The Miller's Prologue
by Forrest Hainline
Here follow the words between the Host and the Miller.
When that the Knight had thus his tale told,
In all the route not was there young nor old
That he not said it was a noble story
And worthy for to draw to memory,
And namely the gentles every one.
Our Host laughed and swore, 'So must I go on,
This goes all right; unbuckled is the male.
Let's see now who shall tell another tale;
For truly the game is well begun.
Now tell you, sir Monk, if that you can,
Somewhat to quite with the Knight's tale.'
The Miller, that for drinking was all pale,
So that uneasy upon his horse he sat,
He would doff neither hood nor hat,
Nor abide no man for his courtesy,
But in Pilate's voice he began to cry,
And swore, 'By arms, and by blood and bones,
I ken a noble tale for the nones,
With which I will now quite the Knight's tale.'
Our Host saw that he was drunk of ale,
And said, 'Abide, Robin, my dear brother;
Some better man shall tell us first another.
Abide, and let us work thriftily.”
'By God's soul, ' said he, 'that will not I;
For I will speak or else go my way.'
Our Host answered, 'Tell on, a devil way!
Thou art a fool; thy wit is overcome.'
'Now hearken, ' said the Miller, 'all and some!
But first I make a protestation
That I am drunk; I know it by my sound.
And therefore if that I misspeak or say,
Blame it the ale of Southwerk, I you pray.
For I will tell a legend and a life
Both of a carpenter and of his wife,
How a clerk has set the wright’s cap.'
The Reeve answered and said, 'Stop thy clap!
Let be thy lewd drunken harlotry.
It is a sin and too a great folly
To slander any man, or him defame,
And too to bring wives in such fame.
Thou may enough of other things say.'
This drunken Miller spoke full soon again
And said, 'Dear brother Oswald,
Who has no wife, he is no cuckold.
But I say not therefore that thou art one;
There be full good wives many a one,
And ever a thousand good against one bad.
That knows you well thyself, but if thou mad.
Why art thou angry with my tale now?
I have a wife, indeed, as well as thou;
Yet would not I, for the oxen in my plow,
Take upon me more than enough,
As deem of myself that I were one;
I will believe well that I am none.
A husband shall not be inquisitive
Of God's privity, nor of his wife.
So he may find God’s plenty there,
Of the remnant he needs not enquire.'
What more I more say, but this Miller
He would not his words for no man forbear,
But told his churl's tale in his manner.
I regret that I shall rehearse it here.
And therefore every gentle wight I pray,
For God's love, deemeth not that I say
Of evil intent, but for I must rehearse
Their tales all, be they better or worse,
Or else falsen some of my matter.
And therefore, whoso list it not to hear,
Turn over the leaf and choose another tale;
For he shall find enough, great and small,
Of storical thing that touches gentilless,
And too morality and holiness.
Blame not me if that you choose amiss.
The Miller is a churl; you know well this.
So was the Reeve too and others more,
And harlotry they told both two.
Advise you, and put me out of blame;
And too men shall not make earnest of game.
©2015 Forrest A. Hainline III