The Written Word

“By God,” quod he, “for pleynly at a word
Thy drasty rymyng is nat worth a toord,
Thou doost noght elles but despendest tyme.
Sir, at o word thou shalt no lenger ryme.
Lat se wher thou kanst tellen aught in geeste,
Or telle in prose somwhat, at the leeste,
In which ther be som murthe or som doctrine.” *

 

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*

“By God!” cried he, “now plainly, in a word,
Your dirty rhyming is not worth a turd;
You do nothing but waste and fritter time.
Sir, in one word, you shall no longer rhyme.
Let’s see if you can use the country verse,
Or tell a tale in prose -you might do worse-
Wherein there’s mirth or doctrine good and plain.”

 

– From The Canterbury Tales:
The Tale of Sir Thopas
lines 239-252, by Geoffrey Chaucer

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