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The Miller's Portrait
The Miller
From the Ellesmere Manuscript

Audio Reading by Anniina Jokinen, ©2009.
Anniina studied Chaucer at UCLA under V. A. Kolve.


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      The Millere was a stout carl for the nones,
Ful byg he was of brawn, and eek of bones;
That proved wel, for over al, ther he cam,
At wrastlynge he wolde have alwey the ram.
He was short-sholdred, brood, a thikke knarre,
Ther nas no dore that he nolde heve of harre,
Or breke it at a rennyng with his heed.
His berd, as any sowe or fox, was reed,
And therto brood, as though it were a spade.
Upon the cope right of his nose he hade
A werte, and theron stood a toft of herys,
Reed as the brustles of a sowes erys;
His nosethirles blake were and wyde;
A swerd and a bokeler bar he by his syde;
His mouth as wyde was as a greet forneys,
He was a janglere and a goliardeys,
And that was moost of synne and harlotriës.
Wel koude he stelen corn and tollen thriës,
And yet he hadde a thombe of gold, pardee.
A whit cote and a blew hood wered he.
A baggepipe wel koude he blowe and sowne,
And therwithal he broghte us out of towne.


545




550




555




560




565

547. over al, ther, everywhere, where.
548. the ram, the wresler's prize.
549. knarre, knot.
550. nas no dore, ne was no dore, i.e. wasn't a door.
        nolde, ne wolde, i.e. would not.
        heve of harre, lift off its hinges.
554. cope, top.
555. werte, wart.
        toft of herys, tuft of hairs.
556. brustles, bristles.
        erys, ears.
557. nosethirles, nostrils.
558. bokeler, buckler; bar, bore.
559. forneys, furnace.
560. janglere, prater.
        goliardeys, a ribald buffoon.
561. and that, i.e., his prating.
562. corn, wheat; tollen thriës, take triple the toll he was due.
563. yet he hadde a thombe of gold; millers are said to test samples with their thumb.
        Hence the proverb "An honest miller has a thumb of gold," which suggests the
        meaning here to be "yet he was honest,—for a miller."
565. sowne, sound.



Source:

Pollard, Alfred W., ed. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Vol I.
London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1907. 28-30.




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Copyright ©1996-2011 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.
Created on October 29, 1998 by Anniina Jokinen. Last updated on April 22, 2011.



 


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