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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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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Man of Law's Prologue
lines 99-133: About the hateful state of poverty


The prologe of the Mannes Tale of Lawe.

       O hateful harm, condicion of poverte!
100With thurst, with coold, with hunger so confoundid!
To asken help thee shameth in thyn herte,
If thou noon aske, so soore artow so woundid
That verray nede unwrappeth al thy wounde hid;
Maugree thyn heed thou most for indigence
105Or stele, or begge, or borwe thy despence!
       O hateful evil, state of poverty!
100With thirst, with cold, with hunger so confounded!
To ask help shameth thy heart's delicacy;
If none thou ask, by need thou art so wounded
That need itself uncovereth all the wound hid!
Spite of thy will thou must, for indigence,
105Go steal, or beg, or borrow thine expense.

Thow blamest Crist, and seist ful bitterly
He mysdeparteth richesse temporal.
Thy neighebore thou wytest synfully,
And seist thou hast to lite and he hath al.
110"Parfay!" seistow, "somtyme he rekene shal,
Whan that his tayl shal brennen in the gleede,
For he noght helpeth needfulle in hir neede."
Thou blamest Christ, and thou say'st bitterly,
He misdistributes riches temporal;
Thy neighbour dost thou censure, sinfully,
Saying thou hast too little and he hath all.
110"My faith," sayest thou, "sometime the reckoning shall
Come on him, when his tail shall burn for greed,
Not having helped the needy in their need."

       Herkne what is the sentence of the wise,
"Bet is to dyen than have indigence."
115Thy selve neighebor wol thee despise,
If thou be povre, farwel thy reverence!
Yet of the wise man take this sentence,
"Alle dayes of povre men been wikke;"
Be war therfore, er thou come to that prikke.
       Hear now what is the judgment of the wise:
"Better to die than live in indigence;"
115"Thy very pauper neighbours thee despise."
If thou be poor, farewell thy reverence!
Still of the wise man take this full sentence:
"The days of the afflicted are all sin."
Beware, therefore, that thou come not therein!

120 If thou be povre, thy brother hateth thee,
And alle thy freendes fleen from thee; allas,
O riche marchauntz, ful of wele been yee!
O noble, o prudent folk, as in this cas!
Youre bagges been nat fild with ambes as,
125But with sys cynk, that renneth for youre chaunce,
At Cristemasse myrie may ye daunce!
120If thou be poor, thy brother hateth thee,
And all thy friends will flee from thee, alas!"
O wealthy merchants, full of weal ye be,
O noble, prudent folk in happier case!
Your dice-box doth not tumble out ambsace,
125But with six-cinq ye throw against your chance;
And so, at Christmas, merrily may ye dance!

Ye seken lond and see for your wynnynges,
As wise folk ye knowen all th'estaat
Of regnes; ye been fadres of tydynges
130And tales, bothe of pees and of debaat.
I were right now of tales desolaat
Nere that a marchant, goon is many a yeere,
Me taughte a tale, which that ye shal heere.
Ye search all land and sea for your winnings,
And, as wise folk, ye know well the estate
Of all realms; ye are sires of happenings
130And tales of peace and tales of war's debate.
But I were now of tales all desolate,
Were 't not a merchant, gone this many a year,
Taught me the story which you now shall hear.





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From The Man of Law's Tale, lines 134-147:
About a group of Syrian merchants that go to Rome
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