Geoffrey Chaucer, The Cook's Tale (Forrest Hainline's Minimalist Translation) - Poem by Forrest Hainline
A prentice once dwelt in our city,
And of a craft of victualers was he.
Galliard he was as goldfinch in the grove,
Brown as a berry, a proper short fellow,
With locks black, combed full fetisly.
Dance he could so well and jollily
That he was called Perkin Reveler.
He was as full of love and paramour
As is the hive full of honey sweet;
Well was the wench with him might meet.
At every bridale would sing and hop;
He loved best the tavern than the shop.
For when there any riding was in Cheap,
Out of the shop thither would he leap -
Til that he had all the sight seen,
And danced well, he would not come again -
And gathered him a meine of his sort
To hop and sing and make such disport;
And there they set steven for to meet,
To play at the dice in such a street.
For in the town was there no apprentice
That fairer could cast a pair of dice
Than Perkin could, and thereto he was free
Of his expense, in place of privacy.
That found his master well in his chaffer,
For often times he found his box full bare.
For certainly a prentice reveler
That haunted dice, riot, or paramour,
His master shall it in his shop abye,
All have he no part of the minstrelsy.
For theft and riot, they be convertible,
All can he play on gittern or fiddle.
Revel and truth, as in a low degree,
They be full wroth all day, as men may see.
This jolly prentice with his master bade,
Til he were nye out of his prenticehood,
All were he snubbed both early and late,
And sometimes led with revel to Newgate.
But at the last his master him bethought,
Upon a day, when he his paper sought,
Of a proverb that says this same word:
'Well best is rotten apple out of hoard
Than that it rot al the remnant.'
So fares it by a riotous servant;
It is full less harm to let him pace,
Than he shend all the servants in the place.
Therefore his master gave him acquitance,
And bade him go, with sorrow and with mischance!
And thus this jolly prentice had his leave.
Now let him riot all the night or leave.
And for there is no thief without a louke,
That helps him to waste and to suck
Of that he bribe can or borrow may,
Anon he sent his bed and his array
Unto a compeer of his own sort,
That loved dice, and revel, and disport,
And had a wife that he held for appearance
A shop, and swived for her sustenance.
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