… instead those of another poet, far better than me:
A good man was ther of Religioun,
And was a poure persoun of a toun;
But riche he was of hooly thoght and werk,
He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
That cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
Hise parisshens deuoutly wolde he teche.
Benygne he was, and wonder diligent,
And in Aduersitee ful pacient,
And swich he was preued ofte sithes,
fful looth were hym to cursen for his tithes,
But rather wolde he yeuen, out of doute,
Vn to his poure parisshens aboute
Of his offryng and eek of his substaunce;
He koude in litel thyng haue suffisaunce.
Wyd was his parisshe, and houses fer a sonder,
But he ne lefte nat, for reyn ne thonder,
In siknesse nor in meschief to visite
The ferreste in parisshe, muche and lite,
Vp on his feet, and in his hand a staf,
This noble ensample to his sheepe he yaf,
That firste he wroghte, and afterward that he taughte.
Out of the gospel he tho wordes caughte,
And this figure he added eek therto,
That if gold ruste, what shal Iren do?
ffor if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
No wonder is a lewed man to ruste!
And shame it is, if a preest take keepe,
A shiten shepherde and a clene sheepe.
Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yeue
By his clennesse how that his sheepe sholde lyue.
He sette nat his benefice to hyre,
And leet his sheepe encombred in the Myre,
And ran to Londoun vn to seint Poules,
To seken hym a chauntries for soules,
Or with a bretherhed to been withholde;
But dwelleth at hoom and kepeth wel his folde,
So that the wolf ne made it nat myscarie.
He was a shephere and noght a Mercenarie.
And though he hooly were and vertuous,
He was nat to synful men despitous,
Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne,
But in his techyng discreet and benygne.
To drawen folk to heuene by fairness,
By good ensample, this was his bisynesse.
But it were any persone obstinat,
What so he were, of heigh or lough estat,
Hym wolde he snybben sharply for the nonys.
A bettre preest I trowe that nowher noon ys.
He waiteth after no pompe and reuerence,
Ne maked hym a spiced conscience.
But cristes loore and his Apostles twelue
He taughte, but first he folwed it hym selue.
Hmmm.Would that more clerics lived up to that (imaginary) standard of Chaucer’s.