The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  The Pardoner’s Tale Page 6

page The Pardoner’s Tale: Page 6

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Now wol I speke of othes false and grete
A word or two, as olde bokes trete.
Gret swering is a thing abhominable,
170And false swering is yet more reprevable.
The heighe God forbad swering at al,
Witnesse on Mathew; but in special
Of swering seith the holy Ieremye,
‘Thou shalt seye sooth thyn othes, and nat lye,
And swere in dome, and eek in rightwisnesse;’
But ydel swering is a cursednesse.
Bihold and see, that in the firste table
Of heighe Goddes hestes honurable,
How that the seconde heste of him is this—
180‘Tak nat my name in ydel or amis.’
Lo, rather he forbedeth swich swering
Than homicyde or many a cursed thing;
I seye that, as by ordre, thus it stondeth;
This knowen, that his hestes understondeth,
How that the second heste of God is that.
And forther over, I wol thee telle al plat,
That vengeance shal nat parten from his hous,
That of his othes is to outrageous.
‘By Goddes precious herte, and by his nayles,
190And by the blode of Crist, that it is in Hayles,
Seven is my chaunce, and thyn is cink and treye;
By Goddes armes, if thou falsly pleye,
This dagger shal thurgh-out thyn herte go’—
This fruyt cometh of the bicched bones two,
Forswering, ire, falsnesse, homicyde.
Now, for the love of Crist that for us dyde,
Leveth your othes, bothe grete and smale;
But, sirs, now wol I telle forth my tale.
Oh, and then there’s swearing, another evil that old books talk a lot about. Strong language is abominable, and swearing for no good reason is even worse. God on high forbade swearing altogether you know.

It says so in Matthew and Jeremiah.

Matthew 5:34 and Jeremiah 4:2

It says so in Matthew and Jeremiah.
Jeremiah says, “Swear only to make a promise—not when you’re lying—and then only in righteousness.” Casual swearing for no real purpose is a sin. I mean, it’s so bad that it’s even one of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not use the Lord’s name in vain.” God thinks cursing is so bad that this commandment even comes before those against murder and other heinous crimes. God will have his revenge on anyone who swears too much, that’s for sure! Saying things such as, “By God’s own heart!” and “The blood of Christ!” or “Seven’s my lucky number and yours is three and five!” and “By God, if you cheat me, I’ll kill you with this dagger!” will all get you into trouble. And it all stems from gambling. So for the love of Christ who died for our sins, don’t curse, even if it’s just a small swear. Okay, okay . . . now I’ll tell you my story.