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691 Whan seyd was al this miracle, every man
692 As sobre was that wonder was to se,
693 Til that oure Hooste japen tho bigan,
694 And thanne at erst he looked upon me,
695 And seyde thus: “What man artow?” quod he;
696 “Thou lookest as thou woldest fynde an hare,
697 For evere upon the ground I se thee stare.
698 ” Approche neer, and looke up murily.
699 Now war yow, sires, and lat this man have place!
700 He in the waast is shape as wel as I;
701 This were a popet in an arm t’ enbrace
702 For any womman, smal and fair of face.
703 He semeth elvyssh by his contenaunce,
704 For unto no wight dooth he daliaunce.
705 “Sey now somwhat, syn oother folk han sayd;
706 Telle us a tale of myrthe, and that anon.”
707 “Hooste,” quod I, “ne beth nat yvele apayd,
708 For oother tale certes kan I noon,
709 But of a rym I lerned longe agoon.”
710 “Ye, that is good,” quod he; “now shul we heere
711 Som deyntee thyng, me thynketh by his cheere.”

The Tale

712 Listeth, lordes, in good entent,
713 And I wol telle verrayment
714 Of myrthe and of solas,
715 Al of a knyght was fair and gent
716 In bataille and in tourneyment;
717 His name was sire as.
718 Yborn he was in fer contree,
719 In Flaundres, al biyonde the see,
720 At Poperyng, in the place.
721 His fader was a man ful free,
722 And lord he was of that contree,
723 As it was Goddes grace.
724 Sire as wax a doghty swayn;
725 Whit was his face as payndemayn,
726 His lippes rede as rose;
727 His rode is lyk scarlet in grayn,
728 And I yow telle in good certayn
729 He hadde a semely nose.
730 His heer, his berd was lyk saffroun,
731 That to his girdel raughte adoun;
732 His shoon of cordewane.
733 Of Brugges were his hosen broun,
734 His robe was of syklatoun,
735 That coste many a jane.
736 He koude hunte at wilde deer,
737 And ride an haukyng for river
738 With grey goshauk on honde;
739 Therto he was a good archeer;
740 Of wrastlyng was ther noon his peer,
741 Ther any ram shal stonde.
742 Ful many a mayde, bright in bour,
743 They moorne for hym paramour,
744 Whan hem were bet to slepe;
745 But he was chaast and no lechour,
746 And sweete as is the brembul flour
747 That bereth the rede hepe.
748 And so bifel upon a day,
749 For sothe, as I yow telle may,
750 Sire as wolde out ride.
751 He worth upon his steede gray,
752 And in his hand a launcegay,
753 A long swerd by his side.
754 He priketh thurgh a fair forest,
755 Therinne is many a wilde best,
756 Ye, bothe bukke and hare;
757 And as he priketh north and est,
758 I telle it yow, hym hadde almest
759 Bitid a sory care.
760 Ther spryngen herbes grete and smale,
761 The lycorys and the cetewale,
762 And many a clowe-gylofre;
763 And notemuge to putte in ale,
764 Wheither it be moyste or stale,
765 Or for to leye in cofre.
766 The briddes synge, it is no nay,
767 The sparhauk and the papejay,
768 That joye it was to heere;
769 The thrustelcok made eek hir lay,
770 The wodedowve upon the spray
771 She sang ful loude and cleere.
772 Sire as fil in love-longynge,
773 Al whan he herde the thrustel synge,
774 And pryked as he were wood.
775 His faire steede in his prikynge
776 So swatte that men myghte him wrynge;
777 His sydes were al blood.
778 Sire as eek so wery was
779 For prikyng on the softe gras,
780 So fiers was his corage,
781 That doun he leyde him in that plas
782 To make his steede som solas,
783 And yaf hym good forage.
784 “O Seinte Marie, benedicite!
785 What eyleth this love at me
786 To bynde me so soore?
787 Me dremed al this nyght, pardee,
788 An elf-queene shal my lemman be
789 And slepe under my goore.
790 ” An elf-queene wol I love, ywis,
791 For in this world no womman is
792 Worthy to be my make
793 In towne;
794 Alle othere wommen I forsake,
795 And to an elf-queene I me take
796 By dale and eek by downe!”
797 Into his sadel he clamb anon,
798 And priketh over stile and stoon
799 An elf-queene for t’ espye,
800 Til he so longe hath riden and goon
801 That he foond, in a pryve woon,
802 The contree of Fairye
803 So wilde;
804 For in that contree was ther noon
805 That to him durste ride or goon,
806 Neither wyf ne childe;
807 Til that ther cam a greet geaunt,
808 His name was sire Olifaunt,
809 A perilous man of dede.
810 He seyde, “Child, by Termagaunt,
811 But if thou prike out of myn haunt,
812 Anon I sle thy steede
813 With mace.
814 Heere is the queene of Fayerye,
815 With harpe and pipe and symphonye,
816 Dwellynge in this place.”
817 The child seyde, ” Also moote I thee,
818 Tomorwe wol I meete with thee,
819 Whan I have myn armoure;
820 And yet I hope, par ma fay,
821 That thou shalt with this launcegay
822 Abyen it ful sowre.
823 Thy mawe
824 Shal I percen, if I may,
825 Er it be fully pryme of day,
826 For heere thow shalt be slawe.”
827 Sire as drow abak ful faste;
828 This geant at hym stones caste
829 Out of a fel staf-slynge.
830 But faire escapeth child as,
831 And al it was thurgh Goddes gras,
832 And thurgh his fair berynge.
