The canterbury tales, p.20
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.20

           Geoffrey Chaucer
 

  Oure Hoost answerde, ‘Tel on, a devel wey3134!

  3135 Thow art a fool; thy wit is overcome.’

  ‘Now herkneth,’ quod the Millere, ‘alle and some3136!

  But first I make a protestacioun

  That I am dronke – I knowe it by my soun3138.

  And therfore, if that I misspeke3139 or seye,

  3140 Wite it3140 the ale of Southwerk, I yow preye.

  For I wol telle a legende and a lif

  Both of a carpenter and of his wif,

  How that a clerk hath set the wrightes cappe3143.’

  The Reve answerde and seide, ‘Stint thy clappe3144!

  3145 Lat be thy lewed3145 dronken harlotrye!

  It is a sinne and eek a greet folye

  To apeiren3147 any man, or him defame,

  And eek to bringen wives3148 in swich fame.

  Thow mayst inow3149 of othere thinges seyn.’

  3150 This dronken Millere spak ful sone agein3150

  And seide, ‘Leve brother Osewold,

  Who hath no wif, he is no cokewold3152;

  But I seye nat therfore that thow art oon.

  Ther been ful goode wives many oon,

  3155 And evere a thousand goode ayeins oon badde3155;

  That knowestow wel thyself but if thow madde3156.

  Why artow angry with my tale now?

  I have a wif, pardee, as wel as thow,

  Yet nolde I, for the oxen in my plough,

  3160 Take upon me moore than inough,

  As demen3161 of myself that I were oon.

  I wol bileve wel that I am noon.

  An housbonde shal noght been inquisitif

  Of Goddes privetee3164, nor of his wif.

  3165 So he may finde Goddes foison3165 there,

  Of the remenant nedeth noght enquere.3166’

  What sholde I moore seyn, but this Millere

  He nolde his wordes for no man forbere,3168

  But tolde his cherles tale in his manere.

  3170 M’athinketh3170 that I shal reherce it here;

  And therfore every gentil wight3171 I preye,

  Demeth noght3172, for Goddes love, that I seye

  Of ivel entente3173, but for I moot reherse

  Hir tales alle, be they bet3174 or werse,

  3175 Or elles falsen3175 som of my matere.

  And therfore, whoso list it noght ihere,

  Turne over the leef and chese3177 another tale,

  For he shal finde inowe, grete and smale,

  Of storial3179 thing that toucheth gentillesse,

  3180 And eek moralitee and holinesse.

  Blameth noght me, if that ye chese amis3181.

  The Millere is a cherl; ye knowe wel this.

  So was the Reve eek, and othere mo,

  And harlotrye they tolden bothe two.

  3185 Aviseth yow3185, and put me out of blame –

  And eek men shal noght make ernest of game3186.

  THE MILLER’S TALE

  Heere biginneth the Millere his Tale.

  Whilom ther was dwelling in Oxenford3187

  A riche gnof3188, that gestes held to bord3189,

  And of his craft he was a carpenter.

  3190 With him ther was dwellinge a povre scoler3190

  Had lerned art3191, but al his fantasye

  Was turned for to lerne astrologye,

  And koude a certein of conclusions3193,

  To demen by interrogacions3194,

  3195 If that men axed him in certein houres

  Whan that men sholde have droghte3196, or ellis shoures,

  Or if men axed him what sholde bifalle

  Of everything – I may nat rekene hem alle.

  This clerk was cleped3199 hende Nicholas.

  3200 Of derne love3200 he koude, and of solas,

  And therto he was sleigh3201 and ful privee,

  And lik a maiden meke for to see.

  A chambre hadde he in that hostelrye,

  Allone, withouten any compaignye,

  3205 Ful fetisly ydight3205 with herbes swoote;

  And he himself as swete as is the roote

  Of licoris3207, or any cetewale.

  His Almageste, and bokes grete and smale,

  His astrelabye3209, longinge for his art,

  3210 His augrim-stones3210, layen faire apart

  On shelves couched3211 at his beddes heed;

  His presse3212 ycovered with a falding reed.

  And al above ther lay a gay sautrye3213,

  On which he made a-nightes3214 melodye

  3215 So swetely that al the chambre rong3215;

  And Angelus ad virginem he song,

  And after that he song the kinges note3217.

  Ful often blessed was his murye throte3218.

  And thus this swete clerk his time spente,

  3220 After his frendes finding3220 and his rente.

  This carpenter had wedded newe3221 a wif,

  Which that he loved moore than his lif.

