General Prologue 24: The Pardoner - Geoffrey Chaucer (Forrest Hainline's Minimalist Translation)
With him there rode a gentle Pardoner
Of Rouncivale, his friend and his compeer,
That straight was come from the court of Rome.
Full loud he sang “Come hither, love, to me! ”
The Sommoner added to him a stiff burdoun;
Was never a trumpet of half so great a sound.
This Pardoner had hair as yellow as wax,
But smooth it hung as does a strike of flax;
By ounces hung his locks that he had,
And therewith he his shoulders overspread;
But thin it lay, by culpons on and on.
But hood, for jollity, wore he none,
For it was trussed up in his wallet.
He thought he rode all of the new jet;
Dishevelled, save his cap, he rode all bare.
Such glaring eye had he as a hare.
A Vernickle had he sowed upon his cap;
His wallet lay before him in his lap,
Brimfull of pardon come from Rome all hot.
A voice he had as small as has a goat.
No beard had he, no never should have;
As smooth it was as it were late shave.
I trow he were a gelding or a mare.
But of his craft, from Berwick into Ware
Nor was there such another pardoner.
For in his mail he had a pillow-bier,
Which that he said was Our Lady’s veil;
He said he had a gobbet of the sail
That Saint Peter had, when that he went
Upon the sea, ‘til Jesus Christ him hent.
He had a cross of latten full of stones,
And in a glass he had pigs’ bones,
But with these relics, when that he found
A poor person dwelling upon land
Upon a day he got him more money
Then that the person got in months two;
And thus, with feigned flattery and japes,
He made the person and the people his apes.
But truly to tell at last,
He was in church a noble ecclesiast.
Well could he read a lesson or a story,
But all-best he sang an offertory;
For well he knew, when that song was sung,
He must preach and well affile his tongue
To win silver, as he full well could;
Therefore he sang merrily and loud.
©2009 Forrest Hainline
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