The canterbury tales, p.46
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       The Canterbury Tales, p.46

           Geoffrey Chaucer
 

  That he wol no wight suffre bere2044 the keye

  2045 Save he himself; for of the smal wiket2045

  He bar alwey of silver a cliket2046,

  With which, whan that him leste, he it unshette2047.

  And whan he wolde paye his wif hir dette

  In somer seson, thider wolde he go,

  2050 And May his wif, and no wight but they two.

  And thinges whiche that were nat doon abedde,

  He in the gardin parfourned hem and spedde2052.

  And in this wise many a murye day

  Lived this Januarye and fresshe May.

  2055 But worldly joye may nat alwey dure,

  To Januarye, ne to no creature.

  O sodein hap2057, o thow Fortune unstable,

  Lik to the scorpion so deceivable2058,

  That flaterest with thin heed whan thow wolt stinge,

  2060 Thy tail is deeth, thurgh thin enveniminge2060!

  O brotil joye, o swete venim queinte2061!

  O monstre, that so subtilly kanst peinte2062

  Thy yiftes under hewe2063 of stedefastnesse,

  That thow deceivest bothe moore and lesse2064!

  2065 Why hastow Januarye thus deceived,

  That haddest him for thy fulle freend received,

  And now thow hast biraft him2067 bothe his eyen? –

  For sorwe of which desireth he to dien.

  Allas, this noble Januarye free2069,

  2070 Amidde his lust2070 and his prosperitee

  Is woxen2071 blind, and that al sodeinly.

  He wepeth and he waileth pitously2072;

  And therwithal the fir of jalousye,

  Lest that his wif sholde falle in som folye,

  2075 So brente2075 his herte that he wolde fain

  That som man bothe hire and him had slain.

  For neither after his deeth nor in his lif

  Ne wolde he that she were love ne wif,

  But evere live as widwe2079 in clothes blake,

  2080 Soul2080 as the turtle that hath lost hir make.

  But atte laste, after a monthe or tweye,

  His sorwe gan aswage2082, sooth to seye.

  For whan he wiste it may noon oother be,

  He paciently took his adversitee;

  2085 Save, out of doute, he may nat forgoon2085

  That he nas jalous everemoore in oon.

  Which jalousye it was so outrageous2087,

  That neither in halle, ne in noon oother hous,

  Ne in noon oother place neverthemo2089,

  2090 He nolde suffre2090 hire for to ride or go

  But if that he hadde hond on hir alway.

  For which ful ofte wepeth fresshe May,

  That loveth Damian so benignely,

  That she moot outher dien sodeinly2094,

  2095 Or ellis she moot han him as hir leste;

  She waiteth whan hir herte wolde breste2096!

  Upon that oother side Damian

  Bicomen is the sorwefulleste man

  That evere was, for neither night ne day

  2100 Ne mighte he speke a word to fresshe May,

  As to his purpos, of no swich matere,

  But if that Januarye moste it heere2102,

  That hadde an hand upon hire everemo.

  But nathelees, by writing to and fro,

  2105 And privee signes, wiste he what she mente,

  And she knew eek the fin2106 of his entente.

  O Januarye, what mighte it thee availle

  Thogh thow mighte se as fer as shippes saille?

  For as good is, blind deceived be

  2110 As be deceived whan a man may se.

  Lo, Argus, which that hadde an hundred eyen,

  For al that evere he koude poure2112 or pryen,

  Yet was he blent2113; and God woot, so been mo,

  That weneth wysly2114 that it be nat so.

  2115 Passe over is an ese2115; I seye namoore.

  This fresshe May, that I spak of so yoore2116,

  In warm wex hath emprented2117 the cliket,

  That Januarye bar2118, of the smale wiket,

  By which into his gardin ofte he wente.

  2120 And Damian, that knew al hir entente,

  The cliket countrefeted2121 prively.

  Ther nis namoore to seye, but hastily

  Som wonder by this cliket shal bitide2123,

  Which ye shul heren, if ye wol abide2124.

  2125 O noble Ovide, ful sooth seystow, God woot!

  What sleighte2126 is it, thogh it be long and hoot,

  That love nil finde it out in som manere?

  By Piramus and Thesbe may men lere:

  Thogh they were kept ful longe streite2129 overal,

  2130 They been acorded2130, rowning thurgh a wal,

  Ther no wight koude han founde out swich a sleighte.

