The Merchant's Prologue, Tale, and Epilogue

An Interlinear Translation

The Middle English text is from Larry D. Benson., Gen. ed., The Riverside Chaucer,
Houghton Miflin Company; used with permission of the publisher.


(How to use the interlinear translations.)







The Merchant's Prologue


The Prologe of the Marchantes Tale


1213         "Wepyng and waylyng, care and oother sorwe
                    "Weeping and wailing, grief and other sorrow
1214         I knowe ynogh, on even and a-morwe,"
                    I know enough, on evenings and mornings,"
1215         Quod the Marchant, "and so doon other mo
                    Said the Merchant, "and so do many others
1216         That wedded been. I trowe that it be so,
                    Who are wedded. I believe that it is so,
1217         For wel I woot it fareth so with me.
                    For well I know it fares so with me.
1218         I have a wyf, the worste that may be;
                    I have a wife, the worst that can be;
1219         For thogh the feend to hire ycoupled were,
                    For though the fiend were married to her,
1220         She wolde hym overmacche, I dar wel swere.
                    She would outmatch him, I dare well swear.
1221         What sholde I yow reherce in special
                    Why should I tell you in detail
1222         Hir hye malice? She is a shrewe at al.
                    Her high malice? She is a shrew in every way.
1223         Ther is a long and large difference
                    There is a long and large difference
1224         Bitwix Grisildis grete pacience
                    Between Griselda's great patience
1225         And of my wyf the passyng crueltee.
                    And the extreme cruelty of my wife
1226         Were I unbounden, also moot I thee,
                    Were I released (from marriage), so may I may prosper,
1227         I wolde nevere eft comen in the snare.
                    I would never again come in the snare.
1228         We wedded men lyven in sorwe and care.
                    We wedded men live in sorrow and care.
1229         Assaye whoso wole, and he shal fynde
                    Try it whoso will, and he shall find
1230         That I seye sooth, by Seint Thomas of Ynde,
                    That I say truth, by Saint Thomas of India,
1231         As for the moore part -- I sey nat alle.
                    As for the greater part (majority) -- I say not all.
1232         God shilde that it sholde so bifalle!
                    God prevent that it should so happen!

1233         "A, goode sire Hoost, I have ywedded bee
                    "A, good sir Host, I have been wedded
1234         Thise monthes two, and moore nat, pardee;
                    These two months, and no more, by God;
1235         And yet, I trowe, he that al his lyve
                    And yet, I believe, he who all his life
1236         Wyflees hath been, though that men wolde him ryve
                    Wifeless has been, though one would him stab
1237         Unto the herte, ne koude in no manere
                    Unto the heart, could not in any way
1238         Tellen so muchel sorwe as I now heere
                    Tell so much sorrow as I now here
1239         Koude tellen of my wyves cursednesse!"
                    Could tell of my wife's cursedness!"

1240         "Now," quod oure Hoost, "Marchaunt, so God yow blesse,
                    "Now," said our Host, "Merchant, as God may you bless,
1241         Syn ye so muchel knowen of that art
                    Since you know so much of that art
1242         Ful hertely I pray yow telle us part."
                    Full heartily I pray you tell us part."

1243         "Gladly," quod he, "but of myn owene soore,
                    "Gladly," said he, "but of my own sorrow,
1244         For soory herte, I telle may namoore."
                    For sorry heart, I can tell no more."



The Merchant's Tale


Heere bigynneth the Marchantes Tale


1245         Whilom ther was dwellynge in Lumbardye
                    Once there was dwelling in Lombardy
1246         A worthy knyght, that born was of Pavye,
                    A worthy knight, who was born in Pavia,
1247         In which he lyved in greet prosperitee;
                    In which he lived in great prosperity;
1248         And sixty yeer a wyflees man was hee,
                    And sixty years a wifeless man was he,
1249         And folwed ay his bodily delyt
                    And followed always his bodily desire
1250         On wommen, ther as was his appetyt,
                    On women, where was his appetite,
1251         As doon thise fooles that been seculeer.
                    As do these fools that are secular.
1252         And whan that he was passed sixty yeer,
                    And when he was passed sixty years,
1253         Were it for hoolynesse or for dotage
                    Were it for holiness or for dotage
1254         I kan nat seye, but swich a greet corage
                    I can not say, but such a great desire
1255         Hadde this knyght to been a wedded man
                    Had this knight to be a wedded man
1256         That day and nyght he dooth al that he kan
                    That day and night he does all he can
1257         T' espien where he myghte wedded be,
                    To discover where he might wedded be,
1258         Preyinge oure Lord to graunten him that he
                    Praying our Lord to grant him that he
1259         Mighte ones knowe of thilke blisful lyf
                    Might once know of that blissful life
1260         That is bitwixe an housbonde and his wyf,
                    That is between a husband and his wife,
1261         And for to lyve under that hooly boond
                    And to live under that holy bond
1262         With which that first God man and womman bond.
                    With which God first bound man and woman.
1263         "Noon oother lyf," seyde he, "is worth a bene,
                    "No other life," said he, "is worth a bean,
1264         For wedlok is so esy and so clene,
                    For wedlock is so easy and so pure,
1265         That in this world it is a paradys."
                    That in this world it is a paradise."
1266         Thus seyde this olde knyght, that was so wys.
                    Thus said this old knight, who was so wise.

1267         And certeinly, as sooth as God is kyng,
                    And certainly, as truly as God is king,
1268         To take a wyf it is a glorious thyng,
                    To take a wife it is a glorious thing,
1269         And namely whan a man is oold and hoor;
                    And especially when a man is old and white-haired;
1270         Thanne is a wyf the fruyt of his tresor.
                    Then is a wife the best part of his treasure.
1271         Thanne sholde he take a yong wyf and a feir,
                    Then should he take a young wife and a fair,
1272         On which he myghte engendren hym an heir,
                    On which he might engender himself an heir,
1273         And lede his lyf in joye and in solas,
                    And lead his life in joy and in pleasure,
1274         Where as thise bacheleris synge "allas,"
                    Whereas these bachelors sing "alas,"
1275         Whan that they fynden any adversitee
                    When they find any adversity
1276         In love, which nys but childyssh vanytee.
                    In love, which is nothing but childish vanity.
1277         And trewely it sit wel to be so,
                    And truly it is fitting to be thus,
1278         That bacheleris have often peyne and wo;
                    That bachelors have often pain and woe;
1279         On brotel ground they buylde, and brotelnesse
                    On brittle ground they build, and insecurity
1280         They fynde whan they wene sikernesse.
                    They find when they expect security.
1281         They lyve but as a bryd or as a beest,
                    They live but as a bird or as a beast,
1282         In libertee and under noon arreest,
                    In liberty and under no restraint,
1283         Ther as a wedded man in his estaat
                    Whereas a wedded man in his estate
1284         Lyveth a lyf blisful and ordinaat
                    Lives a blissful and orderly life
1285         Under this yok of mariage ybounde.
                    Bound under this yoke of marriage.
1286         Wel may his herte in joy and blisse habounde,
                    Well may his heart in joy and bliss abound,
1287         For who kan be so buxom as a wyf?
                    For who can be so obedient as a wife?
1288         Who is so trewe, and eek so ententyf
                    Who is so true, and also so eager
1289         To kepe hym, syk and hool, as is his make?
                    To care for him, sick and well, as is his mate?
1290         For wele or wo she wole hym nat forsake;
                    For happiness or woe she will not forsake him;
1291         She nys nat wery hym to love and serve,
                    She is not weary of loving and serving him,
1292         Though that he lye bedrede til he sterve.
                    Though he lie bedridden until he dies.
1293         And yet somme clerkes seyn it nys nat so,
                    And yet some clerks say it is not so,
1294         Of whiche he Theofraste is oon of tho.
                    Of which that Theofrastus is one of those.
1295         What force though Theofraste liste lye?
                    What does it matter though Theofrastus wants to lie?
1296         "Ne take no wyf," quod he, "for housbondrye,
                    "Take no wife," said he, "for managing the household,
1297         As for to spare in houshold thy dispence.
                    As to economize in thy household expenditures.
1298         A trewe servant dooth moore diligence
                    A true servant does more diligence
1299         Thy good to kepe than thyn owene wyf,
                    To guard thy goods than thine own wife,
1300         For she wol clayme half part al hir lyf.
                    For she will claim half part all her life.
1301         And if thou be syk, so God me save,
                    And if thou be sick, as God may save me,
1302         Thy verray freendes, or a trewe knave,
                    Thy real friends, or a true servant,
1303         Wol kepe thee bet than she that waiteth ay
                    Will take care of thee better than she that waits always
1304         After thy good and hath doon many a day.
                    To inherit thy goods and has done so many a day.
1305         And if thou take a wyf unto thyn hoold
                    And if thou take a wife unto thy household
1306         Ful lightly maystow been a cokewold."
                    Full easily canst thou be a cuckold."
1307         This sentence, and an hundred thynges worse,
                    This opinion, and a hundred things worse,
1308         Writeth this man, ther God his bones corse!
                    Writes this man, may God his bones curse!
1309         But take no kep of al swich vanytee;
                    But take no heed of all such foolishness;
1310         Deffie Theofraste, and herke me.
                    Defy Theofrastus, and listen to me.

1311         A wyf is Goddes yifte verraily;
                    A wife is God's gift truly;
1312         Alle othere manere yiftes hardily,
                    All other sorts of gifts certainly,
1313         As londes, rentes, pasture, or commune,
                    Such as lands, rents, pasture, or right to use common land,
1314         Or moebles -- alle been yiftes of Fortune
                    Or personal possessions -- all are gifts of Fortune
1315         That passen as a shadwe upon a wal.
                    That pass like a shadow upon a wall.
1316         But drede nat, if pleynly speke I shal:
                    But doubt not, if I shall speak plainly:
1317         A wyf wol laste, and in thyn hous endure,
                    A wife will last, and in thy house endure,
1318         Wel lenger than thee list, paraventure.
                    Well longer than thou will wish, indeed.

1319         Mariage is a ful greet sacrement.
                    Marriage is a full great sacrament.
1320         He which that hath no wyf, I holde hym shent;
                    He who has no wife, I consider him ruined;
1321         He lyveth helplees and al desolat --
                    He lives helpless and all desolate --
1322         I speke of folk in seculer estaat.
                    I speak of folk in secular life.
1323         And herke why -- I sey nat this for noght --
                    And hearken why -- I say not this for nothing --
1324         That womman is for mannes helpe ywroght.
                    That woman is created for man's help.
1325         The hye God, whan he hadde Adam maked,
                    The high God, when he had made Adam,
1326         And saugh him al allone, bely-naked,
                    And saw him all alone, stark naked,
1327         God of his grete goodnesse seyde than,
                    God of his great goodness said then,
1328         "Lat us now make an helpe unto this man
                    "Let us now make a helper for this man
1329         Lyk to hymself"; and thanne he made him Eve.
                    Like to himself"; and then he made him Eve.
1330         Heere may ye se, and heerby may ye preve,
                    Here can you see, and hereby can you prove,
1331         That wyf is mannes helpe and his confort,
                    That wife is man's help and his comfort,
1332         His paradys terrestre, and his disport.
                    His earthly paradise, and his source of consolation.
1333         So buxom and so vertuous is she,
                    So obedient and so virtuous is she,
1334         They moste nedes lyve in unitee.
                    They must necessarily live in unity.
1335         O flessh they been, and o fleesh, as I gesse,
                    One flesh they are, and one flesh, as I guess,
1336         Hath but oon herte, in wele and in distresse.
                    Has but one heart, in prosperity and in distress.

1337         A wyf! a, Seinte Marie, benedicite!
                    A wife! A, Saint Mary, bless me!
1338         How myghte a man han any adversitee
                    How could a man have any adversity
1339         That hath a wyf? Certes, I kan nat seye.
                    That has a wife? Certainly, I can not say.
1340         The blisse which that is bitwixe hem tweye
                    The bliss that is betwixt them two
1341         Ther may no tonge telle, or herte thynke.
                    There can no tongue tell, nor heart think.
1342         If he be povre, she helpeth hym to swynke;
                    If he be poor, she helps him to work;
1343         She kepeth his good, and wasteth never a deel;
                    She keeps his goods, and wastes not a bit;
1344         Al that hire housbonde lust, hire liketh weel;
                    All that her husband desires, well pleases her;
1345         She seith nat ones "nay," whan he seith "ye."
                    She says not once "nay," when he says "yea."
1346         "Do this," seith he; "Al redy, sire," seith she.
                    "Do this," says he; "All ready, sir," says she.
1347         O blisful ordre of wedlok precious,
                    O blissful order of wedlock precious,
1348         Thou art so murye, and eek so vertuous,
                    Thou art so merry, and also so virtuous,
1349         And so commended and appreved eek
                    And so commended and approved also
1350         That every man that halt hym worth a leek
                    That every man that considers himself worth a leek
1351         Upon his bare knees oughte al his lyf
                    Upon his bare knees ought all his life
1352         Thanken his God that hym hath sent a wyf,
                    To thank his God that has sent him a wife,
1353         Or elles preye to God hym for to sende
                    Or else pray to God to send him
1354         A wyf to laste unto his lyves ende.
                    A wife to last unto his life's end.
1355         For thanne his lyf is set in sikernesse;
                    For then his life is set in security;
1356         He may nat be deceyved, as I gesse,
                    He may not be deceived, as I guess,
1357         So that he werke after his wyves reed.
                    Providing that he work according to his wife's advice.
1358         Thanne may he boldely beren up his heed,
                    Then may he boldly bear up his head,
1359         They been so trewe and therwithal so wyse;
                    They are so true and therewithal so wise;
1360         For which, if thou wolt werken as the wyse,
                    For which, if thou will act like a wise man,
1361         Do alwey so as wommen wol thee rede.
                    Do always as women will advise thee.

