Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out



									The Pardoner’s Tale
                                                            He said he had a piece of the very sail
                                                            That good Saint Peter had when he sailed
                                                            On the sea, until Jesus took him.
Canterbury Tales was a poem written an Englishman
                                                            He had a brass cross set with stones,
named Chaucer. The main characters are pilgrims
                                                            And in a bottle he had some pig's bones.
making a journey to Canterbury to the shrine of Thomas
                                                            But with these relics, when he came upon
Becket. These pilgrims include a Knight, his son the
                                                            A poor country parson, then this pardoner
Squire, the Knight's Yeoman (farmer who owns his own
                                                            In that one day earned more money
land), a Prioress (head of a convent), a Second Nun, a
                                                            Than the poor parson could in two months attain.
Monk, a Friar (a monk who has no material possessions
                                                            And thus, with flattery and suchlike tricks,
and begs for food), a Merchant, a Clerk, a Man of Law, a
                                                            He made monkeys of the parson and other people.
Franklin (a commoner who owns a great deal of
                                                            But yet, to tell the whole truth,
property), a Weaver, a Dyer, a Carpenter, a Tapestry-
                                                            He was, in church, a fine priest.
Maker, a Haberdasher (sells furniture and clothes), a
                                                            Well could he read a lesson or a story,
Cook, a Shipman, a Physician, a Parson (a priest in
                                                            But best of all he sang an offertory3;
charge of a parish), a Miller, a Manciple (buys food and
                                                            For well he knew that when that song was sung,
supplies for a group of lawyers in London), a Reeve, a
                                                            Then might he preach, and all with polished tongue.
Summoner (summons people to church courts), a
                                                            To win some silver, as he was very able to do;
Pardoner, the Wife of Bath (woman who has been
                                                            Therefore he sang so merrily and so loud.
married five times), and Chaucer himself. These
travelers, who stop at the Tabard Inn, decide to tell
stories to pass their time on the way to Canterbury. The    THE WORDS OF THE HOST TO THE
Host of the Tabard Inn sets the rules for the tales. Each   PARDONER
of the pilgrims will tell two stories on the way to         The Host is the innkeeper of The Tabard, Harry Bailly.
Canterbury, and two stories on the return trip. The Host    You, fair friend, you pardoner," he said,
will decide the best of the tales.                          "Tell us some pleasant tale or jokes, anon."
PROLOGUE TO CANTERBURY TALES                                "It shall be done," said he, "by Saint Ronan!
 With him there rode a gentle pardoner                      But first," he said, "just here, at this ale-stake (tavern
Of Rouncival, the Summoner‟s friend and companion;          sign),
Straight from the court of Rome had journeyed he.           I will both drink and eat a bite of cake."
Loudly he sang "Come hither, love, to me,"                  But right away these gentle folk began to cry:
The summoner accompanying him powerfully;                   "No, don‟t let him tell of ribaldry4;
There was never horn that made half so great a sound.       Tell us some moral thing, that we may learn
This pardoner had hair as yellow as wax,                    Wisdom, and then we will gladly listen."
But it hung as loosely as does a hank of flax;              "I grant it, certainly," said he, "but I must think
In wisps it hung down in such locks as he'd on his head,    Up some decent tale the while I drink."
And with these locks he his shoulders overspread;
But they lay thinly, and stringy, one by one.               THE PROLOGUE TO THE
But as to his hood, he had none,
Though it was packed in a bag all the while.
                                                            PARDONER'S TALE
It seemed to him he rode in the latest style,               Radix malorum est Cupiditas: Ad Thimotheum, sexto.
Disheveled, except for his cap, his head all bare.          “Greed is the root of all evil”: Paul's Epistle to Timothy,
His shiny eyes just like those of a hare.                   chapter 6
He had a fine veronica1 sewed to cap.
His bag lay before him in his lap,                          "Masters," said he, "in churches, when I preach,
Stuffed full of pardons brought hot from Rome.              I am at pains that all shall hear my speech,
A voice he had that bleated like a goat.                    And ring it out as roundly as a bell,
No beard had he, nor should he ever have,                   For I know all by heart the thing I tell.