  But now to purpos: er that dayes eighte

  Were passed, er the monthe of Juil2133, bifil

  That Januarye hath caught so greet a wil2134

  2135 Thurgh egging2135 of his wif, him for to pleye

  In his gardin, and no wight but they tweye,

  That in a morwe unto his May seyth he:

  ‘Ris up, my wif, my love, my lady free2138!

  The turtles vois is herd, my dowve2139 swete;

  2140 The winter is goon, with alle his reines wete2140.

  Com forth, now, with thine eyen columbin2141!

  How fairer been thy brestes than is win2142!

  The gardin is enclosed al aboute;

  Com forth, my white spouse! Out of doute,

  2145 Thow hast me wounded in min herte, o wif;

  No spot of thee ne knew I al my lif.

  Com forth, and lat us taken oure disport;

  I chees2148 thee for my wif and my confort.’

  – Swiche olde lewed2149 wordes used he.

  2150 On2150 Damian a signe made she

  That he sholde go biforn with his cliket.

  This Damian thanne hath opened the wiket,

  And in he stirte2153, and that in swich manere

  That no wight mighte it se neither iheere2154;

  2155 And stille2155 he sit under a bussh anon.

  This Januarye, as blind as is a stoon,

  With Mayus in his hand, and no wight mo2157,

  Into his fresshe gardin is ago,

  And clapte to2159 the wiket sodeinly.

  2160 ‘Now, wif,’ quod he, ‘here nis but thow and I,

  That art the creature that I best love.

  For, by that lord that sit in hevene above,

  Levere ich hadde2163 to dien on a knif

  Than thee offende2164, trewe deere wif!

  2165 For Goddes sake, thenk how I thee chees,

  Noght for no coveitise2166, doutelees,

  But oonly for the love I hadde to thee.

  And thogh that I be old and may nat see,

  Beth to me trewe, and I wol telle yow why.

  2170 Thre thinges, certes, shal ye winne therby:

  First, love of Crist, and to yourself honour,

  And al min heritage, toun and tour,

  I yeve it yow – maketh chartres2173 as yow leste.

  This shal be doon tomorwe, er sonne reste2174,

  2175 So wysly God my soule bringe in blisse!

  I pray yow first in covenant2176 ye me kisse.

  And thogh that I be jalous, wite2177 me noght;

  Ye been so depe enprented2178 in my thoght

  That whan that I considere youre beautee,

  2180 And therwithal the unlikly elde2180 of me,

  I may nat, certes, thogh I sholde die,

  Forbere to been out of youre compaignye

  For verray love; this is withouten doute.

  Now kis me, wif, and lat us rome aboute.’

  2185 This fresshe May, whan she thise wordes herde,

  Benignely to Januarye answerde;

  But first and forward2187 she bigan to wepe.

  ‘I have’, quod she, ‘a soule for
to kepe

  As wel as ye, and also min honour,

  2190 And of my wifhod thilke tendre flour,

  Which that I have assured2191 in youre hond,

  Whan that the preest to yow my body bond2192.

  Wherfore I wol answere in this manere,

  By the leve of yow2194, my lord so deere:

  2195 I pray to God that nevere dawe2195 the day

  That I ne sterve2196 as foule as womman may,

  If evere I do unto my kin that shame,

  Or ellis I empeire2198 so my name,

  That I be fals; and if I do that lakke2199,

  2200 Do strepe me2200 and put me in a sakke,

  And in the nexte river do me drenche2201.

  I am a gentil womman and no wenche!

  Why speke ye thus? – but men been evere untrewe,

  And wommen have repreve2204 of yow ay newe.

  2205 Ye han noon oother contenance2205, I leve,

  But speke2206 to us of untrust and repreve.’

  And with that word she saw wher Damian

  Sat in the bussh, and coughen she bigan,

  And with hir finger signes made she

  2210 That Damian sholde climbe upon a tree x

  That charged2211 was with fruit, and up he wente;

  For verraily he knew al hir entente,

  And every signe that she koude make,

  Wel bet than Januarye, hir owene make2214,

  2215 For in a lettre she hadde told him al,

  Of2216 this matere how he werken shal.

  And thus I lete him sitte2217 upon the pirie,

  And Januarye and May rominge mirye2218.

  Bright was the day, and blew2219 the firmament;

  2220 Phebus of gold doun hath his stremes sent

  To gladen every flour with his warmnesse.

  He was that time in Geminis, as I gesse,

  But litel fro his declinacioun2223

  Of Cancer, Jovis exaltacioun.

