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Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue 23, The Summoner - (Forrest Hainline's Minimalist Translation)

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue 23, The Summoner - (Forrest Hainline's Minimalist Translation)

623 A Summoner was there with us in that place
624 That had a fire-red cherubin's face,
625 For sauceflemed he was, with eyes narrow.
626 As hot he was and lecherous as a sparrow,
627 With scaled brows black, and piled beard.
628 Of his visage children were afeard.
629 There's no quick-silver, litharge, nor brimstone,
630 Borax, ceruse, nor oil of tarter none,
631 No ointment that would cleanse and bite,
632 That him might help of his whelks white,
633 Nor of the knobs sitting on his cheeks.
634 Well loved he garlic, onions, and eek leeks,
635 And for to drink strong wine, red as blood;
636 Then would he speak and cry as he were wood.
637 And when that he well drunk had the wine,
638 Then would he speak no word but Latin.
639 A few terms had he, two or three,
640 That he had learned out of some decree -
641 No wonder is, he heard it all the day;
642 And eek you know well how that a jay
643 Can call out "Walter" as well as can the pope.
644 But whoso could in other things him grope,
645 Then had he spent all his philosophy;
646 Ay "Questio quid juris" would he cry.
647 He was a gentle harlot and a kind;
648 A better fellow should men not find.
649 He would suffer for a quart of wine
650 A good fellow to have his concubine
651 A twelve month, and excuse him at full;
652 Full privily a finch eek could he pull.
653 And if he found anywhere a good fellow,
654 He would teach him to have no awe,
655 In such case of the archdeacon's curse,
656 But if a man's soul were in his purse;
657 For in his purse he should punished be.
658 "Purse is the archdeacon's hell, " said he.
659 But well I know he lied right indeed;
660 Of cursing ought each guilty man him dread,
661 For curse will slay right as absolving save it,
662 And also ware him of a Significavit.
663 In danger had he at his own guise
664 The young girls of the diocese,
665 And knew their counsel, and was all their rede.
666 A garland had he set upon his head,
667 As great as it were for an ale-stake.
668 A buckler had he made him of a cake.

© 2009,2019 Forrest Hainline

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Comments (1)

A good translation, Forrest Hainline. You may like to read my poem, Love And Iust. Thank you.