Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE PROLOGUE OF THE PARDONERS TALE. (T. 12263-12288). - The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 4 (The Canterbury Tales)
THE PROLOGUE OF THE PARDONERS TALE. (T. 12263-12288). - 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 PROLOGUE OF THE PARDONERS TALE.
Here folweth the Prologe of the Pardoners Tale.
Radix malorum est Cupiditas: Ad Thimotheum, sexto.
- LORDINGS,’ quod he, ‘in chirches whan I preche,
- I peyne me to han an hauteyn speche,330
- And ringe it out as round as gooth a belle,
- For I can al by rote that I telle.
- My theme is alwey oon, and ever was—
- “Radix malorum est Cupiditas.”
- First I pronounce whennes that I come,335
- And than my bulles shewe I, alle and somme.
- Our lige lordes seel on my patente,
- That shewe I first, my body to warente,(10)
- That no man be so bold, ne preest ne clerk,
- Me to destourbe of Cristes holy werk;340
- And after that than telle I forth my tales,
- Bulles of popes and of cardinales,
- Of patriarkes, and bishoppes I shewe;
- And in Latyn I speke a wordes fewe,
- To saffron with my predicacioun,345
- And for to stire men to devocioun.
- Than shewe I forth my longe cristal stones,
- Y-crammed ful of cloutes and of bones;(20)
- Reliks been they, as wenen they echoon
- Than have I in latoun a sholder-boon350
- Which that was of an holy Iewes shepe.
- “Good men,” seye I, “tak of my wordes kepe;
- If that this boon be wasshe in any welle,
- If cow, or calf, or sheep, or oxe swelle
- That any worm hath ete, or worm y-stonge,355
- Tak water of that welle, and wash his tonge,
- And it is hool anon; and forthermore,
- Of pokkes and of scabbe, and every sore(30)
- Shal every sheep be hool, that of this welle
- Drinketh a draughte; tak kepe eek what I telle.360
- If that the good-man, that the bestes oweth,
- Wol every wike, er that the cok him croweth,
- Fastinge, drinken of this welle a draughte,
- As thilke holy Iewe our eldres taughte,
- His bestes and his stoor shal multiplye.365
- And, sirs, also it heleth Ialousye;
- For, though a man be falle in Ialous rage,
- Let maken with this water his potage,(40)
- And never shal he more his wyf mistriste,
- Though he the sooth of hir defaute wiste;370
- Al had she taken preestes two or three.
- Heer is a miteyn eek, that ye may see.
- He that his hond wol putte in this miteyn,
- He shal have multiplying of his greyn,
- Whan he hath sowen, be it whete or otes,375
- So that he offre pens, or elles grotes.
- Good men and wommen, o thing warne I yow,
- If any wight be in this chirche now,(50)
- That hath doon sinne horrible, that he
- Dar nat, for shame, of it y-shriven be,380
- Or any womman, be she yong or old,
- That hath y-maad hir housbond cokewold,
- Swich folk shul have no power ne no grace
- To offren to my reliks in this place.
- And who-so findeth him out of swich blame,385
- He wol com up and offre in goddes name,
- And I assoille him by the auctoritee
- Which that by bulle y-graunted was to me.”(60)
- By this gaude have I wonne, yeer by yeer,
- An hundred mark sith I was Pardoner.390
- I stonde lyk a clerk in my pulpet,
- And whan the lewed peple is doun y-set,
- I preche, so as ye han herd bifore,
- And telle an hundred false Iapes more.
- Than peyne I me to strecche forth the nekke,395
- And est and west upon the peple I bekke,
- As doth a dowve sitting on a berne.
- Myn hondes and my tonge goon so yerne,(70)
- That it is Ioye to see my bisinesse.
- Of avaryce and of swich cursednesse400
- Is al my preching, for to make hem free
- To yeve her pens, and namely un-to me.
- For my entente is nat but for to winne,
- And no-thing for correccioun of sinne.
- I rekke never, whan that they ben beried,405
- Though that her soules goon a-blakeberied!
- For certes, many a predicacioun
- Comth ofte tyme of yvel entencioun;(80)
- Som for plesaunce of folk and flaterye,
- To been avaunced by ipocrisye,410
- And som for veyne glorie, and som for hate.
- For, whan I dar non other weyes debate,
- Than wol I stinge him with my tonge smerte
- In preching, so that he shal nat asterte
- To been defamed falsly, if that he415
- Hath trespased to my brethren or to me.
- For, though I telle noght his propre name,
- Men shal wel knowe that it is the same(90)
- By signes and by othere circumstances.
- Thus quyte I folk that doon us displesances;420
- Thus spitte I out my venim under hewe
- Of holynesse, to seme holy and trewe.
- But shortly myn entente I wol devyse;
- I preche of no-thing but for coveityse.
- Therfor my theme is yet, and ever was—425
- “Radix malorum est cupiditas.”
- Thus can I preche agayn that same vyce
- Which that I use, and that is avaryce.(100)
- But, though my-self be gilty in that sinne,
- Yet can I maken other folk to twinne430
- From avaryce, and sore to repente.
- But that is nat my principal entente.
- I preche no-thing but for coveityse;
- Of this matere it oughte y-nogh suffyse.
- Than telle I hem ensamples many oon435
- Of olde stories, longe tyme agoon:
- For lewed peple loven tales olde;
- Swich thinges can they wel reporte and holde.(110)
- What? trowe ye, the whyles I may preche,
- And winne gold and silver for I teche,440
- That I wol live in povert wilfully?
- Nay, nay, I thoghte it never trewely!
- For I wol preche and begge in sondry londes;
- I wol not do no labour with myn hondes,
- Ne make baskettes, and live therby,445
- Because I wol nat beggen ydelly.
- I wol non of the apostles counterfete;
- I wol have money, wolle, chese, and whete,(120)
- Al were it yeven of the povrest page,
- Or of the povrest widwe in a village,450
- Al sholde hir children sterve for famyne.
- Nay! I wol drinke licour of the vyne,
- And have a Ioly wenche in every toun.
- But herkneth, lordings, in conclusioun;
- Your lyking is that I shal telle a tale.455
- Now, have I dronke a draughte of corny ale,
- By god, I hope I shal yow telle a thing
- That shal, by resoun, been at your lyking.(130)
- For, though myself be a ful vicious man,
- A moral tale yet I yow telle can,460
- Which I am wont to preche, for to winne.
- Now holde your pees, my tale I wol beginne.