1362         Lo, how that Jacob, as thise clerkes rede,
                    Lo, how Jacob, as these clerks tell,
1363         By good conseil of his mooder Rebekke,
                    By good counsel of his mother Rebecca,
1364         Boond the kydes skyn aboute his nekke,
                    Bound the kid's skin about his neck,
1365         For which his fadres benyson he wan.
                    For which his father's blessing he won.

1366         Lo Judith, as the storie eek telle kan,
                    Lo Judith, as the story also can tell,
1367         By wys conseil she Goddes peple kepte,
                    By wise counsel she God's people kept,
1368         And slow hym Olofernus, whil he slepte.
                    And slew that Holofernes, while he slept.

1369         Lo Abigayl, by good conseil how she
                    Lo Abigail, by good counsel how she
1370         Saved hir housbonde Nabal whan that he
                    Saved her husband Nabal when he
1371         Sholde han be slayn; and looke, Ester also
                    Should have been slain; and look, Esther also
1372         By good conseil delyvered out of wo
                    By good counsel delivered out of woe
1373         The peple of God, and made hym Mardochee
                    The people of God, and made that same Mordecai
1374         Of Assuere enhaunced for to be.
                    To be exalted by Ahasuerus.

1375         Ther nys no thyng in gree superlatyf,
                    There is no thing superior (in degree of virtue),
1376         As seith Senek, above an humble wyf.
                    As says Seneca, above a humble wife.

1377         Suffre thy wyves tonge, as Catoun bit;
                    Submit to thy wife's tongue, as Cato bids;
1378         She shal comande, and thou shalt suffren it,
                    She shall command, and thou shalt submit to it,
1379         And yet she wole obeye of curteisye.
                    And yet she will (seem to) obey by way of courtesy.
1380         A wyf is kepere of thyn housbondrye;
                    A wife is keeper of thy household;
1381         Wel may the sike man biwaille and wepe,
                    Well may the sick man bewail and weep,
1382         Ther as ther nys no wyf the hous to kepe.
                    Where there is no wife to keep the house.
1383         I warne thee, if wisely thou wolt wirche,
                    I warn thee, if wisely thou wilt act,
1384         Love wel thy wyf, as Crist loved his chirche.
                    Love well thy wife, as Christ loved his church.
1385         If thou lovest thyself, thou lovest thy wyf;
                    If thou lovest thyself, thou lovest thy wife;
1386         No man hateth his flessh, but in his lyf
                    No man hates his flesh, but in his life
1387         He fostreth it, and therfore bidde I thee
                    He nurtures it, and therefore I bid thee
1388         Cherisse thy wyf, or thou shalt nevere thee.
                    Cherish thy wife, or thou shalt never prosper.
1389         Housbonde and wyf, what so men jape or pleye,
                    Husband and wife, however much men may jest or play,
1390         Of worldly folk holden the siker weye;
                    Of worldly folk hold the secure way;
1391         They been so knyt ther may noon harm bityde,
                    They are so knit together no harm can there befall,
1392         And namely upon the wyves syde.
                    And especially upon the wife's side.
1393         For which this Januarie, of whom I tolde,
                    For which this January, of whom I told,
1394         Considered hath, inwith his dayes olde,
                    Considered has, in his old age,
1395         The lusty lyf, the vertuous quyete,
                    The pleasing life, the virtuous quiet,
1396         That is in mariage hony-sweete,
                    That is in honey-sweet marriage,
1397         And for his freendes on a day he sente,
                    And for his friends on a day he sent,
1398         To tellen hem th' effect of his entente.
                    To tell them the substance of his intention.

1399         With face sad his tale he hath hem toold.
                    With serious face his tale he has them told.
1400         He seyde, "Freendes, I am hoor and oold,
                    He said, "Friends, I am white-haired and old,
1401         And almoost, God woot, on my pittes brynke;
                    And almost, God knows, on my grave's brink;
1402         Upon my soule somwhat moste I thynke.
                    Upon my soul somewhat must I think.
1403         I have my body folily despended;
                    I have my body foolishly wasted;
1404         Blessed be God that it shal been amended!
                    Blessed be God that it shall be amended!
1405         For I wol be, certeyn, a wedded man,
                    For I will be, certainly, a wedded man,
1406         And that anoon in al the haste I kan.
                    And that at once in all the haste I can (do it).
1407         Unto som mayde fair and tendre of age,
                    Unto some maid fair and tender of age,
1408         I prey yow, shapeth for my mariage
                    I pray yow, prepare for my marriage
1409         Al sodeynly, for I wol nat abyde;
                    Right away, for I will not delay;
1410         And I wol fonde t' espien, on my syde,
                    And I will attempt to discover, on my side,
1411         To whom I may be wedded hastily.
                    To whom I may be wedded hastily.
1412         But forasmuche as ye been mo than I,
                    But forasmuch as you are more than I,
1413         Ye shullen rather swich a thyng espyen
                    You shall rather such a thing discover
1414         Than I, and where me best were to allyen.
                    Than I, and where it would be best to ally myself (marry).

1415         "But o thyng warne I yow, my freendes deere,
                    "But one thing warn I you, my friends dear,
1416         I wol noon oold wyf han in no manere.
                    I will no old wife have in any way.
1417         She shal nat passe twenty yeer, certayn;
                    She shall not pass twenty years, certainly;
1418         Oold fissh and yong flessh wolde I have fayn.
                    Old fish and young flesh would I gladly have.
1419         Bet is," quod he, "a pyk than a pykerel,
                    Better is," said he, "a pike than a pickerel (young pike),
1420         And bet than old boef is the tendre veel.
                    And better than old beef is the tender veal.
1421         I wol no womman thritty yeer of age;
                    I want no woman thirty years of age;
1422         It is but bene-straw and greet forage.
                    It is but dry bean-stalks and coarse fodder.
1423         And eek thise olde wydwes, God it woot,
                    And also these old widows, God it knows,
1424         They konne so muchel craft on Wades boot,
                    They know so much trickery on Wade's boat,
1425         So muchel broken harm, whan that hem leste,
                    Do so much harm, when they please,
1426         That with hem sholde I nevere lyve in reste.
                    That with them should I never live in rest.
1427         For sondry scoles maken sotile clerkis;
                    For various schools make clever clerks;
1428         Womman of manye scoles half a clerk is.
                    A woman of many schools is half a clerk.
1429         But certeynly, a yong thyng may men gye,
                    But certainly, one can guide a young thing,
1430         Right as men may warm wex with handes plye.
                    Just as one can mold warm wax with hands.
1431         Wherfore I sey yow pleynly, in a clause,
                    Therefore I tell you plainly, in brief,
1432         I wol noon oold wyf han right for this cause.
                    I will no old wife have at all for this reason.
1433         For if so were I hadde swich myschaunce
                    For if it so were that I had such bad luck
1434         That I in hire ne koude han no plesaunce,
                    That I in her could have no pleasure,
1435         Thanne sholde I lede my lyf in avoutrye
                    Then I should lead my life in adultery
1436         And go streight to the devel whan I dye.
                    And go straight to the devil when I die.
1437         Ne children sholde I none upon hire geten;
                    Nor any children should I upon her beget;
1438         Yet were me levere houndes had me eten
                    Yet I would rather hounds had eaten me
1439         Than that myn heritage sholde falle
                    Than that my heritage should fall
1440         In straunge hand, and this I telle yow alle.
                    In a stranger's hand, and this I tell you all.
1441         I dote nat; I woot the cause why
                    I am not in my dotage; I know the cause why
1442         Men sholde wedde, and forthermoore woot I
                    One should wed, and furthermore know I
1443         Ther speketh many a man of mariage
                    There speaks many a man of marriage
1444         That woot namoore of it than woot my page
                    Who knows no more of it than my servant boy knows
1445         For whiche causes man sholde take a wyf.
                    For which causes man should take a wife.
1446         If he ne may nat lyven chaast his lyf,
                    If he can not live his life chastely,
1447         Take hym a wyf with greet devocioun,
                    Let him take him a wife with great devotion,
1448         By cause of leveful procreacioun
                    For the sake of lawful procreation
1449         Of children to th' onour of God above,
                    Of children to the honor of God above,
1450         And nat oonly for paramour or love;
                    And not only for sexual passion or love;
1451         And for they sholde leccherye eschue,
                    And so that they should abstain from lechery,
1452         And yelde hir dette whan that it is due;
                    And yield their marital debt when it is due;
1453         Or for that ech of hem sholde helpen oother
                    Or so that each of them should help the other
1454         In meschief, as a suster shal the brother,
                    In distress, as a sister shall the brother,
1455         And lyve in chastitee ful holily.
                    And live in celibacy full piously.
1456         But sires, by youre leve, that am nat I.
                    But sirs, by your leave, that am not I.
1457         For -- God be thanked! -- I dar make avaunt
                    For -- God be thanked! -- I dare make boast
1458         I feele my lymes stark and suffisaunt
                    I feel my limbs strong and sufficient
1459         To do al that a man bilongeth to;
                    To do all that is proper to a man;
1460         I woot myselven best what I may do.
                    I know myself best what I can do.
1461         Though I be hoor, I fare as dooth a tree
                    Though I be white-haired, I fare as does a tree
1462         That blosmeth er that fruyt ywoxen bee;
                    That blossoms before the fruit is grown;
1463         And blosmy tree nys neither drye ne deed.
                    And a blossom-filled tree is neither dry nor dead.
1464         I feele me nowhere hoor but on myn heed;
                    I feel me nowhere white-haired but on my head;
1465         Myn herte and alle my lymes been as grene
                    My heart and all my limbs are as green
1466         As laurer thurgh the yeer is for to sene.
                    As laurel through the year is to be seen.
1467         And syn that ye han herd al myn entente,
                    And since you have heard all my intention,
1468         I prey yow to my wyl ye wole assente."
                    I pray you to my will you will assent."

1469         Diverse men diversely hym tolde
                    Diverse men diversely him told
1470         Of mariage manye ensamples olde.
                    Of marriage many old examples.
1471         Somme blamed it, somme preysed it, certeyn,
                    Somme blamed it, some praised it, certainly,
1472         But atte laste, shortly for to seyn,
                    But at the last, shortly to say,
1473         As al day falleth altercacioun
                    As every day altercation occurs
1474         Bitwixen freendes in disputisoun,
                    Between friends in disputation,
1475         Ther fil a stryf bitwixe his bretheren two,
                    There befell a strife betwixt his two brothers,
1476         Of whiche that oon was cleped Placebo;
                    Of whom that one was called Placebo;
1477         Justinus soothly called was that oother.
                    Justinus truly was called that other.

1478         Placebo seyde, "O Januarie, brother,
                    Placebo said, "O January, brother,
1479         Ful litel nede hadde ye, my lord so deere,
                    Full little need had you, my lord so dear,
1480         Conseil to axe of any that is heere,
                    To ask counsel of any that is here,
1481         But that ye been so ful of sapience
                    Except that you are so full of wisdom
1482         That yow ne liketh, for youre heighe prudence,
                    That it does not please you, for your high prudence,
1483         To weyven fro the word of Salomon.
                    To deviate from the word of Solomon.
1484         This word seyde he unto us everychon:
                    This word said he unto us every one:
1485         `Wirk alle thyng by conseil,' thus seyde he,
                    `Do everything according to good advice,' thus said he,
1486         `And thanne shaltow nat repente thee.'
                    `And then shalt thou not repent.'
1487         But though that Salomon spak swich a word,
                    But though Solomon spoke such a word,
1488         Myn owene deere brother and my lord,
                    My own dear brother and my lord,
1489         So wysly God my soule brynge at reste,
                    As surely as God my soul may bring to rest,
1490         I holde youre owene conseil is the beste.
                    I hold your own counsel is the best.
1491         For, brother myn, of me taak this motyf:
                    For, brother mine, of me take this advice:
1492         I have now been a court-man al my lyf,
                    I have now been a courtier all my life,
1493         And God it woot, though I unworthy be,
                    And God it knows, though I am unworthy,
1494         I have stonden in ful greet degree
                    I have stood in very high degree
1495         Abouten lordes of ful heigh estaat;
                    Among lords of very high rank;
1496         Yet hadde I nevere with noon of hem debaat.
                    Yet had I never with any of them disagreement.
1497         I nevere hem contraried, trewely;
                    I never contradicted them, truly;
1498         I woot wel that my lord kan moore than I.
                    I know well that my lord knows more than I.
1499         What that he seith, I holde it ferme and stable;
                    What he says, I consider it unshakably true;
1500         I seye the same, or elles thyng semblable.
                    I say the same, or else something similar.
1501         A ful greet fool is any conseillour
                    A full great fool is any counselor
1502         That serveth any lord of heigh honour,
                    That serves any lord of high honor,
1503         That dar presume, or elles thenken it,
                    That dares presume, or else think it,
1504         That his conseil sholde passe his lordes wit.
                    That his counsel should surpass his lord's judgment.
1505         Nay, lordes been no fooles, by my fay!
                    Nay, lords are no fools, by my faith!
1506         Ye han youreselven shewed heer to-day
                    You have yourselves showed here to-day
1507         So heigh sentence, so holily and weel,
                    Such high good judgment, so piously and well,
1508         That I consente and conferme everydeel
                    That I consent and confirm every bit
1509         Youre wordes alle and youre opinioun.
                    All your words and your opinion.
1510         By God, ther nys no man in al this toun,
                    By God, there is no man in all this town,
1511         Ne in Ytaille, that koude bet han sayd!
                    Nor in Italy, that could have spoken better!
1512         Crist halt hym of this conseil ful wel apayd.
                    Christ considers himself by this counsel very well pleased.
1513         And trewely, it is an heigh corage
                    And truly, it is a bold act
1514         Of any man that stapen is in age
                    By any man that is advanced in age
1515         To take a yong wyf; by my fader kyn,
                    To take a young wife; by my father's kin,
1516         Youre herte hangeth on a joly pyn!
                    Your heart hangs on a jolly pin (is very merry)!
1517         Dooth now in this matiere right as yow leste,
                    Do now in this matter exactly as you please,
1518         For finally I holde it for the beste."
                    For finally I consider it for the best."

