The Summoner's Tale


The Summoner rose in his stirrups. He 1665 Was mad at the Friar to such degree That like an aspen leaf he shook with ire. "My lords," he said, "but one thing I desire: I ask that you will, by your courtesy, Since you've heard this false Friar lie, agree 1670 That I now be allowed my tale to tell. This Friar's boasted that he knows of hell; God knows, that's little wonder to impart, As friars and fiends are seldom far apart. And, by my faith, how frequently they tell 1675 About the friar carried off to hell In spirit once while dreaming. As it's told, An angel took him touring, to behold The pains of hell; yet in that place entire He didn't catch sight of a single friar, 1680 Though many folks he saw there in their pain. The friar asked the angel to explain: "Now, sir," said he, "have friars such a grace That none of them shall come down to this place?" "'Yes,' said the angel, 'millions come!' He led 1685 The friar down to Satan then, and said, 'Now Satan has a tail that you will note Is broader than the sail upon a boat. Hold up your tail, O Satan,' then said he, 'Expose your ass and let this friar see 1690 Where friars here all have their nesting place!' And quicker then than half-a-furlong race, And just as bees come swarming from a hive, Out of the devil's ass there shot a drive Of twenty thousand friars in a rout 1695 Who throughout hell went swarming all about, Until, as fast as they'd come to appear, Each one crept back into the devil's rear. The devil clapt his tail down, then lay still. And when this friar thus had had his fill 1700 Of seeing the torment of that sorry place, The friar's spirit God out of his grace Restored back to his body. Once awake, He nonetheless in fear was all ashake, The devil's ass, so vivid in his mind, 1705 His heritage and that of all his kind. God save you all except this curséd Friar! My prologue I will end with that desire."

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