The canterbury tales, p.31
The Canterbury Tales,
405 By sleighte405, or force, or by som maner thing,
As406 by continuel murmur or grucching.
Namely abedde407 hadden they meschaunce;
Ther wolde I chide and do hem no plesaunce.
I wolde no lenger in the bed abide,
410 If that I felte his arm over my side,
Til he hadde maad his raunceon unto me;411
Thanne wolde I suffre412 him do his nicetee.
And therfore every man this tale I telle,
Winne whoso may, for al is for to selle!
415 With empty hond men may none haukes lure415.
For winning416 wolde I al his lust endure,
And make me a feined appetit –
And yet in bacoun hadde I nevere delit.
That made me that evere I wolde hem chide;
420 For thogh420 the pope had seten hem biside,
I wolde noght spare hem at hir owene bord421,
For, by my trouthe, I quitte hem422 word for word.
As help me verray God omnipotent,
Thogh I right now sholde make my testament424,
425 I n’owe hem nat a word that it nis quit!425
I broghte it so aboute by my wit426
That they moste yeve it up, as for the beste,
Or elles hadde we nevere been in reste.
For thogh he looked as a wood429 leoun,
430 Yet sholde he faille of his conclusioun430.
‘Thanne wolde I seye, “Goode lief431, taak keep
How mekely looketh Wilkin, oure sheep!
Com neer, my spouse, lat me ba433 thy cheke.
Ye sholden be al pacient and meke,
435 And han a swete spiced conscience435,
Sith ye so preche of Jobes pacience.
Suffreth437 alwey, sin ye so wel kan preche;
And but ye do438, certein we shal yow teche
That it is fair to have a wif in pees.
440 Oon of us two moste bowen, doutelees,
And sith a man is moore resonable
Than womman is, ye mosten been suffrable442.
What eileth yow, to grucche443 thus and grone?
Is it for444 ye wolde have my queinte allone?
445 Wy, taak it al; lo, have it every del445!
Peter, I shrewe you but ye love it wel!446
For if I wolde selle my bele chose447,
I koude walke as fressh as is a rose;
But I wol kepe it for youre owene tooth.
450 Ye be to blame, by God; I sey yow sooth450.”
Swiche manere wordes hadde we on honde451.
Now wol I speken of my ferthe housbonde.
‘My ferthe housbonde was a revelour453;
This is to seyn, he hadde a paramour454.
455 And I was yong, and ful of ragerye455,
Stibourne and strong, and joly456 as a pie.
How koude I daunce to an harpe smale,
And sing, iwys, as any nightingale,
Whan I had dronke a draughte of swete win.
460 Metellius, the foule cherl, the swin,
That with a staf birafte his wif461 hir lif
For she drank win, though I hadde been his wif,
Ne sholde nat han daunted me fro463 drinke!
And after win on Venus moste I thinke,
465 For also siker465 as coold engendreth hail,
A likerous466 mouth moste han a likerous tail.
In womman vinolent467 is no defence;
This knowen lechours by experience.
‘But, Lord Crist, whan that it remembreth me469
470 Upon my youthe and on my jolitee,
It tikeleth me aboute min herte-roote471.
Unto this day it dooth min herte boote472,
That I have had my world as in my time.
But age, allas, that al wole envenime474,
475 Hath me biraft475 my beautee and my pith.
Lat go, farwel; the devel go therwith!
The flour is goon; ther is namoore to telle.
The bren478, as I best kan, now moste I selle.
But yet to be right murye wol I fonde479!
480 Now wol I tellen of my ferthe housbonde.
‘I seye, I hadde in herte gret despit481
That he of any oother had delit;
But he was quit483, by God and by Seint Joce!
I made him of the same wode a croce484 –
485 Nat of my body, in no foul manere,
But certeinly, I made folk swich cheere486
That in his owene grece487 I made him frye,
For angre and for verray jalousye.
By God, in erthe I was his purgatorye!
490 For which I hope his soule be in glorye.
For, God it woot, he sat ful ofte and song,
Whan that his shoo ful bitterly him wrong.492
Ther was no wight493 save God and he that wiste
In many wise how soore494 I him twiste.
