Gold THE GEOFFREY CHAUCER PAGE


 

The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale

An Interlinear Translation

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue

 

The Prologe of the Chanounas Yemannes Tale
[The Prologue of the Canon's Yeoman's Tale ]

 

554         Whan ended was the lyf of Seinte Cecile,
                    When the life of Saint Cecile was ended,
555         Er we hadde riden fully fyve mile,
                    Before we had ridden a good five miles,
556         At Boghtoun under Blee us gan atake
                    At Boghtoun under Blee overtook us
557         A man that clothed was in clothes blake,
                    A man who was clothed in black clothes,
558         And undernethe he hadde a whyt surplys.
                    And underneath that he had a white surplice.
559         His hakeney, that was al pomely grys,
                    His riding horse, that was all dapple gray,
560         So swatte that it wonder was to see;
                    So sweated that it was a wonder to see;
561         It semed as he had priked miles three.
                    It seemed as if he had spurred hard for three miles.
562         The hors eek that his yeman rood upon
                    The horse also that his yeoman rode upon
563         So swatte that unnethe myghte it gon.
                    So sweated that it could hardly move.
564         Aboute the peytrel stood the foom ful hye;
                    About the collar stood the foam very high;
565         He was of foom al flekked as a pye.
                    He was by foam all flecked like a magpie.
566         A male tweyfoold on his croper lay;
                    A double bag on his crupper lay;
567         It semed that he caried lite array.
                    It seemed that he carried little gear.
568         Al light for somer rood this worthy man,
                    All lightly clad for summer rode this worthy man,
569         And in myn herte wondren I bigan
                    And in my heart I began to wonder
570         What that he was til that I understood
                    What he was until I understood
571         How that his cloke was sowed to his hood,
                    How his cloak was sewn to his hood,
572         For which, whan I hadde longe avysed me,
                    For which, when I had long thought about it,
573         I demed hym som chanoun for to be.
                    I judged him to be some sort of canon.
574         His hat heeng at his bak doun by a laas,
                    His hat hung at his back down by a strap,
575         For he hadde riden moore than trot or paas;
                    For he had ridden at more than a trot or a walk;
576         He hadde ay priked lik as he were wood.
                    He had always spurred as if he were crazy.
577         A clote-leef he hadde under his hood
                    A burdock-leaf he had under his hood
578         For swoot and for to keep his heed from heete.
                    For sweat and to keep his head from heat.
579         But it was joye for to seen hym swete!
                    But what a joy it was to see him sweat!
580         His forheed dropped as a stillatorie
                    His forehead dripped like a still
581         Were ful of plantayne and of paritorie.
                    Full of the herbs plantain and pellitory.
582         And whan that he was come, he gan to crye,
                    And when he was come to us, he began to cry out,
583         "God save," quod he, "this joly compaignye!
                    "God save," said he, "this jolly company!
584         Faste have I priked," quod he, "for youre sake,
                    Fast have I spurred," said he, "for your sake,
585         By cause that I wolde yow atake,
                    Because I wanted to overtake you,
586         To riden in this myrie compaignye."
                    To ride in this merry company."
587         His yeman eek was ful of curteisye,
                    His yeoman also was full of courtesy,
588         And seyde, "Sires, now in the morwe-tyde
                    And said, "Sirs, just now in the morning time
589         I saugh yow ryde out of youre hostelrie,
                    I saw you ride out of your hostelry,
590         And warned heer my lord and my soverayn,
                    And told my lord here and my sovereign,
591         Which that to ryden with yow is ful fayn
                    Who is very eager to ride with you
592         For his desport; he loveth daliaunce."
                    For his pleasure; he loves sociability."

593         "Freend, for thy warnyng God yeve thee good chaunce,"
                    "Friend, for thy telling him God give thee good luck,"
594         Thanne seyde oure Hoost, "for certein it wolde seme
                    Then said our Host, "for certainly it would seem
595         Thy lord were wys, and so I may wel deme.
                    Thy lord is wise, and as I can well judge.
596         He is ful jocunde also, dar I leye!
                    He is very cheerful also, I dare wager!
597         Can he oght telle a myrie tale or tweye,
                    Can he in any way tell a merry tale or two,
598         With which he glade may this compaignye?"
                    With which he may gladden this company?"

599         "Who, sire? My lord? Ye, ye, withouten lye,
                    "Who, sir? My lord? Yes, yes, without lie,
600         He kan of murthe and eek of jolitee
                    He knows about mirth and also about jollity
601         Nat but ynough; also, sire, trusteth me,
                    More than enough; also, sir, trust me,
602         And ye hym knewe as wel as do I,
                    If you knew him as well as do I,
603         Ye wolde wondre how wel and craftily
                    You would wonder how well and craftily
604         He koude werke, and that in sondry wise.
                    He knows how to work, and that in a variety of ways.
605         He hath take on hym many a greet emprise,
                    He has taken on him many a great enterprise,
606         Which were ful hard for any that is heere
                    Which would be very hard for any one who is here
607         To brynge aboute, but they of hym it leere.
                    To bring about, unless they learn it from him.
608         As hoomly as he rit amonges yow,
                    Despite how modestly he rides amongst you,
609         If ye hym knewe, it wolde be for youre prow.
                    If you knew him, it would be to your advantage.
610         Ye wolde nat forgoon his aqueyntaunce
                    You would not forgo his acquaintance
611         For muchel good, I dar leye in balaunce
                    For great riches, I dare wager on that
612         Al that I have in my possessioun.
                    All that I have in my possession.
613         He is a man of heigh discrecioun;
                    He is a man of great discretion;
614         I warne yow wel, he is a passyng man."
                    I tell you indeed, he is a remarkable man."

615         "Wel," quod oure Hoost, "I pray thee, tel me than,
                    "Well," said our Host, "I pray thee, tell me then,
616         Is he a clerk, or noon? Telle what he is."
                    Is he a clerk, or not? Tell what he is."

617         "Nay, he is gretter than a clerk, ywis,"
                    "Nay, he is greater than a clerk, indeed,"
618         Seyde this Yeman, "and in wordes fewe,
                    Said this Yeoman, "and in few words,
619         Hoost, of his craft somwhat I wol yow shewe.
                    Host, I will show you something of his craft.

620         "I seye, my lord kan swich subtilitee --
                    "I say, my lord knows such esoteric science --
621         But al his craft ye may nat wite at me,
                    But all his craft you can not know from me,
622         And somwhat helpe I yet to his wirkyng --
                    And yet somewhat I help in his work --
623         That al this ground on which we been ridyng,
                    That all this ground on which we are riding,
624         Til that we come to Caunterbury toun,
                    Until we come to Canterbury town,
625         He koude al clene turnen up-so-doun,
                    He could turn all completely upside down,
626         And pave it al of silver and of gold."
                    And pave it all with silver and with gold."

627         And whan this Yeman hadde this tale ytold
                    And when this Yeoman had this tale told
628         Unto oure Hoost, he seyde, "Benedicitee!
                    Unto our Host, he said, "Bless you!
629         This thyng is wonder merveillous to me,
                    This thing is wonderfully marvelous to me,
630         Syn that thy lord is of so heigh prudence,
                    Since thy lord is of such great prudence,
631         By cause of which men sholde hym reverence,
                    Because of which men should reverence him,
632         That of his worshipe rekketh he so lite.
                    That he cares so little for his own self-respect.
633         His overslope nys nat worth a myte,
                    His outer garment is not worth a fraction of a penny,
634         As in effect, to hym, so moot I go,
                    Because in fact, to him, as I may go (I swear),
635         It is al baudy and totore also.
                    It is all dirty and tattered also.
636         Why is thy lord so sluttissh, I the preye,
                    Why is thy lord so slovenly, I pray thee,
637         And is of power bettre clooth to beye,
                    And has the power to buy better cloth,
638         If that his dede accorde with thy speche?
                    If his deeds accord with thy speech?
639         Telle me that, and that I thee biseche."
                    Tell me that, and of that I beseech thee."

640         "Why?" quod this Yeman, "wherto axe ye me?
                    "Why?" said this Yeoman, "why do you ask me?
641         God help me so, for he shal nevere thee!
                    So help me God, for he shall never prosper!
642         (But I wol nat avowe that I seye,
                    (But I will not publicly acknowledge what I say,
643         And therfore keepe it secree, I yow preye.)
                    And therefore keep it secret, I pray you.)
644         He is to wys, in feith, as I bileeve.
                    He is too wise, in faith, as I believe.
645         That that is overdoon, it wol nat preeve
                    That which is done too much, it will not turn out
646         Aright, as clerkes seyn; it is a vice.
                    Right, as clerks say; it is a vice.
647         Wherfore in that I holde hym lewed and nyce.
                    Therefore in that I hold him ignorant and foolish.
648         For whan a man hath over-greet a wit,
                    For when a man has too great a wit,
649         Ful oft hym happeth to mysusen it.
                    Very often he happens to misuse it.
650         So dooth my lord, and that me greveth soore;
                    So does my lord, and that sorely grieves me;
651         God it amende! I kan sey yow namoore."
                    God amend it! I can tell you no more."

652         "Ther-of no fors, good Yeman," quod oure Hoost;
                    "That does not matter, good Yeoman," said our Host;
653         "Syn of the konnyng of thy lord thow woost,
                    "Since thou knowest of the cunning of thy lord,
654         Telle how he dooth, I pray thee hertely,
                    Tell how he does, I pray thee heartily,
655         Syn that he is so crafty and so sly.
                    Since he is so crafty and so sly.
656         Where dwelle ye, if it to telle be?"
                    Where do you dwell, if it can be told?"

657         "In the suburbes of a toun," quod he,
                    "In the outskirts of a town," said he,
658         "Lurkynge in hernes and in lanes blynde,
                    "Lurking in hiding places and in dead-end alleys,
659         Whereas thise robbours and thise theves by kynde
                    Where these robbers and these thieves by nature
660         Holden hir pryvee fereful residence,
                    Hold their private fearful residence,
661         As they that dar nat shewen hir presence;
                    Like those who dare not show their presence;
662         So faren we, if I shal seye the sothe."
                    So fare we, if I shall say the truth."

663         "Now," quod oure Hoost, "yit lat me talke to the.
                    "Now," said our Host, "yet let me talk to thee.
664         Why artow so discoloured of thy face?"
                    Why art thou so discolored in thy face?"

