The Shipman's Tale

An Interlinear Translation
Part III, lines 307-434

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


307     The Sonday next the marchant was agon,
                The Sunday next after the merchant was gone,
308     To Seint-Denys ycomen is daun John,
                To Seint-Denis is come Don John,
309     With crowne and berd al fressh and newe yshave.
                With the top of his head and beard all fresh and newly shaved.
310     In al the hous ther nas so litel a knave,
                In all the house there was not so humble a servant boy,
311     Ne no wight elles, that he nas ful fayn
                Nor any one else, who was not very glad
312     That my lord daun John was come agayn.
                That my lord Don John was come again.
313     And shortly to the point right for to gon,
                And shortly, to go directly to the point,
314     This faire wyf acorded with daun John
                This fair wife agreed with Don John
315     That for thise hundred frankes he sholde al nyght
                That for these hundred franks he should all night
316     Have hire in his armes bolt upright;
                Have her in his arms flat on her back;
317     And this acord parfourned was in dede.
                And this agreement was performed in deed.
318     In myrthe al nyght a bisy lyf they lede
                In mirth all night they lead a busy life
319     Til it was day, that daun John wente his way,
                Until it was day, and Don John went his way,
320     And bad the meynee "Farewel, have good day!"
                And bade the household "Farewell, have good day!"
321     For noon of hem, ne no wight in the toun,
                For none of them, nor any one in the town,
322     Hath of daun John right no suspecioun.
                Has of Don John any suspicion at all.
323     And forth he rydeth hoom to his abbeye,
                And forth he rides home to his abbey,
324     Or where hym list; namoore of hym I seye.
                Or where he pleases; I say no more of him.

325     This marchant, whan that ended was the faire,
                This merchant, when the fair was ended,
326     To Seint-Denys he gan for to repaire,
                Did return to Seint-Denis,
327     And with his wyf he maketh feeste and cheere,
                And with his wife he makes merriment and good cheer,
328     And telleth hire that chaffare is so deere
                And tells her that merchandise is so expensive
329     That nedes moste he make a chevyssaunce,
                That of necessity he had to make an arrangement for credit
330     For he was bounden in a reconyssaunce
                For he was bound in a formal pledge
331     To paye twenty thousand sheeld anon.
                To pay twenty thousand shields quickly.
332     For which this marchant is to Parys gon
                For which this merchant is gone to Paris
333     To borwe of certeine freendes that he hadde
                To borrow from certain friends that he had
334     A certeyn frankes; and somme with him he ladde.
                A certain number of franks; and some with him he brought.
335     And whan that he was come into the toun,
                And when he had come into the town,
336     For greet chiertee and greet affeccioun,
                For great fondness and great affection,
337     Unto daun John he first gooth hym to pleye;
                He first goes unto Don John to visit him;
338     Nat for to axe or borwe of hym moneye,
                Not to ask or borrow money from him,
339     But for to wite and seen of his welfare,
                But in order to know and see about his welfare,
340     And for to tellen hym of his chaffare,
                And to tell him of his business,
341     As freendes doon whan they been met yfeere.
                As friends do when they are met together.
342     Daun John hym maketh feeste and murye cheere,
                Don John makes him festive and merry hospitality,
343     And he hym tolde agayn, ful specially,
                And he told him in turn, in great detail,
344     How he hadde wel yboght and graciously,
                How he had bought well and successfully,
345     Thanked be God, al hool his marchandise,
                Thanked be God, all of his merchandise,
346     Save that he moste, in alle maner wise,
                Except that he must, no matter what,
347     Maken a chevyssaunce, as for his beste,
                Arrange for a loan, as for his best (course of action),
348     And thanne he sholde been in joye and reste.
                And then he would be in joy and rest.

349     Daun John answerde, "Certes, I am fayn
                Don John answered, "Certainly, I am glad
350     That ye in heele ar comen hom agayn.
                That you are come home again in good health.
351     And if that I were riche, as have I blisse,
                And if I were rich, as I may have bliss,
352     Of twenty thousand sheeld sholde ye nat mysse,
                You should not lack twenty thousand shields ,
353     For ye so kyndely this oother day
                For you so kindly this other day
354     Lente me gold; and as I kan and may,
                Lent me gold; and as I know how and can,
355     I thanke yow, by God and by Seint Jame!
                I thank you, by God and by Saint James!
356     But nathelees, I took unto oure dame,
                But nonetheless, I gave unto our dame,
357     Youre wyf, at hom, the same gold ageyn
                Your wife, at home, the same gold in return
358     Upon youre bench; she woot it wel, certeyn,
                Upon your counting board; she knows it well, certainly,
359     By certeyn tokenes that I kan hire telle.
                By certain proofs that I can tell her.
360     Now, by youre leve, I may no lenger dwelle;
                Now, by your leave, I can no longer dwell;
361     Oure abbot wole out of this toun anon,
                Our abbot will go out of this town very soon,
362     And in his compaignye moot I goon.
                And I must go in his company.
363     Grete wel oure dame, myn owene nece sweete,
                Greet well our dame, my own sweet niece,
364     And fare wel, deere cosyn, til we meete!"
                And farewell, dear cousin, until we meet!"

