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9. THE SUMMONER’S TALE



Prologue
The Summoner rose in his stirrups. He 1665
Was mad at the Friar to such degree
That like an aspen leaf he shook with ire.
“My lords,” he said, “but one thing I desire:
I ask that you will, by your courtesy,
Since you’ve heard this false Friar lie, agree 1670
That I now be allowed my tale to tell.
This Friar’s boasted that he knows of hell;
God knows, that’s little wonder to impart,
As friars and fiends are seldom far apart.
And, by my faith, how frequently they tell 1675
About the friar carried off to hell
In spirit once while dreaming. As it’s told,
An angel took him touring, to behold
The pains of hell; yet in that place entire
He didn’t catch sight of a single friar, 1680
Though many folks he saw there in their pain.
The friar asked the angel to explain:
“Now, sir,” said he, “have friars such a grace
That none of them shall come down to this place?”
“‘Yes,’ said the angel, ‘millions come!’ He led 1685
The friar down to Satan then, and said,
‘Now Satan has a tail that you will note
Is broader than the sail upon a boat.
Hold up your tail, O Satan,’ then said he,
‘Expose your ass and let this friar see 1690
Where friars here all have their nesting place!’
And quicker then than half-a-furlong race,
And just as bees come swarming from a hive,
Out of the devil’s ass there shot a drive
Of twenty thousand friars in a rout 1695
Who throughout hell went swarming all about,
Until, as fast as they’d come to appear,
Each one crept back into the devil’s rear.
The devil clapt his tail down, then lay still.
And when this friar thus had had his fill 1700
Of seeing the torment of that sorry place,
The friar’s spirit God out of his grace
Restored back to his body. Once awake,
He nonetheless in fear was all ashake,
The devil’s ass, so vivid in his mind, 1705
His heritage and that of all his kind.
God save you all except this cursed Friar!
My prologue I will end with that desire.”

The Summoner’s Tale
My lords, there is in Yorkshire, as I guess,
A marshy district known as Holderness, 1710
In which a licensed friar went about
To preach–also to beg, no need to doubt.
Now it so happened that this friar one day
Preached at a church in his accustomed way,
Especially, above all other teaching, 1715
Exhorting all the people with his preaching
To purchase trentals, giving, for God’s sake,
That holy houses men might undertake
To build for services, excluding where
A gift would just be squandered or where there 1720
Is no necessity of having people give–
Where clergy is endowed, that is, and live,
Thank God, in wealth and plenty. “Trentals,” he
Declared, “from penance bring delivery
For dead friends’ souls, the old as well as young, 1725
All thirty masses being quickly sung–
Not meaning in a frivolous kind of way,
Although a priest would sing but one a day.
Get out their souls, deliver them,” he’d call,
“For hard it is by meathook and by awl 1730
To get a clawing, or to burn and bake.
Make haste, get going at it, for Christ’s sake!”
And when this friar finished with his say,
With qui cum patre he’d be on his way.
When folks in church had given to him what 1735
They pleased, he moved on, no more rest he got.
With scrip and his tipped staff, all cinctured high,
In every house he’d pore about and pry
While begging meal and cheese or else some corn.
His comrade had a long staff tipped with horn, 1740
A pair of tablets made of ivory,
And a stylus that was finely polished. He
Would always write the names down, as he stood,
Of all the folks who gave him something good,
As if he meant to pray for them thereby. 1745
“Give us a bushel, wheat or malt or rye,
A bit of cheese or, by your grace, a cake,
Or what you will–we can’t choose what we take;
A penny for a mass, or half-a-penny,
Or give a slice of pork if you have any; 1750
A smidgen of your woolen cloth, dear dame,
Beloved sister–see, I write your name!–
Bacon or beef, whatever you may find.”
A sturdy fellow always walked behind
Them as their servant, and he bore a sack 1755
To tote all they were given on his back.
No sooner was this friar out the door
Than he’d erase each name that just before
He’d written on his tablets. All he’d do
Is serve the folks with trifles, fables too. 1760
“No, Summoner, you lie!” the Friar cried.
“Peace, for Christ’s mother dear!” our Host replied.
“Spare nothing, with your tale go right ahead.”
“As I may live, I shall,” the Summoner said.
So house by house this friar went, till he 1765
Came to one house where he was wont to be
Better refreshed than at a hundred more.
The owner there was sick; low off the floor
Upon a couch the man bedridden lay.
