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The Canterbury Tales

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Whan that hir names rad were everichoon,
That in hir nombre gyle were ther noon,
Tho were the gates shet, and cryed was loude:
‘Do now your devoir, yonge knightes proude!’
After each knight’s name had been read aloud—so that everyone knew that both sides had a hundred men each—the gates to the stadium grounds were closed, and the announcer said, “Let the battle begin!”



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The heraudes lefte hir priking up and doun;
Now ringen trompes loude and clarioun;
Ther is namore to seyn, but west and est
In goon the speres ful sadly in arest;
In goth the sharpe spore in-to the syde.
Ther seen men who can Iuste, and who can ryde;
Ther shiveren shaftes upon sheeldes thikke;
He feleth thurgh the herte-spoon the prikke.
Up springen speres twenty foot on highte;
Out goon the swerdes as the silver brighte.
The helmes they to-hewen and to-shrede;
Out brest the blood, with sterne stremes rede.
With mighty maces the bones they to-breste.
He thurgh the thikkeste of the throng gan threste.
Ther stomblen stedes stronge, and doun goth al.
He rolleth under foot as dooth a bal.
He foyneth on his feet with his tronchoun,
And he him hurtleth with his hors adoun.
He thurgh the body is hurt, and sithen y-take,
Maugree his heed, and broght unto the stake,
As forward was, right ther he moste abyde;
Another lad is on that other syde.
And with that, the trumpets blared, and the battle began! Knights galloped on their horses left and right, spears went flying into the air and clattering against the shields as they flew back down. You could hear the sounds of metal clashing against metal and the sound of crunching bones. You could see the glimmer of the steel as swords swung to and fro, bits of metal flying everywhere, and red blood spurting into the air. Men fell down and horses rolled to the ground in a heap as if they were standing on balls instead of the earth. One knight shoves another’s spear away with his foot. Another is wounded in the abdomen and pulled away by the referees to the penalty box as he struggles to get back into the fight. They all know the rules, but none of them wants to give up so easily.

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