The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  The Knight’s Tale Part One

page The Knight’s Tale Part One: Page 6

Original Text

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This passeth yeer by yeer, and day by day,
Til it fil ones, in a morwe of May,
That Emelye, that fairer was to sene
Than is the lilie upon his stalke grene,
And fressher than the May with floures newe—
180For with the rose colour stroof hir hewe,
I noot which was the fairer of hem two—
Er it were day, as was hir wone to do,
She was arisen, and al redy dight;
For May wol have no slogardye a-night.
The sesoun priketh every gentil herte,
And maketh him out of his sleep to sterte,
And seith, ‘Arys, and do thyn observaunce.’
This maked Emelye have remembraunce
To doon honour to May, and for to ryse.
190Y-clothed was she fresh, for to devyse;
Hir yelow heer was broyded in a tresse,
Bihinde hir bak, a yerde long, I gesse.
And in the gardin, at the sonne up-riste,
She walketh up and doun, and as hir liste
She gadereth floures, party whyte and rede,
To make a sotil gerland for hir hede,
And as an aungel hevenly she song.
This went on day-after-day, year-after-year. And then one day something happened. On a fine spring morning in the month of May, Emily—who’d become more beautiful than the finest flower and fresher than even spring itself—was walking through the garden at sunrise, singing like an angel and gathering flowers to make a garland that she could wear. She wore fresh new clothes, and her blond hair was tied in a single braid about a yard long down her back. Her cheeks were so rosy that I couldn’t even say if they or the roses were a truer red. She’d woken up early because May itself had seemed to say, “Wake up! Get out of bed! Spring has sprung!”