  Of eighteteene yeer she was of age.

  Jalous he was, and heeld hire narwe3224 in cage,

  3225 For she was yong and wilde, and he was old,

  And demed himself been lik a cokewold3226.

  He knew nat Catoun – for his wit was rude3227 –

  That bad men sholde wedde his similitude3228.

  Men sholde wedden after hir estaat3229,

  3230 For youthe and elde is often at debaat3230.

  But sith that he was fallen in the snare,

  He moste endure, as oother folk, his care3232.

  Fair was this yonge wif, and therwithal

  As any wesele3234 hir body gent and smal.

  3235 A ceint3235 she wered, barred al of silk;

  A barmecloth3236, as whit as morne milk,

  Upon hir lendes3237, ful of many a goore.

  Whit was hir smok and broiden3238 al bifore

  And eek bihinde, on hir coler aboute,

  3240 Of col-blak silk, withinne and eek withoute.

  The tapes of hir white voluper3241

  Were of the same sute of3242 hir coler;

  Hir filet brood3243 of silk, and set ful hye.

  And sikerly she hadde a likerous3244 eye.

  3245 Ful smale ypulled3245 were hir browes two,

  And tho3246 were bent and blake as any slo.

  She was ful moore blisful3247 on to see

  Than is the newe pere-jonette3248 tree,

  And softer than the wolle is of a wether3249;

  3250 And by hir girdel heng a purs of lether,

  Tasseled with grene and perled with latoun3251.

  In al this world, to seken up and doun,

  Ther nis no man so wis that koude thenche3253

  So gay a popelote3254, or swich a wenche.

  3255 Ful brighter was the shining3255 of hir hewe

  Than in the Tour3256 the noble yforged newe.

  But of hir song, it was as loude and yerne3257

  As any swalwe3258 sitting on a berne.

  Therto she koude skippe and make game3259,

  3260 As any kide or calf folwinge his dame3260.

  Hir mouth was swete as bragot3261 or the meeth,

  Or hoord of apples leid in hey or heeth3262.

  Winsing3263 she was, as is a joly colt,

  Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt3264.

  3265 A broche3265 she bar upon hir loue coler,

  As brood as is the boos of a bokeler3266.

  Hir shoes were laced on hir legges hye.

  She was a primerole3268, a piggesnye,

  For any lord to leggen3269 in his bedde,

  3270 Or yet for any good yeman to wedde.

  Now sire, and eft sire, so bifel the cas,

  That on a day this hende Nicholas

  Fil with this yonge wif to rage and pleye3273,

  Whil that hir housbonde was at Oseneye –

  3275 As clerkes been ful subtil and ful queinte3275.

  And prively he caughte hire by the queinte3276,
r />   And seide, ‘Iwys3277, but if ich have my wille,

  For derne3278 love of thee, lemman, I spille!’

  And heeld hire harde by the haunche-bones3279,

  3280 And seide, ‘Lemman, love me al atones,

  Or I wol dien, also3281 God me save!’

  And she sprong as a colt doth in the trave3282,

  And with hir heed she wryed faste3283 awey.

  She seide, ‘I wol nat kisse thee, by my fey!

  3285 Why, lat be3285,’ quod she, ‘lat be, Nicholas!

  Or I wol crye “out, harrow!” and “allas!”

  Do wey3287 youre handes, for youre curteisye!’

  This Nicholas gan mercy for to crye3288,

  And spak so faire, and profred him3289 so faste,

  3290 That she hir love him graunted atte laste,

  And swoor hir ooth, by Seint Thomas of Kent,

  That she wolde been at his comaundement,

  Whan that she may hir leiser wel espye3293.

  ‘Min housbonde is so ful of jalousye

  3295 That, but3295 ye waite wel and been privee,

  I woot right wel I nam but deed3296,’ quod she.

  ‘Ye moste been ful derne3297 as in this cas.’

  ‘Nay, therof care thee noght3298,’ quod Nicholas,

  3299‘A clerk had litherly biset his while

  3300 But if he koude3300 a carpenter bigile.’

  And thus they been acorded and ysworn

  To waite a time, as I have told biforn.

  Whan Nicholas had doon thus everydel,

  And thakked3304 hire aboute the lendes wel,

  3305 He kiste hir swete, and taketh his sautrye

  And pleyeth faste, and maketh melodye.

  Thanne fil it thus, that to the parissh chirche,

  Cristes owene werkes for to wirche3308,

  This goode wif wente on an haliday3309.

  3310 Hir forheed shoon as bright as any day,

  So was it wasshen whan she leet3311 hir werk.

