The Manciple's Prologue and Tale -- An Interlinear Translation

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The Manciple's Prologue and Tale

 

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 Manciple's Prologue.

Here folweth the Prologe of the Maunciples Tale.

 

1         Woot ye nat where ther stant a litel toun
                    Know you not where there stands a little town
2         Which that ycleped is Bobbe-up-and-doun,
                    Which is called Bobbe-up-and-down,
3         Under the Blee, in Caunterbury Weye?
                    Under the Blee, in Canterbury Way?
4         Ther gan oure Hooste for to jape and pleye,
                    There began our Host to joke and play,
5         And seyde, "Sires, what! Dun is in the myre!
                    And said, "Sirs, what! Dun is in the mire!
6         Is ther no man, for preyere ne for hyre,
                    Is there no man, for prayer nor for hire,
7         That wole awake oure felawe al bihynde?
                    That will awake our fellow far behind us?
8         A theef myghte hym ful lightly robbe and bynde.
                    A thief might full easily rob and bind him.
9         See how he nappeth! See how, for cokkes bones,
                    See how he naps! See how, for cock's bones,
10         That he wol falle fro his hors atones!
                    That he will soon fall from his horse!
11         Is that a cook of Londoun, with meschaunce?
                    Is that a cook of London, with bad luck (to him)?
12         Do hym come forth, he knoweth his penaunce;
                    Make him come forth, he knows his penance;
13         For he shal telle a tale, by my fey,
                    For he shall tell a tale, by my faith,
14         Although it be nat worth a botel hey.
                    Although it be not worth a bundle of hay.
15         Awake, thou Cook," quod he, "God yeve thee sorwe!
                    Awake, thou Cook," said he, "God give thee sorrow!
16         What eyleth thee to slepe by the morwe?
                    What ails thee to sleep in the morning?
17         Hastow had fleen al nyght, or artow dronke?
                    Hast thou had fleas all night, or art thou drunk?
18         Or hastow with som quene al nyght yswonke,
                    Or hast thou with some prostitute all night labored,
19         So that thow mayst nat holden up thyn heed?"
                    So that thou can not hold up thy head?"
20         This Cook, that was ful pale and no thyng reed,
                    This Cook, who was full pale and not at all red,
21         Seyde to oure Hoost, "So God my soule blesse,
                    Said to our Host, "God bless my soul,
22         As ther is falle on me swich hevynesse,
                    There is fallen on me such heaviness,
23         Noot I nat why, that me were levere slepe
                    Know I not why, that I would rather sleep
24         Than the beste galon wyn in Chepe."
                    Than (have) the best gallon of wine in Cheapside."
25         "Wel," quod the Maunciple, "if it may doon ese
                    "Well," said the Manciple, "if it may give relief
26         To thee, sire Cook, and to no wight displese,
                    To thee, sir Cook, and be displeasing to no person,
27         Which that heere rideth in this compaignye,
                    Who rides here in this company,
28         And that oure Hoost wole, of his curteisye,
                    And (providing) that our Host would (agree), of his courtesy,
29         I wol as now excuse thee of thy tale.
                    I will for now excuse thee of thy tale.
30         For, in good feith, thy visage is ful pale,
                    For, in good faith, thy visage is full pale,
31         Thyne eyen daswen eek, as that me thynketh,
                    Thy eyes are dazed also, as it seems to me,
32         And, wel I woot, thy breeth ful soure stynketh:
                    And, well I know, thy breath full sourly stinks:
33         That sheweth wel thou art nat wel disposed.
                    That shows well thou art not in good health.
34         Of me, certeyn, thou shalt nat been yglosed.
                    By me, certainly, thou shalt not be deceived.
35         See how he ganeth, lo, this dronken wight,
                    See how he yawns, lo, this drunken fellow,
36         As though he wolde swolwe us anonright.
                    As though he would swallow us right away.
37         Hoold cloos thy mouth, man, by thy fader kyn!
                    Keep thy mouth closed, man, by thy father's kin!
38         The devel of helle sette his foot therin!
                    The devil of hell set his foot therein!
39         Thy cursed breeth infecte wole us alle.
                    Thy cursed breath would infect us all.
40         Fy, stynkyng swyn! Fy, foule moote thee falle!
                    Fie, stinking swine! Fie, may foul fortune thee befall!
41         A, taketh heede, sires, of this lusty man.
                    Ah, take heed, sirs, of this lusty man.
42         Now, sweete sire, wol ye justen atte fan?
                    Now, sweet sir, will you joust at the quintain?
43         Therto me thynketh ye been wel yshape!
                    It seems to me you are in good shape for that!
44         I trowe that ye dronken han wyn ape,
                    I believe that you have drunk until you act like an ape,
45         And that is whan men pleyen with a straw."
                    And that is when men play with a straw."
46         And with this speche the Cook wax wrooth and wraw,
                    And with this speech the Cook became angry and enraged,
47         And on the Manciple he gan nodde faste
                    And on the Manciple he began to shake his head fast
48         For lakke of speche, and doun the hors hym caste,
                    For lack of speech, and down the horse him threw,
49         Where as he lay, til that men hym up took.
                    Where he lay, until men lifted him up.
50         This was a fair chyvachee of a cook!
                    This was a fine feat of horsemanship by a cook!