665         "Peter!" quod he, "God yeve it harde grace,
                    "Peter!" said he, "God give it bad luck,
666         I am so used in the fyr to blowe
                    I am so used to blow in the fire
667         That it hath chaunged my colour, I trowe.
                    That it has changed my color, I believe.
668         I am nat wont in no mirour to prie,
                    I am not accustomed to peer in any mirror,
669         But swynke soore and lerne multiplie.
                    But to work hard and to learn to transmute metals.
670         We blondren evere and pouren in the fir,
                    We blunder ever and stare in the fire,
671         And for al that we faille of oure desir,
                    And despite all that, we fail to achieve our desire,
672         For evere we lakken oure conclusioun.
                    For ever we lack our desired conclusion.
673         To muchel folk we doon illusioun,
                    To many folk we do delusion,
674         And borwe gold, be it a pound or two,
                    And borrow gold, be it a pound or two,
675         Or ten, or twelve, or manye sommes mo,
                    Or ten, or twelve, or many greater sums,
676         And make hem wenen, at the leeste weye,
                    And make them believe, at the very least,
677         That of a pound we koude make tweye.
                    That of one pound we could make two.
678         Yet is it fals, but ay we han good hope
                    Yet is it false, but always we have good hope
679         It for to doon, and after it we grope.
                    To do it, and after it we grope.
680         But that science is so fer us biforn,
                    But that knowledge is so far ahead of us,
681         We mowen nat, although we hadden it sworn,
                    We can not, although we had sworn it,
682         It overtake, it slit awey so faste.
                    Overtake it, it slides away so fast.
683         It wole us maken beggers atte laste."
                    It will make us beggars at the last."

684         Whil this Yeman was thus in his talkyng,
                    While this Yeoman was thus in his talking,
685         This Chanoun drough hym neer and herde al thyng
                    This Canon drew himself nearer and heard every thing
686         Which this Yeman spak, for suspecioun
                    Which this Yeoman spoke, for suspicion
687         Of mennes speche evere hadde this Chanoun.
                    Of men's speech ever had this Canon.
688         For Catoun seith that he that gilty is
                    For Cato says that he who is guilty
689         Demeth alle thyng be spoke of hym, ywis.
                    Believes every thing is spoken about him, indeed.
690         That was the cause he gan so ny hym drawe
                    That was the cause he did draw himself so near
691         To his Yeman, to herknen al his sawe.
                    To his Yeoman, to hear all his speech.
692         And thus he seyde unto his Yeman tho:
                    And thus he said unto his Yeoman then:
693         "Hoold thou thy pees and spek no wordes mo,
                    "Hold thou thy peace and speak no more words,
694         For if thou do, thou shalt it deere abye.
                    For if thou do, thou shalt dearly pay for it.
695         Thou sclaundrest me heere in this compaignye,
                    Thou slanderest me here in this company,
696         And eek discoverest that thou sholdest hyde."
                    And also revealest what thou shouldest hide."

697         "Ye," quod oure Hoost, "telle on, what so bityde.
                    "Yes," said our Host, "tell on, whataever may happen.
698         Of al his thretyng rekke nat a myte!"
                    Reckon all his threatening not worth a fraction of a penny!"
699         "In feith," quod he, "namoore I do but lyte."
                    "In faith," said he, "I do (reckon him) but little any more."

700         And whan this Chanon saugh it wolde nat bee,
                    And when this Canon saw it would not be,
701         But his Yeman wolde telle his pryvetee,
                    But that his Yeoman would tell his secrets,
702         He fledde awey for verray sorwe and shame.
                    He fled away for true sorrow and shame.

703         "A!" quod the Yeman, "heere shal arise game;
                    "Ah!" said the Yeoman, "here shall arise some amusement;
704         Al that I kan anon now wol I telle.
                    Right now I will tell all that I know.
705         Syn he is goon, the foule feend hym quelle!
                    Since he is gone, may the foul fiend kill him!
706         For nevere heerafter wol I with hym meete
                    For never hereafter will I meet with him
707         For peny ne for pound, I yow biheete.
                    For penny nor for pound, I promise you.
708         He that me broghte first unto that game,
                    He who brought me first unto that game,
709         Er that he dye, sorwe have he and shame!
                    Before he dies, may he have sorrow and shame!
710         For it is ernest to me, by my feith;
                    For it is serious (not game) to me, by my faith;
711         That feele I wel, what so any man seith.
                    That feel I well, whatever any man says.
712         And yet, for al my smert and al my grief,
                    And yet, for all my pain and all my grief,
713         For al my sorwe, labour, and meschief,
                    For all my sorrow, labor, and mischief,
714         I koude nevere leve it in no wise.
                    I could never leave it in any way.
715         Now wolde God my wit myghte suffise
                    Now I wish to God my wit might suffice
716         To tellen al that longeth to that art!
                    To tell all that belongs to that art!
717         But nathelees yow wol I tellen part.
                    But nonetheless you desire that I tell part.
718         Syn that my lord is goon, I wol nat spare;
                    Since my lord is gone, I will not spare;
719         Swich thyng as that I knowe, I wol declare.
                    Such things as what I know, I will declare.

Heere endeth the Prologe of the Chanouns Yemannes Tale .
[Here ends the Prologue of the Canon's Yeoman's Tale]

 

______________________________________________________________

 

THE CANON'S YEOMAN'S TALE

 

Heere bigynneth the Chanouns Yeman his Tale.
[Here begins the Canon's Yeoman's Tale]

                    [Prima Pars]
                    [[First Part]

720         With this Chanoun I dwelt have seven yeer,
                    With this Canon I have dwelt seven years,
721         And of his science am I never the neer.
                    And as to his science I am never the nearer (to success).
722         Al that I hadde I have lost therby,
                    All that I had I have lost thereby,
723         And, God woot, so hath many mo than I.
                    And, God knows, so have many more than I.
724         Ther I was wont to be right fressh and gay
                    Where I was accustomed to be right fresh and gay
725         Of clothyng and of oother good array,
                    Of clothing and of other splendid furnishings,
726         Now may I were an hose upon myn heed;
                    Now may I wear a hose upon my head;
727         And wher my colour was bothe fressh and reed,
                    And whereas my color was both fresh and red,
728         Now is it wan and of a leden hewe --
                    Now is it pale and of a leaden hue --
729         Whoso it useth, soore shal he rewe! --
                    Whoever uses it (that art), sorely shall he rue! --
730         And of my swynk yet blered is myn ye.
                    And by my work yet my eye is bleared.
731         Lo, which avantage is to multiplie!
                    Lo, how profitable it is to transute metals!
732         That slidynge science hath me maad so bare
                    That slippery science has made me so bare
733         That I have no good, wher that evere I fare;
                    That I have no possessions, wherever I fare;
734         And yet I am endetted so therby
                    And yet by this I am so indebted
735         Of gold that I have borwed, trewely,
                    For gold that I have borrowed, truly,
736         That whil I lyve I shal it quite nevere.
                    That while I live I shall never repay it.
737         Lat every man be war by me for evere!
                    Let every man be warned by me forever!
738         What maner man that casteth hym therto,
                    Whatever sort of man that applies himself to that,
739         If he continue, I holde his thrift ydo.
                    If he continue, I consider his prosperity done for.
740         For so helpe me God, therby shal he nat wynne,
                    For so help me God, he shall not profit thereby,
741         But empte his purs and make his wittes thynne.
                    But empty his purse and make his wits thin.
742         And whan he thurgh his madnesse and folye
                    And when he through his madness and folly
743         Hath lost his owene good thurgh jupartye,
                    Has lost his own possessions in this dangerous business,
744         Thanne he exciteth oother folk therto,
                    Then he incites other folk to that,
745         To lesen hir good as he hymself hath do.
                    To lose their possessions as he himself has done.
746         For unto shrewes joye it is and ese
                    For unto scoundrels it is joy and ease
747         To have hir felawes in peyne and disese.
                    To have their fellows in pain and hardship.
748         Thus was I ones lerned of a clerk.
                    Thus was I once taught by a clerk.
749         Of that no charge; I wol speke of oure werk.
                    No matter about that; I will speak of our work.

750         Whan we been there as we shul exercise
                    When we are where we shall exercise
751         Oure elvysshe craft, we semen wonder wise,
                    Our mysterious craft, we seem wonderfully wise,
752         Oure termes been so clergial and so queynte.
                    Our terms are so scholarly and so strange.
753         I blowe the fir til that myn herte feynte.
                    I blow the fire until my heart faints.
754         What sholde I tellen ech proporcion
                    Why should I tell each proportion
755         Of thynges whiche that we werche upon --
                    Of the things that we work upon --
756         As on fyve or sixe ounces, may wel be,
                    As on five or six ounces, it may well be,
757         Of silver, or som oother quantitee --
                    Of silver, or some other quantity --
758         And bisye me to telle yow the names
                    And busy myself to tell you the names
759         Of orpyment, brent bones, iren squames,
                    Of orpiment (arsenic trisulfide), burned bones, iron flakes,
760         That into poudre grounden been ful smal;
                    That are ground into very fine powder;
761         And in an erthen pot how put is al,
                    And how all is put in an earthen pot,
762         And salt yput in, and also papeer,
                    And salt put in, and also pepper,
763         Biforn thise poudres that I speke of heer;
                    Before these powders that I speak of here;
764         And wel ycovered with a lampe of glas;
                    And well covered with a lamp-shaped vessel of glass;
765         And of muche oother thyng which that ther was;
                    And of many other things which were there;
766         And of the pot and glasses enlutyng
                    And sealing of the pot and glasses
767         That of the eyr myghte passe out nothyng;
                    So that not a bit of the air could pass out;
768         And of the esy fir, and smart also,
                    And of the slow fir, and fast also,
769         Which that was maad, and of the care and wo
                    Which was made, and of the care and woe
770         That we hadde in oure matires sublymyng,
                    That we had in purifying our materials,
771         And in amalgamyng and calcenyng
                    And in blending and reducing to powder
772         Of quyksilver, yclept mercurie crude?
                    Of quicksilver, called raw mercury?
773         For alle oure sleightes we kan nat conclude.
                    Despite all our tricks we can not succeed.
774         Oure orpyment and sublymed mercurie,
                    Our orpiment (arsenic trisulfide), and purified mercury,
775         Oure grounden litarge eek on the porfurie,
                    Our litharge (lead monoxide) ground also on the porphyry mortar,
776         Of ech of thise of ounces a certeyn --
                    A certain number of ounces of each of these --
777         Noght helpeth us; oure labour is in veyn.
                    Nothing helps us; our labor is in vain.
778         Ne eek oure spirites ascencioun,
                    Also neither our spirit's vaporization,
779         Ne oure materes that lyen al fix adoun,
                    Nor our materials that remain fixed in the pot,
780         Mowe in oure werkyng no thyng us availle,
                    Can in any way help us in our working,
781         For lost is al oure labour and travaille;
                    For all our labor and travail is lost;
782         And al the cost, a twenty devel waye,
                    And all the expenditure, in the name of twenty devils,
783         Is lost also, which we upon it laye.
                    Which we spent upon it, is lost also.