For smooth his face as if he had just had a shave;          My theme is always one, and ever was:
I think he was a gelding2 or a mare.                        'Radix malorum est cupiditas.' (Greed is the root of all
But in his craft, from Berwick to Ware,                     evil)
There was no such pardoner in any place.                    "First I announce the place from whence I have come,
For in his bag he had a pillowcase                          And then I show my pardons, all and some.
Which, he said, was Mary‟s veil:
                                                              Song at the point of the liturgy when bread and wine are offered to
  A cloth bearing a representation of Jesus’ face.          God.
2                                                           4
  A castrated horse                                           Vulgar, lewdly humorous language or joking
The papal seal on my letter of authorization,               I preach, as you have heard me say before,
I show that first, my safety to protect,                    And tell a hundred other falsehoods, or more.
And then no man's so bold, no priest nor clerk,             Then I take pains to stretch out my neck,
As to hinder me in Christ's holy work;                      And nod east and west at the people,
And after that I tell my tales to all.                      As does a dove that's sitting on a barn.
Indulgences of pope and cardinal,                           With my hands and my tongue go so fast
Of patriarch and bishop, these I do                         That it's a joy to see my busy activity.
Show, and in Latin speak some words, a few,                 I preach of avarice and of all such wickedness
To give color and flavor to my sermoning                    In order to make them give freely
And stir men to devotion, marveling.                        Their pennies, which mainly come to me.
Then show I forth my hollow crystal-stones,                 For my intention is only money to win,
Which are crammed full of rags and of bones;                And not at all for punishment of sin.
Relics are these, as they think, every one.                 I don‟t care, when they are dead,
Then I've mounted in brass a shoulder bone                  If their souls go picking blackberries!
Which came out of a holy Hebrew's sheep.                    For, certainly, there's many a sermon that comes
'Good men,' say I, „take heed of my words;                  From evil intention, as one knows;
If this bone is washed in any well,                         Some are intended for folks' pleasure and for flattery,
Then if a cow, calf, sheep, or ox should swell              To get ahead by hypocrisy,
From eating a snake or being bitten by one,                 And some are for vanity, and some for hate.
Take water of that well and wash its tongue,                For, when I dare not otherwise debate,
And it will be well at once; and furthermore,               Then do I sharpen well my tongue and sting
Of pox and scab and every other sore                        My opponent in sermons, and upon him fling
Shall every sheep be healed that of this well               My lies and defamations, if but he
Drinks but one draught; take heed of what I tell.           Has offended my brethren or- much worse- wronged me.
And if the man that owns the beasts,                        For though I do not mention his proper name,
Shall every week, and that before cock-crow,                Men know whom I refer to, all the same,
And before breakfast, drink from the well a draught,        By signs I make and other circumstances.
As this holy Jew taught our ancestors in his priestcraft,   Thus I repay those who do displease us.
His beasts and all his stock shall multiply.                Thus spit I out my venom under color
And, good sirs, it's a cure for jealousy;                   Of holiness, to seem both good and true.
For though a man be fallen in jealous rage,                 "But briefly I‟ll explain my intention;
Let one make of this water his soup                         I preach for no reason except covetousness.
And nevermore shall he his wife mistrust,                   For at my theme is still, and ever was,
Though he may know the truth of her sin and lust,           'Radix malorum est cupiditas.'
Even though she'd taken as lovers two priests, or three.    Thus can I preach against the same vice
"'Here is a mitten, too, that you may see.                  Which I practice, and that is avarice.
Who puts his hand in this mitten,                           But though myself be guilty of that sin,
He shall have increased harvest of his grain,               Yet I can cause these other folk to turn
Be it of wheat or oats,                                     From avarice and really to repent.
Just so he offers pennies or offers fourpence.              But that is not my principal intent.
"'Good men and women, one thing I warn you.                 I preach no sermon, except for covetousness;
If any man be here in church right now                      This should be enough of that, though, as I guess.
That's done a sin so horrible that he                       "Then do I cite examples, many a one,
Dare not, for shame, of that sin confess to it,             Out of old stories and of time long gone,
Or any woman, be she young or old,                          For ignorant people all love old stories;
That's made her husband into a cuckold,                     Such things they can easily repeat and remember.
Such folk shall have no power and no grace                  What? Think you that because I'm good at preaching
To make an offering to my relics in this place.             And win me gold and silver by my teaching
But whoso finds himself without such blame,                 I'll live intentionally in poverty?
