The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue

BY GEOFFREY CHAUCER

Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury

Whan that Aprille with his shouressoote

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote

And bathed every veyne in swichlicˇur 

Of which vert˙engendred is the flour; 

WhanZephirus eek with his swete breeth 

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth 

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne 

Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne

And smale fowelesmakenmelodye

That slepen al the nyght with open ye

So priketh hem Nat˙re in hircorages, 

Thannelongen folk to goon on pilgrimages, 

And palmeres for to sekenstraunge strondes, 

To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondrylondes; 

And specially, from every shires ende 

Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende

The hoolyblisfulmartir for to seke

That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke

 

Bifil that in that seson on a day, 

In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay, 

Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage 

To Caunterbury with ful devout corage

At nyght were come into that hostelrye 

Welnyne and twenty in a compaignye 

Of sondry folk, by ßventure y-falle 

In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle

That toward Caunterburywoldenryde

The chambres and the stables werenwyde

And wel we werenesedatte beste

And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste

So hadde I spoken with hem everychon, 

That I was of hirfelaweshipe anon, 

And made forward erly for to ryse

To take ourewey, ther as I yow devyse