The canterbury tales, p.44
The Canterbury Tales,
1510 By God, ther nis no man in al this toun,
Ne in Itaille, that koude bet han said!
Crist halt1512 him of this conseil wel apaid.
And trewely, it is an heigh corage1513
Of any man that stapen1514 is in age
1515 To take a yong wif; by my fader1515 kin,
Youre herte hangeth on a joly pin1516!
Dooth now in this matere right as yow leste,
For, finally, I holde it for the beste.’
Justinus, that ay stille1519 sat and herde,
1520 Right in this wise to Placebo answerde:
‘Now, brother min, be pacient I preye,
Sin ye han seid, and herkneth what I seye.
‘Senek, amonges othere wordes wise,
Seyth that a man oghte him right wel avise1524
1525 To whom he yeveth his lond or his catel1525.
And sin I oghte avisen me right wel
To whom I yeve my good awey fro me,
Wel muchel moore I oghte avised be
To whom I yeve my body for alwey.
1530 I warne yow wel, it is no childes pley
To take a wif withoute avisement1531.
Men moste enquere – this is min assent1532 –
Wher1533 she be wis, or sobre, or dronkelewe,
Or proud, or ellis ootherweys1534 a shrewe,
1535 A chidester1535, or wastour of thy good,
Or riche, or povre, or ellis mannissh wood1536 –
Albeit so that no man finden shal
Noon in this world that trotteth hool1538 in al,
Ne man ne beest, swich as men koude devise1539.
1540 But nathelees, it oghte inogh suffise
With any wif, if so were1541 that she hadde
Mo goode thewes1542 than hir vices badde.
And al this axeth1543 leiser for t’enquere.
For, God it woot, I have wept many a teere
1545 Ful prively1545, sin I have had a wif.
Preise whoso wole1546 a wedded mannes lif,
Certein, I finde in it but cost and care1547,
And observances1548 of alle blisses bare.
And yet, God woot, my neighebores aboute1549,
1550 And namely of wommen many a route1550,
Seyn that I have the mooste stedefast wif,
And eek the mekeste oon that bereth lif1552.
But I woot best where wringeth1553 me my sho.
Ye mowe, for me1554, right as yow liketh do.
1555 Aviseth yow1555 – ye been a man of age –
How that ye entren into mariage,
And namely1557 with a yong wif and a feir.
By him that made water, erthe, and eir,
The yongeste man that is in al this route1559
1560 Is bisy inough1560 to bringen it aboute
To han his wif allone1561. Trusteth me,
Ye shul nat plese hire fully yeres thre –
This is to seyn, to doon hire ful plesance1563.
A wif axeth ful many an observance.
1565 I pray yow that ye be nat ivele apaid1565.’
‘Wel,’ quod this Januarye, ‘and hastow said?
Straw for thy Senek and for thy proverbes!
I counte nat a panier1568 ful of herbes
Of scole-termes1569! Wiser men than thow,
1570 As thow hast herd, assenteden right now
To my purpos. Placebo, what sey ye?’
‘I seye it is a cursed man’, quod he,
‘That letteth1573 matrimoigne, sikerly.’
And with that word they risen sodeinly,
1575 And been assented1575 fully that he sholde
Be wedded whan him liste, and wher he wolde.
Heigh fantasye and curious bisinesse1577
Fro day to day gan in the soule impresse1578
Of Januarye aboute his mariage.
1580 Many fair shap and many a fair visage
Ther passeth thurgh his herte, night by night,
As whoso tooke1582 a mirour, polisshed bright,
And sette it in a commune market-place,
Thanne sholde he se ful many a figure pace
1585 By his mirour; and in the same wise
Gan Januarye inwith his thoght devise1586
Of maidens whiche that dwelten him biside.
He wiste nat wher that he mighte abide1588;
For if that oon1589 have beautee in hir face,
1590 Another stant1590 so in the peples grace
For hir sadnesse1591 and hir benignitee
That of the peple grettest vois1592 hath she;
And somme were riche, and hadden badde name.
But nathelees, bitwix ernest and game1594,
1595 He atte laste apointed him1595 on oon,
And leet alle othere from his herte goon,
And chees1597 hire of his owene auctoritee;
For love is blind alday1598, and may nat see.
