The Shipman's Tale

An Interlinear Translation
Part II, lines 158-306

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


158     "My deere love," quod she, "O my daun John,
                "My dear love," she said, "Oh my Don John,
159     Ful lief were me this conseil for to hyde,
                I wish I could hide this secret,
160     But out it moot; I may namoore abyde.
                But it must come out; I can delay no longer,
161     Myn housbonde is to me the worste man
                My husband is to me the worst man
162     That evere was sith that the world bigan.
                That ever was since the world began.
163     But sith I am a wyf, it sit nat me
                But since I am a wife, it does not suit me
164     To tellen no wight of oure privetee,
                To tell any one of our private matters,
165     Neither abedde ne in noon oother place;
                Neither in bed nor in any other place;
166     God shilde I sholde it tellen, for his grace!
                God forbid I should tell it, for His grace!
167     A wyf ne shal nat seyn of hir housbonde
                A wife should say nothing of her husband
168     But al honour, as I kan understonde;
                Except what is to his honor, so far as I can understand;
169     Save unto yow thus muche I tellen shal:
                Except unto you this much I shall tell:
170     As helpe me God, he is noght worth at al
                So help me God, he is not worth at all
171     In no degree the value of a flye.
                In any way the value of a fly.
172     But yet me greveth moost his nygardye.
                But yet his miserliness grieves me most.
173     And wel ye woot that wommen naturelly
                And well you know that women naturally
174     Desiren thynges sixe as wel as I:
                Desire six things as well as I:
175     They wolde that hir housbondes sholde be
                They would that their husbands should be
176     Hardy and wise, and riche, and therto free,
                Vigorous and wise, and rich, and moreover generous,
177     And buxom unto his wyf and fressh abedde.
                And obedient unto his wife and vigorous in bed.
178     But by that ilke Lord that for us bledde,
                But by that same Lord that for us bled,
179     For his honour, myself for to arraye,
                To clothe myself in a manner that does honor to my husband,
180     A Sonday next I moste nedes paye
                On next Sunday I must of necessity pay
181     An hundred frankes, or ellis I am lorn.
                A hundred franks, or else I am lost.
182     Yet were me levere that I were unborn
                Yet I would rather that I were never born
183     Than me were doon a sclaundre or vileynye;
                Than a disgrace or dishonor were done to me;
184     And if myn housbonde eek it myghte espye,
                And also if my husband might discover it,
185     I nere but lost; and therfore I yow preye,
                I would be as good as lost; and therefore I pray you,
186     Lene me this somme, or ellis moot I deye.
                Lend me this sum, or else I must die.
187     Daun John, I seye, lene me thise hundred frankes.
                Don John, I say, lend me these hundred franks.
188     Pardee, I wol nat faille yow my thankes,
                By God, I will not fail to give you my thanks,
189     If that yow list to doon that I yow praye.
                If it pleases you to do what I pray of you.
190     For at a certeyn day I wol yow paye,
                For at a certain day I will pay you,
191     And doon to yow what plesance and service
                And do to you whatever pleasure and service
192     That I may doon, right as yow list devise.
                That I can do, exactly as you please to command.
193     And but I do, God take on me vengeance
                And unless I do so, God take on me vengeance
194     As foul as evere hadde Genylon of France."
                As foul as ever had Ganelon of France."

195     This gentil monk answerde in this manere:
                This gentle monk answered in this manner:
196     "Now trewely, myn owene lady deere,
                "Now truly, my own dear lady,
197     I have," quod he, "on yow so greet a routhe
                I have," he said, "on you such great pity
198     That I yow swere, and plighte yow my trouthe,
                That I swear to you, and pledge you my word,
199     That whan youre housbonde is to Flaundres fare,
                That when your husband is gone to Flanders,
200     I wol delyvere yow out of this care;
                I will deliver you out of this care;
201     For I wol brynge yow an hundred frankes."
                For I will bring you a hundred franks."
202     And with that word he caughte hire by the flankes,
                And with that word he caught her by the flanks,
203     And hire embraceth harde, and kiste hire ofte.
                And embraces her hard, and kissed her often.
204     "Gooth now youre wey," quod he, "al stille and softe,
                "Go now your way," he said, "all still and quietly,
205     And lat us dyne as soone as that ye may;
                And let us dine as soon as you can;
206     For by my chilyndre it is pryme of day.
                For by my sundial it is almost noon.
207     Gooth now, and beeth as trewe as I shal be."
                Go now, and be as true as I shall be."