He will come up and offer, in God's name,                   No, no, that's never been my policy!
And I'll absolve him by authority                           For I will preach and beg in various lands;
That has, by papal bull, been granted to me.'               I will not work and labor with my hands,
"By this trick have I won, year after year,                 Nor by weaving baskets and trying to live thereby,
A hundred marks, since I've been pardoner.                  Because I will not beg in vain, say I.
I stand up like a scholar in my pulpit,                     I will imitate none of the apostles;
And when the ignorant people all do sit,                    I will have money, wool, and cheese, and wheat,
Even if it is given by the poorest page,              By God, I hope that I can tell something
Or by the poorest widow in village,                   That shall, with good reason, be to your liking.
And though her children die of famine.                For though I am myself a vicious man,
Nay! I will drink good liquor of the vine             Yet I will tell a moral tale, and can,
And have a pretty wench in every town.                The type I‟m accustomed to preach for profit.
But listen, masters, to my conclusion:                Now hold your peace! my tale I will begin."
Your wish is that I tell you all a tale.
Now that I've had a drink of strong ale,              THE PARDONER'S TALE
In Flanders, once, there was a company                He was in Paradise; but then when he
Of young companions given to folly,                   Ate of the fruit forbidden of the tree,
Riotous living and gambling, brothels and taverns;    He was at once cast out to woe and pain.
And, to the music of harps, lutes, guitars,           O gluttony, of you we may complain!
They danced and played at dice both day and night.    Oh, if a man knew how many maladies
And also ate and drank more than they could handle,   Follow from excess and on gluttonies,
And thus they offered the devil's sacrifice           Surely he would be then more moderate
Within that devil's temple, in a wicked way,          In diet, and at table more sedate.
through abominable overindulgence.                    Alas! The throat so short, the sensitive mouth,
So damnable were their oaths and so profane           Make men labor east and west and north and south,
That it was terrible to hear them swear;              In earth, in air, in water
Our Blessed Saviour's Body they did to pieces tear;   To get a glutton dainty meat and drink!
They thought the Jews had torn Him not enough;        Of this same matter Paul does wisely treat:
And each of them at laughed at the others' sins.      "Meat for the belly and belly for the meat:
Then entered dancing-girls of ill repute,             And both shall God destroy," as Paul does say.
Graceful and slim, and girls who sold fruit,          Alas! It is a foul thing, by my faith,
Harpers and bawds5 and women selling cake,            To say this word, and fouler is the deed,
Who do their work for the Devil's sake,               When man so guzzles of the wine both white and red
To kindle and blow the fire of lechery,               That his own throat he makes his privy6,
Which is so closely joined with gluttony;             Because of this cursed overindulgence.
I call on holy writ, now, as my witness               The apostle, weeping, says most piteously:
That lust comes from wine and drunkenness.            "For many walk, of whom I've told you, aye,
Look how the drunken Lot unnaturally                  Weeping I tell you once again they're scum,
Lay with his two daughters, unwittingly;              For they are foes of Christ and of the Cross,
So drunk he was he knew not what he was doing.        Whose end is death, whose belly is their god."
Herod, as his story's clearly told,                   O gut! O belly! O you stinking bag,
When full of wine and merry at a feast,               Filled full of dung and corruption!
Sitting his table gave the order                      At either end of you foul is the sound.
To slay John Baptist, who was entirely guiltless.     How much cost and labor it takes to provide
Seneca has a good saying too, doubtless;              Your food! These cooks, they pound and strain and
He says there is no difference he can find            grind;
Between a man that's quite out of his mind            and turn Substance to accident with fire,
And one that's drunken, except perhaps                All to fulfill your gluttonous desire!
That when madness occurs in a bad natured man,        Out of the hard bones knock they
It lasts longer than does drunkenness.                The marrow, for they throw nothing away
O gluttony; full of all wickedness,                   That may go through the gullet soft and sweet;
O first cause of confusion to us all,                 With spices, of leaf, bark, root, replete
Origin of damnation and our fall,                     Shall the sauces be made for your delight,
Until Christ redeemed us with His blood again!        To whet yet a keener appetite.
Behold how dearly, to be brief and plain,             But truly, he that such delights entice
This accursed villainy was paid for;                  Is dead while he wallows in this vice.
