THE PRIORESS’S PROLOGUE
The Merry Words of the Host to the Sailor and to My Lady Prioress
Well said, by corpus dominus,” said our host,
“Now long time may you sail along the coast,
Sir gentle master, gentle mariner!
God give this monk a thousand years bitter!
Aha, comrades, beware of such a jape!
The monk put into that man’s hood an ape,
And in the wife’s too, by Saint Augustine!
Invite no more monks to your house or inn.
“But let that pass, and let us look about
To see who shall be next, of all this rout,
To tell a tale.”
And after that he said,
As courteously as it had been a maid:
“My lady prioress, and by your leave,
So that I knew I should in no way grieve,
I would opine that tell a tale you should,
The one that follows next if you but would.
Now will you please vouchsafe it, lady dear?”
“Gladly,” said she, and spoke as you shall hear.
The Prioress from Canterbury Tales. Woodcut from a William Caxton publication of Chaucer’s works. Sourced from Luminarium,