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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Friar's Prologue
lines 1-21: The Friar comments on the WoB's tale and announces a story about a summoner


The Prologue of the Freres Tale.

       This worthy lymytour, this noble Frere,
He made alwey a maner louryng chiere
Upon the Somonour, but for honestee
No vileyns word as yet to hym spak he.
5But atte laste he seyde unto the wyf,
"Dame," quod he, "God yeve yow right good lyf!
Ye han heer touched, also moot I thee,
In scole-matere greet difficultee.
Ye han seyd muche thyng right wel, I seye;
10But, dame, heere as we ryde by the weye,
Us nedeth nat to speken but of game,
And lete auctoritees, on Goddes name,
To prechyng and to scole eek of clergye.
But if it lyke to this compaignye,
15I wol yow of a somonour telle a game.
Pardee, ye may wel knowe by the name
That of a somonour may no good be sayd;
I praye that noon of you be yvele apayd.
A somonour is a rennere up and doun
20With mandementz for fornicacioun,
And is ybet at every townes ende."
       This worthy limiter, this noble friar,
He turned always a lowering face, and dire,
Upon the summoner, but for courtesy
No rude and insolent word as yet spoke he.
5But at the last he said unto the wife:
"Lady," said he, "God grant you a good life!
You have here touched, as I may prosperous be,
Upon school matters of great difficulty;
You have said many things right well, I say;
10But, lady, as we ride along our way,
We need but talk to carry on our game,
And leave authorities, in good God's name,
To preachers and to schools for clergymen.
But if it pleases all this company, then,
15I'll tell you of a summoner, to make game.
By God, you could surmise it by the name
That of a summoner may no good be said;
I pray that no one will be angry made.
A summoner is a runner up and down
20With summonses for fornication known,
And he is beaten well at each town's end."




Next Next:
From The Friar's Prologue, lines 22-36:
The Summoner says he will repay the friar later
Next