He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde,
In al his lyf, unto no maner wight.
(= He never said anything horrible / In all his life, to no-one)
Good news, folks. We’re nearing the end of the Knight love-in.
‘Vileynye’ is literally the language that a ‘villein’, i.e. someone low-born, would use. We get ‘villain’ from the same word— so when we mean to say ‘bad guy’, we end up saying ‘pauper’. Sometimes, Marxism makes a lot of sense…
There is a triple negative in the first line, but in Middle English, negatives do not cancel each other out— they just function as intensifiers.
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