The General Prologue - The Friar

A friar there was, a wanton and a merry,
A limiter, a very worthy man.
In all the Orders Four is none that can
Equal his friendliness and fair language.
He had arranged full many a marriage(5)
Of young women, and this at his own cost.
Unto his order he was a noble post.
Well liked by all and intimate was he
With franklins everywhere in his country,
And with the worthy women of the town.(10)
For very sweetly did he hear confession
And pleasant also was his absolution.
He was an easy man to give penance
When knowing he should gain a good pittance;
For to a begging friar, money given(15)
Is sign that any man has been well shriven.
For if one gave (he dared to boast of this),
He took the man’s repentance not amiss.
For many a man there is so hard of heart
He cannot weep however pains may smart.(20)
Therefore, instead of weeping and of prayer,
Men ought to give some silver to the poor freres.
His tippet was stuck always full of knives
And pins, to give to young and pleasing wives.
And certainly he kept a merry note:(25)
Well could he sing and play upon the rote.
At balladry he bore the prize away.
His throat was white as lily of the May;
Yet strong he was as any champion.
In towns he knew the taverns, every one,(30)
And every host and gay barmaid also
Better than beggars and lepers did he know.
For unto no such solid man as he
Accorded it, as far as he could see,
To have sick lepers for acquaintances.(35)
There is no honest advantageousness
In dealing with such poverty-stricken curs;
It’s with the rich and with big victuallers.
And so, wherever profit might arise,
Courteous he was and humble in men’s eyes.(40)
There was no other man so virtuous.
He was the finest beggar of his house;
A certain district being farmed to him,
None of his brethren dared approach its rim;
For though a widow had no shoes to show,(45)
So pleasant was his In principio,
He always got a farthing ere he went.
He lived by pickings, it is evident.
And he could romp as well as any whelp.
For he was not like a cloisterer,(50)
With threadbare cope as is the poor scholar,
But he was like a lord or like a pope.
Of double worsted was his semi-cope,
That rounded like a bell, as you may guess.
He lisped a little, out of wantonness,(55)
To make his English soft upon his tongue;
And in his harping, after he had sung,
His two eyes twinkled in his head as bright
As do the stars within the frosty night.
This worthy limiter was named Hubert.