PROLOGUE TO CHAUCER'S TALE OF SIR THOPAS
Bihoold the murye wordes of the Hoost to Chaucer.
Whan seyd was al this miracle, every man
As sobre was, that wonder was to se,
Til that oure Hooste japen tho bigan,
And thanne at erst he looked upon me,
And seyde thus, 'What man artow,' quod he,
'Thow lookest as thou woldest fynde an hare,
For ever upon the ground I se thee stare.
Approche neer, and looke up murily;
Now war yow, sires, and lat this man have place.
He in the waast is shape as wel as I;
This were a popet in an arm tenbrace
For any womman smal, and fair of face.
He semeth elvyssh by his contenaunce,
For unto no wight dooth he daliaunce.
Sey now somwhat, syn oother folk han sayd,
Telle us a tale of myrthe, and that anon.'
'Hooste,' quod I, 'ne beth nat yvele apayed,
For oother tale certes kan I noon
But of a ryme I lerned longe agoon.'
'Ye, that is good,' quod he, 'now shul we heere
Som deyntee thyng, me thynketh by his cheere.'
Heere bigynneth Chaucers tale of Thopas.
Listeth, lordes, in good entent,
And I wol telle verrayment
Of myrthe and of solas,
Al of a knyght was fair and gent
In bataille and in tourneyment,
His name was Sir Thopas.
Yborn he was in fer contree,
In Flaundres, al biyonde the see,
At Poperyng in the place;
His fader was a man ful free,
And lord he was of that contree,
As it was Goddes grace.
Sir Thopas wax a doghty swayn,
Whit was his face as payndemayn,
Hise lippes rede as rose;
His rode is lyk scarlet in grayn,
And I yow telle, in good certayn,
He hadde a semely nose.
His heer, his berd, was lyk saffroun,
That to his girdel raughte adoun;
Hise shoon of Cordewane.
Of Brugges were his hosen broun,
His robe was of syklatoun
That coste many a jane.
He koude hunte at wilde deer,
And ride an haukyng for river,
With grey goshauk on honde,
Therto he was a good archeer,
Of wrastlyng was ther noon his peer,
Ther any ram shal stonde.
Ful many a mayde, bright in bour,
They moorne for hym, paramour,
Whan hem were bet to slepe;
But he was chaast and no lechour,
And sweete as is the brembulflour
That bereth the rede hepe.
And so bifel upon a day,
Frosothe as I yow telle may,
Sir Thopas wolde out ride;
He worth upon his steede gray,
And in his hand a launcegay,
A long swerd by his side.
The priketh thurgh a fair forest,
Therinne is many a wilde best,
Ye, both bukke and hare,
And as he priketh north and est,
I telle it yow, hym hadde almest
Bitidde a sory care.
Ther spryngen herbes, grete and smale,
The lycorys and cetewale,
And many a clowe-gylofre,
And notemuge to putte in ale,
Wheither it be moyste or stale,
Or for to leye in cofre.
The briddes synge, it is no nay,
The sparhauk and the papejay
That joye it was to heere,
The thrustelcok made eek hir lay,
The wodedowve upon a spray
She sang ful loude and cleere.
Sir Thopas fil in love-longynge,
Al whan he herde the thrustel synge,
And pryked as he were wood;
His faire steede in his prikynge
So swatte that men myghte him wrynge,
His sydes were al blood.
Sir Thopas eek so wery was
For prikyng on the softe gras,
So fiers was his corage,
That doun he leyde him in that plas
To make his steede som solas,
And yaf hym good forage.
'O seinte Marie, benedicite,
What eyleth this love at me
To bynde me so soore?
Me dremed al this nyght, pardee,
An elf-queene shal my lemman be,
And slepe under my goore.
An elf-queene wol I love, ywis,
For in this world no womman is
Worthy to be my make
Alle othere wommen I forsake,
And to an elf-queene I me take
By dale and eek by downe.'
Into his sadel he clamb anon,
And priketh over stile and stoon
An elf-queene for tespye,
Til he so longe hadde riden and goon
That he foond, in a pryve woon,
The contree of Fairye
For in that contree was ther noon
That to him dorste ryde or goon,
Neither wyf ne childe,
Til that ther cam a greet geaunt,
His name was Sir Olifaunt,
A perilous man of dede;
He seyde 'Child, by Termagaunt,
But if thou prike out of myn haunt,
Anon I sle thy steede
Heere is the queene of Fayerye,
With harpe and pipe and symphonye,
Dwellyng in this place.'
The child seyde, 'Also moote I thee,
Tomorwe wol I meete with thee,
Whan I have myn armoure.
Submitted on May 13, 2011
Modified on March 27, 2023
- 4:04 min read
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|Closest metre||Iambic tetrameter|
|Stanza Lengths||1, 1, 7, 7, 8, 1, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 7, 10, 10, 4|
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"The Canterbury Tales; CHAUCER'S TALE OF SIR THOPAS" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 21 Sep. 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/14638/the-canterbury-tales;-chaucer's-tale-of-sir-thopas>.