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."
If you want to test yourself on the vocabulary of this Tale, click here .
Or go to the beginning of this set of texts.
Or to The Geoffrey Chaucer Page | The Index of Translations | The Teach Yourself Chaucer Page. Or use the back button on your browser to return to the previous page.
Last modified: Mar 29, 2002
Copyright © The President and Fellows of Harvard College
Texts on this page prepared and maintained by L. D. Benson (firstname.lastname@example.org)