1519         Justinus, that ay stille sat and herde,
                    Justinus, that always still sat and listened,
1520         Right in this wise he to Placebo answerde:
                    Right in this manner he to Placebo answered:
1521         "Now, brother myn, be pacient, I preye,
                    "Now, brother mine, be patient, I pray,
1522         Syn ye han seyd, and herkneth what I seye.
                    Since you have spoken, and hear what I say.
1523         Senek, amonges othere wordes wyse,
                    Seneca, amongst other words wise,
1524         Seith that a man oghte hym right wel avyse
                    Says that a man ought very carefully consider
1525         To whom he yeveth his lond or his catel.
                    To whom he gives his land or his moveable possessions.
1526         And syn I oghte avyse me right wel
                    And since I ought to consider very carefully
1527         To whom I yeve my good awey fro me,
                    To whom I give my goods away from me,
1528         Wel muchel moore I oghte avysed be
                    Well much more I ought to consider
1529         To whom I yeve my body for alwey.
                    To whom I give my body for always.
1530         I warne yow wel, it is no childes pley
                    I warn you well, it is no child's play
1531         To take a wyf withouten avysement.
                    To take a wife without deliberation.
1532         Men moste enquere -- this is myn assent --
                    One must inquire -- this is my opinion --
1533         Wher she be wys, or sobre, or dronkelewe,
                    Whether she be wise, or sober, or given to drink,
1534         Or proud, or elles ootherweys a shrewe,
                    Or proud, or else otherwise a shrew,
1535         A chidestere, or wastour of thy good,
                    A scold, or waster of thy goods,
1536         Or riche, or poore, or elles mannyssh wood.
                    Or rich, or poor, or else man-crazy.
1537         Al be it so that no man fynden shal
                    Although it is so that no man shall find
1538         Noon in this world that trotteth hool in al,
                    Any in this world that is perfect in everything,
1539         Ne man, ne beest, swich as men koude devyse;
                    No man, nor beast, such as men could imagine;
1540         But nathelees it oghte ynough suffise
                    But nevertheless it ought enough suffice
1541         With any wyf, if so were that she hadde
                    With any wife, (to learn) if it so were that she had
1542         Mo goode thewes than hire vices badde;
                    More good personal qualities than her bad vices;
1543         And al this axeth leyser for t' enquere.
                    And all this requires leisure to find out.
1544         For, God it woot, I have wept many a teere
                    For, God it knows, I have wept many a tear
1545         Ful pryvely, syn I have had a wyf.
                    Full privately, since I have had a wife.
1546         Preyse whoso wole a wedded mannes lyf,
                    Praise whosoever will a wedded man's life,
1547         Certein I fynde in it but cost and care
                    Certainly I find in it nothing but cost and care
1548         And observances, of alle blisses bare.
                    And duties, of all blisses bare.
1549         And yet, God woot, my neighebores aboute,
                    And yet, God knows, my neighbors about,
1550         And namely of wommen many a route,
                    And especially many a crowd of women,
1551         Seyn that I have the mooste stedefast wyf,
                    Say that I have the most steadfast wife,
1552         And eek the mekeste oon that bereth lyf;
                    And also the meekest one that bears life;
1553         But I woot best where wryngeth me my sho.
                    But I know best where my shoe pinches me.
1554         Ye mowe, for me, right as yow liketh do;
                    You may, for me, do just as you like;
1555         Avyseth yow -- ye been a man of age --
                    Consider -- you are a man of advanced age --
1556         How that ye entren into mariage,
                    How that you enter into marriage,
1557         And namely with a yong wyf and a fair.
                    And especially with a young wife and a fair.
1558         By hym that made water, erthe, and air,
                    By him that made water, earth, and air,
1559         The yongeste man that is in al this route
                    The youngest man that is in all this company
1560         Is bisy ynough to bryngen it aboute
                    Is busy enough to bring it about
1561         To han his wyf allone. Trusteth me,
                    To have his wife alone. Trust me,
1562         Ye shul nat plesen hire fully yeres thre --
                    You shall not please her fully years three --
1563         This is to seyn, to doon hire ful plesaunce.
                    This is to say, to do her full pleasure.
1564         A wyf axeth ful many an observaunce.
                    A wife requires constant attention.
1565         I prey yow that ye be nat yvele apayd."
                    I pray you that you be not displeased."

1566         "Wel," quod this Januarie, "and hastow ysayd?
                    "Well," said this January, "and hast thou spoken?
1567         Straw for thy Senek, and for thy proverbes!
                    Straw for thy Seneca, and for thy proverbs!
1568         I counte nat a panyer ful of herbes
                    I would not give a bread basket full of herbs
1569         Of scole-termes. Wyser men than thow,
                    For academic talk. Wiser men than thou,
1570         As thou hast herd, assenteden right now
                    As thou hast heard, assented right now
1571         To my purpos. Placebo, what sey ye?"
                    To my purpose. Placebo, what say you?"

1572         "I seye it is a cursed man," quod he,
                    "I say it is a cursed man," said he,
1573         "That letteth matrimoigne, sikerly."
                    "That hinders matrimony, certainly."
1574         And with that word they rysen sodeynly,
                    And with that word they rise immediately,
1575         And been assented fully that he sholde
                    And are agreed fully that he should
1576         Be wedded whanne hym liste and where he wolde.
                    Be wedded when he pleased and where he would.

1577         Heigh fantasye and curious bisynesse
                    Exaggerated imagination and constant thought
1578         Fro day to day gan in the soule impresse
                    From day to day became fixed in the soul
1579         Of Januarie aboute his mariage.
                    Of January concerning his marriage.
1580         Many fair shap and many a fair visage
                    Many a fair shape and many a fair visage
1581         Ther passeth thurgh his herte nyght by nyght,
                    There passes through his heart night after night,
1582         As whoso tooke a mirour, polisshed bryght,
                    As if one took a mirror, polished bright,
1583         And sette it in a commune market-place,
                    And set it in a common market-place,
1584         Thanne sholde he se ful many a figure pace
                    Then should he see full many a figure pace
1585         By his mirour; and in the same wyse
                    By his mirror; and in the same manner
1586         Gan Januarie inwith his thoght devyse
                    Did January within his thought imagine
1587         Of maydens whiche that dwelten hym bisyde.
                    About maidens which dwelt nearby him.
1588         He wiste nat wher that he myghte abyde.
                    He knew not on which he might settle.
1589         For if that oon have beaute in hir face,
                    For if that one have beauty in her face,
1590         Another stant so in the peples grace
                    Another stands so in the people's good opinion
1591         For hire sadnesse and hire benyngnytee
                    For her seriousness and her goodness
1592         That of the peple grettest voys hath she;
                    That of the people greatest praise has she;
1593         And somme were riche and hadden badde name.
                    And some were rich and had a bad reputation.
1594         But nathelees, bitwixe ernest and game,
                    But nevertheless, between earnestness and joking (in every way),
1595         He atte laste apoynted hym on oon,
                    He at the last decided upon one,
1596         And leet alle othere from his herte goon,
                    And let all others from his heart go,
1597         And chees hire of his owene auctoritee;
                    And chose her by his own authority;
1598         For love is blynd alday, and may nat see.
                    For love is blind always, and can not see.
1599         And whan that he was in his bed ybroght,
                    And when he was in his bed brought,
1600         He purtreyed in his herte and in his thoght
                    He portrayed in his heart and in his thought
1601         Hir fresshe beautee and hir age tendre,
                    Her fresh beauty and her tender age,
1602         Hir myddel smal, hire armes longe and sklendre,
                    Her small waist, her arms long and slender,
1603         Hir wise governaunce, hir gentillesse,
                    Her wise self-control, her nobility,
1604         Hir wommanly berynge, and hire sadnesse.
                    Her womanly bearing, and her seriousness.
1605         And whan that he on hire was condescended,
                    And when he on her had decided,
1606         Hym thoughte his choys myghte nat ben amended.
                    He thought his choice could not be bettered.
1607         For whan that he hymself concluded hadde,
                    For when he himself had decided,
1608         Hym thoughte ech oother mannes wit so badde
                    He thought each other man's wit so bad
1609         That inpossible it were to repplye
                    That it would be impossible to reply
1610         Agayn his choys; this was his fantasye.
                    Against his choice; this was his fantasy.
1611         His freendes sente he to, at his instaunce,
                    His friends sent he to, at his request,
1612         And preyed hem to doon hym that plesaunce,
                    And prayed them to do him that pleasure,
1613         That hastily they wolden to hym come;
                    That hastily they would come to him;
1614         He wolde abregge hir labour, alle and some.
                    He would abridge their labor, one and all.
1615         Nedeth namoore for hym to go ne ryde;
                    He needs no more to travel about;
1616         He was apoynted ther he wolde abyde.
                    He had decided on whom he would settle.

1617         Placebo cam, and eek his freendes soone,
                    Placebo came, and also his friends quickly,
1618         And alderfirst he bad hem alle a boone,
                    And first of all he asked them all a favor,
1619         That noon of hem none argumentes make
                    That none of them make any arguments
1620         Agayn the purpos which that he hath take,
                    Against the purpose which he has taken,
1621         Which purpos was plesant to God, seyde he,
                    Which purpose was pleasing to God, said he,
1622         And verray ground of his prosperitee.
                    And true ground of his prosperity.

1623         He seyde ther was a mayden in the toun,
                    He said there was a maiden in the town,
1624         Which that of beautee hadde greet renoun,
                    Who for beauty had great renown,
1625         Al were it so she were of smal degree;
                    Even though she was of low rank;
1626         Suffiseth hym hir yowthe and hir beautee.
                    Her youth and her beauty are enough for him .
1627         Which mayde, he seyde, he wolde han to his wyf,
                    Which maid, he said, he would have as his wife,
1628         To lede in ese and hoolynesse his lyf;
                    To lead in ease and holiness his life;
1629         And thanked God that he myghte han hire al,
                    And thanked God that he might have her entirely,
1630         That no wight his blisse parten shal.
                    So that no one shall share his bliss.
1631         And preyed hem to laboure in this nede,
                    And prayed them to labor in this need,
1632         And shapen that he faille nat to spede;
                    And arrange that he fail not to succeed;
1633         For thanne, he seyde, his spirit was at ese.
                    For then, he said, his spirit was at ease.
1634         "Thanne is," quod he, "no thyng may me displese,
                    "Then there is," said he, "nothing that can displease me,
1635         Save o thyng priketh in my conscience,
                    Save one thing sticks in my conscience,
1636         The which I wol reherce in youre presence.
                    Which I will tell in your presence.

1637         "I have," quod he, "herd seyd, ful yoore ago,
                    "I have," said he, "heard said, full long ago,
1638         Ther may no man han parfite blisses two --
                    There can no man have perfect blisses two --
1639         This is to seye, in erthe and eek in hevene.
                    This is to say, in earth and also in heaven.
1640         For though he kepe hym fro the synnes sevene,
                    For though he keep him from the seven sins,
1641         And eek from every branche of thilke tree,
                    And also from every branch of that same tree (of sin),
1642         Yet is ther so parfit felicitee
                    Yet is there such perfect felicity
1643         And so greet ese and lust in mariage
                    And such great ease and pleasure in marriage
1644         That evere I am agast now in myn age
                    That ever I am frightened now in my old age
1645         That I shal lede now so myrie a lyf,
                    That I shall lead now so merry a life,
1646         So delicat, withouten wo and stryf,
                    So pleasing, without woe and strife,
1647         That I shal have myn hevene in erthe heere.
                    That I shall have my heaven here in earth.
1648         For sith that verray hevene is boght so deere
                    For since that true heaven is bought so dear
1649         With tribulacion and greet penaunce,
                    With tribulation and great penance,
1650         How sholde I thanne, that lyve in swich plesaunce
                    How should I then, who live in such pleasure
1651         As alle wedded men doon with hire wyvys,
                    As all wedded men do with her wives,
1652         Come to the blisse ther Crist eterne on lyve ys?
                    Come to the bliss where Christ eternally lives?
1653         This is my drede, and ye, my bretheren tweye,
                    This is my dread, and you, my brethren two,
1654         Assoilleth me this question, I preye."
                    Resolve this problem, I pray."

1655         Justinus, which that hated his folye,
                    Justinus, who hated his folly,
1656         Answerde anon right in his japerye;
                    Answered straight away in his mockery;
1657         And for he wolde his longe tale abregge,
                    And because he would his long tale abridge,
1658         He wolde noon auctoritee allegge,
                    He would cite no authority,
1659         But seyde, "Sire, so ther be noon obstacle
                    But said, "Sir, providing there be no obstacle
1660         Oother than this, God of his hygh myracle
                    Other than this, God by his high miracle
1661         And of his mercy may so for yow wirche
                    And of his mercy may so for you work
1662         That, er ye have youre right of hooly chirche,
                    That, before you have your rite of holy church (last sacrament),
1663         Ye may repente of wedded mannes lyf,
                    You may repent of the wedded man's life,
1664         In which ye seyn ther is no wo ne stryf.
                    In which you say there is no woe nor strife.
1665         And elles, God forbede but he sente
                    And else, God forbid that he should not send
1666         A wedded man hym grace to repente
                    A wedded man grace to repent himself
1667         Wel ofte rather than a sengle man!
                    Well more often than a single man!
1668         And therfore, sire -- the beste reed I kan --
                    And therefore, sir -- the best advice I know --
1669         Dispeire yow noght, but have in youre memorie,
                    Despair you not, but have in your memory,
1670         Paraunter she may be youre purgatorie!
                    Perhaps she may be your purgatory!
1671         She may be Goddes meene and Goddes whippe;
                    She may be God's instrument and God's whip;
1672         Thanne shal youre soule up to hevene skippe
                    Then shall your soul up to heaven skip
1673         Swifter than dooth an arwe out of a bowe.
                    Swifter than does an arrow out of a bow.
1674         I hope to God, herafter shul ye knowe
                    I hope to God, hereafter shall you know
1675         That ther nys no so greet felicitee
                    That there is not so great felicity
1676         In mariage, ne nevere mo shal bee,
                    In marriage, nor never more shall be,
1677         That yow shal lette of youre savacion,
                    That shall keep you from your salvation,
1678         So that ye use, as skile is and reson,
                    Providing that you use, as is proper and reasonable,
1679         The lustes of youre wyf attemprely,
                    The pleasures of your wife moderately,
1680         And that ye plese hire nat to amorously,
                    And that you please her not too amorously,
1681         And that ye kepe yow eek from oother synne.
                    And that you keep yourself also from other sin.
1682         My tale is doon, for my wit is thynne.
                    My tale is done, for my wit is thin.
1683         Beth nat agast herof, my brother deere,
                    Be not afraid of this, my brother dear,
1684         But lat us waden out of this mateere.
                    But let us wade out of this matter.
1685         The Wyf of Bathe, if ye han understonde,
                    The Wife of Bath, if you have understood her,
1686         Of mariage, which we have on honde,
                    Of marriage, which we have in hand,
1687         Declared hath ful wel in litel space.
                    Declared has full well in little space.
1688         Fareth now wel. God have yow in his grace."
                    Now farewell. God have you in his grace."

