When that April with his showers sooteThe drought of March hath piercèd to the root And bathèd every vein in such liquor Of which virtúe engendered is the flower; When Zephyrus eke with his sweetè breath Inspirèd hath in every holt and heath The tender croppès, and the youngè sun Hath in the Ram his halfè course y-run, And smallè fowlès maken melodyThat sleepen all the night with open eye (So pricketh them Natúre in their couráges), Then longen folk to go on pilgrimáges, And palmers for to seeken strangè strands To fernè hallows couth in sundry lands, And specially from every shirè's end Of Engèland to Canterbury they wend The holy blissful martyr for to seek, That them hath holpen when that they were sick.
"May God turn every dream to good for us! For to my mind it is a wonder, by the cross, what causes dreams by night or by morning; and why some are fulfilled and some not; why this one is a vision, and this a revelation; why this is one kind of dream, and that one is another, and not the same to everyone; why this one is an illusion and that one is an oracle."
"Lordings," quod he, "now hearkèn for the best, But take it not, I pray you, in disdain. This is the point -- to speakèn short and plain: That each of you to shorten with our way In this viage, shall tellèn talès tway To Canterbury-ward, I mean it so, And homeward he shall tellèn other two Of áventures that whilom have befall."
Experience, though no authorityWere in this world, is right enough for meTo speak of woe that is in marrïage; For, lordings, since I twelve years was of age, (Thankèd be God that is etern alive) Husbands at churchè door I have had five, (If I so often might have wedded be). And all were worthy men in their degree. But me was told certain not long agone is, 10 That since that Christ ne went never but once To wedding, in the Cane of Galilee, That by the same example taught he me, That I ne shouldè wedded be but once.
The double sorwe of Troilus to tellen, That was the king Priamus sone of Troye, In lovinge, how his aventures fellenFro wo to wele, and after out of Ioye, My purpos is, er that I parte fro ye. Thesiphone, thou help me for tendyteThise woful vers, that wepen as I wryte!
A thousand tymes have I herd men telle, That ther is Ioye in heven, and peyne in helle; And I acorde wel that hit is so; But natheles, yit wot I wel also, That ther nis noon dwelling in this contree, That either hath in heven or helle y-be, Ne may of hit non other weyes witen, But as he hath herd seyd, or founde hit writen; For by assay ther may no man hit preve. But god forbede but men should leveWel more thing then men han seen with ye!
The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne, Thassay so hard, so sharp the conquering, The dredful Ioy, that alwey slit so yerne, Al this mene I by love, that my felingAstonyeth with his wonderful worchingSo sore y-wis, that whan I on him thinke, Nat wot I wel wher that I wake or winke.