This whole world was corrupted by gluttony!           A lecherous thing is wine, and drunkenness
Adam our father, and his wife also,                   Is full of quarrelling and of wretchedness.
Were driven from Paradise to labor and to woe         O drunken man, disfigured is your face,
Because of that vice, no doubt; indeed                Sour is your breath, foul are you to embrace,
For while that Adam fasted, as I read,                And through your drunken nose there comes a sound

5                                                     6
    A woman who keeps a brothel                           toilet
As if you snored out "Samson, Samson";                  He left again to return to his country,
And yet God knows that Samson drank no wine.            And said: "I will not lose my good name;
You fall down as if you were a stuck pig;               Nor will I take upon me such a great shame
Your tongue is loose, your self-respect lost;           As to ally you with common gamblers.
For drunkenness is truly the tomb                       Send, if you will, other ambassadors;
Of a man‟s mind and discretion.                         For, I swear, I'd rather die
When strong drink dominates a man                       Than to see you and the gamblers ally.
He cannot keep secrets – no fear that he can!           For you that are so famous for your honors
Now guard yourself from the white and from the red,     Shall never ally yourselves with gamblers
And especially from the white wine grown at Lepe        By my will, or by a treaty that I have made."
That is for sale in Fish Street or in Cheapside.        This is what the wise philosopher said.
This wine of Spain, it mixes craftily                   Let us look, then, at King Demetrius.
With other wines that happen to be near by,             The king of Parthia, as the book tells us,
From which there rise such fumes, as well may be,       Sent Demetrius a pair of golden dice, in scorn,
That when a man has drunk two drinks, or three,         Because he had practiced gambling before;
And thinks himself to be at home in Cheapside,          Wherefore the Parthian marked his reputation down
He finds that he's in Spain, and right at Lepe,         As valueless despite Demetrius‟ wide renown.
Not at Rochelle nor at Bordeaux town,                   Great lords may find other forms of amusement
And then will he snore out "Samson, Samson."            Decent enough to while the time away.
But listen, masters, to one fact, I pray:               Now will I speak of oaths both false and great
The greatest deeds of all, I may say,                   A word or two, as the old books treat.
In the victories in the Old Testament,                  Hard swearing is an abominable thing,
By the True God, Who is omnipotent,                     And false swearing is even more reprehensible.
Were gained by abstinence and after prayer:             The High God forbade swearing at all,
Look in the Bible, you may learn this there.            Witness Matthew; but also
Look how Attila, the mighty conqueror,                  Of swearing says the holy Jeremiah,
Died in his sleep, in shame and dishonor,               "Thou shalt not swear in vain, to be a liar,
And bleeding at the nose from drunkenness;              But swear in judgment and in righteousness";
A great captain should live in soberness.               But idle swearing is a wickedness.
Above all this, consider well                           Behold, in the first table of the Law,
What was commanded to Lemuel-                           That should be honored as God's without flaw,
Not Samuel, but Lemuel, say I-                          This second one of His commandments says plain:
The Bible's words you cannot deny:                      "Thou shalt not take the Lord God's name in vain."
Drinking by those who administer justice is a vice.     Lo, He forbids us such swearing
No more of this, for what has been said will suffice.   Before homicide or many a wicked thing;
And now that I have told of gluttony,                   I say that is God‟s order and thus it stands;
I'll warn you of gambling, showing you thereby          Anyone who knows the commandments understands
Gambling is the mother of lies,                         That the great second law of God is that.
And of perjury, and of deceit,                          Moreover, I will tell you full and flat,
And of Blaspheming Christ, murder, and the waste        That vengeance shall not forsake the house
Of time and money; furthermore,                         of the man who is too outrageous in his oaths.
It is a shame and a dishonor,                           "By God's own precious heart, and by His nails,
To be known as a common gambler.                        And by the blood of Christ that's now at Hales7,
The higher one is in rank,                              Seven is my chance, and yours is five and three!"
The more he's disgraced and abandoned.                  "By God's good arms, if you do cheat,
And if a prince gambles                                 This dagger shall go through your heart!"
In his government and policy,                           Such is the fruit that comes of the two cursed bones:
He loses in the opinion of men                          Perjury, anger, cheating, homicide.
