The canterbury tales, p.22
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.22

           Geoffrey Chaucer

  For he is wont for timber for to go

  And dwellen at the graunge3668 a day or two –

  Or ellis he is at his hous, certein.

  3670 Wher that he be, I kan noght soothly seyn.’

  This Absolon ful joly3671 was and light,

  And thoughte, ‘Now is time to wake al night,

  For sikerly I saugh him noght stiringe

  Aboute his dore sin3674 day bigan to springe.

  3675 So mote I thrive3675, I shal at cokkes crowe

  Ful prively knokken at his windowe,

  That stant3677 ful lowe upon his boures wal.

  To Alison now wol I tellen al

  My love-longing, for yit I shal nat misse3679

  3680 That at the leeste wey I shal hir kisse.

  Som maner confort shal I have, parfay3681.

  My mouth hath icched3682 al this longe day;

  That is a signe of kissing, atte leeste.

  Al night me mette3684 eek I was at a feeste.

  3685 Therfore I wol go slepe an houre or tweye,

  And al the night than wol I wake and pleye.’

  Whan that the firste cok hath crowe3687, anon

  Up rist3688 this joly lovere Absolon,

  And3689 him arrayeth gay, at point devis.

  3690 But first he cheweth grein3690 and likoris,

  To smellen swete, er he hadde kembd3691 his heer.

  Under his tonge a trewe-love3692 he beer,

  For therby wende he to be gracious3693.

  He rometh to the carpenteres hous,

  3695 And stille he stant3695 under the shot-windowe –

  Unto his brest it raughte3696, it was so lowe –

  And softe he cougheth3697 with a semi-soun:

  ‘What do ye, honycomb, swete Alisoun?

  My faire brid3699, my swete cinamome!

  3700 Awaketh, lemman3700 min, and speketh to me!

  Wel litel thinken ye upon my wo,

  That for youre love I swete ther I go3702.

  No wonder is thogh that I swelte3703 and swete;

  I moorne as dooth a lamb after the tete3704.

  3705 Iwys, lemman, I have swich love-longing

  That lik a turtel3706 trewe is my moorning;

  I may nat ete namoore than a maide.’

  ‘Go fro the window, Jakke fool,’ she saide.

  ‘As help me God, it wol nat be “com pa me3709”!

  3710 I love another – and ellis I were to blame –

  Wel bet3711 than thee, by Jesu, Absolon.

  Go forth thy wey, or I wol caste a stoon,

  And lat me slepe, a twenty devel wey3713!’

  ‘Allas,’ quod Absolon, ‘and weilawey,

  3715 That trewe love was evere so ivel biset3715!

  Thanne kis me, sin that it may be no bet,

  For Jesus love, and for the love of me.’

  ‘Woltow thanne go thy wey therwith?’ quod she.

  ‘Ye, certes, lemman,’ quod this Absolon.

  3720 ‘Thanne make thee redy,’ quod she, ‘I come anon.’

  And unto Nicholas she seide stille3721,

  ‘Now hust3722, and thou shalt laughen al thy fille!

  This Absolon doun sette him on his knees,

  And seide, ‘I am a lord at alle degrees3724,

  3725 For after this I hope ther cometh moore3726.

  Lemman, thy grace, and swete brid, thin oore!’

  The window she undoth3727, and that in haste.

  ‘Have do,’ quod she, ‘com of, and speed thee3728


  Lest that oure neighebores thee espye.’

  3730 This Absolon gan wipe his mouth ful drye.

  Derk was the night as pich3731 or as the cole,

  And at the window out she putte hir hole,

  And Absolon3733, him fil no bet ne wers3734,

  But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers

  3735 Ful savourly3735, er he were war of this.

  Abak he sterte3736, and thoghte it was amis,

  For wel he wiste a womman hath no berd.

  He felte a thing al rogh3738 and long yherd,

  And seide, ‘Fy, allas! what have I do?’

  3740 ‘Tehee!’ quod she, and clapte3740 the window to,

  And Absolon gooth forth a sory paas3741.

  ‘A berd, a berd!’ quod hende Nicholas,

  ‘By Goddes corpus3743, this gooth faire and wel!’

  This sely3744 Absolon herde every del,

  3745 And on his lippe he gan for anger bite,

  And to himself he seide, ‘I shal thee quite3746!’

  Who rubbeth now, who froteth3747 now his lippes,

  With dust, with sond, with straw, with clooth, with chippes,

  But Absolon, that seyth ful ofte ‘Allas!

  3750 My soule bitake3750 I unto Sathanas,

  But me were levere than al this toun’, quod he,3751

  ‘Of this despit awreken for to be.

