The Miller's Tale

PROLOGUE

Words between the Host and the Miller

Now when the worthy Knight his tale had told, In all the group there wasn't young or old 3110 Who didn't say it was a noble story, One well to be remembered for its glory (The gentlefolk believed this all the more). "As I may walk," our Host then laughed and swore, "This goes all right, the bag's been opened well. 3115 Let's see who's next now with a tale to tell, For truly has the game been well begun. So tell us now, Sir Monk, if you know one Of any kind to match the Knight's good tale." The Miller, so completely drunk and pale 3120 That on his horse he insecurely sat, Unwilling to remove his hood or hat, Would not await his turn with courtesy But in a voice like Pilate's bellowed he And swore, "By arms and blood and every bone, 3125 I have a noble story! I'll go on With it and match the good Knight with his tale." Our Host could see that he was drunk with ale, And said, "Now, Robin, wait, beloved brother, Some better man shall tell us first another. 3130 Let's work this thriftily, await your spot." "By God's soul," said the Miller, "I will not. I'll either speak or else be on my way." Our Host said, "What the devil, have your say! You are a fool, your wit is overcome." 3135 "Now listen," said the Miller, "all and some! I want to make a statement first: I know That I am drunk by how I'm sounding, so If I should be remiss in what I say, Attribute it to Southwark ale, I pray. 3140 For I will tell a legend and a life Both of a carpenter and of his wife, And how a student made him look the sap." The Reeve here interjected, "Shut your trap! Let's have no lewd and drunken ribaldry. 3145 It's sinful folly to cause injury To any man, to be defaming him, To bring up wives and start defaming them. You have enough of other things to say." This drunken Miller answered right away, 3150 Saying, "Dear brother Oswald, he who's got No wife is not a cuckold. I do not Mean to suggest by that that you are one. Although there's many a good wife, far from none, For every thousand good ones there's a bad. 3155 You know that well unless you're raving mad. Why, then, are you so angry with my story? I have a wife as well as you, by glory, Yet I'd not, for the oxen in my plow, Take more upon myself by thinking now 3160 That I'm also a cuckold. In my mind I'm certain that I'm nothing of the kind. One shouldn't be inquiring anyway Into God's privities or his spouse's. May He find God's plenty in her, that's enough, 3165 He shouldn't pry into that other stuff." What more should I say of this Miller than He would not hold his tongue for any man But told his churlish tale as he saw fit? Here I regret to be retelling it. 3170 And therefore all your gentlefolk, I pray, For love of God, don't think what I must say Is with an ill intent; I must recount The bad tales with the good or else discount Material and thereby falsify. 3175 Those wishing not to hear it, pass it by, Just turn the page and choose another sort; You'll find all kinds of tales, both long and short, That touch on genteel things, on history, On holiness, and on morality. 3180 Don't blame me if you choose the wrong one, though; The Miller is a churl as you well know, As was the Reeve (and others were as well), And both of them had lusty tales to tell. So be advised and don't hold me to blame; 3185 Men shouldn't take too seriously a game.

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