His good reputation, and finds it not again.            Now for the love of Christ, Who for us died,
Chilon, who was a wise ambassador,                      Forgo this swearing oaths, both great and small;
Was sent to Corinth, all in great honor,                But, sirs, now will I tell to you my tale.
From Sparta, to make alliance.
And when he came, he found there, by chance,            Now these three rakes8, of which I will tell,
All of the greatest people of the land                  Long before morning service was begun by any bell,
Gambling there on every hand.
Therefore, as soon as might be,                         7
                                                            An abbey
                                                            An immoral person
Were sitting in a tavern to drink;                           Why are you all wrapped up, except your face?
And as they sat they heard a small bell clink                Why do you live so long in such old age?"
Before a corpse which was being carried to its grave;        This ancient man looked upon his face
 one of them called to his serving boy:                      And replied: "Because I cannot find
"Go run," said he, "and ask them civilly                     A man even if I walked from here to India,
What corpse it is that's just now passing by,                Either in town or country who'll agree
And see that you report the man's name correctly."           To give his youth in exchange for my age;
"Sir," said the boy, "there is no need for all that.         And therefore I must keep my old age still,
I learned it, before you came here, full two hours;          As long as it is God's will.
He was, indeed, an old companion of yours;                   Alas! Not even Death will take my life;
And he was slain, suddenly, last night,                      So I walk like a restless prisoner,
When drunk, as he sat on his bench upright;                  And on the ground, which is my mother's gate,
An unseen thief, called Death, came stalking by,             I knock with my staff both early and late,
Who in this country makes all the people die,                And cry: 'O my dear mother, let me in!
And with his spear he split his heart in two                 Lo, how I'm wasted, flesh and blood and skin!
And went his way and made no more ado.                       Alas! When shall my bones come to their rest?
He's slain a thousand with this pestilence;                  Mother, with you I would gladly exchange my chest,
And, master, before you come into his presence,              which has been in my chamber such a long time,
It seems to me it is necessary                               For a haircloth rag to wrap me in!'
To be wary of such an adversary:                             But yet to me she will not do me that favor,
Always be ready to meet him.                                 And thus all pale and withered is my face.
My mother taught me this, I say no more."                    "But, sirs, it is not courteous of you
"By holy Mary," said the innkeeper,                          To speak to an old man so rudely,
"The boy speaks truth, for Death has slain, this year,       Unless he injures you by word or deed.
A mile or more away, in a large village,                     In holy writ you may read
Both man and woman, child and laborer and page.              'Before an old man, gray upon his head,
I think his home must be there;                              You should arise.' Which I advise you read,
It would be wise to be wary,                                 Nor to do an old man any harm
Before he does you some harm."                               Any more than you would wish others to do to you
"Yea, by God's arms!" exclaimed the rake,                    In your old age, if you live so long;
"Is it so dangerous, then, this Death to meet?               And God be with you, whether you walk or ride.
I'll seek him in the road and in the street,                 I must pass on now where I have to go."
As I now vow to God's own noble bones!                       "Nay, old rogue, by God it shall not be so,"
Listen, comrades, we're all three of one mind;               Cried another of the gamblers then;
Let each of us hold up his hand to other                     "You shall not leave so easily, by Saint John!
And each of us become the others‟ brother,                   You spoke just now of that same traitor Death,
And we three will go slay this traitor Death;                Who in this country stops our good friends' breath.
He shall be slain who's stopped so many a breath,            Hear my oath, since you are his spy,
By God's great dignity, before it be night."                 Tell where he is or you shall regret it, aye
Together did these three pledge their words of honor         By God and by the holy Sacrament!
To live and die, each of them for the other,                 Indeed you must be, with this Death, intent
As if he were his very own blood brother.                    To slay all us young people, you false thief."
And up they started, drunken, in this rage,                  "Now, sirs," said he, "if you're so eager
And forth they went, and towards that village                To find Death, turn up this crooked path,
Which the innkeeper had spoken of before.                    For I left him in that grove, by my faith,
And so, with many a grisly oath, they swore                  Under a tree, and there he will stay;
And they tore Christ‟s blessed body to pieces-               Your boasting will not make him hide himself at all.
"Death shall be dead if we find where he went."              Do you see that oak? You will find him right there.
