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Original Text:
A friar there was, a wanton and a merry,
A limiter, a very festive man.
In all the Orders Four is none that can
Equal his gossip and his fair language.
He had arranged full many a marriage
Of women young, and this at his own cost.
Unto his order he was a noble post.
Well liked by all and intimate was he
With franklins everywhere in his country,
And with the worthy women of the town:
For at confessing he'd more power in gown
(As he himself said) than it good curate,
For of his order he was licentiate.
He heard confession gently, it was said,
Gently absolved too, leaving naught of dread.
He was an easy man to give penance
When knowing he should gain a good pittance;
For to a begging friar, money given
Is sign that any man has been well shriven.
For if one gave (he dared to boast of this),
He took the man's repentance not amiss.
For many a man there is so hard of heart
He cannot weep however pains may smart.
Therefore, instead of weeping and of prayer,
Men should give silver to poor friars all bare.
His tippet was stuck always full of knives
And pins, to give to young and pleasing wives.
And certainly he kept a merry note:
Well could he sing and play upon the rote.
At balladry he bore the prize away.
His throat was white as lily of the May;
Yet strong he was as ever champion.
In towns he knew the taverns, every one,
And every good host and each barmaid too-
Better than begging lepers, these he knew.
For unto no such solid man as he
Accorded it, as far as he could see,
To have sick lepers for acquaintances.
There is no honest advantageousness
In dealing with such poverty-stricken curs;
It's with the rich and with big victuallers.
And so, wherever profit might arise,
Courteous he was and humble in men's eyes.
There was no other man so virtuous.
He was the finest beggar of his house;
A certain district being farmed to him,
None of his brethren dared approach its rim;
For though a widow had no shoes to show,
So pleasant was his In principio,
He always got a farthing ere he went.
He lived by pickings, it is evident.
And he could romp as well as any whelp.
On love days could he be of mickle help.
For there he was not like a cloisterer,
With threadbare cope as is the poor scholar,
But he was like a lord or like a pope.
Of double worsted was his semi-cope,
That rounded like a bell, as you may guess.
He lisped a little, out of wantonness,
To make his English soft upon his tongue;
And in his harping, after he had sung,
His two eyes twinkled in his head as bright
As do the stars within the frosty night.
This worthy limiter was named Hubert.

Paraphrase:
The Friar was lively but morally lax, and was licensed to beg in a certain district. He was insecure with his speech and writing, he is also a deceitful man. He was very decent to the women he married by giving them what he could. The Friar got along very well with the wealthy landowners and high class people that lived near to him. It is important to many to have honor and expensive possessions. He listened to people confessions and easily forgave them. Friars were expected to live in poverty but this Friar was accepting nice gifts in return for forgiveness. Neither crying or prayer brought forgiveness from the Friar, the more expensive the gift the easier it was for him to forgive you for your sins. The Friar would carry around gifts for young women with him. He would play them songs and flirt with them. Every tavern, barmaid, and innkeeper he knew well which was a poor decision on his part because he was not suppose to lower himself to the level of those who preside in the taverns. He was talented at finding a way to get money from people. He was a slick and smooth talker and was the best beggar in his area, receiving money from many. The Friar dressed inappropriately and would not give his help to anyone that was not willing to pay somewhat of a fee. The Friar is corrupt and a very shady man.

Commentary:
The Friar is a deceptive and corrupt man and used his religious position for his own benefit. He would offer forgiveness to those who would be willing to pay for it. He would gain money from others by smooth talking them to increase his own wealth. He would a semi-cope, which was too fancy and unacceptable attire for Friars to wear. The Friar was more worried and his own personal gain than the actual well-being of the people.