1689         And with this word this Justyn and his brother
                    And with this word this Justin and his brother
1690         Han take hir leve, and ech of hem of oother.
                    Have taken their leave, and each of them of other.
1691         For whan they saughe that it moste nedes be,
                    For when they saw that it must necessarily be,
1692         They wroghten so, by sly and wys tretee,
                    They worked so, by sly and wise negotiation,
1693         That she, this mayden which that Mayus highte,
                    That she, this maiden who May was called,
1694         As hastily as evere that she myghte
                    As hastily as ever that she might
1695         Shal wedded be unto this Januarie.
                    Shall wedded be unto this January.
1696         I trowe it were to longe yow to tarie,
                    I believe it would be too long to delay you,
1697         If I yow tolde of every scrit and bond
                    If I told you of every legal document and bond
1698         By which that she was feffed in his lond,
                    By which she was endowed with his land,
1699         Or for to herknen of hir riche array.
                    Or to hear of her rich array.
1700         But finally ycomen is the day
                    But finally the day is come
1701         That to the chirche bothe be they went
                    That to the church both are they went
1702         For to receyve the hooly sacrement.
                    To receive the holy sacrament (of marriage).
1703         Forth comth the preest, with stole aboute his nekke,
                    Forth comes the priest, with stole about his neck,
1704         And bad hire be lyk Sarra and Rebekke
                    And commanded her to be like Sarah and Rebecca
1705         In wysdom and in trouthe of mariage;
                    In wisdom and in faithfulness of marriage;
1706         And seyde his orisons, as is usage,
                    And said his prayers, as is the usage,
1707         And croucheth hem, and bad God sholde hem blesse,
                    And makes the sign of the cross over them, and prayed God should them bless,
1708         And made al siker ynogh with hoolynesse.
                    And made all secure enough with holiness.

1709         Thus been they wedded with solempnitee,
                    Thus are they wedded with solemnity,
1710         And at the feeste sitteth he and she
                    And at the feast sits he and she
1711         With othere worthy folk upon the deys.
                    With other worthy folk upon the dais.
1712         Al ful of joye and blisse is the paleys,
                    All full of joy and bliss is the palace,
1713         And ful of instrumentz and of vitaille,
                    And full of instruments and of foods,
1714         The mooste deyntevous of al Ytaille.
                    The most delicious of all Italy.
1715         Biforn hem stoode instrumentz of swich soun
                    Before them stood instruments of such sound
1716         That Orpheus, ne of Thebes Amphioun,
                    That Orpheus, nor Amphioun of Thebes,
1717         Ne maden nevere swich a melodye.
                    Made never such a melody.
1718         At every cours thanne cam loud mynstralcye
                    At every course then came loud minstrelsy
1719         That nevere tromped Joab for to heere,
                    That never trumpeted Joab to be heard,
1720         Nor he Theodomas, yet half so cleere
                    Nor that Theodomas, yet half so clear
1721         At Thebes whan the citee was in doute.
                    At Thebes when the city was in danger.
1722         Bacus the wyn hem shynketh al aboute,
                    Bacchus pours them the wine all around,
1723         And Venus laugheth upon every wight,
                    And Venus laughs upon every person,
1724         For Januarie was bicome hir knyght
                    For January had become her knight
1725         And wolde bothe assayen his corage
                    And would test his spirit both
1726         In libertee, and eek in mariage;
                    In liberty, and also in marriage;
1727         And with hire fyrbrond in hire hand aboute
                    And with her torch in her hand about
1728         Daunceth biforn the bryde and al the route.
                    Dances before the bride and all the company.
1729         And certeinly, I dar right wel seyn this,
                    And certainly, I dare right well say this,
1730         Ymeneus, that god of weddyng is,
                    Hymen, that god of wedding is,
1731         Saugh nevere his lyf so myrie a wedded man.
                    Saw never in his life so merry a wedded man.
1732         Hoold thou thy pees, thou poete Marcian,
                    Hold thou thy peace, thou poet Martianus Capella,
1733         That writest us that ilke weddyng murie
                    Who writes for us that same wedding merry
1734         Of hire Philologie and hym Mercurie,
                    Of her, Philology, and him, Mercury,
1735         And of the songes that the Muses songe!
                    And of the songs that the Muses sang!
1736         To smal is bothe thy penne, and eek thy tonge,
                    Too small is both thy pen, and also thy tongue,
1737         For to descryven of this mariage.
                    To describe this marriage.
1738         Whan tendre youthe hath wedded stoupyng age,
                    When tender youth has wedded stooping age,
1739         Ther is swich myrthe that it may nat be writen.
                    There is such mirth that it can not be written.
1740         Assayeth it youreself; thanne may ye witen
                    Try it yourself; then can you know
1741         If that I lye or noon in this matiere.
                    If I lie or not in this matter.

1742         Mayus, that sit with so benyngne a chiere,
                    May, that sits with so benign a manner,
1743         Hire to biholde it semed fayerye.
                    Her to behold it seemed an enchantment.
1744         Queene Ester looked nevere with swich an ye
                    Queen Esther looked never with such an eye
1745         On Assuer, so meke a look hath she.
                    On Ahasuerus, so meek a look has she.
1746         I may yow nat devyse al hir beautee.
                    I can not describe to you all her beauty.
1747         But thus muche of hire beautee telle I may,
                    But thus much of her beauty tell I can,
1748         That she was lyk the brighte morwe of May,
                    That she was like the bright morning of May,
1749         Fulfild of alle beautee and plesaunce.
                    Filled with all beauty and delight.

1750         This Januarie is ravysshed in a traunce
                    This January is ravished in a trance
1751         At every tyme he looked on hir face;
                    At every time he looked on her face;
1752         But in his herte he gan hire to manace
                    But in his heart he began to menace her
1753         That he that nyght in armes wolde hire streyne
                    That he that night in arms would her strain
1754         Harder than evere Parys dide Eleyne.
                    Harder than ever Paris did Helen of Troy.
1755         But nathelees yet hadde he greet pitee
                    But nevertheless yet had he great pity
1756         That thilke nyght offenden hire moste he,
                    That that same night he must offend her,
1757         And thoughte, "Allas! O tendre creature,
                    And thought, "Alas! O tender creature,
1758         Now wolde God ye myghte wel endure
                    Now would God you might well endure
1759         Al my corage, it is so sharp and keene!
                    All my desire, it is so sharp and keen!
1760         I am agast ye shul it nat susteene.
                    I am afraid you shall not be able to endure it.
1761         But God forbede that I dide al my myght!
                    But God forbid that I did all my might!
1762         Now wolde God that it were woxen nyght,
                    Now would God that it were become night,
1763         And that the nyght wolde lasten everemo.
                    And that the night would last evermore.
1764         I wolde that al this peple were ago."
                    I would that all this people were gone."
1765         And finally he dooth al his labour,
                    And finally he takes all possible pains,
1766         As he best myghte, savynge his honour,
                    As he best could, so far as good manners allowed,
1767         To haste hem fro the mete in subtil wyse.
                    To hasten them from the dinner in subtle manner.

1768         The tyme cam that resoun was to ryse;
                    The time came that it was reasonable to rise;
1769         And after that men daunce and drynken faste,
                    And after that men dance and drink deeply,
1770         And spices al aboute the hous they caste,
                    And spiced cakes all about the house they passed,
1771         And ful of joye and blisse is every man --
                    And full of joy and bliss is every man --
1772         Al but a squyer, highte Damyan,
                    All but a squire, called Damian,
1773         Which carf biforn the knyght ful many a day.
                    Who carved before the knight full many a day.
1774         He was so ravysshed on his lady May
                    He was so ravished on his lady May
1775         That for the verray peyne he was ny wood.
                    That for the very pain he was nearly crazy.
1776         Almoost he swelte and swowned ther he stood,
                    Almost he fainted and swooned where he stood,
1777         So soore hath Venus hurt hym with hire brond,
                    So sorely has Venus hurt him with her torch,
1778         As that she bar it daunsynge in hire hond;
                    As she carried it dancing in her hand;
1779         And to his bed he wente hym hastily.
                    And to his bed he went hastily.
1780         Namoore of hym at this tyme speke I,
                    No more of him at this time speak I,
1781         But there I lete hym wepe ynogh and pleyne
                    But there I let him weep enough and complain
1782         Til fresshe May wol rewen on his peyne.
                    Until fresh May will rue on his pain.

1783         O perilous fyr, that in the bedstraw bredeth!
                    O perilous fire, that in the bedstraw breeds!
1784         O famulier foo, that his servyce bedeth!
                    O enemy in one's household, that offers his service!
1785         O servant traytour, false hoomly hewe,
                    O servant traitor, false domestic servant,
1786         Lyk to the naddre in bosom sly untrewe,
                    Like to the sly untrue adder in one's bosom,
1787         God shilde us alle from youre aqueyntaunce!
                    God protect us all from your acquaintance!
1788         O Januarie, dronken in plesaunce
                    O January, drunk with pleasure
1789         In mariage, se how thy Damyan,
                    In marriage, see how thy Damian,
1790         Thyn owene squier and thy borne man,
                    Thine own squire and thy servant from birth,
1791         Entendeth for to do thee vileynye.
                    Intends to do thee villainy.
1792         God graunte thee thyn hoomly fo t' espye!
                    God grant thee thy foe in thy household to espy!
1793         For in this world nys worse pestilence
                    For in this world is no worse pestilence
1794         Than hoomly foo al day in thy presence.
                    Than a foe in thy household always in thy presence.

