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The Summoner
    There was a Summoner° with us at that Inn, 
His face on fire, like a cherubim,°
For he had carbuncles.° His eyes were narrow, 
He was as hot and lecherous as a sparrow. 
645  Black scabby brows he had, and a thin beard. 
Children were afraid when he appeared. 
No quicksilver, lead ointment, tartar creams, 
No brimstone, no boracic, so it seems, 
Could make a salve that had the power to bite, 
650  Clean up, or cure his whelks° of knobby white 
Or purge the pimples sitting on his cheeks. 
Garlic he loved, and onions too, and leeks, 
And drinking strong red wine till all was hazy. 
Then he would shout and jabber as if crazy, 
655  And wouldn’t speak a word except in Latin 
When he was drunk, such tags as he was pat in; 
He only had a few, say two or three, 
That he had mugged up out of some decree; 
No wonder, for he heard them every day. 
660  And, as you know, a man can teach a jay°
To call out “Walter” better than the Pope. 
But had you tried to test his wits and grope 
For more, you’d have found nothing in the bag. 
Then “Questio quid juris”° was his tag. 
665  He was a noble varlet° and a kind one, 
You’d meet none better if you went to find one. 
Why, he’d allow—just for a quart of wine— 
Any good lad to keep a concubine 
A twelvemonth and dispense him altogether! 
670  And he had finches of his own to feather:°
And if he found some rascal with a maid 
He would instruct him not to be afraid 
In such a case of the Archdeacon’s curse 
(Unless the rascal’s soul were in his purse) 
675  For in his purse the punishment should be. 
“Purse is the good Archdeacon’s Hell,” said he. 
But well I know he lied in what he said; 
A curse should put a guilty man in dread, 
For curses kill, as shriving brings, salvation. 
680  We should beware of excommunication. 
Thus, as he pleased, the man could bring  duress 
On any young fellow in the diocese.


He knew their secrets, tehy did what he said.

He wore a garland set upon his head 

685  Large as the holly-bush upon a stake 
Outside an ale-house, and he had a cake, 
A round one, which it was his joke to wield 
As if it were intended for a shield.

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