784         Ther is also ful many another thyng
                    There is also very many another thing
785         That is unto oure craft apertenyng.
                    That pertains unto our craft.
786         Though I by ordre hem nat reherce kan,
                    Though I can not list them in their proper order,
787         By cause that I am a lewed man,
                    Because I am an unlearned man,
788         Yet wol I telle hem as they come to mynde,
                    Yet will I tell them as they come to mind,
789         Thogh I ne kan nat sette hem in hir kynde:
                    Though I can not set them in their proper categories:
790         As boole armonyak, verdegrees, boras,
                    Such as armenian bol (red clay), verdigris (copper acetate), borax,
791         And sondry vessels maad of erthe and glas,
                    And various vessels made of clay and glass,
792         Oure urynales and oure descensories,
                    Our urinals and our retorts,
793         Violes, crosletz, and sublymatories,
                    Vials, crucibles, and sublimation vessels,
794         Cucurbites and alambikes eek,
                    Vessels for distilling and alembics also,
795         And othere swiche, deere ynough a leek --
                    And other such things, very expensive at the price of a leek --
796         Nat nedeth it for to reherce hem alle --
                    There ia no need to list them all --
797         Watres rubifiyng, and boles galle,
                    Liquids that cause reddening, and bull's gall,
798         Arsenyk, sal armonyak, and brymstoon;
                    Arsenic, sal ammoniac, and brimstone;
799         And herbes koude I telle eek many oon,
                    And herbs could I tell also many a one,
800         As egremoyne, valerian, and lunarie,
                    Such as agrimony, valerian, and moonwort,
801         And othere swiche, if that me liste tarie;
                    And other such things, if I wanted to tarry;
802         Oure lampes brennyng bothe nyght and day,
                    Our lamps burning both night and day,
803         To brynge aboute oure purpos, if we may;
                    To bring about our purpose, if we can;
804         Oure fourneys eek of calcinacioun,
                    Also our furnace for reducing substances to powder,
805         And of watres albificacioun;
                    And of whitening by liquids;
806         Unslekked lym, chalk, and gleyre of an ey,
                    Unslaked lime, chalk, and white of an egg,
807         Poudres diverse, asshes, donge, pisse, and cley,
                    Various powders, ashes, dung, piss, and clay,
808         Cered pokkets, sal peter, vitriole,
                    Waxed (waterproofed) packets, saltpeter, sulphuric acid,
809         And diverse fires maad of wode and cole;
                    And various sorts of fires made of wood and coal;
810         Sal tartre, alkaly, and sal preparat,
                    Potassium nitrate, alkali, and purified salt,
811         And combust materes and coagulat;
                    And burned materials and solidified;
812         Cley maad with hors or mannes heer, and oille
                    Clay made with horse or man's hair, and oil
813         Of tartre, alum glas, berme, wort, and argoille,
                    Of tartar, crystallized alum, yeast, unfermented malt, and argol,
814         Resalgar, and oure materes enbibyng,
                    Arsenic, and soaking our materials,
815         And eek of oure materes encorporyng,
                    And also of forming a compound of our materials,
816         And of oure silver citrinacioun,
                    And of turning our silver to a yellow color,
817         Oure cementyng and fermentacioun,
                    Our fusion by heat and fermentation,
818         Oure yngottes, testes, and many mo.
                    Our casting molds, crucibles for testing, and many more.

819         I wol yow telle, as was me taught also,
                    I will tell you, as it was taught also to me,
820         The foure spirites and the bodies sevene,
                    The four spirits and the seven metals
821         By ordre, as ofte I herde my lord hem nevene.
                    By order, as often I heard my lord name them.

822         The firste spirit quyksilver called is,
                    The first spirit is called quicksilver,
823         The seconde orpyment, the thridde, ywis,
                    The second orpiment (arsenic trisulfide), the third, indeed,
824         Sal armonyak, and the ferthe brymstoon.
                    Sal ammoniac, and the fourth brimstone.
825         The bodyes sevene eek, lo, hem heere anoon:
                    The seven metals also, lo, hear them now:
826         Sol gold is, and Luna silver we insist,
                    Sun is gold, and Moon silver we say,
827         Mars iren, Mercurie quyksilver we clepe,
                    Mars iron, Mercury we call quicksilver,
828         Saturnus leed, and Juppiter is tyn,
                    Saturn lead, and Jupiter is tin,
829         And Venus coper, by my fader kyn!
                    And Venus copper, by my father's kin!

830         This cursed craft whoso wole excercise,
                    Whoever will exercise this cursed craft,
831         He shal no good han that hym may suffise,
                    He shall have no wealth that can be enough for him,
832         For al the good he spendeth theraboute
                    For all the wealth he spends on this
833         He lese shal; therof have I no doute.
                    He shall lose; of that have I no doubt.
834         Whoso that listeth outen his folie,
                    Whoever desires to make public his folly,
835         Lat hym come forth and lerne multiplie;
                    Let him come forth and learn to transmute base metals;
836         And every man that oght hath in his cofre,
                    And every man that has anything in his strong-box,
837         Lat hym appiere and wexe a philosophre.
                    Let him appear and become an alchemist.
838         Ascaunce that craft is so light to leere?
                    Is that craft were so easy to learn?
839         Nay, nay, God woot, al be he monk or frere,
                    Nay, nay, God knows, be he monk or friar,
840         Preest or chanoun, or any oother wyght,
                    Priest or canon, or any other creature,
841         Though he sitte at his book bothe day and nyght
                    Though he sit at his book both day and night
842         In lernyng of this elvysshe nyce loore,
                    In learning of this mysterious foolish lore,
843         Al is in veyn, and parde, muchel moore.
                    All is in vain, and by God, much more.
844         To lerne a lewed man this subtiltee --
                    To teach an ignorant man this ingenious skill --
845         Fy! Spek nat therof, for it wol nat bee.
                    Fie! Speak not about that, for it will not be.
846         And konne he letterure or konne he noon,
                    And know he book learning or know he none,
847         As in effect, he shal fynde it al oon.
                    In fact, he shall find it all the same.
848         For bothe two, by my savacioun,
                    For both of the two, by my salvation,
849         Concluden in multiplicacioun
                    Conclude in transmutation
850         Ylike wel, whan they han al ydo;
                    Equally well, when they are all done;
851         This is to seyn, they faillen bothe two.
                    This is to say, they fail, both of the two.

852         Yet forgat I to maken rehersaille
                    Yet I forgot to make enumeration
853         Of watres corosif, and of lymaille,
                    Of acidic waters, and of metal filings,
854         And of bodies mollificacioun,
                    And of the softening of materials,
855         And also of hire induracioun;
                    And also of their hardening;
856         Oilles, ablucions, and metal fusible --
                    Oils, cleansings, and fusible metal --
857         To tellen al wolde passen any bible
                    To tell all would be longer than any large book
858         That owher is; wherfore, as for the beste,
                    That is anywhere; therefore, as for the best,
859         Of alle thise names now wol I me reste,
                    Of all these names now I will rest myself,
860         For, as I trowe, I have yow toold ynowe
                    For, as I believe, I have told you enough
861         To reyse a feend, al looke he never so rowe.
                    To raise a fiend, though he look never so rough.

862         A! Nay! Lat be; the philosophres stoon,
                    Ah! Nay! Let be; the philosophers' stone,
863         Elixer clept, we sechen faste echoon;
                    Called Elixir, we seek earnestly each one of us;
864         For hadde we hym, thanne were we siker ynow.
                    For if we had it, then we would be very well off.
865         But unto God of hevene I make avow,
                    But unto God of heaven I make avow,
866         For al oure craft, whan we han al ydo,
                    Despite all our craft, when we have all done,
867         And al oure sleighte, he wol nat come us to.
                    And all our skill, he will not come us to.
868         He hath ymaad us spenden muchel good,
                    He has made us spend much money,
869         For sorwe of which almoost we wexen wood,
                    For sorrow of which we almost go mad,
870         But that good hope crepeth in oure herte,
                    Except that good hope creeps into our heart,
871         Supposynge evere, though we sore smerte,
                    Supposing ever, though we sorely suffer,
872         To be releeved by hym afterward.
                    To be relieved by him afterward.
873         Swich supposyng and hope is sharp and hard;
                    Such supposing and hope is sharp and hard;
874         I warne yow wel, it is to seken evere.
                    I warn you well, it is to keep seeking forever.
875         That futur temps hath maad men to dissevere,
                    That future tense has made men to be separated,
876         In trust therof, from al that evere they hadde.
                    In trust on that, from all that ever they had.
877         Yet of that art they kan nat wexen sadde,
                    Yet of that art they can not be satisfied,
878         For unto hem it is a bitter sweete --
                    For unto them it is a bitter sweet --
879         So semeth it -- for nadde they but a sheete
                    So it seems -- for had they nothing but a sheet
880         Which that they myghte wrappe hem inne a-nyght,
                    Which they might wrap themselves in at night,
881         And a brat to walken inne by daylyght,
                    And a rough cloak to walk in by daylight,
882         They wolde hem selle and spenden on this craft.
                    They would sell them and spend it on this craft.
883         They kan nat stynte til no thyng be laft.
                    They can not stop until nothing is left.
884         And everemoore, where that evere they goon,
                    And evermore, wherever they go,
885         Men may hem knowe by smel of brymstoon.
                    Men can know them by the smell of brimstone.
886         For al the world they stynken as a goot;
                    For all the world they stink like a goat;
887         Hir savour is so rammyssh and so hoot
                    Their odor is so like a goat and so intense
888         That though a man from hem a mile be,
                    That though a man be a mile from them,
889         The savour wole infecte hym, trusteth me.
                    The odor will infect him, trust me.
890         Lo, thus by smellyng and threedbare array,
                    Lo, thus by smelling and threadbare array,
891         If that men liste, this folk they knowe may.
                    If men so desire, this folk they can know.
892         And if a man wole aske hem pryvely
                    And if a man will ask them privily
893         Why they been clothed so unthriftily,
                    Why they are clothed so poorly,
894         They right anon wol rownen in his ere,
                    They right away will whisper in his ear,
895         And seyn that if that they espied were,
                    And say that if they were recognized,
896         Men wolde hem slee by cause of hir science.
                    Men would slay them because of their knowledge.
897         Lo, thus this folk bitrayen innocence!
                    Lo, thus these folk betray innocence!