  Allas,’ quod he, ‘allas, I nadde ybleint3753!’

  His hote love was coold and al yqueint3754,

  3755 For fro that time that he had kist hir ers

  Of paramours3756 he sette noght a kers,

  For he was heeled of his maladye.

  Ful ofte paramours he gan defye3758,

  And weep as dooth a child that is ybete.

  3760 A softe paas3760 he wente over the strete,

  Until3761 a smith men clepen daun Gerveis,

  That in his forge smithed plough-harneis3762;

  He sharpeth3763 shaar and cultour bisily.

  This Absolon knokketh al esily3764,

  3765 And seide, ‘Undo3765, Gerveis, and that anon!’

  ‘What, who artow?’ ‘It am I, Absolon.’

  ‘What, Absolon! for Cristes swete tree3767,

  Why rise ye so rathe3768? Ey, benedicitee,

  What eileth3769 yow? Som gay gerl, God it woot,

  3770 Hath3770 broght yow thus upon the viritoot;

  By Seinte Note, ye woot wel what I mene!’

  This Absolon ne roghte nat a bene3772

  Of al his pley; no word again he yaf.

  He hadde moore3774 tow on his distaf

  3775 Than Gerveis knew, and seide, ‘Freend so deere,

  That hoote cultour in the chimenee heere,

  As lene it me; I have3777 therwith to doone,

  And I wol bringe it thee again ful soone.’

  Gerveis answerde, ‘Certes, were it gold,

  3780 Or in a poke3780 nobles al untold,

  Thow sholdest have, as I am trewe smith!

  Ey, Cristes foo3782, what wol ye do therwith?’

  ‘Therof3783’, quod Absolon, ‘be as be may;

  I shal wel telle it thee another day’ –

  3785 And caughte the cultour by the colde stele3785.

  Ful softe out at the dore he gan to stele,

  And wente unto the carpenteres wal.

  He cogheth first, and knokketh therwithal3788

  Upon the windowe, right as he dide er3789.

  3790 This Alison answerde, ‘Who is ther,

  That knokketh so? I warante it a theef!’

  ‘Why nay,’ quod he, ‘God woot, my swete lief3792;

  I am thin Absolon, my dereling3793.

  Of gold’, quod he, ‘I have thee broght a ring.

  3795 My moder yaf it me, so God me save.

  Ful fin it is, and therto wel ygrave3796;

  This wol I yeven thee, if thow me kisse.’

  This Nicholas was risen3798 for to pisse,

  And thoughte he wolde amenden al the jape3799:

  3800 He sholde kisse his ers, er that he scape.

  And up the window dide3801 he hastily,

  And out his ers he putteth prively,

  Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon.

  And therwith spak this clerk, this Absolon:

  3805 ‘Spek, swete brid; I noot noght3805 wher thow art.’

  This Nicholas anoon leet fle a fart,

  As greet as it hadde b
een a thonder-dent3807,

  That with the strook he was almoost yblent3808;

  And he was redy with his iren hoot3809,

  3810 And Nicholas amidde the ers he smoot3810.

  Of3811 gooth the skin, an hande-brede aboute;

  The hoote cultour brende3812 so his toute

  That for the smert3813 he wende for to die.

  As he were wood3814, for wo he gan to crye:

  3815 ‘Help! Water, water, help, for Goddes herte!’

  This carpenter out of his slomber sterte3816,

  And herde oon3817 cryen ‘Water!’ as he were wood,

  And thoghte, ‘Allas, now comth Nowelis3818 flood!’

  He sette him up3819 withouten wordes mo,

  3820 And with his ax he smoot the corde atwo3820,

  And doun gooth al – he fond neither to selle,3821

  Ne breed ne ale, til he cam to the celle

  Upon the floor, and there aswowne3823 he lay.

  Up stirte hire3824 Alison and Nicholay,

  3825 And criden ‘out!’ and ‘harrow!’ in the strete.

  The neighebores, bothe smale and grete,

  In ronnen3827 for to gauren on this man,

  That yet aswowne lay, bothe pale and wan,

  For with the fal he brosten3829 hadde his arm.

  3830 But stonde he moste unto3830 his owene harm,

  For whan he spak, he was anon bore doun3831

  With3832 hende Nicholas and Alisoun.

  They tolden every man that he was wood;

  He was agast3834 so of Nowelis flood

  3835 Thurgh fantasye3835, that of his vanitee

  He hadde yboght him kneding-tubbes thre,

  And hadde hem hanged in the roof above,

  And that he preyed hem, for Goddes love,

  To sitten in the roof, par compaignye3839.

