The Friar's Tale Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


This worthy limitour this noble FrereA
He made always a manner louring cheer countenanceB
Upon the Sompnour but for honesty courtesyC
No villain word as yet to him spake heC
But at the last he said unto the WifeD
'Dame ' quoth he 'God give you right good lifeD
Ye have here touched all so may I the thriveE
In school matter a greate difficultyC
Ye have said muche thing right well I sayF
But Dame here as we ride by the wayF
Us needeth not but for to speak of gameG
And leave authorities in Godde's nameG
To preaching and to school eke of clergyC
But if it like unto this companyC
I will you of a Sompnour tell a gameG
Pardie ye may well knowe by the nameG
That of a Sompnour may no good be saidH
I pray that none of you be evil paid dissatisfiedI
A Sompnour is a runner up and downJ
With mandements for fornicatioun mandates summonsesK
And is y beat at every towne's end 'L
Then spake our Host 'Ah sir ye should be hend civil gentleM
And courteous as a man of your estateN
In company we will have no debateN
Tell us your tale and let the Sompnour be 'L
'Nay ' quoth the Sompnour 'let him say by meC
What so him list when it comes to my lotO
By God I shall him quiten every groat pay him offP
I shall him telle what a great honourA
It is to be a flattering limitourA
And his office I shall him tell y wis'K
Our Host answered 'Peace no more of this 'L
And afterward he said unto the frereA
'Tell forth your tale mine owen master dear 'L
Whilom there was dwelling in my country once on a timeR
An archdeacon a man of high degreeA
That boldely did executionS
In punishing of fornicationS
Of witchecraft and eke of bawderyA
Of defamation and adulteryA
Of churche reeves and of testaments churchwardensK
Of contracts and of lack of sacramentsK
And eke of many another manner crime sort ofT
Which needeth not rehearsen at this timeR
Of usury and simony alsoK
But certes lechours did he greatest woeK
They shoulde singen if that they were hent caughtO
And smale tithers lt gt were foul y shent troubled put to shameG
If any person would on them complainS
There might astert them no pecunial pain lt gtO
For smalle tithes and small offeringU
He made the people piteously to singU
For ere the bishop caught them with his crookV
They weren in the archedeacon's bookV
Then had he through his jurisdictionS
Power to do on them correctionS
He had a Sompnour ready to his handO
A slier boy was none in EnglelandO
For subtlely he had his espiaille espionageW
That taught him well where it might aught availQ
He coulde spare of lechours one or twoX
To teache him to four and twenty mo'G
For though this Sompnour wood be as a hare furious madO
To tell his harlotry I will not spareA
For we be out of their correctionS
They have of us no jurisdictionS
Ne never shall have term of all their livesK
'Peter so be the women of the stives ' stewsK
Quoth this Sompnour 'y put out of our cure ' careA
'Peace with mischance and with misaventure '-
Our Hoste said 'and let him tell his taleQ
Now telle forth and let the Sompnour gale whistle bawlY
Nor spare not mine owen master dear '-
This false thief the Sompnour quoth the FrereA
Had always bawdes ready to his handO
As any hawk to lure in EnglelandO
That told him all the secrets that they knewX
For their acquaintance was not come of newX
They were his approvers privily informersK
He took himself at great profit therebyZ
His master knew not always what he wan wonS
Withoute mandement a lewed man ignorantO
He could summon on pain of Christe's curseK
And they were inly glad to fill his purseK
And make him greate feastes at the nale alehouseK
And right as Judas hadde purses smale smallY
And was a thief right such a thief was heA
His master had but half his duety what was owing himG
He was if I shall give him his laudO
A thief and eke a Sompnour and a bawdO
And he had wenches at his retinueX
That whether that Sir Robert or Sir HughX
Or Jack or Ralph or whoso that it wereA
That lay by them they told it in his earA
Thus were the wench and he of one assentO
And he would fetch a feigned mandementO
And to the chapter summon them both twoX
And pill the man and let the wenche go plunder pluckA2
Then would he say 'Friend I shall for thy sakeB2
Do strike thee out of oure letters blake blackC2
Thee thar no more as in this case travail needO
I am thy friend where I may thee avail '-
Certain he knew of bribers many mo'G
Than possible is to tell in yeare's twoX
For in this world is no dog for the bow lt gtO
That can a hurt deer from a whole knowK
Bet than this Sompnour knew a sly lechour betterA
Or an adult'rer or a paramourA
And for that was the fruit of all his rentO
Therefore on it he set all his intentO
And so befell that once upon a dayO
This Sompnour waiting ever on his preyO
Rode forth to summon a widow an old ribibe lt gtO
Feigning a cause for he would have a bribeD2
And happen'd that he saw before him rideO
A gay yeoman under a forest sideO
A bow he bare and arrows bright and keenS
He had upon a courtepy of green short doubletO
A hat upon his head with fringes blake blackC2
'Sir ' quoth this Sompnour 'hail and well o'ertake '-
'Welcome ' quoth he 'and every good fellawY
Whither ridest thou under this green shaw ' shadeO
Saide this yeoman 'wilt thou far to day '-
This Sompnour answer'd him and saide 'NayS
Here faste by ' quoth he 'is mine intentO
To ride for to raisen up a rentO
That longeth to my lorde's duety '-
'Ah art thou then a bailiff ' 'Yea ' quoth heA
He durste not for very filth and shameG
Say that he was a Sompnour for the nameG
'De par dieux ' lt gt quoth this yeoman 'leve brother dearA
Thou art a bailiff and I am anotherA
I am unknowen as in this countryA
Of thine acquaintance I will praye theeA
And eke of brotherhood if that thee list pleaseK
I have gold and silver lying in my chestO
If that thee hap to come into our shireA
All shall be thine right as thou wilt desire '-
'Grand mercy ' quoth this Sompnour 'by my faith ' great thanksK
Each in the other's hand his trothe lay'thE2
For to be sworne brethren till they dey die lt gtO
In dalliance they ride forth and playY
This Sompnour which that was as full of jangles chatteringU
As full of venom be those wariangles butcher birds lt gtO
And ev'r inquiring upon every thingU
'Brother ' quoth he 'where is now your dwellingU
Another day if that I should you seech ' seek visitO
This yeoman him answered in soft speechF2
Brother ' quoth he 'far in the North country lt gtO
Where as I hope some time I shall thee seeA
Ere we depart I shall thee so well wiss informG
That of mine house shalt thou never miss '-
Now brother ' quoth this Sompnour 'I you prayY
Teach me while that we ride by the wayY
Since that ye be a bailiff as am IZ
Some subtilty and tell me faithfullyA
For mine office how that I most may winS
And spare not for conscience or for sin conceal nothingU
But as my brother tell me how do ye '-
Now by my trothe brother mine ' said heA
As I shall tell to thee a faithful taleY
My wages be full strait and eke full smaleY
My lord is hard to me and dangerous niggardlyA
And mine office is full laboriousK
And therefore by extortion I liveE
Forsooth I take all that men will me giveG2
Algate by sleighte or by violence whetherA
From year to year I win all my dispenceK
I can no better tell thee faithfully '-
Now certes ' quoth this Sompnour 'so fare I doO
I spare not to take God it wotO
But if it be too heavy or too hot unlessK
What I may get in counsel privilyA
No manner conscience of that have IZ
N'ere mine extortion I might not live were it not forA
For of such japes will I not be shrive tricks confessedO
Stomach nor conscience know I noneS
I shrewA

Geoffrey Chaucer


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