208     "Now elles God forbede, sire," quod she;
                "Now God forbid (anything) else, sir," she said;
209     And forth she gooth as jolif as a pye,
                And forth she goes as jolly as a magpie,
210     And bad the cookes that they sholde hem hye,
                And ordered the cooks that they should hasten,
211     So that men myghte dyne, and that anon.
                So that people could dine, and that quickly.
212     Up to hir housbonde is this wyf ygon,
                Up to her husband this wife is gone,
213     And knokketh at his countour boldely.
                And boldly knocks at his counting-house door.

214     "Quy la?" quod he. "Peter! it am I,"
                "Who is there?" he said. "By Saint Peter! it's me,"
215     Quod she; "What, sire, how longe wol ye faste?
                Said she; "What, sir! how long will you fast?
216     How longe tyme wol ye rekene and caste
                How long a time will you reckon and calculate
217     Youre sommes, and youre bookes, and youre thynges?
                Your sums, and your books, and your business matters?
218     The devel have part on alle swiche rekenynges!
                The devil take all such reckonings!
219     Ye have ynough, pardee, of Goddes sonde;
                You have enough, by God, of God's gifts;
220     Com doun to-day, and lat youre bagges stonde.
                Come down to-day, and let your moneybags be.
221     Ne be ye nat ashamed that daun John
                Are you not ashamed that Don John
222     Shal fasting al this day alenge goon?
                Must go fasting all this day long?
223     What, lat us heere a messe, and go we dyne."
                What! let us hear a mass and go dine."

224     "Wyf," quod this man, "litel kanstow devyne
                "Wife," this man said, "little canst thou guess
225     The curious bisynesse that we have.
                The worrisome preoccupations that we have.
226     For of us chapmen, also God me save,
                For of us merchants, as God may save me,
227     And by that lord that clepid is Seint Yve,
                And by that lord that is called Saint Yve,
228     Scarsly amonges twelve tweye shul thryve
                Scarcely amongst twelve shall two thrive
229     Continuelly, lastynge unto oure age.
                Continually, surviving unto our age.
230     We may wel make chiere and good visage,
                We may well seem cheerful and put on a good face,
231     And dryve forth the world as it may be,
                And endure the world as it may be,
232     And kepen oure estaat in pryvetee,
                And keep our condition private,
233     Til we be deed, or elles that we pleye
                Until we are dead, or else we go on
234     A pilgrymage, or goon out of the weye.
                A pilgrimage, or go out of the way (in hiding).
235     And therfore have I greet necessitee
                And therefore I have great need
236     Upon this queynte world t' avyse me,
                To plan carefully upon this tricky world,
237     For everemoore we moote stonde in drede
                For always we must stand in fear
238     Of hap and fortune in oure chapmanhede.
                Of chance and fortune in our business dealings.

239     "To Flaundres wol I go to-morwe at day,
                "I will go to Flanders tomorrow at daylight,
240     And come agayn, as soone as evere I may.
                And come back again, as soon as ever I can.
241     For which, my deere wyf, I thee biseke,
                For which, my dear wife, I beseech thee,
242     As be to every wight buxom and meke,
                Be to every creature humble and meek,
243     And for to kepe oure good be curious,
                And be diligent to guard our possessions,
244     And honestly governe wel oure hous.
                And properly govern our house well.
245     Thou hast ynough, in every maner wise,
                Thou hast enough, in every sort of way,
246     That to a thrifty houshold may suffise.
                That may suffice to a prosperous household.
247     Thee lakketh noon array ne no vitaille;
                You lack no supplies nor victuals;
248     Of silver in thy purs shaltow nat faille."
                Thou shalt not lack silver in thy purse ."
249     And with that word his countour-dore he shette,
                And with that word he shut his counting house-door,
250     And doun he gooth, no lenger wolde he lette.
                And down he goes, no longer would he delay.
251     But hastily a messe was ther seyd,
                But hastily a mass was there said,
252     And spedily the tables were yleyd,
                And speedily the tables were laid,
253     And to the dyner faste they hem spedde,
                And quickly they sped to the dinner,
254     And richely this monk the chapman fedde.
                And richly the merchant fed this monk.