  Now was ther of that chirche a parissh clerk,

  That which that was ycleped Absolon.

  Crul3314 was his heer, and as the gold it shoon,

  3315 And strouted3315 as a fanne large and brode.

  Ful streight and evene3316 lay his joly shode;

  His rode3317 was reed, his eyen greye as goos.

  With Poules window corven3318 on his shoos,

  In hoses rede he wente fetisly3319.

  3320 Yclad he was ful smal3320 and proprely

  Al in a kirtel3321 of a light waget;

  Ful faire and thikke been the pointes3322 set.

  And therupon3323 he hadde a gay surplis,

  As whit as is the blosme3324 upon the ris.

  3325 A mery child3325 he was, so God me save!

  Wel koude he laten blood3326 and clippe and shave,

  And make a chartre of lond or aquitaunce3327.

  In twenty manere3328 koude he trippe and daunce,

  After the scole of Oxenforde tho,

  3330 And with his legges casten3330 to and fro,

  And pleyen songes on a smal rubible3331;

  Therto he song somtime a loud quinible3332,

  And as wel koude he pleye on a giterne3333.

  In al the toun nas3334 brewhous ne taverne

  3335 That he ne visited with his solas3335,

  Ther any gailard tappestere3336 was.

  3337But sooth to seyn, he was somdel squaimous

  Of farting, and of speche daungerous.

  This Absolon, that joly3339 was and gay,

  3340 Goth with a sencer3340 on the haliday,

  Sensinge3341 the wives of the parisshe faste;

  And many a lovely3342 look on hem he caste,

  And namely on this carpenteres wif.

  To loke on hire him thoughte a mery lif,

  3345 She was so propre3345 and swete and likerous.

  I dar wel seyn, if she had been a mous

  And he a cat, he wolde hir hente3347 anon.

  This parisshe clerk, this joly Absolon,

  Hath in his herte swich a love-longinge

  3350 That of no wif ne took he noon offringe;

  For curteisye, he seide, he wolde noon3351.

  The moone, whan it was night, ful brighte shoon,

  And Absolon his giterne hath ytake;

  For paramours3354 he thoghte for to wake.

  3355 And forth he goth, jolif and amorous,

  Til he cam to the carpenteres hous,

  A litel after cokkes hadde ycrowe3357,

  And dressed him3358 up by a shot-windowe

  That was upon the carpenteres wal.

  3360 He singeth in his vois gentil and smal3360:

  ‘Now dere lady, if thy wille be,

  I preye yow that ye wol rewe3362 on me’,

  Ful wel acordant to his giterninge3363.

  This carpenter awook and herde him singe,

  3365 And spak unto his wif and seide anon,

  ‘What, Alison, herestow noght Absolon,

  That chaunteth thus under oure boures wal3367?’

  And she answerde hir housbonde therwithal:

  ‘Yis, God wot, John, I here it everydel3369.’

  3370 This passeth forth; what3370 wol ye bet than wel?

  Fro day to day this joly Absolon

  So woweth3372 hire that him is wo bigon.

  He waketh al the night and al the day;

  He kembed his lokkes brode and made him gay3374;

  3375 He woweth hire by menes3375 and brocage,

  And swoor he wolde been hir owene page3376;

  He singeth, brokking3377 as a nightingale;

  He sente hir piment3378, meeth and spiced ale,

  And wafres3379, piping hoot out of the glede;

  3380 And for she was of town3380e, he profred mede.

  For som folk wol be wonnen for richesse,

  And som for strokes3382, and som for gentilesse.

  Som time, to shewe his lightnesse3383 and maistrye,

  He pleyeth Herodes upon a scaffold3384 hye.

  3385 But what availleth him as in this cas?

  She loveth so this hende Nicholas

  That Absolon may blowe the bukkes horn3387;

  He ne had for his labour but a scorn.

  And thus she maketh Absolon hir ape3389,

  3390 And al his ernest turneth til a jape3390.

  Ful sooth3391 is this proverbe, it is no lie,

  Men seyth right thus: ‘Alwey the nye slye3392

  Maketh3393 the ferre leeve to be looth.’

  For thogh that Absolon be wood3394 or wrooth,

  3395 Bicause that he fer was from hir sighte,

  This nye Nicholas stood in his lighte3396.

  Now bere thee3397 wel, thow hende Nicholas!

  For Absolon may waille and singe ‘allas!’

  And so bifel it, on a Saterday

  3400 This carpenter was goon til Osenay;

 
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