Gold THE GEOFFREY CHAUCER PAGE


 

The Reeve's Prologue and Tale

An Interlinear Translation

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

(How to use the interlinear translations.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Reeve's Prologue

 

 

 

The Prologe of the Reves Tale

 

3855         Whan folk hadde laughen at this nyce cas
                    When folk had laughed at this foolish business
3856         Of Absolon and hende Nicholas,
                    Of Absolon and clever Nicholas,
3857         Diverse folk diversely they seyde,
                    Different folk said different opinions,
3858         But for the moore part they loughe and pleyde.
                    But for the most part they laughed and enjoyed themselves.
3859         Ne at this tale I saugh no man hym greve,
                    And at this tale I saw no man aggrieved,
3860         But it were oonly Osewold the Reve.
                    Except for only Osewold the Reeve.
3861         By cause he was of carpenteris craft,
                    Because he was of the carpenter's craft,
3862         A litel ire is in his herte ylaft;
                    A little anger is left in his heart;
3863         He gan to grucche, and blamed it a lite.
                    He began to grouch, and criticized it a little.

3864         "So theek," quod he, "ful wel koude I thee quite
                    "As I may prosper," said he, "very well could I repay thee
3865         With bleryng of a proud milleres ye,
                    With (a tale of the) blearing of a proud miller's eye (tricking him),
3866         If that me liste speke of ribaudye.
                    If I wanted to speak of ribaldry.
3867         But ik am oold; me list not pley for age;
                    But I am old; because of age I do not want to play;
3868         Gras tyme is doon; my fodder is now forage;
                    Grass time is done; my fodder is now dry straw;
3869         This white top writeth myne olde yeris;
                    This white head reveals my old years;
3870         Myn herte is also mowled as myne heris,
                    My heart is as moldy as my hairs,

3871         But if I fare as dooth an open-ers --
                    Unless I fare as does the fruit of the medlar --
3872         That ilke fruyt is ever lenger the wers,
                    That same fruit continually grows worse,
3873         Til it be roten in mullok or in stree.
                    Until it is rotten in rubbish or in straw.
3874         We olde men, I drede, so fare we:
                    We old men, I fear, fare like that:
3875         Til we be roten, kan we nat be rype;
                    Until we are rotten, we can not be ripe;
3876         We hoppen alwey whil that the world wol pype.
                    We dance always while the world will pipe.
3877         For in oure wyl ther stiketh evere a nayl,
                    For in our will there sticks ever a nail,
3878         To have an hoor heed and a grene tayl,
                    To have a white head and a green tail,
3879         As hath a leek; for thogh oure myght be goon,
                    As a leek has; for though our power is gone,
3880         Oure wyl desireth folie evere in oon.
                    Our will desires folly continually.
3881         For whan we may nat doon, than wol we speke;
                    For when we can not do anything, then will we talk about it;
3882         Yet in oure asshen olde is fyr yreke.
                    Yet in our old ashes fire is raked over (covered).

3883         "Foure gleedes han we, which I shal devyse --
                    "Four live coals have we, which I shall describe --
3884         Avauntyng, liyng, anger, coveitise;
                    Boasting, lying, anger, greed;
3885         Thise foure sparkles longen unto eelde.
                    These four little sparks belong to old age.
3886         Oure olde lemes mowe wel been unweelde,
                    Our old limbs may well be feeble,
3887         But wyl ne shal nat faillen, that is sooth.
                    But desire shall not be lacking, that is truth.
3888         And yet ik have alwey a coltes tooth,
                    And yet I have always a young man's desires,
3889         As many a yeer as it is passed henne
                    As many years as have passed hence
3890         Syn that my tappe of lif bigan to renne.
                    Since my tap of life began to run.
3891         For sikerly, whan I was bore, anon
                    For surely, when I was born, immediately
3892         Deeth drough the tappe of lyf and leet it gon,
                    Death turned on the spigot of life and let it flow,
3893         And ever sithe hath so the tappe yronne
                    And ever since the tap has so run
3894         Til that almoost al empty is the tonne.
                    Until the barrel is almost all empty.
3895         The streem of lyf now droppeth on the chymbe.
                    The stream of life now drops on the rim.
3896         The sely tonge may wel rynge and chymbe
                    The foolish tongue may well ring and chime
3897         Of wrecchednesse that passed is ful yoore;
                    About wretchedness that passed long ago;
3898         With olde folk, save dotage, is namoore!"
                    With old folk, save dotage, there is no more!"

3899         Whan that oure Hoost hadde herd this sermonyng,
                    When our Host had heard this sermon making,
3900         He gan to speke as lordly as a kyng.
                    He began to speak as lordly as a king.
3901         He seide, "What amounteth al this wit?
                    He said, "What amounts all this wit?
3902         What shul we speke alday of hooly writ?
                    What! shall we speak all day of holy writ?
3903         The devel made a reve for to preche,
                    The devil made a reeve to preach,
3904         Or of a soutere a shipman or a leche.
                    Or of a cobbler made a shipman or a physician.
3905         Sey forth thy tale, and tarie nat the tyme.
                    Say forth thy tale, and do not waste the time.
3906         Lo Depeford, and it is half-wey pryme!
                    Lo Deptford, and it is almost seven thirty!
3907         Lo Grenewych, ther many a shrewe is inne!
                    Lo Greenwich, in which is many a rascal!
3908         It were al tyme thy tale to bigynne."
                    It is well time to begin thy tale."

3909         "Now, sires," quod this Osewold the Reve,
                    "Now, sires," said this Osewold the Reeve,
3910         "I pray yow alle that ye nat yow greve,
                    "I pray yow all that you not be displeased,
3911         Thogh I answere, and somdeel sette his howve;
                    Though I answer (him), and somewhat make a fool of him;
3912         For leveful is with force force of-showve.
                    For it is permissable to repel force with force.