  2225 And so bifel, that brighte morwe-tide2225,

  That in that gardin in the ferther side2226

  Pluto, that is king of faierye2227,

  And many a lady in his compaignye,

  Folwinge his wif, the queene Proserpina,

  2230 Which that he ravisshed out of Ethna,

  Whil that she gadered floures in the mede2231 –

  In Claudian ye may the storye rede,

  How in his grisly carte he hire fette2233 –

  This king of fairye thanne adoun him sette

  2235 Upon a bench of turves, fressh and grene.

  And right anon thus seide he to his queene:

  ‘My wif,’ quod he, ‘ther may no wight sey nay2237;

  Th’experience so preveth2238 every day

  The treson which that womman dooth to man.

  2240 Ten hundred thousand tales telle I kan,

  Notable2241 of youre untrouthe and brotelnesse.

  O Salomon, wis and richest of richesse,

  Fulfild of sapience2243 and of worldly glorye,

  Ful worthy been thy wordes to memorye2244,

  2245 To every wight that wit and reson kan2245!

  Thus preiseth he yet the bountee2246 of man:

  “Amonges a thousand men yet foond2247 I oon,

  But of wommen alle foond I noon.”

  – Thus seyth the king that knoweth youre wikkednesse.

  2250 And Jesus, filius Sirak, as I gesse,

  Ne speketh of yow but selde2251 reverence.

  A wilde fir2252 and corrupt pestilence

  So falle upon youre bodies yet tonight!

  Ne se ye noght this honurable knight,

  2255 Bicause, allas, that he is blind and old,

  His owene man shal make him cokewold?

  Lo, where he sit, the lechour in the tree!

  Now wol I graunten, of my magestee,

  Unto this olde, blinde, worthy knight,

  2260 That he shal have ayein2260 his eyen sight,

  Whan that his wif wolde doon him vileinye2261.

  Thanne shal he knowen al hir harlotrye2262,

  Bothe in repreve2263 of hire, and othere mo.’

  ‘Ye shal?’ quod Proserpine, ‘wol ye so?

  2265 Now by my modres sires soule I swere

  That I shal yeve hire suffisant2266 answere,

  And alle wommen after, for hir sake –

  That thogh they be in any gilt ytake2268,

  With face bold they shul hemself excuse2269,

  2270 And bere hem doun2270 that wolden hem accuse.

  For lakke of answere noon of hem shal dien.

  Al hadde man seyn a thing with bothe his eyen,

  Yet shal we wommen visage it2273 hardily,

  And wepe, and swere, and chide subtilly,

  2275 So that ye men shul been as lewed2275 as gees.

  ‘What rekketh me2276 of youre auctoritees?

  I woot wel that this Jew, this Salomon,

  Fand2278 of us wommen fooles many oon.

  But thogh that he ne fand no good womman,

  2280 Yet hath ther founde many another man2280

  Wommen ful trewe, ful goode, and vertuous.

  Witnesse on hem that dwelle in Cristes hous:

  With martyrdom they preved hir constaunce.

  The Romain geestes2284 eek make remembraunce

  2285 Of many a verray, trewe wif also.

  But sire, ne be nat wrooth al be it so2286,

  Thogh that he seide he foond2287 no good womman;

  I pray yow, take the sentence2288 of the man:

  He mente thus, that in soverain2289 bountee

  2290 Nis noon but God, but neither he ne she2290.

  ‘Ey, for verray God that nis but oon,

  What make ye so muche of Salomon?

  What thogh he made a temple, Goddes hous?

  What thogh he were riche and glorious?

  2295 So made he eek a temple of false goddis!

  How mighte he do a thing that moore forbode2296 is?

  Pardee, as faire as ye his name emplastre2297,

  He was a lechour and an idolastre2298,

  And in his elde2299 he verray God forsook.

  2300 And if God ne hadde, as seyth the book,

  Yspared him for his fadres sake, he sholde

  Have lost his regne2302 rather than he wolde.

  I sette right noght2303, of al the vileinye

  That ye of wommen write, a boterflye!

  2305 I am a womman; nedes moot I speke,

  Or ellis swelle til min herte breke.

  For sithe he seide that we been jangleresses2307,

  As evere hool I mote brouke my tresses2308,

  I shal nat spare for no curteisye

  2310 To speke him harm that wolde us vileinye2310.’

  ‘Dame,’ quod this Pluto, ‘be no lenger wrooth;

 
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