Geoffrey Chaucer

(c. 1343 – 25 October 1400 / London, England)

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Truth


Fle fro the pres, and dwelle with sothefastnesse,
Suffise thin owen thing, thei it be smal;
For hord hath hate, and clymbyng tykelnesse,
Prees hath envye, and wele blent overal.
Savour no more thanne the byhove schal;
Reule weel thiself, that other folk canst reede;
And trouthe schal delyvere, it is no drede.

Tempest the nought al croked to redresse,
In trust of hire that tourneth as a bal.
Myche wele stant in litel besynesse;
Bywar therfore to spurne ayeyns an al;
Stryve not as doth the crokke with the wal.
Daunte thiself, that dauntest otheres dede;
And trouthe shal delyvere, it is no drede.

That the is sent, receyve in buxumnesse;
The wrestlyng for the worlde axeth a fal.
Here is non home, here nys but wyldernesse.
Forth, pylgryme, forth! forth, beste, out of thi stal!
Know thi contré! loke up! thonk God of al!
Hold the heye weye, and lat thi gost the lede;
And trouthe shal delyvere, it is no drede.

[L'envoy.]
Therfore, thou Vache, leve thine olde wrechednesse;
Unto the world leve now to be thral.
Crie hym mercy, that of hys hie godnesse
Made the of nought, and in espec{.i}al
Draw unto hym, and pray in general
For the, and eke for other, hevenelyche mede;
And trouthe schal delyvere, it is no drede.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • A Gra (3/18/2014 1:28:00 PM)

    In English, please?
    (I'm really flippin' confused right now...) (Report) Reply

  • Karen Sinclair (3/18/2014 2:37:00 AM)

    I love this. The oldest poem I have ever read. I used to read Shakespeare to my little lad from when he was 5ish. It helped me open my mind and get the gist and flow of this piece. It reads like an honest sermon of warning to the temptations of life... The more I read the more it becomes fluid in my mind. (Report) Reply

  • Ed Eleazer (4/22/2010 2:22:00 PM)

    Here is my own translation. A bit better than the other, but still exhibiting some scansion problems.

    Flee from the press, and dwell in truthfulness,
    Let your fortunes suffice, though they be small;
    For hoarding breeds hate, and status ambiguousness.
    The mob’s filled with envy and blinded by wealth overall.
    Desire only things which meet needs most crucial.
    Control yourself well, if you’d be others’ gauge;
    And the Truth shall you deliver, of that be not afraid.

    Haste not to redress all crookedness
    Placing trust in her who turns like a ball.
    Great good comes from spurning busy-ness;
    Beware then, not to kick against an awl;
    Don’t strive like a crock against a wall.
    To subdue others' deeds, you must yourself first tame,
    And the Truth shall you deliver, of that be not afraid.

    That which you’re sent, receive in humbleness;
    Wrestling after this World is just begging for a fall.
    This is no Home. It’s naught but Wilderness.
    Forth, Pilgrim, forth! Forth, beast, out of your stall!
    Know your true country! Look up! Thank God for all!
    Let your spirit lead, and hold to the High Way,
    And the Truth shall you deliver, of that be not afraid.

    [PS.]
    Therefore you, Vache, leave your old wretchedness;
    And cease now to the World to be enthralled.
    Beg from Him mercy, who in his great goodness
    Made you from nothing, and this above all —
    Draw unto him, and pray in general
    For yourself, and for others, heavenly grace;
    And the Truth shall you deliver, of that be not afraid. (Report) Reply

  • Neil Young (3/18/2010 7:38:00 AM)

    I appreciate the google translation, although it misses the orginal rhyme royale scheme. A great poem. As appropriate today as it was then. (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (3/18/2010 1:32:00 AM)

    Wow this brings back memories. Thanks Kevin, lost without translation. Some ideals and problems are universal and timeless. Yesterdays drink drink was more fun: -) (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (3/18/2010 12:59:00 AM)

    Value of truth and advice to be so are really thought provoking to read! Message of Chaucer holds good even now! (Report) Reply

Read all 10 comments »

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