In siknesse nor in meschief to visíte
The ferreste in his parisshe, muche and lite,
Translates: [He failed not] In sickness nor in misfortune to visit the farthest from his parish, great and small
This line is telling us of how diligent the Parson is. He would go anywhere he is needed no matter how far he must go. Goes in tune with what was already being said of the Parson’s faithfulness to the parish and its followers.
The Middle Engish dictionary says that “siknesse” can also refer to spiritual or moral malady, so it can be seen how Chaucer could’ve meant both sickness physically and sickness spiritually, which isn’t too surprising given the character described is a parson.
Upon looking at the sounds one makes when reading this couplet out loud, the constant long “e” as if was an afterthought could be heard. I take it to sound like a horse running along at a slow and steady pace. I imagine this is how the Parson’s ride would sound as he visits members of his parish who are far away.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “The Canterbury Tales (General Prologue)” by Geoffrey Chaucer and leave a comment on the lyrics box