His typet was ay farsed full of knyves
And pynnes, for to yeven faire wyves.

from Geoffrey Chaucer – The Canterbury Tales (General Prologue) on Rap Genius

Meaning

(= The tip of his hood was stuffed full of knives / And pins, to give to fair wives)

The knives and pins (valuable in the 14th century) symbolize the Friar’s unbecoming wealth.

This couplet rhymes with long and short i (or y here), which should like i in “machine” and “wit”. “knyves” should be pronounced as “ke-nee-f-s”, and “wyves” is pronounced as “wee-f-s”. Besides these two words, “typet”(tea-pet), pynnes(pee-nes), and “yeven”(ee-ven) also contains the i sound. As we read the couplet out loud, the “i” sounds sharp and makes friar have the image of sneakiness.

“Yeven” means to give gifts. So these two lines are stating that the friar instead of helping the poor, he gives the gifts to women who are presented as “wyves” in the text. But as from the text, we don’t know whose “wyves” the text is referring to because the friar is not supposed to have a wife, and not supposed to have much interaction with women. (http://www.ofm.org/1/info/Rule.html) But generally, the friar ’s job at the time should use the money that he gets from the rich to help the poor, but from this couplet, he used the money to buy gifts for “wyves” which made the friar unholy and blasphemous.

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