The Tale of Melibee

PROLOGUE

The Host stops Chaucer's Tale of Sir Topaz

"No more of this, for our Lord's dignity," Then said our Host, "for you are making me 920 So weary with your utter foolishness That, as all-knowing God my soul may bless, My ears are aching from your cruddy speech. The devil take such rhyming, I beseech! At best this is rhymed doggerel," said he. 925 "Why so?" said I. "Why do you hinder me More than you do another man although I'm telling you the best rhyme that I know?" "By God," he said, "I'll tell you in a word: Your wretched rhyming isn't worth a turd! 930 The only thing you're doing's wasting time. Sir, in a word, no longer shall you rhyme; Let's hear you tell us in another style Of verse, or else in prose, something worthwhile, In which there's mirth or doctrine anyhow." 935 "Gladly," said I, "by God's sweet pain! I now Will tell to you a little thing in prose-- One that you ought to like, as I suppose (Or else you're very hard to please for sure), A moral tale of virtue, one that's pure. 940 As it's been told at times in sundry wise By sundry folks, allow me to advise You first. You know that each Evangelist, For all Christ's pains that for us he may list, Won't tell each thing the way his fellow might; 945 But nonetheless their meaning's true and right And all agree as to their stories' sense Though in their telling there is difference; Like some of them say more and some say less When Jesus's sad passion they express 950 (I speak of Mark and Matthew, Luke and John), Yet there's no doubt of what they're preaching on. Therefore, my lords, you all I do beseech: If you think that I vary in my speech That way, and tell you proverbs that are more 955 Than any others you have heard before (Compressed in this small treatise I select, To give my subject matter more effect), And find the same exact words I don't say That you have heard some other time, I pray 960 Don't blame me. For in meaning you will find That there's no difference of any kind Between this merry tale I write and this Small treatise on which it is based. Don't miss One part, therefore, of what I have to say, 965 And let me tell you my whole tale, I pray."

Top | The Tale of Melibee | Contents | Title Page