“Deus hic! O my dear Thomas, friend, good day!” 1770
The friar softly said with courtesy.
“May God reward you, Thomas! Frequently
I’ve fared well on your bench. With merry cheer
Many a fine meal I have eaten here.”
Then from the bench he shooed away the cat, 1775
And after laying down his staff and hat
And scrip, upon the bench sat quietly down.
His comrade had gone walking into town,
He and the servant, to the hostelry
Where he intended for that night to be. 1780
“O my dear master,” said the ailing man,
“Tell me how you have been since March began.
I haven’t seen you this fortnight or more.”
“God knows,” he said, “I’ve labored till I’m sore,
Especially for sake of your salvation, 1785
So many prayers beyond all valuation–
For others too, God bless them all!–I pray.
I was at mass at your church just today
And gave a sermon by my humble wit
Instead of all by text of Holy Writ; 1790
Because it’s hard for you, as I suppose,
I’ll give the gloss of how my teaching goes.
A glorious thing it is to gloss away;
‘The letter slays,’ that’s what we clerics say.
There I have taught them charity. They should 1795
Spend what they have where reasonable and good.
And there I saw our dame–ah, where is she?”
“Out yonder in the yard I think she’d be,”
The fellow said, “and she’ll come right away.”
“Aye, master, welcome, by Saint John! I say, 1800
How are you?” said this woman earnestly.
The friar then rose up with courtesy,
And in his arms embraced her tight and narrow
And kissed her sweetly, chirping like a sparrow
With his lips. “Madam, I’ve done all right,” 1805
He said, “as I’m your servant day and night,
Thanks be to God who gave you soul and life!
I didn’t see today so fair a wife
In all the church, my God in heaven save me!”
“May God indeed amend all faults,” said she. 1810
“You’re welcome, by my faith, in any case.”
“Thanks, madam,” said the friar, “in this place
I’ve always found it so. But by your leave
And goodness–and I pray not to aggrieve–
With Thomas I would speak in confidence. 1815
These curates show both sloth and negligence
In searching for true conscience of one’s shrift.
In preaching is my diligence, my gift,
I study Peter’s words and those of Paul.
I walk and fish for Christian souls, and all 1820
To Christ be yielded as his due. To spread
His word is that one aim to which I’m led.”
“Now, by your leave, dear sir,” responded she,
“Chide him well, by the holy Trinity!
For he is like a pismire in his ire, 1825
Although he has all that he may desire.
I cover him at night and make him warm,
Lay over him a leg or else an arm,
Yet he groans like our boar out in the sty.
No other bit of sport with him have I, 1830
For I can’t please him in a single way.”
“O Thomas, je vous dis! Thomas, I say,
This is the devil’s work, to be amended!
Ire is a thing that God commands be ended,
And therefore I would have a word or two.” 1835
“Before I go,” the wife said, “what would you
Like for your dinner, sir? I’ll get it spread.”
“Madam, now je vous dis sans doute,” he said,
“If I had of a capon but the liver,
And of your soft bread but a single sliver, 1840
And then a roasted pig’s head–though for me
No animal I wish killed–I would be
Then having with you only homey fare.
I am a man whose appetite is spare;
The Bible is my spirit’s food, my flesh 1845
So on the move, always so set for fresh
New vigils, that my appetite’s destroyed.
Madam, I pray that you’ll not be annoyed
By what I’m telling as a friend to you.
By God, I only tell it to a few.” 1850
“Now, sir,” she said, “one word before I go.
My child is dead, it’s been ten days or so;
Soon after you left town the lad was dead.”
“His death I saw by revelation,” said
The friar, “at home in our dormitory. 1855
But I daresay I saw him borne to glory,
Not half an hour after he had died,
In that same vision–God so be my guide!
So did our sacristan, our medic too,
True friars fifty years, which makes them due 1860
To celebrate–thank God for all his grace!–
Their jubilee, walk singly any place.
Then I arose, our whole convent as well,
With tear-stained cheeks; no clattering of bell
Nor other clamor, all that came from us 1865
Was but our song Te Deum laudamus,
Save for a prayer I said in dedication
To thank Christ Jesus for his revelation.
For, sir and madam, you can trust my word,
With more effect in praying we are heard 1870
(As we see more into Christ’s secret things)
Than folks not of the cloth, though they be kings;
We live in poverty and abstinence,
They live for riches, saving no expense
For meat and drink and all their foul delight. 1875
All worldly lust we hold up to despite.
