Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive
By his clennesse how that his sheep sholde lyve.

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

Meaning

These lines address the duty that the parson felt toward his congregation to set an example through his actions— along with the following two lines, Chaucer presents a metaphor of sheep in the mud and their clean shepherd. This relates to the parson’s responsibility to guide his flock to cleanliness (which is said to be close to godliness) through his own example.

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