898         Passe over this; I go my tale unto.
                    Pass over this; I go unto my tale.
899         Er that the pot be on the fir ydo,
                    Before the pot on the fire is done,
900         Of metals with a certeyn quantitee,
                    With a specific quantity of metals,
901         My lord hem tempreth, and no man but he --
                    My lord tempers them, and no man but he --
902         Now he is goon, I dar seyn boldely --
                    Now he is gone, I dare say boldly --
903         For, as men seyn, he kan doon craftily.
                    For, as men say, he can work craftily.
904         Algate I woot wel he hath swich a name;
                    Although I know well he has such a reputation;
905         And yet ful ofte he renneth in a blame.
                    And yet very often he gets in trouble.
906         And wite ye how? Ful ofte it happeth so
                    And do you know how? Full often it so happens
907         The pot tobreketh, and farewel, al is go!
                    The pot shatters, and farewell, all is gone!
908         Thise metals been of so greet violence
                    These metals are of such great violence
909         Oure walles mowe nat make hem resistence,
                    The sides of our vessels can not make resistance to them,
910         But if they weren wroght of lym and stoon;
                    Unless they were made of lime and stone;
911         They percen so, and thurgh the wal they goon.
                    They pierce so, and through the wall they go.
912         And somme of hem synken into the ground --
                    And some of them sink into the ground --
913         Thus han we lost by tymes many a pound --
                    Thus have we quickly lost many a pound --
914         And somme are scatered al the floor aboute;
                    And some are scattered all over the floor;
915         Somme lepe into the roof. Withouten doute,
                    Some leap into the roof. Without doubt,
916         Though that the feend noght in oure sighte hym shewe,
                    Though the fiend does not show himself to our sight,
917         I trowe he with us be, that ilke shrewe!
                    I believe he is with us, that same scoundrel!
918         In helle, where that he is lord and sire,
                    In hell, where he is lord and sire,
919         Nis ther moore wo, ne moore rancour ne ire.
                    There is no greater woe, nor greater rancor nor ire.
920         Whan that oure pot is broke, as I have sayd,
                    When our pot is broken, as I have said,
921         Every man chit and halt hym yvele apayd.
                    Every man chides and considers himsef ill used.

922         Somme seyde it was long on the fir makyng;
                    Some said it was due to the making of the fire;
923         Somme seyde nay, it was on the blowyng --
                    Some said nay, it was due to the blowing --
924         Thanne was I fered, for that was myn office.
                    Then was I afraid, for that was my job.
925         "Straw!" quod the thridde, "ye been lewed and nyce.
                    "Rubbish!" said the third, "you are ignorant and foolish.
926         It was nat tempred as it oghte be."
                    It was not tempered as it ought to be."
927         "Nay," quod the fourthe, "stynt and herkne me.
                    "Nay," said the fourth, "be quiet and listen to me.
928         By cause oure fir ne was nat maad of beech,
                    Because our fire was not made of beech,
929         That is the cause and oother noon, so thee'ch!"
                    That is the cause and none other, as I may prosper!"
930         I kan nat telle wheron it was long,
                    I can not tell what it was due to,
931         But wel I woot greet strif is us among.
                    But well I know great strife is among us.

932         "What," quod my lord, "ther is namoore to doone;
                    "Well," said my lord, "there is no more to do;
933         Of thise perils I wol be war eftsoone.
                    Of these perils I will be wary next time.
934         I am right siker that the pot was crased.
                    I am very sure that the pot was cracked.
935         Be as be may, be ye no thyng amased;
                    Be as be may, be you in no way amazed;
936         As usage is, lat swepe the floor as swithe,
                    As our practice is, have the floor quickly swept,
937         Plukke up youre hertes and beeth glad and blithe."
                    Pluck up your hearts and be glad and blithe."

938         The mullok on an heep ysweped was,
                    The rubbish was swept in a heap,
939         And on the floor ycast a canevas,
                    And on the floor was cast a canvas,
940         And al this mullok in a syve ythrowe,
                    And all this rubbish thrown in a sieve
941         And sifted, and ypiked many a throwe.
                    And sifted, and picked over many a time.
942         "Pardee," quod oon, "somwhat of oure metal
                    "By God," said one, "something of our metal
943         Yet is ther heere, though that we han nat al.
                    Yet is there here, though we have not all.
944         And though this thyng myshapped have as now,
                    And though this thing may have turned out badly this time,
945         Another tyme it may be well ynow.
                    Another time it may go well indeed.
946         Us moste putte oure good in aventure.
                    We must put our possessions at risk.
947         A marchant, pardee, may nat ay endure,
                    A merchant, by God, may not endure forever,
948         Trusteth me wel, in his prosperitee.
                    Trust me well, in his prosperity.
949         Somtyme his good is drowned in the see,
                    Sometimes his goods are drowned in the sea,
950         And somtyme comth it sauf unto the londe."
                    And sometime they come safely unto the land."

951         "Pees!" quod my lord, "the nexte tyme I wol fonde
                    "Quiet!" said my lord, "the next time I will endeavor
952         To bryngen oure craft al in another plite,
                    To bring our experiment to an entirely different state,
953         And but I do, sires, lat me han the wite.
                    And unless I do, sirs, let me have the blame.
954         Ther was defaute in somwhat, wel I woot."
                    There was something wrong, I well know."

955         Another seyde the fir was over-hoot --
                    Another said the fire was too hot --
956         But, be it hoot or coold, I dar seye this,
                    But, be it hot or cold, I dare say this,
957         That we concluden everemoore amys.
                    That we conclude always with something gone wrong.
958         We faille of that which that we wolden have,
                    We fail to get that which we want to have,
959         And in oure madnesse everemoore we rave.
                    And in our madness always we rave.
960         And whan we been togidres everichoon,
                    And when we are all together every one,
961         Every man semeth a Salomon.
                    Every man seems a Solomon.
962         But al thyng which that shineth as the gold
                    But every thing thah shines like gold
963         Nis nat gold, as that I have herd told;
                    Is not gold, as I have heard said;
964         Ne every appul that is fair at eye
                    Nor every apple that is fair to the eye
965         Ne is nat good, what so men clappe or crye.
                    Is not good, whatever men may chatter or cry.
966         Right so, lo, fareth it amonges us:
                    Right so, lo, it fares among us:
967         He that semeth the wiseste, by Jhesus,
                    He who seems the wisest, by Jesus,
968         Is moost fool, whan it cometh to the preef;
                    Is the greatest fool, when it comes to the proof;
969         And he that semeth trewest is a theef.
                    And he that seems truest is a thief.
970         That shul ye knowe, er that I fro yow wende,
                    That shall you know, before I from you wend,
971         By that I of my tale have maad an ende.
                    By the time that I have made an end of my tale.

Explicit prima pars
[The first part ends]

Et sequitur pars secunda
[And the second part follows]

972         Ther is a chanoun of religioun
                    There is a canon regular
973         Amonges us, wolde infecte al a toun,
                    Amongst us, who would infect a whole town,
974         Thogh it as greet were as was Nynyvee,
                    Though it were as big as was Nineveh,
975         Rome, Alisaundre, Troye, and othere three.
                    Rome, Alexandria, Troy, and any three others.
976         His sleightes and his infinite falsnesse
                    His tricks and his infinite falseness
977         Ther koude no man writen, as I gesse,
                    No man could write, as I guess,
978         Though that he myghte lyve a thousand yeer.
                    Though he might live a thousand years.
979         In al this world of falshede nis his peer,
                    In all this world is not his equal in falsehood,
980         For in his termes he wol hym so wynde,
                    For in his technical terms he will so wrap himself,
981         And speke his wordes in so sly a kynde,
                    And speak his words in so deceitful a manner,
982         Whanne he commune shal with any wight,
                    When he shall converse with any person,
983         That he wol make hym doten anonright,
                    That he will make a fool of him right away,
984         But it a feend be, as hymselven is.
                    Unless it be a fiend, as he himself is.
985         Ful many a man hath he bigiled er this,
                    Very many a man has he beguiled before this,
986         And wole, if that he lyve may a while;
                    And will, if he may live a while longer;
987         And yet men ride and goon ful many a mile
                    And yet men ride and walk very many a mile
988         Hym for to seke and have his aqueyntaunce,
                    To seek him and have his acquaintance,
989         Noght knowynge of his false governaunce.
                    Not knowing of his false way of life.
990         And if yow list to yeve me audience,
                    And if you want to listen to me,
991         I wol it tellen heere in youre presence.
                    I will tell it here in your presence.

992         But worshipful chanons religious,
                    But worshipful religious canons,
993         Ne demeth nat that I sclaundre youre hous,
                    Do not think that I slander your house,
994         Although that my tale of a chanoun bee.
                    Although my tale be about a canon.
995         Of every ordre som shrewe is, pardee,
                    There is some scoundrel in every order, by God,
996         And God forbede that al a compaignye
                    And God forbid that a whole company
997         Sholde rewe o singuleer mannes folye.
                    Should suffer for one single man's folly.
998         To sclaundre yow is no thyng myn entente,
                    To slander you is not at all my intention,
999         But to correcten that is mys I mente.
                    But I mean to correct what is amiss.
1000         This tale was nat oonly toold for yow,
                    This tale was not only told for you,
1001         But eek for othere mo; ye woot wel how
                    But also for many others; you know well
1002         That among Cristes apostelles twelve
                    That among Christ's twelve apostles
1003         Ther nas no traytour but Judas hymselve.
                    There was no traitor but Judas himself.
1004         Thanne why sholde al the remenant have a blame
                    Then why should all the remnant have the blame
1005         That giltlees were? By yow I seye the same,
                    Who were guiltless? Concerning you I say the same,
1006         Save oonly this, if ye wol herkne me:
                    Save only this, if you will listen to me:
1007         If any Judas in youre covent be,
                    If any Judas be in your convent,
1008         Remoeveth hym bitymes, I yow rede,
                    Remove him quickly, I advise you,
1009         If shame or los may causen any drede.
                    If the prospect of shame or dishonor can cause any fear.
1010         And beeth no thyng displesed, I yow preye,
                    And be not at all displeased, I pray you,
1011         But in this cas herkneth what I shal seye.
                    But in this case listen to what I shall say.

1012         In Londoun was a preest, an annueleer,
                    In London was a priest, a chantry priest,
1013         That therinne dwelled hadde many a yeer,
                    Who therein had dwelled many a year,
1014         Which was so plesaunt and so servysable
                    Who was so pleasant and so attentive
1015         Unto the wyf, where as he was at table,
                    Unto the woman, where he took his meals,
1016         That she wolde suffre hym no thyng for to paye
                    That she would not allow him to pay anything
1017         For bord ne clothyng, wente he never so gaye,
                    For board nor clothing, went he never so gay,
1018         And spendyng silver hadde he right ynow.
                    And he had plenty of spending money.
1019         Therof no fors; I wol procede as now,
                    That does not not matter; I will now proceed,
                    And tell forth my tale of the canon
1021         That broghte this preest to confusioun.
                    Who brought this priest to ruin.

