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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Clerk's Prologue
lines 1-20: The Host asks the Clerk to tell a tale


Heere folweth the Prologe of the Clerkes Tale of Oxenford.


       "Sire Clerk of Oxenford," oure Hooste sayde,
"Ye ryde as coy and stille as dooth a mayde,
Were newe spoused, sittynge at the bord.
This day ne herde I of youre tonge a word.
5I trowe ye studie about som sophyme;
But Salomon seith, `every thyng hath tyme.'
       For Goddes sake, as beth of bettre cheere;
It is no tyme for to studien heere,
Telle us som myrie tale, by youre fey!
10For what man that is entred in a pley,
He nedes moot unto the pley assente;
But precheth nat as freres doon in Lente,
To make us for oure olde synnes wepe,
Ne that thy tale make us nat to slepe.
       Sir clerk of Oxford," our good host then said,
"You ride as quiet and still as is a maid
But newly wedded, sitting at the board;
This day I've heard not from your tongue a word.
5Perhaps you mull a sophism that's prime,
But Solomon says, 'each thing to its own time.'
       For God's sake, smile and be of better cheer,
It is no time to think and study here.
Tell us some merry story, if you may;
10For whatsoever man will join in play,
He needs must to the play give his consent.
But do not preach, as friars do in Lent,
To make us, for our old sins, wail and weep,
And see your tale shall put us not to sleep.
15        Telle us som murie thyng of aventures;
Youre termes, youre colours, and youre figures,
Keepe hem in stoor, til so be that ye endite
Heigh style, as whan that men to kynges write.
Speketh so pleyn at this tyme, we yow preye,
20That we may understonde what ye seye."
15        Tell us some merry thing of adventures.
Your terms, your colours, and your speech-figures,
Keep them in store till so be you indite
High style, as when men unto kings do write.
Speak you so plainly, for this time, I pray,
20'That we can understand what things you say."




Next Next:
From The Clerk's Prologue, lines 21-56:
The Clerk announces a tale that he has learned from Francis Petrarch
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