Front Page Titles (by Subject) SIR THOPAS. - The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 4 (The Canterbury Tales)
SIR THOPAS. - Geoffrey Chaucer, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 4 (The Canterbury Tales) 
The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols. Vol. 4.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Here biginneth Chaucers Tale of Thopas.
- LISTETH, lordes, in good entent,
- And I wol telle verrayment
- Of mirthe and of solas;
- Al of a knyght was fair and gent1905
- In bataille and in tourneyment,
- His name was sir Thopas.
- Y-born he was in fer contree,
- In Flaundres, al biyonde the see,
- At Popering, in the place;1910
- His fader was a man ful free,(10)
- And lord he was of that contree,
- As it was goddes grace.
- Sir Thopas wex a doghty swayn,
- Whyt was his face as payndemayn,1915
- His lippes rede as rose;
- His rode is lyk scarlet in grayn,
- And I yow telle in good certayn,
- He hadde a semely nose.
- His heer, his berd was lyk saffroun,1920
- That to his girdel raughte adoun;(20)
- His shoon of Cordewane.
- Of Brugges were his hosen broun,
- His robe was of ciclatoun,
- That coste many a Iane.1925
- He coude hunte at wilde deer,
- And ryde an hauking for riveer,
- With grey goshauk on honde;
- Ther-to he was a good archeer,
- Of wrastling was ther noon his peer,1930
- Ther any ram shal stonde.(30)
- Ful many a mayde, bright in bour,
- They moorne for him, paramour,
- Whan hem were bet to slepe;
- But he was chast and no lechour,1935
- And sweet as is the bremble-flour
- That bereth the rede hepe.
- And so bifel up-on a day,
- For sothe, as I yow telle may,
- Sir Thopas wolde out ryde;1940
- He worth upon his stede gray,(40)
- And in his honde a launcegay,
- A long swerd by his syde.
- He priketh thurgh a fair forest,
- Ther-inne is many a wilde best,1945
- Ye, bothe bukke and hare;
- And, as he priketh north and est,
- I telle it yow, him hadde almest
- Bitid a sory care.
- Ther springen herbes grete and smale,1950
- The lycorys and cetewale,(50)
- And many a clowe-gilofre;
- And notemuge to putte in ale,
- Whether it be moyste or stale,
- Or for to leye in cofre.1955
- The briddes singe, it is no nay,
- The sparhauk and the papeiay,
- That Ioye it was to here;
- The thrustelcok made eek his lay,
- The wodedowve upon the spray1960
- She sang ful loude and clere.(60)
- Sir Thopas fil in love-longinge
- Al whan he herde the thrustel singe,
- And priked as he were wood:
- His faire stede in his prikinge1965
- So swatte that men mighte him wringe,
- His sydes were al blood.
- Sir Thopas eek so wery was
- For prikinge on the softe gras,
- So fiers was his corage,1970
- That doun he leyde him in that plas(70)
- To make his stede som solas,
- And yaf him good forage.
- ‘O seinte Marie, benedicite!
- What eyleth this love at me1975
- To binde me so sore?
- Me dremed al this night, pardee,
- An elf-queen shal my lemman be,
- And slepe under my gore.
- An elf-queen wol I love, y-wis,1980
- For in this world no womman is(80)
- Worthy to be my make
- In toune;
- Alle othere wommen I forsake,
- And to an elf-queen I me take1985
- By dale and eek by doune!’
- In-to his sadel he clamb anoon,
- And priketh over style and stoon
- An elf-queen for tespye,
- Til he so longe had riden and goon1990
- That he fond, in a privee woon,(90)
- The contree of Fairye
- So wilde;
- For in that contree was ther noon
- That to him dorste ryde or goon,1995
- Neither wyf ne childe.
- Til that ther cam a greet geaunt,
- His name was sir Olifaunt,
- A perilous man of dede;
- He seyde, ‘child, by Termagaunt,2000
- But-if thou prike out of myn haunt,(100)
- Anon I slee thy stede
- With mace.