Dives and Lazarus lived differently,
And their rewards would thereby different be.
Whoso would pray must also fast, be clean,
Fatten his soul, and keep his body lean. 1880
As Saint Paul says, our food and clothes shall be
Enough though not the best. The purity
And fasting of us friars are the way
That we gain Christ’s acceptance when we pray.
“Look, Moses fasted forty days and nights 1885
Before God in his might came from the heights
To speak with him upon Mount Sinai;
He fasted many a day, his stomach dry
And empty, and received the law inscribed
By God’s own finger. You’ve heard, too, described 1890
Just how Elijah, before he could speak
With God, our lives’ physician, on the peak
Of Horeb fasted long and contemplated.
“Aaron, who the temple administrated,
And all the other priests who took their way 1895
Into the holy temple, there to pray
For all the people, service to perform,
Were not allowed to drink in any form
That might result in drunkenness, but there
They were to watch in abstinence and prayer, 1900
Or else they’d surely die. Heed what I say.
If they’re not sober who for people pray,
I warn you–but enough, no more of it.
Lord Jesus, as it says in Holy Writ,
Gave us examples, how to fast and pray. 1905
That’s why we mendicants, we friars, I say,
Are humble and so wed to continence,
To poverty, good works, and abstinence,
To persecution for all righteousness,
To mercy, suffering, and holiness. 1910
So all the prayers we say, as you can see–
I mean we beggars in the friary–
Are more acceptable to God on high
Than yours at your feast tables. I’ll not lie
To you, from Paradise it was to be 1915
That man was first chased out for gluttony,
And man was chaste, for sure, in Paradise.
“But listen, Thomas, to what I advise.
I have no text upon it, as I guess,
But I can gloss it for you nonetheless;
Sweet Jesus had especially in mind 1920
Us friars when he spoke words of this kind:
‘Blest be the poor in spirit.’ You can see
Throughout the gospel if such words agree
More with us friars in what we profess 1925
Than those who wallow in what they possess.
Fie on their pomp, fie on their gluttony!
Their ignorance too I scorn defiantly.
“They seem to me just like Jovinian,
Fat as a whale and walking like a swan, 1930
As wine-filled as a bottle in the spence.
Their prayer is of the greatest reverence
When they for souls recite the psalm of David;
Then ‘Burp!’ they say, ‘cor meum eructavit!’
Who follows Christ, his gospel, and his way, 1935
But we the humble, chaste, and poor today
Who work for God’s word, not who simply hear?
And so just as a hawk will up and rear
Into the air, the prayer soars ever higher
Of every kind and chaste and busy friar 1940
Up to the ears of God. O Thomas, friend,
O Thomas! as I hope to ride or wend,
And by that lord they call Saint Ive, if you
Were not a brother your life would be through.
For in our chapel we pray day and night 1945
To Christ that he will send you health and might,
Your use of limbs again to quickly bring.”
“God knows,” said he, “I still can’t feel a thing!
So help me Jesus, in the last few years
I’ve spent on every friar who appears 1950
A load of pounds, yet I’m still in this way.
My goods are all but used up, safe to say.
Farewell, my gold, for all of it has fled!”
“O Thomas, you’d do that?” the friar said.
“What need have you of any other friar? 1955
Who has the perfect doctor need inquire
About what other doctors are in town?
Your lack of faith is what has brought you down.
Do you hold me or our convent as aid
That’s not enough for you, for all we’ve prayed? 1960
That’s silly, Thomas, and not worth a bean;
You’re ill because in giving you’re so mean.
‘Ah, give that convent half-a-quarter oats!
Ah, give that convent four-and-twenty groats!
Ah, give that friar a penny, let him go!’ 1965
That’s not the way it is, no, Thomas, no!
What is a farthing worth, by twelve divided?
Look, everything that in itself’s united
Is worth more than when all its parts are scattered.
No, by me, Thomas, you shall not be flattered; 1970
You’d like to have our labor all for naught,
Yet God on high who all this world has wrought
Says that the workman’s worthy of his hire.
None of your treasure, Thomas, I desire
As mine; no, it’s because our whole convent 1975
To pray for you is always diligent,
And builds for Christ a church. O Thomas, friend,
If you would be of use as you intend,
On building churches you’ll find, if you would,
How India’s Saint Thomas did much good. 1980
You lie here full of anger, full of ire,
With which the devil sets your heart afire,
And chide this humble innocent your wife,
Who’s been so meek and patient in her strife.