51         Allas, he nadde holde hym by his ladel!
                    Alas, he had not kept himself by his ladle (i.e., stayed home)!
52         And er that he agayn were in his sadel,
                    And before he was again in his saddle,
53         Ther was greet showvyng bothe to and fro
                    There was great shoving both to and fro
54         To lifte hym up, and muchel care and wo,
                    To lift him up, and much care and woe,
55         So unweeldy was this sory palled goost.
                    So unwieldy was this sorry enfeebled soul.
56         And to the Manciple thanne spak oure Hoost:
                    And to the Manciple then spoke our Host:
57         "By cause drynke hath dominacioun
                    "Because drink has domination
58         Upon this man, by my savacioun,
                    Upon this man, by my salvation,
59         I trowe he lewedly wolde telle his tale.
                    I believe he would tell his tale badly.
60         For, were it wyn or oold or moysty ale
                    For, were it wine or old or new ale
61         That he hath dronke, he speketh in his nose,
                    That he has drunk, he speaks in his nose,
62         And fneseth faste, and eek he hath the pose.
                    And sneezes fast, and also he has a head cold.
63         "He hath also to do moore than ynough
                    "He has also more than enough to do
64         To kepen hym and his capul out of the slough;
                    To keep him and his horse out of the mud;
65         And if he falle from his capul eftsoone,
                    And if he fall from his horse again,
66         Thanne shal we alle have ynogh to doone
                    Then shall we all have enough to do
67         In liftyng up his hevy dronken cors.
                    In lifting up his heavy drunken body.
68         Telle on thy tale; of hym make I no fors.
                    Tell on thy tale; of him I take no account.
69         "But yet, Manciple, in feith thou art to nyce,
                    "But yet, Manciple, in faith thou art too foolish,
70         Thus openly repreve hym of his vice.
                    Thus openly to reprove him of his vice.
71         Another day he wole, peraventure,
                    Another day he would, perhaps,
72         Reclayme thee and brynge thee to lure;
                    Recall thee and bring thee to the lure (like a hawk);
73         I meene, he speke wole of smale thynges,
                    I mean, he would speak of small things,
74         As for to pynchen at thy rekenynges,
                    As for to find fault with thy accounts,
75         That were nat honest, if it cam to preef."
                    That may not be honest, if it comes to proof."
76         "No," quod the Manciple, "that were a greet mescheef!
                    "No," said the Manciple, "that would be a great mischief!
77         So myghte he lightly brynge me in the snare.
                    In that way he could easily bring me into the trap.
78         Yet hadde I levere payen for the mare
                    Yet I would rather pay for the mare
79         Which he rit on, than he sholde with me stryve.
                    That he rides on, than he should strive with me.
80         I wol nat wratthen hym, also moot I thryve!
                    I will not anger him, as I may thrive!
81         That that I spak, I seyde it in my bourde.
                    That which I spoke, I said it in my joking.
82         And wite ye what? I have heer in a gourde
                    And do you know what? I have here in a gourd
83         A draghte of wyn, ye, of a ripe grape,
                    A draught of wine, yes, of a ripe grape,
84         And right anon ye shul seen a good jape.
                    And right away you shall see a good joke.
85         This Cook shal drynke therof, if I may.
                    This Cook shall drink thereof, if I may.
86         Up peyne of deeth, he wol nat seye me nay."
                    Upon pain of death, he will not say me nay."
87         And certeynly, to tellen as it was,
                    And certainly, to tell it as it was,
88         Of this vessel the Cook drank faste, allas!
                    Of this vessel the Cook drank fast, alas!
89         What neded hym? He drank ynough biforn.
                    Why did he need that? He drank enough before.
90         And whan he hadde pouped in this horn,
                    And when he had blown in this horn,
91         To the Manciple he took the gourde agayn;
                    To the Manciple he gave the gourd again;
92         And of that drynke the Cook was wonder fayn,
                    And of that drink the Cook was wonderfully pleased,
93         And thanked hym in swich wise as he koude.
                    And thanked him in such a way as he could.
94         Thanne gan oure Hoost to laughen wonder loude,
                    Then began our Host to laugh wonderfully loud,
95         And seyde, "I se wel it is necessarie,
                    And said, "I see well it is necessary,
96         Where that we goon, good drynke with us carie;
                    Wherever we go, to carry good drink with us;
97         For that wol turne rancour and disese
                    For that will turn rancor and strife
98         T' acord and love, and many a wrong apese.
                    To accord and love, and appease many a wrong.
99         "O Bacus, yblessed be thy name,
                    "O Bacchus, blessed be thy name,
100         That so kanst turnen ernest into game!
                    Who so can turn earnest into game!
101         Worshipe and thank be to thy deitee!
                    Worship and thanks be to thy deity!
102         Of that mateere ye gete namoore of me.
                    Of that matter you get no more of me.
103         Telle on thy tale, Manciple, I thee preye."
                    Tell on thy tale, Manciple, I thee pray."
104         "Wel, sire," quod he, "now herkneth what I seye."
                    "Well, sir," said he, "now hearken what I say."

