The Nun's Priest's Tale


"Whoa!" said the Knight, "good sir, that's quite enough! You've said what there's to say about such stuff And even more--a little of distress Is quite enough for most folks, I would guess. 2770 As for myself, it's worse than a disease To speak of those who had great wealth and ease, Then hear about their sudden fall and grief. The opposite is joy and great relief, As when a man who is in poorest state 2775 Climbs upward, Fortune lessening the weight, Till he's abiding in prosperity-- A thing for gladness, so it seems to me, And of such things it would be good to tell." "Aye," said our Host, "by Saint Paul and his bell, 2780 You speak the truth. This Monk, he chatters loud. He tells how Fortune covered with a cloud I know not what, and, too, of tragedy, As you have heard. It is no remedy For one to be bewailing, to complain 2785 That such and such is done. It's all a pain, Just as you say, to hear of such distress. "Sir Monk, no more of this, God may you bless; Your tale's a nuisance, you annoy us by Such talk, it isn't worth a butterfly, 2790 For in it we can find no sport or game. And so, Sir Monk--or Sir Piers by your name-- I pray that something else you might expound. But for your bells with all their clanging sound (Those bells hung on your bridle), I confide, 2795 By heaven's King who for all of us died, I would have fallen long ago asleep Although the mire might be so ever deep; Then would your tale have all been told in vain. For certainly, as clerks can well explain, 2800 If there's a man who has no audience, It doesn't help if he makes any sense-- Yet I know well there's sense enough in me If anything's reported sensibly. Say something of your hunting, sir, I pray." 2805 "No," said the Monk, "I've no desire to play. Let's have another tale, as I have told." Then spoke our Host, his speech both rude and bold, Without delay to the Nun's Priest. He said, "Come forth, you priest--Sir John, now come ahead! 2810 Tell something that will gladden us inside, Be blissful, though a nag you have to ride. So what if you've a horse both foul and lean? If he will serve you, should you care a bean? Be merry in your heart and always so." 2815 "Yes, sir," said he, "yes, Host, so may I go, If I'm not merry I know I'll be blamed." To tell his tale at once the fellow aimed, And here is what he said as he went on, This gentle priest, this kindly man Sir John. 2820

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