The Friar's Prologue -- An Interlinear Translation



The Friars's Prologue

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.


(How to use the interlinear translations.)


The Prologe of the Freres Tale.


1265         This worthy lymytour, this noble Frere,
                    This worthy licensed beggar, this noble Friar
1266         He made alwey a maner louryng chiere
                    He always made a kind of scowling face
1267         Upon the Somonour, but for honestee
                    At the Summoner, but for propriety
1268         No vileyns word as yet to hym spak he.
                    No churlish word as yet to him spoke he.
1269         But atte laste he seyde unto the wyf,
                    But at the last he said to the wife,
1270         "Dame," quod he, "God yeve yow right good lyf!
                    "My lady," said he, "God give you a right good life!
1271         Ye han heer touched, also moot I thee,
                    You have here touched, as I may prosper,
1272         In scole-matere greet difficultee.
                    On academic problems of great difficulty.
1273         Ye han seyd muche thyng right wel, I seye;
                    You have said many things right well, I say;
1274         But, dame, heere as we ryde by the weye,
                    But, my lady, here as we ride by the way,
1275         Us nedeth nat to speken but of game,
                    We need not speak of anything but pleasant matters,
1276         And lete auctoritees, on Goddes name,
                    And leave authoritative texts, in God's name,
1277         To prechyng and to scoles of clergye.
                    To preaching and to the universities.
1278         But if it lyke to this compaignye,
                    But if it pleases this company,
1279         I wol yow of a somonour telle a game.
                    I will tell you an amusing tale about a summoner.
1280         Pardee, ye may wel knowe by the name
                    By God, you can easily tell by the name
1281         That of a somonour may no good be sayd;
                    That no good may be said of a summoner;
1282         I praye that noon of you be yvele apayd.
                    I pray that none of you be displeased.
1283         A somonour is a rennere up and doun
                    A summoner is a runner up and down
1284         With mandementz for fornicacioun,
                    With summonses for fornication,
1285         And is ybet at every townes ende."
                    And is beaten (and driven away) at every town's end."

1286         Oure Hoost tho spak, "A, sire, ye sholde be hende
                    Our Host then spoke, "Ah, sir, you should be polite
1287         And curteys, as a man of youre estaat;
                    And courteous, as (befits) a man of your rank;
1288         In compaignye we wol have no debaat.
                    In this company we will have no arguments.
1289         Telleth youre tale, and lat the Somonour be."
                    Tell your tale, and leave the Summoner alone."

1290         "Nay," quod the Somonour, "lat hym seye to me
                    "Nay," said the Summoner, "let him say to me
1291         What so hym list; whan it comth to my lot,
                    Whatever he pleases; when it comes to my turn,
1292         By God, I shal hym quiten every grot.
                    By God, I shall pay him back every groat (fourpence).
1293         I shal hym tellen which a greet honour
                    I shall tell him what a great honor
1294         It is to be a flaterynge lymytour,
                    It is to be a flattering licensed beggar,
1295         And of many another manere cryme
                    And of many another sort of crime
1296         Which nedeth nat rehercen at this tyme;
                    Which need not be told at this time;
1297         And his office I shal hym telle, ywis."
                    And how he does his job I shall tell him, indeed."

1298         Oure Hoost answerde, "Pees, namoore of this!"
                    Our Host answered, "Quiet, no more of this!"
1299         And after this he seyde unto the Frere,
                    And after this he said unto the Friar,
1300         "Tel forth youre tale, leeve maister deere."
                    "Tell forth your tale, beloved master dear."


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