 


 

The Manciple's Tale.

 

Heere bigynneth the Maunciples Tale of the Crowe.

 

105         Whan Phebus dwelled heere in this erthe adoun,
                    When Phoebus dwelled down here in this earth,
106         As olde bookes maken mencioun,
                    As old books make mention,
107         He was the mooste lusty bachiler
                    He was the most lusty bachelor
108         In al this world, and eek the beste archer.
                    In all this world, and also the best archer.
109         He slow Phitoun, the serpent, as he lay
                    He slew Phitoun, the serpent, as he lay
110         Slepynge agayn the sonne upon a day;
                    Sleeping in the sun upon a day;
111         And many another noble worthy dede
                    And many another noble worthy deed
112         He with his bowe wroghte, as men may rede.
                    He wrought with his bow, as men may read.
113         Pleyen he koude on every mynstralcie,
                    He could play on every minstrelsy,
114         And syngen that it was a melodie
                    And sing so that it was a pleasure
115         To heeren of his cleere voys the soun.
                    To hear of his clear voice the sound.
116         Certes the kyng of Thebes, Amphioun,
                    Certainly the king of Thebes, Amphioun,
117         That with his syngyng walled that citee,
                    Who with his singing walled that city,
118         Koude nevere syngen half so wel as hee.
                    Could never sing half so well as he.
119         Therto he was the semelieste man
                    Thereto he was the best looking man
120         That is or was sith that the world bigan.
                    That is or was since the world began.
121         What nedeth it his fetures to discryve?
                    What needs it his features to describe?
122         For in this world was noon so faire on-lyve.
                    For in this world was no one so handsome alive.
123         He was therwith fulfild of gentillesse,
                    He was therewith filled full of nobility,
124         Of honour, and of parfit worthynesse.
                    Of honor, and of perfect worthiness.
125         This Phebus, that was flour of bachilrie,
                    This Phoebus, which was the flower of knighthood,
126         As wel in fredom as in chivalrie,
                    As well in generosity as in chivalry,
127         For his desport, in signe eek of victorie
                    For his amusement, in sign also of victory
128         Of Phitoun, so as telleth us the storie,
                    Over Phitoun, as tells us the story,
129         Was wont to beren in his hand a bowe.
                    Was accustomed to bear in his hand a bow.
130         Now hadde this Phebus in his hous a crowe
                    Now had this Phoebus in his house a crow
131         Which in a cage he fostred many a day,
                    Which in a cage he fostered many a day,
132         And taughte it speken, as men teche a jay.
                    And taught it to speak, as men teach a jay.
133         Whit was this crowe as is a snow-whit swan,
                    White was this crow as is a snow-white swan,
134         And countrefete the speche of every man
                    And imitate the speech of every man
135         He koude, whan he sholde telle a tale.
                    He could, when he should tell a tale.
136         Therwith in al this world no nyghtyngale
                    Therewith in all this world no nightingale
137         Ne koude, by an hondred thousand deel,
                    Could not, by a hundred thousand times,
138         Syngen so wonder myrily and weel.
                    Sing so wonderfully merrily and well.
139         Now hadde this Phebus in his hous a wyf
                    Now had this Phoebus in his house a woman
140         Which that he lovede moore than his lyf,
                    Whom he loved more than his life,
141         And nyght and day dide evere his diligence
                    And night and day did ever his efforts
142         Hir for to plese and doon hire reverence,
                    To please her and do her reverence,
143         Save oonly, if the sothe that I shal sayn,
                    Save only, if I shall say the truth,
144         Jalous he was, and wolde have kept hire fayn.
                    Jealous he was, and would eagerly have kept her.
145         For hym were looth byjaped for to be,
                    For he was loath to be tricked,
146         And so is every wight in swich degree;
                    And so is every person in such a situation;
147         But al in ydel, for it availleth noght.
                    But all in vain, for it does not help.
148         A good wyf, that is clene of werk and thoght,
