Geoffrey Chaucer

   A MONK ther was, a fair for the maistrie,
   There was a MONK, an extremely fine one,

An outridere, that lovede venerie,
An outrider (a monk with business outside the monastery), who loved hunting,

A manly man, to been an abbot able.
A virile man, qualified to be an abbot.

Ful many a deyntee hors hadde he in stable,
He had very many fine horses in his stable,

And whan he rood, men myghte his brydel heere
And when he rode, one could hear his bridle

Gynglen in a whistlynge wynd als cleere
Jingle in a whistling wind as clear

And eek as loude as dooth the chapel belle
And also as loud as does the chapel bell

Ther as this lord was kepere of the celle.
Where this lord was prior of the subordinate monastery.

The reule of Seint Maure or of Seint Beneit --
The rule of Saint Maurus or of Saint Benedict —

By cause that it was old and somdel streit
Because it was old and somewhat strict

This ilke Monk leet olde thynges pace,
This same Monk let old things pass away,

And heeld after the newe world the space.
And followed the broader customs of modern times.

He yaf nat of that text a pulled hen,
He gave not a plucked hen for that text

That seith that hunters ben nat hooly men,
That says that hunters are not holy men,

Ne that a monk, whan he is recchelees,
Nor that a monk, when he is heedless of rules,

Is likned til a fissh that is waterlees --
Is like a fish that is out of water —

This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloystre.
This is to say, a monk out of his cloister.

But thilke text heeld he nat worth an oystre;
But he considered that same text not worth an oyster;

And I seyde his opinion was good.
And I said his opinion was good.

What sholde he studie and make hymselven wood,
Why should he study and make himself crazy,

Upon a book in cloystre alwey to poure,
Always to pore upon a book in the cloister,

Or swynken with his handes, and laboure,
Or work with his hands, and labor,

As Austyn bit? How shal the world be served?
As Augustine commands? How shall the world be served?

Lat Austyn have his swynk to hym reserved!
Let Augustine have his work reserved to him!

Therfore he was a prikasour aright:
Therefore he was indeed a vigorous horseman:

Grehoundes he hadde as swift as fowel in flight;
He had greyhounds as swift as fowl in flight;

Of prikyng and of huntyng for the hare
Of tracking and of hunting for the hare

Was al his lust, for no cost wolde he spare.
Was all his pleasure, by no means would he refrain from it.

I seigh his sleves purfiled at the hond
I saw his sleeves lined at the hand

With grys, and that the fyneste of a lond;
With squirrel fur, and that the finest in the land;

And for to festne his hood under his chyn,
And to fasten his hood under his chin,

He hadde of gold ywroght a ful curious pyn;
He had a very skillfully made pin of gold;

A love-knotte in the gretter ende ther was.
There was an elaborate knot in the larger end.

His heed was balled, that shoon as any glas,
His head was bald, which shone like any glass,

And eek his face, as he hadde been enoynt.
And his face did too, as if he had been rubbed with oil.

He was a lord ful fat and in good poynt;
He was a very plump lord and in good condition;

His eyen stepe, and rollynge in his heed,
His eyes were prominent, and rolling in his head,

That stemed as a forneys of a leed;
Which gleamed like a furnace under a cauldron;

His bootes souple, his hors in greet estaat.
His boots supple, his horse in excellent condition.

Now certeinly he was a fair prelaat;
Now certainly he was a handsome ecclesiastical dignitary;

He was nat pale as a forpyned goost.
He was not pale as a tormented spirit.

A fat swan loved he best of any roost.
A fat swan loved he best of any roast.

His palfrey was as broun as is a berye.
His saddle horse was as brown as is a berry.

spoken =Brian Ó Broin