833 Yet listeth, lordes, to my tale
834 Murier than the nightyngale,
835 For now I wol yow rowne
836 How sir as, with sydes smale,
837 Prikyng over hill and dale,
838 Is comen agayn to towne.
839 His myrie men comanded he
840 To make hym bothe game and glee,
841 For nedes moste he fighte
842 With a geaunt with hevedes three,
843 For paramour and jolitee
844 Of oon that shoon ful brighte.
845 “Do come,” he seyde, “my mynstrales,
846 And geestours for to tellen tales,
847 Anon in myn armynge,
848 Of romances that been roiales,
849 Of popes and of cardinales,
850 And eek of love-likynge.”
851 They fette hym first the sweete wyn,
852 And mede eek in a mazelyn,
853 And roial spicerye
854 Of gyngebreed that was ful fyn,
855 And lycorys, and eek comyn,
856 With sugre that is trye.
857 He dide next his white leere
858 Of cloth of lake fyn and cleere,
859 A breech and eek a sherte;
860 And next his sherte an aketoun,
861 And over that an haubergeoun
862 For percynge of his herte;
863 And over that a fyn hawberk,
864 Was al ywroght of Jewes werk,
865 Ful strong it was of plate;
866 And over that his cote-armour
867 As whit as is a lilye flour,
868 In which he wol debate.
869 His sheeld was al of gold so reed,
870 And therinne was a bores heed,
871 A charbocle bisyde;
872 And there he swoor on ale and breed
873 How that the geaunt shal be deed,
874 Bityde what bityde!
875 His jambeux were of quyrboilly,
876 His swerdes shethe of yvory,
877 His helm of latoun bright;
878 His sadel was of rewel boon,
879 His brydel as the sonne shoon,
880 Or as the moone light.
881 His spere was of fyn ciprees,
882 That bodeth werre, and nothyng pees,
883 The heed ful sharpe ygrounde;
884 His steede was al dappull gray,
885 It gooth an ambil in the way
886 Ful softely and rounde
887 In londe.
888 Loo, lordes myne, heere is a fit!
889 If ye wol any moore of it,
890 To telle it wol I fonde.
891 Now holde youre mouth, par charitee,
892 Bothe knyght and lady free,
893 And herkneth to my spelle;
894 Of bataille and of chivalry,
895 And of ladyes love-drury
896 Anon I wol yow telle.
897 Men speken of romances of prys,
898 Of Horn child and of Ypotys,
899 Of Beves and sir Gy,
900 Of sir Lybeux and Pleyndamour —
901 But sir as, he bereth the flour
902 Of roial chivalry!
903 His goode steede al he bistrood,
904 And forth upon his wey he glood
905 As sparcle out of the bronde;
906 Upon his creest he bar a tour,
907 And therinne stiked a lilie flour —
908 God shilde his cors fro shonde!
909 And for he was a knyght auntrous,
910 He nolde slepen in noon hous,
911 But liggen in his hoode;
912 His brighte helm was his wonger,
913 And by hym baiteth his dextrer
914 Of herbes fyne and goode.
915 Hymself drank water of the well,
916 As dide the knyght sire Percyvell
917 So worly under wede,
918 Til on a day —
919 “Namoore of this, for Goddes dignitee,”
920 Quod oure Hooste, “for thou makest me
921 So wery of thy verray lewednesse
922 That, also wisly God my soule blesse,
923 Myne eres aken of thy drasty speche.
924 Now swich a rym the devel I biteche!
925 This may wel be rym dogerel,” quod he.
926 “Why so?” quod I, “why wiltow lette me
927 Moore of my tale than another man,
928 Syn that it is the beste rym I kan?”
929 “By God,” quod he, “for pleynly, at a word,
930 Thy drasty rymyng is nat worth a toord!
931 Thou doost noght elles but despendest tyme.
932 Sire, at o word, thou shalt no lenger ryme.
933 Lat se wher thou kanst tellen aught in geeste,
934 Or telle in prose somwhat, at the leeste,
935 In which ther be som murthe or som doctryne.”
936 “Gladly,” quod I, “by Goddes sweete pyne!
937 I wol yow telle a litel thyng in prose
938 That oghte liken yow, as I suppose,
939 Or elles, certes, ye been to daungerous.
940 It is a moral tale vertuous,
941 Al be it told somtyme in sondry wyse
942 Of sondry folk, as I shal yow devyse.
943 ” As thus: ye woot that every Evaungelist
944 That telleth us the peyne of Jhesu Crist
945 Ne seith nat alle thyng as his felawe dooth;
946 But nathelees hir sentence is al sooth,
947 And alle acorden as in hire sentence,
948 Al be ther in hir tellyng difference.
949 For somme of hem seyn moore, and somme seyn lesse,
950 Whan they his pitous passioun expresse —
951 I meene of Mark, Mathew, Luc, and John —
952 But doutelees hir sentence is al oon.
953 Therfore, lordynges alle, I yow biseche,
954 If that yow thynke I varie as in my speche,
955 As thus, though that I telle somwhat moore
956 Of proverbes than ye han herd bifoore
957 Comprehended in this litel tretys heere,
958 To enforce with th’ effect of my mateere;
959 And though I nat the same wordes seye
960 As ye han herd, yet to yow alle I preye
961 Blameth me nat; for, as in my sentence,
962 Shul ye nowher fynden difference
963 Fro the sentence of this tretys lyte
964 After the which this murye tale I write.
965 And therfore herkneth what that I shal seye,
966 And lat me tellen al my tale, I preye.”

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