                    A good wife, who is clean of deed and thought,
149         Sholde nat been kept in noon awayt, certayn;
                    Should not be constantly watched, certainly;
150         And trewely the labour is in vayn
                    And truly the labor is in vain
151         To kepe a shrewe, for it wol nat bee.
                    To keep a shrew, for it will not be.
152         This holde I for a verray nycetee,
                    This hold I for a real act of folly,
153         To spille labour for to kepe wyves:
                    To waste labor guarding wives:
154         Thus writen olde clerkes in hir lyves.
                    Thus wrote old clerks in their time.
155         But now to purpos, as I first bigan:
                    But now to purpose, as I first began:
156         This worthy Phebus dooth al that he kan
                    This worthy Phoebus does all that he can
157         To plesen hire, wenynge for swich plesaunce,
                    To please her, supposing for such pleasing actions,
158         And for his manhede and his governaunce,
                    And for his manly qualities and his behavior,
159         That no man sholde han put hym from hir grace.
                    That no man should have put him out of her grace.
160         But God it woot, ther may no man embrace
                    But God knows it, there can no man embrace
161         As to destreyne a thyng which that nature
                    And restrain a thing which nature
162         Hath natureelly set in a creature.
                    Has naturally set in a creature.
163         Taak any bryd, and put it in a cage,
                    Take any bird, and put it in a cage,
164         And do al thyn entente and thy corage
                    And give all thy attention and take thy pains
165         To fostre it tendrely with mete and drynke
                    To foster it tenderly with food and drink
166         Of alle deyntees that thou kanst bithynke,
                    Of all dainties that thou can imagine,
167         And keep it al so clenly as thou may,
                    And keep it as cleanly as thou can,
168         Although his cage of gold be never so gay,
                    Although his cage of gold be never so gay,
169         Yet hath this brid, by twenty thousand foold,
                    Yet would this bird, by twenty thousand times,
170         Levere in a forest that is rude and coold
                    Rather in a forest that is rude and cold
171         Goon ete wormes and swich wrecchednesse.
                    Go eat worms and such wretched food.
172         For evere this brid wol doon his bisynesse
                    For ever this bird will work diligently
173         To escape out of his cage, yif he may.
                    To escape out of his cage, if he can.
174         His libertee this brid desireth ay.
                    His liberty this bird desires always.
175         Lat take a cat, and fostre hym wel with milk
                    Let's take a cat, and foster him well with milk
176         And tendre flessh, and make his couche of silk,
                    And tender meat, and make his couch of silk,
177         And lat hym seen a mous go by the wal,
                    And let him see a mouse go by the wall,
178         Anon he weyveth milk and flessh and al,
                    Right then he refuses milk and meat and all,
179         And every deyntee that is in that hous,
                    And every dainty that is in that house,
180         Swich appetit hath he to ete a mous.
                    Such appetite has he to eat a mouse.
181         Lo, heere hath lust his dominacioun,
                    Lo, here has lust his domination,
182         And appetit fleemeth discrecioun.
                    And appetite drives away discretion.
183         A she-wolf hath also a vileyns kynde.
                    A she-wolf has also an evil nature.
184         The lewedeste wolf that she may fynde,
                    The most crude wolf that she can find,
185         Or leest of reputacioun, wol she take,
                    Or least of reputation, will she take,
186         In tyme whan hir lust to han a make.
                    In time when she lusts to have a mate.
187         Alle thise ensamples speke I by thise men
                    All these examples I about speak these men
188         That been untrewe, and nothyng by wommen.
                    That are untrue, and nothing about women.
189         For men han evere a likerous appetit
                    For men have ever a lecherous appetite
190         On lower thyng to parfourne hire delit
                    On lower things to perform their delight
191         Than on hire wyves, be they never so faire,
                    Than on their wives, be they never so fair,
