Chaucer’s major works include The Book of the Duchess, Parlement of Foules, The Legend of Good Women and Troilus and Criseyde, etc. In 1387, he began his most famous work, The Canterbury Tales, in which a diverse group of people recount stories to pass the time on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, and the pilgrims represent a wide cross section of 14th-century English life. The unfinished work with about 17,000 lines is one of the most brilliant works in all literature. Chaucer was a master storyteller and craftsman, but because of a change in the language after 1400, his metrical technique was not fully appreciated until the 18th century. Only inScotlandin the 15th and 16th century did his imitators understand his versification.
Here the first 162 lines of The Canterbury Tales (Margaret Ferguson, ed. The Norton Anthology of Poetry.London: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1996.) are selected and translated by Zhang Guangkui.
此處選譯《坎特伯雷故事集》(Margaret Ferguson, ed. The Norton Anthology of Poetry. London: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1996.)前162行， 由張廣奎教授翻譯。
The General Prologue
Whan that April with his showres soote
The droughte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veine in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flowr;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye
That sleepen al the night with open ye—
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages—
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seeken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond toCanterburythey wende,
The hooly blisful martyr for to seeke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seke.
Bifee that in that seson on a day,
In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
ToCanterburywith ful devout corage,
At night was come into that hostelrye
Wel nine and twenty in a compaignye,
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle
That towardCanterburywolden ride.
The chambres and the stables weren wide,
And wel we weren esed at the beste.
And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,
So hadde I spoken with hem everichoon
That I was of hir felaweshipe anoon,
And made forward erly for to rise,
To take oure way ther as I you devise.
But nathelees, whil I have time and space,
Er that I ferther in this tale pace,
Me thinketh it accordant to resoun
To telle you al the condicioun
Of eech of hem, so as it seemed me,
And whiche they were, and of what degree,
And eek in what array that they were inne:
And at a knight thanne wol I first biginne.
A knight ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the time that he first bigan
To riden out, he loved chivalrye,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisye.
Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,
And therto hadde he riden, no man ferre,
As wel in Cristendom as in hethenesse,
And evere honoured for his worthinesse.
At Alisaundre he was whan it was wonne;
Ful ofte time he hadde the boord bigonne
Aboven alle nacions in Pruce;
In Lettou had he reised, and in Ruce,
No Cristen man so ofte of his degree;
In Gernade at the sege eek hadde he be
Of Algezir, and riden in Belmarye.
At Lyeis was he, and at Satalye,
Whan they were wonne; and in the Grete See
At many a noble arivee hadde he be.
At mortal batailes hadde he been fifteene,
And foughten for oure faith at Tramissene
In listes thries, and ay slain his fo.
This ilke worthy knight hadde been also
Somtime with the lord of Palatye
Again another hethen in Turkye;
And everemore he hadde a soverein pris.
And though that he were worthy, he waswis,
And of his port as meeke as is a maide.
He nevere yit no vilainye ne saide
In al his lif unto no manere wight:
He was a verray, parfit, gentil knight.
But for to tellen you of his array,
His hors were goode, but he was nat gay.
Of fustian he wered a gipoun
Al bismotered with his haubergeoun,
For he was late come from his viage,
And wente for to doon his pilgrimage.
With him ther was his sone, a yong Squier,
A lovere and a lusty bacheler,
With lokkes crulle as they were laid in presse.
Of twenty yeer of age he was, I gesse.
Of his stature he was of evene lengthe,
And wonderly delivere, and of greet strengthe.
And he hadde been som time in chivachye
In Flandres, inArtois, and Picardye,
And born him wel as of so litel space,
In hope to stonden in his lady grace.
Embrouded was he as it were a mede,
Al ful of fresshe flowres, white and rede;
Singing he was, or floiting, al the day:
He was as fressh as is the month of May.
Short was his gowne, with sleeves longe and wide.
Wel coude he sitte on hors, and faire ride;
He coude songes make, and wel endite,
Juste and eek daunce, and wel portraye and write.
So hote he loved that by nightertale.
He slepte namore than dooth a nightingale.
Curteis he was, lowely, and servisable,
And carf biforn his fader at the table.
A Yeman hadde he and servants namo
At that time, for him liste ride so;
And he was clad in cote and hood of greene.
A sheef of pecok arwes, bright andkeene,
Under his belt he bar ful thriftily;
Wel coude he dresse his takel yemanly:
His arwes drouped nought with fetheres lowe.
And in his hand he bar a mighty bowe.
A not-heed hadde he with a brown visage.
Of wodecraft wel coude he al the usage.
Upon his arm he bar a gay bracer,
And by his side a swerd and a bokeler,
And on that other side a gay daggere,
Harneised wel and sharp as point of spere;
A Cristophre on hisbrestof silver sheene;
An horn he bar, the baudrik was of greene.
A forster was he soothly, as I gesse.
Ther was also a Nonne, a Prioresse,
That of hir smiling was ful simple and coy.
Hir gretteste ooth was but by Sainte Loy!
And she was cleped Madame Eglantine.
Ful wel she soong the service divine,
Entuned in hir nose ful semely,
And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,
After the scole ofStratfordat the Bowe—
For Frenssh of Paris was to hire unknowe.
At mete wel ytaught was she withalle:
She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle,
Ne wette hir fingres in hir sauce deepe;
Wel coude she carye a morsel and wel keepe
That no drope ne fille upon hirebrest.
In curteisye was set ful muchel hir lest.
Hir over-lippe wiped she so clene
That in hir coppe ther was no ferthing seene
Of grece, whan she dronken hadde hir draughte;
Ful semely after hir mete she raughte.
And sikerly she was of greet disport,
And ful plesant, and amiable of port,
And pained hire to countrefete cheere
Of court, and to been statlich of manere,
And to been holden digne of reverence.
But, for to speken of hire conscience,
She was so charitable and so pitous
She wolde weepe if that she saw a mous
Caught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde.
Of smale houndes hadde she that she fedde
With rosted flessh, or milk and wastelbreed.
But sore wepte she if oon of hem were deed,
Or if men smoot it with a yerde smerte;
And al was conscience and tendre herte.
Ful semely hir wimpel pinched was,
Hir nose tretis, hir yen greye as glas,
Hir mouth ful smal, and therto softe and reed,
But sikerly she hadde a fair forheed:
It was almost a spanne brood, I trowe,
For hardily, she was nat undergrowe.
Ful fetis was hir cloke, as I was war;
Of smal coral aboute hir arm she bar
A paire of bedes, gauded al with greene,
And theron heeng a brooch of gold ful sheene,
On which ther was first writen a crowned A,
And after, Amor Vincit Omnia.
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