And whan that he was in his bed ybroght,
1600 He purtreyde1600 in his herte and in his thoght
Hir fresshe beautee and hir age tendre,
Hir middel smal1602, hir armes longe and sklendre,
Hir wise governance1603, hir gentilesse,
Hir wommanly bering and hir sadnesse1604.
1605 And whan that he on hire was condescended1605,
Him thoughte his chois ne mighte nat ben amended.
For whan that he himself concluded1607 hadde,
Him thoughte ech oother mannes wit1608 so badde
That impossible it were to replye1609
1610 Again his chois; this was his fantasye.
His freendes sente he to at his instance1611,
And preyed hem to doon him that plesance1612
That hastily they wolden to him come;
He wolde abregge1614 hir labour, alle and some.
1615 Nedeth namoore1615 for him to go ne ride;
He was apointed1616 ther he wolde abide.
Placebo cam, and eek his freendes soone,
And alderfirst1618 he bad hem alle a boone,
That noon of hem none argumentes make
1620 Again the purpos which that he hath take;
Which purpos was plesant to God, seide he,
And verray ground of his prosperitee.
He seide ther was a maiden in the toun,
Which that of beautee hadde greet renoun,
1625 Al were it so1625 she were of smal degree,
Suffiseth him1626 hir youthe and hir beautee;
Which maide, he seide, he wolde han to his wif,
To lede in ese1628 and holinesse his lif,
And thanked God that he mighte han hire al,
1630 That no wight his blisse parten1630 shal,
And preyde hem to labouren in this nede1631,
And shapen1632 that he faille nat to spede,
For thanne, he seide, his spirit was at ese.
‘Thanne is’, quod he, ‘no thing may me displese,
1635 Save o thing priketh in my conscience,
The which I wol reherce1636 in youre presence.
‘I have’, quod he, ‘herd seid, ful yoore ago1637,
Ther may no man han parfite1638 blisses two –
This to seye, in erthe and eek in hevene.
1640 For thogh he kepe him fro the sinnes sevene,
And eek from every branche of thilke tree,
Yet is ther so parfit felicitee
And so greet ese1643 and lust in mariage,
That evere I am agast1644 now in min age
1645 That I shal lede now so murye1645 a lif,
So delicat1646, withouten wo and strif,
That I shal have min hevene in erthe heere.
For sith that verray hevene is boght so deere,
With tribulacioun and greet penance1649,
1650 How sholde I thanne, that live in swich plesance
As alle wedded men doon with hir wivis,
Come to the blisse ther Crist eterne on live is?
Assoileth1654 me this question, I preye.’
1655 Justinus, which that hated his folye,
Answerde anon-right1656 in his japerye;
And for he wolde his longe tale abregge1657,
He wolde noon auctoritee allegge1658,
But seide, ‘Sire, so1659 ther be noon obstacle
1660 Oother than this, God, of his hye miracle
And of his mercy, may so for yow werche,
That er ye have your right of holy cherche1662
Ye may repente of wedded mannes lif,
In which ye seyn ther is no wo ne strif.
1665 And elles, God forbede but he sente1665
A wedded man him grace to repente
Wel ofte rather than a sengle man!
And therfore, sire, the beste reed I kan1668:
Dispeire yow noght, but have in youre memorye1669
1670 Paraunter1670 she may be youre purgatorye.
She may be Goddes mene1671 and Goddes whippe;
Thanne shal youre soule up to hevene skippe
Swifter than dooth an arwe out of a bowe.
I hope to God heerafter shul ye knowe
1675 That ther nis noon so greet felicitee
In mariage, ne neveremo shal be,
That yow shal lette of1677 youre salvacioun,
So that ye use, as skile is and resoun1678,
The lustes of youre wif attemprely,
1680 And that ye plese hire nat to amorously,
And that ye kepe yow eek from oother sinne.
My tale is doon, for my wit1682 is thinne.
Beth nat agast herof, my brother deere,
But lat us waden out of1684 this matere.
1685 The Wif of Bathe, if ye han understonde,
Of mariage, which we have on honde1686,
Declared1687 hath ful wel in litel space.