1022         This false chanon cam upon a day
                    This false canon came upon one day
1023         Unto this preestes chambre, wher he lay,
                    Unto this priest's chamber, where he stayed,
1024         Bisechynge hym to lene hym a certeyn
                    Beseeching him to lend him a certain amount
1025         Of gold, and he wolde quite it hym ageyn.
                    Of gold, and he would pay it back to him again.
1026         "Leene me a marc," quod he, "but dayes three,
                    "Loan me a mark," said he, "for only three days,
1027         And at my day I wol it quiten thee.
                    And at my assigned day I will repay it to thee.
1028         And if so be that thow me fynde fals,
                    And if it so be that thou find me false,
1029         Another day do hange me by the hals!"
                    The next day have me hanged by the neck!"

1030         This preest hym took a marc, and that as swithe,
                    This priest gave him a mark, and that very quickly,
1031         And this chanoun hym thanked ofte sithe,
                    And this canon thanked him many times,
1032         And took his leve, and wente forth his weye,
                    And took his leave, and went forth on his way,
1033         And at the thridde day broghte his moneye,
                    And at the third day brought his money,
1034         And to the preest he took his gold agayn,
                    And to the priest he gave back his gold,
1035         Wherof this preest was wonder glad and fayn.
                    For which this priest was wonderfully glad and happy.

1036         "Certes," quod he, "no thyng anoyeth me
                    "Certainly," said he, "in no way does it annoy me
1037         To lene a man a noble, or two, or thre,
                    To lend a man a noble, or two, or three,
1038         Or what thyng were in my possessioun,
                    Or whatever thing if it were in my possession,
1039         Whan he so trewe is of condicioun
                    When he is so true, of such character
1040         That in no wise he breke wole his day;
                    That in no way will he fail to pay on his assigned day:
1041         To swich a man I kan never seye nay."
                    To such a man I can never say no."

1042         "What!" quod this chanoun, "sholde I be untrewe?
                    "What!" said this canon, "should I be untrue?
1043         Nay, that were thyng yfallen al of newe.
                    Nay, that would be a thing completely without precedent.
1044         Trouthe is a thyng that I wol evere kepe
                    My pledged word is a thing that I will always keep
1045         Unto that day in which that I shal crepe
                    Until that day in which I shall creep
1046         Into my grave, and ellis God forbede.
                    Into my grave, and God forbid it be otherwise.
1047         Bileveth this as siker as your Crede.
                    Believe this is as true as your Creed.
1048         God thanke I, and in good tyme be it sayd,
                    I thank God, and rightly it may be said,
1049         That ther was nevere man yet yvele apayd
                    That there was never man yet suffered evil
1050         For gold ne silver that he to me lente,
                    For gold or silver that he lent to me,
1051         Ne nevere falshede in myn herte I mente.
                    Nor did I ever intend falsehood in my heart.
1052         And sire," quod he, "now of my pryvetee,
                    And sir," said he, "now some of my secrets,
1053         Syn ye so goodlich han been unto me,
                    Since you have been so goodly unto me,
1054         And kithed to me so greet gentillesse,
                    And shown to me such great courtesy,
1055         Somwhat to quyte with youre kyndenesse
                    Something with which to repay your kindness
1056         I wol yow shewe, and if yow list to leere,
                    I will show you, and if you want to learn,
1057         I wol yow teche pleynly the manere
                    I will teach you fully the manner
1058         How I kan werken in philosophie.
                    How I know how to to work in alchemy.
1059         Taketh good heede; ye shul wel seen at ye
                    Pay cl,ose attention; you shall well see by eye
1060         That I wol doon a maistrie er I go."
                    That I will do a masterful work before I go."

1061         "Ye," quod the preest, "ye, sire, and wol ye so?
                    "Yes," said the priest, "yes, sir, and will you so?
1062         Marie, therof I pray yow hertely."
                    By Saint Mary, for that I pray you heartily."

1063         "At youre comandement, sire, trewely,"
                    "At your commandment, sir, truly,"
1064         Quod the chanoun, "and ellis God forbeede!"
                    Said the canon, "and otherwise God forbid!"

1065         Loo, how this theef koude his service beede!
                    Lo, how this thief could offer his service!
1066         Ful sooth it is that swich profred servyse
                    Very true it is that such a favor not asked for
1067         Stynketh, as witnessen thise olde wyse,
                    Stinks, as these old wise writers bear witness,
1068         And that ful soone I wol it verifie
                    And very soon I will verify it
1069         In this chanoun, roote of al trecherie,
                    In (the deeds of) this canon, root of all treachery,
1070         That everemoore delit hath and gladnesse --
                    Who evermore has delight and gladness --
1071         Swiche feendly thoghtes in his herte impresse --
                    Such fiendish thoughts in his heart are fixed --
1072         How Cristes peple he may to meschief brynge.
                    How he can bring Christ's people to mischief.
1073         God kepe us from his false dissymulynge!
                    God keep us from his false dissimulation!

1074         Noght wiste this preest with whom that he delte,
                    This priest knew not with whom he dealt,
1075         Ne of his harm comynge he no thyng felte.
                    And of his coming harm he felt nothing.
1076         O sely preest! O sely innocent!
                    O hapless priest! O hapless innocent!
1077         With coveitise anon thou shalt be blent!
                    Very soon thou shalt be blinded by greed!
1078         O gracelees, ful blynd is thy conceite,
                    O unfortunate, completely blind is thy mind,
1079         No thyng ne artow war of the deceite
                    In no way art thou aware of the deceit
1080         Which that this fox yshapen hath to thee!
                    Which this fox has destined for thee!
1081         His wily wrenches thou ne mayst nat flee.
                    His cunning deceptions thou canst not flee.
1082         Wherfore, to go to the conclusion,
                    Therefore, to go to the conclusion,
1083         That refereth to thy confusion,
                    That refers to thy ruin,
1084         Unhappy man, anon I wol me hye
                    Unhappy man, right now I will hasten myself
1085         To tellen thyn unwit and thy folye,
                    To tell thy lack of prudence and thy folly,
1086         And eek the falsnesse of that oother wrecche,
                    And also the falseness of that other wretch,
1087         As ferforth as that my konnyng wol strecche.
                    Insofar as my skill will stretch.

1088         This chanon was my lord, ye wolden weene?
                    This canon was my lord, you would suppose?
1089         Sire hoost, in feith, and by the hevenes queene,
                    Sir host, in faith, and by the heaven's queen,
1090         It was another chanoun, and nat hee,
                    It was another canon, and not he,
1091         That kan an hundred foold moore subtiltee.
                    Who knows a hundred times more trickery.
1092         He hath bitrayed folkes many tyme;
                    He has betrayed folks many a time;
1093         Of his falsnesse it dulleth me to ryme.
                    It distresses me to compose rimes about his falseness.
1094         Evere whan that I speke of his falshede,
                    Every time I speak of his falsehood,
1095         For shame of hym my chekes wexen rede.
                    For shame of him my cheeks grow red.
1096         Algates they bigynnen for to glowe,
                    At least they begin to glow,
1097         For reednesse have I noon, right wel I knowe,
                    For redness have I none, very well I know,
1098         In my visage; for fumes diverse
                    In my visage; for various fumes
1099         Of metals, whiche ye han herd me reherce,
                    Of metals, which you have heard me rehearse,
1100         Consumed and wasted han my reednesse.
                    That have consumed and wasted my redness.
1101         Now taak heede of this chanons cursednesse!
                    Now pay attention to this canon's cursedness!

1102         "Sire," quod he to the preest, "lat youre man gon
                    "Sir," said he to the priest, "have your man go
1103         For quyksilver, that we it hadde anon;
                    For quicksilver, would that we had it right now;
1104         And lat hym bryngen ounces two or three;
                    And have him bring two or three ounces;
1105         And whan he comth, as faste shal ye see
                    And when he comes, quickly you shall see
1106         A wonder thyng, which ye saugh nevere er this."
                    A wonderful thing, which you never saw before this."
1107         "Sire," quod the preest, "it shal be doon, ywis."
                    "Sir," said the priest, "it shall be done, indeed."
1108         He bad his servant fecchen hym this thyng,
                    He bad his servant fetch him this thing,
1109         And he al redy was at his biddyng,
                    And he was all ready at his bidding,
1110         And wente hym forth, and cam anon agayn
                    And went forth, and came right back again
1111         With this quyksilver, shortly for to sayn,
                    With this quicksilver, shortly to say,
1112         And took thise ounces thre to the chanoun;
                    And gave these three ounces to the canon;
1113         And he hem leyde faire and wel adoun,
                    And he laid them down neatly and carefully,
1114         And bad the servant coles for to brynge,
                    And bad the servant to bring coals,
1115         That he anon myghte go to his werkynge.
                    So that he might go to his working right away.

1116         The coles right anon weren yfet,
                    The coals right away were fetched,
1117         And this chanoun took out a crosselet
                    And this canon took out a crucible
1118         Of his bosom, and shewed it to the preest.
                    From his bosom, and showed it to the priest.
1119         "This instrument," quod he, "which that thou seest,
                    "This instrument," said he, "which thou seest,
1120         Taak in thyn hand, and put thyself therinne
                    Take in thy hand, and thyself put therein
1121         Of this quyksilver an ounce, and heer bigynne,
                    An ounce of this quicksilver, and here begin,
1122         In name of Crist, to wexe a philosofre.
                    In the name of Christ, to become an alchemist.
1123         Ther been ful fewe to whiche I wolde profre
                    There are very few to whom I would offer
1124         To shewen hem thus muche of my science.
                    To show them thus so much of my science.
1125         For ye shul seen heer, by experience,
                    For you shall see here, by experience,
1126         That this quyksilver I wol mortifye
                    That this quicksilver I will harden
1127         Right in youre sighte anon, withouten lye,
                    Right in your sight indeed, without lie,
1128         And make it as good silver and as fyn
                    And make it as good silver and as fine
1129         As ther is any in youre purs or myn,
                    As there is any in your purse or mine,
1130         Or elleswhere, and make it malliable;
                    Or elsewhere, and make it malleable;
1131         And elles holdeth me fals and unable
                    And otherwise consider me false and unable
1132         Amonges folk for evere to appeere.
                    For ever to appear amongst folk.
1133         I have a poudre heer, that coste me deere,
                    I have a powder here, that cost me dearly,
1134         Shal make al good, for it is cause of al
                    Shall make all good, for it is cause of all
1135         My konnyng, which that I yow shewen shal.
                    My cunning, which I shall show you.
1136         Voyde youre man, and lat hym be theroute,
                    Send away your man, and have him be outside,
1137         And shette the dore, whils we been aboute
                    And shut the door, while we are about
1138         Oure pryvetee, that no man us espie,
                    Our secret business, so that no man espy us,
1139         Whils that we werke in this philosophie."
                    While we work in this science."