192         Ne never so trewe, ne so debonaire.
                    Nor never so true, nor so gracious.
193         Flessh is so newefangel, with meschaunce,
                    Flesh is so fond of novelty, curses on it,
194         That we ne konne in nothyng han plesaunce
                    That we can not take pleasure in anything
195         That sowneth into vertu any while.
                    That is consonant with virtue for any length of time.
196         This Phebus, which that thoghte upon no gile,
                    This Phoebus, who thought upon no guile,
197         Deceyved was, for al his jolitee.
                    Deceived was, despite all his attractive qualities.
198         For under hym another hadde shee,
                    For under him another had she,
199         A man of litel reputacioun,
                    A man of little reputation,
200         Nat worth to Phebus in comparisoun.
                    Worth nothing in comparison to Phoebus.
201         The moore harm is, it happeth ofte so,
                    The more harm is, it happens often so,
202         Of which ther cometh muchel harm and wo.
                    Of which there comes much harm and woe.
203         And so bifel, whan Phebus was absent,
                    And so befell, when Phoebus was absent,
204         His wyf anon hath for hir lemman sent.
                    His wife immediately has for her sweetheart sent.
205         Hir lemman? Certes, this is a knavyssh speche!
                    Her sweetheart? Certes, this is a knavish speech!
206         Foryeveth it me, and that I yow biseche.
                    Forgive it me, and that I you beseech.
207         The wise Plato seith, as ye may rede,
                    The wise Plato says, as you may read,
208         The word moot nede accorde with the dede.
                    The word must by necessity accord with the deed.
209         If men shal telle proprely a thyng,
                    If men shall tell a thing properly,
210         The word moot cosyn be to the werkyng.
                    The word must be cousin to the deed.
211         I am a boystous man, right thus seye I:
                    I am an unlearned man, right thus say I:
212         Ther nys no difference, trewely,
                    There is no difference, truly,
213         Bitwixe a wyf that is of heigh degree,
                    Between a wife that is of high degree,
214         If of hir body dishonest she bee,
                    If of her body dishonest she bee,
215         And a povre wenche, oother than this --
                    And a poor wench, other than this --
216         If it so be they werke bothe amys --
                    If it so be they work both amiss --
217         But that the gentile, in estaat above,
                    Except that the gentle, higher in rank,
218         She shal be cleped his lady, as in love;
                    She shall be called his lady, as in love;
219         And for that oother is a povre womman,
                    And because that other is a poor woman,
220         She shal be cleped his wenche or his lemman.
                    She shall be called his wench or his sweetie.
221         And, God it woot, myn owene deere brother,
                    And, God it knows, my own dear brother,
222         Men leyn that oon as lowe as lith that oother.
                    Men lay that one as low as lies that other.
223         Right so bitwixe a titlelees tiraunt
                    Right so between an usurping tyrant
224         And an outlawe or a theef erraunt,
                    And an outlaw or an arrant thief,
225         The same I seye: ther is no difference.
                    The same I say: there is no difference.
226         To Alisaundre was toold this sentence,
                    To Alexander was told this sentence,
227         That, for the tirant is of gretter myght
                    That, because the tyrant is of greater might
228         By force of meynee for to sleen dounright,
                    By the size of his army to slay downright,
229         And brennen hous and hoom, and make al playn,
                    And burn house and home, and level everything,
230         Lo, therfore is he cleped a capitayn;
                    Lo, therefore is he called a captain;
231         And for the outlawe hath but smal meynee,
                    And because the outlaw has but a small group of followers,
232         And may nat doon so greet an harm as he,
                    And can not do as much harm as he,
233         Ne brynge a contree to so greet mescheef,
                    Nor bring a country to such great mischief,
234         Men clepen hym an outlawe or a theef.
                    Men call him an outlaw or a thief.
235         But for I am a man noght textueel,
