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Truth by Geoffrey Chaucer


This poem, "Truth", is also sometimes called "Balade de Bon Conseyl" (Ballad of Good Counsel). In this, Chaucer explores what "truth" is ethically. The narrator of the poem states that we should not seek out the rewards of life, because our true home is in heaven and we are only pilgrims while alive. We are sent here to spread the word about God, live a simple life not beyond our means, and be kind to others. This poem is based on John 8:32 which states, "the truth shall set you free".

'Truth" is written as four stanzas with seven lines each. It's rhyme scheme is ABABBCC and is used throughout the entire poem.


Fle fro the pres, and dwelle with sothefastnesse,
Suffise thin owen thing, thei it be smal;
For hord hath hate, and clymbyng tykelnesse,
Prees hath envye, and wele blent overal.
Savour no more thanne the byhove schal;
Reule weel thiself, that other folk canst reede;
And trouthe schal delyvere, it is no drede.

Tempest the nought al croked to redresse,
In trust of hire that tourneth as a bal.
Myche wele stant in litel besynesse;
Bywar therfore to spurne ayeyns an al;
Stryve not as doth the crokke with the wal.
Daunte thiself, that dauntest otheres dede;
And trouthe shal delyvere, it is no drede.

That the is sent, receyve in buxumnesse;
The wrestlyng for the worlde axeth a fal.
Here is non home, here nys but wyldernesse.
Forth, pylgryme, forth! forth, beste, out of thi stal!
Know thi contré! loke up! thonk God of al!
Hold the heye weye, and lat thi gost the lede;
And trouthe shal delyvere, it is no drede.

Therfore, thou Vache, leve thine olde wrechednesse;
Unto the world leve now to be thral.
Crie hym mercy, that of hys hie godnesse
Made the of nought, and in especial
Draw unto hym, and pray in general
For the, and eke for other, hevenelyche mede;
And trouthe schal delyvere, it is no drede.

Next: A Balade of Complaint
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