Best Poems From
General Prologue 17: The Wife of Bath - Geoffrey Chaucer (Forrest Hainline's Minimalist Translation)
A good Wife was there of beside Bath,
But she was somewhat deaf, and that was scathe.
Of cloth making she had such a haunt
She passed them of Ypres and of Ghent.
In all the parish wife was there none
That to the offering before her should go on;
And if they did, certain so wroth was she
That she was out of all charity.
Her coverchiefs full fine were of ground;
I do swear they weighed ten pound
That on a Sunday were upon her head.
Her hose were of fine scarlet red,
Full straight tied, and shoes full moist and new.
Bold was her face, and fair, and red of hew.
She was a worthy woman all her life:
Husbands at church door she had five,
Without them other company in youth -
But there's no need to speak right now.
And thrice had she been at Jerusalem;
She had passed many a strange stream;
At Rome she had been, and at Boulogne,
In Galicia at Saint Jame, and at Cologne.
She could much of wandering by the way.
Gap-toothed was she, truly for to say.
Upon an ambler easily she sat,
Wimpled well, and on her head a hat
As broad as is a buckler or a targe;
A foot-mantle about her hips large,
And on her feet a pair of spurs sharp.
In fellowship well could she laugh and carp.
Of remedies of love she knew per chance,
For she knew of that art the old dance.
© 2009 Forrest Hainline
General Prologue 08: The Friar - Geoffrey Chaucer (Forrest Hainline's Minimalist Translation)
[His palfrey was as brown as is a berry.]
A Friar there was, a wanton and a merry,
A lymytour, a full solemn man.
In all the orders four there is none that can
So much of dalliance and fair language.
He had made full many a marriage
Of young women at his own cost.
Unto his order he was a noble post.
And well beloved and familiar was he
With franklins over all in his country,
And too with worthy women of the town;
For he had power of confession,
And said himself, more than a curate,
For of his order he was licentiate.
Full sweetly heard he confession,
And pleasant was his absolution:
He was an easy man to give penance,
There as he wished to have a good pittance.
For unto a poor order for to give
Is sign that a man is well shrive;
For if he gave, he dared make avaunt,
He knew that a man was repentant;
For many a man so hard is of his heart,
He may not weep, although him sorely smart.
Therefore instead of weeping and prayers
Men must give silver to the poor friars.
His tippet was all stuffed full of knives
And pins, for to give young wives.
And certainly he had a merry note:
Well could he sing and play on a rote;
Of singing he bore outrightly the prize.
His neck white was as the flour-de-lys;
Thereto he strong was as a champion.
He knew the taverns well in every town
And every hosteler and tappester,
Better than a lazar or a beggester,
For unto such a worthy man as he
Accorded not, as by his faculty,
To have with sick lazars acquaintance.
It is not honest, it may not advance,
For to deal with no such poraille,
But all with rich and sellers of vitaille.
And over all, there as profit should arise,
Courteous he was and lowly of service;
Theres no man nowhere so virtuous.
He was the best beggar in his house;
(And gave a certain fee for the grant ;)
None of his brethren came there in his haunt;
For though a widow had not a shoe,
So pleasant was his In principio,
Yet would he have a farthing, ere he went.
His purchase was well better than his rent.
And rage he could, as it were right a whelp.
In love days there could he much help,
For there he was not like a cloisterer
With a threadbare cope, as is a poor scholar,
But he was like a master or a pope.
Of double worsted was his semicope,
That rounded as a bell out of the press.
Somewhat he lisped, for his wantonness,
To make his English sweet upon his tongue;
And in his harping, when that he had sung,
His eyes twinkled in his head aright
As do the stars in the frosty night.
This worthy lymytour was called Huberd.
[A Merchant was there with a forked beard, ]
© 2008 Forrest Hainline
General Prologue 18: The Parson - Geoffrey Chaucer (Forrest Hainline's Minimalist Translation)
A good man was there of religion,
And was a poor Parson of a town,
But rich he was of holy thought and work.
He was also a learned man, a clerk,
That Christs Gospel truly would preach;
His parishioners devoutly would he teach.
Benign he was and wonder diligent,
And in adversity full patient,
And such he was proved oft sithe.
Full loathe was he to curse for his tithes,
But rather would he give, out of doubt,
Unto his poor parishioners about
Of his offering and too of his substance.
He could in little things have sufficience.
Wide was his parish, and houses far asonder,
But he left none out, for rain nor thunder,
In sickness nor in mischief to visit
The farthest in his parish, much and light,
Upon his feet, and in his hand a stave.
This nobel example to his sheep he gave,
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught.
Out of the Gospel he those words caught,
And this figure he added also thereto,
That if gold rust, what shall iron do?
For if a priest be foul, on whom we trust,
No wonder is a lewd man to rust;
And shame it is if a priest take keep,
A shitten shepherd and a clean sheep.
Well ought a priest example for to give,
By his cleanness, how that his sheep should live.
He set not his benefice to hire
And let his sheep encumbered in the mire
And ran to London unto Saint Pauls
To seek him a chantry for souls,
Or with a brotherhood to be withhold;
But dwelt at home, and kept well his fold,
So that the wolf not make it miscarry;
He was a shepherd and not a mercenary.
And though he holy were and virtuous,
He was to sinful men not despitous,
Nor of his speech dangerous nor digne,
But in his teaching discreet and benign.
To draw folk to heaven by fairness,
By good example, that was his business.
But if were any person obstinate,
What so he were of high or low estate,
Him would he snib him sharply for the nonce.
A better priest I trust that nowhere none is.
He waited after no pomp and reverence,
Nor maked him a spiced conscience,
But Christs lore and his apostles twelve
He taught; but first he followed it himself.
© 2009 Forrest Hainline
Death brings us closer
Calls together the scattered
Death renews our bonds