1795         Parfourned hath the sonne his ark diurne;
                    The sun has completed his daily journey;
1796         No lenger may the body of hym sojurne
                    No longer can its body sojourn
1797         On th' orisonte, as in that latitude.
                    On the horizon, in that latitude.
1798         Night with his mantel, that is derk and rude,
                    Night with its mantle, that is dark and rude,
1799         Gan oversprede the hemysperie aboute;
                    Did overspread the hemisphere about;
1800         For which departed is this lusty route
                    For which departed is this cheerful crowd
1801         Fro Januarie, with thank on every syde.
                    From January, with thanks on all sides.
1802         Hoom to hir houses lustily they ryde,
                    Home to their houses cheerfully they ride,
1803         Where as they doon hir thynges as hem leste,
                    Where they attend to their affairs as they pleased
1804         And whan they sye hir tyme, goon to reste.
                    And when they see their time, go to rest.
1805         Soone after that, this hastif Januarie
                    Soon after that, this hasty January
1806         Wolde go to bedde; he wolde no lenger tarye.
                    Would go to bed; he would no longer tarry.
1807         He drynketh ypocras, clarree, and vernage
                    He drinks mulled wine, claret, and strong white wine
1808         Of spices hoote t' encreessen his corage;
                    With hot spices to increase his desire;
1809         And many a letuarie hath he ful fyn,
                    And many a very fine aphrodisiac has he,
1810         Swiche as the cursed monk, daun Constantyn,
                    Such as the cursed monk, Dan Constantine,
1811         Hath writen in his book De Coitu;
                    Has written in his book "Concerning Intercourse";
1812         To eten hem alle he nas no thyng eschu.
                    To eat them all he was not at all averse.
1813         And to his privee freendes thus seyde he:
                    And to his private friends thus said he:
1814         "For Goddes love, as soone as it may be,
                    "For God's love, as soon as it can be done,
1815         Lat voyden al this hous in curteys wyse."
                    Have all this house emptied in courteous manner."
1816         And they han doon right as he wol devyse.
                    And they have done right as he will command.
1817         Men drynken and the travers drawe anon.
                    Men drink and draw the curtain (dividing the room) straightway.
1818         The bryde was broght abedde as stille as stoon;
                    The bride was brought to bed as still as stone;
1819         And whan the bed was with the preest yblessed,
                    And when the bed was by the priest blessed,
1820         Out of the chambre hath every wight hym dressed,
                    Out of the chamber has every one gone,
1821         And Januarie hath faste in armes take
                    And January has fast in arms taken
1822         His fresshe May, his paradys, his make.
                    His fresh May, his paradise, his mate.
1823         He lulleth hire; he kisseth hire ful ofte;
                    He lulls her; he kisses her full often;
1824         With thikke brustles of his berd unsofte,
                    With thick bristles of his beard rough,
1825         Lyk to the skyn of houndfyssh, sharp as brere --
                    Like to the skin of a shark, sharp as brier --
1826         For he was shave al newe in his manere --
                    For he was all freshly shaved in his fashion --
1827         He rubbeth hire aboute hir tendre face,
                    He rubs her about her tender face,
1828         And seyde thus, "Allas! I moot trespace
                    And said thus, "Alas! I must do injury
1829         To yow, my spouse, and yow greetly offende
                    To you, my spouse, and you greatly offend
1830         Er tyme come that I wil doun descende.
                    Before the time comes that I will down descend.
1831         But nathelees, considereth this," quod he,
                    But nevertheless, consider this," said he,
1832         "Ther nys no werkman, whatsoevere he be,
                    "There is no workman, whosoever he be,
1833         That may bothe werke wel and hastily;
                    That can work both well and hastily;
1834         This wol be doon at leyser parfitly.
                    This will be done at leisure perfectly.
1835         It is no fors how longe that we pleye;
                    It does not matter how long we play;
1836         In trewe wedlok coupled be we tweye,
                    In true wedlock we two are coupled,
1837         And blessed be the yok that we been inne,
                    And blessed be the yoke that we are in,
1838         For in oure actes we mowe do no synne.
                    For in our acts we can do no sin.
1839         A man may do no synne with his wyf,
                    A man can do no sin with his wife,
1840         Ne hurte hymselven with his owene knyf,
                    Nor hurt himself with his own knife,
1841         For we han leve to pleye us by the lawe."
                    For we have leave by the law to enjoy ourselves."
1842         Thus laboureth he til that the day gan dawe;
                    Thus labors he until the day dawned;
1843         And thanne he taketh a sop in fyn clarree,
                    And then he takes a bit of bread soaked in fine claret,
1844         And upright in his bed thanne sitteth he,
                    And upright in his bed then sits he,
1845         And after that he sang ful loude and cleere,
                    And after that he sang full loud and clear,
1846         And kiste his wyf, and made wantown cheere.
                    And kissed his wife, and acted lecherously.
1847         He was al coltissh, ful of ragerye,
                    He was frisky as a colt, full of wantonness,
1848         And ful of jargon as a flekked pye.
                    And full of chatter as a spotted magpie.
1849         The slakke skyn aboute his nekke shaketh
                    The slack skin about his neck shakes
1850         Whil that he sang, so chaunteth he and craketh.
                    While he sang, so chants he and croaks.
1851         But God woot what that May thoughte in hir herte,
                    But God knows what May thought in her heart,
1852         Whan she hym saugh up sittynge in his sherte,
                    When she saw him sitting up in his shirt,
1853         In his nyght-cappe, and with his nekke lene;
                    In his night-cap, and with his lean neck;
1854         She preyseth nat his pleyyng worth a bene.
                    She rates his playing not worth a bean.
1855         Thanne seide he thus, "My reste wol I take;
                    Then said he thus, "My rest will I take;
1856         Now day is come, I may no lenger wake."
                    Now day is come, I can no longer remain awake."
1857         And doun he leyde his heed and sleep til pryme.
                    And down he laid his head and slept until nine.
1858         And afterward, whan that he saugh his tyme,
                    And afterwards, when he saw his time,
1859         Up ryseth Januarie; but fresshe May
                    Up rises January; but fresh May
1860         Heeld hire chambre unto the fourthe day,
                    Held her chamber until the fourth day,
1861         As usage is of wyves for the beste.
                    As is the best usage of wives.
1862         For every labour somtyme moot han reste,
                    For every labor sometime must have rest,
1863         Or elles longe may he nat endure;
                    Or else long can he not endure;
1864         This is to seyn, no lyves creature,
                    This is to say, no living creature,
1865         Be it of fyssh, or bryd, or beest, or man.
                    Be it of fish, or bird, or beast, or man.

1866         Now wol I speke of woful Damyan,
                    Now will I speak of woeful Damian,
1867         That langwissheth for love, as ye shul heere;
                    That languishes for love, as you shall hear;
1868         Therfore I speke to hym in this manere:
                    Therefore I speak to him in this manner:
1869         I seye, "O sely Damyan, allas!
                    I say, "O innocent Damian, alas!
1870         Andswere to my demaunde, as in this cas.
                    Answer to my question, in this case.
1871         How shaltow to thy lady, fresshe May,
                    How shalt thou to thy lady, fresh May,
1872         Telle thy wo? She wole alwey seye nay.
                    Tell thy woe? She will always say nay.
1873         Eek if thou speke, she wol thy wo biwreye.
                    Also if thou speak, she will thy woe reveal.
1874         God be thyn helpe! I kan no bettre seye."
                    God be thy help! I can no better say."

1875         This sike Damyan in Venus fyr
                    This sick Damian in Venus' fire
1876         So brenneth that he dyeth for desyr,
                    So burns that he dies for desire,
1877         For which he putte his lyf in aventure.
                    For which he put his life at risk.
1878         No lenger myghte he in this wise endure,
                    No longer could he in this way endure,
1879         But prively a penner gan he borwe,
                    But secretly a writing set he borrowed,
1880         And in a lettre wroot he al his sorwe,
                    And in a letter wrote he all his sorrow,
1881         In manere of a compleynt or a lay,
                    In the manner of a poetic lament or a song,
1882         Unto his faire, fresshe lady May;
                    Unto his fair, fresh lady May;
1883         And in a purs of sylk heng on his sherte
                    And in a purse of silk which hung on his shirt
1884         He hath it put, and leyde it at his herte.
                    He has put it, and laid it at his heart.

1885         The moone, that at noon was thilke day
                    The moon, that was at noon that same day
1886         That Januarie hath wedded fresshe May
                    That January has wedded fresh May
1887         In two of Tawr, was into Cancre glyden;
                    In two degrees of Taurus, was into Cancer glided;
1888         So longe hath Mayus in hir chambre abyden,
                    So long has May in her chamber abided,
1889         As custume is unto thise nobles alle.
                    As custom is unto these nobles all.
1890         A bryde shal nat eten in the halle
                    A bride shall not eat in the hall
1891         Til dayes foure, or thre dayes atte leeste,
                    Until four days, or three days at the least,
1892         Ypassed been; thanne lat hire go to feeste.
                    Are passed; then let her go to feast.
1893         The fourthe day compleet fro noon to noon,
                    The fourth day completed from noon to noon,
1894         Whan that the heighe masse was ydoon,
                    When the high mass was done,
1895         In halle sit this Januarie and May,
                    In hall this January and May sit,
1896         As fressh as is the brighte someres day.
                    As fresh as is the bright summer's day.
1897         And so bifel how that this goode man
                    And so befell that this good man
1898         Remembred hym upon this Damyan,
                    Remembered this Damian,
1899         And seyde, "Seynte Marie! how may this be,
                    And said, "Saint Mary! how can this be,
1900         That Damyan entendeth nat to me?
                    That Damian does not attend on me?
1901         Is he ay syk, or how may this bityde?"
                    Is he always sick, or how can this happen?"
1902         His squieres, whiche that stooden ther bisyde,
                    His squires, who stood there beside,
1903         Excused hym by cause of his siknesse,
                    Excused him because of his sickness,
1904         Which letted hym to doon his bisynesse;
                    Which prevented him from doing his duties;
1905         Noon oother cause myghte make hym tarye.
                    No other cause might make him tarry.

1906         "That me forthynketh," quod this Januarie,
                    "I am sorry about that," said this January,
1907         "He is a gentil squier, by my trouthe!
                    "He is a gentle squire, by my troth!
1908         If that he deyde, it were harm and routhe.
                    If he died, it would be a harm and a pity.
1909         He is as wys, discreet, and as secree
                    He is as wise, discreet, and as circumspect
1910         As any man I woot of his degree,
                    As any man I know of his rank,
1911         And therto manly, and eek servysable,
                    And moreover manly, and also willing to serve,
1912         And for to been a thrifty man right able.
                    And to be a worthy man right able.
1913         But after mete, as soone as evere I may,
                    But after dinner, as soon as ever I can,
1914         I wol myself visite hym, and eek May,
                    I will myself visit him, and also May,
1915         To doon hym al the confort that I kan."
                    To do him all the comfort that I can."
1916         And for that word hym blessed every man,
                    And for that word every man blessed him,
1917         That of his bountee and his gentillesse
                    That of his goodness and his graciousness
1918         He wolde so conforten in siknesse
                    He would so comfort in sickness
1919         His squier, for it was a gentil dede.
                    His squire, for it was a gentle deed.
1920         "Dame," quod this Januarie, "taak good hede,
                    "My Lady," said this January, "take good heed,
1921         At after-mete ye with youre wommen alle,
                    At after-dinner you with all your women,
1922         Whan ye han been in chambre out of this halle,
                    When you have been in chamber out of this hall,
1923         That alle ye go se this Damyan.
                    That all you go see this Damian.
1924         Dooth hym disport -- he is a gentil man;
                    Cheer him up -- he is a gentle man;
1925         And telleth hym that I wol hym visite,
                    And tell him that I will him visit,
1926         Have I no thyng but rested me a lite;
                    When I have done nothing but rested myself a little;
1927         And spede yow faste, for I wole abyde
                    And hurry yourself, for I will wait
1928         Til that ye slepe faste by my syde."
                    Until you sleep fast by my side."
1929         And with that word he gan to hym to calle
                    And with that word he began to him to call
1930         A squier, that was marchal of his halle,
                    A squire, that was master of ceremonies of his hall,
1931         And tolde hym certeyn thynges, what he wolde.
                    And told him certain things, what he wanted.

1932         This fresshe May hath streight hir wey yholde
                    This fresh May has held straight her way
1933         With alle hir wommen unto Damyan.
                    With all her women unto Damian.
1934         Doun by his beddes syde sit she than,
                    Down by his bed's side sits she then,
1935         Confortynge hym as goodly as she may.
                    Comforting him as graciously as she can.
1936         This Damyan, whan that his tyme he say,
                    This Damian, when he saw his opportunity,
1937         In secree wise his purs and eek his bille,
                    In a secret way his purse and also his letter,
1938         In which that he ywriten hadde his wille,
                    In which he had written his desire,
1939         Hath put into hire hand, withouten moore,
                    Has put into her hand, without (doing) more,
1940         Save that he siketh wonder depe and soore,
                    Save that he sighs wonderfully deep and sore,
1941         And softely to hire right thus seyde he:
                    And softly to her right thus said he:
1942         "Mercy! And that ye nat discovere me,
                    "Mercy! And (I ask) that you not discover me,
1943         For I am deed if that this thyng be kyd."
                    For I am dead if this thing be known."
1944         This purs hath she inwith hir bosom hyd
                    This purse has she within her bosom hidden
1945         And wente hire wey; ye gete namoore of me.
                    And went her way; you get no more from me.
1946         But unto Januarie ycomen is she,
                    But unto January come is she,
1947         That on his beddes syde sit ful softe.
                    Who on his bed's side sits full softly.
1948         He taketh hire, and kisseth hire ful ofte,
                    He takes her, and kisses her full often,
1949         And leyde hym doun to slepe, and that anon.
                    And laid him down to sleep, and that straightway.
1950         She feyned hire as that she moste gon
                    She pretended that she must go
1951         Ther as ye woot that every wight moot neede;
                    Where you know that every person must go by necessity;
1952         And whan she of this bille hath taken heede,
                    And when she of this letter has taken heed,
1953         She rente it al to cloutes atte laste,
                    She tore it all to pieces at the last,
1954         And in the pryvee softely it caste.
                    And in the privy softly threw it.

1955         Who studieth now but faire fresshe May?
                    Who is perplexed now but fair fresh May?
1956         Adoun by olde Januarie she lay,
                    Down by old January she lay,
1957         That sleep til that the coughe hath hym awaked.
                    Who slept until the cough has him awaked.
1958         Anon he preyde hire strepen hire al naked;
                    Straightway he prayed her to strip herself all naked;
1959         He wolde of hire, he seyde, han som plesaunce;
                    He would of her, he said, have some pleasure;
1960         He seyde hir clothes dide hym encombraunce,
                    He said her clothes got in his way,
1961         And she obeyeth, be hire lief or looth.
                    And she obeys, whether she wants to or not.
1962         But lest that precious folk be with me wrooth,
                    But lest that prudish folk be with me wroth,
1963         How that he wroghte, I dar nat to yow telle,
                    How he worked, I dare not tell to you,
1964         Or wheither hire thoughte it paradys or helle.
                    Or whether she thought it paradise or hell.
1965         But heere I lete hem werken in hir wyse
                    But here I let them work in their way
1966         Til evensong rong and that they moste aryse.
                    Until bell for evening prayers rang and they had to arise.

1967         Were it by destynee or by aventure,
                    Were it by destiny or by chance,
1968         Were it by influence or by nature,
                    Were it by astronomical influence or by nature,
1969         Or constellacion, that in swich estaat
                    Or configuration of the stars, that in such a state
1970         The hevene stood that tyme fortunaat
                    The heaven stood that time that it fortunate
1971         Was for to putte a bille of Venus werkes --
                    Was to present a petition concerning Venus' works --
1972         For alle thyng hath tyme, as seyn thise clerkes --
                    For every thing has time, as say these clerks --
1973         To any womman for to gete hire love,
                    To any woman to get her love,
1974         I kan nat seye; but grete God above,
                    I can not say; but great God above,
1975         That knoweth that noon act is causelees,
                    That knows that no act is without cause,
1976         He deme of al, for I wole holde my pees.
                    May he judge of all, for I will hold my peace.
1977         But sooth is this, how that this fresshe May
                    But truth is this, how this fresh May
1978         Hath take swich impression that day
                    Has taken such impression that day
1979         Of pitee of this sike Damyan
                    Of pity for this sick Damian
1980         That from hire herte she ne dryve kan
                    That from her heart she can not drive
1981         The remembrance for to doon hym ese.
                    The thought to comfort him.
1982         "Certeyn," thoghte she, "whom that this thyng displese
                    "Certainly," thought she, "whomever this thing may displease
1983         I rekke noght, for heere I hym assure
                    I care not, for here I him assure
1984         To love hym best of any creature,
                    To love him best of any creature,
1985         Though he namoore hadde than his sherte."
                    Though he had no more than his shirt."
1986         Lo, pitee renneth soone in gentil herte!
                    Lo, pity runs soon in gentle heart!

