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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Man of Law's Introduction
lines 1-38: The Host asks the Lawyer to tell a tale


The wordes of the Hoost to the compaignye.

       Oure Hooste saugh wel that the brighte sonne
The ark of his artificial day hath ronne
The ferthe part, and half an houre and moore;
And though he were nat depe expert in loore,
5He wiste it was the eightetethe day
Of Aprill, that is messager to May;
And saugh wel, that the shadwe of every tree
Was as in lengthe the same quantitee
That was the body erect that caused it,
10And therfore by the shadwe he took his wit
That Phebus, which that shoon so clere and brighte,
Degrees was fyve and fourty clombe on highte;
And for that day, as in that latitude,
It was ten at the clokke, he gan conclude,
15And sodeynly he plighte his hors aboute.-
       Our good host saw well that the shining sun
The are of artificial day had run
A quarter part, plus half an hour or more;
And though not deeply expert in such lore,
5He reckoned that it was the eighteenth day
Of April, which is the prelude to May;
And saw well that the shadow of each tree
Was, as to length, of even quantity
As was the body upright causing it.
10And therefore by the shade he had the wit
To know that Phoebus, shining there so bright,
Had climbed degrees full forty-five in height;
And that, that day, and in that latitude,
It was ten of the clock, he did conclude,
15And suddenly he put his horse about.
       "Lordynges," quod he, "I warne yow, al this route,
The fourthe party of this day is gon.
Now for the love of God and of Seint John,
Leseth no tyme, as ferforth as ye may.
20Lordynges, the tyme wasteth nyght and day,
And steleth from us, what pryvely slepynge,
And what thurgh necligence in oure wakynge,
As dooth the streem, that turneth nevere agayn,
Descendynge fro the montaigne into playn.
25Wel kan Senec and many a philosophre
Biwaillen tyme, moore than gold in cofre.
For 'Los of catel may recovered be,
But los of tyme shendeth us,' quod he.
It wol nat come agayn, withouten drede,
30Namoore than wole Malkynes maydenhede,
Whan she hath lost it in hir wantownesse.
Lat us nat mowlen thus in ydelnesse;
       "Masters," said he, "I warn all of this rout,
A quarter of this present day is gone;
Now for the love of God and of Saint John,
Lose no more time, or little as you may;
20Masters, the time is wasting night and day,
And steals away from us, what with our sleeping
And with our sloth, when we awake are keeping,
As does the stream, that never turns again,
Descending from the mountain to the plain.
25And well may Seneca, and many more,
Bewail lost time far more than gold in store.
'For chattels lost may yet recovered be,
But time lost ruins us for aye,' says he.
It will not come again, once it has fled,
30Not any more than will Mag's maidenhead
When she has lost it in her wantonness;
Let's not grow mouldy thus in idleness.
       Sir Man of Lawe," quod he, "so have ye blis,
Telle us a tale anon, as forward is.
35Ye been submytted thurgh youre free assent
To stonden in this cas at my juggement.
Acquiteth yow as now of youre biheeste,
Thanne have ye do youre devoir atte leeste."
       Sir Lawyer," said he, "as you have hope of bliss,
Tell us a tale, as our agreement is;
35You have submitted, by your free assent,
To stand, in this case, to my sole judgment;
Acquit yourself, keep promise with the rest,
And you'll have done your duty, at the least."




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From The Man of Law's Introduction, lines 39-98:
The Lawyer reflects on Chaucer's writing
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