365     This marchant, which that was ful war and wys,
                This merchant, who was very prudent and wise,
366     Creanced hath, and payd eek in Parys
                Has obtained credit, and paid also in Paris
367     To certeyn Lumbardes, redy in hir hond,
                To certain Lombard bankers, ready in their hand (in cash),
368     The somme of gold, and gat of hem his bond;
                The sum of gold, and redeemed his bond from them;
369     And hoom he gooth, murie as a papejay,
                And home he goes, merry as a parrot,
370     For wel he knew he stood in swich array
                For well he knew he stood in such condition
371     That nedes moste he wynne in that viage
                That by necessity he must earn in that journey
372     A thousand frankes aboven al his costage.
                A thousand franks above all his costs.

373     His wyf ful redy mette hym atte gate,
                His wife very readily met him at the gate,
374     As she was wont of oold usage algate,
                As was her long established custom at all times,
375     And al that nyght in myrthe they bisette;
                And all that night they devoted themselves to mirth.
376     For he was riche and cleerly out of dette.
                For he was rich and clearly out of debt.
377     Whan it was day, this marchant gan embrace
                When it was day, this merchant did embrace
378     His wyf al newe, and kiste hire on hir face,
                His wife anew, and kissed her on her face,
379     And up he gooth and maketh it ful tough.
                And up he goes and makes it full tough.

380     "Namoore," quod she, "by God, ye have ynough!"
                "No more," said she, "by God, you have enough!"
381     And wantownly agayn with hym she pleyde
                And wantonly again she played with him
382     Til atte laste thus this marchant seyde:
                Until at the last thus this merchant said:
383     "By God," quod he, "I am a litel wrooth
                "By God," said he, "I am a little angry
384     With yow, my wyf, although it be me looth.
                With you, my wife, although I am reluctant to be so.
385     And woot ye why? By God, as that I gesse
                And do you know why? By God, because I guess
386     That ye han maad a manere straungenesse
                That you have made a sort of estrangement
387     Bitwixen me and my cosyn daun John.
                Between me and my cousin Don John.
388     Ye sholde han warned me, er I had gon,
                You should have warned me, before I had gone,
389     That he yow hadde an hundred frankes payed
                That he had paid a hundred franks to you
390     By redy token; and heeld hym yvele apayed,
                In cash; and considered himself ill used,
391     For that I to hym spak of chevyssaunce;
                Because I spoke to him about borrowing;
392     Me semed so, as by his contenaunce.
                It seemed so, by his countenance.
393     But nathelees, by God, oure hevene kyng,
                But nonetheless, by God, our heavenly king,
394     I thoughte nat to axen hym no thyng.
                I thought not to ask any thing of him.
395     I prey thee, wyf, ne do namoore so;
                I pray thee, wife, do so no more;
396     Telle me alwey, er that I fro thee go,
                Tell me always, before I go from thee,
397     If any dettour hath in myn absence
                If any debtor has in my absence
398     Ypayed thee, lest thurgh thy necligence
                Paid thee, lest through thy negligence
399     I myghte hym axe a thing that he hath payed."
                I might ask of him a thing that he has paid."

