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GEOFFREY CHAUCER. Born 1328; died 1400. Closely connected
with the Court of Edward III., serving in his French wars, and employed on his embassies. Chaucer was thus familiar with the gay scenes of the court: but his life-like pictures of
character and manners are drawn from every class. Insight, freshness, and love of nature, specially mark the poetry
of Chaucer, with which modern English literature begins. Of his many. works, the chief is the Canterbury Tales, ng
of characteristic stories, told by a train of pilgrims to the shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury, to beguile their way,
A KNIGHT there was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the time that he first began
To riden out, he loved chivalry,
Truth and honour, freedom and courtesy.
Full worthy was he in his Lordés werre,
And thereto had he ridden, no man ferre,?
As well in Christendom as in Heathenesse,
And ever honoured for his worthiness.
At mortal battles hadde he been fifteen
And foughten for our faith at Tramissene
In listés thrice, and aye had slain his foe.
This ilke 3 worthy knight had been also i Tho Lord's war--the Crusade. 2 Farther. 3 Sams.
Sometime with the Lord of Palatie,
Against another heathen in Turkey :
And evermore he had a sovereine pris.
And though that he was worthy he was wise,
And of his port as meek as is a maid.
He never yet no villany ne said
In all his life, unto no manner wight:
He was a very parfit 2 gentle knight.
But for to tellen you of his array,
His horse was good, but he ne was not gay.
Of fustiàn he weared a gipon,
Allé besmotred 4 with his habergeon,
For he was late ycome fro his viàge,
And wenté for to do his pilgrimage.
With him ther was his sone a yonge SQUIER,
A lover, and a lusty bacheler,
With lockés crull? as they were laid in press.
Of twenty year of age he was I guess.
Of his statùre he was of even length,
And wonderly deliver, and great of strength.
And he had been sometime in chevachie,
In Flaunders, in Artois, and in Picardie,
And borne him well, as of so little space,
In hope to stonden in his ladies grace.
Singing he was, or floyting 1 all the day,
He was as fresh as is the month of May.
Short was his gown, with slevés long and wide.
Wel could he sit on horse, and fayré 2 ride.
He couldé songés make, and well endite,
Just 3 and eke dance, and wel pourtray and write.
Curteis 4 he was, lowly, and serviceable,
And carf 5 before his fader at the table.
A good man there was of religiòun,
That was a pooré Parson of a toun :
But rich he was of holy thought and work.
He was also a learned man, a Clerk,
That Christés Gospel truly wouldé preach.
His parishens & devoutly woulde he teach.
Benign he was, and wonder diligent,
And in adversity full patient :
And such he was yprevéd often sithes.?
Full loth were him to cursen for his tithes,
But rather woulde he yeven, out of doute,
Unto his pooré parishens about,
Of his offrìng, and eke of his substance.
He could in little thing have suffisance.
Wide was his parish, and houses far asunder,
But he ne left nought for no rain ne thunder,
In sickness and in mischief to visite
The farthest in his parish, moche and lite, 9 | Fluting.
3 Fight in the lists. 4 Courteous. o Carved. 6 Parishioners. Proved often since. 8 Give. • Great and little.
Upon his feet, and in his hand a staff.
This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf,
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught,
Out of the Gospel he the wordés caught,
And this figúre he added yet thereto,
That if gold rusté, what should iron do?
For if a priest be foul, on whom we trust,
No wonder is a lewed? man to rust.
Wel ought a priest ensample for to yeve,
By his cleannessé, how his sheep should live.
He setté not his benefice to hire,
And let 3 his sheep acombred 4 in the mire,
And ran unto Londòn, unto Saint Poules,
To seken him 6 a chanterie for soules,
Or with a brotherhede to be withold ;?
But dwelt at home, and kept well his fold,
So that the wolfe ne made it not miscarry.
He was a shepherd, and no mercenary.
And though he holy were, and vertuous,
He was to sinful men not dispitòus,&
Ne of his speché dangerous ne digne,
But in his teaching discrete and benign.
To drawen folk to heaven with fairéness,
By good ensample, was his businesse :
10 But it were any person obstinate,
What so he were of high, or low estate,
Him would he snibben 11 sharply for the nonés.12
A better priest I trow that nowhere none is. i Gave. · Ignorant.
He waited after no pomp ne reverence,
Ne makéd him no spicéd consciènce,
But Christés lore, and his apostles twelve,
He taught, but first he followed it himself.
THE SCHOLAR AND THE DAISY. NEEDS must we to books that we find, (Through which that old things be in mind And to the doctrine of these old wise, Give credence, in every skilful wise, That tellen of these olde approved stories, Of holiness, of reigns, of victories, Of love, of hate, and other sundry things, Of which I may not maken rehearsings : And if that old books were away, Ylorn were of remembrance the key. Well ought us, then, honouren and believe These books, there we have none other prev.
And as for me, though that I can but lite, On bokés for to read I me delite, And to them give I faith and full credence, And in mine heart have them in reverence So heartily, that there in game none, That from my bokés maketh me to gone, But it be seldom on the holy day, Save, certainly, when that the month of May Is comen, and that I hear the fowlés sing, And that the flowrés ginnen for to spring, Farewell my book, and my devotion !
Now have I then such a condition,