When they had gone not fully half a mile,                    May God, Who redeemed all humankind, save you
Just as they were about to step over a stile9,               And mend your ways!"- thus said this ancient man.
A poor old man they did meet.                                And every one of the three rakes ran
This ancient man meekly greeted them,                        Until he came to that tree; and there they found,
And said thus: "Now, lords, God protect you!'                Florins10 of fine gold, new-minted, round,
The one that was most insolent of these three                Nearly eight bushels full, or so they thought.
Replied to him: "What, fellow, bad luck to you!              Then they did not seek Death any longer,
9                                                            10
    A set or series of steps for crossing a fence or wall.        Coins
But each of them was so glad at the sight,                The while you struggle with him as if in a game,
Because the florins were so fair and bright,              And with your dagger see to it that you do the same;
That they all sat down by this precious hoard.            And then all this gold shall divided be,
The worst of them was the first to speak a word.          My dear friend, just between you and me;
"Brothers," said he, "listen to what I say;               Then we will both fulfill our every wish
My wits are keen, although I joke and play.               And play at dice all that we want."
This treasure here Fortune to us has given                And thus these two rogues agreed, that day,
So that we may live our lives with mirth and jollity,     To slay the third, as you have heard me say.
And easily as it's come, so will we spend it.             This youngest rogue who'd gone into the town,
Eh! By God's honor! Who would have guessed,               kept revolving in his heart
Today, that we would have such good luck?                 The beauty of those florins new and bright.
But if this gold is to be carried from this place         "O Lord," thought he, "if only I might
Home to my house, or if you will, to yours-               Have all this treasure to myself alone,
For well we know that all this gold is ours-              There is no man living beneath the throne
Then we should be as happy as can be.                     Of God that should live as merrily as I."
But certainly this cannot be done by day;                 And at the last the Devil, our enemy,
For men would say that we were bold thieves,              Put in his thought that he should buy poison
And we'd, for our own treasure, hang.                     With which he might kill both his comrades,
This treasure must be carried home by night               The Devil found him in such wicked state,
All cunningly and slyly, out of sight.                    that he had leave to bring him to sorrow;
So I propose that we all draw lots                        For it was plainly the man's intent
And let's see where the lot will fall;                    To kill them both and never to repent.
And he whose lot it is shall cheerfully                   And on he went, no longer would he tarry,
Run to town at once, and to the mart,                     Into the town, to an apothecary,
And bring us bread and wine here, secretly.               And asked of him that he'd prepare and sell
And two of us shall guard, right cunningly,               Some poison for his rats, and some as well
This treasure well; and if he does not tarry,             For a polecat that in his yard
When it is night we'll all the treasure carry             had slain his capons11,
Wherever we all agree is best."                           And he would be glad to get rid of, if he might,
The speaker brought the straws in his fist                The vermin that had brought destruction on him by
And told them to draw and see where the lot would fall;   night.
And it fell to the youngest of them all;                  The apothecary said: "And you shall have
And so, he went of to the town at once.                   Such a poison that, as God may save my soul,
And just as soon as he was gone,                          In this world there is no living creature
The first one spoke thus to the other:                    Which, if it eats or drinks of this mixture
"You know that you are my own sworn brother,              No more that the amount of a grain of wheat,
So I am about to tell you something to your advantage.    That shall not a sudden death meet;
You know that our comrade is gone;                        Yes, he shall die, and in less time
And here is gold, and plenty of it,                       Than you require to walk but one short mile;
That's to be divided among us three.                      This poison is so violent and strong."
Nevertheless, if I could manage it so                     This wicked man the poison took along
That it be divided only by us two,                        With him boxed up, and then he ran
Wouldn‟t I have done you a friendly turn?"                To the next street, to a man,
The other said: "Well, now, how can that be?              And from him borrowed three large bottles;
He knows that the gold is with us two.                    And into two his he poured his poison;
What shall we say to him? What shall we do?"              The third one he kept clean for his own drink.
"Will you keep a secret?" asked the first rogue,          For he planned to work all night
"And I will tell you in a few words,                      Carrying the florins away from that place.
What we must do, and how to bring it about."              And when this rogue, bad luck to him,
"Agreed," replied the other, "Never doubt,                Had filled with wine his three large bottles,
That, I swear, I will not betray you."                    Then he returned again to his comrades.
