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CHAUCER, Geoffey

Canterbury Tales
What is this world? what asketh men to have?

Now with his love, now in his colde grave

Allone, withouten any compaignye.

That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy;

her way of smiling was unaffected and quiet;

Hire gretteste ooth was but by Seinte Loy;

Her cursing was only by St. Eligius;

And she was cleped madame Eglentyne.

And she was called Madam Eglantyne.

Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne,

She sang divine service very well,

Entuned in hir nose ful semely;

In a very seemly manner intoned through her nose;

And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,

And she spoke French skilfully and and elegantly,

After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe,

In the manner of Stratford upon Avon

For Frenssh of Parys was to hire unknowe.

For the French of Paris was unknown to her.

At mete wel ytaught was she with alle;

At dinner she was well-mannered indeed;

She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle,

She did not let a morsel fall from her lips,

Ne wette hir fyngres in hir sauce depe;

Nor dipped her fingers in her sauce too deep;

Wel koude she carie a morsel and wel kepe

She knew well how to carry a morsel and take good care

That no drope ne fille upon hire brest.

that not a single drop should fall on her breast.

In curtesie was set ful muchel hir lest.

For courtliness she had a special zest.

Hir over-lippe wyped she so clene

She wiped her upper lip so clean

That in hir coppe ther was no ferthyng sene

that in her cup there was not a speck of grease to be seen

Of grece, whan she dronken hadde hir draughte.

when she had taken a sip.

Ful semely after hir mete she raughte.

Quite elegantly she reached for her food.

And sikerly she was of greet desport,

And truly she was of excellent deportment,

And ful plesaunt, and amyable of port,

and very entertaining, and friendly in her manner,

And peyned hire to countrefete cheere

And took pains to imitate the manners

Of court, and to been estatlich of manere,

of court, and to be dignified in behaviour,

And to ben holden digne of reverence

And to be seen as worthy of respect

But for to speken of hire conscience,

But to speak of her sensibility,

She was so charitable and so pitous

she was so charitable and so compassionate

She wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous

she would cry if she saw a mouse

Kaught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde.

caught in a trap, if it was dead or bleeding

Of smale houndes hadde she that she fedde

she had small dogs, which she fed

With rosted flessh, or milk and wastel-breed.

with roasted meat, or milk and fine white bread

But soore wepte she if oon of hem were deed,

But she wept bitterly if one of them was dead

Or if men smoot it with a yerde smerte;

or if anyone beat it painfully with a stick;

And al was conscience and tendre herte.

She was full of sensibility and tenderness.

Ful semyly hir wympul pynched was,

Her veil was pleated in a most seemly way,

Hir nose tretys, hir eyen greye as glas,

her nose well-formed, her eyes grey as glass;

Hir mouth ful smal, and therto softe and reed.

Her mouth was very small, and moreover soft and red.

But sikerly she hadde a fair forheed;

But certainly she had a beautiful forehead;

It was almoost a spanne brood, I trowe;

it was almost a span (seven to nine inches) wide, I believe;

For, hardily, she was nat undergrowe.

For she was certainly not undersized.

Ful fetys was hir cloke, as I was war.

Her cloak was very elegant, as I noticed.

Of smal coral aboute hire arm she bar

she wore a coral trinket around her arm

A peir of bedes, gauded al with grene,

a set of beads,divided by large green ones,

And theron heng a brooch of gold ful sheene,

and on it hung a brooch of pure bright gold

On which ther was first write a crowned A,

on which there was first an A with a crown on it,

And after Amor vincit omnia.

and after it Amor vincit omnia (Love conquers all.)

Another NONNE with hire hadde she,

she had another nun with her

That was hir chapeleyne, and preestes thre.

who was her secretary, and three priests.

The Miller’s Tale
This Absalom plumped down upon his knees,

And said: "I am a lord in all degrees;

For after this there may be better still

Darling, my sweetest bird, I wait your will."

The window she unbarred, and that in haste.

"Have done," said she, "come on, and do it fast,

Before we're seen by any neighbour's eye."

This Absalom did wipe his mouth all dry;

Dark was the night as pitch, aye dark as coal,

And through the window she put out her hole.

And Absalom no better felt nor worse,

But with his mouth he kissed her naked arse

Right greedily, before he knew of this.

Aback he leapt- it seemed somehow amiss,

For well he knew a woman has no beard;

He'd felt a thing all rough and longish haired,

And said, "Oh fie, alas! What did I do?"

"Teehee!" she laughed, and clapped the, window to;

And Absalom went forth a sorry pace.

"A beard! A beard!" cried clever Nicholas,

"Now by God's corpus, this goes fair and well!