1140         Al as he bad fulfilled was in dede.
                    All was in deed fulfilled as he commanded.
1141         This ilke servant anonright out yede,
                    This same servant right away went out,
1142         And his maister shette the dore anon,
                    And his master shut the door quickly,
1143         And to hire labour spedily they gon.
                    And to their labor speedily they go.

1144         This preest, at this cursed chanons biddyng,
                    This priest, at this cursed canon's bidding,
1145         Upon the fir anon sette this thyng,
                    Upon the fire at once set this thing,
1146         And blew the fir, and bisyed hym ful faste.
                    And blew the fire, and busied himself very intently.
1147         And this chanoun into the crosselet caste
                    And this canon into the crucible cast
1148         A poudre, noot I wherof that it was
                    A powder, I do not know of what it was
1149         Ymaad, outher of chalk, outher of glas,
                    Made, either of chalk, or of glass,
1150         Or somwhat elles, was nat worth a flye,
                    Or something else, that was not worth a fly,
1151         To blynde with this preest; and bad hym hye
                    With which to blind this priest; and bade him hasten
1152         The coles for to couchen al above
                    To lay all the coals above
1153         The crosselet. "For in tokenyng I thee love,"
                    The crucible. "To serve as a sign that I love thee,"
1154         Quod this chanoun, "thyne owene handes two
                    Said this canon, "thine own two hands
1155         Shul werche al thyng which that shal heer be do."
                    Shall do every thing that shall here be done."

1156         "Graunt mercy," quod the preest, and was ful glad,
                    "Many thanks," said the priest, and was very glad,
1157         And couched coles as the chanoun bad.
                    And laid the coals as the canon bad.
1158         And while he bisy was, this feendly wrecche,
                    And while he was busy, this fiendish wretch,
1159         This false chanoun -- the foule feend hym fecche! --
                    This false canon -- may the foul fiend fetch him! --
1160         Out of his bosom took a bechen cole,
                    Out of his bosom took a beech coal,
1161         In which ful subtilly was maad an hole,
                    In which very skilfully was made a hole,
1162         And therinne put was of silver lemaille
                    And therein was put of silver filings
1163         An ounce, and stopped was, withouten faille,
                    An ounce, and was sealed shut, without doubt,
1164         This hole with wex, to kepe the lemaille in.
                    This hole with wax, to keep the filings in.
1165         And understondeth that this false gyn
                    And understand that this false device
1166         Was nat maad ther, but it was maad bifore;
                    Was not made there, but it was made before;
1167         And othere thynges I shal tellen moore
                    And other things I shall tell more
1168         Herafterward, whiche that he with hym broghte.
                    Later, which he brought with him.
1169         Er he cam there, hym to bigile he thoghte,
                    Before he came there, he intended to trick him,
1170         And so he dide, er that they wente atwynne;
                    And so he did, before they went apart;
1171         Til he had terved hym, koude he nat blynne.
                    Until he had skinned him, he could not cease.
1172         It dulleth me whan that I of hym speke.
                    It distresses me when I speak of him.
1173         On his falshede fayn wolde I me wreke,
                    I would like to avenge myself for his falsehood,
1174         If I wiste how, but he is heere and there;
                    If I knew how, but he is now here and now there;
1175         He is so variaunt, he abit nowhere.
                    He is so changeable, he abides nowhere.

1176         But taketh heede now, sires, for Goddes love!
                    But pay attention now, sirs, for God's love!
1177         He took his cole of which I spak above,
                    He took his coal of which I spoke above,
1178         And in his hand he baar it pryvely.
                    And in his hand he bore it secretly.
1179         And whiles the preest couched bisily
                    And while the priest busily laid
1180         The coles, as I tolde yow er this,
                    The coals, as I told you before this,
1181         This chanoun seyde, "Freend, ye doon amys.
                    This canon said, "Friend, you do it wrong.
1182         This is nat couched as it oghte be;
                    This is not arranged as it ought to be;
1183         But soone I shal amenden it," quod he.
                    But soon I shall amend it," said he.
1184         "Now lat me medle therwith but a while,
                    "Now let me work with it but a while,
1185         For of yow have I pitee, by Seint Gile!
                    For I have pity of you, by Saint Gile!
1186         Ye been right hoot; I se wel how ye swete.
                    You are very hot; I see well how you sweat.
1187         Have heere a clooth, and wipe awey the wete."
                    Have here a cloth, and wipe away the wetness."
1188         And whiles that the preest wiped his face,
                    And while the priest wiped his face,
1189         This chanoun took his cole -- with sory grace! --
                    This canon took his coal -- may he have bad luck! --
1190         And leyde it above upon the myddeward
                    And laid it above, upon the middle
1191         Of the crosselet, and blew wel afterward
                    Of the crucible, and blew well afterward
1192         Til that the coles gonne faste brenne.
                    Until the coals began to burn fast.

1193         "Now yeve us drynke," quod the chanoun thenne;
                    "Now give us drink," said the canon then;
1194         "As swithe al shal be wel, I undertake.
                    "Soon all shall be well, I guarantee.
1195         Sitte we doun, and lat us myrie make."
                    Sit we down, and let us make merry."
1196         And whan that this chanounes bechen cole
                    And when this canon's beech coal
1197         Was brent, al the lemaille out of the hole
                    Was burned, all the filings out of the hole
1198         Into the crosselet fil anon adoun;
                    Into the crucible fell right down;
1199         And so it moste nedes, by resoun,
                    And so it must be necessarily, by reason,
1200         Syn it so evene above couched was.
                    Since it was placed so exactly above.
1201         But therof wiste the preest nothyng, alas!
                    But of this the priest knew nothing, alas!
1202         He demed alle the coles yliche good,
                    He thought all the coals equally good,
1203         For of that sleighte he nothyng understood.
                    For he understood nothing of that trick.
1204         And whan this alkamystre saugh his tyme,
                    And when this alchemist saw his time,
1205         "Ris up," quod he, "sire preest, and stondeth by me;
                    "Rise up," said he, "sir priest, and stand by me;
1206         And for I woot wel ingot have ye noon,
                    And because I know well you have no ingot,
1207         Gooth, walketh forth, and bryngeth a chalk stoon;
                    Go, walk forth, and bring a chalk stone;
1208         For I wol make it of the same shap
                    For I will make it of the same shape
1209         That is an ingot, if I may han hap.
                    As is an ingot, if I may have such luck.
1210         And bryngeth eek with yow a bolle or a panne
                    And bring also with you a bowl or a pan
1211         Ful of water, and ye shul se wel thanne
                    Full of water, and you shall see well then
1212         How that oure bisynesse shal thryve and preeve.
                    How our business shall thrive and succeed.
1213         And yet, for ye shul han no mysbileeve
                    And yet, so that you shall have no suspicion
1214         Ne wrong conceite of me in youre absence,
                    Nor wrong opinion of me in your absence,
1215         I ne wol nat been out of youre presence,
                    I will not be out of your presence,
1216         But go with yow and come with yow ageyn."
                    But go with you and come with you again."
1217         The chambre dore, shortly for to seyn,
                    The chamber door, shortly to say,
1218         They opened and shette, and wente hir weye.
                    They opened and shut, and went their way.
1219         And forth with hem they carieden the keye,
                    And forth with them they carried the key,
1220         And coome agayn withouten any delay.
                    And came back again without any delay.
1221         What sholde I tarien al the longe day?
                    Why should I tarry all the long day?
1222         He took the chalk and shoop it in the wise
                    He took the chalk and shaped it in the manner
1223         Of an ingot, as I shal yow devyse.
                    Of an ingot, as I shall tell you.

1224         I seye, he took out of his owene sleeve
                    I say, he took out of his own sleeve
1225         A teyne of silver -- yvele moot he cheeve! --
                    A small bar of silver -- may he have evil luck! --
1226         Which that ne was nat but an ounce of weighte.
                    Which was not more than an ounce of weight.
1227         And taaketh heede now of his cursed sleighte!
                    And pay attention now to his cursed trick!

1228         He shoop his ingot in lengthe and in breede
                    He shaped his ingot in the length and in the breadth
1229         Of this teyne, withouten any drede,
                    Of this small bar, without any doubt,
1230         So slyly that the preest it nat espide,
                    So slyly that the priest did not see it,
1231         And in his sleve agayn he gan it hide,
                    And in his sleeve again he did hide it,
1232         And fro the fir he took up his mateere,
                    And from the fire he took up his material,
1233         And in th'yngot putte it with myrie cheere,
                    And put it in the ingot with merry demeanor,
1234         And in the water-vessel he it caste,
                    And in the pan of water he cast it,
1235         Whan that hym luste, and bad the preest as faste,
                    When it pleased him, and commanded the priest quickly,
1236         "Loke what ther is; put in thyn hand and grope.
                    "See what is there; put in thy hand and grope.
1237         Thow fynde shalt ther silver, as I hope."
                    Thou shalt find there silver, as I believe."
1238         What, devel of helle, sholde it elles be?
                    What else, devil of hell, should it be?
1239         Shaving of silver silver is, pardee!
                    Shaving of silver is silver, by God!
1240         He putte his hand in and took up a teyne
                    He put his hand in and took up a small bar
1241         Of silver fyn, and glad in every veyne
                    Of pure silver, and glad in every vein
1242         Was this preest, whan he saugh it was so.
                    Was this priest, when he saw it was so.
1243         "Goddes blessyng, and his moodres also,
                    "God's blessing, and his mother's also,
1244         And alle halwes, have ye, sire chanoun,"
                    And all saints, have you (in their protection), sir canon,"
1245         Seyde the preest, "and I hir malisoun,
                    Said the priest, "and may I have their curse,
1246         But, and ye vouche-sauf to techen me
                    But, if you condescend to teach me
1247         This noble craft and this subtilitee,
                    This noble craft and this esoteric art,
1248         I wol be youre in al that evere I may."
                    I will be yours in all that ever I can."

1249         Quod the chanoun, "Yet wol I make assay
                    Said the canon, "Yet I will make trial
1250         The seconde tyme, that ye may taken heede
                    The second time, that you may pay attention
1251         And been expert of this, and in youre neede
                    And be expert concerning this, and when you are in need
1252         Another day assaye in myn absence
                    Some other day in my absence to try out
1253         This disciplyne and this crafty science.
                    This discipline and this ingenious science.
1254         Lat take another ounce," quod he tho,
                    Let's take another ounce," said he then,
1255         "Of quyksilver, withouten wordes mo,
                    "Of quicksilver, without more words,
1256         And do therwith as ye han doon er this
                    And do therewith as you have done before this
1257         With that oother, which that now silver is."
                    With that other, which now is silver."