3913         "This dronke Millere hath ytoold us heer
                    "This drunk Miller has told us here
3914         How that bigyled was a carpenteer,
                    How a carpenter was tricked,
3915         Peraventure in scorn, for I am oon.
                    Perhaps in scorn, for I am one.
3916         And, by youre leve, I shal hym quite anoon;
                    And, by your leave, I shall repay him right now;
3917         Right in his cherles termes wol I speke.
                    Right in his churl's terms will I speak.
3918         I pray to God his nekke mote to-breke;
                    I pray to God his neck may break into pieces;
3919         He kan wel in myn eye seen a stalke,
                    He can well in my eye see a piece of straw,
3920         But in his owene he kan nat seen a balke."
                    But in his own he can not see a large piece of timber."

 

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The Reeve's Tale

 

Heere bigynneth the Reves Tale.

3921         At Trumpyngtoun, nat fer fro Cantebrigge,
                    At Trumpington, not far from Cambridge,
3922         Ther gooth a brook, and over that a brigge,
                    There goes a brook, and over that a bridge,
3923         Upon the whiche brook ther stant a melle;
                    Upon the which brook there stands a mill;
3924         And this is verray sooth that I yow telle:
                    And this is absolute truth that I tell you:
3925         A millere was ther dwellynge many a day.
                    A miller was there dwelling many a day.
3926         As any pecok he was proud and gay.
                    As any peacock he was proud and gay.
3927         Pipen he koude and fisshe, and nettes beete,
                    He could play the bagpipe and fish, and mend nets,
3928         And turne coppes, and wel wrastle and sheete;
                    And play a drinking game, and well wrestle and shoot;
3929         Ay by his belt he baar a long panade,
                    Always by his belt he carried a long cutlass,
3930         And of a swerd ful trenchant was the blade.
                    And very sharp was the blade of the sword.
3931         A joly poppere baar he in his pouche;
                    An elegant dagger he carried in his pouch;
3932         Ther was no man, for peril, dorste hym touche.
                    There was no man, for peril, dared touch him.
3933         A Sheffeld thwitel baar he in his hose.
                    A Sheffield knife he carried in his hose.
3934         Round was his face, and camus was his nose;
                    Round was his face, and he had a pug nose;
3935         As piled as an ape was his skulle.
                    As bald as an ape was his skull.
3936         He was a market-betere atte fulle.
                    He was a quarrelsome bully in every way.
3937         Ther dorste no wight hand upon hym legge,
                    There dared no person lay hand upon him,
3938         That he ne swoor he sholde anon abegge.
                    That he did not swear he should pay for it right away.
3939         A theef he was for sothe of corn and mele,
                    A thief he was, in truth, of grain and meal,
3940         And that a sly, and usaunt for to stele.
                    And that a sly one, and accustomed to steal.
3941         His name was hoote deynous Symkyn.
                    His name was called haughty Symkyn.
3942         A wyf he hadde, ycomen of noble kyn;
                    A wife he had, come of noble kin;
3943         The person of the toun hir fader was.
                    The parson of the town was her father.
3944         With hire he yaf ful many a panne of bras,
                    With her he gave very many a pan of brass,
3945         For that Symkyn sholde in his blood allye.
                    So that Symkyn should be allied with his family.
3946         She was yfostred in a nonnerye;
                    She was fostered in a nunnery;
3947         For Symkyn wolde no wyf, as he sayde,
                    For Symkyn would have no wife, as he said,
3948         But she were wel ynorissed and a mayde,
                    Unless she were well educated and a virgin,
3949         To saven his estaat of yomanrye.
                    To preserve his state of yeomanry.
3950         And she was proud, and peert as is a pye.
                    And she was proud, and brazen as is a magpie.
3951         A ful fair sighte was it upon hem two;
                    A very fair sight was it to look upon those two;
3952         On halydayes biforn hire wolde he go
                    On holidays before her would he go
3953         With his typet wounde aboute his heed,
                    With the tip of his hood wound about his head,
3954         And she cam after in a gyte of reed;
                    And she came after in a gown of red;
3955         And Symkyn hadde hosen of the same.
                    And Symkyn had hose of the same color.
3956         Ther dorste no wight clepen hire but "dame";
                    There dared no one call her anything but "lady";
3957         Was noon so hardy that wente by the weye
                    There was no one so brave that went by the way
3958         That with hire dorste rage or ones pleye,
                    That dared flirt with her or once play,
3959         But if he wolde be slayn of Symkyn
                    Unless he wished to be slain by Symkyn
3960         With panade, or with knyf, or boidekyn.
                    With cutlass, or with knife, or dagger.
3961         For jalous folk ben perilous everemo --
                    For jealous folk are dangerous always --
3962         Algate they wolde hire wyves wenden so.
                    At least they would like their wives to think so.
3963         And eek, for she was somdel smoterlich,
                    And also, because she was a bit besmirched (by her illegitimacy),
3964         She was as digne as water in a dich,
                    She was as haughty as water in a ditch,
3965         And ful of hoker and of bisemare.
                    And full of disdain and of scorn.
3966         Hir thoughte that a lady sholde hire spare,
                    She thought that a lady should be aloof,
3967         What for hire kynrede and hir nortelrie
                    Considering her family and her education
3968         That she hadde lerned in the nonnerie.
                    Which she had learned in the nunnery.

