Geoffrey Chaucer

   A good man was ther of religioun,   
   A good man was there of religion,

And was a povre PERSOUN OF A TOUN,
And (he) was a poor PARSON OF A TOWN,

But riche he was of hooly thoght and werk.
But he was rich in holy thought and work.

He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
He was also a learned man, a scholar,

That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
Who would preach Christ's gospel truly;

His parisshens devoutly wolde he teche.
He would devoutly teach his parishioners.

Benygne he was, and wonder diligent,
He was gracious, and wonderfully diligent,

And in adversitee ful pacient,
And very patient in adversity,

And swich he was ypreved ofte sithes.
And such he was proven many times.

Ful looth were hym to cursen for his tithes,
He was very reluctant to excommunicate for (nonpayment of) his tithes,

But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute,
But rather would he give, there is no doubt,

Unto his povre parisshens aboute
Unto his poor parishioners about

Of his offryng and eek of his substaunce.
Some of his offering (received at mass) and also some of his income.

He koude in litel thyng have suffisaunce.
He knew how to have sufficiency in few possessions.

Wyd was his parisshe, and houses fer asonder,
His parish was wide, and houses far apart,

But he ne lefte nat, for reyn ne thonder,
But he did not omit, for rain nor thunder,

In siknesse nor in meschief to visite
In sickness or in trouble to visit

The ferreste in his parisshe, muche and lite,
Those living farthest away in his parish, high-ranking and low,

Upon his feet, and in his hand a staf.
Going by foot, and in his hand a staff.

This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf,
He gave this noble example to his sheep,

That first he wroghte, and afterward he taughte.
That first he wrought, and afterward he taught.

Out of the gospel he tho wordes caughte,
He took those words out of the gospel,

And this figure he added eek therto,
And this metaphor he added also to that,

That if gold ruste, what shal iren do?
That if gold rust, what must iron do?

For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
For if a priest, on whom we trust, should be foul

No wonder is a lewed man to ruste;
It is no wonder for a layman to go bad;

And shame it is, if a prest take keep,
And it is a shame, if a priest is concerned:

A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep.
A shit-stained shepherd and a clean sheep.

Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive,
Well ought a priest to give an example,

By his clennesse, how that his sheep sholde lyve.
By his purity, how his sheep should live.

He sette nat his benefice to hyre
He did not rent out his benefice (ecclesiastical living)

And leet his sheep encombred in the myre 
And leave his sheep encumbered in the mire

And ran to Londoun unto Seinte Poules 
And run to London unto Saint Paul’s

To seken hym a chaunterie for soules, 
To seek an appointment as a chantry priest (praying for a patron)

Or with a bretherhed to been withholde; 
Or to be hired (as a chaplain) by a guild;

But dwelte at hoom, and kepte wel his folde, 
But dwelt at home, and kept well his sheep fold (parish),

So that the wolf ne made it nat myscarie; 
So that the wolf did not make it go wrong;

He was a shepherde and noght a mercenarie. 
He was a shepherd and not a hireling.

And though he hooly were and vertuous, 
And though he was holy and virtuous,

He was to synful men nat despitous, 
He was not scornful to sinful men,

Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne, 
Nor domineering nor haughty in his speech,

But in his techyng discreet and benygne. 
But in his teaching courteous and kind.

To drawen folk to hevene by fairnesse, 
To draw folk to heaven by gentleness,

By good ensample, this was his bisynesse. 
By good example, this was his business.

But it were any persone obstinat, 
Unless it were an obstinate person,

What so he were, of heigh or lough estat, 
Whoever he was, of high or low rank,

Hym wolde he snybben sharply for the nonys. 
He would rebuke him sharply at that time. 

A bettre preest I trowe that nowher noon ys. 
I believe that nowhere is there a better priest.

He waited after no pompe and reverence, 
He expected no pomp and ceremony,

Ne maked him a spiced conscience, 
Nor made himself an overly fastidious conscience,

But Cristes loore and his apostles twelve 
But Christ's teaching and His twelve apostles 

He taughte; but first he folwed it hymselve. 
He taught; but first he followed it himself.

spoken =Brian Ó Broin