The Pardoner's Tale


Words of the Host to the Physician and the Pardoner

Our Host began to swear as if gone mad. "Harrow," said he, "by nails and blood! How bad, How false a judge, how false a churl! Demise As shameful as the heart may so devise 290 Come to these judges and their advocates! This simple maiden's slain, as he relates, She for her beauty paid, alas, too dearly! I've always said what men may see so clearly, That gifts of Fortune and of Nature bring 295 About the death of many a living thing. Her beauty was her death, I dare to say. She's slain, alas, in such a piteous way! Both gifts of which I speak, as I maintain, Have often brought men more to harm than gain. 300 But truthfully, my only master dear, This is a tale that's pitiful to hear. It can't be helped, let's move along our way. God save your noble body, that I pray, Your urinals and every chamber pot, 305 Each galen and hippocrates you've got, Each flask full of the medicine you carry-- God bless them, and Our Lady, too, Saint Mary! "As I may thrive, you are a proper man And, by Saint Ronyan, like a prelate! Can 310 I say it right? I can't speak learnedly But well I know you've caused this heart in me To grieve till I am near a cardiac. By corpus bones! if remedy I lack, If there's no musty draught of corny ale 315 Or I don't hear at once a merry tale, My heart is lost in sympathy for her. Bel ami, you," he said, "you Pardoner, Tell jokes, some funny story, go ahead." "It shall be done now, by Saint Ronyan!" said 320 The Pardoner. "But first, at this ale stake, I'll have a drink and also eat a cake." The gentlefolk cried out immediately: "Don't let him tell us any ribaldry! Tell us some moral thing, that we may learn 325 Some wisdom, and we'll gladly hear your turn." "Granted, for sure," said he, "but I must think Of something, then, that's fitting while I drink."

The Pardoner's Prologue | Contents | Title Page