And therefore, Thomas, promise, as you should, 1985
You won’t fight with your wife, for your own good;
And, by my faith, now bear this word in mind,
On which concern the wise man says in kind:
‘Don’t make of your own house a lion’s lair,
Do not oppress the ones within your care, 1990
Or cause a friend to up and flee.’ And, too,
Thomas, this charge again I give to you:
Beware of ire that in your bosom sleeps;
Beware the serpent that so slyly creeps
Beneath the grass to sting with subtlety. 1995
Beware, my son, and listen patiently,
For twenty thousand men have lost their lives
Through striving with their lovers and their wives.
Now since you’ve such a meek and holy wife,
Thomas, what need have you for causing strife? 2000
Surely no snake as cruel has yet been seen
(When man treads on his tail), none half as mean
As woman is when given cause for ire,
As vengeance then is all that they desire.
Ire is a sin among the greater seven, 2005
Abominable to God who is in heaven,
And leads a fellow to his own destruction.
The simplest parson here needs no instruction,
He’s seen how ire engenders homicide.
Ire is the executioner of pride. 2010
I could, regarding ire, tell of such sorrow
My tale of it would last until tomorrow.
That’s why I pray to God both day and night
That he’ll send to the ireful little might.
How great a harm and pity, certainly, 2015
To set a man of ire in high degree.
“One time there was an ireful potentate,
Says Seneca, and, while he ruled the state,
Two knights went out to ride about one day.
As Fortune in the case would have her way, 2020
Only one of the knights came home, and he
Was brought before the judge summarily.
‘You’ve surely slain your fellow knight, and I
Condemn you now,’ the judge declared, ‘to die.’
Then to another knight commanded he, 2025
‘Go lead him to his death, I so decree.’
It happened, though, that as they headed right
Toward the place where he should die, the knight
Appeared again who they had thought was dead.
When all their best advice had then been said, 2030
They took them both before the judge again.
They told the judge, ‘My lord, he hasn’t slain
His fellow knight, he’s standing here alive.’
‘You shall be dead,’ the judge said, ‘as I thrive,
And that means all of you–one, two, and three!’ 2035
And to the first knight he said, ‘My decree
Condemned you, you’ll in any case be dead.
And as for you, you too shall lose your head,
For you have caused your fellow’s death.’ And he
Then to the third knight spoke immediately: 2040
‘You haven’t done what I commanded you.’
And so it was all three of them he slew.
“Cambyses, ireful, drank beyond his might,
To be a scoundrel always his delight.
A lord, it happened, in his company 2045
Was virtuous, loved true morality,
And one day gave Cambyses this advice:
“‘A lord is lost if he is prone to vice,
And shameful is a drunkard’s reputation,
Especially if lordship is his station. 2050
Many an eye and ear are set to spy
Upon a lord, he knows not where they’ll pry.
And so, for God’s love, drink more moderately!
For wine will make a man lose wretchedly
His mind and the control of every limb.’ 2055
“‘No, the reverse you’ll see,’ he said to him,
‘And promptly so, your own experience
Will prove wine does to no one such offense.
There’s no wine can deprive me of my might
In hand or foot, or take from me my sight.’ 2060
And for despite Cambyses drank much more,
A hundredfold, than he had done before.
And then at once this ireful, cursed wretch
Commanded that this knight’s son they should fetch,
And ordered that before him he should stand; 2065
And suddenly he took his bow in hand,
Then back toward his ear the string he drew,
And there the child he with an arrow slew.
‘Now, do I have a steady hand or not?’
He asked. ‘Have might and mind both gone to rot? 2070
Has wine bereft my two eyes of their sight?’
What can I say, what answer from the knight?
His son was slain, there is no more to say.
Beware, therefore, with lords how you may play.
Placebo sing, and ‘I shall if I can,’ 2075
Unless it’s to a poor and humble man.
To one who’s poor should men his vices tell,
Not to a lord, although he go to hell.
“Or look at Cyrus, Persia’s king, in wrath
Destroying the River Gyndes. On the path 2080
To his conquest of Babylon, a horse
Of his had drowned within that river’s course.
For that, he made it so the river shrank
Till women might wade through it bank to bank.
What said he who so well can teach? ‘Don’t be 2085
An ireful man’s companion, nor agree
To walk with any madman by the way,
Or you’ll be sorry.’ I’ve no more to say.
