Sir Thopas

Bihold the murye wordes of the Host to Chaucer.

Whan seyd was al this miracle, every man

As sobre was, that wonder was to see,

Til that our hoste japen tho bigan,

And than at erst he loked up-on me,

And seyde thus, ‘ what man artow ? ‘ quod he ;

‘ Thou lokest as thou woldest finde an hare,

For ever up-on the ground I see thee stare.

Approche neer, and loke up merily.

Now war yow, sirs, and lat this man have place ;

He in the waast is shape as wel as I ;

This were a popet in an arm t’enbrace

For any womman, smal and fair of face.

He semeth elvish by his contenaunce,

For un-to no wight dooth he dAllaunce.

Sey now somwhat, sin other folk han sayd ;

Tel us a tale of mirthe, and that anoon ; ‘ —

‘ Hoste,’ quod I, ‘ ne beth nat yvel apayd,

For other tale certes can I noon,

But of a ryme I lerned longe agoon.’

‘ Ye, that is good,’ quod he ; ‘ now shul we here

Som deyntee thing, me thinketh by his chere.’


Here biginneth Chancers Tale of Thopas.

Listeth, lordes, in good entent,

And I wol telle verrayment

Of mirthe and of solas ;

Al of a knyght was fair and gent

In bataille and in tourneyment,

His name was sir Thopas.

Y-born he was in fer contree,

In Flaundres, al biyonde the see,

At Popering, in the place;

His fader was a man ful free,

And lord he was of that contree,

As it was goddes grace.

Sir Thopas wex a doghty swayn,

Whyt was his face as payndemayn,

His lippes rede as rose ;

His rode is lyk scarlet in grayn,

And I yow telle in good certayn,

He hadde a semely nose.

His heer, his berd was lyk saffroun,

That to his girdel raughte adoun ;

His shoon of Cordewane.

Of Brugges were his hosen broun,

His robe was of ciclatoun,

That coste many a jane.

He coude hunte at wilde deer,

And ryde an hauking for riveer,

With grey goshauk on honde ;

Ther-to he was a good archeer,

Of wrastling was ther noon his peer,

Ther any ram shal stonde.

Ful many a mayde, bright in bour,

They moorne for him, paramour,

Whan hem were bet to slepe ;

But he was chast and no lech our,

And sweet as is the bremble-flour

That bereth the rede hepe.

And so bifel up-on a day,

For sothe, as I yow telle may,

Sir Thopas wolde out ryde ;

He worth upon his stede gray,

And in his honde a launcegay,

A long swerd by his syde.

He priketh thurgh a fair forest,

Ther-inne is many a wilde best,

Ye, bothe bukke and hare ;

And, as he priketh north and est,

I telle it yow, him hadde almest

Bitid a sory care.

Ther springen herbes grete and smale,

The lycorys and cetewale,

And many a clowe-gilofre ;

And notemuge to putte in ale,

Whether it be moyste or stale,

Or for to leye in cofre.

The briddes singe, it is no nay,

The sparhauk and the papejay,

That joye it was to here ;

The thrustelcok made eek his lay,

The wodedowve upon the spray

She sang ful loude and clere.

Sir Thopas fil in love-longinge

Al whan he herde the thrustel singe,

And priked as he were wood :

His faire stede in his prikinge

So swatte that men mighte him wringe,

His sydes were al blood.

Sir Thopas eek so wery was

For prikinge on the softe gras,

So tiers was his corage,

That doun he leyde him in that plas

To make his stede som solas,

And yaf him good forage.

‘ O seinte Marie, ben’ cite !

What eyleth this love at me

To binde me so sore ?

Me dremed al this night, pardee,

An elf-queen shal my lemman be,

And slepe under my gore.

An elf-queen wol I love, y-wis,

For in this world no womman is

Worthy to be my make

In toune ;

Alle othere wommen I forsake,

And to an elf- queen I me take

By dale and eek by doune ! ‘

In-to his sadel he clamb anoon,

And priketh over style and stoon

An elf-queen for t’espye,

Til he so.longe had riden and goon

That he fond, in a privee woon,

The contree of Fairye

So wilde ;

For in that contree was ther noon

That to him dorste ryde or goon,

Neither wyf ne childe.