                    But because I am not a learned man,
236         I wol noght telle of textes never a deel;
                    I will tell nothing of texts, never a bit;
237         I wol go to my tale, as I bigan.
                    I will go to my tale, as I began.
238         Whan Phebus wyf had sent for hir lemman,
                    When Phoebus wife had sent for her leman,
239         Anon they wroghten al hire lust volage.
                    Right away they satisfied all their reckless lust.
240         The white crowe, that heeng ay in the cage,
                    The white crow, that hanged always in the cage,
241         Biheeld hire werk, and seyde never a word.
                    Beheld their work, and said never a word.
242         And whan that hoom was come Phebus, the lord,
                    And when home was come Phoebus, the lord,
243         This crowe sang "Cokkow! Cokkow! Cokkow!"
                    This crow sang "Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!"
244         "What, bryd?" quod Phebus. "What song syngestow?
                    "What, bird?" said Phoebus. "What song singest thou?
245         Ne were thow wont so myrily to synge
                    Were thou not accustomed so merrily to sing
246         That to myn herte it was a rejoysynge
                    That to my heart it was a rejoicing
247         To heere thy voys? Allas, what song is this?"
                    To hear thy voice? Alas, what song is this?"
248         "By God," quod he, "I synge nat amys.
                    "By God," said he, "I sing not amiss.
249         Phebus," quod he, "for al thy worthynesse,
                    Phoebus," said he, "for all thy worthiness,
250         For al thy beautee and thy gentilesse,
                    For all thy beauty and thy nobility,
251         For al thy song and al thy mynstralcye,
                    For all thy song and all thy music,
252         For al thy waityng, blered is thyn ye
                    For all thy watching, thou hast been tricked
253         With oon of litel reputacioun,
                    By one of little reputation,
254         Noght worth to thee, as in comparisoun,
                    Not worth, compared to thee,
255         The montance of a gnat, so moote I thryve!
                    The value of a gnat, as I may thrive!
256         For on thy bed thy wyf I saugh hym swyve."
                    For on thy bed I saw him copulate with thy wife."
257         What wol ye moore? The crowe anon hym tolde,
                    What more do you want? The crow immediately him told,
258         By sadde tokenes and by wordes bolde,
                    By clear evidence and by bold words,
259         How that his wyf had doon hire lecherye,
                    How his wife had done her lechery,
260         Hym to greet shame and to greet vileynye,
                    To his great shame and to his great dishonor,
261         And tolde hym ofte he saugh it with his yen.
                    And told him repeatedly he saw it with his eyes.
262         This Phebus gan aweyward for to wryen,
                    This Phoebus began to turn away,
263         And thoughte his sorweful herte brast atwo.
                    And thought his sorrowful heart would break in two.
264         His bowe he bente, and sette therinne a flo,
                    His bow he bent, and set therein an arrow,
265         And in his ire his wyf thanne hath he slayn.
                    And in his ire his wife then has he slain.
266         This is th' effect; ther is namoore to sayn;
                    This is the substance of it; there is no more to say;
267         For sorwe of which he brak his mynstralcie,
                    For sorrow of which he broke his musical instruments,
268         Bothe harpe, and lute, and gyterne, and sautrie;
                    Both harp, and lute, and cither, and psaltery;
269         And eek he brak his arwes and his bowe,
                    And also he broke his arrows and his bow,
270         And after that thus spak he to the crowe:
                    And after that thus spoke he to the crow:
271         "Traitour," quod he, "with tonge of scorpioun,
                    "Traitor," said he, "with tongue of scorpion,
272         Thou hast me broght to my confusioun;
                    Thou hast me brought to my ruin;
273         Allas, that I was wroght! Why nere I deed?
                    Alas, that I was wrought! Why was I not dead?
274         O deere wyf! O gemme of lustiheed!
                    O dear wife! O gem of delight!
275         That were to me so sad and eek so trewe,
                    Who were to me so stable and also so true,
276         Now listow deed, with face pale of hewe,
                    Now liest thou dead, with face pale of hue,
277         Ful giltelees, that dorste I swere, ywys!