3969         A doghter hadde they bitwixe hem two
                    A daughter had they between them two
3970         Of twenty yeer, withouten any mo,
                    Of twenty years of age, without any more,
3971         Savynge a child that was of half yeer age;
                    Except for a child that was a half year of age;
3972         In cradel it lay and was a propre page.
                    In cradle it lay and was a good looking little boy.
3973         This wenche thikke and wel ygrowen was,
                    This wench was thick and well grown,
3974         With kamus nose and eyen greye as glas,
                    With pug nose and eyes gray as glass,
3975         With buttokes brode and brestes rounde and hye.
                    With buttocks broad and breasts round and high.
3976         But right fair was hire heer; I wol nat lye.
                    But right fair was her hair; I will not lie.

3977         This person of the toun, for she was feir,
                    This parson of the town, because she was fair,
3978         In purpos was to maken hire his heir,
                    Was determined to make her his heir,
3979         Bothe of his catel and his mesuage,
                    Both of his property and his household,
3980         And straunge he made it of hir mariage.
                    And he raised difficulties about her marriage.
3981         His purpos was for to bistowe hire hye
                    His purpose was to bestow her high
3982         Into som worthy blood of auncetrye;
                    Into some worthy family of noble ancestry;
3983         For hooly chirches good moot been despended
                    For holy church's goods must be dispensed
3984         On hooly chirches blood, that is descended.
                    To holy church's blood, which is descended from the church.
3985         Therfore he wolde his hooly blood honoure,
                    Therefore he would his holy blood honor,
3986         Though that he hooly chirche sholde devoure.
                    Though he holy church should devour.

3987         Greet sokene hath this millere, out of doute,
                    A profitable monopoly on milling has this miller, out of doubt,
3988         With whete and malt of al the land aboute;
                    With wheat and malt of all the land about;
3989         And nameliche ther was a greet collegge
                    And namely there was an important college
3990         Men clepen the Soler Halle at Cantebregge;
                    People call the Soler Hall at Cambridge;
3991         Ther was hir whete and eek hir malt ygrounde.
                    There their wheat and also their malt was ground.
3992         And on a day it happed, in a stounde,
                    And on one day it happened, at a time,
3993         Sik lay the maunciple on a maladye;
                    The manciple lay sick with a malady;
3994         Men wenden wisly that he sholde dye.
                    People thought indeed that he should die.
3995         For which this millere stal bothe mele and corn
                    For which this miller stole both meal and grain
3996         An hundred tyme moore than biforn;
                    A hundred times more than before;
3997         For therbiforn he stal but curteisly,
                    For before this he stole but courteously,
3998         But now he was a theef outrageously,
                    But now he was a thief excessively,
3999         For which the wardeyn chidde and made fare.
                    For which the warden (of the college) complained and made a fuss.
4000         But therof sette the millere nat a tare;
                    But the miller thought that not worth a weed;
4001         He craketh boost, and swoor it was nat so.
                    He blustered fiercely, and swore it was not so.

4002         Thanne were ther yonge povre scolers two,
                    Then were there two young poor scholars,
4003         That dwelten in this halle, of which I seye.
                    Who dwelt in this hall, of which I tell.
4004         Testif they were, and lusty for to pleye,
                    Headstrong they were, and eager for sport,
4005         And, oonly for hire myrthe and revelrye,
                    And, only for their mirth and amusement,
4006         Upon the wardeyn bisily they crye
                    Upon the warden busily they implore
4007         To yeve hem leve, but a litel stounde,
                    To give them leave, for but a little while,
4008         To goon to mille and seen hir corn ygrounde;
                    To go to the mill and see their grain ground;
4009         And hardily they dorste leye hir nekke
                    And boldly they dared pledge their necks
4010         The millere sholde not stele hem half a pekke
                    The miller should not steal from them half a peck
4011         Of corn by sleighte, ne by force hem reve;
                    Of grain by trickery, nor rob them by force;
4012         And at the laste the wardeyn yaf hem leve.
                    And at the last the warden gave hem leave.
4013         John highte that oon, and Aleyn highte that oother;
                    John was called that one, and Aleyn was called that other;
4014         Of o toun were they born, that highte Strother,
                    Of one town were they born, that was called Strother,
4015         Fer in the north; I kan nat telle where.
                    Far in the north; I can not tell where.

4016         This Aleyn maketh redy al his gere,
                    This Aleyn makes ready all his gear,
4017         And on an hors the sak he caste anon.
                    And on a horse the sack he cast immediately.
4018         Forth goth Aleyn the clerk, and also John,
                    Forth goes Aleyn the clerk, and also John,
4019         With good swerd and with bokeler by hir syde.
                    With good sword and with buckler by their sides.
4020         John knew the wey -- hem nedede no gyde --
                    John knew the way -- they needed no guide --
4021         And at the mille the sak adoun he layth.
                    And at the mill he lays the sack down.
4022         Aleyn spak first: "Al hayl, Symond, y-fayth!
                    Aleyn spoke first: "All hail, Symond, in faith!
4023         Hou fares thy faire doghter and thy wyf?"
                    How fares thy faire daughter and thy wife?"

4024         "Aleyn, welcome," quod Symkyn, "by my lyf!
                    "Aleyn, welcome," said Symkyn, "by my life!
4025         And John also, how now, what do ye heer?"
                    And John also, how now, what do you here?"

4026         "Symond," quod John, "by God, nede has na peer.
                    "Symond," said John, "by God, need knows no law.
4027         Hym boes serve hymself that has na swayn,
                    He who has no servant must serve himself,
4028         Or elles he is a fool, as clerkes sayn.
                    Or else he is a fool, as clerks say.
4029         Oure manciple, I hope he wil be deed,
                    Our manciple, I expect he will be dead,
4030         Swa werkes ay the wanges in his heed;
                    So continually ache the teeth in his head;
4031         And forthy is I come, and eek Alayn,
                    And therefore I am come, and also Alayn,
4032         To grynde oure corn and carie it ham agayn;
                    To grind our grain and carry it home again;
4033         I pray yow spede us heythen that ye may."
                    I pray you speed us hence as fast as you can."