400     This wyf was nat afered nor affrayed,
                This wife was not afeared nor afraid,
401     But boldely she seyde, and that anon,
                But boldly she said, and that immediately,
402     "Marie, I deffie the false monk, daun John!
                "By Mary, I defy the false monk, Don John!
403     I kepe nat of his tokenes never a deel;
                I care not a bit for his proofs;
404     He took me certeyn gold, that woot I weel --
                He gave me a specific amount of gold, that I know well --
405     What! Yvel thedam on his monkes snowte!
                What! Evil luck on his monk's snout!
406     For, God it woot, I wende, withouten doute,
                For, God knows it, I thought, without doubt,
407     That he hadde yeve it me bycause of yow
                That he had given it to me because of you
408     To doon therwith myn honour and my prow,
                To do (something) with it for my honor and my benefit,
409     For cosynage, and eek for beele cheere
                Because of kinship, and also for the good cheer
410     That he hath had ful ofte tymes heere.
                That he has had very many times here.
411     But sith I se I stonde in this disjoynt,
                But since I see I stand in this difficulty,
412     I wol answere yow shortly to the poynt.
                I will answer you shortly to the point.
413     Ye han mo slakkere dettours than am I!
                You have more slow-paying debtors than I am!
414     For I wol paye yow wel and redily
                For I will pay you well and readily
415     Fro day to day, and if so be I faille,
                From day to day, and if it so be that I fail,
416     I am youre wyf; score it upon my taille,
                I am your wife; score it upon my tally (tail),
417     And I shal paye as soone as ever I may.
                And I shall pay as soon as ever I can.
418     For by my trouthe, I have on myn array,
                For by my troth, I have on my clothing,
419     And nat on wast, bistowed every deel;
                And not on waste, spent every bit;
420     And for I have bistowed it so weel
                And because I have spent it so well
421     For youre honour, for Goddes sake, I seye,
                For your honor, for God's sake, I say,
422     As be nat wrooth, but lat us laughe and pleye.
                Do not be angry, but let us laugh and play.
423     Ye shal my joly body have to wedde;
                You shall have my pretty body as a pledge;
424     By God, I wol nat paye yow but abedde!
                By God, I will not pay you except in bed!
425     Forgyve it me, myn owene spouse deere;
                Forgive me, my own dear spouse;
426     Turne hiderward, and maketh bettre cheere."
                Turn hitherward, and cheer up."

427     This marchant saugh ther was no remedie,
                This merchant saw there was no remedy,
428     And for to chide it nere but folie,
                And to chide would be nothing but folly,
429     Sith that the thyng may nat amended be.
                Since the thing can not be amended.
430     "Now wyf," he seyde, "and I foryeve it thee;
                "Now wife," he said, "and I forgive thee;
431     But, by thy lyf, ne be namoore so large.
                But, by thy life, be no longer so generous.
432     Keep bet thy good, this yeve I thee in charge."
                Take better care of thy goods, this I give thee as a command."
433     Thus endeth my tale, and God us sende
                Thus ends my tale, and God send us
434     Taillynge ynough unto oure lyves ende. Amen
               Tallying (Tailing) enough unto our lives' end. Amen


Heere endeth the Shipmannes Tale.


[The Shipman-Prioress Link]


Behoold the murie wordes of the Hoost to the Shipman and to the lady Prioresse.


435         "Wel seyd, by corpus dominus," quod oure Hoost,
                    "Well said, by the body of our Lord," said our Host,
436         "Now longe moote thou saille by the cost,
                    "Now long may thou sail by the coast,
437         Sire gentil maister, gentil maryneer!
                    Sir gentle master, gentle mariner!
438         God yeve the monk a thousand last quade yeer!
                    God give the monk a thousand cartloads of bad years!
439         A ha! Felawes, beth ware of swich a jape!
                    A ha! Fellows, beware of such a trick!
440         The monk putte in the mannes hood an ape,
                    The monk made a monkey of the man,
441         And in his wyves eek, by Seint Austyn!
                    And of his wife as well, by Saint Augustine!
442         Draweth no monkes moore unto youre in.
                    Invite no more monks into your dwelling.
443         "But now passe over, and lat us seke aboute,
                    "But now pass over that, and let us look around to see
444         Who shal now telle first of al this route
                    Who shall now, first of all this company, tell
445         Another tale;" and with that word he sayde,
                    Another tale;" and with that word he said,
446         As curteisly as it had been a mayde,
                    As courteously as if he had been a maiden,
447         "My lady Prioresse, by youre leve,
                    "My Lady Prioress, by your leave,
448         So that I wiste I sholde yow nat greve,
                    If I knew I should not grieve you,
449         I wolde demen that ye tellen sholde
                    I would judge that you should tell
450         A tale next, if so were that ye wolde.
                    A tale next, if it so were that you would.
451         Now wol ye vouche sauf, my lady deere?"
                    Now will you grant this, my lady dear?"
452         "Gladly," quod she, and seyde as ye shal heere.
                    "Gladly," said she, and said as you shall hear.


When you are sure that you understand the Middle English,
take a quiz on this part of The Shipman's Tale and The Shipman-Prioress link.

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Last modified: Jan 19, 2002
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Gold Texts on this page prepared and maintained by L. D. Benson (