1258         This preest hym bisieth in al that he kan
                    This priest busies himself in all that he knows how
1259         To doon as this chanoun, this cursed man,
                    To do as this canon, this cursed man,
1260         Comanded hym, and faste blew the fir,
                    Commanded him, and blew hard on the fire,
1261         For to come to th' effect of his desir.
                    In order to come to the realization of his desire.
1262         And this chanon, right in the meene while,
                    And this canon, at exactly the same time,
1263         Al redy was this preest eft to bigile,
                    Was all ready to beguile this priest again,
1264         And for a contenaunce in his hand he bar
                    And for show in his hand he bore
1265         An holwe stikke -- taak kep and be war! --
                    A hollow stick -- pay attention and beware! --
1266         In the ende of which an ounce, and namoore,
                    In the end of which an ounce, and no more,
1267         Of silver lemaille put was, as bifore
                    Of silver filings was put, as before
1268         Was in his cole, and stopped with wex weel
                    Was in his coal, and well sealed shut with wax
1269         For to kepe in his lemaille every deel.
                    To keep in his filings every bit.
1270         And whil this preest was in his bisynesse,
                    And while this priest was busy with his work,
1271         This chanoun with his stikke gan hym dresse
                    This canon with his stick began to go
1272         To hym anon, and his poudre caste in
                    To him right away, and his powder cast in
1273         As he dide er -- the devel out of his skyn
                    As he did before-- the devil out of his skin
1274         Hym terve, I pray to God, for his falshede!
                    Flay him, I pray to God, for his falsehood!
1275         For he was evere fals in thoght and dede --
                    For he was ever false in thought and deed --
1276         And with this stikke, above the crosselet,
                    And with this stick, above the crucible,
1277         That was ordeyned with that false jet,
                    That was prepared with that false contrivance,
1278         He stired the coles til relente gan
                    He stirred the coals until it began to melt
1279         The wex agayn the fir, as every man,
                    The wax next to the fire, as every man,
1280         But it a fool be, woot wel it moot nede,
                    Unless he be a fool, knows well it must by necessity,
1281         And al that in the stikke was out yede,
                    And all that was in the stick went out,
1282         And in the crosselet hastily it fel.
                    And into the crucible it quickly fell.

1283         Now, good sires, what wol ye bet than wel?
                    Now, good sirs, what more will you have?
1284         Whan that this preest thus was bigiled ageyn,
                    When this priest was thus beguiled again,
1285         Supposynge noght but treuthe, sooth to seyn,
                    Supposing nothing but truth, sooth to say,
1286         He was so glad that I kan nat expresse
                    He was so glad that I can not express
1287         In no manere his myrthe and his gladnesse;
                    In any manner his mirth and his gladness;
1288         And to the chanoun he profred eftsoone
                    And to the canon he offered again
1289         Body and good. "Ye," quod the chanoun soone,
                    Body and possessions. "Yes," quickly said the canon,
1290         "Though poure I be, crafty thou shalt me fynde.
                    "Though I be poor, thou shalt find me skilfull.
1291         I warne thee, yet is ther moore bihynde.
                    I warn thee, there is yet more to come.
1292         Is ther any coper herinne?" seyde he.
                    Is there any copper here?" said he.

1293         "Ye," quod the preest, "sire, I trowe wel ther be."
                    "Yes," said the priest, "sir, I believe well there is some."

1294         "Elles go bye us som, and that as swithe;
                    "Otherwise go buy us some, and do that quickly;
1295         Now, goode sire, go forth thy wey and hy the."
                    Now, good sir, go forth thy way and hurry thee."

1296         He wente his wey, and with the coper cam,
                    He went his way, and with the copper came back,
1297         And this chanon it in his handes nam,
                    And this canon took it in his hands,
1298         And of that coper weyed out but an ounce.
                    And of that copper weighed out only an ounce.

1299         Al to symple is my tonge to pronounce,
                    All too simple is my tongue to pronounce,
1300         As ministre of my wit, the doublenesse
                    As servant of my wit, the duplicity
1301         Of this chanoun, roote of alle cursednesse!
                    Of this canon, root of all cursedness!
1302         He semed freendly to hem that knewe hym noght,
                    He seemed friendly to those that did not know him,
1303         But he was feendly bothe in werk and thoght.
                    But he was fiendish both in deed and thought.
1304         It weerieth me to telle of his falsnesse,
                    It wearies me to tell of his falseness,
1305         And nathelees yet wol I it expresse,
                    And nonetheless I will yet express it,
1306         To th'entente that men may be war therby,
                    With the intention that men may be warned by this,
1307         And for noon oother cause, trewely.
                    And for no other cause, truly.

1308         He putte this ounce of coper in the crosselet,
                    He put this ounce of copper in the crucible,
1309         And on the fir as swithe he hath it set,
                    And on the fire quickly he has set it,
1310         And caste in poudre, and made the preest to blowe,
                    And cast in powder, and made the priest to blow,
1311         And in his werkyng for to stoupe lowe,
                    And in his working to stoop low,
1312         As he dide er -- and al nas but a jape;
                    As he did before -- and all was nothing but a trick;
1313         Right as hym liste, the preest he made his ape!
                    Exactly as he wished, he made the priest his ape!
1314         And afterward in the ingot he it caste,
                    And afterward he cast the ingot in it,
1315         And in the panne putte it at the laste
                    And put it at the last into the pan
1316         Of water, and in he putte his owene hand,
                    Of water, and in he put his own hand,
1317         And in his sleve (as ye biforen-hand
                    And in his sleeve (as you before-hand
1318         Herde me telle) he hadde a silver teyne.
                    Heard me tell) he had a small bar of silver.
1319         He slyly took it out, this cursed heyne,
                    He slyly took it out, this cursed rascal,
1320         Unwityng this preest of his false craft,
                    This priest not knowing of his false craft,
1321         And in the pannes botme he hath it laft;
                    And in the pan's bottom he has left it;
1322         And in the water rombled to and fro,
                    And in the water groped noisily about to and fro,
1323         And wonder pryvely took up also
                    And wonderfully secretly took up also
1324         The coper teyne, noght knowynge this preest,
                    The copper bar, this priest not knowing,
1325         And hidde it, and hym hente by the breest,
                    And hid it, and grabbed him by his coat,
1326         And to hym spak, and thus seyde in his game:
                    And to him spoke, and thus said jokingly:

1327         "Stoupeth adoun. By God, ye be to blame!
                    "Stoop down. By God, you are to blame!
1328         Helpeth me now, as I dide yow whileer;
                    Help me now, as I did you before;
1329         Putte in youre hand, and looketh what is theer."
                    Put in your hand, and see what is there."

1330         This preest took up this silver teyne anon,
                    This priest quickly took up this silver bar,
1331         And thanne seyde the chanoun, "Lat us gon
                    And then said the canon, "Let us go
1332         With thise thre teynes, whiche that we han wroght,
                    With these three bars, which we have wrought,
1333         To som goldsmyth and wite if they been oght,
                    To some goldsmith and learn if they are worth anything,
1334         For, by my feith, I nolde, for myn hood,
                    For, by my faith, I would not (have them), for (the cost of) my hood,
1335         But if that they were silver fyn and good,
                    Unless they be silver pure and good,
1336         And that as swithe preeved it shal bee."
                    And that very quickly shall be tested."

1337         Unto the goldsmyth with thise teynes three
                    Unto the goldsmith with these three bars
1338         They wente and putte thise teynes in assay
                    They went and put these bars to the test
1339         To fir and hamer; myghte no man seye nay,
                    Of fire and hammer; no man could say nay,
1340         But that they weren as hem oghte be.
                    But that they were as they ought to be.

1341         This sotted preest, who was gladder than he?
                    This deluded priest, who was gladder than he?
1342         Was nevere brid gladder agayn the day,
                    Was never bird more glad at daybreak,
1343         Ne nyghtyngale, in the sesoun of May,
                    Nor nightingale in the season of May,
1344         Was nevere noon that luste bet to synge;
                    Was never none that was more eager to sing;
1345         Ne lady lustier in carolynge,
                    Nor lady more enthusiastic in singing carols to spring,
1346         Or for to speke of love and wommanhede,
                    Or to speak of love and womanhood,
1347         Ne knyght in armes to doon an hardy dede,
                    Nor knight in arms to do a hardy deed,
1348         To stonden in grace of his lady deere,
                    To stand in the good graces of his dear lady,
1349         Than hadde this preest this soory craft to leere.
                    Than this priest had to learn this sorry craft.
1350         And to the chanoun thus he spak and seyde:
                    And to the canon thus he spoke and said:

1351         "For love of God, that for us alle deyde,
                    "For love of God, Who died for us all,
1352         And as I may deserve it unto yow,
                    And as I may deserve (to have) it from you,
1353         What shal this receite coste? Telleth now!"
                    What shall this recipe cost? Tell now!"

1354         "By oure Lady," quod this chanon, "it is deere,
                    "By our Lady," said this canon, "it is expensive,
1355         I warne yow wel; for save I and a frere,
                    I warn you well; for except for me and a friar,
1356         In Engelond ther kan no man it make."
                    There is no man in England who can make it."

1357         "No fors," quod he, "now, sire, for Goddes sake,
                    "No matter," said he, "now, sir, for God's sake,
1358         What shal I paye? Telleth me, I preye."
                    What shall I pay? Tell me, I pray."

1359         "Ywis," quod he, "it is ful deere, I seye.
                    "Indeed," said he, "as I say, it is very expensive.
1360         Sire, at o word, if that thee list it have,
                    Sir, at one word, if thou want to have it,
1361         Ye shul paye fourty pound, so God me save!
                    You must pay forty pounds, so help me God!
1362         And nere the freendshipe that ye dide er this
                    And were it not for the act of friendship that before this you did
1363         To me, ye sholde paye moore, ywis."
                    To me, you should pay more, indeed."

1364         This preest the somme of fourty pound anon
                    This priest right away the sum of forty pounds
1365         Of nobles fette, and took hem everichon
                    Of nobles fetched, and gave every one of them
1366         To this chanoun for this ilke receite.
                    To this canon for this same recipe.
1367         Al his werkyng nas but fraude and deceite.
                    All his working was nothing but fraud and deceit.

