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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Second Nun's Prologue
lines 1-21: The dangers of the devil


The Prologe of the Seconde Nonnes Tale.

       The ministre and the norice unto vices,
Which that men clepe in Englissh ydelnesse,
That porter of the gate is of delices,
To eschue, and by hir contrarie hir oppresse -
5That is to seyn by leveful bisynesse -
Wel oghten we to doon al oure entente,
Lest that the feend thurgh ydelnesse us shente.
       That servant and that nurse unto the vices
Which men do call in English Idleness,
Portress at Pleasure's gate, by all advices
We should avoid, and by her foe express,
5That is to say, by lawful busyness,
We ought to live with resolute intent,
Lest by the devil through sloth we should be rent.

For he, that with his thousand cordes slye
Continuelly us waiteth to biclappe,
10Whan he may man in ydelnesse espye,
He kan so lightly cacche hym in his trappe,
Til that a man be hent right by the lappe,
He nys nat war the feend hath hym in honde.
Wel oghte us werche, and ydelnesse withstonde.
For he, that with his thousand cords and sly
Continually awaits us all to trap,
10When he a man in idleness may spy
He easily the hidden snare will snap,
And till the man has met the foul mishap,
He's not aware the devil has him in hand;
We ought to work and idleness withstand.

15And though men dradden nevere for to dye,
Yet seen men wel by resoun, doutelees,
That ydelnesse is roten slogardye,
Of which ther nevere comth no good n'encrees;
And syn that slouthe hir holdeth in a lees,
20Oonly to slepe, and for to ete and drynke,
And to devouren al that othere swynke.
15And though men never dreaded they must die,
Yet men see well, by reason, idleness
Is nothing more than rotten sluggardry,
Whereof comes never good one may possess;
And see sloth hold her in a leash, no less,
20Only to sleep and eat and always drink
And to absorb all gain of others' swink.





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From The Second Nun's Prologue, lines 22-28:
The purpose of the Second Nun's tale
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