I didn’t eat lunch before class today so forgive me if I wandered a bit. I also mistook “The Prioress’s Tale” for “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale.” It is the Prioress who tells a story about a beautiful, innocent Christian boy who is murdered by Jews. That narrative is one iteration of the Blood Libel (see http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/source/rinn.asp ).
Here is an extract with standard Modern English interspersing the original Middle English:
551 As I have seyd, thurghout the Juerie
As I have said, throughout the Ghetto
552 This litel child, as he cam to and fro,
This little child, as he came to and fro,
553 Ful murily than wolde he synge and crie
Very merrily then would he sing and cry
554 O Alma redemptoris everemo.
Always `O Gracious (mother) of the Redeemer’
555 The swetnesse his herte perced so
So pierced his heart the sweetness
556 Of Cristes mooder that, to hire to preye,
Of Christ’s mother that, to pray to her,
557 He kan nat stynte of syngyng by the weye.
He can not stop singing by the way.
558 Oure firste foo, the serpent Sathanas,
Our first foe, the serpent Satan,
559 That hath in Jues herte his waspes nest,
That has his wasp’s nest in Jews’ hearts,
560 Up swal, and seide, “O Hebrayk peple, allas!
Swelled up, and said, “Oh Hebraic people, alas!
561 Is this to yow a thyng that is honest,
Is this a thing that is honorable to you,
562 That swich a boy shal walken as hym lest
That such a boy shall walk as he pleases
563 In youre despit, and synge of swich sentence,
In scorn of you, and sing of such a subject,
564 Which is agayn youre lawes reverence?”
Which is against your law’s (due) reverence?”
565 Fro thennes forth the Jues han conspired
From thenceforth the Jews have conspired
566 This innocent out of this world to chace.
To drive this innocent out of this world.
567 An homycide therto han they hyred,
For this they have hired a murderer,
568 That in an aleye hadde a privee place;
Who in an alley had a secret place;
569 And as the child gan forby for to pace,
And as the child began to pass by,
570 This cursed Jew hym hente, and heeld hym faste,
This cursed Jew seized him, and held him tightly,
571 And kitte his throte, and in a pit hym caste.
And cut his throat, and cast him in a pit.
572 I seye that in a wardrobe they hym threwe
I say that they threw him in a privy
573 Where as thise Jewes purgen hire entraille.
Where these Jews purge their entrails.
574 O cursed folk of Herodes al newe,
Oh cursed folk of new Herods,
575 What may youre yvel entente yow availle?
What may your evil intent avail you?
576 Mordre wol out, certeyn, it wol nat faille,
Murder will come out, certainly, it will not fail,
577 And namely ther th’onour of God shal sprede;
And especially where the honor of God shall spread;
578 The blood out crieth on youre cursed dede.
The blood cries out on your cursed deed.