Weekly Interlinear Poem





This is the poem
for the week of September 14.
A new interlinear poem
is available each Monday.

Send me e-mail - robert15115@gmail.com
Robert Jackson

Description of the Prioress from the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales
(The original Middle English spelling has been modernized)

-Geoffrey Chaucer



There was also a nun, a prioress
prioress=head of a convent
That of her smiling was full simple and coy.
of her smiling=in her smiling
coy=modest

Her greatest oath was but "by Saint Eloy,"
And she was clep-ed Madame Eglantine.
cleped=called
Full well she sang the servic-e divine
Entun-ed in her nose full seem-e-ly.
And French she spoke full fair and fetisly
fetisly=nicely
After the school of Stratford at-te Bow-e,
For French of Paris was to her unknow-e.
unknowe=unknown
At meat-e well y-taught was she withal-e.
withal=with that
She let no morsel from her lip-es fall-e,
Nor wet her fingers in her sauc-e deep-e.
Well could she carry a morsel and well keep-e
That no drop ne fell upon her brist.
brist=breast
no . . . ne=double negative (not uncommon)

In courtesy was set full much her list.
list=attentiveness
Her over lip-e wip-ed she so clean
That in her cup there was no farthing seen
farthing=spot
Of greas-e, when she drunken had her draught-e.
Full seem-e-ly after her meat she raught-e,
after=towards
raughte=took care

And sikerly she was of great desport
sikerly=certainly
desport=charm

And full pleasant and amiable of port
port=deportment
And pain-ed her to counterfeit-e cheer-e
cheer=manners
Of court, and be estatlich of manner-e
estatlich=dignified
And to be holden dig-ne of reverence.
holden digne=held worthy

But for to speaken of her con-sci-ence -
conscience=sensitivity
She was so charitable and so pit--us
pitous=moved to pity
She would weep if that she saw a mouse
Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bled.
Of small-e hound-es had she that she fed
With roasted flesh or milk and wastel bread,
wastel=fine quality
But sore wept she if one of them were dead
Or if men smote it with a yard-e, smart-e
yarde=stick
smart=smartly

And all was con-sci-ence and tender heart-e.
Full seem-e-ly her wimple pinch-ed was,
wimple=headdress
pinched=pleated

Her nos-e tretis, her eyen grey as glass,
tretis=well made
eyen=eyes

Her mouth full small and thereto soft and red,
thereto=also
But sikerly she had a fair forehead.
sikerly=certainly
It was almost a span-ne broad, I trow-e,
spanne=span (handsbreadth)
trow=guess

For hardily she was not undergrow-e.
hardily=certainly
undergrowe=underdeveloped

Full fetis was her cloak as I was 'ware.
fetis=elegant
'ware=aware

Of small coral about her arm she bare
bare=bore
A pair of beads gauded all with green-e,
pair of beads=rosary
gauded=decorated

And thereon hung a brooch of gold full sheen-e
sheene=bright
On which was written first a crown-ed A
And after: Amor Vincit Omnia.
Amor Vincit Omnia=love conquers all

There was also a nun, a prioress
That of her smiling was full simple and coy.
Her greatest oath was but "by Saint Eloy,"
And she was clep-ed Madame Eglantine.
Full well she sang the servic-e divine
Entun-ed in her nose full seem-e-ly.
And French she spoke full fair and fetisly
After the school of Stratford at-te Bow-e,
For French of Paris was to her unknow-e.
At meat-e well y-taught was she withal-e.
She let no morsel from her lip-es fall-e,
Nor wet her fingers in her sauc-e deep-e.
Well could she carry a morsel and well keep-e
That no drop ne fell upon her brist.
In courtesy was set full much her list.
Her over lip-e wip -ed she so clean
That in her cup there was no farthing seen
Of greas-e, when she drunken had her draught-e.
Full seem-e-ly after her meat she raught-e,
And sikerly she was of great desport
And full pleasant and amiable of port
And pain-ed her to counterfeit-e cheer-e
Of court, and be estatlich of manner-e
And to be holden dig-ne of reverence.

But for to speaken of her con-sci-ence -
She was so charitable and so pit--us
She would weep if that she saw a mouse
Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bled.
Of small-e hound-es had she that she fed
With roasted flesh or milk and wastel bread,
But sore wept she if one of them were dead
Or if men smote it with a yard-e, smart-e
And all was con-sci-ence and tender heart-e.
Full seem-e-ly her wimple pinch-ed was,
Her nos-e tretis, her eyen grey as glass,
Her mouth full small and thereto soft and red,
But sikerly she had a fair forehead.
It was almost a span-ne broad, I trow-e,
For hardily she was not undergrow-e.
Full fetis was her cloak as I was 'ware.
Of small coral about her arm she bare
A pair of beads gauded all with green-e,
And thereon hung a brooch of gold full sheen-e
On which was written first a crown-ed A
And after: Amor Vincit Omnia.