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The Canterbury Tales and Other Works of Chaucer (Middle English), by Geoffery Chaucer, [14th cent.], at

The Canterbury Tales

The Franklin's Prologue

 Thise olde gentil Britouns in hir dayes
710 Of diverse aventures maden layes,
 Rymeyed in hir firste Briton tonge,
 Whiche layes with hir instrumentz they songe
 Or elles redden hem for hir plesaunce;
 And oon of hem have I in remembraunce,
 Which I shal seyn with good wyl as I kan.
 But, sires, by cause I am a burel man,
 At my bigynnyng first I yow biseche,
 Have me excused of my rude speche.
 I lerned nevere rethorik, certeyn;
720 Thyng that I speke, it moot be bare and pleyn.
 I sleep nevere on the Mount of Pernaso,
 Ne lerned Marcus Tullius Scithero.
 Colours ne knowe I none, withouten drede,
 But swiche colours as growen in the mede,
 Or elles swiche as men dye or peynte.
 Colours of rethoryk been to me queynte;
 My spirit feeleth noght of swich mateere.
 But if yow list, my tale shul ye heere.

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