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GEOFFREY CHAUCER –Born in London, 1328; Died, 1400.

Geoffrey Chaucer is the first English poet of high rank. He lived through the reign of Edward III. in a good position in society. He is best known by bis “Canterbury Tales," from which the following piece is taken. Many words in his day had still the Norman-French pronunciation-a fact to be remembered in reading his poetry.


A TRUE good man there was there of religiòn,
Pious and poor—the parson of a town.”
But rich he was in holy thought and work.
And thereto: a right learned man; a clerk
That Christ's pure gospel would sincerely preach,
And his parishioners devoutly teach.

i parson. The spelling is modern

ized, and the words slightly altered, to make the sense plainer to young people. “Parson” was, in Chaucer's day, spelt persoun. It means the representative or mouthpiece of the Church in a parish (from

persono) I sound, or speak, through. 2 town (toun) a townland, or parish.

Town meant originally a place

hedged or walled-in, if even a single farm house, and it is still

used in this way in Scotland. 3 thereto, besides this. 4 clerk, a cleric, or clergyman. It

came to mean, as it now does, & writer, from the fact that the only persons who could write in early times were the clergymen, or clerics, or clerks.

Benign he was, and wondrous diligent,
And in adversity full patient;
As proven' oft. To all who lack'd a friend -
Loth for his tithes to ban or to contende —
At every need, much rather, was he found,
Unto his poor parishioners around
Of his own substance and his dues' to give;
Content on little, for himself, to live.


Wide was his cure;1o the houses far asunder;
Yet never failed he, orl for rain or thunder,-
Whenever sickness or mischance might call,-
The most remote to visit, great or small,
And, staff in hand, on foot, the storm to brave.

This noble ensample to his flock he gave,
That, first, he wrought,12 and, afterwards, he taught
The word of life he from the Gospel caught;
And well this comment added he thereto,
“If that gold rusteth what should iron do!
And if the priest be foul, on whom we trust,
What wonder if the unlettered layman rust ?
And shame it were in him the flock should keep,
To see a sullied shepherd, and clean sheep.
For sure a priest the sample ought to give
By his own cleanness how his sheep should live.”



5 benign, gracious, kind.
6 patient, pronounce pa ti ent.
proven, still used, as in “not

9 dues, as parish priest.
cure, the parish for which he


proven." 8 contend, to excommunicate any

one for not paying his tithes, or to strive for them.

or, means either. 12 wrought, carried out by his

life and works.

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