“Dear brother Thomas, leave your ire behind.
I’m as just as a wright’s square, as you’ll find. 2090
Don’t keep the devil’s knife held at your heart–
Your anger makes you all the more to smart–
But all of your confession to me show.”
The ailing man said, “By Saint Simon, no!
Today my priest has shriven me for sin, 2095
I told him wholly of the shape I’m in,
There’s no more need to speak of it,” said he,
“Unless I wish in my humility.”
“Give me some of your gold, then, for our cloister,”
The friar said, “for mussel after oyster– 2100
While other men have been at ease and filled–
Has been our food, that cloister we might build;
And yet, God knows, we show for all the while
Scarce pavement or foundation. Not one tile
Is yet within our habitation found. 2105
For stones, by God, we now owe forty pound.
“Help us, Thomas, for him who harrowed hell!
For if you don’t, our books we’ll have to sell.
And if you lack our preaching, our instruction,
This world will then be headed for destruction; 2110
For whoso from this world would us bereave,
As God may save me, Thomas, by your leave,
Would from this world remove the very sun.
For who can teach and work as we have done?
It’s not been briefly,” he went on to tell, 2115
“But since Elijah, Elisha as well,
Has much, I find, been written to record
The charity of friars, thank the Lord!
Now, Thomas, help, for holy charity!”
And down he went at once on bended knee. 2120
This ailing man was nearly mad with ire;
He would have liked to see the friar on fire
For his dissembling and hypocrisy.
“Whatever thing that I possess,” said he,
“Is that which I may give, there’s nothing other. 2125
Have you not told me that I am your brother?”
“Why, sure,” the friar said, “trust in the same.
The letter with our seal I gave our dame.”
“Well then,” said he, “there’s something I shall give
Your holy convent while I yet may live. 2130
And in your hand you’ll have it right away,
But only on condition that you say
That you’ll divide it up so that, dear brother,
Each friar gets as much as every other.
Upon your faith you’ll swear this now to me, 2135
No bickering and no dishonesty.”
“Upon my faith,” the friar said, “I swear!”
He shook the fellow’s hand then to declare,
“See, here’s my vow, in me there’ll be no lack.”
“Then put your hand down underneath my back,” 2140
The fellow told him, “feel around behind,
For underneath my rump a thing you’ll find
That I have hidden, kept in privity.”
“Ah,” thought the friar, “that shall go with me!”
And then he launched his hand right down the rift
In hope that at the end he’d find a gift. 2145
And when this sick man felt the friar begin
To grope around his orifice, right in
The friar’s hand the fellow let a fart.
No single horse that’s ever drawn a cart 2150
Has ever let a fart with such a sound.
The friar, lion-mad, rose with a bound.
“Ay, by God’s bones! You lying churl,” said he,
“You’ve done this for despite! Just wait and see,
That fart you’ll pay for if I have my way!” 2155
The fellow’s household, when they heard the fray,
Came rushing in and chased away the friar.
He went forth on his way consumed with ire
And fetched his fellow, keeper of his goods.
He looked just like a wild boar n the woods 2160
And gnashed his teeth, so mad the friar felt.
He hurried to the manor where there dwelt
An honored man for whom he’d come to be
The sole confessor. Of that village he
Was lord, this worthy man. In came the friar, 2165
The anger in him raging like a fire,
Just as the lord sat eating at the table.
To speak a word the friar was scarcely able;
“God save you!” was at last all he could say.
The lord looked up. “Why, benedicite! 2170
Friar John,” he said, “what kind of world is this?
For well I see there’s something that’s amiss,
You look as if the woods were full of thieves.
Sit down at once and tell me what aggrieves
And it shall be amended if I may.” 2175
“I’ve had,” said he, “such an insult today–
May God reward you–here within your town,
There’s in this world no page so poor and down
That something so abominable should be
Done to him like in town’s been done to me. 2180
But nothing brings for me more grief to bear
Than that this old man with his hoary hair
Has so blasphemed our holy convent too.”
“Now, master,” said this lord, “I beg of you–“
“Not master, no, but servant,” said the friar, 2185
“Though I have had in school that honor, sire.
God doesn’t like men calling us ‘Rabbi,’
Not in the market nor your hall so high.”
“No matter,” said the lord, “your grief be stated.”
“Today an odious wrong was perpetrated 2190
Against my order,” said the friar, “and me,
And so per consequens in like degree
Against the Church. God soon avenge it yet!”
