Weekly Interlinear Poem





This is the poem
for the week of September 28.
A new interlinear poem
is available each Monday.

Send me e-mail - robert15115@gmail.com
Robert Jackson

Description of the Clerk in the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales
(Chaucer's Middle English spelling has been modernized)

-Geoffrey Chaucer



A CLERK there was of Oxenford also
clerk=clergyman
Oxenford=Oxford

That unto logic hadde long y-go.
(logic was a standard part of university education)
y-go=gone (past participle of go)

As leane was his horse as is a rake,
And he was not right fat, I undertake,
he=the clerk
But looked hollow and thereto soberly.
thereto soberly=moreover abstemious
Full threadbare was his overest courtepy,
overest courtepy=outer cloak
For he had gotten him yet no benefice
benefice=parish
Nor was so worldly for to have office,
office=secular job
For him was lever have at his bed's head
For him was lever have=For he would rather have
Twenty bookes clad in black or red
Of Aristotle and his philosophy
Than robes rich or fiddle or gay psalt'ry.
psaltery=stringed instrument
But albeit that he was a philosopher,
albeit that=although
Yet hadde he but little gold in coffer,
But all that he might of his friendes hent
hent=get
On bookes and on learning he it spent,
And busily gan for the soules pray
busily gan=regularly did
Of them that gave him wherewith to scholay.
scholay=study
Of study took he most care and most heed.
Not one word spoke he more than was need,
And that was spoke in form and reverence
And short and quick and full of high sentence.
high sentence=lofty thought
Sounding in moral virtue was his speech,
And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.

A CLERK there was of Oxenford also
That unto logic hadde long y-go.
As leane was his horse as is a rake,
And he was not right fat, I undertake,
But looked hollow and thereto soberly.
Full threadbare was his overest courtepy,
For he had gotten him yet no benefice
Nor was so worldly for to have office,
For him was lever have at his bed's head
Twenty bookes clad in black or red
Of Aristotle and his philosophy
Than robes rich or fiddle or gay psalt'ry.
But albeit that he was a philosopher,
Yet hadde he but little gold in coffer,
But all that he might of his friendes hent
On bookes and on learning he it spent,
And busily gan for the soules pray
Of them that gave him wherewith to scholay.
Of study took he most care and most heed.
Not one word spoke he more than was need,
And that was spoke in form and reverence
And short and quick and full of high sentence.
Sounding in moral virtue was his speech,
And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.