Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE MONK'S PROLOGUE. (T. 13895-13924.) - The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 4 (The Canterbury Tales)
THE MONK’S PROLOGUE. (T. 13895-13924.) - 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.
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THE MONK’S PROLOGUE.
The mery wordes of the Host to the Monk.
- WHAN ended was my tale of Melibee,
- And of Prudence and hir benignitee,3080
- Our hoste seyde, ‘as I am faithful man,
- And by the precious corpus Madrian,
- I hadde lever than a barel ale
- That goode lief my wyf hadde herd this tale!
- For she nis no-thing of swich pacience3085
- As was this Melibeus wyf Prudence.
- By goddes bones! whan I bete my knaves,
- She bringth me forth the grete clobbed staves,(10)
- And cryeth, “slee the dogges everichoon,
- And brek hem, bothe bak and every boon.”3090
- And if that any neighebor of myne
- Wol nat in chirche to my wyf enclyne,
- Or be so hardy to hir to trespace,
- Whan she comth hoom, she rampeth in my face,
- And cryeth, “false coward, wreek thy wyf,3095
- By corpus bones! I wol have thy knyf,
- And thou shalt have my distaf and go spinne!”
- Fro day to night right thus she wol biginne;—(20)
- “Allas!” she seith, “that ever I was shape
- To wedde a milksop or a coward ape,3100
- That wol be overlad with every wight!
- Thou darst nat stonden by thy wyves right!”
- This is my lyf, but-if that I wol fighte;
- And out at dore anon I moot me dighte,
- Or elles I am but lost, but-if that I3105
- Be lyk a wilde leoun fool-hardy.
- I woot wel she wol do me slee som day
- Som neighebor, and thanne go my wey.(30)
- For I am perilous with knyf in honde,
- Al be it that I dar nat hir withstonde,3110
- For she is big in armes, by my feith,
- That shal he finde, that hir misdooth or seith.
- But lat us passe awey fro this matere.
- My lord the Monk,’ quod he, ‘be mery of chere;
- For ye shul telle a tale trewely.3115
- Lo! Rouchestre stant heer faste by!
- Ryd forth, myn owene lord, brek nat our game,
- But, by my trouthe, I knowe nat your name,(40)
- Wher shal I calle yow my lord dan Iohn,
- Or dan Thomas, or elles dan Albon?3120
- Of what hous be ye, by your fader kin?
- I vow to god, thou hast a ful fair skin,
- It is a gentil pasture ther thou goost;
- Thou art nat lyk a penaunt or a goost.
- Upon my feith, thou art som officer,3125
- Som worthy sexteyn, or som celerer,
- For by my fader soule, as to my doom,
- Thou art a maister whan thou art at hoom;(50)
- No povre cloisterer , ne no novys,
- But a governour, wyly and wys.3130
- And therwithal of brawnes and of bones
- A wel-faring persone for the nones.
- I pray to god, yeve him confusioun
- That first thee broghte un-to religioun;
- Thou woldest han been a trede-foul aright.3135
- Haddestow as greet a leve, as thou hast might
- To parfourne al thy lust in engendrure,
- Thou haddest bigeten many a creature.(60)
- Alas! why werestow so wyd a cope?
- God yeve me sorwe! but, and I were a pope,3140
- Not only thou, but every mighty man,
- Thogh he were shorn ful hye upon his pan,
- Sholde have a wyf; for al the world is lorn!
- Religioun hath take up al the corn
- Of treding, and we borel men ben shrimpes!3145
- Of feble trees ther comen wrecched impes.
- This maketh that our heires been so sclendre
- And feble, that they may nat wel engendre.(70)
- This maketh that our wyves wol assaye
- Religious folk, for ye may bettre paye3150
- Of Venus payements than mowe we;
- God woot, no lussheburghes payen ye!
- But be nat wrooth, my lord, for that I pleye;
- Ful ofte in game a sooth I have herd seye.’
- This worthy monk took al in pacience,3155
- And seyde, ‘I wol doon al my diligence,
- As fer as souneth in-to honestee,
- To telle yow a tale, or two, or three.(80)
- And if yow list to herkne hiderward,
- I wol yow seyn the lyf of seint Edward;3160
- Or elles first Tragedies wol I telle
- Of whiche I have an hundred in my celle.
- Tragedie is to seyn a certeyn storie,
- As olde bokes maken us memorie,
- Of him that stood in greet prosperitee3165
- And is y-fallen out of heigh degree
- Into miserie, and endeth wrecchedly.
- And they ben versifyed comunly(90)
- Of six feet, which men clepe exametron.
- In prose eek been endyted many oon,3170
- And eek in metre, in many a sondry wyse.
- Lo! this declaring oughte y-nough suffise.
- Now herkneth, if yow lyketh for to here;
- But first I yow biseke in this matere,
- Though I by ordre telle nat thise thinges,3175
- Be it of popes, emperours, or kinges,
- After hir ages, as men writen finde,
- But telle hem som bifore and som bihinde,(100)
- As it now comth un-to my remembraunce;
- Have me excused of myn ignoraunce.’3180