                    Full guiltless, that dare I swear, indeed!
278         O rakel hand, to doon so foule amys!
                    O rash hand, to do so foul a crime!
279         O trouble wit, O ire recchelees,
                    O troubled wit, O reckless anger,
280         That unavysed smyteth gilteles!
                    That recklessly smites the guiltless!
281         O wantrust, ful of fals suspecion,
                    O mistrust, full of false suspicion,
282         Where was thy wit and thy discrecion?
                    Where was thy wit and thy discretion?
283         O every man, be war of rakelnesse!
                    O every man, beware of rashness!
284         Ne trowe no thyng withouten strong witnesse.
                    Do not believe any thing without strong evidence.
285         Smyt nat to soone, er that ye witen why,
                    Smite not too soon, before you know why,
286         And beeth avysed wel and sobrely
                    And be advised well and soberly
287         Er ye doon any execucion
                    Before you act in any way
288         Upon youre ire for suspecion.
                    Upon your anger caused by suspicion.
289         Allas, a thousand folk hath rakel ire
                    Alas, a thousand folk has rash anger
290         Fully fordoon, and broght hem in the mire.
                    Completely undone, and brought them in the mire.
291         Allas! For sorwe I wol myselven slee!"
                    Alas! For sorrow I will myself slay!"
292         And to the crowe, "O false theef!" seyde he,
                    And to the crow, "O false thief!" said he,
293         "I wol thee quite anon thy false tale.
                    "I will pay thee back immediately (for) thy false tale.
294         Thou songe whilom lyk a nyghtyngale;
                    Thou once sang like a nightingale;
295         Now shaltow, false theef, thy song forgon,
                    Now shalt thou, false thief, give up thy song,
296         And eek thy white fetheres everichon,
                    And also thy white feathers every one,
297         Ne nevere in al thy lif ne shaltou speke.
                    Nor never in all thy life shalt thou speak.
298         Thus shal men on a traytour been awreke;
                    Thus shall men on a traitor be avenged;
299         Thou and thyn ofspryng evere shul be blake,
                    Thou and thy offspring ever shall be black,
300         Ne nevere sweete noyse shul ye make,
                    Nor never sweet noise shall you make,
301         But evere crie agayn tempest and rayn,
                    But ever cry in anticipation of tempest and rain,
302         In tokenynge that thurgh thee my wyf is slayn."
                    As a sign that through thee my wife is slain."
303         And to the crowe he stirte, and that anon,
                    And to the crow he rushed, and that right away,
304         And pulled his white fetheres everychon,
                    And pulled out his white feathers every one,
305         And made hym blak, and refte hym al his song,
                    And made him black, and took away all his song,
306         And eek his speche, and out at dore hym slong
                    And also his speech, and out the door slung him
307         Unto the devel, which I hym bitake;
                    Unto the devil, to whom I commit him;
308         And for this caas been alle crowes blake.
                    And because of this case all crows are black.
309         Lordynges, by this ensample I yow preye,
                    Gentlemen, by this example I you pray,
310         Beth war, and taketh kep what that ye seye:
                    Beware, and take care what you say:
311         Ne telleth nevere no man in youre lyf
                    And tell never any man in your life
312         How that another man hath dight his wyf;
                    How another man has copulated with his wife;
313         He wol yow haten mortally, certeyn.
                    He will hate you mortally, certainly.
314         Daun Salomon, as wise clerkes seyn,
                    Dan Salomon, as wise clerks say,
315         Techeth a man to kepen his tonge weel.
                    Teaches a man to guard his tongue well.
316         But, as I seyde, I am noght textueel.
                    But, as I said, I am not learned.
317         But nathelees, thus taughte me my dame:
                    But nonetheless, thus taught me my mother:
318         "My sone, thenk on the crowe, a Goddes name!
                    "My son, think on the crow, in God's name!
319         My sone, keep wel thy tonge, and keep thy freend.
                    My son, hold well thy tongue, and keep thy friend.
320         A wikked tonge is worse than a feend;
                    A wicked tongue is worse than a fiend;