4034         "It shal be doon," quod Symkyn, "by my fay!
                    "It shall be done," said Symkyn, "by my faith!
4035         What wol ye doon whil that it is in hande?"
                    What will you do while it is being done?"

4036         "By God, right by the hopur wil I stande,"
                    "By God, right by the hopper will I stand,"
4037         Quod John, "and se howgates the corn gas in.
                    Said John, "and see how the grain goes in.
4038         Yet saugh I nevere, by my fader kyn,
                    Yet saw I never, by my father's kin,
4039         How that the hopur wagges til and fra."
                    How the hopper wags to and fro."

4040         Aleyn answerde, "John, and wiltow swa?
                    Aleyn answered, "John, and wilt thou do so?
4041         Thanne wil I be bynethe, by my croun,
                    Then will I be beneath, by my head,
4042         And se how that the mele falles doun
                    And see how the meal falls down
4043         Into the trough; that sal be my disport.
                    Into the trough; that shall be my sport.
4044         For John, y-faith, I may been of youre sort;
                    For John, in faith, I may be like you;
4045         I is as ille a millere as ar ye."
                    I am as poor a miller as you are."

 

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4046         This millere smyled of hir nycetee,
                    This miller smiled at their foolishness,
4047         And thoghte, "Al this nys doon but for a wyle.
                    And thought, "All this is done only for a trick.
4048         They wene that no man may hem bigyle,
                    They think that no man can trick them,
4049         But by my thrift, yet shal I blere hir ye,
                    But by my welfare, yet shall I blear their eyes (fool them),
4050         For al the sleighte in hir philosophye.
                    Despite all the trickery in their philosophy.
4051         The moore queynte crekes that they make,
                    The more ingenious tricks that they make,
4052         The moore wol I stele whan I take.
                    The more will I steal when I take.
4053         In stide of flour yet wol I yeve hem bren.
                    Instead of flour yet will I give them bran.
4054         `The gretteste clerkes been noght wisest men,'
                    `The greatest clerks are not the wisest men,'
4055         As whilom to the wolf thus spak the mare.
                    As once to the wolf thus spoke the mare.
4056         Of al hir art counte I noght a tare."
                    All their learning I reckon not worth a weed."

4057         Out at the dore he gooth ful pryvely,
                    Out at the door he goes full stealthily,
4058         Whan that he saugh his tyme, softely.
                    When he saw his time, quietly.
4059         He looketh up and doun til he hath founde
                    He looks up and down until he has found
4060         The clerkes hors, ther as it stood ybounde
                    The clerks' horse, where it stood tied
4061         Bihynde the mille, under a levesel;
                    Behind the mill, under an arbor;
4062         And to the hors he goth hym faire and wel;
                    And to the horse he goes gently;
4063         He strepeth of the brydel right anon.
                    He strips off the bridle right away.
4064         And whan the hors was laus, he gynneth gon
                    And when the horse was loose, he begins to go
4065         Toward the fen, ther wilde mares renne,
                    Toward the fen, where wild mares run,
4066         And forth with "wehee," thurgh thikke and thurgh thenne.
                    And forth with "wehee," through thick and through thin.

4067         This millere gooth agayn, no word he seyde,
                    This miller goes back to the mill, no word he said,
4068         But dooth his note, and with the clerkes pleyde
                    But does his work, and with the clerks amused himself
4069         Til that hir corn was faire and weel ygrounde.
                    Until their grain was completely ground.
4070         And whan the mele is sakked and ybounde,
                    And when the meal is sacked and tied,
4071         This John goth out and fynt his hors away,
                    This John goes out and finds his horse gone away,
4072         And gan to crie "Harrow!" and "Weylaway!
                    And began to cry "Help!" and "Wellaway!
4073         Oure hors is lorn, Alayn, for Goddes banes,
                    Our horse is lost, Alayn, for God's bones,
4074         Step on thy feet! Com of, man, al atanes!
                    Step on thy feet! Come on, man, quickly!
4075         Allas, our wardeyn has his palfrey lorn."
                    Alas, our warden has lost his saddle horse."
4076         This Aleyn al forgat, bothe mele and corn;
                    This Aleyn forgot everything, both meal and grain;
4077         Al was out of his mynde his housbondrie.
                    All his skillful management was out of his mind.
4078         "What, whilk way is he geen?" he gan to crie.
                    "What, which way is he gone?" he began to cry.

4079         The wyf cam lepynge inward with a ren.
                    The wife cam leaping inward at a run.
4080         She seyde, "Allas! youre hors goth to the fen
                    She said, "Alas! your horse goes to the fen
4081         With wilde mares, as faste as he may go.
                    With wild mares, as fast as he can go.
4082         Unthank come on his hand that boond hym so,
                    Curses come on his hand that tied him so carelessly,
4083         And he that bettre sholde han knyt the reyne!"
                    And he that should have tied the rein better!"

4084         "Allas," quod John, "Aleyn, for Cristes peyne
                    "Alas," said John, "Aleyn, for Christ's pain
4085         Lay doun thy swerd, and I wil myn alswa.
                    Lay down thy sword, and I will mine also.
4086         I is ful wight, God waat, as is a raa;
                    I am full strong (swift), God knows, as is a roe deer;
4087         By Goddes herte, he sal nat scape us bathe!
                    By God's heart, he shall not escape us both!
4088         Why ne had thow pit the capul in the lathe?
                    Why did thou not put the horse in the barn?
4089         Ilhayl! By God, Alayn, thou is a fonne!"
                    Bad luck! By God, Alayn, thou art a fool!"