495 He deide whan I cam fro Jerusalem,
And lith ygrave496 under the roode-beem,
Al is his toumbe497 noght so curious
As was the sepulcre of him Darius,
Which that Appelles wroghte subtilly499;
500 It nis but wast to burye him preciously.500
Lat him far wel501, God give his soule reste!
He is now in his grave and in his cheste502.
‘Now of my fifthe housbonde wol I telle.
God lat his soule nevere come in helle!
505 And yet was he to me the mooste shrewe505 –
That feele I on my ribbes al by rewe506,
And evere shal, unto min ending day507.
But in oure bed he was so fressh and gay,
And therwithal so wel koude he me glose509,
510 Whan that he wolde han my bele chose,
That thogh he hadde me bet511 on every bon,
He koude winne again my love anon512.
I trowe513 I loved him best, for that he
Was of his love daungerous514 to me.
515 We wommen han, if that I shal nat lie,
In this matere a queinte fantasye516:
Waite what517 thing we may nat lightly have,
Therafter518 wol we crye al day and crave.
Forbede us thing, and that desiren we;
520 Preesse on520 us faste, and thanne wol we fle.
With daunger oute we al oure chaffare;521
Greet prees522 at market maketh deere ware,
And to greet cheep523 is holde at litel pris.
This knoweth every womman that is wis.
525 ‘My fifthe housbonde – God his soule blesse! –
Which that I took for love, and no richesse,
He somtime was a clerk of Oxenford,
And hadde laft scole and wente at hom to bord528
With my gossib, dwelling in oure toun –
530 God have hir soule! Hir name was Alisoun.
She knew min herte, and eek my privetee531,
Bet532 than oure parissh preest, so mote I thee.
To hire biwreyed533 I my conseil al;
For hadde min housbonde pissed on a wal,
535 Or doon a thing that sholde have cost his lif,
To hire, and to another worthy wif,
And to my nece, which that I loved wel,
I wolde han toold his conseil everydel.
And so I dide ful often, God it woot.
540 That made his face ful often reed and hoot
For verray shame, and blamed himself for he
Hadde toold to me so greet a privetee.
‘And so bifel, that ones543 in a Lente –
So often times I to my gossib wente,
545 For evere yet I loved to be gay545,
And for to walke in March, Averill, and May,
From hous to hous to here sondry tales –
That Jankin clerk and my gossib, dame Alis,
And I myself into the feeldes wente.
550 Min housbonde was at Londoun al that Lente;
And for to se, and eek for to be seye552
Of lusty folk. What wiste I wher my grace553
Was shapen554 for to be, or in what place?
555 Therfore I made my visitacions555
To vigilies556, and to processions,
To preching eek, and to thise pilgrimages,
To pleyes of miracles558, and to mariages,
And wered upon559 my gaye scarlet gites.
560 Thise wormes, ne thise moththes, ne thise mites560,
Upon my peril561, frete hem nevere a del;
And wostow562 why? for they were used wel.
‘Now wol I tellen forth what happed me:
I seye that in the feeldes walked we,
565 Til trewely we hadde swich daliaunce565,
This clerk and I, that of my purveiaunce566
I spak to him, and seide him how that he,
If I were widewe, sholde wedde me.
For certeinly, I seye for no bobaunce569,
570 Yet was I nevere withouten purveiaunce570
Of mariage, n’of othere thinges eek.
I holde a mouses herte nat worth a leek
That hath but oon hole for to sterte573 to,
And if that faille, thanne is al ydo574.
575 ‘I bar him on honde575 he hadde enchanted me;
My dame576 taughte me that soutiltee.
And eek I seide, I mette577 of him al night;
He wolde han slain me as I lay upright578,
And al my bed was ful of verray blood –
580 “But yet I hope that ye shal do me good,
For blood bitokeneth gold, as me was taught.”
And al was fals; I dremed of it right naught,
But as I folwed ay my dames loore583,
As wel of that as othere thinges moore.
585 ‘But now, sire – lat me se – what shal I seyn?
