The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story Time Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
I trowe ye studie aboute som sophyme;
But Salamon seith 'every thyng hath tyme.'
(Clerk's Prologue 5 – 6)
There's an interesting echo of the poem's "a time for everything" beginning. The Host is emphatic about the fact that a pilgrimage is not the time for study. Yet the Host's conviction that a pilgrimage is the time for stories is a bit puzzling. Isn't a pilgrimage really a time for prayer?
Though I by ordre telle nat thise thynges,
Be it of popes, emperours, or kynges,
After hir ages, as men writen fynde,
But tellen hem som bifore and som bihynde,
As it now comth unto my remembraunce,
Have me excusen of myn ignoraunce.
(Monk's Prologue 97 – 102)
The Monk's apology for failing to tell his stories in the correct historical order echoes Chaucer's apology in the General Prologue for failing to describe the pilgrims in order of degree. In both cases, the authors are upsetting order in the name of artistic license, but claiming a lack of wit or memory as their excuse.
By that the Maunciple hadde his tale al ended,
The sonne fro the south lyne was descended
So lowe that he nas nat, to my sighte,
Degrees nyne and twenty as in highte.
Four of the clokke it was tho, as I gesse
(Parson's Prologue 1 – 5 & ff)
Like he does in the Man of Law's Introduction, Chaucer shows off his knowledge of the astrolabe and calculating the time precisely based upon the position of the sun. This moment is also a neat match-up of time in the story with time in the poem: the poem is almost over for us, and the day is almost over for the pilgrims.