Fareth now wel; God have yow in his grace.’
And with that word this Justin and his brother
1690 Han take hir leve1690, and ech of hem of oother.
For whan they sawe that it moste nedes be,
They wroghten1692 so, by sly and wis tretee,
That she, this maiden, which that Mayus highte,
As hastily as ever that she mighte
1695 Shal wedded be unto this Januarye.
I trowe it were to longe yow to tarye1696,
If I yow tolde of every scrit1697 and bond
By which that she was feffed in1698 his lond,
Or for to herknen of hir riche array1699.
1700 But finally, ycomen is the day
That to the chirche bothe be they went
For to receive the holy sacrament.
Forth comth the preest, with stole aboute his nekke,
And bad hire be lik Sarra and Rebekke
1705 In wisdom and in trouthe of mariage,
And seide his orisons1706, as is usage,
And croucheth1707 hem, and bad God sholde hem blesse,
And made al siker inow1708 with holinesse.
Thus been they wedded with solempnitee1709,
1710 And at the feste sitteth he and she
With oother worthy folk upon the deis1711.
Al ful of joye and blisse is the paleis,
And ful of instrumentz and of vitaille1713,
The mooste deintevous1714 of al Itaille.
1715 Biforn hem stooden instrumentz of swich soun
That Orpheus, n’of Thebes Amphioun1716,
Ne maden nevere swich a melodye.
At every cours thanne cam loud minstralcye
That nevere tromped1719 Joab for to heere,
1720 Ne he Theodamas, yet half so cleere1720,
At Thebes whan the citee was in doute1721.
Bacus the win hem shenketh1722 al aboute,
And Venus laugheth upon every wight,
For Januarye was bicome hir knight,
1725 And wolde bothe assayen his corage1725
In libertee and eek in mariage,
And with hir firbrond1727 in hir hand aboute
Daunceth bifore the bride and al the route1728.
And certeinly, I dar right wel sey this:
1730 Imeneus, that god of wedding is,
Say1731 nevere his lif so murye a wedded man.
Hoold thow thy pees, thou poete Marcian,
That writest us that ilke wedding murye
Of hire Philologye and him Mercurye,
1735 And of the songe1735s that the Muses songe!
To smal1736 is bothe thy penne, and eek thy tonge,
For to discriven of1737 this mariage.
Whan tendre youthe hath wedded stouping1738 age,
Ther is swich murthe that it may nat be writen.
1740 Assayeth it yourself; than may ye witen1740
If that I lie or noon1741 in this matere.
Mayus, that sit1742 with so benigne a cheere,
Hir to biholde it semed faierye1743.
Queene Ester looked nevere with swich an eye
1745 On Assuer, so meke a look hath she.
I may yow nat devise1746 al hir beautee;
But thus muche of hir beautee telle I may,
That she was lik the brighte morwe of May,
Fulfild of alle beautee and plesaunce.
1750 This Januarye is ravisshed in a traunce
At every time he looked on hir face.
But in his herte he gan hir to manace1752
That he that night in armes wolde hire streine1753
Harder than evere Paris dide Eleine.
1755 But nathelees, yet hadde he gret pitee
That thilke night offenden1756 hire moste he,
And thoghte, ‘Allas, o tendre creature,
Now wolde God ye mighte wel endure
Al my corage1759, it is so sharp and kene.
1760 I am agast ye shul it nat sustene1760.
But God forbede that I dide al my might1761!
Now wolde God that it were woxen night1762,
And that the night wolde lasten everemo.
I wolde that al this peple were ago1764!’
1765 And finally he dooth al his labour1765,
As he best mighte, saving his honour,
To haste hem fro the mete1767 in subtil wise.
The time cam that reson was1768 to rise,
And after that men daunce and drinken faste1769,
1770 And spices al aboute the hous they caste,
And ful of joye and blisse is every man –
Al but a squier highte1772 Damian,
Which carf1773 biforn the knight ful many a day.
He was so ravisshed on his lady May
1775 That for the verray peine he was ny wood1775.
Almoost he swelte1776 and swowned ther he stood,
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