4090         Thise sely clerkes han ful faste yronne
                    These hapless clerks have run very fast
4091         Toward the fen, bothe Aleyn and eek John.
                    Toward the fen, both Aleyn and also John.

4092         And whan the millere saugh that they were gon,
                    And when the miller saw that they were gone,
4093         He half a busshel of hir flour hath take,
                    He half a bushel of their flour has taken,
4094         And bad his wyf go knede it in a cake.
                    And ordered his wife to go knead it in a cake.
4095         He seyde, "I trowe the clerkes were aferd.
                    He said, "I suppose the clerks were leery (of what I might do).
4096         Yet kan a millere make a clerkes berd,
                    Yet can a miller make a clerk's beard (trick a clerk),
4097         For al his art; now lat hem goon hir weye!
                    Despite all his learning; now let them go their way!
4098         Lo, wher he gooth! Ye, lat the children pleye.
                    Lo, there he goes! Yes, let the children play.
4099         They gete hym nat so lightly, by my croun."
                    They will not catch him easily, by my crown."

4100         Thise sely clerkes rennen up and doun
                    These hapless clerks run up and down
4101         With "Keep! Keep! Stand! Stand! Jossa, warderere,
                    With "Stop! Stop! Stand! Stand! Down there, watch out behind,
4102         Ga whistle thou, and I shal kepe hym heere!"
                    Go whistle thou, and I shall catch him here!"
4103         But shortly, til that it was verray nyght,
                    But shortly, until that it was truly night,
4104         They koude nat, though they dide al hir myght,
                    They could not, though they did al their might,
4105         Hir capul cacche, he ran alwey so faste,
                    Catch their horse, he ran always so fast,
4106         Til in a dych they caughte hym atte laste.
                    Until in a ditch they caught him at the last.

4107         Wery and weet, as beest is in the reyn,
                    Weary and wet, as a beast is in the rain,
4108         Comth sely John, and with him comth Aleyn.
                    Comes hapless John, and with him comes Aleyn.
4109         "Allas," quod John, "the day that I was born!
                    "Alas," said John, "the day that I was born!
4110         Now are we dryve til hethyng and til scorn.
                    Now are we driven to contempt and to scorn.
4111         Oure corn is stoln; men wil us fooles calle,
                    Our grain is stolen; men will call us fools,
4112         Bathe the wardeyn and oure felawes alle,
                    Both the warden and all our fellows,
4113         And namely the millere, weylaway!"
                    And namely the miller, wellaway!"

4114         Thus pleyneth John as he gooth by the way
                    Thus laments John as he goes by the way
4115         Toward the mille, and Bayard in his hond.
                    Toward the mill, and the horse Bayard in his hand.
4116         The millere sittynge by the fyr he fond,
                    The miller sitting by the fire he found,
4117         For it was nyght, and forther myghte they noght;
                    For it was night, and further they could not go;
4118         But for the love of God they hym bisoght
                    But for the love of God they ask him
4119         Of herberwe and of ese, as for hir peny.
                    For lodging and for refreshment, for their cash.

4120         The millere seyde agayn, "If ther be eny,
                    The miller said in reply, "If there be any,
4121         Swich as it is, yet shal ye have youre part.
                    Such as it is, yet shall you have your share.
4122         Myn hous is streit, but ye han lerned art;
                    My house is small, but you have learned the art of logic;
4123         Ye konne by argumentes make a place
                    You know how by logical arguments to make a place
4124         A myle brood of twenty foot of space.
                    A mile broad out of twenty feet of space.
4125         Lat se now if this place may suffise,
                    Let's see now if this place may suffice,
4126         Or make it rowm with speche, as is youre gise."
                    Or make it large by speech, as is your custom."

4127         "Now, Symond," seyde John, "by Seint Cutberd,
                    "Now, Symond," said John, "by Saint Cuthbert,
4128         Ay is thou myrie, and this is faire answerd.
                    Thou art always joking, and this is nicely answered.
4129         I have herd seyd, `Man sal taa of twa thynges:
                    I have heard said, `Man shall take one of two things:
4130         Slyk as he fyndes, or taa slyk as he brynges.'
                    Such as he finds, or take such as he brings.'
4131         But specially I pray thee, hooste deere,
                    But specially I pray thee, host dear,
4132         Get us som mete and drynke, and make us cheere,
                    Get us some food and drink, and make us good cheer,
4133         And we wil payen trewely atte fulle.
                    And we will pay truly at the full.
4134         With empty hand men may na haukes tulle;
                    With empty hand men may lure no hawks;
4135         Loo, heere oure silver, redy for to spende."
                    Lo, here is our silver, ready to spend."

4136         This millere into toun his doghter sende
                    This miller into town his daughter sent
4137         For ale and breed, and rosted hem a goos,
                    For ale and bread, and roasted them a goose,
4138         And boond hire hors, it sholde namoore go loos,
                    And tied up their horse, it should no more go loose,
4139         And in his owene chambre hem made a bed,
                    And in his own bedroom made them a bed,
4140         With sheetes and with chalons faire yspred
                    With sheets and with blankets nicely spread
4141         Noght from his owene bed ten foot or twelve.
                    Not ten feet or twelve from his own bed.
4142         His doghter hadde a bed, al by hirselve,
                    His daughter had a bed, all by herself,
4143         Right in the same chambre by and by.
                    Right in the same chamber side by side.
4144         It myghte be no bet, and cause why?
                    It could be no better, and (do you know) the cause why?
4145         Ther was no roumer herberwe in the place.
                    There was no larger lodging in the place.
4146         They soupen and they speke, hem to solace,
                    They sup and they converse, to entertain themselves,
4147         And drynken evere strong ale atte beste.
                    And drink ever strong ale of the best quality.
4148         Aboute mydnyght wente they to reste.
                    About midnight they went to bed.

