Geoffrey Chaucer is an English writer and poet who was born in London in the 1340s and died in 1400 in that same city. His most famous work is Canterbury Tales. The Canterbury Tales are, with Sire Gauvain and the Green Knight (from an anonymous person) and Peter the Plowman (by William Langland), the very first great works of English literature. Here is the first tale: Sire Topaze.
When all this miracle was said, everyone
remained serious, that it was marvelous;
finally our host began to gaber,
then for the first time he looked at me
and called out to me like this: "Who are you?" (he said 😉
it looks like you're following a hare's trail,
because I always see you with your eye stuck in the ground.
Come a little closer, and look up cheerfully.
Come on, pull over, gentlemen, and make way for this man;
1890 he has the waist as well taken as me;
it would make a fine doll to entwine for the arm
of a woman, petite and pretty in face!
He seems in a bad mood in his ways
for he does not say a kind word to anyone.
Tell us something in turn, as the others did;
tell us a happy story right now. "
"Hotelier, (I said,) don't take it badly,
because, I assure you, I don't know any other story
than a rhyme I learned a long time ago. "
1900 " That is ! that will do, (he said.) Now that we are going to hear
something rare, judging by his looks. "
Hear, lords, in good harmony
and I will tell you in truth
story of joy and soulas,
all of a knight who was handsome and gallant
in battle and tournament;
his name was Sire Topaze.
He was born in a far country,
in Flanders, across the sea,
1910 in Popering, in the mansion;
his father was a very noble man
and lord was from this land
by the grace of God.
Sir Topaz became a valiant varlet ;
his face was as white as bread-tomorrow,
her lips red as rose;
her complexion resembles seed scarlet,
and, I give it to you for certain,
he had a pretty nose.
1920 His hair, his beard were like saffron,
this went down to his belt:
His shoes were of Cordovan leather;
de Bruges were his brown breeches;
her dress was ciclaton
which cost many Genoese soil.
He knew how to hunt wild beasts,
and on his horse to fly in the river,
a gray circle on the hand;
with that he was a good archer,
1930 in wrestling he did not have his peer,
where a ram is the price.
Many and many girls beautiful as the day
sigh after him in their room for love,
who would be better off sleeping;
but he was chaste and not a licker
and sweet like rosehip flower
which carries the red cenelle.
And so it happened one day,
in truth I can tell you,
1940 that Sire Topaze wanted to take a ride;
he climbed on his gray steed,
in his hand a lance-zagaie,
a long sword by his side.
It stings both through the forest
where is many wild beasts,
yes-da, deer and hare;
and as it swung north and east,
I'm telling you, not much
that no annoying boredom occurred to him.
1950 There grow large and small grasses,
licorice and citoal,
and many cloves,
and nutmeg to put in the ale,
whether it is fresh or stale,
or to put in a box.
The birds are singing, there's no need to say no
the emouchet and the papegai,
that it was joy to hear them;
the male thrush also said its lai,
1960 the wood dove on the branch
sang loud and clear.
Sir Topaz fell in love languid
when he heard the thrush sing,
and spurred as if he was mad:
his handsome steed under his spur
sweated as much as we could have twisted it,
his sides were all bleeding.
Sire Topaze also became so weary
to ram on the soft grass
1970 (so fierce was his courage !)
that he dismounted in this place
to allow his horse some soula,
and gave him good fodder.
"O Holy Mary, blessed !
What does this cruel love want from me
to bind me so tightly?
I dreamed all night, by God!
that an elven queen will be my lover
and will sleep under my coat.
1980 She's an elven queen that I want to love, by my faith!
because in this world he is not a woman
worthy of being my companion
I renounce any other woman,
and i'm gonna go find an elven queen
by mountains and also by valleys! "
He immediately climbed back into the saddle,
and here he pricks over stone and fence
to spot an elven queen;
1990 so long he rode and run
that he found, in a hidden retreat,
the land of fairyland
because in this country was nobody
who dared to come to him on horseback or on foot,
neither woman nor child.
Finally came a great giant,
his name was Sire Olifant,
he is a perilous hero.
2000 He says: "Child, by Termagant,
if you don't gallop quickly out of my stay,
immediately I kill your courier
with this mass.
This is where the Queen of Faerie is,
with harp and pipe and symphony
she lives there. "
The Child said: "On my life,
tomorrow I will come and measure myself with you
when I have my armor;
2010 and I hope so, by my faith!
that with this lance-zagaie
I will make you pay dearly for it;
I will pierce it, if I can,
before the day has passed prime
because here you will be killed. "
Sire Topaze turns bridle as quickly as possible;
the giant threw stones at him
with a terrible slingshot ;
2020 but the child Topaz escapes him beautifully;
and it was all thanks to god
and his beautiful attitude.
Hear again, lords, my tale
more pleasant than the nightingale,
cause i will tweet you now
how Sire Topaz with a thin waist
riding through mountain and valley
To his merry companions he commanded
2030 to celebrate and jubilate him,
because he has to fight
against a giant with three heads,
for love and joy
of someone who shone like a star,
"Bring in," he said, "my minstrels
and managers to tell tales
immediately arming me;
novels on royal themes,
and popes and cardinals,
2040 and also the pleasure of love. "
They first brought him the sweet wine
and mead in a maple bowl
and royal spices
of ginger which was very fine,
and liquorice, and also cumin,
with sugar which is so exquisite.
He clad against his white skin,
fine light linen fabric
breeches and also a shirt;
2050 and on his shirt a hiccup
and over a haubergeon
to preserve his heart from spikes;
And, above, a beautiful hauberk
all adorned with jewelry,
he was very strong in armor;
and on top of that his coat of arms
as white as fleur-de-lis,
in which he will fight.
His shield was all red gold,
2060 and in the middle was a boar's head
near a carbuncle;
and then he swore by ale and bread,
that "this giant would die,
happens that would like! "
His leggings were of boiled leather,
the sheath of his ivory sword,
his shiny brass helmet,
the saddle was of rochal bone,
her bridle like the sun shone,
2070 or like moonlight.
His spear was of strong cypress
which presages war and no peace,
the very sharp sharp head;
his steed was all dapple gray,
he goes ambling on the roads
very slowly and smoothly
by the country.
Here, lords, a finished song!
If you want more
2080 I will try to tell more.
Now hold your tongue, out of charity,
knight and noblewoman set,
and listen to my verses;
of battle and chivalry
I will speak to you immediately.
We are talking about price novels,
of the Horn Child and of Ypotis,
of Bevis and Sire Guy,
2090 of Sire Libeux and Plein-d'Amour ;
but Sire Topaz takes the flower
of royal chivalry.
He straddled his good steed
and rushed on his way
as the spark bursts from the brand;
on his crest he wore a tower
and on it was pricked a fleur-de-lis.
God keep his body from all evil!
And since he was an adventurous knight
2100 he didn't want to sleep in any house
and lay down in his hood;
his shining helm was his pillow,
and near him he feasts on his steed
of beautiful and good herbs.
He himself drank water from the wells
as did the Knight Sire Percival
so gallant under his arms,
when finally one fine day ......