The General Prologue - The Summoner

A summoner was with us in that place,
Who had a fiery-red, cherubic face,
For eczema he had; his eyes were narrow.
As hot he was, and lecherous, as a sparrow;
With black and scabby brows and scanty beard,(5)
He had a face that little children feared.
There was no mercury, sulphur, or litharge,
No borax, ceruse, tartar could discharge,
Nor ointment that could cleanse enough, or bite,
To free him of his boils and pimples white,(10)
Nor of the bosses resting on his cheeks.
Well loved he garlic, onions, aye and leeks,
And drinking of strong wine as red as blood.
Then would he talk and shout as madman would.
And when a deal of wine he’d poured within,(15)
Then would he utter no word save Latin.
Some phrases had he learned, say two or three,
Which he had garnered out of some decree;
No wonder, for he’d heard it all the day;
And all you know right well that even a jay(20)
Can call out “Wat” as well as can the pope.
But when, for aught else, into him you’d grope,
’Twas found he’d spent his whole philosophy;
Just “Questio quid juris” would he cry.
He was a noble rascal, and a kind;(25)
A better comrade ’twould be hard to find.
Why, he would suffer, for a quart of wine,
Some good fellow to have his concubine
A twelve-month, and excuse him to the full
(Between ourselves, though, he could pluck a gull).(30)