Prev | Next | Contents


PRECES DE CHAUCERES  

(Prayer of Chaucer)

Now pray I to you all that hear this little treatise or read it, that if there be anything in it that likes them, that thereof they thank our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom proceedeth all wit and all
goodness; and if there be anything that displeaseth them, I pray
them also that they arette [impute] it to the default of mine
unconning [unskilfulness], and not to my will, that would fain
have said better if I had had conning; for the book saith, all that
is written for our doctrine is written. Wherefore I beseech you
meekly for the mercy of God that ye pray for me, that God have
mercy on me and forgive me my guilts, and namely [specially]
my translations and of inditing in worldly vanities, which I
revoke in my Retractions, as is the Book of Troilus, the Book
also of Fame, the Book of Twenty-five Ladies, the Book of the
Duchess, the Book of Saint Valentine's Day and of the
Parliament of Birds, the Tales of Canter bury, all those that
sounen unto sin, [are sinful, tend towards sin] the Book of the
Lion, and many other books, if they were in my mind or
remembrance, and many a song and many a lecherous lay, of the
which Christ for his great mercy forgive me the sins. But of the
translation of Boece de Consolatione, and other books of
consolation and of legend of lives of saints, and homilies, and
moralities, and devotion, that thank I our Lord Jesus Christ, and
his mother, and all the saints in heaven, beseeching them that
they from henceforth unto my life's end send me grace to bewail
my guilts, and to study to the salvation of my soul, and grant
me grace and space of very repentance, penitence, confession,
and satisfaction, to do in this present life, through the benign
grace of Him that is King of kings and Priest of all priests, that
bought us with his precious blood of his heart, so that I may be
one of them at the day of doom that shall be saved: Qui cum
Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivis et regnas Deus per omnia secula.
Amen. <2>


Notes to the Prayer of Chaucer


1. The genuineness and real significance of this "Prayer of
Chaucer," usually called his "Retractation," have been warmly
disputed. On the one hand, it has been declared that the monks
forged the retractation. and procured its insertion among the
works of the man who had done so much to expose their abuses
and ignorance, and to weaken their hold on popular credulity:
on the other hand, Chaucer himself at the close of his life, is
said to have greatly lamented the ribaldry and the attacks on the
clergy which marked especially "The Canterbury Tales," and to
have drawn up a formal retractation of which the "Prayer" is
either a copy or an abridgment. The beginning and end of the
"Prayer," as Tyrwhitt points out, are in tone and terms quite
appropriate in the mouth of the Parson, while they carry on the
subject of which he has been treating; and, despite the fact that
Mr Wright holds the contrary opinion, Tyrwhitt seems to be
justified in setting down the "Retractation" as interpolated into
the close of the Parson's Tale. Of the circumstances under
which the interpolation was made, or the causes by which it was
dictated, little or nothing can now be confidently affirmed; but
the agreement of the manuscripts and the early editions in
giving it, render it impossible to discard it peremptorily as a
declaration of prudish or of interested regret, with which
Chaucer himself had nothing whatever to do.

2. "[You] Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and
reignest God for ever and ever. Amen."


THE END OF THE CANTERBURY TALES





Prev | Next | Contents



Literature Project  |  eBooks  |  Free eBooks  |  Authors  |  Directories  |  Terms of Use

 

We care about eBooks because we care about the environment.
Read an eBook and save a tree. You can help save our planet.

Copyright © 2000- Literature Project. All Rights Reserved.