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A Knyght Fair and Gent

April 1, 2015

The first book ic did rede in Middel Inglish was The Tales of Caunterbvry. Ic did them rede in the summer of min XV yeer. Some of thes tales weren of greter interest and gave more plaisir than otheres, but they did me introduce to the idea that olde literature coude give grete myrthe and eek be leud. That sayd, min gretest memorie is the poems in which Chaucer did make jests of himself.

He in the waast is shape as wel as I;

This were a popet in an arm t’embrace

For any womman, smal and fair of face.

He semeth elvyssh by his contenaunce,

For unto no wight dooth he daliaunce.

But the tale he dooth tell maketh myrthe of knights but with more depthe than other of his tales, an it has alse a different rym.

Listeth, lordes, in good entent,

And I wol telle verrayment

Of mirthe and of solas;

Al of a knyght was fair and gent

In bataille and in tourneyment,

His name was sir Thopas.

Y-born he was in fer contree,

In Flaundres, al biyonde the see,

At Popering, in the place;

His fader was a man ful free,

And lord he was of that contree,

As it was goddes grace.

Sir Thopas wex a doghty swayn,

Whyt was his face as payndemayn,

His lippes rede as rose;

His rode is lyk scarlet in grayn,

And I yow telle in good certayn,

He hadde a semely nose.

His heer, his berd was lyk saffroun,

That to his girdel raughte adoun;

His shoon of Cordewane.

Of Brugges were his hosen broun,

His robe was of ciclatoun,

That coste many a Iane.

He coude hunte at wilde deer,

And ryde an hauking for riveer,

With grey goshauk on honde;

Ther-to be was a good archeer,

Of wrastling was ther noon his peer,

Ther any ram shal stonde.

And so oon. It has allmost the læste virtu of Chauceres stories and ich think that were the purpos. Chaucer doth end his tale thus:

‘No more of this, for goddes dignitee,’

Quod oure hoste, ‘for thou makest me

So wery of thy verray lewednesse

That, also wisly god my soule blesse,

Myn eres aken of thy drasty speche;

Now swiche a rym the devel I biteche!

This may wel be rym dogerel,’ quod he.

‘Why so?’ quod I, ‘why wiltow lette me

More of my tale than another man,

Sin that it is the beste rym I can?’

Truly ic must rede these tales agayne.

This hast been onne part of Whan That Aprille Day, a celebratioun of all arts ancient and medieval. Ich ne promise nat to write in this tonge agayn until next yeer.


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