten with thy stubble-fed goose,
4352        For in thy shoppe is many a flye loos.
                    For in thy shop is many a fly loose.
4353        Now telle on, gentil Roger by thy name.
                    Now tell on, gentle Roger by thy name.
4354        But yet I pray thee, be nat wroth for game;
                    But yet I pray thee, be not angry about a joke;
4355        A man may seye ful sooth in game and pley."
                    A man may speak very truthfully in joking and play."
4356        "Thou seist ful sooth," quod Roger, "by my fey!
                    "Thou sayest the truth," said Roger, "by my faith!
4357        But `sooth pley, quaad pley,' as the Flemyng seith.
                    But `a true jest is a bad jest,' as the Fleming says.
4358        And therfore, Herry Bailly, by thy feith,
                    And therefore, Harry Bailly, by thy faith,
4359        Be thou nat wrooth, er we departen heer,
                    Be thou not angry, ere we depart here,
4360        Though that my tale be of an hostileer.
                    Even though my tale is of an inn-keeper.
4361        But nathelees I wol nat telle it yit;
                    But nonetheless I will not tell it yet;
4362        But er we parte, ywis, thou shalt be quit."
                    But before we part, indeed, thou shalt be repaid."
4363        And therwithal he lough and made cheere,
                    And with that he laughed and made good cheer,
4364        And seyde his tale, as ye shul after heere.
                    And told his tale, as you shall next hear.

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The Cook's Tale

 

Heere bigynneth the Cookes Tale.

 

4365        A prentys whilom dwelled in oure citee,
                    A apprentice once dwelt in our city,
4366        And of a craft of vitailliers was hee.
                    And of a craft of food merchants was he.
4367        Gaillard he was as goldfynch in the shawe,
                    Gaily dressed he was as is a goldfinch in the woods,
4368        Broun as a berye, a propre short felawe,
                    Brown as a berry, a good-looking short fellow,
4369        With lokkes blake, ykembd ful fetisly.
                    With locks black, combed full elegantly.
4370        Dauncen he koude so wel and jolily
                    He could dance so well and jollily
4371        That he was cleped Perkyn Revelour.
                    That he was called Perkin Reveler.
4372        He was as ful of love and paramour
                    He was as full of love and womanizing
4373        As is the hyve ful of hony sweete;
                    As is the hive full of honey sweet;
4374        Wel was the wenche with hym myghte meete.
                    Happy was the wench who with him might meet.
4375        At every bridale wolde he synge and hoppe;
                    At every wedding party he would sing and dance;
4376        He loved bet the taverne than the shoppe.
                    He loved the tavern better than the shop.
4377        For whan ther any ridyng was in Chepe,
                    For when there was any procession in Cheapside,
4378        Out of the shoppe thider wolde he lepe --
                    Out of the shop thither would he leap --
4379        Til that he hadde al the sighte yseyn,
                    Until that he had all the sight seen,
4380        And daunced wel, he wolde nat come ayeyn --
                    And danced well, he would not come back--
4381        And gadered hym a meynee of his sort
                    And gathered him a company of his sort
4382        To hoppe and synge and maken swich disport;
                    To dance and sing and make such merriment;
4383        And ther they setten stevene for to meete,
                    And there they agreed on a time to meet,
4384        To pleyen at the dys in swich a streete.
                    To play at dice in such and such a street.
4385        For in the toune nas ther no prentys
                    For in the town there was no apprentice
4386        That fairer koude caste a paire of dys
                    That could better throw a pair of dice
4387        Than Perkyn koude, and therto he was free
                    Than Perkin could, and thereto he was free
4388        Of his dispense, in place of pryvetee.
                    In his spending, in a private place.
4389        That fond his maister wel in his chaffare,
                    That found his master easily in his business accounts,
4390        For often tyme he foond his box ful bare.
                    For many times he found his cash box completely bare.
4391        For sikerly a prentys revelour
                    For surely (in the case of) an revelling apprentice
4392        That haunteth dys, riot, or paramour,
                    Who makes a practice of dicing, debauchery, or womanizing,
4393        His maister shal it in his shoppe abye,
                    His master shall pay for it in his shop,
4394        Al have he no part of the mynstralcye.
                    Even though he has no share of the entertainment (for which he pays).
4395        For thefte and riot, they been convertible,
                    For theft and debauchery, they are interchangeable.
4396        Al konne he pleye on gyterne or ribible.
                    Even though he knows how to play on guitar or fiddle.
4397        Revel and trouthe, as in a lowe degree,
                    Revelling and honesty, in one of low degree,
4398        They been ful wrothe al day, as men may see.
                    Are always incompatible, as anyone can see.
4399        This joly prentys with his maister bood,
                    This jolly apprentice with his master remained,
4400        Til he were ny out of his prentishood,
                    Until he was nearly out of his apprenticeship,
4401        Al were he snybbed bothe erly and late,
                    Although he was rebuked both early and late,
4402        And somtyme lad with revel to Newegate.
                    And sometimes taken (as a prisoner) with music to Newgate prison.
4403        But atte laste his maister hym bithoghte,
                    But at the last his master remembered,
4404        Upon a day, whan he his papir soghte,
                    Upon a day, when Perkin sought his certificate of release,
4405        Of a proverbe that seith this same word:
                    A proverb that says this same word:
4406        "Wel bet is roten appul out of hoord
                    "Well better is a rotten apple out of the store
4407        Than that it rotie al the remenaunt."
                    Than that it rot al the remnant."
4408        So fareth it by a riotous servaunt;
                    So fares it with a debauched servant;
4409        It is ful lasse harm to lete hym pace,
                    It is much less harm to let him go away,
4410        Than he shende alle the servantz in the place.
                    Than that he should ruin all the servants in the place.
4411        Therfore his maister yaf hym acquitance,
                    Therefore his master gave him his certificate,
4412        And bad hym go, with sorwe and with meschance!
                    And ordered him to go, with sorrow and with bad luck!
4413        And thus this joly prentys hadde his leve.
                    And thus this jolly apprentice had his leave.
4414        Now lat hym riote al the nyght or leve.
                    Now let him revel all the night or leave off (do as he chooses).
4415        And for ther is no theef withoute a lowke,
                    And because there is no thief without an accomplice,
4416        That helpeth hym to wasten and to sowke
                    Who helps him to waste and to consume
4417        Of that he brybe kan or borwe may,
                    That which he can steal or may borrow,
4418        Anon he sente his bed and his array
                    Right away he sent his bed and his clothing
4419        Unto a compeer of his owene sort,
                    Unto a companion of his own sort,
4420        That lovede dys, and revel, and disport,
                    Who loved dicing, and revelling, and having fun,
4421        And hadde a wyf that heeld for contenance
                    And had a wife that kept for the sake of appearances
4422        A shoppe, and swyved for hir sustenance.
                    A shop, and screwed for her living.

 

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Last modified: Apr 8, 2008
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Gold Texts on this page prepared and maintained by L. D. Benson (ldb@wjh.harvard.edu)