A CLERK ther was of Oxenford also,

A University student from Oxford there was, too,

That unto logyk hadde longe ygo.

who had studied logic long ago.

As leene was his hors as is a rake,

His horse was as thin as a rake,

And he nas nat right fat, I undertake,

And he was not really fat, I think,

But looked holwe, and therto sobrely.

But had a hollow and therefore somber look.

Ful thredbare was his overeste courtepy,

His overcoat was completely threadbare,

For he hadde geten hym yet no benefice,

For he had not managed to get an ecclesiastical living,

Ne was so worldly for to have office.

And was not worldly enough to find a job.

For hym was levere have at his beddes heed

He preferred to have at the head of his bed

Twenty bookes, clad in blak or reed,

Twenty books, wrapped in black or red,

Of Aristotle and his philosophie

Of Aristotle's philosophy

Than robes riche, or fithele, or gay sautrie.

rather than fine clothes, or a fiddel or an elegant psaltry.

But al be that he was a philosophre,

But even though he was a philosopher,

Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre;

He had yet only little gold in store;

But al that he myghte of his freendes hente,

But everything he could get from his friends,

On bookes and on lernynge he it spente,

he spent on books and learning,

And bisily gan for the soules preye

And prayed busily for the souls

Of them that yaf hym wherwith to scoleye.

of those who gave him something to spend on learning.

Of studie took he moost cure and moost heede.

His only care and worry was his study.

Noght o word spak he moore than was neede,

He did not speak a word more than was necessary,

And that was seyd in forme and reverence,

And these words were said formally and respectfully,

And short and quyk and ful of hy sentence;

And short and quick and full of elevated contents;

Sownynge in moral vertu was his speche,

The thought of moral virtue was in his speech.

And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche.

And he gladly wanted to learn and to teach.