321         My sone, from a feend men may hem blesse.
                    My son, from a fiend men can bless themselves.
322         My sone, God of his endelees goodnesse
                    My son, God of his endless goodness
323         Walled a tonge with teeth and lippes eke,
                    Walled a tongue with teeth and lips also,
324         For man sholde hym avyse what he speeke.
                    So that man should think about what he may speak.
325         My sone, ful ofte, for to muche speche
                    My son, very often, for too much speech
326         Hath many a man been spilt, as clerkes teche,
                    Has many a man been ruined, as clerks teach,
327         But for litel speche avysely
                    But for little speech well considered
328         Is no man shent, to speke generally.
                    Is no man harmed, to speak generally.
329         My sone, thy tonge sholdestow restreyne
                    My son, thy tongue thou should restrain
330         At alle tymes, but whan thou doost thy peyne
                    At all times, but when thou make an effort
331         To speke of God, in honour and preyere.
                    To speak of God, in honor and prayer.
332         The firste vertu, sone, if thou wolt leere,
                    The first virtue, son, if thou will learn,
333         Is to restreyne and kepe wel thy tonge;
                    Is to restrain and guard well thy tongue;
334         Thus lerne children whan that they been yonge.
                    Thus learn children when they are young.
335         My sone, of muchel spekyng yvele avysed,
                    My son, of much ill-considered speaking,
336         Ther lasse spekyng hadde ynough suffised,
                    Where less speaking had well enough sufficed,
337         Comth muchel harm; thus was me toold and taught.
                    Comes much harm; thus was me told and taught.
338         In muchel speche synne wanteth naught.
                    In much speech sin is not lacking.
339         Wostow wherof a rakel tonge serveth?
                    Knowest thou what a rash tongue serves for?
340         Right as a swerd forkutteth and forkerveth
                    Right as a sword cuts and carves
341         An arm a-two, my deere sone, right so
                    An arm in two, my dear son, just so
342         A tonge kutteth freendshipe al a-two.
                    A tongue cuts friendship all in two.
343         A jangler is to God abhomynable.
                    A tale-teller is to God abominable.
344         Reed Salomon, so wys and honurable;
                    Read Salomon, so wise and honorable;
345         Reed David in his psalmes; reed Senekke.
                    Read David in his psalms; read Seneca.
346         My sone, spek nat, but with thyn heed thou bekke.
                    My son, speak not, but with thy head thou nod.
347         Dissimule as thou were deef, if that thou heere
                    Act as if thou were deaf, if thou hear
348         A janglere speke of perilous mateere.
                    A tale-teller speak of perilous matter.
349         The Flemyng seith, and lerne it if thee leste,
                    The Fleming says, and learn it if thou please,
350         That litel janglyng causeth muchel reste.
                    That little tale-telling causes much rest.
351         My sone, if thou no wikked word hast seyd,
                    My son, if thou no wicked word hast said,
352         Thee thar nat drede for to be biwreyd;
                    Thou need not dread to be betrayed;
353         But he that hath mysseyd, I dar wel sayn,
                    But he who has spoken evil, I dare well say,
354         He may by no wey clepe his word agayn.
                    He can by no way call his word back.
355         Thyng that is seyd is seyd, and forth it gooth,
                    Thing that is said is said, and forth it goes,
356         Though hym repente, or be hym nevere so looth.
                    Though he repent, or be ever so unwilling (it be known).
357         He is his thral to whom that he hath sayd
                    He is his slave to whom he has said
358         A tale of which he is now yvele apayd.
                    A tale of which he is now very sorry.
359         My sone, be war, and be noon auctour newe
                    My son, beware, and be no author new
360         Of tidynges, wheither they been false or trewe.
                    Of tidings, whether they be false or true.
361         Whereso thou come, amonges hye or lowe,
                    Wherever thou come, amongst high or low,
362         Kepe wel thy tonge and thenk upon the crowe."
                    Hold well thy tongue and think upon the crow."

 

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