Read by Alfred David
as edited by E. Talbot Donaldson
in The Norton Anthology of English Literature
(ll. 337-366 in Norton; ll. 3157-3186 in The Riverside Chaucer)
Nun’s Priest’s Tale: Chauntecleer Describes Pertelote’s Beauty in MP3 format
“Now lat us speke of mirthe and stinte al this.
Madame Pertelote, so have I blis,
Of oo thing God hath sente me large grace:
For whan I see the beautee of youre face–
Ye been so scarlet reed aboute youre yen–
It maketh al my drede for to dien.
For also siker as In principio,
Mulier est hominis confusio.
Madame, the sentence of this Latin is,
‘Womman is mannes joye and al his blis.’
For whan I feele anight youre softe side–
Al be it that I may nat on you ride,
For that oure perche is maad so narwe, allas–
I am so ful of joye and of solas
That I defye bothe swevene and drreem.”
And with that word he fleigh down fro the beem,
For it was day, and eek his hennes alle,
And with a “chuk” he gan hem for to calle,
For he hadde founde a corn lay in the yeerd.
Real he was, he was namore aferd:
He fethered Pertelote twenty time,
And trad hire as ofte er it was prime.
He looketh as it were a grim leoun,
And on his toes he rometh up and down:
Him deined nat to sette his foot to grounde.
He chukketh whan he hath a corn yfounde,
And to him rennen thanne his wives alle.
Thus royal, as a prince is in his halle,
Leve I this Chauntecleer in his pasture,
And after wol I telle his aventure.