A ha! by God, I have my tale agein!
‘Whan that my fourthe housbonde was on beere587,
I weep algate, and made sory cheere –588
As wives mooten589, for it is usage –
590 And with my coverchief covered my visage.
But for that I was purveyed of591 a make,
I wepte but smal592, and that I undertake.
To chirche was min housbonde born amorwe593,
With594 neghebores that for him maden sorwe,
595 And Janekin, oure clerk, was oon of tho595.
As help me God, whan that I saw him go
After the beere, me thoughte he hadde a paire
Of legges and of feet so clene598 and faire,
That al min herte I yaf unto his hoold599.
600 He was, I trowe, a twenty winter600 oold,
And I was fourty, if I shal seye sooth,
But yet I hadde alwey a coltes tooth.602
Gat-tothed603 I was, and that bicam me weel;
I hadde the preente604 of Seinte Venus seel.
605 As help me God, I was a lusty605 oon,
And fair, and riche, and yong, and wel bigoon606!
And trewely, as mine housbondes tolde me,
I hadde the beste quoniam608 mighte be.
For certes, I am al Venerien609
610 In feeling, and min herte is Marcien610.
Venus me yaf my lust611, my likerousnesse,
And Mars yaf me my sturdy612 hardinesse.
Min ascendent613 was Taur and Mars therinne –
Allas, allas, that evere love was sinne!
615 I folwed ay min inclinacioun615,
By vertu of616 my constellacioun.
That made me I koude noght withdrawe
My chambre of Venus618 from a good felawe.
Yet have I Martes619 mark upon my face,
620 And also in another privee place.
For, God so wysly be my savacioun,
I loved nevere by no discrecioun622,
But evere folwed I min appetit,
Al were he624 short, or long, or blak, or whit.
625 I took no kepe, so that he liked me,625
How povre he was, ne eek of what degree.
‘What sholde I seye, but at the monthes ende,
This joly628 clerk, Jankin, that was so hende,
Hath wedded me with greet solempnitee629,
630 And to him yaf I al the lond and fee630
That evere was me yeven therbifore.
But afterward repented me ful sore632;
He nolde suffre633 nothing of my list.
By God, he smoot me ones on the list634,
635 For that I rente635 out of his book a leef,
That of the strook636 min ere wex al deef.
Stibourne I was, as is a leonesse637,
And of my tonge a verray jangleresse638,
And walke I wolde, as I hadde doon biforn,
640 From hous to hous, althogh he hadde it sworn640.
For which he often times wolde preche,
And me of olde Romain gestes teche –642
How he Simplicius Gallus lafte his wif,
And hire forsook for terme of al his lif,
645 Noght but for open-heveded he hir say645,
Loking out at his dore upon a day.
‘Another Romain tolde he me by name,
That, for his wif was at a someres game648
Withoute his witing649, he forsook hire eke.
650 And thanne wolde he upon his Bible seke
That ilke proverbe of Ecclesiaste,
Where he comandeth and forbedeth faste
“Man shal nat suffre his wif go roule aboute653.”
Thanne wolde he seye right thus, withouten doute:
655 “Whoso that buildeth his hous al of salwes655,
And priketh656 his blinde hors over the falwes,
And suffreth his wif to go seken halwes657,
Is worthy to ben hanged on the galwes658!”
But al for noght – I sette noght an hawe659
660 Of his proverbes, n’of his olde sawe,
Ne I wolde nat of him corrected be.
I hate him that my vices telleth me;
And so doo mo663, God woot, of us than I!
This made him with me wood al outrely664;
665 I nolde noght forbere him in no cas.665
‘Now wol I sey yow sooth, by Seint Thomas,
Why that I rente out of his book a leef,
For which he smoot me so that I was deef.
‘He hadde a book that gladly, night and day,
670 For his disport670 he wolde rede alway.
He cleped it “Valerie and Theofraste” –
At which book he lough672 alwey ful faste.
And eek ther was somtime a clerk673 at Rome,
A cardinal, that highte Seint Jerome,
675 That made a book again Jovinian;
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