The General Prologue
14 of 14 folios
He which that hath the shortest shal by gynne
Sir knyght quod he my mastyr and my lord
Now drawyth cut for that is myn accord
Cometh ner quod he my lady Prioresse
And ye syr Clerke lat be youre shamefastnesse
Ne studyeth noght ley hond to euery man
Anon to drawen euery wyght by gan
And shortly for to tellen as hit was
Were it by auenture or sort or cas
The sothe is this the cut fel to the knyght
Of which ful blithe was euery wyght.
And telle he moste his tale as was reson
By forward and by composicioū.
As ye han herd what nedeth wordes mo
And whanne this good man saw that it was so
As he that wys was and obedyent
To kepe his forward by his free assent
He seyde syn I. shal begynne the game
What wel come be the cut in goddes name.
Now lat vs ryde and herkeneth what I seye
And wyth that worde we ryden forthe oure weye
And he by ganne ryght wyth a mury cheere
His tale anon and seyde as ye may heere.
¶ Here begynneth the prologe of the knyghtes tale.
Whilom as olde stories tellen vs
Ther was a duke that hight Theseus
Of athenes he was lord and gouernour
And in his tyme swych a conquerour
That gretter was ther noon vndir the Sonne
Ful many a ryche contre had he wonne.
What wyth his wisdom and his chiualrye
He conquered al the regne of femenye
That whilom was cleped cithia
And wedded the quene ypolita
And brought hire hoom wyth him in his contre
Wyth mochel glorye and gret solempnyte.
And eke hir yonge suster Emelye
And thus wyth victorie and wyth melodye
Lat I this noble duke to athenes ryde
And al his hoost in armes him byside.