Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE CLERK'S PROLOGUE. (T. 7877-7898.) - The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 4 (The Canterbury Tales)
THE CLERK’S PROLOGUE. (T. 7877-7898.) - 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 CLERK’S PROLOGUE.
Here folweth the Prologe of the Clerkes Tale of Oxenford.
- ‘SIR clerk of Oxenford,’ our hoste sayde,
- ‘Ye ryde as coy and stille as dooth a mayde,
- Were newe spoused, sitting at the bord;
- This day ne herde I of your tonge a word.
- I trowe ye studie aboute som sophyme,5
- But Salomon seith, “every thing hath tyme.”
- For goddes sake, as beth of bettre chere,
- It is no tyme for to studien here.
- Telle us som mery tale, by your fey;
- For what man that is entred in a pley,10
- He nedes moot unto the pley assente.
- But precheth nat, as freres doon in Lente,
- To make us for our olde sinnes wepe,
- Ne that thy tale make us nat to slepe.
- Telle us som mery thing of aventures;—15
- Your termes, your colours, and your figures,
- Kepe hem in stoor til so be ye endyte
- Heigh style, as whan that men to kinges wryte.
- Speketh so pleyn at this tyme, I yow preye,
- That we may understonde what ye seye.’20
- This worthy clerk benignely answerde,
- ‘Hoste,’ quod he, ‘I am under your yerde;
- Ye han of us as now the governaunce,
- And therfor wol I do yow obeisaunce,
- As fer as reson axeth, hardily.25
- I wol yow telle a tale which that I
- Lerned at Padowe of a worthy clerk,
- As preved by his wordes and his werk.
- He is now deed and nayled in his cheste,
- I prey to god so yeve his soule reste!30
- Fraunceys Petrark, the laureat poete,
- Highte this clerk, whos rethoryke sweete
- Enlumined al Itaille of poetrye,
- As Linian dide of philosophye
- Or lawe, or other art particuler;35
- But deeth, that wol nat suffre us dwellen heer
- But as it were a twinkling of an yë,
- Hem bothe hath slayn, and alle shul we dyë.
- But forth to tellen of this worthy man,
- That taughte me this tale, as I bigan,40
- I seye that first with heigh style he endyteth,
- Er he the body of his tale wryteth,
- A proheme, in the which discryveth he
- Pemond, and of Saluces the contree,
- And speketh of Apennyn, the hilles hye,45
- That been the boundes of West Lumbardye,
- And of Mount Vesulus in special,
- Where as the Poo, out of a welle smal,
- Taketh his firste springing and his sours,
- That estward ay encresseth in his cours50
- To Emelward, to Ferrare, and Venyse:
- The which a long thing were to devyse.
- And trewely, as to my Iugement,
- Me thinketh it a thing impertinent,
- Save that he wol conveyen his matere:55
- But this his tale, which that ye may here.’