  3840 The folk gan laughen at his fantasye;

  Into the roof they kiken3841 and they cape,

  And turned al his harm unto a jape.

  For whatso that this carpenter answerde

  It was for noght; no man his reson3844 herde.

  3845 With othes grete he was so sworn adoun

  That he was holden wood in al the toun,

  For every clerk anon-right3847 heeld with oother.

  They seide, ‘The man was wood, my leve


  And every wight gan laughen at this strif3849.

  3850 Thus swived3850 was the carpenteres wif,

  For al his keping3851 and his jalousye;

  And Absolon hath kist hir nether eye3852,

  And Nicholas is scalded in the toute.

  This tale is doon, and God save al the route!

  Heere endeth the Millere his Tale.


  The Prologe of the Reves Tale.

  3855 Whan folk had laughen at this nice cas3855

  Of Absolon and hende Nicholas,

  Diverse folk diversely they seide,

  But for the moore part 3858 they loughe and pleyde;

  Ne at this tale I saugh no man him greve3859

  3860 But it were3860 oonly Osewold the Reve.

  Bicause he was of carpenteres craft,

  A litel ire is in his herte ylaft3862;

  He gan to grucche3863, and blamed it a lite.

  ‘So thee’k3864,’ quod he, ‘ful wel koude I thee quite,

  3865 With blering of a proud milleres3865 eye,

  If that me liste speke of ribaudye!

  But ik3867 am oold; me list nat pleye for age.

  Gras time is doon; my fodder is now forage.

  This white top writeth3869 mine olde yeris;

  3870 Min herte is also mowled3870 as mine heris,

  But if I fare as dooth an openers3871 –

  That ilke fruite is ever lenger the wers3872

  Til it be roten, in mullok3873 or in stree.

  We olde men, I drede, so fare we:

  3875 Til we be roten kan we noght be ripe.

  We hoppe3876 alwey whil that the world wol pipe;

  For in oure wil ther stiketh evere a nail,

  To have an hoor3878 heed and a grene tail,

  As hath a leek; for thogh oure might3879 be goon,

  3880 Oure wil desireth folye evere in oon3880.

  For whan we may noght doon, than wol we speke;

  Yet in oure asshen olde is fir yreke3882.

  ‘Foure gleedes3883 have we, whiche I shal devise:

  Avaunting3884, lying, anger, coveitise.

  3885 Thise foure sparkles3885 longen unto eelde.

  Oure olde limes3886 mowe wel been unweelde,

  But wil ne shal noght faillen; that is sooth.

  And yet ik have alwey a coltes tooth3888,

  As many a yeer as it is passed3889 henne,

  3890 Sin that my tappe of lif bigan to renne.

  For sikerlik3891, whan I was bore, anon

  Deeth drough the tappe3892 of lif and leet it goon;

  And evere sith hath so the tappe yronne

  Til that almoost al empty is the tonne3894.

  3895 The streem of lif now droppeth on the chimbe3895.

  The sely3896 tonge may wel ringe and chimbe

  Of wrecchednesse that passed is ful yoore3897!

  With olde folk, save dotage, is namoore.’

  Whan that oure Hoost had herd this sermoning,

  3900 He gan to speke, as lordly as a king.

  He seide, ‘What39023901 amounteth al this wit?

  What shal we speke al day of holy writ?

  The devel made a reve for to preche,

  Or of a soutere3904, a shipman or a leche!

  3905 Sey forth thy tale, and tarye noght the time.

  Lo, Depeford, and it is half wey prime3906!

  Lo, Grenewich, ther3907 many a shrewe is inne!

  It were al time3908 thy tale to biginne.’

  ‘Now, sires,’ quod this Osewold the Reve,

  3910 ‘I pray yow alle that ye noght yow greve3910,

  Thogh I answere and somdel3911 sette his howve;

  For leveful3912 is, with force force of-showve.

  This dronken millere hath ytold us heer

  How that bigiled was a carpenter,

  3915 Paraventure3915 in scorn, for I am oon.

  And by youre leve, I shal him quite anoon.

  Right in his cherles termes3917 wol I speke.

  I pray to God his nekke mote to-breke3918!

  He kan wel in min eye seen a stalke3919,

  3920 But in his owene he kan noght seen a balke.’


  Heere biginneth the Reves Tale.

  At Trompingtoun, nat fer fro Cantebrigge 3922,

  Ther gooth a brook, and over that a brigge,

  Upon the whiche brook ther stant a melle 3923;

  And this is verray sooth 3924 that I yow telle.

  3925 A millere was ther dwelling many a day.

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