Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE PARSON'S PROLOGUE. (T. 17312-17330). - The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 4 (The Canterbury Tales)
THE PARSON’S PROLOGUE. (T. 17312-17330). - 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 PARSON’S PROLOGUE.
Here folweth the Prologe of the Persones Tale.
- BY that the maunciple hadde his tale al ended,
- The sonne fro the south lyne was descended
- So lowe, that he nas nat, to my sighte,
- Degreës nyne and twenty as in highte.
- Foure of the clokke it was tho, as I gesse;5
- For eleven foot, or litel more or lesse,
- My shadwe was at thilke tyme, as there,
- Of swich feet as my lengthe parted were
- In six feet equal of proporcioun.
- Ther-with the mones exaltacioun,10
- I mene Libra, alwey gan ascende,
- As we were entringe at a thropes ende;
- For which our host, as he was wont to gye,
- As in this caas, our Ioly companye,
- Seyde in this wyse, ‘lordings everichoon,15
- Now lakketh us no tales mo than oon.
- Fulfild is my sentence and my decree;
- I trowe that we han herd of ech degree.
- Almost fulfild is al myn ordinaunce;
- I prey to god, so yeve him right good chaunce,20
- That telleth this tale to us lustily.
- Sir preest,’ quod he, ‘artow a vicary?
- Or art a person? sey sooth, by thy fey!
- Be what thou be, ne breke thou nat our pley;
- For every man, save thou, hath told his tale,25
- Unbokel, and shewe us what is in thy male;
- For trewely, me thinketh, by thy chere,
- Thou sholdest knitte up wel a greet matere.
- Tel us a tale anon, for cokkes bones!’
- This Persone him answerde, al at ones,30
- ‘Thou getest fable noon y-told for me;
- For Paul, that wryteth unto Timothee,
- Repreveth hem that weyven soothfastnesse,
- And tellen fables and swich wrecchednesse.
- Why sholde I sowen draf out of my fest,35
- Whan I may sowen whete, if that me lest?
- For which I seye, if that yow list to here
- Moralitee and vertuous matere,
- And thanne that ye wol yeve me audience,
- I wol ful fayn, at Cristes reverence,40
- Do yow plesaunce leefful, as I can.
- But trusteth wel, I am a Southren man,
- I can nat geste—rum , ram, ruf—by lettre,
- Ne, god wot, rym holde I but litel bettre;
- And therfor, if yow list, I wol nat glose.45
- I wol yow telle a mery tale in prose
- To knitte up al this feeste, and make an ende.
- And Iesu, for his grace, wit me sende
- To shewe yow the wey, in this viage,
- Of thilke parfit glorious pilgrimage50
- That highte Ierusalem celestial.
- And, if ye vouche-sauf, anon I shal
- Biginne upon my tale, for whiche I preye
- Telle your avys, I can no bettre seye.
- But nathelees, this meditacioun55
- I putte it ay under correccioun
- Of clerkes, for I am nat textuel;
- I take but the sentens, trusteth wel.
- Therfor I make protestacioun
- That I wol stonde to correccioun.’60
- Up-on this word we han assented sone,
- For, as us semed, it was for to done,
- To enden in som vertuous sentence,
- And for to yeve him space and audience;
- And bede our host he sholde to him seye,65
- That alle we to telle his tale him preye.
- Our host hadde the wordes for us alle:—
- ‘Sir preest,’ quod he, ‘now fayre yow bifalle!
- Sey what yow list, and we wol gladly here’—
- And with that word he seyde in this manere—70
- ‘Telleth,’ quod he, ‘your meditacioun.
- But hasteth yow, the sonne wol adoun;
- Beth fructuous, and that in litel space,
- And to do wel god sende yow his grace!’