1987         Heere may ye se how excellent franchise
                    Here can you see what excellent generosity
1988         In wommen is, whan they hem narwe avyse.
                    In women is, when they carefully deliberate a matter.
1989         Som tyrant is, as ther be many oon
                    Some tyrant is, as there be many a one
1990         That hath an herte as hard as any stoon,
                    Who has a heart as hard as any stone,
1991         Which wolde han lat hym sterven in the place
                    Who would have let him die in the place
1992         Wel rather than han graunted hym hire grace,
                    Well rather than have granted him her grace,
1993         And hem rejoysen in hire crueel pryde,
                    And rejoice in her cruel pride,
1994         And rekke nat to been an homycide.
                    And care not to be a homicide.

1995         This gentil May, fulfilled of pitee,
                    This gentle May, filled full of pity,
1996         Right of hire hand a lettre made she,
                    In her own hand a letter made she,
1997         In which she graunteth hym hire verray grace.
                    In which she grants him her true grace.
1998         Ther lakketh noght oonly but day and place
                    There lacks nothing but only day and place
1999         Wher that she myghte unto his lust suffise,
                    Where she might satisfy his desires,
2000         For it shal be right as he wole devyse.
                    For it shall be right as he will devise.
2001         And whan she saugh hir tyme, upon a day
                    And when she saw her time, upon one day
2002         To visite this Damyan gooth May,
                    To visit this Damian goes May,
2003         And sotilly this lettre doun she threste
                    And craftily this letter down she thrust
2004         Under his pilwe; rede it if hym leste.
                    Under his pillow; let him read it if he wishes.
2005         She taketh hym by the hand and harde hym twiste
                    She takes him by the hand and hard him squeezes
2006         So secrely that no wight of it wiste,
                    So secretly that no one knew of it,
2007         And bad hym been al hool, and forth she wente
                    And bade him be all healthy, and forth she went
2008         To Januarie, whan that he for hire sente.
                    To January, when he for her sent.

2009         Up riseth Damyan the nexte morwe;
                    Up rises Damian the next morning;
2010         Al passed was his siknesse and his sorwe.
                    All passed was his sickness and his sorrow.
2011         He kembeth hym, he preyneth hym and pyketh,
                    He combs himself, he preens and neatens himself,
2012         He dooth al that his lady lust and lyketh,
                    He does all that his lady desires and pleases,
2013         And eek to Januarie he gooth as lowe
                    And also to January he goes as humbly
2014         As evere dide a dogge for the bowe.
                    As ever did a dog trained to hunt with an archer.
2015         He is so plesant unto every man
                    He is so pleasant unto every man
2016         (For craft is al, whoso that do it kan)
                    (For craft is all, whoever can do it)
2017         That every wight is fayn to speke hym good,
                    That every one is eager to speak good of him,
2018         And fully in his lady grace he stood.
                    And fully in his lady's favor he stood.
2019         Thus lete I Damyan aboute his nede,
                    Thus leave I Damian going about his business,
2020         And in my tale forth I wol procede.
                    And in my tale forth I will proceed.

2021         Somme clerkes holden that felicitee
                    Some clerks maintain that felicity
2022         Stant in delit, and therfore certeyn he,
                    Consists of delight, and therefore certainly he,
2023         This noble Januarie, with al his myght,
                    This noble January, with all his might,
2024         In honest wyse, as longeth to a knyght,
                    In a respectable manner, as is suitable to a knight,
2025         Shoop hym to lyve ful deliciously.
                    Arranged for himself to live full voluptuously.
2026         His housynge, his array, as honestly
                    His lodging, his clothing, as suitably
2027         To his degree was maked as a kynges.
                    To his degree was made as is a king's.
2028         Amonges othere of his honeste thynges,
                    Amongst others of his suitable things,
2029         He made a gardyn, walled al with stoon;
                    He made a garden, walled all with stone;
2030         So fair a gardyn woot I nowher noon.
                    So fair a garden know I anywhere none.
2031         For, out of doute, I verraily suppose
                    For, beyond doubt, I truly suppose
2032         That he that wroot the Romance of the Rose
                    That he who wrote the Romance of the Rose
2033         Ne koude of it the beautee wel devyse;
                    Could not the beauty of it well describe;
2034         Ne Priapus ne myghte nat suffise,
                    Nor Priapus could not be adequate,
2035         Though he be god of gardyns, for to telle
                    Though he be god of gardens, to tell
2036         The beautee of the gardyn and the welle
                    The beauty of the garden and the well
2037         That stood under a laurer alwey grene.
                    That stood under a laurel always green.
2038         Ful ofte tyme he Pluto and his queene,
                    Very often he, Pluto, and his queen,
2039         Proserpina, and al hire fayerye,
                    Proserpine, and all their fairies,
2040         Disporten hem and maken melodye
                    Amused themselves and made melody
2041         Aboute that welle, and daunced, as men tolde.
                    About that well, and danced, as men told.

2042         This noble knyght, this Januarie the olde,
                    This noble knight, this January the old,
2043         Swich deyntee hath in it to walke and pleye,
                    Such pleasure has in it to walk and play,
2044         That he wol no wight suffren bere the keye
                    That he will no one allow to bear the key
2045         Save he hymself; for of the smale wyket
                    Save he himself; for of the small gate
2046         He baar alwey of silver a clyket,
                    He bore always of silver a latchkey,
2047         With which, whan that hym leste, he it unshette.
                    With which, when he desired, he unlocked it.
2048         And whan he wolde paye his wyf hir dette
                    And when he would pay his wife her marital debt
2049         In somer seson, thider wolde he go,
                    In summer season, thither would he go,
2050         And May his wyf, and no wight but they two;
                    And May his wife, and no one but those two;
2051         And thynges whiche that were nat doon abedde,
                    And things which that were not done abed,
2052         He in the gardyn parfourned hem and spedde.
                    He in the garden performed and accomplished them.
2053         And in this wyse, many a murye day,
                    And in this way, many a merry day,
2054         Lyved this Januarie and fresshe May.
                    Lived this January and fresh May.
2055         But worldly joye may nat alwey dure
                    But worldly joy can not always endure
2056         To Januarie, ne to no creature.
                    To January, nor to any creature.

2057         O sodeyn hap! O thou Fortune unstable!
                    O sudden chance! O thou Fortune unstable!
2058         Lyk to the scorpion so deceyvable,
                    Similar to the scorpion so deceitful,
2059         That flaterest with thyn heed whan thou wolt stynge;
                    That flatter with thy head when thou wilt sting;
2060         Thy tayl is deeth, thurgh thyn envenymynge.
                    Thy tail is death, through thy poisoning.
2061         O brotil joye! O sweete venym queynte!
                    O brittle joy! O sweet venom deceitful!
2062         O monstre, that so subtilly kanst peynte
                    O monster, that so subtly can disguise
2063         Thy yiftes under hewe of stidefastnesse,
                    Thy gifts under appearance of steadfastness,
2064         That thou deceyvest bothe moore and lesse!
                    That thou deceivest both high and low (everyone)!
2065         Why hastow Januarie thus deceyved,
                    Why hast thou January thus deceived,
2066         That haddest hym for thy fulle freend receyved?
                    Thou who had received him for thy closest friend ?
2067         And now thou hast biraft hym bothe his yen,
                    And now thou hast deprived him of both his eyes,
2068         For sorwe of which desireth he to dyen.
                    For sorrow of which he desires to die.

2069         Allas, this noble Januarie free,
                    Alas, this noble generous January,
2070         Amydde his lust and his prosperitee,
                    Amid his pleasure and his prosperity,
2071         Is woxen blynd, and that al sodeynly.
                    Is grown blind, and that all suddenly.
2072         He wepeth and he wayleth pitously;
                    He weeps and he wails pitifully;
2073         And therwithal the fyr of jalousie,
                    And with all this the fire of jealousy,
2074         Lest that his wyf sholde falle in som folye,
                    Lest that his wife should fall in some folly,
2075         So brente his herte that he wolde fayn
                    So burned his heart that he sincerely wished
2076         That som man bothe hire and hym had slayn.
                    That some man both her and him had slain.
2077         For neither after his deeth nor in his lyf
                    For neither after his death nor in his life
2078         Ne wolde he that she were love ne wyf,
                    Would he that she were neither lover nor wife,
2079         But evere lyve as wydwe in clothes blake,
                    But ever live as widow in clothes black,
2080         Soul as the turtle that lost hath hire make.
                    Solitary as the turtledove that lost has her mate.
2081         But atte laste, after a month or tweye,
                    But at the last, after a month or two,
2082         His sorwe gan aswage, sooth to seye;
                    His sorrow abated, truth to say;
2083         For whan he wiste it may noon oother be,
                    For when he knew it can not be otherwise,
2084         He paciently took his adversitee,
                    He patiently accepted his adversity,
2085         Save, out of doute, he may nat forgoon
                    Except that, no doubt, he can not refrain
2086         That he nas jalous everemoore in oon;
                    From being more jealous all the time;
2087         Which jalousye it was so outrageous
                    Which jealousy was so excessive
2088         That neither in halle, n' yn noon oother hous,
                    That neither in hall, nor in any other house,
2089         Ne in noon oother place, neverthemo,
                    Nor in any other place, no longer,
2090         He nolde suffre hire for to ryde or go,
                    He would suffer her to ride or walk,
2091         But if that he had hond on hire alway;
                    Unless he had a hand always on her;
2092         For which ful ofte wepeth fresshe May,
                    For which full often weeps fresh May,
2093         That loveth Damyan so benyngnely
                    Who loves Damian so graciously
2094         That she moot outher dyen sodeynly
                    That she must either die suddenly
2095         Or elles she moot han hym as hir leste.
                    Or else she must have him as she wishes.
2096         She wayteth whan hir herte wolde breste.
                    She expects that her heart would burst.

2097         Upon that oother syde Damyan
                    Upon that other side Damian
2098         Bicomen is the sorwefulleste man
                    Is become the most sorrowful man
2099         That evere was, for neither nyght ne day
                    That ever was, for neither night nor day
2100         Ne myghte he speke a word to fresshe May,
                    Could he speak one word to fresh May,
2101         As to his purpos, of no swich mateere,
                    Regarding his purpose, of any such matter,
2102         But if that Januarie moste it heere,
                    Without January's hearing it,
2103         That hadde an hand upon hire everemo.
                    Who had a hand upon her always.
2104         But nathelees, by writyng to and fro
                    But nevertheless, by writing to and fro
2105         And privee signes wiste he what she mente,
                    And secret signs he knew what she meant,
2106         And she knew eek the fyn of his entente.
                    And she knew also the aim of his plan.

2107         O Januarie, what myghte it thee availle,
                    O January, what might it thee avail,
2108         Thogh thou myghtest se as fer as shippes saille?
                    Though thou could see as far as ships sail?
2109         For as good is blynd deceyved be
                    For it is as good to be deceived when blind
2110         As to be deceyved whan a man may se.
                    As to be deceived when a man can see.

2111         Lo, Argus, which that hadde an hondred yen,
                    Lo, Argus, who had a hundred eyes,
2112         For al that evere he koude poure or pryen,
                    For all that ever he could peer or pry,
2113         Yet was he blent, and, God woot, so been mo
                    Yet was he deceived, and, God knows, so are others
2114         That wenen wisly that it be nat so.
                    That confidently suppose indeed that it is not so.
2115         Passe over is an ese, I sey namoore.
                    To overlook (trouble) is an advantage, I say no more.

2116         This fresshe May, that I spak of so yoore,
                    This fresh May, whom I spoke of formerly,
2117         In warm wex hath emprented the clyket
                    In warm wax has made an impression of the latchkey
2118         That Januarie bar of the smale wyket,
                    That January carried of the small gate,
2119         By which into his gardyn ofte he wente;
                    By which into his garden often he went;
2120         And Damyan, that knew al hire entente,
                    And Damian, who knew all her plan,
2121         The cliket countrefeted pryvely.
                    The latchkey counterfeited secretly.
2122         Ther nys namoore to seye, but hastily
                    There is no more to say, but hastily
2123         Som wonder by this clyket shal bityde,
                    Some wonder by this latchkey shall betide,
2124         Which ye shul heeren, if ye wole abyde.
                    Which you shall hear, if you will abide.

2125         O noble Ovyde, ful sooth seystou, God woot,
                    O noble Ovid, full truth sayest thou, God knows,
2126         What sleighte is it, thogh it be long and hoot,
                    What trick is it, though (finding) it be long and painful,
2127         That Love nyl fynde it out in som manere?
                    That Love will not find it out in some manner?
2128         By Piramus and Tesbee may men leere;
                    By Pyramus and Thisbe can one learn;
2129         Thogh they were kept ful longe streite overal,
                    Though they were kept full long strictly in every way,
2130         They been accorded, rownynge thurgh a wal,
                    They are agreed, whispering through a wall,
2131         Ther no wight koude han founde out swich a sleighte.
                    Where no one could have found such a trick.