“You know what’s best to do, don’t get upset,
You’re my confessor,” said this man of worth, 2195
“You’ve been the salt, the savor of the earth.
Your temper, sir, for God’s love, try to hold
And state your grief!” And so at once he told
What you have heard–you know enough of that.
The lady of the house had quietly sat 2200
Until she heard all of the friar’s story.
“Mother of God,” she cried, “O maid of glory!
Is there more to it? Tell me faithfully.”
“Madam, what do you think of it?” said he.
“What do I think?” she said. “God give me speed 2205
To say, a churl has done a churlish deed!
What should I say? God grant not that he thrive!
His sick head’s full of nonsense. I derive
From this he’s in some frenzied malady.”
“Madam, by God, I shall not lie,” said he, 2210
“If I am not avenged, in every place
Where I may speak or preach I’ll call disgrace
Upon this false blasphemer who’s decided
That I divide what cannot be divided
And share with all. A curse on him! Mischance!” 2215
The lord sat stilly, as if in a trance,
As in his mind he had this rumination:
“How could this churl have such imagination
And to the friar such a problem bring?
I’ve never heard before of such a thing, 2220
The devil must have put it in his mind.
In all our fundamentals could we find
A question of this sort before today?
Could any person demonstrate someway
That every man might have an equal part, 2225
Whether in sound or savor, of a fart?
That proud and madcap churl, damned be his face!
Look, sirs,” the lord said, “God bring him disgrace!
Who’s ever heard of such a thing till now?
To every man alike? Then tell me how! 2230
It can’t be done, no possibility.
God grant that foolish churl ill-fated be!
The rumbling of a fart, like every sound,
Is only air reverberating round,
And bit by bit it wastes itself away; 2235
And, by my faith, there is no man can say
If it has been divided equally.
And yet that churl, look how so cleverly
He spoke of such today to my confessor!
I’d say for sure a demon’s his possessor! 2240
Now eat your meat and let the churl go play
Or hang himself and go the devil’s way!”

Words of the lord’s squire, his carver, on
dividing the fart among twelve

Now this lord’s squire was standing at the table
To carve his meat for him, and so was able
To hear each word of all that I’ve related. 2245
“My lord, don’t be displeased,” the squire stated.
“For cloth to make a gown, I’ll tell, Sir Friar,
So that you need not be so full of ire,
How this fart could be shared in equal measure
By each one of your convent, at my pleasure.” 2250
“Tell,” said the lord, “and you shall soon have on
Your gown of cloth, by God and by Saint John!”
“My lord,” he said then, “when the weather’s fair
And there’s no wind, no turbulence of air,
Let’s bring a cartwheel here into the hall. 2255
But count the spokes, be sure it has them all–
They number twelve by common rule. Then bring
Twelve friars to me. You know my reasoning?
Thirteen are in a convent, as I guess,
And this confessor, by his worthiness, 2260
Completes the sum. So twelve of them shall kneel,
As it shall be agreed, right by the wheel,
For every friar a spoke, to which he goes
And firmly at the spoke-end lays his nose.
Your noble confessor shall arch his snub– 2265
And may God save him!–right up by the hub.
And then this churl, his belly stiff and taut
As any tabor, hither shall be brought
And set upon this wheel right off a cart,
Up on the hub, then have him let a fart. 2270
And you shall see, as surely as I live,
By way of proof that is demonstrative,
In equal share the sound will have its stroke,
The stink of it as well, right down each spoke;
Save that this worthy man who’s your confessor, 2275
So honorable, should not be like those lesser
But rather have first fruit, and so he will.
The friars have a noble custom still
That says the worthiest shall first be served,
And certainly this he has well deserved. 2280
Why, just today he taught us so much good,
While preaching in the pulpit where he stood,
That I for one would like to guarantee
He had first smell of not one fart but three.
Deserving, too, should be his whole convent, 2285
So well he bears himself with holy bent.”
The lord, the lady, all except the friar
Thought Jenkin spoke so well as to inspire
As much as Euclid or Ptolemy.
As for the churl, he spoke with subtlety 2290
And wit, they said, he’d pulled a clever trick,
He wasn’t any fool or lunatic.
And Jenkin’s won himself a brand-new gown.
My tale is done, we’re almost into town.



9. THE SUMMONER’S TALE - GEOFFREY CHAUCER