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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