Canterbury Tales: The Monk’s Tale

Author: Geoffrey Chaucer  | Date: 1380


The precious treasure and the mighty throne,

The glorious sceptre and royal majesty

That Nebuchadnezzar counted as his own

With tongue or pen not easily told may be.

Twice of Jerusalem the victor he;

The Temple’s vessels took he and was glad.

And Babylon was the ancient sovereign see

Wherein his glory and delight he had.

The fairest children of the blood royal

Of Israel, he gelded them anon,

And made each one of them to be his thrall.

Among the number Daniel thus was one,

Of all the youth the nation’s wisest son;

For he the dreams of the great king expounded

When in Chaldea wise clerk was there none

Who knew to what end those dreams were propounded.

This proud king made a statue of pure gold

Full sixty cubits long by seven wide,

Unto which image both the young and old

Commanded he to bow down, nor deride,

Else in a furnace full of flames go bide

And burn to ashes, who would not obey.

But no assent to that, whate’er betide,

Would Daniel and his pair of comrades say.

This king of kings right proud was and elate,

And thought that God, Who sits in majesty,

Could not bereave him of his high estate:

Yet suddenly he lost all dignity,

And like a brute beast then he seemed to be,

And ate hay like an ox, and lay without;

In rain and storm with all wild beasts walked he,

Until a certain time was come about.

And like an eagle’s fathers were his hairs,

His nails like any bird’s claws hooked were;

Till God released him after certain years

And gave him sense; and then, with many a tear,

He gave God thanks; thereafter all in fear

He lived of doing ever again trespass,

And till the time they laid him on his bier,

He knew that God was full of might and grace.


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Chicago: Geoffrey Chaucer, "Nebuchadnezzar," Canterbury Tales: The Monk’s Tale Original Sources, accessed December 1, 2023,

MLA: Chaucer, Geoffrey. "Nebuchadnezzar." Canterbury Tales: The Monk’s Tale, Original Sources. 1 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: Chaucer, G, 'Nebuchadnezzar' in Canterbury Tales: The Monk’s Tale. Original Sources, retrieved 1 December 2023, from