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From The Manciple's Tale, lines 292-308:
The crow is turned black and is no longer able to sing
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Manciple's Tale
lines 309-362: A wicked tongue is worse than any fiend


       Lordynges, by this ensample I yow preye,
310Beth war and taketh kepe what I seye:
Ne telleth nevere no man in youre lyf
How that another man hath dight his wyf;
He wol yow haten mortally, certeyn.
Daun Salomon, as wise clerkes seyn,
315Techeth a man to kepen his tonge weel.
But as I seyde, I am noght textueel;
But nathelees, thus taughte me my dame;
"My sone, thenk on the crowe, on Goddes name.
My sone, keepe wel thy tonge and keepe thy freend,
320A wikked tonge is worse than a feend.
My sone, from a feend men may hem blesse.
My sone, God of his endelees goodnesse
Walled a tonge with teeth and lippes eke,
For man sholde hym avyse what he speeke.
325My sone, ful ofte for to muche speche
Hath many a man been spilt, as clerkes teche.
But for litel speche, avysely,
Is no man shent, to speke generally.
My sone, thy tonge sholdestow restreyne
330At alle tymes, but whan thou doost thy peyne
To speke of God in honour and in preyere;
The firste vertu sone, if thou wolt leere,
Is to restreyne and kepe wel thy tonge.
Thus lerne children, whan that they been yonge,
335My sone, of muchel spekyng yvele avysed,
Ther lasse spekyng hadde ynough suffised,
Comth muchel harm-thus was me toold and taught.-
In muchel speche synne wanteth naught.
Wostow wherof a rakel tonge serveth?
340Right as a swerd forkutteth and forkerveth
An arme a-two, my deere sone, right so
A tonge kutteth freendshipe al atwo.
A jangler is to God abhomynable;
Reed Salomon, so wys and honurable,
345Reed David in hise psalmes, reed Senekke.
My sone, spek nat, but with thyn heed thou bekke;
Dissimule as thou were deef, it that thou heere
A jangler speke of perilous mateere.
The Flemyng seith, and lerne it if thee leste,
350That litel janglyng causeth muchel reste.
My sone, if thou no wikked word hast seyd,
Thee thar nat drede for to be biwreyd;
But he that hath mysseyd, I dar wel sayn,
He may by no wey clepe his word agayn.
355Thyng that is seyd is seyd, and forth it gooth;
Though hym repente, or be hym leef or looth,
He is his thral to whom that he hath sayd
A tale, of which he is now yvele apayd.
My sone, be war, and be noon auctour newe
360Of tidynyges, wheither they been false or trewe,
Wherso thou com, amonges hye or lowe,
Kepe wel thy tonge, and thenk upon the crowe."
       Masters, by this example, I do pray
310You will beware and heed what I shall say:
Never tell any man, through all your life,
How that another man has humped his wife;
He'll hate you mortally, and that's certain.
Dan Solomon, as these wise clerks explain,
315Teaches a man to keep his tongue from all;
But, as I said, I am not textual.
Nevertheless, thus taught me my good dame:
"My son, think of the crow, in high God's name;
My son, keep your tongue still, and keep your friend.
320A wicked tongue is worse than any fiend.
My son, from devils men themselves may bless;
My son, high God, of His endless goodness,
Walled up the tongue with teeth and lips and cheeks
That man should speak advisedly when he speaks.
325My son, full oftentimes, for too much speech,
Has many a man been killed, as clerics teach;
But, speaking little and advisedly,
Is no man harmed, to put it generally.
My son, your foolish tongue you should restrain
330At all times, save those when your soul is fain
To speak of God, in honour and in prayer.
The first of virtues, son, if you'll but hear,
Is to restrain and to guard well your tongue -
Thus teach the children while they yet are young -
335My son, of too much speaking, ill advised,
Where less had been enough and had sufficed,
Much harm may come; thus was I told and taught.
In fluent speaking evil wants for naught.
Know you of where a rash tongue has well served?
340Just as a sword has cut deep and has carved
A many an arm in two, dear son, just so
A tongue can cut a friendship, well I know.
A gossip is to God abominable.
Read Solomon, so wise and honourable,
345Or David's Psalms, what Seneca has said.
My son, speak not, but merely bow your head.
Dissemble like one deaf, if you but hear
A chatterer speak what's dangerous in your ear.
The Fleming says, and learn it, for it's best,
350That little prattle gives us all much rest.
My son, if you no wicked word have said,
To be betrayed you need not ever dread;
But he that has missaid, I dare explain,
He may not aye recall his words again.
355That which is said, is said, and goes, in truth,
Though he repent, and be he lief or loath.
A man's the slave of him to whom he's told
A tale to which he can no longer hold.
My son, beware and be not author new
360Of tidings, whether they be false or true.
Where'er you come, among the high or low,
Guard well your tongue, and think about the crow."


Heere is ended the Maunciples Tale of the Crowe




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