4149         Wel hath this millere vernysshed his heed;
                    Well has this miller varnished his head (drank heavily);
4150         Ful pale he was for dronken, and nat reed.
                    Full pale he was for drunkenness, and not red.
4151         He yexeth, and he speketh thurgh the nose
                    He belches, and he speaks through the nose
4152         As he were on the quakke, or on the pose.
                    As if he had hoarseness, or had a cold.
4153         To bedde he goth, and with hym goth his wyf.
                    To bed he goes, and with him goes his wife.
4154         As any jay she light was and jolyf,
                    She was as cheerful and jolly as any jay,
4155         So was hir joly whistle wel ywet.
                    So was her jolly whistle well wetted.
4156         The cradel at hir beddes feet is set,
                    The cradle at her bed's feet is set,
4157         To rokken, and to yeve the child to sowke.
                    To rock, and to give the child to suck.
4158         And whan that dronken al was in the crowke,
                    And when all that was in the crock was drunk,
4159         To bedde wente the doghter right anon;
                    To bed went the daughter right away;
4160         To bedde goth Aleyn and also John;
                    To bed goes Aleyn and also John;
4161         Ther nas na moore -- hem nedede no dwale.
                    There was no more -- they needed no sleeping potion.
4162         This millere hath so wisely bibbed ale
                    This miller has imbibed so much ale
4163         That as an hors he fnorteth in his sleep,
                    That he snorts like a horse in his sleep,
4164         Ne of his tayl bihynde he took no keep.
                    And of his tail behind he took no heed.
4165         His wyf bar hym a burdon, a ful strong;
                    His wife bore him a bass accompaniment, very loud;
4166         Men myghte hir rowtyng heere two furlong;
                    One could hear their snoring two furlongs away;
4167         The wenche rowteth eek, par compaignye.
                    The wench snores also, to keep them company.

4168         Aleyn the clerk, that herde this melodye,
                    Aleyn the clerk, who heard this melody,
4169         He poked John, and seyde, "Slepestow?
                    He poked John, and said, "Sleepest thou?
4170         Herdestow evere slyk a sang er now?
                    Heardest thou ever such a song before now?
4171         Lo, swilk a complyn is ymel hem alle;
                    Lo, such a compline (evening service) is made by them all;
4172         A wilde fyr upon thair bodyes falle!
                    May a wild fire upon their bodies fall!
4173         Wha herkned evere slyk a ferly thyng?
                    Who heard ever such an amazing thing?
4174         Ye, they sal have the flour of il endyng.
                    Yes, they shall have the best (i.e., the worst) of a bad ending.
4175         This lange nyght ther tydes me na reste;
                    This long night there comes to me no sleep;
4176         But yet, na fors, al sal be for the beste.
                    But yet, no matter, all shall be for the best.
4177         For, John," seyde he, "als evere moot I thryve,
                    For, John," said he, "as ever I may thrive,
4178         If that I may, yon wenche wil I swyve.
                    If I can, yon wench will I screw.
4179         Som esement has lawe yshapen us,
                    Some redress the law has shaped for us,
4180         For, John, ther is a lawe that says thus:
                    For, John, there is a law that says thus:
4181         That gif a man in a point be agreved,
                    That if a man in one point is injured,
4182         That in another he sal be releved.
                    That in another he shall be relieved.
4183         Oure corn is stoln, sothly, it is na nay,
                    Our grain is stolen, truly, it can not be denied,
4184         And we han had an il fit al this day;
                    And we have had a hard time all this day;
4185         And syn I sal have neen amendement
                    And since I shall have no recompense
4186         Agayn my los, I will have esement.
                    For my loss, I will have satisfaction.
4187         By Goddes sale, it sal neen other bee!"
                    By God's soul, it shall be no other way!"

4188         This John answerde, "Alayn, avyse thee!
                    This John answered, "Alayn, be careful!
4189         The millere is a perilous man," he seyde,
                    The miller is a perilous man," he said,
4190         "And gif that he out of his sleep abreyde,
                    "And if he out of his sleep suddenly awoke,
4191         He myghte doon us bathe a vileynye."
                    He might do injury to us both."

4192         Aleyn answerde, "I counte hym nat a flye."
                    Aleyn answered, "I reckon him not worth a fly."
4193         And up he rist, and by the wenche he crepte.
                    And up he rises, and by the wench he crept.
4194         This wenche lay uprighte and faste slepte,
                    This wench lay on her back and fast slept,
4195         Til he so ny was, er she myghte espie,
                    Until he was so near, before she could see him,
4196         That it had been to late for to crie,
                    It was too late to cry out,
4197         And shortly for to seyn, they were aton.
                    And shortly to speak, they were together.
4198         Now pley, Aleyn, for I wol speke of John.
                    Now play, Aleyn, for I will speak of John.

4199         This John lith stille a furlong wey or two,
                    This John lies still five minutes or so,
4200         And to hymself he maketh routhe and wo.
                    And to himself he laments and feels sorry.
4201         "Allas!" quod he, "this is a wikked jape;
                    "Alas!" said he, "this is a wicked trick;
4202         Now may I seyn that I is but an ape.
                    Now may I say that I am nothing but a fool.
4203         Yet has my felawe somwhat for his harm;
                    Yet has my fellow something for his harm;
4204         He has the milleris doghter in his arm.
                    He has the miller's daughter in his arm.
4205         He auntred hym, and has his nedes sped,
                    He took a risk, and has accomplished his purpose,
4206         And I lye as a draf-sak in my bed;
                    And I lie like a sack of rubbish in my bed;
4207         And when this jape is tald another day,
                    And when this trick is told another day,
4208         I sal been halde a daf, a cokenay!
                    I shall be considered a fool, a weakling!
4209         I wil arise and auntre it, by my fayth!
                    I will arise and chance it, by my faith!
4210         `Unhardy is unseely,' thus men sayth."
                    `The timid one is unlucky,' thus people say."
4211         And up he roos, and softely he wente
                    And up he rose, and quietly he went
4212         Unto the cradel, and in his hand it hente,
                    To the cradle, and in his hand seized it,
4213         And baar it softe unto his beddes feet.
                    And carried it quietly to the foot of his bed.