2132         But now to purpos: er that dayes eighte
                    But now to purpose: before eight days
2133         Were passed [of] the month of [Juyn], bifil
                    Were passed [of] the month of [June], it happened
2134         That Januarie hath caught so greet a wil,
                    That January has caught so great a desire,
2135         Thurgh eggyng of his wyf, hym for to pleye
                    Through incitement of his wife, to enjoy himself
2136         In his gardyn, and no wight but they tweye,
                    In his garden, and no one (there) but those two,
2137         That in a morwe unto his May seith he:
                    That in a morning unto his May says he:
2138         "Rys up, my wyf, my love, my lady free!
                    "Rise up, my wife, my love, my noble lady!
2139         The turtles voys is herd, my dowve sweete;
                    The turtle dove's voice is heard, my dove sweet;
2140         The wynter is goon with alle his reynes weete.
                    The winter is gone with all his rains wet.
2141         Com forth now, with thyne eyen columbyn!
                    Come forth now, with thy dove-like eyes!
2142         How fairer been thy brestes than is wyn!
                    How fairer are thy breasts than is wine!
2143         The gardyn is enclosed al aboute;
                    The garden is enclosed all about;
2144         Com forth, my white spouse! Out of doute
                    Come forth, my white spouse! Beyond doubt
2145         Thou hast me wounded in myn herte, O wyf!
                    Thou hast me wounded in my heart, O wife!
2146         No spot of thee ne knew I al my lyf.
                    No blemish on thee knew I all my life.
2147         Com forth, and lat us taken oure disport;
                    Come forth, and let us take our pleasure;
2148         I chees thee for my wyf and my confort."
                    I chose thee for my wife and my comfort."

2149         Swiche olde lewed wordes used he.
                    Such old ignorant words used he.
2150         On Damyan a signe made she,
                    To Damian a sign made she,
2151         That he sholde go biforn with his cliket.
                    That he should go before with his latchkey.
2152         This Damyan thanne hath opened the wyket,
                    This Damian then has opened the gate,
2153         And in he stirte, and that in swich manere
                    And in he hurried, and that in such a way
2154         That no wight myghte it se neither yheere,
                    That no one could either see or hear it,
2155         And stille he sit under a bussh anon.
                    And quickly he sits still under a bush.

2156         This Januarie, as blynd as is a stoon,
                    This January, as blind as is a stone,
2157         With Mayus in his hand, and no wight mo,
                    With May in his hand, and no one else,
2158         Into his fresshe gardyn is ago,
                    Into his fresh garden has gone,
2159         And clapte to the wyket sodeynly.
                    And closed the gate quickly.

2160         "Now wyf," quod he, "heere nys but thou and I,
                    "Now wife," said he, "here is no one but thou and I,
2161         That art the creature that I best love.
                    That art the creature that I best love.
2162         For by that Lord that sit in hevene above,
                    For by that Lord that sits in heaven above,
2163         Levere ich hadde to dyen on a knyf
                    I had rather die on a knife
2164         Than thee offende, trewe deere wyf!
                    Than thee offend, true dear wife!
2165         For Goddes sake, thenk how I thee chees,
                    For God's sake, think how I thee chose,
2166         Noght for no coveitise, doutelees,
                    Not for any greed, doubtless,
2167         But oonly for the love I had to thee.
                    But only for the love I had to thee.
2168         And though that I be oold and may nat see,
                    And although I be old and can not see,
2169         Beth to me trewe, and I wol telle yow why.
                    Be to me true, and I will tell you why.
2170         Thre thynges, certes, shal ye wynne therby:
                    Three things, certainly, shall you win thereby:
2171         First, love of Crist, and to youreself honour,
                    First, love of Christ, and to yourself honor,
2172         And al myn heritage, toun and tour;
                    And all my heritage, town and tower;
2173         I yeve it yow, maketh chartres as yow leste;
                    I give it to you, draw up deeds as you please;
2174         This shal be doon to-morwe er sonne reste,
                    This shall be done to-morrow before sun goes to rest,
2175         So wisly God my soule brynge in blisse.
                    As God my soul may bring in bliss.
2176         I prey yow first, in covenant ye me kisse;
                    I pray you first, to seal the contract, you kiss me;
2177         And though that I be jalous, wyte me noght.
                    And though that I be jealous, blame me not.
2178         Ye been so depe enprented in my thoght
                    You are so deeply imprinted in my thought
2179         That, whan that I considere youre beautee
                    That, when I consider your beauty
2180         And therwithal the unlikly elde of me,
                    And in addition to that the unsuitable old age of me,
2181         I may nat, certes, though I sholde dye,
                    I can not, certainly, though I should die,
2182         Forbere to been out of youre compaignye
                    Bear to be out of your company
2183         For verray love; this is withouten doute.
                    For true love; this is without doubt.
2184         Now kys me, wyf, and lat us rome aboute."
                    Now kiss me, wife, and let us roam about."

2185         This fresshe May, whan she thise wordes herde,
                    This fresh May, when she these words heard,
2186         Benyngnely to Januarie answerde,
                    Graciously to January answered,
2187         But first and forward she bigan to wepe.
                    But first of all she began to weep.
2188         "I have," quod she, "a soule for to kepe
                    "I have," said she, "a soul to keep
2189         As wel as ye, and also myn honour,
                    As well as you, and also my honor,
2190         And of my wyfhod thilke tendre flour,
                    And of my wifehood that same tender flower,
2191         Which that I have assured in youre hond,
                    Which I have entrusted in your hand,
2192         Whan that the preest to yow my body bond;
                    When the priest to you my body bound;
2193         Wherfore I wole answere in this manere,
                    Wherefore I will answer in this manner,
2194         By the leve of yow, my lord so deere:
                    By the leave of you, my lord so dear:
2195         I prey to God that nevere dawe the day
                    I pray to God that never dawn the day
2196         That I ne sterve, as foule as womman may,
                    That I do not die, as foully as woman can,
2197         If evere I do unto my kyn that shame,
                    If ever I do unto my kin that shame,
2198         Or elles I empeyre so my name,
                    Or else I damage so my name,
2199         That I be fals; and if I do that lak,
                    That I be false; and if I commit that offense,
2200         Do strepe me and put me in a sak,
                    Have me stripped and put me in a sack,
2201         And in the nexte ryver do me drenche.
                    And in the next river have me drowned.
2202         I am a gentil womman and no wenche.
                    I am a gentle woman and no wench.
2203         Why speke ye thus? But men been evere untrewe,
                    Why speak you thus? But men are always untrue,
2204         And wommen have repreve of yow ay newe.
                    And women have reproof of you always.
2205         Ye han noon oother contenance, I leeve,
                    You have no other manner of behavior, I believe,
2206         But speke to us of untrust and repreeve."
                    Except to speak to us of distrust and reproof."

2207         And with that word she saugh wher Damyan
                    And with that word she saw where Damian
2208         Sat in the bussh, and coughen she bigan,
                    Sat in the bush, and she began to cough,
2209         And with hir fynger signes made she
                    And with her finger signs made she
2210         That Damyan sholde clymbe upon a tree
                    That Damian should climb upon a tree
2211         That charged was with fruyt, and up he wente.
                    That loaded was with fruit, and up he went.
2212         For verraily he knew al hire entente,
                    For truly he knew all her plan,
2213         And every signe that she koude make,
                    And every sign that she could make,
2214         Wel bet than Januarie, hir owene make,
                    Well better than January, her own mate,
2215         For in a lettre she hadde toold hym al
                    For in a letter she had told him all
2216         Of this matere, how he werchen shal.
                    Of this matter, what he must do.
2217         And thus I lete hym sitte upon the pyrie,
                    And thus I let him sit upon the pear tree,
2218         And Januarie and May romynge myrie.
                    And January and May roaming merrily.

2219         Bright was the day, and blew the firmament;
                    Bright was the day, and blue the firmament;
2220         Phebus hath of gold his stremes doun ysent
                    Phoebus has his streams of gold down sent
2221         To gladen every flour with his warmnesse.
                    To gladden every flower with his warmness.
2222         He was that tyme in Geminis, as I gesse,
                    He was that time in Gemini, as I guess,
2223         But litel fro his declynacion
                    But little from his declination
2224         Of Cancer, Jovis exaltacion.
                    Of Cancer, Jove's exaltation.
2225         And so bifel, that brighte morwe-tyde
                    And it so befell, that bright morning-tide
2226         That in that gardyn, in the ferther syde,
                    That in that garden, in the further side,
2227         Pluto, that is kyng of Fayerye,
                    Pluto, that is king of Fairyland,
2228         And many a lady in his compaignye,
                    And many a lady in his company,
2229         Folwynge his wyf, the queene Proserpyna,
                    Following his wife, the queen Proserpine,
2230         Which that he ravysshed out of [Ethna]
                    Whom he kidnapped out of Etna
2231         Whil that she gadered floures in the mede --
                    While she gathered flowers in the mead --
2232         In Claudyan ye may the stories rede,
                    In Claudian you can read the stories,
2233         How in his grisely carte he hire fette --
                    How in his grisly chariot he fetched her --
2234         This kyng of Fairye thanne adoun hym sette
                    This king of Fairyland then set himself down
2235         Upon a bench of turves, fressh and grene,
                    Upon a bench made of pieces of turf, fresh and green,
2236         And right anon thus seyde he to his queene:
                    And right away thus said he to his queen:

2237         "My wyf," quod he, "ther may no wight seye nay;
                    "My wife," said he, "there can no one say nay;
2238         Th' experience so preveth every day
                    The experience so proves every day
2239         The tresons whiche that wommen doon to man.
                    The treasons which women do to man.
2240         Ten hondred thousand [tales] tellen I kan
                    Ten hundred thousand [tales] I can tell
2241         Notable of youre untrouthe and brotilnesse.
                    (That are) famous concerning your faithlessness and frailty.
2242         O Salomon, wys, and richest of richesse,
                    O Solomon, wise, and richest of wealth,
2243         Fulfild of sapience and of worldly glorie,
                    Filled with wisdom and with worldly glory,
2244         Ful worthy been thy wordes to memorie
                    Full worthy are thy words to (keep in) memory
2245         To every wight that wit and reson kan.
                    To every one that wit and reason knows.
2246         Thus preiseth he yet the bountee of man:
                    Thus praises he yet the goodness of man:
2247         `Amonges a thousand men yet foond I oon,
                    `Amongst a thousand men yet found I one,
2248         But of wommen alle foond I noon.'
                    But of all women found I none.'

2249         "Thus seith the kyng that knoweth youre wikkednesse.
                    "Thus says the king that knows your wickedness.
2250         And Jhesus, filius Syrak, as I gesse,
                    And Jesus, son of Sirak, as I suppose,
2251         Ne speketh of yow but seelde reverence.
                    Speaks reverence of you but seldom.
2252         A wylde fyr and corrupt pestilence
                    A wild fir and corrupt pestilence
2253         So falle upon youre bodyes yet to-nyght!
                    Fall upon your bodies yet to-night!
2254         Ne se ye nat this honurable knyght,
                    See you not this honorable knight,
2255         By cause, allas, that he is blynd and old,
                    Because, alas, that he is blind and old,
2256         His owene man shal make hym cokewold.
                    His own man shall make him cuckold.
2257         Lo, where he sit, the lechour, in the tree!
                    Lo, where he sits, the lecher, in the tree!
2258         Now wol I graunten, of my magestee,
                    Now will I grant, of my majesty,
2259         Unto this olde, blynde, worthy knyght
                    Unto this old, blind, worthy knight
2260         That he shal have ayen his eyen syght,
                    That he shall have again his eyes' sight,
2261         Whan that his wyf wold doon hym vileynye.
                    When his wife would do him villainy.
2262         Thanne shal he knowen al hire harlotrye,
                    Then shall he know all her harlotry,
2263         Bothe in repreve of hire and othere mo."
                    In reproof of both her and many others."

2264         "Ye shal?" quod Proserpyne, "wol ye so?
                    "You shall?" said Proserpine, "will you so?
2265         Now by my moodres sires soule I swere
                    Now by my mother's father's soul I swear
2266         That I shal yeven hire suffisant answere,
                    That I shall give her sufficient answer,
2267         And alle wommen after, for hir sake,
                    And all women afterwards, for her sake,
2268         That, though they be in any gilt ytake,
                    That, though they be in any guilt taken,
2269         With face boold they shulle hemself excuse,
                    With bold face they shall themselves excuse,
2270         And bere hem doun that wolden hem accuse.
                    And bear them down who would them accuse.
2271         For lak of answere noon of hem shal dyen.
                    For lack of answer none of them shall die.
2272         Al hadde man seyn a thyng with bothe his yen,
                    Although a man had seen a thing with both his eyes,
2273         Yit shul we wommen visage it hardily,
                    Yet shall we women face it out boldly,
2274         And wepe, and swere, and chyde subtilly,
                    And weep, and swear, and chide deceitfully,
2275         So that ye men shul been as lewed as gees.
                    So that you men shall be as ignorant as geese.

2276         "What rekketh me of youre auctoritees?
                    "What do I care for your authorities?
2277         I woot wel that this Jew, this Salomon,
                    I know well that this Jew, this Solomon,
2278         Foond of us wommen fooles many oon.
                    Found of us women many a fool.
2279         But though that he ne foond no good womman,
                    But though he found no good woman,
2280         Yet hath ther founde many another man
                    Yet many another man has there found
2281         Wommen ful trewe, ful goode, and vertuous.
                    Women full true, full good, and virtuous.
2282         Witnesse on hem that dwelle in Cristes hous;
                    Witness on them that dwell in Christ's house (heaven);
2283         With martirdom they preved hire constance.
                    With martyrdom they proved their constancy.
2284         The Romayn geestes eek make remembrance
                    The Roman histories also remind us
2285         Of many a verray, trewe wyf also.
                    Of many a genuine, true wife also.
2286         But, sire, ne be nat wrooth, al be it so,
                    But, sir, be not angry, even though it be so,
2287         Though that he seyde he foond no good womman,
                    Though he said he found no good woman,
2288         I prey yow take the sentence of the man;
                    I pray you take the meaning of the man;
2289         He mente thus, that in sovereyn bontee
                    He meant thus, that in perfect goodness
2290         Nis noon but God, but neither he ne she.
                    There is no one but God, neither man nor woman.

