The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

Original Text

Modern Text

With him ther was a PLOWMAN, was his brother,
530That hadde y-lad of dong ful many a fother,
A trewe swinker and a good was he,
Livinge in pees and parfit charitee.
God loved he best with al his hole herte
At alle tymes, thogh him gamed or smerte,
And thanne his neighebour right as him-selve.
He wolde thresshe, and ther-to dyke and delve,
For Cristes sake, for every povre wight,
Withouten hyre, if it lay in his might.
His tythes payed he ful faire and wel,
540Bothe of his propre swink and his catel.
In a tabard he rood upon a mere.
There was also a PLOWMAN in our group, who was actually the parson’s brother. He wore a simple shirt and rode upon a horse. He was a lowly laborer who worked with his hands. His love for God was always foremost in his thoughts, when he was both happy and sad. He also thought about the needs and wants of other people and had just as much love for others as he had for himself. He had carted many loads of manure and would dig and work hard, all for the love of God and humanity if he could. He donated a good percentage of his income and the value of his other property to the Church on a regular basis. He was a good and loyal man who lived in happiness and peace.
Ther was also a Reve and a Millere,
A Somnour and a Pardoner also,
A Maunciple, and my-self; ther were namo.
There were six other people in our group too. There was a reeve, an overseer who looked after his master’s property. There was also a miller, who owned a mill that turned grain into flour. There were also two court officials—a summoner, who was a bailiff in the court, and a manciple, who was in charge of buying food and provisions for the court. And finally, there was a pardoner, an official who sold formal pardons to criminals after they’d confessed their sins to God. And then, of course, there was me. And that was all of us.
The MILLER was a stout carl, for the nones,
Ful big he was of braun, and eek of bones;
That proved wel, for over-al ther he cam,
At wrastling he wolde have alwey the ram.
He was short-sholdred, brood, a thikke knarre,
550Ther nas no dore that he nolde heve of harre,
Or breke it, at a renning, with his heed.
His berd as any sowe or fox was reed,
And ther-to brood, as though it were a spade.
Upon the cop right of his nose he hade
A werte, and ther-on stood a tuft of heres,
Reed as the bristles of a sowes eres;
His nose-thirles blake were and wyde.
A swerd and bokeler bar he by his syde;
His mouth as greet was as a greet forneys.
560He was a Ianglere and a goliardeys,
And that was most of sinne and harlotryes.
Wel coude he stelen corn, and tollen thryes;
And yet he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee.
A whyt cote and a blew hood wered he.
A baggepype wel coude he blowe and sowne,
And ther-with-al he broghte us out of towne.
The MILLER was short, but he was still a pretty big guy—muscular, broad, and big boned. He liked to prove how strong he was by wrestling other people wherever he went, and he always won the matches. There wasn’t a door he couldn’t either rip off its hinges or break down with a running headbutt. He wore a white coat with a blue hood and carried a sword and small shield at his side. He loved to talk, and he could tell the best bar stories, most of them about sex and sin. He would steal corn and then sell it for three times its worth. He had a beard that was as red as a fox and about the same size and shape as a gardening spade. He had a wide mouth; deep, gaping nostrils; and a wart on the tip of his nose that bristled with red hairs that looked like they grew out of a pig’s ears. He could play the bagpipes well, and he played for us as we left town.