4214         Soone after this the wyf hir rowtyng leet,
                    Soon after this the wife stopped her snoring,
4215         And gan awake, and wente hire out to pisse,
                    And awoke, and went out to piss,
4216         And cam agayn, and gan hir cradel mysse,
                    And came back, and began to miss her cradle,
4217         And groped heer and ther, but she foond noon.
                    And groped here and there, but she found none.
4218         "Allas!" quod she, "I hadde almoost mysgoon;
                    "Alas!" said she, "I had almost gone wrong;
4219         I hadde almoost goon to the clerkes bed.
                    I had almost gone to the clerks' bed.
4220         Ey, benedicite! Thanne hadde I foule ysped!"
                    Ay, bless me! Then I would have made a mess of it!"
4221         And forth she gooth til she the cradel fond.
                    And forth she goes until she found the cradle.
4222         She gropeth alwey forther with hir hond,
                    She gropes always further with her hand,
4223         And foond the bed, and thoghte noght but good,
                    And found the bed, and thought all was well,
4224         By cause that the cradel by it stood,
                    Because the cradle by it stood,
4225         And nyste wher she was, for it was derk;
                    And did not know where she was, for it was dark;
4226         But faire and wel she creep in to the clerk,
                    But gently she crept in to the clerk,
4227         And lith ful stille, and wolde han caught a sleep.
                    And lies full still, and would have gone to sleep.
4228         Withinne a while this John the clerk up leep,
                    Within a moment this John the clerk leaped up,
4229         And on this goode wyf he leith on soore.
                    And on this good wife he lays on vigorously.
4230         So myrie a fit ne hadde she nat ful yoore;
                    She had not had so merry an experience for a long time;
4231         He priketh harde and depe as he were mad.
                    He stabs hard and deep as if he were mad.
4232         This joly lyf han thise two clerkes lad
                    This jolly life have these two clerks led
4233         Til that the thridde cok bigan to synge.
                    Until the third cock began to sing (an hour before dawn).

4234         Aleyn wax wery in the dawenynge,
                    Aleyn grew weary at the time of dawn,
4235         For he had swonken al the longe nyght,
                    For he had labored all the long night,
4236         And seyde, "Fare weel, Malyne, sweete wight!
                    And said, "Farewell, Malyne, sweet creature!
4237         The day is come; I may no lenger byde;
                    The day is come; I may no longer remain here;
4238         But everemo, wher so I go or ryde,
                    But evermore, wherever I walk or ride,
4239         I is thyn awen clerk, swa have I seel!"
                    I am thine own clerk, as I may prosper!"

4240         "Now, deere lemman," quod she, "go, far weel!
                    "Now, dear sweetheart," said she, "go, farewell!
4241         But er thow go, o thyng I wol thee telle:
                    But before thou go, one thing I will tell thee:
4242         Whan that thou wendest homward by the melle,
                    When thou go homeward by the mill,
4243         Right at the entree of the dore bihynde
                    Right at the entry behind the door
4244         Thou shalt a cake of half a busshel fynde
                    Thou shalt find a cake of half a bushel
4245         That was ymaked of thyn owene mele,
                    That was made of thine own meal,
4246         Which that I heelp my sire for to stele.
                    Which I helped my father to steal.
4247         And, goode lemman, God thee save and kepe!"
                    And, good sweetheart, God save and keep thee!"
4248         And with that word almoost she gan to wepe.
                    And with that word she almost began to weep.

4249         Aleyn up rist, and thoughte, "Er that it dawe,
                    Aleyn up rises, and thought, "Before it dawns,
4250         I wol go crepen in by my felawe,"
                    I will go creep in by my fellow,"
4251         And fond the cradel with his hand anon.
                    And found the cradle with his hand right away.
4252         "By God," thoughte he, "al wrang I have mysgon.
                    "By God," thought he, "I have gone all wrong.
4253         Myn heed is toty of my swynk to-nyght,
                    My head is dizzy from my work to-night,
4254         That makes me that I ga nat aright.
                    That makes me go not right.
4255         I woot wel by the cradel I have mysgo;
                    I know well by the cradle I have gone wrong;
4256         Heere lith the millere and his wyf also."
                    Here lies the miller and his wife also."
4257         And forth he goth, a twenty devel way,
                    And forth he goes, in the name of twenty devils,
4258         Unto the bed ther as the millere lay.
                    Unto the bed where the miller lay.
4259         He wende have cropen by his felawe John,
                    He expected to have crept in by his fellow John,
4260         And by the millere in he creep anon,
                    And in by the miller he crept right then,
4261         And caughte hym by the nekke, and softe he spak.
                    And caught him by the neck, and quietly he spoke.
4262         He seyde, "Thou John, thou swynes-heed, awak,
                    He said, "Thou John, thou pig's-head, awake,
4263         For Cristes saule, and heer a noble game.
                    For Christ's soul, and hear a real joke.
4264         For by that lord that called is Seint Jame,
                    For by that lord that is called Saint James,
4265         As I have thries in this shorte nyght
                    I have three times in this short night
4266         Swyved the milleres doghter bolt upright,
                    Screwed the miller's daughter flat on her back,
4267         Whil thow hast, as a coward, been agast."
                    While thou hast, like a coward, been terrified."