2291         "Ey! for verray God that nys but oon,
                    "Ah! by him who is the only true God,
2292         What make ye so muche of Salomon?
                    Why make you so much of Solomon?
2293         What though he made a temple, Goddes hous?
                    Why though he made a temple, God's house?
2294         What though he were riche and glorious?
                    Why though he was rich and glorious?
2295         So made he eek a temple of false goddis.
                    So made he also a temple of false gods.
2296         How myghte he do a thyng that moore forbode is?
                    How might he do a thing that more forbidden is?
2297         Pardee, as faire as ye his name emplastre,
                    By God, however approvingly you gloss over his name,
2298         He was a lecchour and an ydolastre,
                    He was a lecher and an idolater,
2299         And in his elde he verray God forsook;
                    And in his old age he true God forsook;
2300         And if God ne hadde, as seith the book,
                    And if God had not, as says the book,
2301         Yspared him for his fadres sake, he sholde
                    Spared him for his father's sake, he should
2302         Have lost his regne rather than he wolde.
                    Have lost his reign sooner than he would have wanted.
2303         I sette right noght, of al the vileynye
                    I reckon all the villainy
2304         That ye of wommen write, a boterflye!
                    That you of women write not worth a butterfly!
2305         I am a womman, nedes moot I speke,
                    I am a woman, I must necessarily speak,
2306         Or elles swelle til myn herte breke.
                    Or else swell until my heart breaks.
2307         For sithen he seyde that we been jangleresses,
                    For since he said that we are chatterers,
2308         As evere hool I moote brouke my tresses,
                    As ever whole I may enjoy my hair (remain alive),
2309         I shal nat spare, for no curteisye,
                    I shall not cease, for any courtesy,
2310         To speke hym harm that wolde us vileynye."
                    To speak harm of him that would do us dishonor."

2311         "Dame," quod this Pluto, "be no lenger wrooth;
                    "My Lady," said this Pluto, "be no longer angry;
2312         I yeve it up! But sith I swoor myn ooth
                    I give it up! But since I swore my oath
2313         That I wolde graunten hym his sighte ageyn,
                    That I would grant him his sight again,
2314         My word shal stonde, I warne yow certeyn.
                    My word shall stand, I warn you certainly.
2315         I am a kyng; it sit me noght to lye."
                    I am a king; it is not proper for me to lie."

2316         "And I," quod she, "a queene of Fayerye!
                    "And I," said she, "a queen of Fairy!
2317         Hir answere shal she have, I undertake.
                    Her answer shall she have, I declare.
2318         Lat us namoore wordes heerof make;
                    Let us have no more words concerning this;
2319         For sothe, I wol no lenger yow contrarie."
                    For truly, I will no longer contradict you."

2320         Now lat us turne agayn to Januarie,
                    Now let us turn again to January,
2321         That in the gardyn with his faire May
                    That in the garden with his fair May
2322         Syngeth ful murier than the papejay,
                    Sings full merrier than the parrot,
2323         "Yow love I best, and shal, and oother noon."
                    "You love I best, and shall, and none other."
2324         So longe aboute the aleyes is he goon,
                    So long about the garden paths is he gone,
2325         Til he was come agaynes thilke pyrie
                    Until he was come in front of that same pear tree
2326         Where as this Damyan sitteth ful myrie
                    Where this Damian sits full merry
2327         An heigh among the fresshe leves grene.
                    On high among the fresh leaves green.

2328         This fresshe May, that is so bright and sheene,
                    This fresh May, who is so bright and sheen,
2329         Gan for to syke, and seyde, "Allas, my syde!
                    Began to sigh, and said, "Alas, my side!
2330         Now sire," quod she, "for aught that may bityde,
                    Now sire," said she, "for whatever may happen,
2331         I moste han of the peres that I see,
                    I must have some of the pears that I see,
2332         Or I moot dye, so soore longeth me
                    Or I must die, so sore I long
2333         To eten of the smale peres grene.
                    To eat some of the small green pears.
2334         Help, for hir love that is of hevene queene!
                    Help, for her love that is of heaven queen!
2335         I telle yow wel, a womman in my plit
                    I tell you well, a woman in my condition
2336         May han to fruyt so greet an appetit
                    May have for fruit so great an appetite
2337         That she may dyen but she of it have."
                    That she may die but she have some of it."

2338         "Allas," quod he, "that I ne had heer a knave
                    "Alas," said he, "that I do not have here a servant boy
2339         That koude clymbe! Allas, allas," quod he,
                    That could climb! Alas, alas," said he,
2340         "For I am blynd!" "Ye, sire, no fors," quod she;
                    "For I am blind!" "Yea, sir, no matter," said she;
2341         "But wolde ye vouche sauf, for Goddes sake,
                    "But would you grant, for God's sake,
2342         The pyrie inwith youre armes for to take,
                    The pear tree within your arms to take,
2343         For wel I woot that ye mystruste me,
                    For well I know that you mistrust me,
2344         Thanne sholde I clymbe wel ynogh," quod she,
                    Then should I climb well enough," said she,
2345         "So I my foot myghte sette upon youre bak."
                    "If I my foot might set upon your back."

2346         "Certes," quod he, "theron shal be no lak,
                    "Certainly," said he, "there shall be no lack,
2347         Mighte I yow helpen with myn herte blood."
                    (Even if) I might you help with my heart's blood."
2348         He stoupeth doun, and on his bak she stood,
                    He stoops down, and on his back she stood,
2349         And caughte hire by a twiste, and up she gooth --
                    And caught her by a branch, and up she goes --
2350         Ladyes, I prey yow that ye be nat wrooth;
nbsp;                   Ladies, I pray you that you be not angry;
2351         I kan nat glose, I am a rude man --
                    I can not use circumlocutions, I am an unlearned man --
2352         And sodeynly anon this Damyan
                    And suddenly at once this Damian
2353         Gan pullen up the smok, and in he throng.
                    Pulled up the smock, and in he thrust.

2354         And whan that Pluto saugh this grete wrong,
                    And when Pluto saw this great wrong,
2355         To Januarie he gaf agayn his sighte,
                    To January he gave again his sight,
2356         And made hym se as wel as evere he myghte.
                    And made him see as well as he ever could.
2357         And whan that he hadde caught his sighte agayn,
                    And when he had recovered his sight again,
2358         Ne was ther nevere man of thyng so fayn,
                    There was never man of anything so happy,
2359         But on his wyf his thoght was everemo.
                    But on his wife his thought was evermore.
2360         Up to the tree he caste his eyen two,
                    Up to the tree he cast his eyes two,
2361         And saugh that Damyan his wyf had dressed
                    And saw that Damian had treated his wife
2362         In swich manere it may nat been expressed,
                    In such a manner it can not be expressed,
2363         But if I wolde speke uncurteisly;
                    Unless I would speak crudely;
2364         And up he yaf a roryng and a cry,
                    And up he gave a roaring and a cry,
2365         As dooth the mooder whan the child shal dye:
                    As does the mother when the child shall die:
2366         "Out! Help! Allas! Harrow!" he gan to crye,
                    "Out! Help! Alas! Help!" he began to cry,
2367         "O stronge lady stoore, what dostow?"
                    "O brazen crude lady, what dost thou?"

2368         And she answerde, "Sire, what eyleth yow?
                    And she answered, "Sir, what ails you?
2369         Have pacience and resoun in youre mynde.
                    Have patience and reason in your mind.
2370         I have yow holpe on bothe youre eyen blynde.
                    I have helped you with both your eyes blind.
2371         Up peril of my soule, I shal nat lyen,
                    Upon peril of my soul, I shall not lie,
2372         As me was taught, to heele with youre eyen,
                    As I was taught, to heal with your eyes,
2373         Was no thyng bet, to make yow to see,
                    Was no thing better, to make you to see,
2374         Than strugle with a man upon a tree.
                    Than to struggle with a man upon a tree.
2375         God woot, I dide it in ful good entente."
                    God knows, I did it in full good intent."

2376         "Strugle?" quod he, "Ye, algate in it wente!
                    "Struggle?" said he, "Yea, indeed in it went!
2377         God yeve yow bothe on shames deth to dyen!
                    God give you both a shameful death to die!
2378         He swyved thee; I saugh it with myne yen,
                    He screwed thee; I saw it with my eyes,
2379         And elles be I hanged by the hals!"
                    And else may I be hanged by the neck!"

2380         "Thanne is," quod she, "my medicyne fals;
                    "Then is," said she, "my medicine false;
2381         For certeinly, if that ye myghte se,
                    For certainly, if you could see,
2382         Ye wolde nat seyn thise wordes unto me.
                    You would not say these words unto me.
2383         Ye han som glymsyng, and no parfit sighte."
                    You have some glimpse, and no perfect sight."

2384         "I se," quod he, "as wel as evere I myghte,
                    "I see," said he, "as well as ever I could,
2385         Thonked be God! With bothe myne eyen two,
                    Thanked be God! With both my eyes two,
2386         And by my trouthe, me thoughte he dide thee so."
                    And by my troth, it seemed to me he did thee so."

2387         "Ye maze, maze, goode sire," quod she;
                    "You are dazed, dazed, good sir," said she;
2388         "This thank have I for I have maad yow see.
                    "This thanks have I because I have made you see.
2389         Allas," quod she, "that evere I was so kynde!"
                    Alas," said she, "that ever I was so kind!"

2390         "Now, dame," quod he, "lat al passe out of mynde.
                    "Now, lady," said he, "let all pass out of mind.
2391         Com doun, my lief, and if I have myssayd,
                    Come down, my dear, and if I have misspoken,
2392         God helpe me so, as I am yvele apayd.
                    So God help me, I am very sorry.
2393         But, by my fader soule, I wende han seyn
                    But, by my father's soul, I thought to have seen
2394         How that this Damyan hadde by thee leyn,
                    How this Damian had by thee laid,
2395         And that thy smok hadde leyn upon his brest."
                    And thy smock had lain upon his breast."

2396         "Ye, sire," quod she, "ye may wene as yow lest.
                    "Yea, sir," said she, "you may think as you please.
2397         But, sire, a man that waketh out of his sleep,
                    But, sir, a man that wakes out of his sleep,
2398         He may nat sodeynly wel taken keep
                    He can not suddenly well take heed
2399         Upon a thyng, ne seen it parfitly,
                    Of a thing, nor see it perfectly,
2400         Til that he be adawed verraily.
                    Until he be fully awakened.
2401         Right so a man that longe hath blynd ybe,
                    Right so a man that long has blind been,
2402         Ne may nat sodeynly so wel yse,
                    Can not suddenly so well see,
2403         First whan his sighte is newe come ageyn,
                    First when his sight is newly come again,
2404         As he that hath a day or two yseyn.
                    As he that has a day or two been able to see.
2405         Til that youre sighte ysatled be a while
                    Until your sight be settled a while
2406         Ther may ful many a sighte yow bigile.
                    There may full many a sight deceive you.
2407         Beth war, I prey yow, for by hevene kyng,
                    Beware, I pray you, for by heaven's king,
2408         Ful many a man weneth to seen a thyng,
                    Full many a man supposes to see a thing,
2409         And it is al another than it semeth.
                    And it is entirely different than it seems.
2410         He that mysconceyveth, he mysdemeth."
                    He that misunderstands, he misjudges."
2411         And with that word she leep doun fro the tree.
                    And with that word she leaped down from the tree.

2412         This Januarie, who is glad but he?
                    This January, who is glad but he?
2413         He kisseth hire and clippeth hire ful ofte,
                    He kisses her and embraces her full often,
2414         And on hire wombe he stroketh hire ful softe,
                    And on her womb he strokes her full softly,
2415         And to his palays hoom he hath hire lad.
                    And to his palace he has her led home.
2416         Now, goode men, I pray yow to be glad.
                    Now, good men, I pray you to be glad.
2417         Thus endeth heere my tale of Januarie;
                    Thus ends here my tale of January;
2418         God blesse us, and his mooder Seinte Marie!
                    God bless us, and his mother Saint Mary!


Here is ended The Marchantes Tale of Januarie















Epilogue to The Merchant's Tale


2419         "Ey! Goddes mercy!" seyde oure Hooste tho,
                    "Ah! God's mercy!" said our Host then,
2420         "Now swich a wyf I pray God kepe me fro!
                    "Now such a wife I pray God keep me from!
2421         Lo, whiche sleightes and subtilitees
                    Lo, what tricks and craftiness
2422         In wommen been! For ay as bisy as bees
                    Are in women! For always as busy as bees
2423         Been they, us sely men for to deceyve,
                    Are they, us innocent men to deceive,
2424         And from the soothe evere wol they weyve;
                    And from the truth ever will they deviate;
2425         By this Marchauntes tale it preveth weel.
                    By this Merchant's tale it is well proven.
2426         But doutelees, as trewe as any steel
                    But doubtless, as true as any steel
2427         I have a wyf, though that she povre be,
                    I have a wife, though that she poor be,
2428         But of hir tonge, a labbyng shrewe is she,
                    But of her tongue, a blabbing shrew is she,
2429         And yet she hath an heep of vices mo;
                    And yet she has a heap of other vices;
2430         Therof no fors! Lat alle swiche thynges go.
                    Thereof no matter! Let all such things go by.
2431         But wyte ye what? In conseil be it seyd,
                    But know you what? In secret be it said,
2432         Me reweth soore I am unto hire teyd.
                    I sorely rue that I am unto her tied.
2433         For and I sholde rekenen every vice
                    For if I should reckon every vice
2434         Which that she hath, ywis I were to nyce.
                    Which she has, indeed I would be too foolish.
2435         And cause why? It sholde reported be
                    And the cause why? It should reported be
2436         And toold to hire of somme of this meynee --
                    And told to her by some of this company --
2437         Of whom, it nedeth nat for to declare,
                    By whom, it needs not to declare,
2438         Syn wommen konnen outen swich chaffare;
                    Since women know how to display such wares;
2439         And eek my wit suffiseth nat therto
                    And also my wit suffices not concerning this
2440         To tellen al; wherfore my tale is do."
                    To tell all; therefore my tale is done."


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