Chaucer's Retraction


Here the maker of this book takes his leave


Now I pray to all who hear or read this little treatise, that if there is anything in it that they like, they thank our Lord Jesus Christ for it, from whom proceeds all wisdom and goodness. And if there is anything that displeases them, I pray also that they ascribe it to the fault of my ignorance and not to my will, which would readily have spoken better if I had the knowledge. For our book says, "All that is written is written for our doctrine," and that is my intention. Therefore I beseech you, for the mercy of God, that you pray for me that Christ have mercy on me and forgive my sins, especially my translations and compositions of worldly vanities, which I revoke in my retractions: 1085 such as the book of Troilus and Criseyde, and the book of The House of Fame, the book of The Legend of Good Women, The Book of the Duchess, the book of Saint Valentine's day of The Parliament of Fowls, The Canterbury Tales (those that tend toward sin), the book of the Lion, and many another book, if they were in my remembrance, and many a song and many a lecherous lay; that Christ for his great mercy forgive my sins. But for the translation of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy and other books of saints' legends, homilies, moralities, and devotions, I thank our Lord Jesus Christ and his blessed Mother, and all the saints of heaven, beseeching them that they from henceforth unto my life's end send me grace to lament my sins, and to meditate upon the salvation of my soul, and grant me the grace of true contrition, confession, and satisfaction for sins in this present life, 1090 through the benign grace of him who is king of kings and priest over all priests, who bought us with the precious blood of his heart; so that I may be one of those at the day of judgment that shall be saved. Qui cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivit et regnat Deus per omnia secula. Amen.

Here ends the book of The Canterbury Tales,
compiled by Geoffrey Chaucer,
on whose soul may Jesus Christ have mercy.
Amen.


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