"Now," said the first, "we're two, and I dare say         What need is there to preach about it more?
The two of us are stronger than one.                      For exactly as they had planned his death before,
Watch when he sits, and soon as that is done              Just so they murdered him, and that at once.
Get up, as if you wanted to play a prank on him;
And I will stab him through from one side to the other,   11
                                                             A male chicken castrated when young to improve the quality of its
                                                          flesh for food
And when the thing was done, the first one said:                       To give you absolution as you ride,
"Now let us sit and drink and be merry,                                For any occasions which may arise.
And afterward we will his body bury."                                  Perchance one or two of you may fall off of a horse,
And as he spoke, he took one bottle of the three                       Breaking his neck, and it might well be you.
In which the poison happened to be                                     See what insurance it is for all
And he drank and gave his comrade a drink also,                        That I within your company did fall,
For which, and that soon, both lay dead.                               Since I can absolve you, both the great and less,
I feel quite sure that Avicenna12                                      When your soul passes from your body, as I guess.
Within the sections of his Canon never                                 I recommend that our Host here should begin,
Wrote down more certain signs of poisoning                             For he is most enveloped in sin.
Than these two wretches showed at their ending.                        Come forth, sir Host, and make the first offering now,
Thus the two murderers ended in woe;                                   And you shall kiss the relics, every one,
And the treacherous poisoner also.                                     Yes, for a silver coin! Unbuckle now your purse."
O cursed sin, full of evil!                                            "Nay, nay," said the Host, "I would rather have Christ's
O treacherous homicide! O wickedness!                                  curse!
O gluttony, lechery, and gambling!                                     It shall not be," said he, "as long as I have hope for
O villainous blasphemer of Christ,                                     riches,
With great oaths, from habit and pride!                                Why, you would have me kiss your old breeches,
Alas! Mankind, how may it happen                                       And swear they were the relics of a saint,
That to your dear Creator, Who made you,                               Though with your excrement they were dabbed like
And redeemed you with his precious blood,                              paint.
You are so false and so unkind, alas!                                  By the cross of Saint Helen found in Holy Land,
Now, good men, God forgive you each sin,                               I wish I had your testicles in my hand
And keep you from the sin of avarice.                                  Instead of relics in a reliquary13;
My holy pardon can save you all,                                       Let them be cut off, and them I'll help you carry;
Provided you offer me gold or silver coins,                            They shall be enshrined within a hog's fat turd."
Or else silver brooches, spoons or rings.                              This pardoner, he answered not a word;
Bow down your heads before this holy bull!                             He was so angry that he wouldn‟t sat anything.
Come up, you wives, and offer some of your wool!                       "Now," said our Host, "I won‟t joke with you anymore,
Your names I'll enter on my roll, at once,                             nor any other angry man."
And into Heaven's bliss you'll go, each one.                           But at this point the worthy knight began,
For I'll absolve you, by my high power,                                When that he saw how all the people did laugh:
Those of you who make an offering, I will make as clean                "No more of this, for it's gone far enough;
As when you were born.                                                 Sir pardoner, be glad and merry here;
And lo, sirs, thus I preach.                                           And you, sir Host, who are to me so dear,
And Jesus Christ, who is physician of our souls,                       I beg you that you kiss the pardoner.
Grant that you each his pardon receive;                                And, pardoner, I pray you to draw near,
For that is best; I will not you deceive.                              And as we did before, let's laugh and play."
                                                                       And then they kissed and rode forth on their way

But, sirs, one thing forgot I in my tale;
I've relics in my pouch that cannot fail,
As good as any man in England ever saw, I hope,
Which were given to me out of kindness by the Pope.
If any of you wish, out of devotion,
to make an offering and have my absolution,
Come forth, and kneel down here,
And humbly you'll receive my full pardon;
Or else take a pardon as you go on your way,
All new and fresh at the end of every mile,
Provided that you offer again and again
More gold and silver, all good coins and genuine.
It is an honor to everyone here
That you have a competent pardoner

12                                                                     13
  Persian physician and philosopher noted for his Canon of Medicine,    A receptacle, such as a coffer or shrine, for keeping or displaying
a standard medical textbook used in Europe until the 17th century.     sacred relics

To top