- Heer is the queen of Fayerye,
- With harpe and pype and simphonye2005
- Dwelling in this place.’
- The child seyde, ‘al-so mote I thee,
- Tomorwe wol I mete thee
- Whan I have myn armoure;
- And yet I hope, par ma fay,2010
- That thou shalt with this launcegay(110)
- Abyen it ful soure;
- Thy mawe
- Shal I percen, if I may,
- Er it be fully pryme of day,2015
- For heer thou shalt be slawe.’
- Sir Thopas drow abak ful faste;
- This geaunt at him stones caste
- Out of a fel staf-slinge;
- But faire escapeth child Thopas,2020
- And al it was thurgh goddes gras,(120)
- And thurgh his fair beringe.
- Yet listeth, lordes, to my tale
- Merier than the nightingale,
- For now I wol yow roune2025
- How sir Thopas with sydes smale,
- Priking over hil and dale,
- Is come agayn to toune.
- His merie men comanded he
- To make him bothe game and glee,2030
- For nedes moste he fighte(130)
- With a geaunt with hevedes three,
- For paramour and Iolitee
- Of oon that shoon ful brighte.
- ‘Do come,’ he seyde, ‘my minstrales,2035
- And gestours, for to tellen tales
- Anon in myn arminge;
- Of romances that been royales,
- Of popes and of cardinales,
- And eek of love-lykinge.’2040
- They fette him first the swete wyn,(140)
- And mede eek in a maselyn,
- And royal spicerye;
- Of gingebreed that was ful fyn,
- And lycorys, and eek comyn,2045
- With sugre that is so trye.
- He dide next his whyte lere
- Of clooth of lake fyn and clere
- A breech and eek a sherte;
- And next his sherte an aketoun,2050
- And over that an habergeoun(150)
- For percinge of his herte;
- And over that a fyn hauberk,
- Was al y-wroght of Iewes werk,
- Ful strong it was of plate;2055
- And over that his cote-armour
- As whyt as is a lily-flour,
- In which he wol debate.
- His sheeld was al of gold so reed,
- And ther-in was a bores heed,2060
- A charbocle bisyde;(160)
- And there he swoor, on ale and breed,
- How that ‘the geaunt shal be deed,
- Bityde what bityde!’
- His Iambeux were of quirboilly,2065
- His swerdes shethe of yvory,
- His helm of laton bright;
- His sadel was of rewel-boon,
- His brydel as the sonne shoon,
- Or as the mone light.2070
- His spere was of fyn ciprees,(170)
- That bodeth werre, and no-thing pees,
- The heed ful sharpe y-grounde;
- His stede was al dappel-gray,
- It gooth an ambel in the way2075
- Ful softely and rounde
- In londe.
- Lo, lordes myne, heer is a fit!
- If ye wol any more of it,
- To telle it wol I fonde.2080
- [The Second Fit.]
- Now hold your mouth, par charitee,(180)
- Bothe knight and lady free,
- And herkneth to my spelle;
- Of bataille and of chivalry,
- And of ladyes love-drury2085
- Anon I wol yow telle.
- Men speke of romances of prys,
- Of Horn child and of Ypotys,
- Of Bevis and sir Gy,
- Of sir Libeux and Pleyn-damour;2090
- But sir Thopas, he bereth the flour(190)
- Of royal chivalry.
- His gode stede al he bistrood,
- And forth upon his wey he glood
- As sparkle out of the bronde;2095
- Up-on his crest he bar a tour,
- And ther-in stiked a lily-flour,
- God shilde his cors fro shonde!
- And for he was a knight auntrous,
- He nolde slepen in non hous,2100
- But liggen in his hode;(200)
- His brighte helm was his wonger,
- And by him baiteth his dextrer
- Of herbes fyne and gode.
- Him-self drank water of the wel,2105
- As did the knight sir Percivel,
- So worthy under wede,
- Til on a day—(207)
Here the Host stinteth Chaucer of his Tale of Thopas.