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The Monk
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From The Canterbury Tales:
General Prologue
lines 208-271: The Friar


       A FRERE ther was, a wantowne and a merye,
A lymytour, a ful solempne man.
210In alle the ordres foure is noon that kan
So muchel of daliaunce and fair langage.
He hadde maad ful many a mariage
Of yonge wommen at his owene cost.
Unto his ordre he was a noble post,
215And wel biloved and famulier was he
With frankeleyns overal in his contree,
And eek with worthy wommen of the toun;
For he hadde power of confessioun,
As seyde hymself, moore than a curat,
220For of his ordre he was licenciat.
Ful swetely herde he confessioun,
And plesaunt was his absolucioun:
He was an esy man to yeve penaunce,
Ther as he wiste to have a good pitaunce.
225For unto a povre ordre for to yive
Is signe that a man is wel yshryve;
For, if he yaf, he dorste make avaunt,
He wiste that a man was repentaunt;
For many a man so harde is of his herte,
230He may nat wepe, al thogh hym soore smerte;
Therfore in stede of wepynge and preyeres
Men moote yeve silver to the povre freres.
His typet was ay farsed ful of knyves
And pynnes, for to yeven yonge wyves.
235And certeinly he hadde a murye note:
Wel koude he synge, and pleyen on a rote;
Of yeddynges he baar outrely the pris.
His nekke whit was as the flour-de-lys;
Therto he strong was as a champioun.
240He knew the tavernes wel in every toun
And everich hostiler and tappestere
Bet than a lazar or a beggestere;
For unto swich a worthy man as he
Acorded nat, as by his facultee,
245To have with sike lazars aqueyntaunce.
It is nat honeste, it may nat avaunce,
For to deelen with no swich poraille,
But al with riche and selleres of vitaille.
And over al, ther as profit sholde arise,
250Curteis he was, and lowely of servyse.
Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous.
He was the beste beggere in his hous;
(And yaf a certeyn ferme for the graunt
Noon of his brethren cam ther in his haunt;)
255For thogh a wydwe hadde noght a sho,
So plesaunt was his "In principio"
Yet wolde he have a ferthyng, er he wente;
His purchas was wel bettre than his rente.
And rage he koude, as it were right a whelp.
260In love-dayes ther koude he muchel help,
For there he was nat lyk a cloysterer
With a thredbare cope, as is a povre scoler,
But he was lyk a maister or a pope;
Of double worstede was his semycope,
265That rounded as a belle out of the presse.
Somwhat he lipsed for his wantownesse
To make his Englissh sweete upon his tonge;
And in his harpyng, whan that he hadde songe,
Hise eyen twynkled in his heed aryght
270As doon the sterres in the frosty nyght.
This worthy lymytour was cleped Huberd.
       A FRIAR there was, a wanton and a merry,
A limiter, a very festive man.
210In all the Four Orders is no one that can
Equal his gossip and well-spoken speech.
He had arranged many a marriage, giving each
Of young women, and this at his own cost.
For his order he was a noble post.
215Highly liked by all and intimate was he
With franklins everywhere in his country,
And with the worthy women living in the city:
For his power of confession met no equality
That's what he said, in the confession to a curate,
220For his order he was a licentiate.
He heard confession gently, it was said,
Gently absolved too, leaving no dread.
He was an easy man in penance-giving
He knew how to gain a fair living;
225For to a begging friar, money given
Is sign that any man has been well shriven.
For if one gave, he dared to boast bluntly,
He took the man's repentance not lightly.
For many a man there is so hard of heart
230He cannot weep however pains may smart.
Therefore, instead of weeping and of prayers,
Men should give silver to the poor friars.
His tippet was always stuffed with pocket-knives
And pins, to give to young and pleasing wives.
235And certainly he possesed a merry note:
Well could he sing and play upon the rote.
At ballad contests, he bore the prize away.
His throat was white as the lily flower I say;
Yet strong he was as every champion.
240In towns he knew the taverns, every one,
And every good host and each barmaid too -
Better than needy lepers and beggars, these he knew.
For unto no such a worthy man as he
It's unsuitable, as far as he could see,
245To have sick lepers for acquaintances.
There is no honest advantageousness
In dealing with such poor beggars;
It's with the rich victual-buyers and sellers.
And generally, wherever profit might arise,
250Courteous he was and servicable in men's eyes.
There was no other man so virtuous.
He was the finest beggar of his house;
(And gave a certain fee for his begging rights,
None of his brethren dared approach his hights;)
255For though a widow had no shoes to show,
So pleasant was his "In principio",
He always got a farthing before he went.
His revenue exceeded his costs, it is evident.
And he could flirt as well as any pup.
260He could help resolve disputes that were brought up.
In this he was not like a cloisterer,
With threadbare cope like the poor scholar,
But he was like a lord or like a pope.
Of double cloth was his semi-cope,
265That rounded like a bell, as if straight from the press.
He lisped a little, out of wantonness,
To make his English soft upon his tongue;
And in his harping, when he had sung,
His two eyes twinkled in his head as bright
270As do the stars within the frosty night.
This worthy friar was named Hubert.




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From General Prologue, lines 272-286:
The Merchant
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