Til that ther cam a greet geaunt,

His name was sir Olifaunt,

A perilous man of dede ;

He seyde, ‘child, by Termagaunt,

But-if thou prike out of myn haunt,

Anon I slee thy stede

            With mace.

Heer is the queen of Fayerye,

With harpe and pype and simphonye

Dwelling in this place.’

The child seyde, ‘ al-so mote I thee,

Tomorwe wol I mete thee

Whan I have myn armoure ;

And yet I hope, par ma fay,

That thou shalt with this launcegay

Abyen it ful soure ;

Thy mawe

Shal I percen, if I may,

Er it be fully pryme of day,

For heer thou shalt be slawe.’

Sir Thopas drow abak ful faste ;

This geaunt at him stones caste

Out of a fel staf-slinge ;

But faire escapeth child Thopas,

And al it was thurgh goddes gras,

And thurgh his fair beringe.

Yet listeth, lordes, to my tale

Merier than the nightingale,

For now I wol yow roune

How sir Thopas with sydes smale,

Priking over hil and dale,

Is come agayn to toune.

His merie men comanded he

To make him bothe game and glee,

For nedes moste he fighte

With a geaunt with hevedes three,

For paramour and jolitee-

Of oon that shoon ful brighte.

‘ Do come,’ he seyde, ‘ my minstrales,

And gestours, for to tellen tales

Anon in myn arminge ;

Of romances that been royales,

Of popes and of cardinales,

And eek of love-lykinge.’

They fette him first the swete wyn,

And mede eek in a maselyn,

And royal spicerye

Of gingebreed that was ful fyn,

And lycorys, and eek comyn,

With sugre that is so trye.

He dide next his whyte lere

Of clooth of lake fyn and clere

A breech and eek a sherte ;

And next his sherte an aketoun,

And over that an habergeoun

For percinge of his herte ;

And over that a fyn hauberk,

Was al y-wroght of Jewes werk,

Ful strong it was of plate ;

And over that his cote-armour

As whyt as is a lily-flour,

In which he wol debate.

His sheeld was al of gold so reed,

And ther-in was a bores heed,

A charbocle bisyde ;

And there he swoor, on ale and breed,

How that ‘ the geaunt shal be deed,

Bityde what bityde ! ‘

His jambeux were of quirboilly, .,

His swerdes shethe of yvory,

His helm of laton bright ;

His sadel was of rewel-boon,

His brydel as the sonne shoon,

Or as the mone light.

His spere was of fyn ciprees,

That bodeth werre, and no-thing pees,

The heed ful sharpe y-grounde ;

His stede was al dappel-gray,

It gooth an ambel in the way

Ful softely and rounde

In londe.

Lo, lordes myne, heer is a fit !

If ye wol any more of it,

To telle it wol I fonde.

[The Second Fit]

Now hold your mouth, par charitee,

Bothe knight and lady free,

And herkneth to my spelle ;

Of bataille and of chivalry,

And of ladyes love-drury

Anon I wol yow telle.

Men speke of romances of prys,

Of Horn child and of Ypotys,

Of Bevis and sir Gy,

Of sir Libeux and Pleyn-damour ;

But sir Thopas, he bereth the flour

Of royal chivalry.

His gode stede al he bistrood,

And forth upon his wey he glood

As sparkle out of the bronde ;

Up-on his crest he bar a tour,

And ther-in stiked a lily-flour,

God shilde his cors fro shonde !

And for he was a knight auntrous,

He nolde slepen in non hous,

But liggen in his hode ;

His brighte helm was his wonger,

And by him baiteth his dextrer

Of herbes fyne and gode.

Him-self drank water of the wel,

As did the knight sir Percivel,

So worthy under wede,

Til on a day …

Here the Host stinteth Chaucer of his Tale of Thopas.