255     At after-dyner daun John sobrely
                At after-dinner Don John soberly
256     This chapman took apart, and prively
                Took aside this merchant, and privately
257     He seyde hym thus: "Cosyn, it standeth so,
                He said to him thus: "Cousin, it stands so,
258     That wel I se to Brugges wol ye go.
                That I see well to Bruges you will go.
259     God and Seint Austyn spede yow and gyde!
                God and Saint Augustine speed and guide you!
260     I prey yow, cosyn, wisely that ye ryde.
                I pray you, cousin, that you ride carefully.
261     Governeth yow also of youre diete
                Govern yourself also in your diet
262     Atemprely, and namely in this hete.
                Moderately, and especially in this heat.
263     Bitwix us two nedeth no strange fare;
                Between us two there need be no elaborate courtesies;
264     Farewel, cosyn; God shilde yow fro care!
                Farewell, cousin; God protect you from trouble!
265     And if that any thyng by day or nyght,
                And if there be any thing by day or night,
266     If it lye in my power and my myght,
                If it lie in my power and my might,
267     That ye me wol comande in any wyse,
                That you will ask of me in any way,
268     It shal be doon right as ye wol devyse.
                It shall be done exactly as you will specify.

269     "O thyng, er that ye goon, if it may be,
                "One thing, before you go, if it may be,
270     I wolde prey yow: for to lene me
                I would pray of you: to lend me
271     An hundred frankes, for a wyke or tweye,
                A hundred franks, for a week or two,
272     For certein beestes that I moste beye,
                For a certain number of beasts that I must buy,
273     To stoore with a place that is oures.
                With which to stock a place that is ours.
274     God helpe me so, I wolde it were youres!
                So help me God, I would it were yours!
275     I shal nat faille surely of my day,
                I surely shall not fail to repay you on the day it is due,
276     Nat for a thousand frankes, a mile way.
                Not for a thousand franks, by so much as twenty minutes.
277     But lat this thyng be secree, I yow preye,
                But let this thing be secret, I pray you,
278     For yet to-nyght thise beestes moot I beye.
                For yet to-night I must buy these beasts.
279     And fare now wel, myn owene cosyn deere;
                And now fare well, my own dear cousin;
280     Graunt mercy of youre cost and of youre cheere."
                Many thanks for your expenditures and for your hospitality."

281     This noble marchant gentilly anon
                This noble merchant courteously straightway
282     Answerde and seyde, "O cosyn myn, daun John,
                Answered and said, "Oh my cousin, Don John,
283     Now sikerly this is a smal requeste.
                Now surely this is a small request.
284     My gold is youres, whan that it yow leste,
                My gold is yours, whenever it pleases you,
285     And nat oonly my gold, but my chaffare.
                And not only my gold, but my merchandise.
286     Take what yow list; God shilde that ye spare.
                Take what you please; God forbid that you stint.
287     "But o thyng is, ye knowe it wel ynogh
                "But there is one thing, you know it well enough
288     Of chapmen, that hir moneie is hir plogh.
                About merchants, that their money is their plough.
289     We may creaunce whil we have a name,
                We may borrow while we have a good name,
290     But goldlees for to be, it is no game.
                But to be without gold, it is no joke.
291     Paye it agayn whan it lith in youre ese;
                Pay it back when it is convenient for you;
292     After my myght ful fayn wolde I yow plese."
                According to my power, I would be very glad to please you."
293     Thise hundred frankes he fette forth anon,
                These hundred franks he fetched forth quickly,
294     And prively he took hem to daun John.
                And privately he gave them to Don John.
295     No wight in al this world wiste of this loone
                No creature in all this world knew of this loan
296     Savynge this marchant and daun John allone.
                Except for this merchant and Don John alone.
297     They drynke, and speke, and rome a while and pleye,
                They drink, and speak, and stroll about a while and amuse themselves,
298     Til that daun John rideth to his abbeye.
                Until Don John rides to his abbey.

299     The morwe cam, and forth this marchant rideth
                The morning came, and forth this merchant rides
300     To Flaundres-ward; his prentys wel hym gydeth
                To Flanders; his apprentice guides him well
301     Til he came into Brugges murily.
                Until he came merrily into Bruges.
302     Now gooth this marchant faste and bisily
                Now goes this merchant quickly and busily
303     Aboute his nede, and byeth and creaunceth.
                About his business, and buys and obtains credit.
304     He neither pleyeth at the dees ne daunceth,
                He neither plays at the dice nor dances,
305     But as a marchaunt, shortly for to telle,
                But as a merchant (should), shortly to tell,
306     He let his lyf, and there I lete hym dwelle.
                He led his life, and there I let him dwell.

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Last modified: Jan 19, 2002
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Gold Texts on this page prepared and maintained by L. D. Benson (