4268         "Ye, false harlot," quod the millere, "hast?
                    "Yes, false scoundrel," said the miller, "hast (thou done so)?
4269         A, false traitour! False clerk!" quod he,
                    Ah, false traitor! False clerk!" said he,
4270         "Thow shalt be deed, by Goddes dignitee!
                    "Thou shalt be dead, by God's worthiness!
4271         Who dorste be so boold to disparage
                    Who dared be so bold to degrade
4272         My doghter, that is come of swich lynage?"
                    My daughter, who is come from such noble lineage?"
4273         And by the throte-bolle he caughte Alayn,
                    And by the Adam's apple he caught Alayn,
4274         And he hente hym despitously agayn,
                    And he seized him angrily in turn,
4275         And on the nose he smoot hym with his fest.
                    And on the nose he smote him with his fist.
4276         Doun ran the blody streem upon his brest;
                    Down ran the bloody stream upon his breast;
4277         And in the floor, with nose and mouth tobroke,
                    And on the floor, with nose and mouth badly broken,
4278         They walwe as doon two pigges in a poke;
                    They wallow as do two pigs in a bag;
4279         And up they goon, and doun agayn anon,
                    And up they go, and down again straightway,
4280         Til that the millere sporned at a stoon,
                    Until the miller stumbled on a stone,
4281         And doun he fil bakward upon his wyf,
                    And down he fell backward upon his wife,
4282         That wiste no thyng of this nyce stryf;
                    Who knew nothing of this foolish strife;
4283         For she was falle aslepe a lite wight
                    For she was fallen asleep a little bit
4284         With John the clerk, that waked hadde al nyght,
                    With John the clerk, who had been awake all night,
4285         And with the fal out of hir sleep she breyde.
                    And with the fall out of her sleep she started up.
4286         "Help! hooly croys of Bromeholm," she seyde,
                    "Help! holy cross of Bromeholm," she said,
4287         "In manus tuas! Lord, to thee I calle!
                    "In your hands! Lord, to Thee I call!
4288         Awak, Symond! The feend is on me falle.
                    Awake, Symond! The fiend has fallen on me.
4289         Myn herte is broken; help! I nam but deed!
                    My heart is broken; help! I am as good as dead!
4290         Ther lyth oon upon my wombe and on myn heed.
                    There lies one upon my belly and one on my head.
4291         Help, Symkyn, for the false clerkes fighte!"
                    Help, Symkyn, for the false clerks fight!"

4292         This John stirte up as faste as ever he myghte,
                    This John started up as fast as ever he could,
4293         And graspeth by the walles to and fro,
                    And grasps by the walls to and fro,
4294         To fynde a staf; and she stirte up also,
                    To find a staff; and she leaped up also,
4295         And knew the estres bet than dide this John,
                    And knew the interior of the house better than did this John,
4296         And by the wal a staf she foond anon,
                    And by the wall a staff she found right away,
4297         And saugh a litel shymeryng of a light,
                    And saw a little glimmering of a light,
4298         For at an hole in shoon the moone bright,
                    For at a hole in shone the moon bright,
4299         And by that light she saugh hem bothe two,
                    And by that light she saw both the two of them,
4300         But sikerly she nyste who was who,
                    But surely she did not know who was who,
4301         But as she saugh a whit thyng in hir ye.
                    But she saw a white thing in her eye.
4302         And whan she gan this white thyng espye,
                    And when she did espy this white thing,
4303         She wende the clerk hadde wered a volupeer,
                    She thought the clerk had worn a night cap,
4304         And with the staf she drow ay neer and neer,
                    And with the staff she drew ever nearer and nearer,
4305         And wende han hit this Aleyn at the fulle,
                    And intended to have hit this Aleyn squarely,
4306         And smoot the millere on the pyled skulle,
                    And smote the miller on the bald skull,
4307         That doun he gooth, and cride, "Harrow! I dye!"
                    So that down he goes, and cried, "Help! I die!"
4308         Thise clerkes beete hym weel and lete hym lye,
                    These clerks beat him well and let him lie,
4309         And greythen hem, and tooke hir hors anon,
                    And dress themselves, and took their horse straightway,
4310         And eek hire mele, and on hir wey they gon.
                    And also their meal, and on their way they go.
4311         And at the mille yet they tooke hir cake
                    And at the mill yet they took their cake
4312         Of half a busshel flour, ful wel ybake.
                    Of half a bushel flour, very well baked.

4313         Thus is the proude millere wel ybete,
                    Thus is the proud miller well beaten,
4314         And hath ylost the gryndynge of the whete,
                    And has lost the charge for grinding of the wheat,
4315         And payed for the soper everideel
                    And paid for the supper every bit
4316         Of Aleyn and of John, that bette hym weel.
                    Of Aleyn and of John, who beat him well.
4317         His wyf is swyved, and his doghter als.
                    His wife is screwed, and his daughter also.
4318         Lo, swich it is a millere to be fals!
                    Lo, this is how it is when a miller is false!
4319         And therfore this proverbe is seyd ful sooth,
                    And therefore this proverb is said very truly,
4320         "Hym thar nat wene wel that yvele dooth."
                    "One who does evil should not expect good."
4321         A gylour shal hymself bigyled be.
                    A trickster shall himself be tricked.
4322         And God, that sitteth heighe in magestee,
                    And God, that sits high in majesty,
4323         Save al this compaignye, grete and smale!
                    Save al this company, high ranking and low (every one)!
4324         Thus have I quyt the Millere in my tale.
                    Thus have I repaid the Miller in my tale.

 

Heere is ended the Reves Tale

 

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Last modified: Apr 8, 2008
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