A FRERE ther was, a wantowne and a merye,

there was a Friar, wanton and merry,

A lymytour, a ful solempne man.

a Limiter friar, a really dignified man.

In alle the ordres foure is noon that kan

in all the four orders there is no one that knows

So muchel of daliaunce and fair langage.

so much of sociability and beautiful language

He hadde maad ful many a mariage

he had organised many a marriage

Of yonge wommen at his owene cost.

of young women at his own cost.

Unto his ordre he was a noble post.

he was a noble supporter of his Order.

Ful wel biloved and famulier was he

He was well loved and familiar

With frankeleyns over al in his contree,

with landowners everywhere in his country,

And eek with worthy wommen of the toun;

And also with honourable women of the town;

For he hadde power of confessioun,

For he was qualified to hear confession,

As seyde hymself, moore than a curat,

as he said himself, more than a priest,

For of his ordre he was licenciat.

for he was licensed to hear confessions.

Ful swetely herde he confessioun,

Sweetly he heard confession

And plesaunt was his absolucioun:

and his absolution was pleasant:

He was an esy man to yeve penaunce,

He was an easy man to give penance,

Ther as he wiste to have a good pitaunce.

as he expected to get a good gift.

For unto a povre ordre for to yive

for to give something to the poor

Is signe that a man is wel yshryve;

is a sign that a man has confessed well;

For if he yaf, he dorste make avaunt,

for if he gave, he dared to assert,

He wiste that a man was repentaunt;

he wished that a man was repentant;

For many a man so hard is of his herte,

for many a man is so hard of heart,

He may nat wepe, althogh hym soore smerte.

that he may not weep, even if he is really sad.

Therfore in stede of wepynge and preyeres

Therefore, instead of weeping and praying

Men moote yeve silver to the povre freres.

People should give silver to the poor friars.

His typet was ay farsed ful of knyves

His hood was stuffed with knives

And pynnes, for to yeven faire wyves.

and pins to give to pretty women.

And certeinly he hadde a murye note:

and certainly he had a merry voice:

Wel koude he synge and pleyen on a rote;

He could sing well an play an instrument;

Of yeddynges he baar outrely the pris.

he was much praised for reciting ballads.

His nekke whit was as the flour-de-lys;

His neck was white as the lily flower;

Therto he strong was as a champioun.

but he was strong as a champion.

He knew the tavernes wel in every toun

He knew the inns in every town well

And everich hostiler and tappestere

and every innkeeper and barmaid too

Bet than a lazar or a beggestere,

better than lepers or beggars,

For unto swich a worthy man as he

for to such an honourable man as he

Acorded nat, as by his facultee,

it was not suitable, in view of his official position

To have with sike lazars aqueyntaunce.

to deal with such lepers.

It is nat honest; it may nat avaunce,

It is not honest, it cannot be profitable,

For to deelen with no swich poraille,

to deal with such poor people.

But al with riche and selleres of vitaille.

But only with the rich and sellers of victuals.

And over al, ther as profit sholde arise,

And anywhere a profit might arise,

Curteis he was and lowely of servyse;

he was curteis and graciously humble;

Ther nas no man nowher so vertuous.

There wasn't such a capable man anywhere.

He was the beste beggere in his hous;

He was the best beggar in his area;

(And yaf a certeyn ferme for the graunt;

(And gave a certain fee for the grant.

Noon of his bretheren cam ther in his haunt;)

None of his brothers entered his territory.)

For thogh a wydwe hadde noght a sho,

For though a widow might not have a shoe,

So plesaunt was his "In principio,"

So pleasant was his "In the beginning,"

Yet wolde he have a ferthyng, er he wente.

Yet he wanted to have a farthing before he went.

His purchas was wel bettre than his rente.

His total income was better than his real income.

And rage he koude, as it were right a whelp.

And he could romp as if he were a puppy.

In love-dayes ther koude he muchel help,

On settling days he could help a lot,

For ther he was nat lyk a cloysterer

For there he was not like a cloisterer

With a thredbare cope, as is a povre scoler,

with a theadbare habit, like a poor student,

But he was lyk a maister or a pope.

But he was more like a master or a pope.

Of double worstede was his semycope,

His short coat was made of double worsted,

That rounded as a belle out of the presse

that had come round as a bell from the casting mould

Somwhat he lipsed, for his wantownesse

He lisped a little out of wantonness

To make his Englissh sweete upon his tonge;

To make his English sweet upon his tongue;

And in his harpyng, whan that he hadde songe,

When he played the harp, when he had sung,

His eyen twynkled in his heed aryght

His eyes twinkled in his head as bright

As doon the sterres in the frosty nyght.

As stars do in a frosty night.

This worthy lymytour was cleped Huberd.

This worthy man was called Huberd.