1368         "Sire preest," he seyde, "I kepe han no loos
                    "Sir priest," he said, "I do not care to have fame
1369         Of my craft, for I wolde it kept were cloos;
                    For my craft, for I would that it were kept confidential;
1370         And, as ye love me, kepeth it secree.
                    And, as you love me, keep it secret.
1371         For, and men knewen al my soutiltee,
                    For, if men knew of all my esoteric skill,
1372         By God, they wolden han so greet envye
                    By God, they would have so great envy
1373         To me by cause of my philosophye
                    Of me because of my science
1374         I sholde be deed; ther were noon oother weye."
                    I should be dead; there would be no other way."

1375         "God it forbeede," quod the preest, "what sey ye?
                    "God forbid it," said the priest, "what say you?
1376         Yet hadde I levere spenden al the good
                    Yet would I rather spend all the wealth
1377         Which that I have, and elles wexe I wood,
                    That I have, and otherwise I would rather go mad,
1378         Than that ye sholden falle in swich mescheef."
                    Than that you should fall in such distress."

1379         "For youre good wyl, sire, have ye right good preef,"
                    "For your good will, sir, you have givem right good proof,"
1380         Quod the chanoun, "and farwel, grant mercy!"
                    Said the canon, "and farewell, many thanks!"
1381         He wente his wey, and never the preest hym sy
                    He went his way, and never the priest him saw
1382         After that day; and whan that this preest shoolde
                    After that day; and when this priest should
1383         Maken assay, at swich tyme as he wolde,
                    At such time as he wanted, make a trial
1384         Of this receit, farwel! It wolde nat be.
                    Of this recipe, farewell! It would not work.
1385         Lo, thus byjaped and bigiled was he!
                    Lo, thus tricked and beguiled was he!
1386         Thus maketh he his introduccioun,
                    Thus he makes his introductory gambit,
1387         To brynge folk to hir destruccioun.
                    To bring folk to their destruction.

1388         Considereth, sires, how that, in ech estaat,
                    Consider, sirs, how, in each social rank,
1389         Bitwixe men and gold ther is debaat
                    Betwixt men and gold there is conflict
1390         So ferforth that unnethes is ther noon.
                    So widespread that there is hardly any gold left.
1391         This multiplying blent so many oon
                    This transmutation blinds so many a one
1392         That in good feith I trowe that it bee
                    That in good faith I believe that it is
1393         The cause grettest of swich scarsetee.
                    The greatest cause of such scarcity.
1394         Philosophres speken so mystily
                    Philosophers speak so mystically
1395         In this craft that men kan nat come therby,
                    About this craft that men can not come to it,
1396         For any wit that men han now-a-dayes.
                    For any wit that men have now-a-days.
1397         They mowe wel chiteren as doon jayes,
                    They may well chatter as do jays,
1398         And in hir termes sette hir lust and peyne,
                    And in their technical terms set their desire and pain,
1399         But to hir purpos shul they nevere atteyne.
                    But to their purpose shall they never attain.
1400         A man may lightly lerne, if he have aught,
                    A man can easily learn, if he have anything,
1401         To multiplie, and brynge his good to naught!
                    To transmute metals, and bring his wealth to nothing!

1402         Lo! swich a lucre is in this lusty game,
                    Lo! such a profit is in this pleasing game,
1403         A mannes myrthe it wol turne unto grame,
                    It will turn a man's mirth into sorrow,
1404         And empten also grete and hevye purses,
                    And empty also great and heavy purses,
1405         And maken folk for to purchacen curses
                    And make folk to deserve curses
1406         Of hem that han hir good therto ylent.
                    Of those who have lent their wealth for that purpose.
1407         O, fy, for shame! They that han been brent,
                    O, fie, for shame! Those who have been burned,
1408         Allas, kan they nat flee the fires heete?
                    Alas, can they not flee the fire's heat?
1409         Ye that it use, I rede ye it leete,
                    You who use it, I advise you let it go,
1410         Lest ye lese al; for bet than nevere is late.
                    Lest you lose all; for late is better than never.
1411         Nevere to thryve were to long a date.
                    Never to thrive would be too long a time.
1412         Though ye prolle ay, ye shul it nevere fynde.
                    Though you search forever, you shall never find it.
1413         Ye been as boold as is Bayard the blynde,
                    You are as heedless as is Bayard the blind horse,
1414         That blondreth forth and peril casteth noon.
                    That blunders forth and takes account of no peril.
1415         He is as boold to renne agayn a stoon
                    He is as likely to run against a stone
1416         As for to goon bisides in the weye.
                    As to go around it in the road.
1417         So faren ye that multiplie, I seye.
                    So fare you who multiply, I say.
1418         If that youre eyen kan nat seen aright,
                    If your eyes can not see clearly,
1419         Looke that youre mynde lakke noght his sight.
                    See that your mind lacks nothing of its sight.
1420         For though ye looken never so brode and stare,
                    For though you look never so broadly and stare,
1421         Ye shul nothyng wynne on that chaffare,
                    You shall gain nothing on that transaction,
1422         But wasten al that ye may rape and renne.
                    But waste all that you can steal and carry away.
1423         Withdraweth the fir, lest it to faste brenne;
                    Withdraw the fire, lest it burn too fast;
1424         Medleth namoore with that art, I mene,
                    Meddle no more with that art, I mean,
1425         For if ye doon, youre thrift is goon ful clene.
                    For if you do, your prosperity is completely gone.
1426         And right as swithe I wol yow tellen heere
                    And very quickly I will you tell here
1427         What philosophres seyn in this mateere.
                    What alchemists say in this matter.

1428         Lo, thus seith Arnold of the Newe Toun,
                    Lo, thus says Arnold of the New Town,
1429         As his Rosarie maketh mencioun;
                    As his book Rosari makes mention;
1430         He seith right thus, withouten any lye:
                    He says right thus, without any lie:
1431         "Ther may no man mercurie mortifie
                    "There is no man who can harden mercury
1432         But it be with his brother knowlechyng";
                    Unless it be with his brother's knowledge";
1433         How [be] that he which that first seyde this thyng
                    Although he who first said this thing
1434         Of philosophres fader was, Hermes;
                    Was father of philosophers, Hermes Trismegistus;
1435         He seith how that the dragon, doutelees,
                    He says that the dragon, doubtless,
1436         Ne dyeth nat but if that he be slayn
                    Does not die unless he be slain
1437         With his brother; and that is for to sayn,
                    By his brother; and that is to say,
1438         By the dragon, Mercurie, and noon oother
                    By the dragon, Mercury, and none other
1439         He understood, and brymstoon by his brother,
                    He understood, and brimstone by his brother,
1440         That out of Sol and Luna were ydrawe.
                    That out of Sol (gold) and Luna (silver) were drawn.
1441         "And therfore," seyde he -- taak heede to my sawe --
                    "And therefore," said he -- take heed of my words --
1442         "Lat no man bisye hym this art for to seche,
                    "Let no man busy himself to seek this art,
1443         But if that he th'entencioun and speche
                    Unless he the meaning and speech
1444         Of philosophres understonde kan;
                    Of alchemists can understand;
1445         And if he do, he is a lewed man.
                    And if he do, he is an ignorant man.
1446         For this science and this konnyng," quod he,
                    For this science and this cunning," said he,
1447         "Is of the secree of the secretes, pardee."
                    "Concerns the secret of the secrets, by God."

1448         Also ther was a disciple of Plato,
                    Also there was a disciple of Plato,
1449         That on a tyme seyde his maister to,
                    That one time said to his master,
1450         As his book Senior wol bere witnesse,
                    As his book Senior will bear witness,
1451         And this was his demande in soothfastnesse:
                    And this was his question in truth:
1452         "Telle me the name of the privee stoon."
                    "Tell me the name of the secret stone."

1453         And Plato answerde unto hym anoon,
                    And Plato answered unto him straightaway,
1454         "Take the stoon that men name Titanos."
                    "Take the stone that men name Titanos."

1455         "Which is that?" quod he. "Magnasia is the same,"
                    "What is that?" said he. "Magnesia is the same,"
1456         Seyde Plato. "Ye, sire, and is it thus?
                    Said Plato. "Yes, sir, and is it thus?
1457         This is ignotum per ignocius.
                    This is explaining the unknown by the more unknown.
1458         What is Magnasia, good sire, I yow preye?"
                    What is Magnesia, good sir, I pray you?"

1459         "It is a water that is maad, I seye,
                    "It is a liquid that is made, I say,
1460         Of elementes foure," quod Plato.
                    Of the four elements," said Plato.

1461         "Telle me the roote, good sire," quod he tho,
                    Good sir," said he then, "Tell me the basic constituent
1462         "Of that water, if it be youre wil."
                    "Of that liquid, if it be your wish."

1463         "Nay, nay," quod Plato, "certein, that I nyl.
                    "Nay, nay," said Plato, "certainly, that I will not.
1464         The philosophres sworn were everychoon
                    The alchemists were sworn every single one
1465         That they sholden discovere it unto noon,
                    That they should reveal it unto no one,
1466         Ne in no book it write in no manere.
                    Nor in any book write it in any way.
1467         For unto Crist it is so lief and deere
                    For unto Christ it is so beloved and dear
1468         That he wol nat that it discovered bee,
                    That He does not wish that it be discovered,
1469         But where it liketh to his deitee
                    Except where it is pleasing to his deity
1470         Men for t'enspire, and eek for to deffende
                    To enlighten men, and also to forbid
1471         Whom that hym liketh; lo, this is the ende."
                    Whomever he pleases; lo, this is the end."

1472         Thanne conclude I thus, sith that God of hevene
                    Then I conclude thus, since God of heaven
1473         Ne wil nat that the philosophres nevene
                    Does not wish that the alchemists should tell
1474         How that a man shal come unto this stoon,
                    How a man shall come unto this stone,
1475         I rede, as for the beste, lete it goon.
                    I advise, as for the best, let it go.
1476         For whoso maketh God his adversarie,
                    For whoever makes God his adversary,
1477         As for to werken any thyng in contrarie
                    As to do any thing in contrary
1478         Of his wil, certes, never shal he thryve,
                    To his will, certainly, never shall he thrive,
1479         Thogh that he multiplie terme of his lyve.
                    Though he practice alchemy all his life.
1480         And there a poynt, for ended is my tale.
                    And there (put) a period, for my tale is ended.
1481         God sende every trewe man boote of his bale!
                    God send every true man remedy for his troubles!

Heere is ended the Chanouns Yemannes Tale
[Here is ended the Canon's Yeoman's Tale]

 

Go to the
beginning of this set of texts.

Or go to The Geoffrey Chaucer Page | The Index of Translations | The Teach Yourself Chaucer Page. Or use the back button on your browser to return to the previous page.

 

 


Last modified: Jan 23, 2006
Copyright © The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Gold Texts on this page prepared and maintained by L. D. Benson (ldb@wjh.harvard.edu)